Living in Oregon means long months of dark gray skies and rainy days. I don’t mind the rain. It doesn’t stop my walking routine. “We’re waterproof,” says my walking buddy. But the endless days of gray are harder to bear. One way I deal with the grayness is to read gardening books. It’s a fun and educational gray-season focus for my reading, and I love the colors these beautiful books bring to gray days!
What a delightful book! A Year in the Big Old Garden, by James D. Witmer, is a treasure to be shared with young and old. The illustrations are beautiful and the stories are full of fun humor, kindness, and lots of good information about the natural world of the big old garden. Although the stories were written for children, they are both timeless and ageless, and a must read!
From the author:
I write about adventure, small woodland creatures, and what happens when you realize there are no ordinary places.
While we spent the last three weeks with my mother, our daughter watered our gardens and kept everything alive despite the 90-100 degree temperatures. It was a huge job, but we were delighted upon our return home to find our butterfly garden in full bloom and full of bees and butterflies!
I want to share with you a poster I saw and just loved at Red Butte Garden, in Salt Lake City, where we have my father’s memorial bench, and where we will soon hold my mother’s Celebration of Life and add a plaque to the bench in memory of her.
There has been a lot of LIFE happening in the last few months, some of it difficult and some of it absolutely lovely but also time-consuming. As a result I have gone missing from my blog once again! But I have continued with my reading, just not with writing about it, and have quietly visited many of your blogs when time allowed. But after meeting two lovely blogging friends for lunch yesterday, Les @Coastal Horizons, and Kay @Kay’s Reading LIfe, I am inspired again to return to my writing and sharing about books and life. Thank you, Les and Kay! But before I tell you what books I’ve been enjoying (I promise another post devoted to the books I’ve read since April), I must tell you what LIFE has been like around here recently.
The major focus for me in the last few months has been my mother’s health. Those of you who have followed me over the years, know that my mother is a great reader, my mentor and best friend, and my reading buddy. Since we live in different states, this blog was started as another way to communicate with her and share what we are reading. My amazing and resilient mother is turning 99 years old in August! And she continues to be an avid reader. We always talk about books during our daily phone conversations, but recently she has begun to have some more serious health problems, so we fully realize that these days and our daily conversations are precious.
In the last six months, I have made a number of special trips to see her. On one trip, I took my daughter, and then a few months later, I took my son and grandson to see her. Each trip was wonderful and full of special memories. My husband and I visited her in May, and we are heading out next week for another, longer, visit with her. My brothers and their wives will all be there as well, so it will truly be a celebration of family and an early birthday celebration for her. She and I will definitely be talking about books during that visit and I will treasure those moments.
The other focus in the last few months has been on my garden! Yes, gardening is definitely therapy for anxiety and anticipated loss, but it is also my new passion. My husband, my daughter, and I all share in the work on these garden projects, and it’s been a delightful way to spend our time!
The garden project we’ve been working on (started last Fall) is my “Butterfly Garden,” a project inspired by the butterfly garden built by the 2nd graders in my school before I retired. We have turned a narrow piece of our property, on the south side of the garage and along the alley way, into a beautiful garden! We can’t see it from the house, so we’ve put chairs out there so we can sit and watch the flowers grow, the bees do their thing, and a few butterflies that are finding their way to a place designed specifically for them. I hope you enjoy this slideshow of the butterfly garden as it has progressed!
When we retired and moved to Oregon, we culled our book collections and donated many many books to the local library. Also with retirement, my book buying has slacked off considerably, except for ebooks and audiobooks. But when I see a lovely gardening book, I can’t help myself. My collection is growing, and the photo above is of the two shelves I started out with, but it has already taken over another shelf in this bookcase. Yes, I’m reading them … slowly … but I love looking through them, and love learning and dreaming about gardens.
Hubby and I took a short break from projects and reading to make our Spring pilgrimage to the Oregon Garden in Silverton, Oregon. We go there a number of times each year, usually as a day trip since it’s only an hour-and-a-half drive away from us. But once a year we like to stay an extra day at the resort next to the Garden and spend two days walking the trails/pathways and soaking up the beauty. Included in our special package for the resort this time were tickets to the nearby tulip festival. So we have enjoyed two days of beautiful early spring blossoms and blooms…and the weather cooperated and gave us blue sky, sunshine, and temperatures that weren’t exactly warm but comfortable enough.
When we returned home this afternoon, I discovered that a book I had pre-ordered months ago had arrived on my Kindle. It’s a perfect book to follow up such a lovely trip to the Garden! I have some fun reading ahead of me!
August, September and October have been busy months! My days have been filled with projects and activities, mostly outdoors and mostly in our garden. But we have also done some enjoyable traveling, including a lovely trip in late September to Salt Lake City to spend some time with my 96-year-old mother.
Reading has continued and been very enjoyable, but I just haven’t wanted to spend time writing reviews. Blogging has continued, but almost entirely on my garden blog, which is my online journal of our gardening life. My garden is where my heart is right now, so please do stop in and visit me at My Garden in the Grove.
Although many of the books I’ve been reading in the last few months are about gardens or gardening, I have read other things, too. Here’s a list:
Tasha Tudor is one of my favorite artists. She was the author and illustrator of many children’s books, including my favorite edition of The Secret Garden, and she is beloved worldwide. She was born 100 years ago today, and so to celebrate her centenary, I bought a copy of a lovely book about her: Tasha Tudor’s Garden, by Tovah Martin, with beautiful, beautiful photographs by Richard W. Brown.
There is so much beauty and inspiration in this book! I look forward to reading it and learning more about Tasha Tudor, about her elegantly “simple” lifestyle, and about her gorgeous gardens. I will read it slowly, absorbing as much as I can of the natural beauty she created and surrounded herself with during her long life.
Now that I am retired, I’m spending more and more time in my garden. I started my garden blog as an online journal for myself and family. Now I’ve decided to open it up and share it with those of you who love gardening, too. If you find me missing from my book blog…you will most likely find me on my garden blog. I’d love to meet you there!
[The following review was published on my garden blog. I reposted it here, but something happened and it never showed up! Rusty blogging skills?] So here it is, reposted. Again.
During the hot afternoons of the last few days, I completely immersed myself in a lovely book– Emily Dickinson’s Gardens: A Celebration of a Poet and Gardener, by Marta McDowell. I love poetry, and I love reading about the gardens of the great gardeners, so this was the perfect choice for me. And to add depth to this immersion, I pulled from my bookshelf my volume of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, as well as another beautiful little book for young people, Emily Dickinson: A Brighter Garden, with some of her poems illustrated by the wonderful artist (and gardener), Tasha Tudor. What a lovely way to spend my heat-wave afternoons!
The “Belle of Amherst” was a brilliant poet who drew much of her inspiration from nature and from her garden, in particular. Her love for flowers and for gardening started very young, as did her love for words and poetry. As a teenager, she put together a very impressive “herbarium,” a collection of dried and pressed plants, all beautifully organized and identified by their Latin names. She loved spending time in her family’s gardens and in the meadows and woods adjacent to the family homestead.
During her lifetime, Emily DIckinson was known as a gifted gardener. Not everyone knew that she also wrote poetry, although she shared many of her poems with friends and family. Very few of her poems were published during her lifetime, and no one knew the extent of her writing until after her death when her sister, Lavinia, discovered almost 1,800 poems tucked away in a drawer.
This book was organized by the seasons of the year, and included descriptions of the plants that were grown in Emily’s garden each season, and poems that were inspired by those plants or by the season. A lovely combination! The author, Marta McDowell, is herself a gardener, so she lovingly included how-to information and special tips for other gardeners.
The mix of very interesting biography, descriptions of Emily Dickinson’s gardens with beautiful poetry interspersed, and very helpful gardening advice made the book a pleasure to read and a wonderful learning experience.
My library loot this week! You can tell I’m immersed in gardens and gardening right now.