The Giving Tree

We’ve lived in our home for twenty five years. Our boys grew up here, exploring and playing on every bit of the property, and climbing every tree. Tree forts were built, rope swings were hung, a hammock was strung between two, and a zip-line was swung on in between another two. Now, our grandchildren are frequent visitors and they are the ones exploring.

This past winter we had to have four beloved trees taken down from one area of the yard. Each of the trees were either severely damaged from storms or were diseased. We were sad to see them go and worried about how the yard would look with a new lawn area where the trees once stood, and how the shade gardens would do when they suddenly received sun.

Imagine our surprise when the trees were cut down and we saw the shape of this oak tree stump! We knew at once that it would have a special place in the yard once our project was complete.After the trees were removed, the four stumps had to be grinded, roots were dug out of the ground, and a mini retaining wall was built. Then came adding amendments to the soil, and installing a lawn. With each new step of the process we began to feel more comfortable about the project. It didn’t take long before we began to love all of the sunlight we now have in front of the house, as well as our new views. So far, the garden beds planted with shade loving plants are all doing well.

Have a look at our finished project. We couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. A million thanks to that oak tree that provided a shady place for our boys to explore and play for so many years, and now is the perfect little table for us or a sweet spot for a little one (or two) to rest after an afternoon of running, playing, and adventuring.

The Story of our Lives

As I’ve been putting away the Christmas decorations over the last few days I’ve come  to realize how perfectly our decorated tree tells the story of our family each year.

If I remember correctly we bought ornaments for our very first Christmas tree at Payless. Yep, it was a rainy Sunday in 1982. When my husband got off from work we went together and picked out just a few ornaments and a tree. This is one from that first year so long ago.By the next Christmas we were blessed with our first baby.And three years later, another precious baby boy joined our family.A good amount of our ornaments are family photos in mini frames and hung with ribbon.Throughout the years ornaments have been bought that represent a move to a new home, careers, interests, and now, grand babies. We’ve saved the child-made treasures from way back when, along with the ones the children would get to choose each year to commemorate a new sport or hobby they were interested in. They don’t all go up on the tree each year, but we look through them all, carefully unwrapping each and every treasure, smiling and feeling overcome with nostalgia.

A friend made this felted heart for me a few years ago,and a sweet daughter in law made this one.Gently tucked into luggage, special keepsakes are collected from our travels. This celtic cross came from a trip to Ireland.And this streetlamp with the hanging baskets of flowers was brought home from Victoria.Each one tells a story.Each one, a memory of our blessings. Each one, a snippet from our lives. My cup runneth over.

I wish you hope, health, peace and mad love in 2017. Happy New Year!

“Here’s to the end of this chapter. To all the late nights, early mornings, learnings gained and experiences shared, Here’s to love. Here’s to loss. Here’s to honoring, letting go, and transcending. Here’s to growth. Here’s to expanding. Here’s to a life with other heartbeats that would stop their world to celebrate your magic. Here’s to you, and your blank canvas. Here’s to filling it with nothing less than vibrant aliveness.”

~Nancy Alder

 

Sunflower Cottage

“…But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye. For where the old thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall, you’ll find the tool and potting sheds which are the heart of all…”~Rudyard Kiplingimg_1827Here it is!img_1472Remember a few weeks ago I promised a post about my new garden shed? Welcome to Sunflower Cottage!

Wanting the paint and the style to match our home, but also wanting a bright pop of color for the door, I really don’t think it could have turned out any more perfectly.

Last fall I began looking in books, magazines and on pinterest for ideas for potting sheds. It was a bit overwhelming, but when our friend who built the structure for us started asking questions about how it would be used and what was most important to me, why then it all came together easily. Inside is a roomy potting bench, lots of shelving, and a pole to hang baskets and dry herbs from, and with the light from the two windows (three counting the window in the door) and a water source right outside the shed, I didn’t feel a need to have electricity or plumbing installed.

Here’s a bit of a peek inside.img_1526 img_1410I’m still organizing and finding the best places for everything, but I’m already so happy to be working in this charming and cozy little storybook cottage, just as I knew I would! A gardener’s dream come true, for certain!

Savoring the Last Days of Summer

It’s almost time to give summer a long kiss goodbye and welcome the jewels of autumn. With comfortable warm daytime temperatures and cool nights and mornings, my gardens seem to be putting out a last beautiful blast of blossoms. Here’s how things looked today.

Japanese Anemone
img_6096Foxgloveimg_0941Zinniasimg_0828Lamium
img_1011Fuchsia
img_1009 Calibrachoaimg_1008Roses
img_1007img_1006Impatiensimg_0953Sweet Autumn Clematis
img_1020Black- eyed Susansimg_1019Sedum, Autumn Joyimg_1016Salvia, Black Knightimg_1021Perovskiaimg_1014Lorapetalum
img_1027Sunflowersimg_1023I’m still harvesting tomatoes from my vegetable garden daily, but in another month I’ll be pulling them out. They’re the last of my summer vegetables that are still producing.img_1025 And then there’s this! Vibrant Virginia Creeper already adding so much gorgeous autumn color to a fence.img_1018And this beauty I found in the  lawn the other day. Yep, you can bet I’m savoring every bit of this late season beauty.img_0934What’s blooming in your garden during these last days of summer?

And now, off to take my husband’s hand and set off for an evening walk to admire that incredible harvest moon!img_1040

Catching My Eye

I can feel it. Can you? That subtle shift away from summer and into fall. Cooler morning and evening temperatures, less daylight, acorns spotted on my walks, birds feasting on the faded sunflower’s seeds, and yes, just a hint of color in some of the leaves. Here’s what’s catching my eye right now in late August:

This maple leaf gave me reason to pause yesterday evening as I was out watering. Just a hint of what’s to come!IMG_0811And this Chinese Pistache caught my eye in a parking lot last week! Won’t be long now until the trees are all aglow with gold, rust and crimson hues.IMG_0775I’ve cut back many of the summer perennials that put on such a gorgeous show for us all summer. Still blooming are the Black Eyed Susans,IMG_0627Bee Balm,
IMG_0695Colorful and carefree Zinnias,IMG_0367and a few Hollyhocks!IMG_0359Last September, I went to the outdoor wedding of a friend and fell in love with Sweet Autumn Clematis which was rambling along a split railed fence. A few days later I ran out and bought one for our yard. Just look at it now, happily climbing up the pergola! It’s a new favorite of mine.IMG_0810My brother brought me this rock all the way from Colorado. I’m loving the way it  nestles in the roots of this oak tree near our porch. It’s bigger than my hand!IMG_0799A double heart within an olive tree’s bark. Such a delightful find recently!IMG_0542

Tell me, what’s catching your eyes during these glorious last days of summer?

“In summer the song sings itself.” ~ William Carlos Williams

Taking Care of Myself

Lately I find myself having to walk away from the news,  turning off the TV. Newspapers pile up on the counter for a few days until I’m brave enough to sort through them. I have all but checked out of some social media sites because of the mean spirited political climate. Don’t get me wrong. I am interested in and want to be informed of what’s going on in the world, and I want to do my part to make the world a better place. But for the time being, in light of the violence, chaos, the constant turmoil and heartache in our world, I now need to take it all in small doses.

I firmly believe that despite the evil we know that exists, it is still an incredibly beautiful world filled with good hearted, thoughtful, kind souls everywhere. There is beauty beyond measure to behold. We don’t need to judge; we don’t need to agree on anything at all to be kind to one another. Let’s extend more compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and love. Let’s work on finding the best in everyone.

As for me, I’m taking care of myself: I plan to keep going on early morning walks with this sweet girl,IMG_0083I’ll keep hiking and  seeking solace in nature,IMG_8265I’ll spend all the time I can with these grand loves, IMG_0524IMG_0020IMG_0450I’ll keep writing, reading, listening to music, baking and trying new recipes, looking for good news, visiting with the wonderful friends and family members I’ve been blessed with, I’ll have morning coffee under the pergola. IMG_0488I’ll keep my eyes open for hearts,IMG_9247and I’ll be in the garden.IMG_0354IMG_0361IMG_0358IMG_0356IMG_0366IMG_0465IMG_0492IMG_0194I’ll be counting my blessings and praying for our world.

Peace to all.IMG_6973

“When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.” ~Minnie Almoner

Porch Sweet Porch

“I return to my front porch to find the place where the air smells sweeter and the sun feels warmer than at any other bend in life’s long road.”~John Sarris

Hello good friend! Welcome to the porch. It’s just ahead.IMG_9240Take one step up.IMG_9243Here we are!IMG_9113Come sit with me in the comfiest rocking chairs around. Here’s an iced tea.IMG_9114Let’s catch up on everything and try and make sense of life’s ups and downs. We’ll laugh and maybe cry, smile and listen, share and nod. Just being with you brings me comfort and joy! IMG_9244IMG_9121Amidst our conversations we’ll hear the songs of the birds, the whispers of the leaves, and the whirr of the hummingbirds.

I’m so grateful that in this big wide world we found each other. Aren’t we lucky? Come back soon!

Trees of Love

It’s tree planting time around here! We have a tradition of planting a tree on our property to honor each of our children and grandchildren. Yes indeed, our new little one who is due in July now has her own tree.

It’s a Mt. Fuji Flowering Cherry with such beautiful and delicate white and pale pink double blossoms. IMG_3781I knew the tree would go into a bit of shock when it was planted and so I left it in its nursery can and waited until it was finished blooming before putting it into the ground. Here it is.
IMG_8979We added three low growing ceanothus and three spirea around the tree. I’m really looking forward to seeing this new garden bed in all its glory come next spring.IMG_8980And just look what we dug up while planting! Five of them! The heart rock that is third from the left was right in the hole for the tree, and the other four were found while preparing and digging the six other holes for the other plants in the new garden. What a thrill!IMG_8977We didn’t live in this house when my children were born, and didn’t get around to planting trees for them until their high school years when we were working on landscaping much of our property.

This is a variegated dogwood planted for one of our sons. Aren’t those show stopping leaves?
IMG_9079And this is the sweet leaf of the Eastern Redbud that we planted for our other son. Both trees have spectacular blooms in early spring as well as stunning fall color.IMG_8885This gorgeous dark leaved Japanese Maple found a permanent home here as we waited for our grandson’s arrival.IMG_9125And here is the graceful Japanese Maple that was planted for our first grand daughter two years ago. Each of the lovely Japanese Maples puts on its own spectacular show in the fall.IMG_9123Walking through the gardens I can’t help but feel the great sense of connectedness, comfort and love that each of these trees of love provides. Oh yes, and nearby each special tree are heart rocks! But you already knew that, right?

In the Garden

Happy first day of spring!
IMG_8178I’ve spent a good portion of yesterday and today working in the yard. Nothing glamorous, just putting down a new layer of top soil, feeding plants, taking inventory of what I need to replace, and cleaning up garden beds. This time of year it’s easy to lose myself out there. Hours pass quickly, and before I know it it’s late afternoon. There’s so much to do, but somehow it doesn’t feel like work (until the soreness kicks in the next day!) amidst the glory of nature’s reawakening. Isn’t it remarkable to watch what’s blooming from day to day? Here are a few scenes that caught my eye.IMG_8172IMG_8244IMG_8238I must be in a purple-y mood!

If you haven’t noticed already, I have an appreciation for quotes. I keep journals of passages from books that speak to me, along with favorite quotes. Through the years, I’ve added some inspiration in the garden by writing some quotes I love on rocks. I simply write with a sharpie and then spray them with a clear protective spray. They need to be re-done each year, and that was another bit of work (play!) I was doing this weekend.IMG_8233IMG_8230IMG_8231IMG_8232IMG_8239IMG_8234Suddenly our surroundings are bursting into bloom. Each time I’m out driving I’m noticing the emerald green of the hills swathed with poppies, singing loudly. Miracles are happening everywhere we look! What’s catching your eye right now?

The Fever

“She turned to the sunlight

And shook her yellow head,

And whispered to her neighbor:

Winter is dead.”

~A.A. Milne, When We Were Very YoungIMG_7776IMG_7848IMG_7980Trips to four different nurseries within a week. Vases filled with Daffodils and Daphne throughout the house. Checking on each and every plant and tree to see how it fared during the winter. Soil under my nails. Yep, I’ve definitely got it. Spring Fever!

It’s only late February but the high temperatures have been hovering in the high 60s and even 70s for a couple weeks now. I’m really hoping March brings much more rain, but right now, well, right now I’m loving all these bursts of color. Right now, it feels like spring is bustin’ out all over!

Here, the Weigelias are just beginning to leaf out. IMG_8083I’m filling pots with colorful Primroses, Pansies and Violas.IMG_7702IMG_7969The air is scented with the heavenly fragrance of winter Daphne. Is there a sweeter smell in February? Not in my book!IMG_7977A row of blooming flowering plum trees heralds our arrival along our driveway.IMG_8081And a hedge of tall Photonia brightens up the yard with shiny new red leaves.IMG_8082Flowering Quince and Forsythia are putting on their shows,IMG_7830IMG_7968while graceful Hellebores nod hello.
IMG_7846Oh, I know it’s still early, but I can’t get enough of these happy harbingers of spring. What’s blooming in your gardens right now in late February?

“Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.” ~Gustav Mahler