Buried in snow

tiny tough SnowdropsIt is a northern gardener’s life to be unable to garden outdoors for half the year (or more). Just one of gardening’s many great lessons: patience. That and learning about cycles. Cycles of seasons, light and shadow, decay and rebirth. Of noticing migrating birds when they leave, and when they return again. When the massive queen bumblebees emerge and drowsily look for new dens to start this year’s hive, eliciting alarm as they buzz close by ears and again reacquaint us to the sound of buzzing creatures. And of the tenacious determination of green growing things, pushing through the soil and sometimes even, through snow.

This is what makes me so happy to plant flowering bulbs. I adore spring bulbs because I do it every autumn – almost – and they perk up into a spring-thawing but otherwise brown garden just when I need it most. March! Okay… April, but by March I’ve got some forced mini-bulbs growing indoors and am busy planning a tea party luncheon, but I digress.

Even in those years when autumn rushes right past in the blink of an eye, because Mother Nature was in a hurry and flung us from late summer right into winter with a massive September snowfall (like this past fall), I can rely on spring flowering bulbs to keep coming even if I fail to add to their numbers. If we gardeners select a zone-appropriate bulb that is resistant to grazing (ie: tastes unpleasant to animals) and plant it at the correct depth in the right location (read: if they’re ‘happy’) bulbs will continue blooming and even multiplying year after year with no further assistance from us, except maybe a handful or so of good compost and leaving their leaves alone. And of course to be remembered where they are and not get accidentally dug up!

But their greatest gift to me, as a northern gardener enduring far too many months of frozen lifeless ground, seems to happen to me every year around this time when I am feeling weary from the short daylight hours and not enough time spent outdoors, I find comfort in simply knowing they’re out there. Tiny little bundles of hope buried under the snow and soil… just waiting for the perfect time to brighten the world. My world. My yard.

I celebrate spring blooming bulbs! Tulips (which survive in a corner of our back yard with a high fence, not in the popular-for-grazing front), Chionodoxa ‘Glory-of-the-snow’, Narcissus ‘Daffodils’, Muscari ‘Grape Hyacinth’, tall purple Allium… plus their rhizome-cousins Crocus, Lily and Iris… your very presence brightens my heart. Even unseen, just knowing you’re there and that your bright faces will be blooming soon makes me happy on dreary winter days.

Luckily we can all buy them already blooming in containers to grace our kitchen table or bedside (talk to your florist and try to buy organic). And after having read that planting previously ‘forced’ bulbs in our gardens to be a lost cause, I’ve found that to be untrue. I had mini-daffodils and grape hyacinths forced in containers and once they were done blooming I put them in the garage, forgot about them for a couple of YEARS and then threw the pot contents into a wild corner of our backyard. They actually took root and grew! I now have a little patch of Tete-a-tete daffodils and Muscari that come back every spring. How cool is that? So if you have a patch of ground, throw those spent bulbs in and they may or may not come back, but why throw them in the garbage when, sometimes, they come back? Mind you bulbs hate to be ‘naked’ for long and the dormant ones I mentioned were in a dry pot of soil. I’ve tried this with bulbs I’d had left over in the package for a while without the same success.

Of course I adore all my perennials, shrubs and trees – in my own yards and everywhere – but nothing better beckons the coming of spring than the early-blooming bulbs.

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New Small Raised Beds

Summer is always such a fast season, isn’t it? What with the abundant sunshine and long days keeping us up late and all the outdoor chores to be done it certainly seems like time flies. I’ve been away from this lovely little blog for far too long and an update of what I’ve been up to is overdue.

Sharing photos of some of my garden areas seems like a great place to begin. A 14′ x 25′  sunny back corner of our property is where our old truck sat for many years. We’ve since learned the hard way that vehicles really don’t like to sit unused. Suspension, frame and brakes sadly rusted up and she’s off to her new home, a family member with a collection of Chevy’s that could really use the good parts such as tires, windshield, tranny, and more. I feel like we signed her ‘donor card’ and she’s now living on in other old trucks! But once the sentimentalizing passed I began planning what could be done in that old parking pad, and voila! Witness the birth of my small raised bed garden.

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While I’ve had some resistance to sharing my less-than-perfect shots of my far-from-perfect new garden area, I decided that my love for this reborn area just might show through in this post. Plus, enough procrastinating! Hopefully you’ll enjoy and even feel inspired to grab some 1-foot wide boards at the lumber store. These were 12-foot lengths that they cut three times so I could have four 3-foot lengths for each box. Then the soil was delivered in huge bags and we have some left over, waiting to be wheel-barrowed over to the front perennial beds. I’ll just add that to the ever-lengthening To Do list!

Four tomato plants are likely too many for this bed, especially with four pepper plants lined up along the front, and never mind the swath of marigolds being overcome. Ahh… it’ll be fine. Still need to get out there and do some tying up of these sprawling tomatoes but their enthusiasm and daily growth inspires me.

Once we added landscape fabric and bark mulch it’s been feeling cozy back there. The tough fabric helps thwart the weeds and the bench offers a shady spot to sit between waterings. Oh, right. The waterings! Yes I’ve learned how quickly raised beds dry out in hot weather so be prepared if you make small beds. Twice daily watering for these thirsty tomatoes, peppers, basil, beans and summer squash.

One of my favorite statues in our gardens, Saint Francis, tenderly holds a lamb as they stand in a spot that is slowly being overcome with another rogue raspberry plant. Nothing a few snips with the clippers can’t fix but the bees adore those berry blossoms so much that I know St. Francis would have understood a little waiting. Also is a length of fence with a collection of birdhouses and another fence section with a few uplifting adornments behind some tall stands of Hollyhocks and Giant Yellow Mullein over by one of the rain barrels. That precious water-saving barrel is nearly hidden in this photo but it’s there nonetheless, nicely shaded by these giant staples of any self-respecting unkempt cottage garden.

raspberry abundanceAnd what would summer be without an (over) abundance of raspberries! Luckily they freeze beautifully and are delicious and nutritious in all kinds of muffins, smoothies, shortcakes and jams. Well plus fresh too of course. Yummy! Even Nikki, my old blind dog can still find her way to the low-hanging ripe berries for a self-serve tasty treat. Funny dog.

So I truly hope you have enjoyed this wee tour about my humble backyard patch of heaven. This evolving area has been bringing me tremendous joy. I shall endeavor to return with posts and updates much more frequently, my friends.
I trust you are doing well and enjoying your summer!
Until later (but not too much), cheers. Gina

Lift Up Your Hearts

Art of Maya Angelou by Bruni Sablan

Art of Maya Angelou by Bruni Sablan

“Living well is an art that can be developed: a love of life and ability to take great pleasure from small offerings and assurance that the world owes you nothing and that every gift is exactly that, a gift.” ~Maya Angelou
Born: April 4, 1928 (St. Louis, Missouri) 
Died: May 28, 2014 (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)
Her powerful, loving spirit will live on eternally in our hearts.

On The Pulse of Morning
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.

I will give you no more hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.

Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.

The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.

Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,

Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the Stone were one.

Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.

The River sings and sings on.

photo by Riyedh Al Ahmed

photo by Riyedh Al Ahmed

There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.

So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The Privileged, the Homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.

Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.

Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.

You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers- desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.

You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot…
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.

Here, root yourselves beside me.

I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.

I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours – your Passages have been paid.

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.

Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.

Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.

No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

~by Maya Angelou, read by the author at the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony, Jan. 20, 1993

 

With more love and respect and admiration than I can put into words… Maya Angelou was a true mentor and role model who taught such wisdom through her words and actions. She will continue to live on in our hearts, forever. Namaste. Gina

Go Outside

Art by Georgeta Blanaru

Art by Georgeta Blanaru

Living with long winters that dominate for half the year only makes the joys of springtime all the more blissful. May we all see the lessons and wisdom offered to us through Nature. She teaches us so much, and especially patience as the blooming will only happen in due time and not a moment sooner.

May you enjoy this late April, and may we all enjoy this April 22nd day to honour our Mother, the Earth. Happy Earth Day! May we all make time to be outside, and find a true connection. Namaste. 

Here’s a different Pinterest page I’ve created with incredible nature photography. It helps nourish my soul between real-life walks in wild places. May you enjoy!

Easy Easter Decor Ideas

I’m having the whole family over for a big dinner on Sunday evening and I’m so excited! To encourage those who are having people over this weekend, here’s some lovely decor ideas from creative people everywhere. It can be something quick and easy to show your Easter spirit.

In this second gallery, my photos are not the highest quality but they show a couple of simple ideas that can really add to the charm and festive feeling of your space. As you can see, the colourful chocolate eggs my husband picked up at Costco look delightful in a white vintage bowl. A simple banner across our hutch reminds of the reason for the season. A silk bouquet that lives atop a bookcase in the den has been brought out to the small sideboard in the dining area with a couple more of those chocolate eggs displayed in egg cups, along with a rabbit and a tiny nest. And the Easter banner along the back of the kitchen island is seen immediately when entering our home to welcome all to our Easter event. May you and yours have a blessed weekend.

The ‘HE IS RISEN’ banner is a free printable from Paula at AtoZebraCelebrations.com. Also here are my banner letters which I printed off on photo-quality paper, hole-punched and hung across the back of the kitchen island. Now this is my idea of quick decor! May you enjoy my free printable. Happy Easter!

Vintage Easter Greetings

Time has been flying around here as I am happily hosting our extended family Easter Dinner! Very exciting and yet little time for sharing all I’ve been up to, so today I want to share these delightful vintage greetings to bring a smile and a warm sense of nostalgia to your Easter weekend. Enjoy!

For a large collection of vintage Easter images, visit this wonderful Pinterest board:
http://www.pinterest.com/2scrapquilter3/easter/

Quick and Easy Crafts for Easter

When enjoying a gathering of friends and family for Easter, it’s nice to be able to offer the younger guests a craft to do. Here’s a few images of easy ideas with craft materials you might already have around. May we all have a delightful Easter weekend. Be well. Have fun. Enjoy!

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[Images from Google and Pinterest]