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DSC00129With this being the first day of spring I thought I’d keep it simple and as I have many first days of spring to remember now at my age, I thought this was best.

As a young boy spring was the time when the grass is new and time spent playing and rolling in it was a great adventure. As a teen spring meant spring fever and if you had any sense about you, it was hard to find. But as a young man spring meant new begins and courage to charge forward. However as an older man spring is hope and an understanding that life is cyclical and the promise of new life is in the air.

When as a younger man often I would write poetry and small verse, for some reason for me the transition from spring fever to young adult thought, shined through at that time. Jan came across some of my poems and I thought for this first day of spring I would share this small verse with you, one of Jan’s and my favorite.

    To the Sky I look to fly

            From the Soil I Grow to Live

      To the Tree I Hope to Be

           and the Spirit a Life to Live

Thank you for taking a moment to think of spring with me, and hold this simple verse as a gift to grow in strength from where and who you are.

A thought; Reminder that all we really need is all around us, we just need to understand that.

 

 

 

Hope’s Gentle Gem, tender moments, with beauty and grace remember me.

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Latin name ” myositis ” meaning, mouse ear, is a wonderful sky blue and bright-eyed flower of the brook where they grow naturally and abundantly, and when you encounter them in full bloom it leaves you breathless.

As I start to write this, my mind wonders a little and I’m thinking what would I want to be remembered for, what is my legacy to be? I hope one of caring and giving, that I lived each day as if it was my last and that I helped to bring a little heaven to earth by way of the gardens I helped to grow and nurture. That with time would fade and with a knowing that perhaps others might follow in my foot steps will help to forget me not, for I was a part of something bigger than myself. Just knowing this brings me peace.

In any case, forget-me-not’s are wonderful at self seeding, and very easy to grow from seed. So once you plant them they will follow the wind across your garden and surprise you on where they choose to show up, for that alone I admire them. They like most soil types but do really well in moist conditions where they quickly multiply and create great drifts. Beginning their bloom with the daffodils and tulips.

In the nineteenth century they became recognized as a garden flower as a welcoming addition to the pond and waters edge, and quickly became the symbol of one’s undying love and devotion, and became a gift of love and remembrance.

Forget- me- not’s make great cut flowers and will last in a vase for a week or more, the small bright blue flower clusters will brighten any place you put them and people always seem to notice them. Thus remembering them is easy.

These plants grow in many of the countries of the world and have many legends told about them, one of my favorite is the one  where God after creating the earth comes to name all of the animals and plants and after doing so, he starts to return to heaven when he hears a tiny voice at his feet saying ” what about me? ” He bent down and picked up the little plant whom he had forgotten, and said, ” Because I forgot you once, I shall never forget you again, and that shall be your name.”

When they are in bloom, which is most of the season, I can’t help but to be reminder of so many people and places that have come and gone in my life, some with joy and some with sadness and regret, but always with a knowing that this beautiful little humble flower reminds us never to forget and to go forward with great beauty.

In the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: ” Silently one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.”

A thought; Let’s not forget where we came from and to be aware of where we are going. Forget-me-not!

As I am writing, the waxing moon is becoming full and its rising in the horizon is large and intense, and with the clear cold evening star lit sky the moon looks larger and brighter than ever. The reflexive sun light creates long branching finger like shadows of the trees across the glistening drifts of snow and a sense of mysterious knowing happens.

The Shire Garden is quite now and only the haunting hoots of the large snow owl fills the evening air. As the moon slowly rises higher, the shadows move and the scene changes once again, the shadows shrink and the white of the snow appears more blue in tone and the evergreens grow darker in color and the stars twinkle more intensely. I notice now that the heavens have opened up to me and the clouds of the galaxy are noticeable.

This full moon on March fifth is called the Worm moon, as March is the month to which the worms begin their work. How ever here in the Shire garden there lies three feet of snow upon the ground and I think the worms might be confused below the frost that lies beneath the snow.

This next week with the waning moon I will start some of my seeds as this is the best time to do so. It is believed that root start is strong during this phase of the moon’s cycle. Thus well established roots will help thrust forth leaves and stem growth as the new to waxing moon brings upward growth to the next full moon.

The moon and sun and stars have always played and important role in the garden as well as in animal husbandry, and farmers know this well. If you spend enough time in the garden you will come to understand just what I’m talking about, the heavens have a lot to do with what we are doing on earth and we are best to know  and to accept that as fact.

I told you a year ago or so that I planed to garden more by the stars and for the last year it has proven to do the garden well, things seem to be in more harmony with each other and the growth and colors have been better and the weeding less, [ not to sure what that is all about ] but I’ll take it any way. So you see working with the universe and in harmony with the energy around you, beautiful things happen.

Make a simple moon cycle chart on paper and plan your daily work around the phases of the moon, go to www.moonconnection.com  you’ll be surprised by how much better things will workout in the garden as well as in your life. Perhaps for the first time you will really experience the strength of a full moon rising, you may even want to howl!

When I look at the moon I often find myself to be reflective in thought, I get a sense of mystery and a touch of romance and always feel like I’ve been here before. Perhaps its that lunar lure people talk about or maybe its just magic with a touch of imagination.

A thought; When we allow the rhythm of the universe in, we to glow like the moon and stars.

 

 

To have or not to have, this is the question every garden owner asks as they listen to the garden trends of the moment. Because they are sometimes over used in the garden, some people find it to be busy looking and that you lose sight of the beauty of the plants and flowers.

Statuary and garden ornamentation can be as simple as a small stone bird to a statue of a god and goddess of angles,  then there are fountains and urns of stone, benches and bird baths and of just about anything we humans can imagine to be found in the garden. That is how and why some gardens can become crowed with so many. So with that knowledge in mind we might be a little more sympathetic to those who might have gone a little over board.

Outdoor ornamentation has been around a lot longer than cultivated gardens. Throughout history and as long as man has been on this planet we have  placed them as tributes to deities, or in memory of great leaders and famous warrior’s. They have always been linked to great civilizations of antiquity as their remains are found all around the world in the ancient ruins. All of this may have started with the early cave people who etched such things into their cave stone walls.

As the European world started to expand so did  great wealth, and the large mansions and gardens and grounds became show places for some of these great finds, although this is not the first time we find them in the garden, it is the first time they began to commercialize them for such use and it is the industrial Victorian age that we see it in full acceptance of use in the garden. It is during this time period, when great fortunes were made here in the United States. The wealthiest of wealth could commission great sculptors to create wonderful ornamentation for their large mansions and for their vast landscape and formal gardens.

Today we see all kinds of ornamentation being added to the garden because of reproductions and low-cost and the thing to keep in mind is that the true use of this garden art is to achieve balance and points of interest. You can also use this art to convey a message or to simply give tribute to an area or view, as well as a place to stop and to reflex for a moment.

You will find all kinds of price ranges out there and the best advice I can give is to take your time consider its placement and sun value upon its appearance and always look at the material it is made of, for that will determine its timely appearance and life span in the garden. Not all stone is equal and not all material last for ever.

So I will answer the question of just how many is too many? It’s your garden and as I’ve said it before and now, again, The garden is where you go to create who you are, in a way that only you know how. Just remember, not everyone will understand.

A thought; Beauty and knowing why, is in the eye’s and mind of the beholder.

 

 

If ever there was a view that made you think that time had stood still it would be one of a snow-covered garden. The stillness as the snow falls blanketing the trees and ornamental’s with an outline of white lace that is so fine and soft. The softness is all about the garden, the quiet whiteness is like being in the clouds and there is a comfort in that.

The empty clay pots have beautiful white rings and the statues are topped with white hats and the evergreens bow their branches with white lace gloves. The vines twist and curl as the snow dances through them as if none of this existed at all. That some great silent white ball was taking place and only the garden was invited.

Everything seems as if time has stopped and much of the garden floor is deep below the snow and only small glimpse of what is there are now just mounds in the snow. The stone walls are gone from view and the whole Shire Garden is asleep beneath this white comforter and I know all is well.

We call this snow poor mans fertilizer for all of the nutrients it will deliver to the soil when it melts in the spring, and the flowers this coming year will be even prettier.

As the snow falls there is a magical feeling in the air and the cloud cover makes for hardly a shadow to be found upon the snow and that of its self is something to notice for it allows the red and yellow twigs of the dogwoods and willows to show more brilliantly against the white back drop.

For us in the northern hemisphere snow is our friend, it insulates and protects our plants from drying out and or freeze. It reflexes light and that helps with our shorter days of light now. The snow also allows me to see where the Rabbits trails are, so that I might change that in the spring.

Snow, frozen rain, and each with its own shape and size how wonderful is that and here in the Shire Garden once again this snow gives yet another still picture of time standing still.

The quiet in this picture is one of knowing that there is a time for work and growth and a time for rest and it is that rest when most work is done.

A thought; Comfort is knowing that the snows of our life are there to protect and nourish.

We have had so much snow in the last two weeks that with today’s sun and cabin fever setting in, I thought outside air and a walk through the drifted snow was in good order. I saw an open spot of bare ground where the wind had blown the snow away up in Oak Grove and thought that was a good sunny spot to stand for a while and to look back upon the Shire Garden to see how things had weathered the storms so far.

Well getting there was quite a walk with snow drifts up to my hips, good workout though. As I stood in the cleared area and dusted the snow from my pants, the sun was warm and everything in the snow sparkled like crystals, with the sun light dancing through it, and it made me stop, just to notice such beauty.

Stomping the snow from my boots I noticed some green at my feet and I stooped a little closer to look at this green and to my surprise, it was Trailing Arbutus or May Flower and it was in bud with some bloom and all I wanted to do was to call out to someone to come and see, I found Spring here in all this snow, But at last, I was alone and shared my find with a fat gray squirrel heading to the bird feeder, he didn’t seem to care much, it was more about I was in his way.

Trailing Arbutus, May Flower, Ground Laural ( Epigaea repens ) meaning ” crawling upon the earth ” and should not be confused as the flower named for the Pilgrims ship the Mayflower, that was named for the European blossom of the crab apple tree. Arbutus have small up to two-inch evergreen leaves with a fine fuzz on them that helps to protect it from cold winters and the waxy five pedaled flowers form in small clusters and the fragrance is spicy sweet and are wonderful to eat as well. Member of the Heath Family a classified division, Magnaliophyta, order Ericales, family Ericaceae. Native habitat along woodland cart paths and pine and oak forest floors where mosses grow well. Poor to transplant and is best if left were found to enjoy. Bloom time is early spring through May but here in the Shire’s Oak Grove it seem to be in bloom year round. Once on the almost over collected list, to the point of rarity. The state flower of Massachusetts, its protected by law, and should not be picked or removed from public lands and road sides.

images61B9J142 images2I7Q4QZY wld2 wld2       Growing up in the rural country side it wasn’t unusual to know all of the secret spots of where the wild flowers grow and it was always gramma who would say to me I think we should see if the arbutus or the lady slipper’s are in bloom its close to that time, and we would head out on great flower finding adventures, the rule though was never reveal the spot where the wild flowers or blueberries are found because others will come and pick them. To this day I hesitate to tell where the wild things grow.

So here I stand out in Oak Grove in a sunny snow free spot enjoying my first glimpse of spring with no one but the birds, squirrels and the trees of the Shire Garden, and you know, that’s fine, because who better, than my best friends to share it with.

A thought; There is a first for a lot of things, but knowing there are always first’s makes life wonderful.

When I was very young at the age of four or five, I would accompany my Dad to our church on Saturday morning, as he was Deacon and he would ready the church for Sunday worship. During the summer season church members like, Mr. Bowen would bring in a large bucket filled with their garden flowers and his was always his prized gladiolus for the altar vases. I remember how beautiful the colors where and the long flower stalks where as tall as I was at the time. Mr. Bowen would combine the colors so that they looked nicely together and he would tell me all about the hundreds of colors he had in his garden, he would say the best part of gladiolus was that every year you get a new corm from each plant. ( A corm is some what of a bulb that is the food storage for the growth and flower for the next year.) similar to rhizomes, tubers and bulbs. Early that fall Mr. Bowen gave me about 50 gladiolus corms for spring planting in my garden and he told me not to plant them all at one time, plant seven to ten every other week till they are all planted, that way I would have flowers all summer.

As an older man working in my flower shop I grew to under appreciate the gladiolus because of their over use in funeral arrangements and just seeing them, for me, made me think of death. However the flower means nothing of death. The flower signifies strength of character, sometimes called ” Corn Lilies or Sword Lilies”  The word Gladius in Latin is ” the little sword” which was the flower of the Roman Gladiators whom used the corms as amulets for protection. They also grow abundantly in the Holy Land and are thought to be the lilies of the field mentioned in the Bible. So you see there is a lot more behind these flowers.

The gladiolus is made up of three main groups; Grandiflorus, Primulinus and the Nanus ( or butterfly ) and most of their origins are from south Africa, thus they are not cold hardy plants and in colder regions of the world, must be dug and stored in a warmer place for the winter, to which they do very well with little to no care till spring. This is when you separate the new corm from the older one and your corm count doubles, with the new corm bloom being the same as the parent.

I plan to plant more of these Sword Lilies in the Shire Garden this year, but of the older varieties for the smaller flowers with a greater sword appearance in their foliage that will create more character to the flower beds, and will be a great addition to our flower arrangements, as they make great cut flowers. This is the time of year when you order glad’s, and remember the first order you don’t need many, for in the coming years ahead you will have more than you’ll need.

Looking back to those early days in the church with my Dad, I can’t help but feel a little nostalgic about Mr. Bowen and  his cultivation and hybridizing of his beautiful gladiolus and what I could have learned from him today.

lilies of the feild

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thought;  Never put off the questions of today, for the answers could be lost in tomorrow.

January is a long month of cold temperatures and over cast days and I thought it was a good time for a flower story.

This is one of many short stories I have written about the flowers and it takes place on a magical Island called, “Laurels”.

Snapdragon

High above the lush green valleys stands the stony mountain of Lair. Here the rocks are step and upright, yet clinging in the cracks and crevasses are thousands of alpine flowers that help to transform this difficult area into a magical place. This is where the dragon of Laurel lives and it is here that our legend begins.

A dragon’s lair is a place of great wonder, for dragons are known to collect all things that shimmer and shine. Great hordes of treasures and trash are collected here. A great horde makes for a mighty dragon.

This lair was filled with golden candle sticks and chairs of gold guilt, dishes of silver and diamonds and jewels so vast that they set the whole of the lair aglow with the most wonderful colors. This was truly a most mighty dragon.

It has been recorded that dragons live to the age of five hundred years and over those years his main job is to collect his weight in wealth. The dragon of Laurels has done his job very well in deed.

He knew his days where growing near to an end and he worried about his many treasures day and night. He wanted no other young dragon to take his lives work from him, and on this matter he worried often.

One morning the dragon woke from a dream, in this dream he saw himself as a younger dragon again, and after much thinking on the matter decided that all he had to do was to give away some of his precious treasure. That if he did this good deed he would be given a new lease on life.

This is a very hard thing for a dragon to do, because by nature dragons are greedy and always presume everyone is out to take what they have.

This dragon was truly the greediest of all and smart too, he figured that if he gave just a few of his small treasures away that it would not only allow him to live another five hundred years, but would also make room for more treasure for his lair, this made for a very happy dragon!

Thus the dragon of Laurel’s Lair Mountain filled a great sack with the smallest of his treasured jewels of every color, and decided to hide them about the island thinking no one would find them spread so far and wide. As each jewel snapped from the greedy tight grip of the dragon, they fell to the ground like great hail. Where each jewel landed an unusual flower sprang from the soil marking its hiding place and its color.

The good people of Laurel where so taken by these keepers of the jewel flower, that they named them after the giver, the Snapdragon.

The snapdragon flowers have fell into many a greedy hand, but when the greedy person holds on to tight the dragon shaped flower head snaps open and the true colors are on display for all to see.

A thought; Often from strange places and under even stranger circumstances beautiful gifts can come to us.

The temperature outside is around 2 degrees on this blustery January morning, although the sun is out the wind chill is about 10 degrees below. I guess there will be no outside gardening today, so this is a good day to read and to write. Finding the sunniest spot in the house which is the sofa in the parlor was my first mission.

With a 8 foot palm tree over my head I imagine myself on some private island in the Caribbean where the flowers are in full bloom, the temps in the 70’s and a soft sea breeze rustles through the palms. But as I am not in that location, reality sets in and as I look about me, I see that I have created a sort of oases of my own. I have orchid plants and ferns in the bay window and a 8 foot palm here behind the sofa. That alone gave me a feeling of warmth.

About 12 years ago I purchased this palm – Phoenix roebelenii ( Dwarf Date Palm ) at about a 3 foot height at Home Depot, because I was using it for a one season plant as a center plant in one of the pool side displays, thinking it would give a great island feel, plus the price was right for that purpose. The palm did well and looked so good all that summer that the thought, letting it freeze wasn’t to happen, then it became one of those plants that did so well that even the thought of letting it go was out of the question. Well needless to say 12 years later the palm is 8 foot tall and our ceiling are the same. I read that the maximum height of these palms are 10 feet. So either we make it fit or we cut a hole in the ceiling, and that is something I would think about, but my wife Jan probably would frown upon.

Taking plants in to the home or greenhouse is something we must do in the northern hemisphere if we are to keep our gardening sanity, just to have some growing green and flowers around us helps to occupy our thoughts and gives us something to care for. Just remember don’t over water and feed moderately and give as much light as you can to them and most plants will come through the winter months well.

It was the Victorian that first brought the palms to the parlor because of their beauty and grace and ease of care with low light tolerance. I must say that the 12 years our palm has been with us, other than feeding and one repotting because of their small root system it has been one of the easiest plants I have ever had. Not to mention the warm memories it brings to the cottage.

So I’m thinking tonight some candles, colorful fruit drinks with little umbrellas, Island music and thoughts of where I should be, right here on my own tropical island in Acorn Cottage.

A thought; If its not the right palm, it may not be for the parlor.

 

 

 

 

I am writing this while traveling to our daughter’s home in the Carolina’s. I can’t help but think of her as a little girl with wide blue eyes, clapping her hands each time the Christmas tree was lit and the wonderous looks she gave to each of the many ornaments, and my heart grows heavy with those many memories.

Our granddaughter Savannah I was told turns their tree on and claps her hands with excitement and I can’t wait to get there. There will be hugs and kisses all around and a wonderful dinner, I am sure, as Jan will take on being mom/gramma and tend to the kitchen with her loving ways.

It is a Holiday Wish that all of us could be together at Alexsandra’s as she is the youngest and this will be their first Christmas at her home with us.

Jan’s Mom and Dad are on their way and  it will be a joy to see them.

Abigail and her family will be missed, but in our hearts this year and always, as her husbands duties keep them at their home in Oklahoma this year.

My Holiday Wish, is for a garden filled with family and   friends, for health and happiness and the wisdom to remember what is truly important, that where ever you are and what ever you do, live in the moment, it is the only real garden to tend with love.

Wishing you, Happy Holidays with Love !

A thought; Love is one of the best ingredient for everything, use it freely, it is not limited.