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Welcome to my plant-filled world. Come into this space and absorb the sublime teachings of the plant world. The insights I have gained from working with the earth and the plant kingdom has birthed Planting My Voice. The plant kingdom is profoundly giving and loving. It has provided me with beautiful gardens, professional growth, a sacred connection to Mother Earth and an avenue for the unfolding of personal and divine truths. Planting My Voice is dedicated to all who desire to create a passionate and sacred life via the gardening experience.

Where do we go from here? Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Greetings all. The view from the front door.  After a rainfall.  Everything washed and pristine.  The path can take you anywhere you want to go.  Which way do you want to go?  How do you decide?  Is there an inner voice telling you where to go?  Or do you listen to louder voices that aren’t your own… Once upon a time, we all listened to our own voice.  We were in tune with what we really wanted.  It was aligned with a greater consciousness.  We got waylaid and forgot our connection to our inner voice and Prime Source.  We lost our way. Now we have help.  Helpers are at our beck and call.  All we need do is ask and it is here.  Can you allow yourself to remember the beauty, clarity and tone of your own voice?  That’s why I am writing this blog.  To help myself and you to remember the voice, the call to why we are here on this beloved Planet Earth.  We mustn’t be shy.  When we recognize the true origin of our voice, how can we err?  No inner critics surface.  The purity of thoughts communicated through the voice.  My voice.  Your voice. Of course we have a voice that we communicate with during our interactions with society.  However the voice that speaks Truth, Goodness, Beauty and Love longs to be heard. Many are ready to listen. Syncronicities occur and voila,  another human being wakes up and remembers why they are here.   Are you becoming an awakened one?  Join me on this journey of recovery.  Planting My Voice has germinated and is ready to grow.  Winter may be around the corner, but it is warm and sunny inside always. Growing conditions are ideal—–an open heart and sacred mind merged together to create the fertile ground of Planting My Voice.

Relationship Saturday, January 8th, 2011

I love to garden. Gardening is an important part of my life.  It began in adolescence and it continues to support and inspire me on a daily basis.  I have a large indoor collection of plants.  I also garden outdoors.   Gardening outdoors is a greater commitment but the yields are also much greater on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level. My concrete planter, shown to the left of this paragraph, is very special.  The planter represents Mother Earth.   As a gardener, I strive to create a sacred relationship with Mother Earth.  She nurtures me and I in turn nurture her.   It is a reciprocal relationship and if you garden, you understand what I am talking about. Though the planter is made of concrete and appears hard and tough, its expression is loving and tender.  I believe Mother Earth is loving and tender.  My relationship with Mother Earth improves as I tend to myself with the  same nurturance and love I give to Her.   We are living in phenomenal times and it behooves us to examine our relationship with self, family, friends, spouses, co-workers and God.  The Mother Earth is undergoing many changes as she releases energies that do not support Her Being.  Her Being desires a joyous, peaceful and harmonious existence.  I concur, so do I.

The Power of The Snow Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Snow again. The white of the snow surrounds us.   Peacefulness resides now.   It’s as if everything has undergone a cleansing.  I love the snow.   I like that it makes the frantic pace of life slow down.   Subconsciously I bet that a lot of people also relish the snow.  It does make people frantic the day or days leading to it.   The supermarket shelves are emptied and then we go home to burrow in anticipation of the snow.  The green of the evergreen trees pronounces that we too, like them,  can weather the storms of the winter and the storms of our own makings, our inner storms. The hints of color, the red of the winterberries, adds just the right oomph to get us going and do our thing.  What’s your thing?  What gives you a charge?  By a charge, I mean a healthy charge.  One can get a charge via less healthy ways — smoking, excessive drinking, recreational drugs, etc.  Yet how does one know that it is time to create a new charge in one’s life that is healthy?  Something inside is calling, trying to get your attention.  Do you listen?  Do  you know how to listen to  yourself?  Not mind chatter.   Something beyond.  An inner call.   A yearning.  Do you allow  yourself to feel the possibility that something is askew?  Well, that is your inner voice calling out to you.  It wants to be heard and acknowledged.  Otherwise it does begin to harass you.  This uncomfortable feeling that you get can also rebound and get caught up in the Why Me? scenario.  It takes inner strength to move beyond the daily habitual grind.  Yes you have the strength and access to resources that can help you.  It may be buried, covered up by the debris of negative behavior and thoughts.  It too, like the snow, can melt to reveal what lies underneath.  The person you are meant to be.  Strong, thoughtful, insightful and wise.  Looks like the snow won’t be melting too fast, given the weather report.  Let this time awaken in you a desire to cleanse your thoughts and actions.  Before you know it the spring will have sprung and so can you.

Angel of the Morning, Noon and Night Saturday, January 29th, 2011

The snow came and stayed for quite a while, depositing lots of snow and causing a busy day. Many were happy about this, a lot not.   Some of the roads that were plowed were still unsafe to drive.  What is all this snow telling us?   We’ll come back to this. Take a look at the newest addition to the outdoor garden.  I was given this angel by  a dear friend who moved back to the city.  It’s an angel made out of a resin and I call her Lady Angel.  Her wings are immense.  She is sitting on a cement bench next to an old maple tree, surrounded by the pristine snow and appears peaceful.   The snow can play havoc especially if we have to go somewhere, but if we don’t have to, we can just enjoy this gift.  Why fight it? When we fight it, we fight with ourselves ultimately.   When we accept whatever is presenting itself, then we remind ourselves that we are part of the whole and all is in divine order.  How often do we get a chance to stop the mind chatter, cleanse our thoughts and merge with our surroundings?  Snow does just that.  More snow is predicted later this week.  Listen to the silence, observe, breathe and let yourself feel beauty and stillness in every atom and cell of your being.  Lady Angel is also doing just that.

Weather connections Thursday, February 10th, 2011

No one is excused from this lesson. The snow, the rain, the ice, the cold, the windchill —  they are weaving in and out of our daily experiences. Winter is cycling through despite our objections.  We’re grateful for the balance of sunny days, hot chocolate, wood-burning stoves and the comforts of home. We’re being asked to be aware.  Whatever is happening outside, is also occurring inside of us.  Whatever is out in the macro is also in the micro.  This occurs, as Leonardo da Vinci says, because everything is related to everything else.  Can we bring warm and fuzzy thoughts into our daily existence even if the weather elements are harsh?  When the newscasters or radio hosts tell you it is “miserable” outside, do you subscribe to that by adding misery to your day or do you say, I think Mother Earth is painting a beautiful day with whites and grays?  Yes it can be a commuting hassle if you have to get to work, school, do errands.  Just slow down and be aware of how your thoughts are creating your day.  The 4 seasons give us a chance to go with the flow.  Irregularities within each season present interesting weather events.  Do we fight it and in the process fight ourselves or do we accept it and seek solutions?   How we respond to the weather challenges can be a lesson as to how we respond to our life’s other challenges.

Windy Weather-Blow by Blow Saturday, February 19th, 2011

The wind is blowing hard outside. I observe the tree branches as they dance with the wind.  The matted leaves in the garden beds are being hurled up in the air by the wind.   The wind chimes and the black crows add to the musical sounds of the outdoors. Grateful for yesterday’s delightful 60 degree weather, I accept the return of winter weather in the form of strong winds. The wind is shaking me, stirring me, reminding me to stay grounded, just like the tree roots anchor the tree to the earth. Don’t need to get up-rooted.  The tree has its support system in place.  I do too.  I watch from the safety of indoors as the movie outside my window plays. Life moves on, we can’t stop it.  We watch in silence.  We feel what it stirs up.  Safety issues, support issues, trust issues and more.  We observe our thoughts and dislodge those thoughts and beliefs that may have served us in the past, but now are destructive, out-dated and self-defeating.  As we clear and discharge, we feel lighter, relieved that we do not have to lead our lives with a chain and heavy ball attached to us.  We make the decision that life presents opportunities and lessons for growth everywhere we look. We do not need to look far.  It is staring right back at us.

Hint of Spring Monday, February 28th, 2011 It’s February 28, 2011 today and according to the Gardening by the Moon 2011 calendar, the Spring Equinox will occur on Sunday, March 20. 2011. We’ve experienced a challenging, cold winter and now we see hints of spring. We see daffodils and other early spring bulbs emerging from the ground, the buds of the magnolia trees are swelling and the smell of spring is in the air. We’ve made it to this point and we are almost ready to shed our coats, hats, gloves and scarves.  Our boots will likely remain on, not only for practical gardening reasons, but because boots feel so good on. This swollen bud of the Cucumber Magnolia tree is getting ready to open soon.  Note the hair like projections on the outer coat of the bud.  It is fascinating to me that it looks so similar to the fibers of our woolen winter coats.  Just another example of the numerous people-plant relationships that I will write about in future posts. It’s raining again today, the remaining snow on the ground is melting and new growth is emerging.  It is safe to come out.   We will also have to come out of our own shells and begin anew.  Are you ready to create something new?  I am.

Plant Buying Has Begun Sunday, March 6th, 2011

How can I resist buying perennials at the nursery when (1) they have wintered over successfully (2) they are extremely well priced and (3) they’d look great in my newly expanded garden bed?  Thus I purchased 6 flats of various succulents.   Because they are last season’s plants, they are fuller, perhaps a bit rootbound, but no matter–they’ll spread quickly in the newly created beds and I won’t have to be so vigilant about their watering needs.  Succulents do very well in a well-drained, sunny location and are drought tolerant. The day after my succulents purchase, I received a call from my local Agway garden store.  My goumi berry plants arrived.   Upon arrival, I was greeted by Agway’s entire collection of just delivered fruit trees and berry plants.   I was so excited .  I had first pick of everything.  An hour later, my truck was filled with 2 Asian pear dwarf trees, 1 apricot tree, 3 goumi shrubs, 3 kiwi vines, 1 blueberry shrub, 3 raspberry shrubs and 1 fig tree.  I didn’t plan to get as many plants as I did.  Afterwards though I was glad that I did.  I’ve been planning to create an edible landscape and expand food self-sufficiency.   I am reading Martin Crawford’s book, Creating a Forest Garden, Working With Nature to Grow Edible Crops to help me select the appropriate plants for my edible landscaping gardens., These past two days were productive.  I was at the right place and at the right time.  It confirmed the direction that I would like to take with my gardens.    Fellow hard core gardeners were also surveying the new plant deliveries.  We are a committed group of plant lovers. Speaking of plant lovers, I attended the opening day of the Philadelphia Flower Show today.  Lots of extraordinary displays highlighting the Springtime in Paris theme.  I particularly enjoyed the individual plants on display that other gardeners/collectors enter in different categories — cacti, succulents, orchids, ferns, etc.  As usual for the show, attendance was high, and inspiration was present at every corner.   One of the plants on display, Echeveria ‘Sunburst’ was my favorite.  This Echeveria is a succulent that is grown indoors.  It can be brought outdoors in the summertime and early fall.  Most of my indoor collection of Echeverias enjoy summering outdoors in a sunny but protected spot. The retail section of the Flower Show was busy.  People are ready to start gardening.  Tomorrow will be my official start day for cleaning up my garden beds and exposing the new growth.  It’ll be a day of surprises and remembrances as I rediscover what I planted last year.

The Gifts of the Garden Thursday, March 10th, 2011

The Philadelphia Flower Show is in town this week. One can feast their eyes on incredible displays of indoor and outdoor flowering plants, partake in educational exhibits/classes and buy plants, supplies and other plant-related products.  This once-a-year event attracts people from all across the USA and the world.  I was working at the American Horticultural Therapy Association’s exhibit yesterday and spoke to many attendees who came to the show to absorb the beauty of the plant world and to be inspired by the creativity and apply what they’ve seen or learned in their own gardens.   Yes, it can get very crowded and there are lines to see the displays, especially the “miniatures” displays.  All in all, a wonderful place to surround oneself with the beauty and joy of the plant world and the imaginative floral displays. One of the displays of interest was the treasure chest terrarium planted with succulents.  A treasure chest usually houses valuable items, in this case, a valuable collection of plants.  Some plants command lots of money, especially if they are rare.  But a collection of plants such as these succulents grown in this unique “planter” offers surprise, comic relief and a unique way of repurposing containers. I own many glass globes that house ferns, begonias and mosses.  The glass globes usually have a cover or lid and they are purposely used to create a warm, moist and humid environment for certain plants such as ferns and mosses. This treasure chest further inspired me to write about the valuable gifts that the garden and gardening activities offer us.  As a horticulturist and horticultural therapist, I use the garden and gardening activities to help clients “grow” in many ways.  There’s a saying, “As the garden grows, so does the gardener”.  We are drawn to the garden to engage with nature, in a passive or active way.  We enter this world because we intrinsically know that connecting with nature connects us to the inner garden within us.  The peace, calm and understanding that we gain is a gift to us from the natural world.  It’s 53° now and rainy.  Can’t garden today but the ground is readying herself for a wonderful growing season with you.

Greening Up Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 The abundance of snow this winter coupled with the latest rains has created a green oasis here on my property. Verdant moss is growing on the oak and maple trees, especially at the base of the trees where the roots begin to fan out and penetrate the ground.  The carpet effect of the moss is certainly inviting, but today is still cold,  and there’ll be no barefoot walks for a while.  The soil is very water-logged and in some parts of my property, water is pooling. That area is my rain garden and I have planted many shrubs that are wet soil tolerant, such as Itea, Ilex verticillata, Clethra, Myrica, Aesculus, High-bush blueberry and Elderberry.   I am so thankful for the variety of shrubs that are available to us and thrive in our particular area.   Last summer, my wet-tolerant shrubs were barely surviving due to the prolonged hot and dry weather and I did have to water them.  Now that these shrubs have 1 full year of growing behind them, their roots are established in the earth and they’ll be less needy. These shrubs are native to our area and they will be able to withstand variations in the weather. And variations in the weather we are getting.  Cold nights, warmer days. Warm nights, colder days.  No matter,  the earth is telling us that spring is coming.   The garden plants are beginning to wake up from their winter dormancy, some plants are early to break dormancy, others much later. Some plants fool you into thinking that they are dead, but then they finally emerge. Perennial hibiscus sends up new shoots later than most plants.  So does Asclepius tuberosa, butterfly weed.  Lessons in patience, brought to you by Mother Earth. This past week’s world-wide geological events, earthquakes, tsunamis and rainfall has affected everyone.  While we send loving thoughts, prayers, assistance and donations to Japan and its people, let us not forget to send loving thoughts and prayers to our Mother Earth.  Those of us who garden, feel a deep kinship with the Earth.  When we garden we also heal the Earth.  As gardeners, we tend that piece of Earth that is ours, also with the intent and desire to inspire others to garden and bring healing to our Mother Earth.  The Earth is undergoing a cleansing, a flushing from all the toxins that have been cast upon her and we are asked now to assist her in her re-birthing.  When one gardens, the Earth naturally bathes the gardener in her loving energy and that is why we feel so good after we garden.  A mindful and holistic approach to gardening with Mother Earth will be addressed in the next blog post.  In the meantime, feel the loving energy that is present as you begin the annual spring garden cleanup.  Expose the new green growth to daylight and most important, your love and nurturance.

THE YOGA OF GARDENING Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 As a yoga practitioner I always begin my practice with an invocation. As a gardener, I also begin my gardening activities with an invocation.  I call upon the Mother Earth and the Elementals to be present with me as I tend the land.  I ask that I be inspired to garden responsibly and   respectfully.  I ask that we cocreate together a garden environment  that is beautiful, healing, playful and joyous.  I also ask for their assistance with the physical work in the garden.  I state my gratitude and I begin.  Afterwards, I marvel at the yielding soil when I use my spade to enrich the soil or to plant.  The immensity of the physical work is lessened because of the “behind the scenes” activities of the Elementals.  I strongly believe that the Elementals are benevolent, supportive and loving.  No, I do not see them.  No, I do not hear them.  I feel them. As with everything in life, it is paramount that we live in the present moment.  Being aware and attuned to the present moment opens one to the richness of the moment.  I surprise myself at the sheer volume of distracting thoughts that pass through my head when I garden.  I often remind myself that as I garden I weed extraneous thoughts thereby creating emptiness in the mind.  Not empty, as in lack.  Empty, as in freedom from unnecessary mind chatter.  It is from this emptiness or, if I may use another oft-used word in yoga, spaciousness, that I can feel and connect with the energies of the earth and bring forth their inspiring messages.  It can range from choosing the right plant to plant in the right location to a new way of doing, creating, or designing the garden.  The messages can also inspire answers, solutions or healing to other situations in your life.  For me, inspiring messages from the Elementals come through to me via my feelings.  When I begin to question the feelings, then I know that my ego is questioning the validity of my feelings.  These feelings can be a gut feeling, intuition, warmth in the heart area or possibly, a tearing in the eyes.  These feelings can be felt only at that moment, and that is why I strongly recommend consistent awareness of the present moment.  When one gardens and simultaneously thinks about past or future events, it takes one away from the actual activity.  The question to ask is, who is actually doing the work if you are not mindful of what you are doing? In a previous post, I mentioned that I would share with you how I connect with the Earth energies.   Immediately before I begin to garden, I silence my mind.  I stand tall and feel the bottoms of my feet connect to the earth.  I consciously take three deep breaths, beginning each breath from the belly and guiding the breath to the chest, and then I slowly exhale the breath.  I mentally invite the Elementals to be present with me and to guide me in a way that is safe and comfortable for me.  I state my gratitude to these beloved energies for their presence, assistance and guidance.  I begin the garden work and trust that all that I do and feel is purposeful, inspired and in accordance with the nurturance of Mother Earth.

Partnership Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Bluebirds have begun nesting in the bluebird-specific birdhouses around the farmhouse. Because my favorite color is blue, it is only natural that I have an affinity for bluebirds. The bright blue male and (less colorful) female are shown sitting on my clothes line. The clothes line is close to my conservatory, so I was able to patiently capture this photograph from the indoors. The birds generally stay together throughout the breeding season thereby I’ll be enjoying their company this Spring. Note the personal space surrounding each bird on the clothes line. It was also a vibrant yet cold day as evidenced by the puffy female. We’ve been having unseasonable cold weather the past few days, which I believe is positively extending the bloom season for the spring flowering bulbs. I don’t mind this extended cold spell at all, I rather enjoy it. It is giving me more time to clean up the gardens and study the bare bones of the garden. Others have chosen to grumble about the weather extremes. I feel that the more we rage against the weather elements, the more we rage against ourselves. When we rage at circumstances beyond our control, we lose sight of what the message is. In the case of weather, we can go with the literal flow, bundle up with hat, gloves, scarf, umbrella and boots. Or we can lose sight and add to the negative thoughts. We have a choice. Do we partner with a greater power to support and guide us or do we succumb to fear-based thoughts that attract more displeasure? Yes, it’s been very cold. Despite it, the sun was shining today, the sky was blue and the wind was stirring a bit. The bluebirds on the clothes line chose to create life and vitality through their partnership. I am choosing to create a haven by welcoming my avian visitors. The bluebirds, cardinals, American goldfinches, juncos, bluejays, American robins, herons, woodpeckers and ducks respond to the elements with acceptance, not defeat. Challenges that are facing humanity now reveal just how resilient, creative and powerful we truly are. Let’s partner with all of creation so that we can create a peaceful and bountiful environment for all.

Beckoning Hands Monday, April 4th, 2011 The emerging leaves of the Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) beckon to me. The leaves look like hands calling out for my attention.   It seems as if the leaves are talking to me, ” come a little bit closer, you’re my kind of gal”.  Yes I am that kind of gal.  I am a gal that loves to garden.  Every morning I walk around the gardens and greet every newly emerging perennial, herb or self-sowing annual.   Likewise, I nod to newly sprouted buds on the shrubs and trees.  It’s like greeting friends that I haven’t seen for a while.   I have planted many, many plants and I am so grateful when the plants and I reunite in the springtime. After the reunion is the realization that the cleaning-up activities of the garden take command.  My perennials, shrubs and trees enjoyed a long, deep sleep this past winter with the constant snow cover.   Granted, the moles did tunnel through the perennial beds and damage some plants.  A form of nature’s pruning, as I see it.   I use this opportunity to review the state of my garden.  Do I want to plant a hardier plant, perhaps a shrub, that will not succumb to the ravages of the moles or try a new perennial?  I choose shrubs. When I first started gardening 22 years ago in Dobbs Ferry, NY, my focus was English cottage gardening.  I loved the variety, shapes, sizes, colors and textures of the perennials in my garden.  As my gardening knowledge increased, I also grew fond of shrubs, small trees and vines.  In my present Pennsylvania garden, shrubs, small trees and vines take center stage.  Yes I do accent with perennials, but for structure and ease of maintenance I am glad to be planting larger plant material.  My shrubs also provide beautiful flowers, wonderful fragrance and are better at resisting animal damage.  I also plant deer-resistant shrubs to minimize damage. I return to the garden to continue my spring cleaning.  Time goes by so quickly when I garden.  As the garden is swept clear of winter debris, so is my mind.  Thoughts that have wintered over are being rooted out and replaced with new thoughts that contribute to well being and harmony.  The beckoning hands of the Bleeding Heart continue to guide me deeper and deeper into myself  as I join the peace and tranquility that the garden offers.

New Possibilities Monday, April 11th, 2011 Last November, my family and I visited Charleston, South Carolina. We toured the city and peeked into the many beautiful courtyard gardens situated behind ornate ironwork gates.  I discovered a flowering shrub I could not identify.  The fringe-like flowers looked familiar but the leaves did not.  In order to photograph this plant, I had to maneuver carefully between the scrollwork in the gate.   The tour group was way ahead of me but I was so glad that I captured this shot. Fast forward to March 2011.  I was perusing my shrub catalogue and I came across a photograph of this very plant, Loropetalum chinensis.  A lovely sounding name to match its lovely appearance.  A member of the Hamamelis family, the witch hazel family.  No wonder the flower looked familiar, but the shrub not.  It is hardy to zone 7, which means it will not tolerate my zone 6, colder garden.  That also explains why it is not sold in the local nurseries that I frequent.  No matter.  How could I dismiss this plant just because it is not hardy in my zone?  I can plant it in a more protected site, where it’ll still receive its required sunlight hours and it won’t be subject to the chilling forces that would harm it.   I ordered the shrub and it was in flower bud upon arrival.  Because of the fragility of the flower buds, I protected it during the recent frosty nights.  I planted it yesterday in a sheltered part of the garden.  This sheltered area has its own microclimate properties, thereby allowing tender plants to winter over successfully.  Its burgundy leaves are an added bonus and contrasts nicely with the green leaved shrubs and perennials surrounding it. So why did I do this?  Why did I add to my workload if I advocate ease of maintenance and planting nofuss plants?  Because I fell in love with it.  When this force tugs at me, in this case, a plant, why resist it?  Why let the mind take over at the expense of a deep yearning?  Something is calling, perhaps the energy of this particular plant is useful at this time for me or the environs.  The earth’s geological events may allow our zone 6 growing conditions to become more hospitable to zone 7 plants.  Conceivably, the genetic make-up of this plant may mutate into a hardier form.  All good-enough reasons for me to buy it. The love of plants can make us do things that seem irrational and nonsensical at times.  How do we balance our heart’s yearnings with the demands of our myriad responsibilities?  For myself, I weigh the options and if it adds joy, love, beauty, and nourishment on many levels, I take the plunge.  When you experience the thrill of the first bloom of the season or the pervading scent of the Viburnum carlesii it’s worth it.  When an encounter with a plant brings you to the present moment it is worth it.  I introduced this new Loropetalum shrub to forge new possibilities in my garden and in my life.  I toast to a new year of possibilities in your garden as well as in your life.

Daily Dose of Sunshine Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

The daffodils, the ubiquitous flowers of spring, are in full force now. It’s raining today yet the daffodils are beaming their sunny yellow faces.   Since I live on an old farm property, there are many mature daffodil clumps, some in leaf, most in flower.  So far the month of April has been rainy, and despite the rain, many plants in the garden are blooming right now.  Not only do they raise my spirits but they also give me diversion from the gray skies.  Daffodils (bulb), mahonia (shrub), forsythia (shrub), trout lilies (bulb), cornelian cherry (tree), corylopsis (shrub), cucumber magnolia (tree), maple (tree), kerria (shrub) and hellebores are examples of yellow flowering plants in bloom now.  Visit the gallery section to see some of these flowers.   As I peer out the window, I note that today’s gentle rains are not as fierce as the previous rains.  With a harsh winter behind us and a wet spring currently upon us, I am positively looking forward to a hospitable summer.   Last summer’s heat and drought conditions tested my fortitude greatly because my gardens were newly installed and I had to water consistently in order to establish the new plants.  Luckily, the previous owners planted many daffodil bulbs over the years, and I am still discovering clumps in remote areas of the property. This older variety of daffodil photographed above is unique and intricately designed.  Notice all the layers and folds of the petals; it looks like the bottom of a woman’s full skirt.  Do you think women’s full skirts were modeled after this daffodil flower?   Daffodils are offered now in many shapes, colors, sizes and scents.  In my garden I have the simple trumpet shaped daffodils and this ornate variety.  I really love how the yellow of the daffodils and the other plants illuminates my garden, just like the sun does.  In the absence of sunlight, the yellow flowers particularly brighten up the landscape.  Happily, Mother Earth gives us daily doses of life-enhancing sunshine in various ways.

Sacred Hearts Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

I wrote about the spring-flowering perennial, Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) in a previous post, Beckoning Hands. This plant is now in glorious bloom. A string of pink inflated hearts hang miraculously from its flowering stem.  Do you think it has inspired books, symphonies, songs, poetry, love-letters, candies or jewelry?  I’d like to think so.  Nature is a wonderful mirror for us and has inspired Man throughout Earth’s existence.   I like to describe Bleeding Heart flowers as a chain of hearts, and that reminds me of a song “Unchain My Heart” sung by Ray Charles in the 1960ʹ′s and by Joe Cocker in the late 1980ʹ′s.   I loved the melody and lyrics then, I still do now.  The lyrics speak of a man’s anguish and his desire to free himself from an unhealthy relationship with his “little darlin”.  A conflicted man setting out to make peace with himself and his world. The current times we are living in now demand that we come back to peace within ourselves and the world around us.  How do we begin doing that?  Our heart can help us lead the way.  We are given a life to live with reverence, dignity and joy.  To sanctify our daily experience means to pull back from the chatter of the mind and surroundings and unite with a powerful source that resides within us.  We choose how we want to experience our lives.  Wouldn’t it be gentler and kinder to do so from a source that promotes peace, joy, unity, fun, play, balance and abundance? Life is sacred.  We string our sacred life experiences together and we begin to learn how to live profoundly and heal along the way.   We reveal the beauty, compassion, joy and love within us.  We become the mirror for those around us to inspire them to find it within themselves, just like the natural world does for us.

Magnolia Magic Monday, May 2nd, 2011

The flowers of the Magnolia “Elizabeth” tree evoke fond memories for me. This tree is in bloom right now and it is a beautiful addition to my garden.  One of the reasons I love to garden is to experience the ever changing landscape.  While this tree is blooming now, other trees, shrubs and perennials are just beginning to wake up.  As the flowers fade, the leaves will emerge and other plants will begin their flowering show.  When I look at the creamy yellow color of the Magnolia, it reminds me of my favorite ice cream flavor – vanilla.  Yes, vanilla.  Not the humdrum vanilla found in high production supermarket brands.  I mean artisanal vanilla created by a master ice cream maker in Ottsville, Pennsylvania.  The store is called OWowCow Creamery.   The owner makes three different kinds of vanilla ice cream –   Madagascar vanilla, Tunisian vanilla and Indonesian vanilla.  Of the three, my absolute favorite is the Madagascar vanilla.  It reminds me of the vanilla ice cream I loved to eat when I was a small child living in Israel.   It was thrilling for me to taste this exact flavor again. The petals remind me of freshly laundered linens billowing with the wind as they dry on the outdoor clothesline.  After moving into my new home, one of the first outdoor installations was a clothes line to dry just laundered clothes and linens.  Not only does it conserve energy but it saves a bit of wear and tear on the laundry.  Yes sometimes the clothes, sheets and towels are a little rough, but you can’t beat the crisp, clean smell of sun dried laundry. Note the beautiful structure and color of the pistils and stamens, the female and male reproductive parts of the flower.  The color combination of the red, orange and green against the creamy yellow petals is heavenly.  The flowers also have a discreet, citrusy smell.  These are incredible mechanisms in place to attract pollinators.  Do you sense the protective arms of the petals as it surrounds the center of the flower? Do you sense that same sort of loving protection when you garden?  It does seem as if you are in your own little colorful world when you garden.  The colors, sounds, textures and  smells of the plant world bathe you, absorb you and help you create the sanctuary that we as gardeners and plant lovers thrive in.

Mothering the Earth Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

The allium bulbs have begun to declare their beauty. The allium flower consists of many small purple flowers that form a globelike flowering head.  I use alliums to unify the various garden beds.   The individual flowers adhere to the flower of life motif and after the flowers are spent, the ornamental seed heads add garden interest.   The alliums accompanied me as I spent my Mother’s Day in the garden.  I planted more shrubs and perennials, weeded and transplanted a native birch tree, Betula lenta.   The soil yielded easily to my spade and trowel.   The garden called for my attention from every direction, “weed around me please, feed me, can I have a companion plant , please remove the dead canes, please water me, mulch me, move me, trellis me”.  Sounded like a child tugging at my skirt.  I was bombarded by so many requests.  Tempering myself, I weighed what was most important to heed. I garden slowly and methodically.  I nurture, water, feed, protect and cherish the garden.  As the garden thrives, I thrive.  Blooms are everywhere now- lilac, lily of the valley, viburnum, camassia, ajuga, mazus, redbud, dogwood, holly, daphne, blueberry, cherry laurel, with the added bonus of their wonderful fragrances in the air.  The vegetable beds are beginning to produce young lettuce and arugula leaves for salad making, the radish tops are vigorous and the pea plants are few, so back to sowing again.  The birds are singing beautiful melodies and the green color surrounding me is so healing.  The butterflies are already fluttering through the garden. After mothering the garden, I feel satisfied.  I’ve done my part, now I trust the plants will grow without my interference.   Tending my garden is a lot like tending my children.  My children are older and independent now, but there is a chord of love connecting us, just like there is a chord of love connecting me to the land and garden.   I have been given this gift of tending, nourishing and mothering my part of the world.  It’s a big responsibility, just the same as mothering children.  Mothering the Earth comes with its challenges, yet my acts of kindness on this land dominoe into something greater.  I may not know the full impact, but it certainly adds to the collective creation of a healthy and nourishing Earth for all of us to live in.

Coming Home to Eden Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

It’s raining now and outside my window I spy a hummingbird dancing frantically around the blueberrry bushes in hopes of finding nectar to sustain itself. The bluebirds are busily searching for food for the newborns in their birdhouse.  On occasion, they stop their frenzy and stare right back at me.  I imagine we’ve become friends now.  I also notice that this week’s rain has greatly accelerated the rate of growth in the garden.   In particular, the weeds are more plentiful, and thanks to the rain, continue to enjoy an extended life before I begin weeding them out soon.  Wow, it’s a verdant paradise out there. This past weekend, I visited another verdant paradise, the gardens at Cheekwood, in Nashville, Tennessee.  Among the many mature oak, dogwood and hackberry trees, were the Southern Magnolias, which stood out with their large white flowers.  These grandes dames, the magnolias, have seen it all, experienced it all and continue to stand proudly, adding their elegance and stateliness to their surroundings. When I arrived back home I was greeted by the vernal lushness of my gardens.  The rain caused everything in the garden to explode with color, and my oohs and aahs were many.  It stopped when I caught a glance of the pink flowering tree peony, shown above.  Its beauty stopped my thought processes and footsteps.  When something as beautiful as this becomes a part of one’s experience, a greater sense takes over.  A merging occurs between gardener and plant.  A relationship is rekindled, borne of silence and understanding.   One wonders if this is what the gardens in Eden, our former home, were like.  A remembrance of our own beauty, divinity and our Creator.  To me, this was like coming home to Eden.   My Eden.  Lush.  Serene.  Love-filled.

Daily Awakening Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

The Chinese Fringetree, Chionanthus retusus ‘Arnold’s Pride’, is in bloom in my garden.  I love its fragrant flower clusters in the spring, bird-attracting fruit in autumn and year-round exfoliating bark.  Every year I look forward to these unique May blooms. They look like masses of confetti when seen from afar.   The native fringetree, Chionanthus virginicus is also growing in my garden.  Its blooms have a stronger fragrance, particularly discernible at nighttime.  As I survey the garden, I am in awe of all the plants in bloom now.  Shrubs and trees in bloom now include chionanthus, physocarpus, roses, shrub dogwoods, honeysuckle, tree peony and wisteria.  Perennials such as clematis, iris, allium, salvia, geranium, columbine, coral bell, baptisia, nepeta, porteranthus, poppy, oenothera and herbaceous peony are in flower now.  A beautiful symphony of color over-lights the garden.  The native phlox growing in the back woods, with its pink and white blooms create a lovely background.  Many gardeners love this time of the gardening season, as the temperatures are comfortable, the lushness of the gardens are inviting, watering needs are minimal and the weed population is manageable. I awoke this morning to find the garden in peaceful repose after all the rains.  It looked like time stood still.  I walk the gardens every morning just as the sun is rising.  As the sun rises, the morning’s glistening dew graces the emergence of new leaves, the opening of flower buds and the release of new flower scents.   As I greet the garden, I feel as if I am being enveloped in a celestial hug.  I thank Mother Earth and the elementals for the beauty that surrounds me. The garden is like a beloved friend.  Always there for you.  The garden is a constant reminder of the beauty of our home, planet Earth.   It provides you with a safe haven to discharge fear, anger, worry and concerns.  It helps you weed through your beliefs and thoughts to reveal your inherent wisdom.  It does so without judgement.  The garden does so because it loves you, just like a beloved friend.

Birth In The Garden Thursday, June 2nd, 2011 A new addition to my garden has made itself known to me. An innocent, fearless and peaceful fawn was quietly resting in the un-mowed grass.  It took me by surprise to find this newborn fawn in broad daylight in the center of the garden where I am always weaving in and out.   Granted, if I wasn’t so busy doing all the gardening work, I would rest just like this fawn.  One of my life lessons is to work less and rest more in the garden.  This fawn’s mother was not to be seen by my human eyes, but I am sure the mom was nearby eyeing my every step. With the discovery of this fawn, I realized why the plants in the garden have succumbed to deer browsing.  I have planted mostly deer-resistant shrubs, trees and perennials, but as we gardeners know, no plant is resistant if deer are hungry enough.  Momma Deer had a few extra mouths to feed and the closest resource was all the newly planted shrubs and perennials.  Which brings me to the greater issue of deer prevention.  Deer nibbling, grazing, browsing, eating.  Whatever you call it, it is very upsetting when the plants in the garden have been chewed or otherwise destroyed.  The deer deterrent products work, but it is a nuisance to apply and reapply.  Fencing works, at an initial costly investment.   I personally hung Irish Spring Original Scent soap sachets around the periphery of the gardens to deter the deer from even approaching the garden beds. What is this gardener to do with this challenge?   How do I make peace with these animals?  I spoke tenderly to the fawn, asking that it observe the rules of the garden.  I asked the deer herd to respect the boundaries of the new gardens.  In turn, I vowed to respect its boundaries.  I can speak in these terms, because my property is large and the back woods are a perfect haven and resource for their food and shelter needs.   I am consciously listening to my inner guidance as to how to create a new relationship with the deer that respects our individual needs.  How does this reflect on all other relationships we maintain (with self, people-people, people-plant, people-animal) where boundaries need to be respected?   This is definitely a small part of a very large, complex conversation.  It starts in my own home territory and I am confident that others also desire a peaceful co-existence with themselves, family, friends, work colleagues, plant and animal world. As I review the day’s events, I still find myself in awe of the fawn’s behavior.  What resonated deeply within me was its fearlessness.  I ask myself, do I really know what it feels like to be as fearless, innocent and trusting?  This deer has birthed at this time, in my garden and it is reminding me that I too can re-birth into absolute fearlessness and trust that everything ultimately works out for the highest good of all.  As Leonardo da Vinci has said, everything is related to everything else.

Poppy Love Thursday, June 9th, 2011 I love these annual poppies. Annual or perennial, I love them both.  They make me happy.  It is probably the range of bright colors they come in, the crepe-like petals and its extremely bold center.  It certainly makes a statement. “Here I am.   Look at me.  Aren’t I beautiful?”   It is humble yet flashy, all at the same time.   Takes my breath away.  Then I have to remember to rejoin the world.  Do you ever have that experience in the garden or elsewhere? My garden is in the in-between stage.  The drama of the roses, irises, clematis and salvias is winding down now.  The extreme heat we’ve been having has made gardening not as comfortable so early in the (pre-summer) season.  With temperatures in the high 90ʹ′s today, I mostly stayed in today, but come sundown, I’ll be out there watering.  Extreme heat and no rain for a couple of weeks has made this gardening lady ready to do a rain dance!   I have an Australian Shepherd dog who will not go out to do his business in the heat of the day.  Way too hot for a dog with a fur coat like his.  My other dog, a pit/ French bulldog mix will lie down on the hot patio tiles and absorb the rays.  Isn’t this world wonderful? Because of this in-between stage, the annual poppies are a brilliant filler of reds, oranges, yellows, pinks and plums for the garden until the next wave of bold color and bloom occurs in the summer garden.  It is like a bridge to another garden blooming event.   The tiny white blooms of the winterberry shrub (Ilex verticillata) are being pollinated now and will produce the red berries of the fall and winter landscape.   The perennials, yellow yarrows  and white penstemons are also blooming now.  The white-flowering Philadelphus shrub, also known as mock orange, perfumes the air at night — it’s delightful along with the summer sounds of the crickets and the flashing lights of the lightning bugs. The edibles in the garden – the blueberries –  are starting to blue up.  Soon will be blueberry picking time.  YUM!  I planted a whole patch of blueberry shrubs this year.  Can’t be without them.  Also, the goumi, gooseberry, jostaberry and currant shrubs are in berry production.  The Asian pear trees are producing small fruit.  Strawberry picking at my local CSA (community supported agriculture) farm yielded lots of tasty strawberries this week.  We joined the local CSA (Blooming Glen Farm) to support our local farmers and community.  This week’s pickings:  peas, lettuce, kale, turnip, tatsoi, garlic ramps, escarole, beets, spring onions, herbs such as dill, cilantro, mint, sage, thyme, basil.  A wonderful selection to encourage fresh and healthy eating.  The farm’s vegetable gardens are abundant now.  The hot sunny weather has hastened growth after a very wet spring.  Our own vegetable gardens are still in their infancy but it’ll get going soon. The garden–a wonderful place where so many of our needs are met.  Foods to nourish body, mind and soul.  A sanctuary where we can decompress, restore peacefulness and open to our own higher guidance.   So much to be in joy with, grateful for and appreciative of.

The Garden As Art Friday, June 17th, 2011

My gardens will be one of five area gardens featured in the Perkasie Garden Club’s garden tour on Sunday, June 26, 2011. Therefore, garden maintenance has been a high priority.   Juggling the needs of the garden with the vagaries of weather has been challenging.   The rain came as a major relief   (perhaps my rain dance helped after all) which enabled me to concentrate on the stubborn weeds.  I use cardboard and newspaper to stifle weeds, and then I cover that with triple ground hardwood mulch or pine bark nuggets.  In the vegetable beds I prefer to use salt hay as my mulch.  It is virtually seedless and looks neater than straw mulches. The garden is now 2 years old and I chuckle at the thought that this upcoming tour will be its comingout party (luckily I don’t have to buy expensive ball-gowns).  I designed all the gardens and I am awed by the creative process.  The creative process entails not only listening to my own design sense and inner guidance, but also what the land desires.  During my daily garden walks I receive “hits” from the garden that inspire me to make certain changes.  Change is a constant in life, and the garden is no exception.  The “bones” of the garden, the shrubs and trees provide a mature feel to the gardens.  The perennials provide the variety, interesting textures and changing waves of color.  I use boulders and stones to enhance the plantings and landscape.  I also like to build primitive looking benches with the stones that I find on the property. Designing a garden is an artistic endeavor.   The artist in you, the garden designer, draws upon personal aspirations and experiences to create a space that fulfills your desires.   You are creating from an all knowing and wise place within you.  When we share the garden with others, we allow them to enter a holy space.  We proclaim that this is an aspect of who we are.  As the visitors partake of the beauty of the gardens, they absorb the healing energy present in the gardens (even if one is not aware that this is what is really happening).  We create gardens to bring more joy and beauty into our lives and the lives of others.  We create the gardens to nourish and heal the Earth. I love to visit other people’s gardens.  They are created by people who love plants.  Plants are our medium, as paints are for the artist, and words for the writer.  These tools give the artist an opportunity to express their individuality and share it with the world.  We are all artists.  We create each new day, and we choose how to do it in our own special way.   These unique times call upon us to use our individual gifts and talents to create a purposeful and sacred life that adds to the collective creation of a whole, complete and perfect Earth.

Intertwined Monday, June 27th, 2011

The Buddha statue sits at the entrance to my home, radiating peace and harmony. Certainly the plants in the garden appreciate the company of such a venerable being.  The American wisteria, Wisteria frutescens enjoys its proximity to the Buddha as its vining stem encircles the Buddha’s torso.   Today’s garden tour visitors were treated to the beauty, peace and harmony that the Buddha and the garden espouse. I enjoyed sharing the gardens with all the visitors.  I was grateful to hear that the gardens look meadowy and naturalized.  That was exactly my intention when I began designing the gardens.  I planted many native grasses which lend a naturalistic appearance to the property.  Designing a garden from scratch can be a daunting task, but I watched and listened to the land throughout the design process.  One of my favorite native grasses, Sporobolus heterolepis, prairie dropseed, is planted all around the gardens, some in large quantities, others sparingly.  I first saw this low grass at Chanticleer Gardens, in Wayne, Pennsylvania and loved it immediately.  In the fall, the sporobolus grass turns an orange color and its flowers have a pleasant cilantro-like scent. All the visitors were attracted to the colorful annual poppies growing in the garden.  I collect many varieties of annual poppy seeds and in the early spring I scatter the seeds throughout the garden beds.   They bloom throughout the month of June, gifting me daily with their spectacular colors and form.   What is it about the poppies that captured everyone’s attention?  Was it the color, form, its joyous energy?  Perhaps all.  Color is used in energy healing and the garden offers a wonderful array of colors that can be used to assist in the healing of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual challenges.  Using flower essences also assists in restoring balance and harmony. It is my sincere desire that today’s visitors absorbed an energetic infusion of love and grace from the garden.  This energy intertwines with your being and grounds you in the present moment.     The present moment inspires the creation of a love-filled life and affirms who you really are.

JOY AND WHIMSY Thursday, July 7th, 2011 I visited the Garden in the Woods botanical garden in Framingham, Massachusetts this past weekend. This garden is owned and managed by the New England WildFlower Society and it showcases North American native plants.  Native plants are those plants that originally grew on North American soil before it was colonized by the Europeans.  One of the exhibits was entitled Native Buzz, highlighting container gardening using pollinatorattracting/feeding plants.  Various containers were placed along the strolling paths and elicited humor, surprise and  joy.   The red fire hydrant shown above is planted with native grasses and the hydrant sits in a kiddie swimming pool.  A fun and educational display, but don’t let the dogs come close. Our own gardens give us many opportunities to experience fun, joy and whimsy.  I hear numerous bird songs now.  I feel the warmth of this morning’s sun rays on my skin.  Birds are sneaking into the blueberry patch and eating the freshly ripened blueberries (I wonder if there are air traffic controllers for birds — there are so many birds waiting to feed).  The monarch butterfly has come to visit the garden and gladly feasts on the smorgasbord of nectar plants.  The daylilies begin their flowering display of reds, oranges and yellows.  Oh, think the deer, if only I could jump over the fence and eat those delicious daylilies.  Daylilies are a favorite food of deer.  Daylily flowers are edible for humans also, but choose those that have been grown organically.  All the activity of this moment is where true joy, beauty and fun resides. Another unique container display was entitled Pots and Pans.  See the whimsical use of potted plants and the statue of Pan, a Greek mythological being.   Pan is depicted as half human/half animal and is also known as the god of the animal, vegetable, mineral kingdoms and the whole elemental kingdom.  This great being inspires us to be aware of the outstanding beauty that surrounds us and to acknowledge the presence and assistance of the elementals in the garden.  And yes, in Garden in the Woods, there was a palpable feeling of peace, contentment and spiritual connection.  We feel this in our own gardens and that is why we rise early in the morning to do the garden work that is needed or garden into the evening after a day of work. I also visited another (private) garden this past weekend and was pleased to see the same Pan statue in a beautiful woodland setting.  The energy of Pan commands the gardener’s attention.  It awakens a spiritual kinship between us that grounds us, elevates us and gives meaning to our lives.

Bee Here Now Thursday, July 14th, 2011

The summer garden is in non-stop flowering mode now. The annuals (marigold, cosmos, zinnia, gomphrena, tithonia, celosia, statice, blue salvia, snapdragon, cornflower – just to mention a few) capture my attention and invite me to enjoy the incredible colors, sights, sounds and smells of the garden.  Today’s cool summer breeze brought a respite from the hot weather.  The wren’s lyrical tweets (the authentic kind) lend a playful sound to the windchime’s notes.  The coneflower heads are attracting numerous bees.  I’m glad to see an abundance of bees in the garden.  All is happening simultaneously and brings awareness to the present moment.  The present moment always invites us to be mindful of what is happening in the now. I’m enjoying this summer’s bounty of fresh herbs.  Basil for pesto sauce, salads and pizza.  Parsley for tabouli.  Thyme, tarragon and sweet marjoram for vegetable sautes and soups.  Mint for iced tea, tabouli and fruit salad.  Fresh horseradish to spice up food.  Whether you grow your own herbs or buy them at a local store or farmer’s market, this season is a boon for our senses. Are you familiar with the smell of sweet peas?  They are also in bloom now and their scent is intoxicating.  I inhale the smell of the flowers with delight.  I forget what it smells like almost immediately, so I must sniff again to experience the pleasurable sensation.  Sweet peas flowers are shortlived and the plant does not thrive in extreme summer heat.  Get thee to a garden and smell them.   Another treat to behold to enliven the senses. I spent the entire evening watering many thirsty plants.  The smell of the lemon-yellow daylily, ‘Hyperion’ wafted in the night air and surrounded me as I dutifully watered.   The light of the full moon lit the garden and allowed me to water past 9:30 pm.   Taking care of my part of the Earth does have many benefits.  Watering at night brings closure to the day and a feeling of satisfaction that all plant needs are met.   I do not concern myself with the risk of mold growth due to wet leaves.  I instinctively know how best to water.  Gardening by instinct is an important skill that most gardeners have. As we cultivate and nurture our gardens, we cultivate and nurture ourselves.  We choose how we want to grow.  Awareness of the present moment helps us to create the interesting and colorful life we want to experience, while instilling reverence for ourselves, others and our beloved Earth.

Heat Wave Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Agastache ‘Heat Wave’ is a recent addition to the garden. Aptly named, considering the heat wave we are currently experiencing.  Agastache is a herbaceous perennial.  Also known as anise hyssop, it is in the mint family and drought tolerant.   Its licorice-scented leaves keep the deer away.  This heat wave is testing its hardiness, as I consistently water this plant in order to establish it.  This heat is also testing me as I dutifully water in the early morning and night.  The planet Earth is undergoing many changes, weather changes being one of them.  I remain confident that this heat wave shall pass. Despite the watering demands, I am constantly being reminded to stay in the moment.  I observe the activities of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies and the bees swarming the Agastaches.   The survival tactics that some of the plants exhibit are admirable.  Some plants go dormant and when rainfall resumes, regrowth occurs.  Other plants die and become compost for the garden.  Sedum (succulent perennials), lavender and the native ornamental grasses are thriving.   I take stock of how the garden is weathering this heat wave.  Plants that can tolerate both wet and dry growing conditions do the best in my garden. As we go about our garden duties, remember to stay in the moment.   Think cool thoughts, observe the garden’s miracles, trust in the universe, and be grateful for the abundance of water that enables us to irrigate our gardens.  The garden’s ability to inspire us especially in challenging times is so appreciated.

Talking Heads Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

It rained yesterday. What a relief.  Consistent performers during the heat wave were the sunflowers.   The leaves may have looked a bit limp in the heat of the day but at nighttime,  the sunflowers looked resuscitated.  Sunflowers originated in Peru and Mexico and are incredible plants to grow in the garden.   They are equated with summertime and are so easy to grow.  Kids love to grow them.  They provide food for the birds and humans and they perform a very important role in remediating soil where toxicity may be a factor.  Known as phytoremediation, sunflowers absorb the contaminants in the soil and restore the health of the soil.   Gardeners know that it’s always about the soil.  The foundation.  Healthy soil produces healthy plants. With that, numerous bees congregate, drink the nectar and pollinate all the individual flowers within the flower disk that become the nourishing seeds we all love to eat. When I first noticed all the sunflower heads basking in the sun, I felt that they were speaking to one another (or were they all communicating with me?)  What were they saying to me?  (Could David Byrne of the Talking Heads music group been inspired by a sunflower head or two?) Some enlightened messages from a sunflower or two: • • • • • • • • •

Shine your head off Radiate your light at all times Transmute all that is not love Wear bright colors Share your beauty with the world Follow the light Stand tall Be a light onto others Be a good listener

With that, to sunny days and rainy nights a-head.

Hang in There Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Danaus plexippus. Latin for Monarch Butterfly, the butterfly that is so beloved by gardeners and kids of all ages.  This butterfly has deep orange wings with black and white markings and is a welcome visitor in my garden.   The leaves of the milkweed plant (Asclepius family) are food for the butterfly larvae and I’m glad to have many milkweed plants growing on the periphery of the property.  I recently visited a very special garden, Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin to view a live butterfly exhibit in their tropical conservatory.  Flowering plants provided copious amounts of nectar for the butterflies.  A display within the conservatory featured chrysalises dangling from wooden strips contained in netted display cases.  Visitors excitedly saw live butterflies emerging from the chrysalises.  It is miraculous to view the transformation cycle from larvae to caterpillar to chrysalis (or pupa) to adult butterfly.  This cycle is beautifully told and illustrated in Eric Carle’s children’s book, The Very Hungry Butterfly.  I love to read this book to children. We are also experiencing transformation right before our eyes.  The times we are living in are unique and transformative.  The erratic weather has caused huge swings in the way I am gardening.  Global events are causing massive changes.  On a personal level, we are being asked to look at every aspect of our lives  -  our thoughts, words, actions and feelings.  Are you the same person you were 10 years ago?  5 years ago?  1 year ago?   1 month ago?  1 week ago?   Yesterday?  We’ve been challenged by the summer heat, sporadic rain, relationships, work and life in general.  Through it all we hang in there, knowing that all we have to do is stay present and we’ll know what the next step is.  Becoming fearful, angry, impatient, resentful or unloving creates more of the same energy.  Staying in the moment allows an acceptance of what is happening and trusting that a peaceful resolution is at hand.  We are fortunate that we can peacefully transition into a new way of being.

Bold & Sassy Monday, August 15th, 2011

Hibiscus moscheutos, Rose Mallow. She stopped me cold the first time I saw her.  I was a new gardener.   I was traveling in my car and she captured my attention.  She was growing at the edge of the road.  I had to have this plant.  I found her at the nursery and my love affair with hibiscus began and has never stopped.  Fast forward to 2011 – I now grow pink, dark red and white varieties.  She’s in bloom right now and stands tall, bold and spirited. I have many hibiscus plants growing in my garden.  This shrub-like perennial is hardy, likes full sun, moist soil and blooms late summer to early fall.    Even though she is late to emerge from winter dormancy (late spring to early summer), I never give up on her.  She’s dependable.  She knows who she is.  She’s bold and sassy, but not a drama queen.  She knows she’s beautiful inside and outside.  She commands her space yet respects boundaries.  As the garden transitions into late summer/early fall she proclaims her beauty. As you look inside her flower, she reminds you to look inside of yourself to see and feel the ageless, timeless beauty that you are.  She is waiting for you to also declare who you are.  You are bold and sassy.  There is only one of you and you have a powerful and unique beauty about you.  Emanate that beauty.  Don’t allow the slightest shyness to take over.  Love yourself inside out and outside in.  Self love is an expression of devotion, gratitude and reverence for the divine being you really are.   We share that in common with this great flowering plant.  We are made from the same cloth.

World Wide Web Friday, August 26th, 2011

During my early morning walks through the garden I come across many spider webs. I study the spider web’s intricate design.   It is its own world, and at the same time, it is part of a greater world.  As residents of planet Earth, we are intrinsically connected to the animal, plant, mineral and elemental kingdoms, the Earth and the cosmos.  The plant kingdom depends on animals to pollinate plants and transport seeds.  The animals depend on the plant world for food, shelter and nest building materials.   Humans depend on plants for oxygen, food, medicine, shelter, building materials, etc.  Together we are part of a greater network, and being on this planet and in our physical bodies right now is exciting and challenging. We are feeling the Earth’s distress now as she undergoes earthquakes, floods and droughts.  We are feeling events occurring on a universal level and global level.  The internet provides instant global connection on another level.  We’re now realizing the ramifications of these connections.  This week’s East Coast earthquake rattled a lot of people.  It was close to home.  The Earth sent out energetic pulsations before the earthquake event and some people felt these vibrations in their own way.  We are sensitive, connected beings.  People are now opening up to their innate ability to feel and connect with one another.  As we learn to relate to one another in compassionate ways, we raise the vibration of our planet, enabling Her to rise above the chaos, confusion and toxins that are present.  We are creating a powerful shift in how we want to be treated, how others want to be treated and how the Earth is treated, one kind thought and action at a time.  Now that is a powerful and healing world wide web.

Jewels In The Garden Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Plants in the garden are like jewels. They are valuable when they achieve a certain size and provide abundant flowers, fruit, vegetables or other important products.  Some plants are rare.  Others, like the dinner-plate dahlias blooming now are show-stoppers and come in wonderful jewel colors.  The white flowers of the annual Nicotiana alata glisten in the moonlight and emit a lovely fragrance.  And of course, plants can make your property feel like a million bucks.   Lots of plants self-sow and produce an abundance of desirable plants for next year’s garden. I have 2 plants that grow in the garden, aptly named Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) and Jewels of Opar (Talinum paniculatum).  They are both annuals, self-sow and serve the gardener well.  Jewelweed grows everywhere around here and this year has volunteered itself in my garden beds.  Hummingbirds love to visit the flowers, as do other insects.  Note its unusual tubular shaped flower, making it very inviting for the hummingbirds.  Jewelweed is also a savior in my garden.  The sap in its stems contains a chemical that antidotes poison ivy.  If I accidentally brush against poison ivy, I immediately locate and crush some jewelweed stems and rub it on the exposed skin.  Poison ivy and jewelweed usually grow in close proximity to one another.  Jewelweed has dainty orange flowers but it is sturdier and taller than the standard impatiens plants sold at garden centers. Jewels of Opar is a semi-succulent plant, has basal chartreuse-colored leaves and is drought tolerant.  The leaves are edible (spinach tasting) and the plant is also used medicinally in other cultures.  I haven’t tasted it, but then I haven’t eaten other “weeds” in the garden that are reported to be healthy and full of vitamins and minerals.   One day I will harvest these “weeds” and cook them up (stay tuned). Daily gifts from the garden flow continuously.  Awareness of this, coupled with gratitude and appreciation benefits the gardener manyfold.  The form of these gifts is varied.  For me, the peace, respite and tranquility of the garden are priceless.

Shedding Light Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Check out the beautiful peeling bark on Acer griseum, Paperbark Maple, an ornamental deciduous tree.   It has trifoliate leaves and is especially beautiful in the winter landscape when the reddish-brown exfoliating bark is completely exposed.  The peeling bark is paper thin and smooth to the touch.  I came across this tree at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morristown, NJ, where I attended a horticultural therapy conference.  As a horticultural therapist, I understand the exquisite relationship between humans and the plant world and the reciprocal healing that can occur.  The arboretum’s mature trees – European Linden, American Holly, Red Oak, Ginkgo, Blue Atlas Cedar, White Ash, White Oak and Tulip Poplar silently invite visitors to connect with them on a deep level.  Trees do communicate with us.  We must quiet the mind and tune in to the “tree channel”, very much like tuning in to a radio station.  It takes practice and persistence, like many things.  Receiving uplifting messages from the plant kingdom is a common occurrence, though not always acknowledged by humans as legitimate. As we approach autumn, the trees will begin to shed their leaves, and we too, will begin to review what we need to let go of.  We’re being asked to shed outdated thoughts, beliefs and relationships that no longer serve us.  This summer’s life-changing events and situations may have jolted us out of our comfort zones, causing us to reflect on what is truly important.  When we allow ourselves to shed on an internal level, we reveal an innate ability to adapt and grow in new ways.  We grow a new appreciation for ourselves, our life’s journey and our connection to everything around us.

Berries Galore Saturday, September 24th, 2011

The weather events of the summer of 2011 is but a memory now. Thankfully, my garden has survived the drought, the heat and record-breaking rainfall of summer.  Kudos to us gardeners, we have also survived.  A few shrubs and trees here succumbed to an early death due to insufficient moisture, others from poorly draining soil and and one tree to lightning damage.  However the majority of the plants do not look worse for the wear and tear.  Some have actually thrived despite the challenges.  The garden is now a riot of color from the berry-producing shrubs and trees and the perennial asters, boltonia, salvias and agastaches in bloom.  The red berries of the Ilex verticillata (winterberry) are well formed, as are the dark-blue berries of Juniperus virginiana (juniper) and Myrica pennsylvanica (bayberry).   Aronia brilliantissima (chokeberry), Viburnum setigerum (tea viburnum), Viburnum dentatum ‘Blue Muffin’ (arrowwood viburnum) and the crabapples are also in berry.   The birds will shortly have a smorgasbord of berries for fall and winter feeding.  The contrast of the red berries against the green landscape is breathtaking..  The American Goldfinches have begun feeding on the Echinacea (coneflower) seed heads.  It’s comical to see these bright-yellow birds standing, somewhat precariously on the coneflower seed-head and feeding. As the autumn leaves begin to turn colors, I marvel at the mechanism that allows this transformation to occur, from green to red, burgundy, yellow, pink, or peach, all in a seemingly effortless and graceful way.  We will soon witness leaf abscission and collect the fallen leaves for compost.   End of garden season cleanup is still on the to-do list, but we are well on our way to a well-deserved winter rest. As the garden undergoes its seasonal changes, we are reminded that we can transform our lives to match our highest intentions.  Life presents many opportunities for growth, and we get to choose how to do it.   Being centered, grounded and present allows us to experience change with ease and grace.

Taking The Plunge Thursday, October 6th, 2011

It is such a treat to see the praying mantis up close as it surveys its environs. Creeping downward along the Actaea racemosa (Black cohosh) flower stalk, the praying mantis’ triangular- shaped head rotates 180 degrees to assist it in scoping its prey.  Securing a protected spot to deposit an egg sac may also be on its agenda.  The praying mantis is a desirable insect in the garden, but sad to say, a butterfly or two can become its prey.  The Actaea plant, formerly known as Cimicifuga, is a perennial that blooms in late summer and enjoys growing in a moist, shady location.  The flower stalks can grow up to 4-5 feet and the beautiful white flowers are fragrant.  I like its fragrance, but others don’t find it as agreeable.  Actaea is used to treat menopausal problems, taken either as a homeopathic remedy, herbal tincture or dried herb.  It is gratifying to me to grow this plant and many others that have specific healing qualities.  Of course, all plants have healing qualities.  Even common garden weeds contain powerful healing properties.  I own two books that I refer to when I want to learn more information about the herbs and perennials growing in my garden.  The books are entitled  Flower Essences and Vibrational Healing   and The Spiritual Properties of Herbs, both written by Gurudas.  It’s life-enhancing and empowering to know that nature’s pharmacy resides in one’s own garden.  This is an important step in creating a healing environment that supports your health and well-being. Our gardens support us, inspire us and teach us many lessons.  The praying mantis teaches us about taking the plunge.  It sees something it wants.  Its beautifully camouflaged body blends into the background as it proceeds on its mission, step by step, moment by moment.  As we proceed on our life’s mission do we move along with confidence or with dread?  Do we experience life with excitement?  Do we follow our heart’s desires?  Do we know what our heart’s desires are?  Explore this and other aspects of your life and use the garden to help you realize your greatness, your gifts and your mission here on Earth.  Life is expansive and joyous.   That is really how life is meant to be.

Ode To A Leaf Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

From way up high I see the world Yet I know It’s time to let go I point my toe And off I go Traveling through backroads and alleyways I land on Earth’s floor My life has been colorful I’ve seen it all I go to sleep now Rest I must Knowing I will return To be at my best Autumn leaves are in their full splendor now.  Enjoy the beautiful colors of Fall.  Allow the change of seasons to inspire you to go with the flow.

Love Story Friday, October 21st, 2011 Dahlia flower. Blooms now.   We’re in the second half of October and there’s still magnificent flowers blooming in the garden.  Dahlias, chrysanthemums, Nippon daisies and summer annuals are feasting our eyes and hearts.  Dahlias grow from underground tubers and must be dug out of the ground after the first frost and stored indoors in a cool and dry space.  Dahlia flowers are well known for their vibrant colors and flower sizes ranging from 2 to 10 inches across.   The petals of this dahlia variety (Derek, from Swan Island Dahlias) are beginning to unfurl, tomorrow it may be in full flower, achieving its full potentiality. How do we unfurl in our lives gracefully and joyfully and fulfill our own potentiality?  Acknowledge that you are here to create a life worth living. Explore what brings you excitement, joy and laughter.   Bring it into fruition. As I sit at my desk writing, I become mesmerized by the intensity and perfection of this flower.   Here is its message for all of us. “The beauty you see in Me Is the beauty I see in You We speak the same language It is called Love When you stop to admire Me I stop to admire You I am love in action So are you Shine every way you know how You are a light in human form Stay in love with who you really are So that others can feel This love and light Within themselves”

The Day After Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Caught me off guard and by the looks of my garden, the garden too. I spent this afternoon freeing tree branches and shrub limbs of heavy, wet snow.  To my surprise, the leaves still remained on the trees and shrubs.  As I continued to survey the garden, I discovered many severed tree limbs and branches.  My deciduous hollies, Ilex decidua, incurred the most damage.  To comfort myself, I said that this is a form of Nature’s pruning.  Just as yesterday’s snow began, I photographed this Mexican sage  plant (Salvia leucantha), knowing that the flowers would be gone by snowfall’s end.  It is now buried under snow along with the majority of the perennials.  Mexican sage is in the mint family, as are many of my favorite perennials.  Because of their aromatic and fuzzy leaves, deer usually don’t browse them.  In my zone 6 garden, Mexican sage blooms in Autumn and eventually succumbs to frost.  I’ve always been captivated by purple flowers, and I go out of my way to find these plants in the Spring.  These velvety flowers are so beautiful and the textural interest is a bonus in the garden. Once again, a weather event thwarted our plans.  How do we respond to these events?  Do we resist and fight or do we accept and move forward from a calm center?   The red maple tree remained steadfast, grounded and alive.  It held on to its leaves despite the snow cover.   With life throwing us a few curves, we are asked to mindfully breathe, quiet the mind and listen to the quiet within.  Despite the challenges that the early snow brought, it was a beautiful sight.   It slowed things down.  We received an opportunity to see  how we respond to events in our lives that are beyond our control.  This morning’s sun began the process of snow melting.  Can we melt our old thoughts, beliefs and ways of being in a comfortable way?  Do you remember singing the song Let the Sunshine In by the 5th Dimension?   Let the sunshine in.  See yourself and life with new eyes and a loving heart.

Bouldered Over Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Boulders and rocks are right at home in the garden. I use them liberally to add structure, whimsy and balance in the garden.  I create walls, benches, fairy rings, walkways, pathways and dry creek beds.   Over a period of time and especially during wet periods, moss and lichen begin to grow on them.   Placing boulders in shady and moist north-facing locations accelerates moss growth.  The moss becomes a cushiony, verdant work of art and I am always thrilled with this garden artistry. Note the irregularity of moss growing on the boulder.  Its unique design teases me every time I look at it.   Sometimes it is like a game of hide and go seek.  A design that I see one day is gone the next day.  Do you see an expression on the rock face?  A sleeping eye and a closed mouth?  To the mind, rocks are hard and inanimate, but to the  heart, rocks are alive and life-enriching.  Every element in the landscape – the plants, animals, minerals, elementals – contribute to the overall energy of the garden.  This energy enables us to connect deeply with our inner core, the space within that is ‘rock-solid’ and powerful. Our inner core is connected to the earth core as well as to the divine realms.  We feel our connection in a highly personalized way.  It can be subtle or it can be tangible.  This core connects to the energy matrix of unlimited love, joy, peace and harmony.  We are asked to ground these energies into our every thought, word and action.  We can act as human boulders, grounding these energies for the healing and up-liftment of all beings and Mother Earth.  At this time, be Mother Earth’s rock.  Support her by sending her prayers of love and light.  Act with reverence.   As you do this, feel and acknowledge the power that is within your core.  You are a powerhouse of energy.  Use it, claim it, to create your highest desires

Labyrinth Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

The newest addition to my garden, thanks to a dedicated and passionate fellow Horticultural Therapist. She created this seven-circuit labyrinth for a rest & relaxation meeting held here for Horticultural Therapists.  The labyrinth is a sacred maze-like space where one walks slowly and meditatively along the spiral path to arrive at the center.  The center allows you to reflect and be in a space of quiet mind.   Afterwards you turn around and walk back mindfully to the beginning, along the same path.  It can be a very transformative experience as well as a delightful romp through a magical path.  You have to walk slowly in order to avoid stepping off the path.  One foot in front of the other and certainly eyes looking down to ensure you stay on the narrow path. This can be a metaphor for how we walk life’s path.  The path we create makes each journey unique.   We will get side-tracked before we come back eventually to the path of least resistance, the path of love, peace and joy.  The twists and turns in life have added interesting lessons but now it is time to follow the heart.  When faced with a pressing issue, go to the center of your being, your heart.  You’ll find a peaceful space and answers to questions.  What is your means to quiet down and go to your center?   Prayer?  Golf?  Yoga?  Breath-work?  Meditation?  Knitting?  Walking?  Cooking?  Biking?  Jogging?   Dancing?  Singing?  Music?  Drawing/Painting?  So many different ways to get to the same space and discover your raison d’être. Visitors to the labyrinth emerge from their walk more focussed and clearer.  The actual physicality of walking the labyrinth can begin the journey of self realization.  Committing to this type of journey enables one to discover their inner truth and wisdom.  It creates the love, joy, gratitude and appreciation that the planet and humanity desperately need at this time.  Allow yourself to walk within to walk without.  The holiness within craves a relationship with you.  Acknowledge your divinity, your greatness, your playfulness, your wisdom, your joie-de-vivre and release society’s mindset that you are not enough, not beautiful enough, not rich enough and not sacred enough.  We are vast beings, capable of so much goodness..  Begin the journey of self-love and come out victorious.

EXPOSÉ Friday, November 25th, 2011 In late fall we begin to see the skeletal structure of the garden. The leaves of the deciduous trees and shrubs have fallen off.  The last hold-outs, the deciduous conifers, Taxodium distichum, (Bald Cypress) and Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood) are just beginning to lose their leaves.  The lovely auburn-colored leaves carpet the green lawn.  The landscape is still colorful as evergreen conifers, boxwoods, red winterberries, trees with exfoliating-bark and ornamental grasses stand out against the bare landscape.  In its barebones simplicity, we still witness life, beauty and abundance in the garden.  We transition into the fourth season of the year and are grateful for the renewal, the food we have grown, the beauty we have cultivated, the shade of the trees and the serenity we have gained from our gardens.   I have a sign in the garden that reminds me why I garden: God lives in every garden, He loves each growing thing. Forget your ills, Get out and dig and sing.    I in turn offer this to my trees: As you go to sleep for the winter season I thank you for sheltering me, feeding me, cooling me And showing me how to stand strong despite the elements The trees that I planted started small But grew fast Mother Earth nurtured them as a loving mother would I also gave them my special kind of love That comes from deep inside Heart to heart, we bonded The trees’ exhale became my inhale We became instant friends When I see them exposed to the elements I send them a prayer of love I know they do the same for me And more

Rounding Up Thoughts Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

It’s the first week of December and the vegetable garden is still producing. Red cabbage, green cabbage, butter lettuce, parsley, sorrel, turnips and Asian greens are growing in the raised beds.  These are coldtemperature loving plants.  Calendula officinalis, Pot Marigold also enjoys growing in this kind of weather.  They do not like sumer heat and fade away as summer begins.  Luckily, it is a prolific selfsower so I was greeted by its beautiful burnt orange flowers yesterday as I was cutting lettuce leaves for a salad.  Calendula is also used in many herbal preparations to heal various skin conditions. As I was cleaning the gardens today I thought about how this year’s rainy weather events caused a lot of weeds to proliferate, namely ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea).  This ivy is very invasive and is starting to creep into the raised beds (it is also called creeping charley).  I read that I can reduce ground ivy population by sprinkling borax on it without harming the lawn if I limit application to twice a year.  I may have to do that.  Stephanie Cohen, the “perennial diva” and author calls some members of this mint family garden “thugs”.  Yes, this plant definitely fits this description.  Upon further research, I learned that Glechoma is edible, especially delicious in the springtime when tender leaves emerge.  May have to consider this plant as a food source also, especially if it is that easy to find and harvest.  There’s lots of books about foraging for food in the wild.  In my case, it is closer to home, right in the garden.  I prefer to treat the garden organically so herbicides are not my game plan.  I like this sign that I have hanging in the studio that reminds me to approach gardening reverently.   In the long run, I may have found a new salad treat.  Stay tuned!

Magic Carpet Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Now that the garden has settled into sleep mode, my focus now is on my indoor collection of plants. I am one of those people that loves to surround herself with green living matter, whatever the season.  The orchids are blooming now, so are the jasmines. The intoxicating fragrance of the jasmine is wafting through the air now.   The gardenia plant is not flowering yet, but I certainly look forward to its blooms soon — another heavenly, powerful  fragrance that I love.  The amaryllis bulbs have been planted but need a bit of coaxing to begin its flowering.   All the plants occupy lots of indoor window space and are particularly healthy after having spent late Spring, Summer and Fall growing outdoors.  I also appreciate how the air in the house is cleansed by all the plants.  Even plants multi-task  –  enlivening the space, perfuming the air, cleansing the air and nourishing the soul.  I salute my plants for jobs well done. I look outside my window and the grass is still a vibrant green set against the browns of the landscape.   The abundant rainfall has also caused the moss in the woods to flourish.  Lots of trees have moss growing along the base of the trunk.  The red maples favor wet growing conditions and moss naturally grows at its base and along the root flare.  The moss patterns are quite beautiful.  Various shades of green and its cushiony feel conjure up images of fairies and elves.  A most magical environment, particularly if we allow our imaginations to be stirred by this beauty.   Have you ever walked barefoot on a cushiony green carpet of moss? As celebrations of the season now abound, I’d like to wish you a magical and vibrant holiday season.   To all the green thumbs, wanna-be-gardeners, brown-thumbs and interested parties, I sincerely thank you for allowing me to touch your hearts with the magic, grace and wisdom of the natural world.  To all beings everywhere, a tender wish for a joyous New Year.

New Year’s Surprise Monday, January 2nd, 2012

With the new year in place, there’s lots of surprises all around. Imagine my excitement today when I came upon the honeysuckle bush getting ready to bloom.  I even spied some forsythia shrubs in bloom last week.  So far, a mild entry into the winter season.  The daffodil bulbs are sending up their leaf tips.   The hyacinth bulbs also.  The deer must be enjoying the season too, with full access to the plants they love to munch on.  Friends agree, they like this.  No weather-related hardships or delays.  We could get used to this.  But of course, the weather forces have their own mind so it’ll be another interesting season to look forward to.  The garden still winks at me when I pass by, reminding me that in no time at all, we will be together again, hand in hand getting things to grow.  I’ve even combed over the new gardening books at the library and there’s an abundance of  vegetable gardening books.  I’m in!  We’ll be doing lots more vegetable growing around here in the spring, so it is not too soon to start planning where, when and what.  The seed catalogues are coming in now in droves, enticing us with new as well as proven varieties.  Even the edible flowers category is of interest, not only to add color and fragrance to salads and such, but as a nutritional source. I just got a new Vitamix blender.  Green smoothies.  Yum.  Imagine all the (so-called) edible weeds that grow in my lawn, such as dandelion that can be blended along with other more palatable ingredients to create a healthy drink to start the day.  Green smoothies may be a staple of the raw food movement, but its inclusion in everyone’s diet is worthwhile.  Can  you imagine using the edible garden weeds to feed oneself instead of eradicating them with herbicides?  Honeysuckle flowers are also edible but according to experts only from the Japanese honeysuckle variety.  Do consult a foraging book on weeds and wildflowers before you juice your weeds to be certain of its safety for eating. Be on the lookout for more surprises, in the garden and in your life.  There’s a lot of new things to look forward to in the new year.  Begin to explore what brings you joy and contentment.  Try something new that you haven’t done before, but are curious about.  Listen to the new urgings calling from within.  Take breath breaks – how about consciously breathing for 1 minute of every hour of your waking day?   Exercise your body and feel the lightness in the body, and at the same time feel the support of the Earth below your feet.  Here’s to a creative and fulfilling new year for all.

Art of the Earth Friday, January 20th, 2012

I’m visiting Eus, France now. Southwestern part of France.   I am totally enchanted by this medieval village of snow-capped mountains, sleeping orchards and local greenery.  I feel an energy here that is soothing and loving.  I see iris in bloom, acacia in flower and flowering quince with its red blooms.  The leafless fig trees stand tall and strong, growing alongside rock walls.  The pomegranate trees are still holding aged pomegranate fruit on its branches.  The succulents are massive.  It is these scenes among many that excite me as I drink in these visual delights.  The Earth will be starting to wake up the plant buds shortly and swathe the Eus valley in the white and pink blossoms of the cherry, apricot and peach trees.  There’s a peacefulness here that not only nurtures the plant life but also its inhabitants and visitors. Everywhere I look there’s inspiration.  From the watercolor skies to the neat rows of fruit trees in the valley, the stone walls to the curvy pathways, evergreen trees to the green grass below – all there for the beholder to absorb the surrounding beauty and tranquility.  Look around you now.  What is inspiring you?  How do you use it to create a life of beauty and purpose?  The natural world speaks to our hearts.   Really feel what you feel, see with new eyes and allow yourself to imagine the life you really want.   Take one step at a time.  Claim your road.  Trust yourself.  Create it.

Colorful Collioure Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Collioure is a very colorful seaside village in France on the Mediterranean Sea, just north of the Spanish border. As I strolled along the narrow streets of the village I delighted in discovering rows upon rows of pastel colored homes with Mediterranean-colored doors and shutters.  This particular home entrance with the outdoor garden containers is especially inviting.  I hope you delight in the colors just as much as I do.  Note that there are no flowers in bloom, yet the entire garden composition is pleasing to the eye and more so, to the soul.  The variety of leaf colors, shapes, sizes and textures contrasts beautifully with the colors of the containers, the stone wall, the turquoise door, shutters, leader, gutter and metalwork.   This is a harmonious garden space that invited me in and captured my attention.  Once again nature calls out quietly to remind us that harmony is always within reach.   Inside of us, outside of us – it is always there.  Wishing you a harmonious day.

Sound of Silence Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Walked up the steep mountain to Abbaye St. Martin du Canigou, a former Benedictine monastery in Casteil, France yesterday. The hike up the mountain was breath-taking.  The trail lead me along switchbacks alternating between long vistas with steep drops and mossy woodlands.  The accompanying feeling of silence was palpable.   As I soaked the silence in, I felt a calmness penetrating every cell of my being. The body, mind and soul cherishes silence.   Slow and mindful breathing will begin to silence the mind chatter and bring one to center.  Hike to your peaceful sanctuary within.

Feeling It Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Do you feel it? The excitement in the air?  The garden certainly does.  The emergence of bulbs, flower buds swelling, shrubs in bloom.  The witch hazels are in bloom, the flower buds of the mahonia are ready to open, and the hellebore’s nodding red blooms are also opening.  The winter has been relatively mild thereby encouraging this earlier than usual display.  The bird feeders are not attracting as many birds this winter however the woodpeckers are always glad to come and nibble.   According to our local Punxsutawney Phil, the forecasting groundhog, we still have 6 weeks of winter.  No matter, it is all about staying in the moment and breathing in the joy and delight of what is happening right now. The unusual witch hazel flowers are mesmerizing.  An encounter with the plant kingdom stills the mind, clears the chatter and allows the present moment to be fully experienced.  Give yourself the gift of tuning into a flower, a bud, a tree.  Do you feel a one-ness with the plant to discover that we are not so different in our makeup?  We are here to create and experience love in all forms.  Begin with yourself.   See the beauty within you. Feel the love within you.  Now radiate that love and beauty that is within you so that others can feel it within themselves.  That is how we feel when we are in tune with Nature.  The love and beauty we see and feel in Nature is the love and beauty that is within us.  As within, so without.   Connect with joy and beauty so that you can create more of it in your life.

Green Smoothie Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

I just made a morning drink for myself, a green smoothie, with my new blender. A handful each of cilantro, spinach, kale, celery, a 1/2 inch square of ginger, 1 pear, 3 sprigs of mint and 2 cups of water.   Makes about a quart of healthy green liquid.  Delicious with just the right amount of sweetener from the pear.  I prefer to use organically grown ingredients in my smoothies,  however I do not obsess if I can’t get organic vegetables and fruits.  Very soon I will start seeds (kale, parsley) indoors in seed trays for planting outdoors in March. Cilantro and spinach seeds will be planted directly outdoors in the raised beds. Planting seeds for the start of the new gardening season is exciting.  Mother Earth is ready for our loving hands to begin working her soil.  It is with deep reverence and gratitude that She and I will work the garden together to grow healthy vegetables and fruits for my family and I to eat.  Of course, I have occasional garden visitors who like to nibble (respectful rabbits and ground hogs) however they are not destructive.   As I tend the new seedlings, She also accepts the loving energy of my working hands. We work together in a co-creative and co-operative way that nourishes the whole. What seeds are you planting for the season?  Seeds of green?  Seeds of love?  Seeds of joy?  Get planting.  We have so much help all around us to create what our hearts desire.  Listen to your heart’s yearnings.  Get growing!

At Your Service Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

The red oak tree in front of my house has been ailing for a few years. It started shedding its bark over the winter.  After much resistance, I made the decision to have it cut down today, Valentine’s Day.  As the arborist mindfully cut the tree down, I thought of the children’s book by Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree.  The book is about a love-filled relationship between a young boy and his exuberant apple tree.  As the boy grows older, he moves away.  He visits the tree at key times in his life and the tree dutifully and lovingly gives more of itself to the boy/man.  At the end, all that is left of the tree is a stump, which the young boy, now an old man, is sitting on with a resigned expression on his face while the tree is still happy to see him and also be of service. My tree has given much.  It has surrounded me with its love, beauty and wisdom.  It has provided shelter from cold, wind and heat; acorns for wildlife and now firewood for the wood burning stove.  On this Valentine’s Day, we affectionately celebrate with our sweeties.  I expand upon this celebration to include my sweeties of the natural world:  the trees, plant life, animal life, mineral life and Mother Earth.  We experience life together through all the cycles of life. All that is left of my tree is a stump too.  It’ll continue to serve valiantly as before, but now as a pedestal for an urn.  I, in turn will continue to listen quietly to its daily messages of love, with an open and grateful heart.

Sweet Tweets Monday, March 5th, 2012

I woke up this morning to the sweet sounds of birds singing outside my window. Later on in the day, I walked out the door with my dogs and was greeted again by birdsong.   No translation was needed.  I felt joy and peace.  I stood still absorbing the sounds.  Even the dogs stood still. There’s an anecdote in Vanda Scaravelli’s book, Awakening the Spine, about a Zen master who sat down to give a sermon, and then a bird began to sing outdoors.  The master and everyone in the room listened to the birdsong.  When the birdsong was over, the master stated that the sermon was over, and moved on. What is your morning song?  I believe that birds sing of joy and magic.  So can we.  What are the sounds that get you moving first thing in the morning?  Start your day with a sweet tweet.   Mind what you are thinking and make it just as joyous and magical.

Top of the Morning to You Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

It’s happening. You can feel it.  The birds are screaming, shouting and proclaiming top of the morning to you.  It’s in the air.  Have you breathed it in?  What’s around you and deep inside of  you that will create a day of joy and excitement?  Look outside.  As the sun announces its arrival, how are you announcing your arrival into the new day?  The flowering daffodils and scilla are arriving.  What are you creating today with the accompaniment of birdsong, the warmth of the sun shining on you, the air you breathe, the wind stirring you, the smile in your heart, the awareness of your physical body firmly grounded on the earth?  Receive the new day and create it with fresh and loving intentions.  Claim a new and wondrous path for yourself, that only you can create for you.  Pave it.  Let the sun help you to energize it.  Grow it.  The earth is doing it now.  As she wakes up from her sleep she’s got lots of growing up her sleeve.  What are you growing? Use the rays of the sun to metaphorically power your dreams and desires in the most fun and joyous way.  Open yourself to new ways of doing it.  Call for divine assistance to help you spring forward. The grays, tans, golds, yellows, browns and greens of the landscape feel it and know it.  They’re powering up.  They are waking up.  You are too, now.

Traveler Thursday, March 15th, 2012

I’ve been traveling a lot lately. This week I am visiting Dallas, Texas.  Of course the trip would have been incomplete if I did not visit the Dallas Arboretum.  My visit coincided with spring break so lots of families were here enjoying the gardens.  Masses of flowering tulips and pansies everywhere.  Azaleas and loropetalum shrubs were also in bloom. Wonderful colors – reds, yellows, pinks, purples, whites and oranges were everywhere vying for attention.  The kids were tumbling, somersaulting, running, laughing and smiling — doing the playful things that we as kids used to do, and perhaps some of us still do.  The gardens inspire kids to be kids.  They get to cavort with the magical energies present in the garden.  The adults begin to rekindle, to remember, to feel a connection to beauty, play, wonder and freedom.  When a flower opens and invites you into its world it does so quietly.  One feels drawn to its beauty and stillness.   Some people are drawn to particular colors, others to particular scents.  One emerges more peaceful, having imbibed a good dose of nature’s healing powers. More blooms from the Cercis canadensis var. texensis ‘Traveller’, a weeping redbud tree, shown in the photo above.  Can you discern playful shapes and images in the flowers?  I see puckered lips, whimsical shoes and mouse ears.  Nature has a sense of humor too. Let the playful side of you loose.  See new things that you haven’t seen or thought of before.  What’s staring at you right now that you haven’t noticed before?  You are traveling a wonderful life journey now.  Use nature’s allies to support your travels.  Happy travels.

Morning Recharge Thursday, March 22nd, 2012 This morning is misty and foggy. Beautiful too.  Can’t discern everything, which makes it magical and serene at the same time.  Off I trot outdoors to greet the newly emerging plantings.  The daffodils, hyacinths, scilla, crocuses, hellebores, forsythia, corylopsis and pansies claim this time to share their beauty with the world.   Yes, the weather sneaks up behind us with daily surprises.  Don’t know what to expect anymore.  So I go with the flow, and stay present to receive the blessings of the new day. And the blessings are everywhere in the garden.  Do you see the colors and shapes of the flowers?  Hear the rustle of last year’s leaves that still haven’t fallen off?  Touch the velvety flower buds of the magnolia trees?  Do you feel the joy and excitement in the air?  Have you noticed the abundance of birds singing with life?  The bluebirds have definitely marked their territory and are here to stay.  It is impossible not to be absorbed by the sensory stimuli in the garden. There’s always lots of distractions that can take us away from the present moment.  As gardeners we have a relationship with nature that brings us in close touch with the present moment.  Attention to what is happening in the here and now recharges us and confirms that this is the only way to be. The photo above features a collection of concrete pots planted with sedums and hens and chicks sitting atop the stump of the oak tree that was taken down earlier this year.  These pots remind me of cereal bowls.  Do you remember a commercial with the ‘breakfast of champions’ tagline for a particular cereal brand?   What’s your ‘breakfast of champions’?   How do you start your day?  Recharge your day with a healthy dose of present moment mindfulness.

Spring It To Me Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

To this gardener, it’s all about the flowers blooming in the garden now – pansies, violets, hellebores, forsythia, bleeding hearts and of course the scurrying around to get all the garden chores done. It is spring and now we also get to bloom in our own way.  We are emerging into a new awareness of ourselves.  Just like the flowers, we too, are beautiful and deeply nourished by the loving Mother Earth.  We get to shine our light, and then we step back contentedly, to hang out, observe and still be a participant in this extraordinary existence we call life.  Is there a springtime plant calling you to make eye to eye contact with her, to smell her, to touch her, to evoke heartwarming feelings or listen to her sweet message?  The plant life is teeming and beaming with love, with joy and reminders for us to be that way too.

This Is You Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

This is how beautiful you really are. This flower reflects back to you your beauty, your individuality, your depth, your colorful self, your connection to Mother Earth, your connection to the sun and your connection to Prime Source.  Feed yourself a daily potion of Mother Earth’s beauty to re-discover and nourish your essence.  Restore yourself with the highest form of self-love.  Shed those beliefs and thoughts that just don’t jive with your divine essence. We’ve been gifted with glorious weather lately.  No April showers yet, they’re coming.  Begin April showers within.  Shower yourself with joy, love, gratitude and appreciation.  Feel it and then radiate it as does this beautiful tulip.

Breathe Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

We’re 2/3ʹ′s into the month of April and the garden to-do list is long. Is your garden to-do list as long as mine?  Weeds outnumbering your desirable perennials?  Me too.  The hot weather last week and today’s much-needed rain will encourage more growth, along with new weeds springing up in our prized garden beds.  As we bend over and pull out those unwanted weeds, it’ll test our patience and fortitude.  My lavender patch was gloriously robust last year and weed free.  This spring it is saddled with lots of dieoff and weeds.  What’s a gardener to do?  First thing to do – breathe.  Breathe again.  Repeat and remember that the breath helps to calm and center you.  Call in the angelic troops to help you lessen the burden.  It works.  Try it.  There’s lots of help from the divine realms.  You may not be aware that all along you have been gardening with these beings of the unseen natural world – the elementals.  The inspirational feelings that you get while you are gardening are from the deepest part within you that connects to these beings.  That is what is meant by co-creative and co-operative gardening.  Tuning into the desires of the Mother Earth and the deepest part of you to create a garden space that is nurturing to you and the Mother Earth.  This type of c0-creation and communion with the Mother Earth is enriching and deeply fulfilling.  Today, Earth Day 2012 was celebrated.  As gardeners, we celebrate Earth Day every day. The garden gives us the opportunity to exercise the body and mind, weed out mind chatter, release stress, renew and grow vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers.  As we connect to the Mother Earth, we merge with our divine essence and bring balance and order into our lives. The breathe mosaic and stained glass sign was created by Margaret Almon and Wayne Stratz of Nutmeg Designs, inspired by the colors of the green smoothie featured in the February 7, 2012 post.

Locally Sourced and Made Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

It’s a gray morning and the morning mist lends a peaceful feeling to the garden. I  zoom in on the rafter of the front porch roof and see a bird, an Eastern Phoebe, sitting in her own home-made nest incubating her eggs.  Fine nesting materials such as sphagnum moss and mulch are plentiful here in the garden, making it easy for this momma bird to build deluxe accomodations.  The Eastern Phoebe bird typically nests on buildings and bridges.  She definitely feels threatened when I approach her nest, but I just marvel at the nest’s construction and the use of local materials.  The garden is a wonderful storehouse of nest-making materials.  I typically scatter dog hair in the garden also for use by our feathered friends.  In the silence and peace of the garden, I genuinely enjoy the birds’ company.  Because of the variable weather conditions, I have sighted many different birds on the hunt for food and water.  On the other hand, these birds are also eating all the grass seed I have spread to renew my lawn and reduce weed growth. Today, I made a green smoothie using a few young dandelion leaves from the garden. Dandelion plants have a bad rap as a rampant lawn weed.  I now see them as a food option.  Dandelion leaves are even sold in the supermarket produce section with all the other leafy green vegetables.   I did add other ingredients to the smoothie such as beet leaves, baby bok-choy leaves, red lettuce leaves, mint and parsley (all growing nicely in the vegetable raised beds).  To sweeten this melange, I added a mango.   The smoothie had an interesting flavor.  I would make a smoothie using these ingredients again.  It was such a treat to go into the garden and harvest.  So just like the birds, I sourced local and made my own green brew.   A message from our avian friends.  Shop local.  Eat local.  Support your local community.

Chocolate, Color and Camera Saturday, May 19th, 2012

I spent the entire day in the garden, from 9 am to 9 pm with breaks for water, brunch, chocolate and dinner. The chocolate must have given me an extra boost because I completed so much garden planting and maintenance today.  The temperature was also perfect.  I planted impatiens, elephant ears, marigolds, coleus, begonias and verbena.  I also brought out all my indoor plants outside to summer on the patio. The orchids and the succulents immediately perked up when I moved them outside.  It is so much easier to water them with the hose than indoors with a watering can.  They love it, so do I. I also took out every single colorful pot that I own and intend to plant them up tomorrow with nasturtium seeds.  I feel motivated to surround myself with lots of color this gardening season.   Nasturtiums are annuals, have colorful flowers and the leaves and flowers are edible too.  They love growing in a sunny spot.  In Mid-March I started zinnia seeds indoors under a light table.  They are ready to be planted too.  Zinnias are wonderful annuals that come in so many colors and sizes.  Another busy day ahead tomorrow, with occasional breaks for chocolate, photographing and color infusions. The photo above features red poppies (I sprinkle poppy seeds in early spring all over the garden), the perennial blue-flowered Nepeta (catmint family) and the ripening seed head of the Allium (purple) flower.  I love going outside first thing in the morning to capture these colorful scenes when the morning light is soft and inviting.

Just Picked Saturday, May 26th, 2012 I’ve been a member of our local Blooming Glen Farm CSA (community supported farm) for the past 3 years. This year my husband and I decided to grow our own vegetables and herbs.  We installed 14 raised beds, brought in mushroom soil, topsoil, amended it with compost and now we are reaping the rewards of growing our own.  Today I went out and picked some greens for a salad.  I am amused by one variety of lettuce I picked, called Freckles, because it is spotted.  I particularly love picking fresh herbs such as parsley (flat as well as curly leaf), dill and cilantro and adding them to the green salad.  A purple kohlrabi turnip was calling my attention, so I picked that too.  There’s a volunteer plant growing alongside the lettuce and kale in the raised beds.  It is called lamb’s quarters.  It is considered a weed, however it is also edible and packs a lot of nutrients.  I picked a few leaves to add to the salad too.  I topped it off with sunflower seeds, olive oil, salt and ate it right up. Later on in the day, I discovered this poppy plant growing in the crack between the bricks and tiles of the front porch.  My first instinct was to pull it out, but on second thought I decided to let it be and admire its survival instincts.  It won’t achieve its optimum height, but it has flowered (no small feat) and will produce seed.  Once again the plant world allies with us to teach us lighthearted lessons.   

Goumi Berries Thursday, June 7th, 2012

I planted 3 goumi shrubs, Eleagnus multiflora, 1 year ago, and 3 more this year for its edible red berries. The berries are ready for picking right now.  They taste sweet and tart and a bit of astringency accompanies the flavor too.  In my quest to grow more food-yielding plants, I am quite pleased with these plants. They bloom in the spring and the flowers are wonderfully fragrant.  The shrubs grow to a height of 6 feet, which means they are manageable when it comes to picking the fruit.   And did I say the birds like to eat them also?   We have to time it just right in order to harvest the berries for our own enjoyment, but we do leave some for the birds to enjoy.  The blueberry shrubs are producing lots of berries too, so I have to keep a close eye on them.  I know that birds love eating the blueberries – they helped themselves to lots of them last year. The animals on the property (rabbits, deer, groundhogs) definitely enjoy the food that is growing all around them.  We’ve lost a few cucumber seedlings, zinnia seedlings and marigold seedlings to the rabbits.  The groundhogs seem to enjoy a mixture of wild lettuce and evening primrose that has selfsowed itself on the periphery of the raised ornamental beds.  These volunteer plants are quite effective in keeping the animals at bay.  Mother Nature must have heard my pleas for a safe animal fence.  Since the animals are satisfied with the peripheral plants they do not venture any further inside the beds.  The deer however, are justing being deer — selectively nibbling their way through the beds.  Of course I’ve purposely planted deer resistant plants.  In some beds, many of the perennials have become quite tall, thereby creating a sort of deer fence too. Because the goumi shrubs are planted in the fenced -in vegetable gardens, they are safe from deer nibbling.  Did I mention that we have sooo many birds here?  Perhaps Mother Nature coaxed all the berry shrubs to grow some extra berries for all the hungry avian friends living here.  The abundant rains have exposed many earthworms and the birds are busily excavating them too.  After all, there’s enough food to go around for everybody.  This is what living cooperatively with nature is about.

Snap Shot Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Living on a farm with a pond has its share of surprises. The other day I came upon a clod of mud in the lawn.  It turned out to be a baby snapping turtle venturing out of its safe lair.   The turtle’s shell was mud-encrusted which is why I originally thought it was muddy soil.  Upon closer inspection I noticed it had a tail (a rather prehistoric looking tail).  I did not pick it up, however 2  young folks who were fishing by the pond knew exactly how to safely pick it up and brought it to the pond’s edge.  Then I remembered that just a few days ago I was startled to find Momma snapping turtle busily scoping out an ideal space to deposit her eggs on land (and of all places, just beside the compost piles).  And life goes on. Life is not static.  There’s lots of things always happening around us.  What we think is something ordinary, turns out to be something else.  Take the time to explore what’s before you now.  Are new opportunities being made available to you now?  Let it inspire you to look at your life in a new way.   Life is full of surprises and how we respond can generate a new way of living that is fun, creative, deeply satisfying and reverent.

Windward Farm Garden Retreat Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Dear friends of Planting My Voice, Thank you for visiting me often and soaking up the beauty and love of each photo and message. I have now created another website where you can see and feel where I get my inspirations.  Click on the “Life on the Farm” tab on the navigation bar to see more photos of day to day happenings at the farm.  Come get immersed in more love and joy. Planting My Voice will still be its own website however I’ve also included the Planting My Voice messages on the new website under its own tab. I trust you will enjoy all the new offerings and while you’re there, sign up for the newsletter.  Thanks again and see you at the farm! Love, Dorothy

Have A Seat Saturday, June 30th, 2012

It’s hot out there and there’s always work to be done in the garden. Some of us get up really early in the morning and start the weeding and watering before the heat of the day drives us indoors. I can forego the weeding and other chores, but daily watering is a must for me.  I dress in loose, white cotton pants and an oversized white button-down shirt, don my hat, put herbal bug spray on the exposed skin and off I go to water.  If I get really hot, I drink lots of water and spray myself with the water hose.  That cools me off considerably.  The plants are also very grateful for the daily watering since the hot sun, dry winds and lower humidity dries the soil even faster than a sunny, humid day. After watering, what’s a gardener to do?  Forego the house and garden chores and sit down under the shade of the tree.  I intend to do more of this sitting under the shade tree.  Gardeners deserve respite from all the garden work too and enjoy the fruit of their labors.  As we sit, we absorb the peace and quiet that we have helped create.  We merge with the plant world and receive their love too.  Make lots of mint tea to drink while you’re sitting under the tree.

It’s a cool life Saturday, July 7th, 2012

This morning the trees were swaying, the leaves dancing. The crickets were chirping, the birds tweeting.  Bees were buzzing, flowers were opening to the new day.  Vegetables growing and the fruit ripening.  So much activity all around, yet all derived from the balance and stillness of the natural world. Then the day turned hot and steamy and the garden became heat-stressed.  I’ll be watering soon, especially the container plants.  I like to water, it gives me a chance to cool off too and check the plants carefully.  The plants recover quickly and look relieved too.  On days like this, one gains a deep appreciation for the plant kingdom’s ability to withstand and survive what comes its way. I’ve begun feeding all the container plants with an organic fertilizer.  They’ve been flowering non-stop and now it is time for them to refuel and refresh.  Some annuals may need a haircut in order to encourage further blooms.  Other annuals simply refuse to grow in this heat and wait it out until the cooler weather returns.  The plant world is a fascinating world.  So glad that I am a part of it and that it is a part of mine.

Artful Life Thursday, July 19th, 2012

I visited Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts last week. Wonderful organic farm stores, people, vegetarian food, beaches, galleries and temperature.   I collected some pebbles and a cupful of sand from the beach and brought them home to remind me of my lovely time there.   The art galleries featured lots of beautiful local art by local artists, but one that caught my fancy was the use of living plants in bloom to create living art.  The art gallery Dragonfly,  showcased flowering stems of different plants in shadowbox-like frames in their outdoor parking lot.  The plant shown above is Crocosmia, a member of the Iris family.  It is a summer-flowering perennial that grows from an underground stem called a corm.   Crocosmia requires excellent drainage.  The plant shown below is Agapanthus, a member of the Amaryllis family that also blooms in summer but is not winter hardy in our zone 6 area.  It’s a great container plant in our zone.  Do bring the container into the garage immediately after the first frost, and water a little bit monthly throughout the winter months.  Bring out again in the springtime, after frost has passed. Whimsical ways of celebrating the beauty of the plant kingdom is always so appealing to me.  It creates wonder, spontaneity and an appreciation for the creative talents and uniqueness of us all.

City Planters Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

I spent the day in Philadelphia yesterday and was so glad to come across many outdoor container plantings in the residential areas. The front entrances were overflowing with imaginative and colorful plantings, some interspersed with sculpture and other artwork.   Having grown up in Brooklyn, New York all that I could do then was grow indoor plants on my small windowsill.  Now city residents are expanding their love of the natural world by planting outdoor containers and featuring them on the front stoop or entrance to their apartment building.  It’s so great to see the gardening possibilities in the city.  Passer-bys get to enjoy the colors, sights, smells, sounds and textures of all these  thoughtfully and lovingly planted containers.    Do you see the sculpture of a dancing couple in the photo above?  The Buddha skirted by plants?  These outdoor garden settings certainly reflect the owner’s personality and that is what makes visiting others’ gardens so fun.

Inside Out Sunday, August 12th, 2012 I have a large indoor succulent collection that I like to bring outdoors in late Spring. I have aloes, haworthias, aeoniums, euphorbias, echeverias, cacti and more.  I provide minimal care in the summer, relying mostly on the rain to water them.   The succulents thrive outdoors and come October, they are ready to move back indoors.  They reward me with beautiful flowers that in their natural habitat would attract their specific pollinator.  However here in my sunroom, they attract my adoring attention.  I love how the new growth emerges from the center of each plant.  The whirl of succulent leaves gives each leaf access to the maximum amount of sunlight so that the whole plant thrives.   I marvel at how each plant is created and functions perfectly to enhance its well-being.  We too are engineered to function perfectly, especially when we are attentive and respectful of the body’s needs.   Listening to our inner guidance, emanating from the center of our being allows us to create a life that is healthy, loving and joyous.

Gladiolus Sunday, August 19th, 2012 “Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let your awareness rest upon it, how still they are, how deeply rooted in Being.   Allow nature to teach you stillness.” From Eckhart Tolle TV: Weekly Present Moment Reminders, August 15, 2012 The gladiolus featured above began blooming this week.  The rains have coaxed the plant to finally flower.  Its beauty is beyond words.  That’s why Eckhart Tolle’s quote is so appropriate.   Stillness and quieting the mind is a gift we give ourselves.  The busyness of the mind is allowed quiet time and we become clear, present and open to our magnificence.

Growing Love Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

It started off innocently enough. A volunteer squash plant.  It seeded itself along a fence right next to the raised perennial bed.  I gave it space thinking that it’ll mind its manners and not take over.  It started growing slowly.  Then the rains came.  It took off.  A small gourd developed.  After Monday’s morning rain, the gourd grew even more.  I couldn’t resist engraving the word ‘love’ with my index fingernail.   Next day, the word ‘love’ became more pronounced. It’s true.  Love makes everything grow better.

JOY Thursday, September 20th, 2012

I feel like a little kid when I discover new pumpkins growing.  So in my excitement I engraved what I felt.  I wish you a joyous Fall season.

Natural Beauty Sunday, October 14th, 2012

An arrangement of dahlias, hardy ageratums and Mexican sage sits on the kitchen window sill. So grateful that I had the foresight to cut the flowering stems before the frost wiped them out.  The outdoor insects get confused thinking that these flowers are accessible to them.  Frost has wiped out nearly all the outdoor flowering annuals and tender perennials.  What remains in the gardens?  Lots and lots of perennial chrysanthemums – salmon, pink and yellow varieties.  As temperatures continue to drop, the leaves of the trees begin their seasonal color show and eventual abscission.  Indeed this fall season is awash in color.  The perennial vine, Virginia creeper is beautiful to look at with its vibrant red leaves.   The occasional wind will blow a leaf in my direction so that I can admire its beautiful red color.  I have been enjoying the reds, oranges and yellows of the garden a lot this year. The colors of the dahlias – yellows, pinks and oranges are reminiscent of lightness and gaiety, the purples of the Mexican sage and hardy ageratums exude peacefulness.  I study the intracacies of the flower shapes and range of colors and marvel at the beauty that I helped grow.  The rewards of being a gardener are many.  It brings us back to our own roots.  We are connected, we are beautiful and we grow and change with the seasons too.

Thanking Sassafras Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Hurricane Sandy swept through the farm with a gentle hand. Post hurricane, all seemed calm, safe and no apparent fallen trees.  Later in the day I discovered the fallen Sassafras tree.  Three  years ago, it was suggested to me to remove the tree.  It looked a bit contorted with its misshapen branches but I loved its whimsical appearance and so it stayed.  The storm definitely did her in.  Her fall was graceful, harming no other tree or shrub.  A graceful demise.  She will be missed and so will her mitten-shaped leaves and her spectacular Fall color display.  As befits any great lady, she’s leaving a great legacy.  Most likely sassafras saplings will emerge and re-colonize the space vacated by her.  Thank you Sassafras tree for sharing your unique beauty with me.

Chocolate Pudding Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Thanksgiving Day. A beautiful day in Hilltown, Pa.  A delicious dinner was prepared using lots of homegrown vegetables.  The chocolate pudding provided a sweet finish to a delightful dinner.   The recipe came from Hominy Grill’s Recipes book.  Hominy Grill is in Charleston, South Carolina.  We visited the restaurant in 2010 during a Thanksgiving holiday trip and enjoyed the food immensely. The recipe was easy to follow, the key ingredients of excellent quality organic, bittersweet chocolate and organic heavy cream assured it would be heavenly tasting as well as deeply satisfying. The warmth of the day lured me outside and I began to work in the garden in the early afternoon.  I cut down perennials and raked piles of leaves.  Despite the end of season, the garden’s beauty and peacefulness enveloped me.  Many perennials have scattered their seeds throughout the garden.  The seeds will germinate next Spring thanks to ideal growing conditions here at the farm. Lots to be grateful for.  So grateful that other like-minded folks tend their land with love and respect so that even chocolate and milk products are healthy and nourishing.

ALOE Thursday, December 6th, 2012 Alive Love Organic Exquisite I’ve been growing aloes for as long as I can remember. It’s a great gift to give to others, an easy plant to take care of and has wonderful healing properties (skincare, digestive, immunity-boosting).  This aloe produced a flowering spike after summering outdoors in a partially shaded space.  I first spotted this aloe variety, decked out with multiple blooms in New Mexico at Santa Fe Greenhouses.  I brought a cutting home and it is growing nicely, but slowly.  The massive pot of aloe shown above was purchased 2 years ago at Linden Hill Gardens in Ottsville, Pa and is the same variety. Imagine my excitement when I first saw the flower stalk.  An unspoken pact between the plant and I has resulted in a flower.  The perfect stillness of this flower reflects the yearning within me that also desires to be perfectly still, peaceful and radiant.   This afternoon, I discovered another plant, an orchid with 3 new flower stalks.  Oh joy, joy to the world.

Red and Green Greetings Saturday, December 22nd, 2012 The Buddha watches over the garden and imparts its peaceful way of being to the all. The garden reflects that peacefulness to all that visit too.  Thank you for visiting with me this year.  I wish you a splendid, peaceful, fun-filled holiday season and a joyous New Year. Love, Dorothy

Network Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Yesterday was a great day to be in the garden and clean up some more beds. Garden maintenance has been an ongoing affair this entire winter season.  This reprieve from the rain, wind, snow and chilly temperatures allowed me to work with the earth, the plants and the soil critters.  I also found this leaf.   What’s so special about this leaf? This is the decomposing leaf of Magnolia ‘Ann’, a small flowering tree.  The part of the leaf that is most exposed are the veins.  This intricate network of plant venation transport nutrients and water to the cells of the leaves and also transport the food made in the leaves to the rest of the plant. Can you imagine how this venation can inspire the artist within?   Lacemakers and various  artists would be captivated by its details and patterns.  Every aspect of the plant cycle is inspiring.   At every layer of its being, there is great beauty and connection to the whole plant and to the Earth.  It works the same with us.  At the very core of our being, there is a sanctity and beauty that connects us to every part of our being and our world.

Planting My Voice