Take Joy

The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach is joy. Take joy.

~ Fra Giovanni

This quote from one of my favorite books: The Private World of Tasha Tudor came to mind while on my walk this morning. For a very long time our world has been hurting. Each new day brings tragic events that cause us to pause and take notice. Our hearts are broken. We feel helpless. Is the world we live in today the new world of tomorrow?

We turn off the news but it doesn’t turn off the chaos. We go through the day hoping, dreaming and praying that when another day dawns, all will be calm and lives and hearts will heal.

On my morning walk, moss covered oak trees guided me on winding pathways. Stillness in the air was sprinkled with birdsong. A hawk circled against azure skies. I traveled over a wooden bridge, past brown, velvety cattails that stood guard over the pond. A gentle stream carried ducklings in line with their mother. In the distance palm trees stood amid tall grasses. I greeted other walkers as we passed. Each of us surrounded by the beauty of nature. I cannot change the world. I can only take joy in it.

May the following photos bring you joy.



day lily




Rosa ‘JACclam’


Ixora Maui Orange


Purple Angel’s Trumpet


At Last!

The essence of most of my posts have been about my garden. The only attribute the yard had when we purchased our home was potential for a garden. We saw beyond the mounds of pine straw, gravel, odd bricks, pieces of cement, weeds and random plants, and had a vision of what the yard could become.

My husband and I began yard cleanup in October. He removed a white fence that enclosed the patio, dug up weeds and overgrown Sago palms and unearthed an assortment of hardscape materials. We hired a tree company to remove 6 huge pine trees in the backyard and 6 overgrown Washingtonia Palm trees in the front.

We decided to work with a landscape company to remove the rest of the unwanted debris, grade the land and create walkways. In January 2016 I contacted the landscape company and the work began in May.

When we moved here in September I began reading garden books for the Southeast region and made lists of plants I liked. My planting zone here is 8; I was happy to discover some of the same plants I grew in zone 6 will grow here.


Before: The front of the house was hidden by overgrown plants.


Before: We removed all of the shrubs in the front and added a few of them to the backyard.


After: A brick walkway now replaces the cement walkway, 9ft trellises hold salmon colored roses and purple clematis.


After: Purple spikes of Russian sage, one of my favorites, in my new perennial garden.


Before: In the backyard, overgrown Sago palms and picket fences were removed.


Before: Pine straw used as mulch gets messy and its hard to remove leaves.


Before: We love the large leafed shrub called: Fatsia, it is grown for its beautiful tropical foliage.


After: New Zoysia sod was added. I planted a Limelight hydrangea, divided irises that were in the front yard and planted them in in the backyard.


Before: We were lucky to inherit 5 Camellia bushes that gift us with flowers in winter.


After: The walkway ends in a circle, the perfect place for our birdbath, Japanese Boxwood and ‘Popcorn’ drift roses. We added shredded pine mulch and a new 6ft privacy fence.


A garden does not happen, it evolves. The land and plants are nurtured and it develops over time. That’s the joy of gardening: Constant change.





Happy 1st Anniversary!

On October 19, 2014 I published my first post for my blog: Always the Garden. I remember sitting with printed directions on my lap following every step trying to set up my pages; it was all new learning for me, scary and difficult. I had to refer to the Lingo sheet just to get through the directions; what’s a widget, dashboard, gravatar, header, menu, page, and post? Help! Starting something new is challenging and often I thought about giving up, but I didn’t and I’m glad.

I never knew the Blogging World was out there; it is a place of wonder; you can travel around the world and learn about interesting people and their lives. There are blogs on every topic of interest; most include beautiful pictures and writing.

When I started my blog I lived in Connecticut; a lot can happen in a year; now we live in South Carolina. My favorite season in Connecticut was Fall and now I’m experiencing the same joy: cool mornings with day time temperatures in the 70’s, breezes and no humidity.

Hidden in the foliage of our Lantana bush I discovered:

a chartreuse tree frog

A chartreuse tree frog.


a gecko

A gecko; I love his eye, tinged with blue.


Our Fall pots are filled with cold hardy plants: Ivy, Petunias, Marigold and a colorful plant called Croton. I used to buy Crotons in the Fall in Connecticut to add Fall color indoors.

May you experience joy in the changing season!

Thank you for taking the time to read my words.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

I’ve always loved change; starting over with a new outlook, goal or idea invites challenges and keeps life interesting. If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been silent for the last months, it’s because we’ve moved to a different state. My husband and I spent seven months getting a house ready to sell, putting it on the market, selling it after one month, finding a new house and finally last week moving in.

I loved living in Connecticut and writing and photographing the beautiful gardens I nurtured for so many years, but I longed for a new place where winters weren’t so harsh.

Now I have a garden that has potential; a new challenge!

Although I do not know all the plants and shrubs that I now have in my yard, I’m including pictures of a few friendly faces.

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Can you guess where I moved?

I’ve missed you! More to come; today, the furniture finally arrives.

See more: Weekly Photo Challenge


petals to cushion the hard places

Today I am sharing a post from one of my most loved blogs: My Path with Stars Bestrewn written by Amy.
Amy and I have much in common: she was a teacher, she has a collection of cherished children’s books and she sees beauty in all of nature.

My Path with Stars Bestrewn

Those of you who have been following this blog for any length of time know that nature is my primary focus. The flora and fauna that inhabit my gardens and populate nearby fields, woods, and waterways are not only the focal point of my lens, they are also my teachers. I absorb many spiritual lessons while observing the quiet examples nature unfurls before me.

Some people claim to have a spirit animal – a creature who, for them, embodies certain inspirational qualities or characteristics. I don’t have a spirit animal, but I do have a few spirit flowers. And one of my special favorites is sweet alyssum. I’ve long identified sweet alyssum as the poster child (as it were) for resilience. Each year, when autumn’s first frost descends, it lays waste the garden – impatiens and begonias crumple, other fair blossoms faint dead away. But not sweet alyssum. While the…

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Half and Half

It was fun looking through my photos for this week’s Photo Challenge which focuses on Half and Half. I chose photos with a contrasting background.


Plumes of white flowers on an astilbe plant, against part of a stone wall, is an example of a background with color and none.


I like the contrast of the textured stucco wall and the chartreuse background behind the flowers.


It’s easy to see why this plant is called: Gooseneck Loosestrife. The tiny white flowers which form the head and beak are in sharp focus on a background of light and dark.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy!

My father was an artist. In one corner of our basement stood his wooden easel, and his upholstered chair where he would sit when he studied his paintings; a table held jars of various sized brushes, tubes of paint in primary colors, and stacks of hardcover art books. He taught me how to mix primary colors to get other colors and how to blend in white to soften the hue. He taught me how to clean the brushes and stand them upright in the jars so the brush end would dry. And he taught me how to see beauty all around me. His favorite subject to paint: trees, flowers and skies.

Today is Father’s Day and this Week’s Photo Challenge is ROY G. BiV- the colors of the rainbow.

I chose photographs that remind me of my father’s beautiful paintings.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy!


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Danielle’s Art

In this week’s photo challenge Lignum Draco inspires us to respond to the theme, “vivid”.

Usually I share photos of my gardens and flowers, but this time my photo is one of my daughter, Danielle’s, paintings.

Sunset 12x36 Acrylic paint and paint marker on canvas

2014 12″x36″
Acrylic paint and paint marker on canvas

Click on image to enlarge.

I love the vivid colors in her painting: Sunset.

Danielle’s art is influenced by the Arizona desert, where sunsets paint the sky with brilliant shades of orange, red, purple and green and are the color of hope. She expresses herself through shapes, forms and vibrant colors; each stroke of paint radiating joy.

If you study the painting you will see different images: in this painting I see a bird, a flower, a sun and a turtle.

When Danielle begins to work on a painting she doesn’t know what the end result will be; all the designs flow from her imagination onto her canvas.

I am blessed to have Danielle as my daughter, several of her beautiful paintings grace the walls of our home. Her art makes me happy every time I look at it.

Danielle graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, in 2002.
More of her paintings can be viewed at: danielleart.tumblr.com



The May Garden

This morning I took an early morning stroll through my garden. Please come with me and enjoy the highlights of the garden in May.

Years ago we transplanted this Doublefile Viburnum to the front yard. Each May it is abundant with beautiful white flowers.

Years ago we transplanted this Doublefile Viburnum to the front yard. Each May it is abundant with beautiful white flowers.

Globes of Purple Sensation Allium never fail to delight.

The globes of Purple Sensation Allium never fail to delight.


Tulip Maureen is late blooming; I love the fresh contrast of white against green.

English Bluebells accentuate the bed behind the urn.

English Bluebells accentuate the bed behind the urn.

The scarlet blooms of the Tree Peony are a lovely contrast to a Doublefile Viburnum.

The scarlet blooms of the Tree Peony are a lovely contrast to a Doublefile Viburnum.

 Corydalis, with fern-like foliage and dainty yellow flowers along with Japanese Forest Grass soften the stone steps.

Corydalis, with fern-like foliage and dainty yellow flowers along with the golden hue of Japanese Forest Grass soften the stone steps.

Each new gardening season brings the delight of anticipating garden gifts:

 Corydalis reseeded itself in the stone walls.

The Corydalis reseeded itself in the stone walls.

Columbine plants growing in the garden below now grow on top of the stone patio.

Columbine plants growing in the garden below now grow on top of the stone patio.

Japanese Painted Fern: a beautiful contrast to the gray stone wall.

Japanese Painted Fern: a beautiful contrast to the gray stone wall.

A garden gift for you: