The Challenge

Katherine Tracy, owner of Avant Gardens, recently posted something on her blog that caught my attention: The Slow Flower Challenge. Katherine attended a lecture given by Debra Prinzing. Debra spoke about her book: Slow Flowers. The book explains the importance of using flowers that are available locally rather than purchasing imported flowers. Debra is challenging herself to do that for a year.  Katherine liked the idea, so she too took on the challenge and will use plant materials from her garden. Click on the link above to see the beautiful display Katherine created using plant materials from her garden, and read her entire post. 
I agree with Debra and Katherine, and decided to also take on the challenge. Our gardens are a valuable resource that we should not ignore. With clippers in hand I went into the garden, cut branches from trees and shrubs, and snipped flowers and berries. I loved the challenge and come December, I will once again be in the garden.

These are the 9 plants I used:

My flower arrangement:



A Glimpse of Fall

Snow is falling in many places now. It seems too soon. I know when winter does come, I will savor the memories of our beautiful Fall. Please come with me into my garden.

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Three Blogs I Love

The blogging 101 assignment says to choose 3 blogs I love:

Aileen Hunt lives in Ireland. She is a published author and editor. Her writing is “nonfiction mostly: essays, memoir, prose poetry, and shorter, and more humorous pieces.” She is also exploring ‘flash fiction’: “telling a story in as few words as possible.” Her stories evolve through her own captivating photographs and her poetic words that paint a picture. Aileen’s gift is not just looking, but seeing. In her post: Front Door, she is able to take a ordinary thing, such as: a door knocker and weave a captivating story. I loved her post about bird watching entitled: A Charm of a Day which shows Aileen’s love of nature. I hope you take the time to visit Aileen at:

Kay lives in the Pacific Northwest and is a published author and teacher. She loves: art, nature, hiking and photography. Kay says, “Creativity and nature are at the heart of almost everything I do.” I loved Kay’s post entitled: For A Drop of Water. Her beautiful photographs draw us in and reveal a lovely story about a boy and a lizard. One of the links on Kay’s site is called: Cat Rock Letters. Kay found letters written by her grandfather while he was courting her grandmother. Kay is doing research now about her grandparents and the time they lived in hopes of writing a book. A draft of the book is here: Cat Rock, the First Dance. If you love photography, nature and art, you won’t want to miss Kay’s blog:

Ullis lives in Stockholm. She calls herself an “amateur” photographer, but she is way beyond an amateur. Her stunning photographs revel someone who has a good eye and the ability to capture precious moments in time. One can see Ullis’ great sense of humor in her photos and posts. In one post we see a beautiful flower with a caption that reads: Drama Queen. Her photos make us pause and reflect. I loved: Unladylike Breakfast and easily identified with eating cake for breakfast.  Ullis’ lovely post called: Morning Light reminded me of how I too love waking up before night unfolds into day. Visit Ullis in beautiful Stockholm at:

Taking Joy

Each day she came; a Monarch floating on butterfly wings above my Fall mums. Savoring the sweetness of the nectar, flitting from flower to flower, she was a whisper of gentleness. Soon the temperatures would drop and she would have to go. Why was she lingering still? She was taking joy in the beauty of Fall.

A Monarch butterfly


A Cottage Garden

I have always loved old houses. They have a history and tell a story. When we bought our farmhouse a couple of nondescript apple trees grew on the property. In the backyard there was an old stone wall that was falling down. Overgrown shrubs grew in front of the house and random pieces of slate led from the front door to the dirt driveway. The original pine floor boards inside the house creaked and the windows were drafty. I loved the house in all its disrepair. The house had potential; all it needed was someone to care about it.

This is a picture of our farmhouse when we first purchased it.

This is a picture of our farmhouse when we first purchased it.

My dream was to have a cottage garden in front of the house but I didn’t know anything about cottage gardens. Through a friend, I met Janie, a landscape designer. She came over and helped us decide what plants to put in. We removed all the shrubs in the front and on the side of the house.  We planted beautiful pink hydrangea and perennials. At first we just had a small area planted but over the years we added a brick walkway and the border expanded.

To see more of the cottage garden, click here. 

 This is a picture of our farmhouse today with a new coat of yellow paint and a cottage garden.

This is a picture of our farmhouse today with a new coat of yellow paint and a cottage garden.

Simplicity of Fall

If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.

~ Vincent van Gogh


Japanese Iris seed head


Blackberry Lily seed cluster


Bean Purple Hyacinth seed pod


Black-Eyed Susan seed head




Oakleaf Hydrangea


Cone Flower seed head

The Garden Keeps its Promise

IMG_1376A blanket of burnt orange leaves covers the gardens now. The White Oak is letting go, telling me it’s time to ready the vegetable garden for fall. Yesterday I pulled out the remains of the tomatoes, kale and IMG_2800herbs gone by. I emptied the pots of orange marigolds, adding them to the compost pile, along with the zinnias, the ones that filled our home with vibrant blooms all summer. The urn that held the yellow Black-Eyed Susan vine now stands empty. I didn’t want to do it, prolonging it as long as I could. I wasn’t ready to let go of the kaleidoscope of colors that fed my soul for the last few months. But, the garden keeps its promise: it will always be there. And I will be ready.

To see more of the Fall garden, click here.

I Always Pulled the Weeds

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
~ T. S. Eliot
When I was growing up my mother used to say, “You can help clean the inside of the house or pull weeds in the backyard.” I always pulled the weeds. I tended a small area of dirt by a chain link fence, clearing it of rocks and weeds. The definition of a weed is: any wild plant growing where it is not wanted. In those days I left the weeds that had lavender flowers. This was my first introduction to gardening.
When we pulled up in front of the house that was for sale, it was just what I wanted. “Old houses have a history,” I told my husband. We trudged through deep snow on the property before going inside. A White Oak tree still clinging to rust colored leaves, stood in the middle of the backyard with massive branches that extended far out. I knew I had found the house of my dreams when I saw the potting shed: a converted old chicken coop. The yard extended way back to an old stone wall. Dried Annabelle hydrangeas bent with snow-capped flowers. There was a stillness in the air. I felt calm and at peace. I felt like I belonged there; a place where I could pull weeds.