A time of change

As areas of the property that had been in full shade and under thick layers of pine straw are exposed to the warmth of the sun interesting plants are sprouting up everywhere.  When I first encountered this flower I had no idea what it was.  Then I learned it was called a May Apple.  It grows wild on the property and while easy to control spreads quickly.  The flowers are beautiful and it’s fun to pop open the fruit and suck the gelatinous material from the seeds on a hot summers day.

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On the other hand wild blackberries, while welcome, have proved to be quit invasive.   I’m trying to keep them on the outside of the chain link fence and on the hill.  So far I haven’t been successful despite pulling out the young canes by the wheel barrow load.

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Wild Black Berries. May 2017

Two weeks ago we got a new addition to the family.  A young dog we found at the Animal Shelter.  I don’t know who adopted who but he’s proven to be a good fit for our family and we love him dearly.  He respects the garden and while he doesn’t chase the rabbits his presence seems to act as a deterrent.  We call him Gabe.  Short for Gabriel.

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Gabriel. May 2017

A few days ago I heard knocking on the living room window and when I turned saw a finch.  It would go from one side of the window to the other and peck on the glass.  After thinking to myself how really strange this is I learned that he’s pecking at his reflection in the glass.  They are very territorial and it was nesting season.  He saw his reflection as a rival and was protecting his territory.

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Finch. May 2017

 

The 4 inch pot of lemon balm planted in the bed off the patio about 3 years ago has spread nicely.  I cut it back to about 6 inches harvesting the tops for tea.  A tub filled with water made it easy to wash the leaves.  After shaking off most of the water I brought them inside to dry on the rack in my office.  I’m still thinking about that first cup of tea and how I’m going to store the dried leaves.

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Lemon Balm. May 2017

It’s been a rainy spring and everything is lush and green.  The perennial bed is taking off and flower buds are beginning to open.

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Plants in the garden are flourishing

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Tomato (Celebrity?) May 2017

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German Butterball Potatoes. May 2017

And I’m a happy girl.

“In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.” Abram L. Urban

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March, April 2017 in the garden

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Open pollinated seeds form Baker Creek. March 11, 2017

March is a time when my dreams for the garden start to take shape.  There are so many new varieties of plants I wanted to try; new varieties of heirloom tomatoes, peppers, herbs and greens.  In March my office is transformed into a nursery that slowly fills with my dreams for the garden.  They start small and with time grow to fill every inch of space under the grow lights.

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We’re trying two new (for us) varieties of tomato and pepper. March 11, 2017

Dreams like seedlings need to be nurtured.   With any luck if we nourish our dreams they will begin to grow and and with time become more than just dreams.

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Young tomato seedlings. March 26, 2017

7 years ago the gardens of my dreams were a combination of tree stumps, mud, and 40 years of pine needles.  Under thick layers of pine duff was NC red clay.  We could have mined the clay for bricks or pottery.   Digging when the soil was dry required a mattock.  When wet it was a sticky, slippery mess.

Starting to cleanup the bed by the patio. 2010

But today, the last day of April 2017, you can see that what began with a dream, a vision of what could be, has become our reality and begun to blossom.

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Dreams are important and with a lot of hard work and persistence they can come true.

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Dreams need to be nourished, cultivated…

 

 

Ohh what a mess

One of many pine stumps

There will be times when you feel overwhelmed and are filled with doubt…but don’t let it stop you.  If we continue to cultivate our dreams and aren’t afraid of hard work they can come true.

The yard you see in the image above has transformed into the one you see below.

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And the seedlings that started with a dream in March can also find a home in the garden.

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Now this rabbit and I have had many conversations.  She lives under the spirea bushes in the backyard.  We have a truce but then she also has her dreams.

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“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”
Pope John XXIII

I hear stories…

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My neighbors chickens came over to visit.  March 10, 2017

I hear stories about an ever expanding population
and the fear that there will not be enough food to feed them.

I hear stories of the wonder, the saving grace of GMO crops
and how we will not be able to feed the masses without them.

I live in an area surrounded by dairy and chicken farms; fields of GMO corn, canola, and soybeans.
yet I see hunger in my community.

In a land of plenty.  In a land that lays claim to feeding the world
people go hungry every day.

You see the problem isn’t that there isn’t enough food,
but rather that it’s not accessible to those in need.

And the stories I hear… the stories being passed along are not about feeding the world
but rather stories of corporate greed, market share, and how to profit from the hunger… the desperation of others.

Corporations are making record profits
yet I see farmers who are struggling  and afraid of losing their farms.

In a land of plenty I see people without enough to eat.

And I hear stories of hunger.

 

 

As February Ends

As we near the end of another month I’m at a loss for words.  In my experience January and February are the coldest months.  Not this year. We’ve had more days above freezing then below and several days above 75 degrees F.  While I expect there will be many hard frosts and cold days ahead of us  I’m at a loss for words.  So I’ll just take you on a walk around the yard with me.

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Plum. February 26, 2017

I’m so glad I don’t make a living selling fruit.  Our plum is in full bloom and a hard freeze will destroy any hope of a crop.  While I would love to have plums the two trees are beautiful and a wonderful addition to the landscape.  When you look out the living room window they take center stage.

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Forsythia. February 26, 2017

Forsythia always makes me smile.  The bright yellow flowers cheer me.  The bed they are in has had a rough go.  First in the process of removing several massive pine trees they were crushed by falling limbs; next many were buried under a sea of wood chips; a year later their roots were assaulted when we had the stumps ground; and then they were buried under a sea of poison ivy and honeysuckle.  Over the weekend I pulled out the poison ivy and honey suckle.  I know they’ll be a price to pay.  But they look so much happier.

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Potato sprouting in worm bin.  February 26, 2017

This is our backyard worm bin.  I’m always amazed at the things that sprout in it.  I keep it filled with leaves and kitchen scraps.  Looks like a potato has taken root.

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Foggy morning.  February 23, 2017

We’ve had several foggy mornings. Can you see the cardinal in the fig tree?  We put a bird feeder right outside the dining room window and have so enjoyed watching the birds.

 

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Collard greens. February 18, 2017

This is one of the containers I had gotten to store rain water.  When it leaked I just cut it in half  and filled it with dirt and compost.  One half became a planter and the other  our worm bin.  It makes a great raised bed.  Just need to remember to water it.  Growing in raised beds and containers is a lot different than growing in the ground.  These are collard greens I planted in October.  They managed to survive the winter and gave us a wonderful dinner.

 

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The weeded strawberry bed.  February 26, 2017

The strawberry patch is looking good.  Yep, just finished weeding it and added a layer of shredded leaves.  Lots of new growth. I see a good crop of strawberries in our future.

Oh before you leave let me show you one more thing.  See these potatoes?

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Seed potatoes.  February 12, 2017

Last year we planted German Butterball potatoes.  At the end of the season we had a few that we didn’t plan on eating so I buried them under a pile of leaves.  I doubted they would survive and to be quite honest feared they would rot into a stinky mess.  But I was wrong.  They looked great.  Many were covered in sun starved shoots and long straggly roots.  I pulled most of these off.   Now I have more seed potatoes.  I planted them last week.

 

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February 23, 2017

Oh is it time to go already.  Well, thank you for coming over.  You’re always welcome here so don’t be a stranger.


“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.”  Gertrude Jekyll

 

Change and valuing life…all life

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Bench in Snow. January 7, 2017

 

The start of January brought snow.  It was deep (relatively speaking), and beautiful.  Looking out across the landscape I felt like I was in a winter wonderland.  The light reflecting off the snow was so bright it hurt my eyes and I found myself squinting.  How easy it was for me to see the beauty in the snow; after all I had a warm house waiting for my return.  What if I didn’t have a home?  What if through no fault of my own the home and community I knew no longer existed?  Would I still be able to see the beauty of a snow covered landscape?

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I’m a big softy.  Hell, I worry about the worms in the bin.  To help them survive the cold I added a thick layer of leaves and topped things off with compost that was still fresh hoping it would add some warmth.  While the bin is bottomless and the worms are free to come and go I wasn’t sure they would find a space that gave them the conditions they need to survive.  This bin has been home to generations of worms.  The bin has always provided a nurturing environment.  While they may burrow deeper they are not likely to leave.  It would take a catastrophic event to force them from the bin.  It’s the only home they know.

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Garden path. January 25, 2017

 

My worries were short lived.  Within a week the snow was gone and I was outside in short sleeves.  The worms had made themselves at home in the extra leaves and all was right in my little corner of the world.  As long as I didn’t listen to the news, glance at a paper, or look at my Facebook feed.  Those who know me, really know me, will tell you I’m a little eccentric.  Come on, I feel bad for killing ants that come into the house.  I carry spiders out side.  I say a little prayer for the plants I pull out as weeds.  At heart I’m a pacifist.  But I’m not a pushover and you would be remiss to think so.

 

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Olive Oil infused with Alkanet Root. January 29, 2017

It angers me when I see people attempting to use fear and intimidation to get their way or exploit others.  It angers me when others belittle and berate those who do not agree with them or who dare stand up for themselves and their families.  I refuse to be indoctrinated into a system that wants me to fear people because they are different.  A system that will drive people, though war, form the only home they’ve known and then refuse them shelter.  I refuse to accept that this is right, or just.  It is not acceptable.

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Soap Colored with Alkanet Root. January 29, 2017

In many ways I may be more fortunate then some in this nation I call home.  I was never taught to fear or belittle those who didn’t look like me, who spoke a different language, professed a different faith or had different traditions.  If anything because differences weren’t singled out I grew up understanding that we are each worthy of respect, compassion, and to be valued.

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Olive Oil Infused with Madder Root. January 29, 2017

 

I was also taught that respecting a position, such as the presidency, is different than respecting the man who holds the title.  I will continue to welcome people of all nations, who are striving to protect and provide for their families, with an open heart. I will continue to look beyond the labels our society places on others and treat all with dignity and respect.  Exploiting the earth and those who make it their home is not a just act because it’s encouraged by the leaders of a nation. And those who are mocked, ridiculed and insulted are not the enemy.

The true enemy is a hard heart, greed, fear and a willingness to blindly follow.  I will not blindly follow.  I will not say yes and agree when I know in my heart that what is being spoken is a lie.  Not at any price.  And I cannot follow someone whose power is a result of exploiting peoples fears.

There is an alchemy at work.  Change is taking place.  Like my soap making experience it can turn out well or it can blow up in your face.  There is much I cannot change in the world. And while I worry about where my county is heading, where our current president’s policies will take us, it is not something I can control.  However, I can have a positive impact on those I come into contact with. And as I have so often heard – I can strive to be the change I want to see in the world.

And I despite it all can still laugh, I can still hope, and I can still dream…

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Sometimes you just need to laugh. January 22, 2017

First Snow

I was told once, with kindness, that the only people who call to say it snowed are those who see it only on the rarest of occasions. I am one such person.  And last night while I was sleeping it snowed.  I’ll share more pictures later but like a child seeing it for the first time I wanted to shout out to the world.  It Snowed!!!!

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The Japanese Maple outside our front door covered with snow. January 7, 2017

The New Year

Happy New Year everyone.  It rained some last night and I decided to take a walk around the yard.  I’d be honored to have you come along.

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Walking in the garden helps me to clear my head, relax, and regroup.

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Gray Sky, January 2017

This is a picture looking up through the branches of the Japanese maple tree just outside our front door.  The sky is gray and it looks like we might get more rain today.  That would be nice.  While we don’t often think about it plants do need water in the winter.

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Raised bed with Collards, Kale, and Carrots. January 2017

The plants is the raised bed next to the shed are doing well.  I’m pleasantly  surprised.   I’m going to keep my eyes on these.

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This is a cute little bench we picked up at a yard sale for next to nothing.  In our eyes it’s priceless.  The maple provides just the right amount of shade.  A nice little spot to rest and reflect.

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Berries on Dwarf Burford Holly. January 2017

This holly next to the garage is beautiful.  But oh is it a challenge for me to keep pruned.  Don’t be fooled by the word dwarf in its name.  A Dwarf Burford Holly will easily grow 10 feet tall in our climate.  The flowers are pretty inconspicuous but bees and other insects love them.

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Lunaria or honesty. January 2017

I had a dried bouquet of lunaria that I had kept for many years.  One day I decided it was time to let it go, but rather than place it in the trash, I took it outside and scattered the branches of seed.  A few seeds germinated and the rest is history.   Each year we are graced with it’s beautiful blue flowers.  If you decided to plant it remember it’s a biannual.

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Japanese Maple in winter. January 2017

We have three Japanese Maples on the property.  This one we affectionately call ‘Dixie Cup’ because of how I brought her home.  I first saw her as an eight inch seedling growing on the grounds of a local university where I was taking classes.  I saved her from the grounds crew and she’s had a home in our yard for the last 15 years.

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Forsythia. January 2017

The forsythia in our yard was given to us by a neighbor.  It had spread and he wanted to thin out the plants.  We were happy to take many of the rooted branches he pulled out.  This winter has been relatively mild and the buds are already swelling.

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Columbine. January 2017

We have a bed where columbine has naturalized.  The blooms don’t last long but while they’re here it’s extra special.  I was surprised to see the vegetation up this time of year.

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Nandina. January 2017

Lots of berries in the garden this winter. Aren’t the nandina’s beautiful this time of year?

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The main vegetable garden. January 2017

Here’s a look at our main vegetable garden.  The fenced in area is 25 x 25 feet.  I ordered our seeds today.  I’ve got to admit I’m already starting to get excited about this years growing season.

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Expanded garden area covered with leaves. January 2017

I’m going to leave the leaves here over the winter.  We’re planning on using this bed for the squash and cucumbers.  It’s about 12 x 20 feet.

One more and then we’ll call it a day.  Lets head up to the top of the hill by the fruit trees.

 

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A weed seed head. January 2017

Isn’t this absolutely beautiful.  It grows as a weed on the property but I find it to be absolutely beautiful.  And it’s providing food and nesting material to a lot of critters.

Thanks for spending some of your New Year with me.  Until next time…

… take care of the earth.  We need her…she doesn’t need us.