Friday, August 07, 2020

What's In Bloom This Week

Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Venetian Fringe’)

Each garden has its own surprise.
SUSAN ALLEN TOTH, My Love Affair With England

It is cool, wet, and windy this Friday morning. A day for tucking up indoors with a good book and maybe making a nice soup for lunch. I am feeling particularly unambitious today, and so I shall keep this post short and sweet. These are the flowers we are presently enjoying in the garden. If you were here, I would point them out to you and we could admire together. Of course, we'd invite the sun to shine for us while we were out.

When I see such a beauty as this Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Venetian Fringe’), I kind of lament that they are true to their name—each blossom lasts only a day and then shrivels away. So, I try not to miss the opportunity to drink in her frilly details.

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, no doubt you have picked up the clue that I love close up shots of flowers. I certainly feel a kinship to American artist Georgia O'Keeffe when she said, "I decided if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty." My close ups are so I don't ignore them.  

" When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it,
it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to
someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they
have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it..."

This thistle-like perennial is Eryngium, known to us as Sea Holly. Rick selected her for the front bed along the west of our driveway. Low-lying alongside the more flamboyant Coneflowers, she is easily overlooked. You have to bend near to see her delicate beauty.

In the beginning, I was not drawn to Sea Holly -- she seemed aloof with her prickly centres, but I have since come to appreciate the wonderment of these spiky, mauve-hinted flowers. I understand they make long-lasting cut flowers and dry well for winter arrangements. I may have to try drying some this year.

These duo-tinted Echinaceas are just coming into bloom now and certainly lend their charm to our Coneflower corner of the garden. In my estimation, along with our busily buzzing winged friends, they are the bee's knees.

There were bright white Daisies and yellow Buttercups,
sweet Black-Eyed Susan and tall, tall blue Coneflowers;
and in and out and drinking came buzzing fat bees. 

We were sitting on our deck one balmy evening when the neighbourhood rabbit nonchalantly hopped into our yard. Soon as he spotted us, he froze and stayed quiet for a long time. Keeping an eye on us even as we watched him out of the corner of our eyes. Once he felt safe, he took to munching on the lawn by the hydrangeas. How perfect a spot for a photo. I was reminded of those old-fashioned greeting cards with the Easter bunnies in a spring garden.

Then he hopped off and the magical moment was over.

* * *

On that note, I'm wishing you a beautiful weekend.
Stay safe.

Heart Hugs,

Monday, August 03, 2020

The Simple Woman's Daybook: August Edition

" O the green things growing the green things growing,
The faint sweet smell of the green things growing. "

Happy August! It does not seem possible that we've flipped the calendar to a new month, but here we are. Summer is slipping away. For those of us who have been at home isolating for months now, this whole business has seriously messed with our sense of time—days feel like weeks and months feel like seconds. Maybe it doesn't matter, but on second thought, yes, it does. As humans, we need to know when things happen and what day of the week it is. We need those rituals and signals to help us peg our memories to life events. We certainly recognize the devastation people experience when they lose track of time when dementia sets in. So yes, it matters.

I didn't write a July Edition of The Simple Woman's Daybook, so I didn't want to miss August. I've been joining with Peggy our host off and on for more than a decade now. I'm glad she continues to carry on the tradition she started many years ago. It is one of those old familiar rituals that ground me in these unsettling times. Writing, blogging, and gardening certainly does that for me. Making pancakes on a Saturday morning for brunch does too—it sets the weekend apart from the weekday. It all helps to keep our feet on the ground when the world feels upside down.


'A daybook is where you share snapshots
of what your days look and feel like'

Outside my window...
The morning is bright with blue skies, sunshine, and refreshing winds. With most nesting over, fewer birds are around the feeders these days. A lone American goldfinch has been visiting over the weekend. The chickadees were yukking it up yesterday afternoon, now that raising families are done for another year, they are being their cheery, chatty selves.

I am thinking...
It has been months since I've been in a shop to browse for anything. I've been going out for essentials, that's all. Funny, I thought I'd miss it, but it turns out I've grown used to not going out and about. My needs and certainly my wants have simplified even as my social circle has grown smaller. I do not feel lack but rather I realize just how much I have and am taking greater pleasure in what is near to hand. My garden and the flowers give me especial delight this summer. And we ensure there's a supply of small continuous treats (like books and flower posies and favourite snacks for tea at three), so life is good, sweet, and beautiful. In the midst, my heart pangs to think not everyone has it so good in their own lives, and I whisper a little prayer for them.

I am thankful...
I finally learned to stay in the present in my thoughts as much as possible as I go through my days. Not to cast my thoughts down the road about what needs to be done in upcoming tomorrows (unless there is something specific I need to plan in advance). Looking too far ahead often brings a sense of niggling unease and slight anxiety. I'm not sure why—perhaps I tend to forget that 'sufficient for the day' is our grace. I have been given grace for today's projects. God promises new mercies and strength every morning. So I conclude that even the slightest fretting about tomorrow's business will surely usurp the energy I so need for today's tasks. ~ found this thought in an old blog post

One of my favourite things...
This rich pinkish purple Rugasa Rosa 'Hansa'. I love how this photo turned out when I took it with my iPhone after the rain. It's so fresh and vibrant I can almost smell it.

I am wearing...
A sleeveless summer dress with a swishy skirt in floral leafy pattern
of shades of light to deep blue and chartreuse. My eyes feast on this colour combo.

I am remembering...
Audrey Hepburn's character, Holly Golightly, from the 1960s movie Breakfast at Tiffany's when she says, "Hand me my purse, darling; a girl can't read something like this without her lipstick."

It's true, I too feel much better prepared for whatever and whoever crosses my path when my lipstick's on. Big question, do you wear lipstick when you go out in public and wear a mask? I do, I still put it on even if no one else can see it, because lipstick always makes me feel dressed and ready to face the world. Just like Holly.

Photo from Susan's website

I am watching...
That is to say, I will be watching a Zoom Party with Susan Branch later this month. Susan was scheduled to do a presentation and slide-show with the Duxbury Senior Center about the English Countryside. Due to Covid-19, it became an online event and was opened to the general public to take part. Susan invited her girlfriends to come, so I registered—oh yippee!—my chance to participate in one of Susan's book events, something I've wanted to do for a long time now. She's going to be introducing her brand new book Home for Christmas, which she wrote and illustrated during the Covid lockdown. How is that for making great use of this pandemic business.

I went to get the link for you and found they are not taking any more registrations 😢. I'm sorry if you missed it. However, Susan's new Christmas book can be ordered HERE

I've been reading...
by Sarah McCoy

And thoroughly enjoying this 'prequel' story about Marilla Cuthbert. The author shares how she came to write this story. She recalls a passage from the original Anne of Green Gables, Chapter XXXVII:
"What a nice-looking fellow he is," said Marilla absently. "I saw him in church last Sunday and he seemed so tall and manly. He looks a lot like his father did at the same age. John Blythe was a nice boy. We used to be real good friends, he and I. People called him my beau."

Anne looked up with swift interest. "Oh, Marilla—and what happened?" 
Sarah McCoy said Anne's question echoed in her own heart her whole life, and so this novel is her "invention of Marilla Cuthbert and the foundation of Green Gables before Anne Shirley ever arrived with her whimsical free spirit". If you are an Anne fan, you'll like it. McCoy isn't trying to imitate L.M. Montgomery and yet to me the story is seamless, so when the last chapter is done, you will want to continue the tale and reach for the Anne books. It will be interesting when I read the Anne books again if I will see Marilla differently now that I've read her own story.

I have now finished reading...
by Penelope Lively

A blogging friend asked me some weeks ago how I was enjoying Penelope Lively's memoir. It was a full book with so many lovely garden things to read and think about. I underscored many lines and starred new-to-me people, authors, books that I would like to find. I was especially interested to learn about Czech gardener/writer Karel Čapek and his 1929 book The Gardener's Year. He sounds a most entertaining writer, and I laughed so hard at his account of wrestling with the common garden hose.

Here's what Peggy noted: "The garden, for Čapek, is an adversary, a cherished adversary perhaps, but nevertheless the awkward place where the gardener is forever on the back foot. ... Take the simple matter of watering: '... until it has been tamed a hose is an extraordinarily evasive and dangerous beast, for it contorts itself, it jumps, it wriggles, it makes puddles of water, and dives with delight into the mess (mud) it has made, then it goes for the man who is going to use it and coils itself round his legs.' " Can you relate? I surely can. 

I am listening to...
the wind in the trees—the rustle and swish of leaves aflutter—it is a sound so summery, is it not? 

In the kitchen...
This salad is so delicious on a hot summer day.

Peach and Tomato Salad (Yum!)
Serves 4

1. In a large bowl, combine:
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
4 ripe peaches, pitted, cut into wedges
4 ripe tomatoes, cut into thick wedges
(yellow plums would also work)

2. In a small bowl, whisk ingredients to make a dressing:
1 tablespoon white balsamic or sherry vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons light olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

3. Drizzle the dressing over peach mixture; toss to coat.

4. Sprinkle over salad:
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
4 - 6 fresh basil leaves, torn into smaller pieces

In the garden...
Here's a photo taken in the cool of the evening. Our hydrangeas are doing well this summer. The backyard is a work in progress. There are still things that need reworking and, well, 'tis a project for next year now. Two summers ago, it looked like a war zone, but it's coming along. The lawns keeper seeded our bit of grass last year—we quite like the rectangle. He ordered himself a hand push mower this summer and enjoys using it. Maybe he likes that it's old-fashioned, or maybe it means there is no roaring of a gas motor or the whining of an electric one, only the gentle whirring of blades being pushed by hand.


The garden has been really special this summer. It's special every summer, but the main reason I pay closer attention to the beauty and solace of our garden this summer is because we are in it every single day. It's our work, our entertainment, our solace, our holiday resort, our dining spot al fresco....

A favourite quote...
I felt an energy when I read this short list of advice I found on Twitter from Irish novelist Maeve Binchy. Wondering if you also feel that same motivating energy pulsing through these words.  
Learn to type. Learn to drive. Have fun. Write postcards. (Letters take too long and you won't do it, a postcard takes two minutes.) Be punctual. Don't worry about what other people are thinking. They are not thinking about you. Write quickly. (Taking longer doesn't usually make it better.) Get  up early. See the world. Call everybody by their first name, from doctors to presidents. Have parties. Don't agonize. Don't regret. Don't fuss. Never brood. Move on. Don't wait for permission to be happy. Don't wait for permission to do anything. Make your own life.

A moment from my day... 
For you - a posy of sweet peas picked from the garden.   

Closing thought...
There always seems to be bittersweet in life—the good and beautiful mingling with the hard and painful. My own life is sweet and good these days, and I never want to take for granted the beauty and pleasure I have in this season when the world is upside down and some things twisted past recognition. My heart pangs for those whose lives are so changed due to pandemic related issues. And I whisper a little prayer that folks will have the grace to face their situations, that they will catch sight of something that fills them with courage, comfort, and the hope to push forward to better days ahead.

* * *

On that note,
I'm wishing you a beautiful August.

Heart Hugs,

Photo Credit for Feature Image (Top):
'The Artist's Garden at Eragny', Camille Pissarro,
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

Friday, July 31, 2020

Five on Friday: Last Day of July and Poppies

" Through the dancing poppies stole
A breeze, most softly lulling to my soul.

We have arrived on the last day of July, and what a beautiful week it has been. Lots of sunshine and even some hot days—even reaching, for us, a heady +30℃ (86℉)! We'd go out in the garden early in the mornings to tend to weeding, tying up loose vines and stems, as well as transplanting struggling annuals that needed a patch with more sunlight to properly flourish.

Sometimes when a person plants in the early spring, you just don't know exactly how tall a neighbouring plant will bloom or spread out, suddenly crowding or shading what had seemed the perfect spot for some sweet annual. And for some reason, I think because we're close to home this summer, I've been more aware of the needs of my little flowers. Some of them require more elbow room—a little social distancing of their own. And some really must have their day in the sunshine, although I don't have complete control over that, but I can give them room where, when the sun does shine, they'll be able to turn their faces upward and take it all in.

In the afternoons, we'd sit in the garden, reading, watching the squirrels (we see two now), listening to the birds vying for spots at the feeders. The season is already changing, the birds always give the cue. Their songs change, their busy nesting and feeding young shifts to training and teaching them to find their own food. We watched one young crow begging on the fence : But, Mom, it's so much easier if you just put it in my mouth. And, she says : the food is here in this tray, eat it!  At least, that's what we imagined was said.

Last evening, the crows were gathering in flocks to roost for the night. That creates a slight shiver if I let myself think about what that means. In not too many weeks, they'll be heading southward. BUT, before we let ourselves go there, let's stay put right here in the deep of summer—it is still July for a few more hours and summer for a few more weeks.

Because the weather has been so lovely, yesterday I took a short trip to visit my mom and sister. We had a delightful social distance visit sitting in Sis's beautiful garden, which included seeing this amazing patch of poppies in the middle of her hubby's vegetable garden. I was smitten. She said, "All this gorgeous beauty for the cost of a couple of packets of seeds. The best $2.49 I ever spent." Should you be interested, the name of these poppy seeds are Falling in Love, and you can order them HERE.

" Summer set lip to earth's bosom bare,
And left the flushed print in a poppy there.
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one. "

" As for marigolds, poppies, hollyhocks, and valorous
sunflowers, we shall never have a garden without them,
both for their own sake, and for the sake of
old-fashioned folks, who used to love them. "

" When in these fresh mornings I go into my garden before
any one is awake, I go for the time being into perfect happiness.

In this hour divinely fresh and still, the fair face of every
flowers salutes me with a silent joy that fills me
with infinite content ; each gives me its color, its grace, its perfume,
and enriches me with the consummation of its beauty. 

All the cares, perplexities, and griefs of existence, all the burdens of life
slip from my shoulders and leave me with the heart of a little child
that asks nothing beyond its present moment of innocent bliss. "

American writer Celia Thaxter often mentions poppies in her charming classic An Island Garden. You may remember me writing about her book earlier in the spring - you'll find the post HERE. I think she especially loved the Poppy, sometimes even calling the white ones the Bride in the garden. Ms Thaxter often waxed eloquently about the flower's delicate beauty, mentioning how they require a certain soil and how they lift their heavy furry heads towards the sun when they are ready to open, how much care is needed in transplanting or when picking blossoms to bring indoors. 

Here, listen to a couple of passages:  
Then, with what fresh wealth of color and perfume the garden will meet the resplendent sunrise! Every moment it grows more and more beautiful. I think for wondrous variety, for certain picturesque qualities, for color and form and a subtle mystery of character, Poppies seem, on the whole, the most satisfactory flowers among the annuals. There is absolutely no limit to their variety of color. ...
On one low bookcase are Shirley Poppies in a roseate cloud. And here let me say that the secret of keeping Poppies in the house two whole days without fading is this : they must be gathered early, before the dew has dried, in the morning. I go forth between five and six o'clock to cut them while yet their gray-green leaves are hoary with dew, taking a tall slender pitcher or bottle of water with me into the garden, and as I cut each stem dropping the flower at once into it, so that the stem is covered nearly its whole length with water ; and so on till the pitcher is full. Gathered in this way, they have no opportunity to lose their freshness, indeed, the exquisite creatures hardly know they have been gathered at all.

* * *

(Contented sigh), what a lovely thing to read on this balmy last morning of July.

Now, I know it's odd to wrap up on a completely different note, but I had to share something else that is on my mind. We'll be attending my beautiful niece's wedding tomorrow, but rather than in person, due to Covid-19 protocols, we'll all be gathering via Zoom to witness the happy couple exchange their vows. We'll party together another time. Congratulations to you, Chiante and Dawson!💞🥂🎕We hope it will be a day filled with special moments for you both even though it's all upside down. We send our full heart of wishes for love and happiness today and always. The Lord bless you both. We love you so much! xoxox

Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places.
Happy weekend.

Heart Hugs,