Tuesday, December 15, 2009


*this is an archived post from my Talk at the Table blog. I thought it might give some background into my love of things that keep me outdoors. And it reminds me of spring, which it absolutely is not here today.

March has brought unexpected, and often taken granted for, early spring.

Backdoor open to let life promise in.

I bend and squat the gardener me, worm watching girl, taking note of mud drying , cracks and bubbles of hope , green reassurance bursting. Slimy blankets to turn back , cribs of soil to ready and gaze over. Down , I am , peering under, prodding , knees firm on hallowed soil. I go to my soul here, reflection, renewal, rebirth, reform, reaffirm, reliance . A vessel with bowed head in the sun, filling from grounded feet, crackling and sparking in resurrection. Amen.

Thanks mom, for your lawn chair lessons and balcony observance, encouraging and shooing that I might find always and seek out, life in the urban settings, parking lots, back alleys, parks, and sandboxes. Thanks for the opportunity to find virtue in tending family vegetable gardens , seasons of seemingly endless toil to nourish growing tangles of dinner table limbs. A grandmother's garden with green pea pearls. Too dark porch caves with bean seed dreams. Grass cushions for headstands and falls from dizzy spinning. Pick up stick snarled forsythia sun spots, and pussy willow sprigs of hard and smooth and velvety caresses on my heart.
Squished against car door , lapping at the rushing air , drives to countryside, by bluffs, across and over and to and fro. Long queasy, Export A hazed, whizzing and imprinting of evergreens , fall glory, waterfalls , springs, ditches and golden lakes of grain. Thank you for the criss crossing of Canadian shields and plains and foothills and farms. For Sunday sermons from quivering poplar clergy. The endless branches of dirt road enlightenment from trails and boardwalks going in to darkened shadow filled breath holding impasses to burst in splendid awe and relief into light ray pencils writing Faith and Believe in trillium and moss strokes.

Many seasons later, married in spring aspirations, I danced with my beloved into trusted sanctity. We claimed our homesteads outside first, with gardens and flower beds , finding harmony in flowing seed sprinkled and bulb filled lines of earthiness. Bringing forth children, crawling babies beckoned to cool greenness off strewn blanket edges, toddlers pinching buds and blooms trailing outside in, to our house , to our heart corners, and to windowsill miracles of carrot tops and potato eyes ,breaking the dormancy and rejoicing in Creation from my new mother essence.

Emerging like crocuses from snow, jellybeans of triumph, a maternal instinct , this intuition for nurturing a gift of tending to be proclaimed in His name.

I can witness triumph and bear disappointment as caretaker of germinating and clinging tendrils. With inspiration and firmness and steadfast patient waiting , for the sun to quell storms and the moon to illuminate grace, I can turn over flower beds and fluff the pillows of my divine abundance.

I pray to impart this living with passion and following of conscience, on those grown in my womb , most of all. Protect and prune and stake up in support, so with tender communion may they stand and bloom .

May they feel peaceful rejoicing in lilac blooms , crowns of assurance in delicate fragrant clusters, sprinkled about rural fields, and planted with promise by communities , bundles of cut stems adorning spring lit tabletops.

I accept and have internalized that the shrines of nature lead me to walk with Him always , as I work outside the home in these fields and garden plots that have chosen me. I parent with perseverance and trust , a covenant of white tulips and magnolia , soup pot herbs and backyard bouquets. Gardening is my prayer offered in reverence and action

I have felt the tear swell blessings of gingerly passed dandelion posies from five angels on earth , and remembered too, that long ago bittersweet honouring of my own .

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Bare feet feel the crunching cold , my weight bending and crushing as they chase the dog around the yard.

The bones of our street greet my sigh into coffee steam.

The promise of what will be. The hanging onto . The never want to leave.

A just barely first snow teases out damp shivering. The columnar oak hums a delicate rustling, and I wonder if I could rub and crush it's copper brown leaves. It's a conical dried evergreen that 's not of course. Unless you see what could be. What stays with whispering seemingly impossible.

I think of prancing back out there, squinting eyes against the sharp spray. I think of stripping off quivering leaves , rubbing and crumbling a powder of fine life is beautiful essence.

What blustery blackness ahead might need a pinch of the gifts we can't see magic?

** this post is shared at Chatting at the Sky , for the Tuesdays Unwrapped series. It is always a good thing to learn to see. To receive the seemingly impossible.


and if you aren't aware of my other blog, might I prompt a visit. I 'd like to share my Hope for Advent series, and encourage you to think a little differently about the meaning of the Christmas season, or let me know how you approach it with true intention.

As my Day 2 post of community , I'd like to give a huge hug to Claire . Her blog, my memoir of you, was one of the first I ever visited. I've continually been awed and quieted and inspired by not only her photography, writing, thoughts, and heart, but by the authentic beautiful joy she radiates from herself, finds in others, in all that is around her , and all that is sacred and mysterious. Thank you, Claire .


Sunday, November 15, 2009


I'd like to use the excuse that because I've been so incredibly busy with fall gardening chores and/or recovering from them, that I haven't been able to properly thank Cynthia for her surprise of bloggy kindness.
But that wouldn't be honest... and well somehow , you know, doesn't quite fit it with the whole Honest theme.

I will say that I'm constantly amazed and thrilled and sleep deprived as I discover or am directed to the vast and diverse and life changing blogs.

So , truthfully, I'm a little behind in some things.

Cynthia's blog , Running With Letters is inspiring. She covers such a variety of valuable topics, her pictures are great, she's an author, and she just overall oozes friendly. A beautiful person to make a connection with. Thank you for reaching out to me.


10 Things I Honestly Don't Like About Gardens

1. Hosta plantings in a circle around a tree. Especially when all of the same type and colour and circling a columnar tree. Kind of like a collar . Or bracelet. Poor trying to be grand and magnificent tree.

2. Daylilies . Sorry. The blooms are astonishingly beautiful, almost tropical, and the colours range from the softest brush against your senses, to the deepest how does Nature do that. But in tiny suburban, not grown for swathes or for cuttings, this is all I've got for the length of the driveway, under the windows - I've fallen into the dark side of the relationship. Too much foliage for too little impact and contribution to the average landscaped property. And the clean up of the mush. Yuck. This especially goes for the over sold Stella d'Oro.

3. Tea roses in the front yard.

4. Umbrella trees. Upside down greenery that people plant where the walkway to the front door meets the driveway. For a focal point. And so they can trim and prune and feel very old English gardener like . I guess.

5. Boxwood hedges. Oh , I've got one. And there is nothing that comes close to their texture, hardiness, all purpose formal yet practical planting uses. But after a season of hand trimming ... we need a little space from each other.

6. Bees. They are invaluable. But they sting. As do yellow jackets, and wasps and whatever else might be trying to enjoy the Salvia while I'm trying to deadhead it. Just sayin'

7. Heavy Metal music and leaf blowers. The kind of noise that assaults and renders it almost impossible to get into a zen like state while weeding. Right there as loud and constant and grating from the property next door. Sometimes in surround sound like dueling Nine Inch Nails on a chalkboard.

8. Blue Jays. I so appreciate chickadees, cardinals, and finch. A woodpecker or two, turtle doves, and sea gulls. Geese, crows. You chatter and banter and beckon and rejoice. But Mr. ( or Mrs. ) Blue Jay ; I don't know where your attitude comes from, and for the most part I'm nowhere near the deeper forest sections of your space. Why do you yell at me. Is it because you think I should be home reading, or sipping iced tea by the pool and you've decided to stage a little intervention?

9. Rain soaked leaf bags. That are of course filled with all manner of twigs, and cuttings, and slime, and rotting stems and fly away pods and garlic smelling weeds, and muddy roots and thorny canes. That were heavy to drag and heave and hoist and pull into the homeowners chosen waiting spot for pick up day. That apparently they forgot about. So when you try to move them to make room for the 4 or 8 or 15 other , you now have to go your car and get the shovel if you remembered it. To heave and scoop and re-bag and rake and sweep and remember to smile at the Mail Carrier who passes by shouting out how isn't it just the most fabulous day!

10. Fences. Because there are so many days that I just want to wander and meander and be awestruck and inspired and awakened to the very me of myself. That works in a very orderly and plotted out manner, wondering what it would be like to just keep going deeper and deeper into the beyond.

No offense meant by any of these opinions, especially given the fact that I will no doubt change my mind and that I am referring mostly to the gardens in my area, in my particular zone. And you should know that our first house was over planted and all wrong , what with way too many trees lovingly tucked in with rings of hosta.

And I will pass this award on through email.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.

Mary Oliver

I remember fingering bean seeds in the lint of a deep coat pocket.

Surrounded by iron railings and brick flats , I was particularly entranced by the dark recesses of a white slightly lilting porch.
That I was crawling out of the sun's reach didn't occur to my six year old scabby knees and hopeful heart as an issue, any more than the fact that they were lima beans I dug in, lovingly shared from my brother's plate.

Not pole or scarlet runners, but processed , cooked, and served with carrots and peas.

On other days I added dried navy beans , suddenly aware that the damp mud under my nails and in the folds of slouching socks was beautiful.
That I was wearing a secret.

Most days I played hopscotch and barbie, and school. I coloured and dressed my paper dolls and dreamed of canopy beds , locket necklaces and carriage rides.

I didn't climb trees or fences or even the forbidden staircases that grew up like vines with drying laundry leaves up and down those Montreal streets, providing escape routes for tag games.

But these diamonds of letting go and waiting for it to come back, felt like song lyrics of dreams to come true.
They smelled like the laughter layered in pine needles around a cottage. Like a soup ladle carefully running along the top of the pot to catch drips of shelled peas and pulled up carrots.

Just a prayer of giant snowflakes and star lit bedroom nights. Bedtime's steepled fingers could bring the tiniest little green piece of forever pushing up through the rain of a morning.

I'm sure when we moved yet again, I quickly forgot about those doomed plantings.

But the seeds of something grew.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Good-bye My Friend, ode to an L-Tool.

Good-bye to you, my trusted friend.
You had your season in the sun.
Time to rest in the shadows, like the fading roses.
Together we climbed hills, beneath trees, got scraped and worn.

Now that winter is in the air, like the flowers,the weeds have gone.
You've helped to teach me right from wrong, what was ground cover , and where to scrape so it would be gone.
We had joy, we had fun, we saved some worms , played too long in the sun.

You wore bright enough blue and flashed enough blade,
so every time when I was down,
crawling and feeling along without sound,
you'd help me find what I thought I'd lost. You knew I'd always come around,
and dig your edge back into the ground.

Good-bye to you my trusted friend.
Until spring is in the air
And roots and buds are everywhere
Until then, my heart wants there,
But alone you'll wait , quiet, without flair.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Today promises soft warm sweater sun on my bending and stooping back, as the bedtime routines begin.

Tucking in client's gardens and tidying up the party mess.

I'll yank out stubborn annuals without mercy. Hack and slice, and get everyone back on their own sides. I'll make mental notes on what worked here and didn't there, and remind myself once again that ornamental grasses can be just the right choice , even in a small space, and roll my eyes in disdain at the stella d'oro daylilies that once again failed to impress.

I'll linger and gaze and listen and breathe deeply.

Soon the tools will get put away, but that earth smell, the musky deep of her, will tease just there at the edge of whistling winds in the holding days.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


The fall gardening chores are becoming as real as the shortening days.
I resist this back to school , celebrate the apples, and plunk mums everywhere season.
Wearing shorts in defiance and thinking about Halloween the day of.
I play hard to get , until swooning over the light and the colours I am won over yet again.

I want to run my hand over the fields that soften our highways. Like wool needlepoint carpets of autumn gold and mushroom and plum.

Leaves will crunch beneath me.
Blow and swirl and bring change and promise.

Berries blink from holly and cotoneaster, lily of the valley and dogwood.

Stop and yield and go.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


It was the colour that surprised me most of all.

I'd been to Pheonix and Sedona , Arizona 14 years ago, and remember being awestruck. But as an overwhelmed mother of 4 young children, one of whom I'd just weaned, I was soaking up the freedom from clutching little arms, and tears of guilt, and humility in my limited wardrobe.

I am still letting it all settle in from this trip. This time was for basking and noticing.
The contrasts, the unexpected, the sacredness, the vastness of land and sky and tenacity.

These photos are from the Grand Canyon trip.
We arrived from Hwy 89 at the south east Desert View section. This is where the Watchtower is located and where knees begin to shake and heart pounds and camera's click and the deepness of earth and time and the spiritual is open and laid before your eyes and heart and soul.

We followed the South Rim drive and parked near Mather Point. Walking along the Rim Trail felt like wandering through gift packages. Each view and wash of colour or peak at the Colorado River, or surprise of vibrant and enduring life amazes.
We made our way to Verkamp's Visitor Centre and then turned around to claim a sunset spot. While it had been overcast for most of the day, we were not disapointed at all.
I think we would have slept right there on the rock just to stay in the moment of it all but knew we had a drive in the dark back to Flagstaff through the Coconino Forest area along Hwy 64. Where towering elk appear in the headlights. On the other side of the road , but still...

It never ceases to strike me through... the diversity of all of creation.

While I organize the pictures and memories and lasting impressions, I know that I have been transformed yet again, the never finished still evolving little me in the grand drama of the forever still to be.

~~photos; mojave aster? , raven pair, mule deer, scrub oak, unknown flower

Friday, August 21, 2009


I managed to take one picture before this exquisite example of creation escaped back to bugland.
I'm assuming that he was a little misguided in the quest for a sunset mosquito feast , and inadvertently spent the night trapped on the inside of our sliding door screen.

I played with the saturation and sharpness as the original was a little muted .
I was thrilled to see a more stunning and alive dragonfly emerge .

This past week was jungle humid . Clients' gardens that are near the lake, buzz and hum with white flies, moths, butterflies, mosquitoes. Snails , slugs, and spiders tenaciously rebuild and reclaim.
Sweat drips from all the nooks and crannies of a body. Dust clings. Energy wanes.

I found myself on more than one occasion grumbling about left in the way pool toys, crowded pathways, awkward plant groups in tight corners or on sloped rock formations.

I sneered at unrolled hoses and storm strewn patio chairs.

I cursed the limp and tedious daylily foliage and Annabelle Hydrangeas.

It was all I could do drag the soggy debris bags and tools and myself back home.

Flat . Blah. Muted.

The true colours of my impatience showing through in the glisten and itch of perspiration .

I wish it was as easy as adjusting the tones and hues to make a vivid elegant me pop on demand.

That when we're trapped with little control over the outcome , between the dark and the light, someone would see it there. Free us and know we radiate.

So we can get back to riding the breeze and staying close to water.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009


In the spirit of this post, I am sharing some of the colour, the light and dark, the imperfect, the wouldn't trade it for anything, of our garden space.

It is sanctuary and swaying humming life.

It has changed over the years, with knowledge and wisdom. It changes enough in the seasons to keep me growing there too.

Friday, August 14, 2009


A gentle note to homeowners who plan extended vacations.
Perhaps a scheduled visit before the path to the doorway disappears could be an option.

I am experiencing blogger stubbornitis this morning, but that is okay. Imagine the pictures where they should be, and the text properly aligned and paragraphed. The point of this is clear. That many of my days are spent in toil such as this. I sing a little clean up song, Molly from Big Comfy Couch forever in my mommy brain, wishing I was as flexible, glad for the kneepads. Yes that is me looking so glam with the bucket.

Now , that's better. Although there is still some definition needed along the side where the potentilla and hydrangeas are in stubborn knots. Next time. The best part of this day was that I was working with the sweetest jaw dropping bundle of energy . And she's hot too. And I mean that in an even though us gardener moms wear such fabulous outfits and smell like mosquito repellent, we still got it way. Not that we're just sweaty and wilted. She is the giving and patient soul, who understood mine, and encouraged me to take a chance and do something that I wouldn't have without her. I still sub-contract most of the clients from her. Or if I am really lucky, with her. That is a path I am so so grateful to be on. Crawling and tripping and scrapping and revealing the door.
A friend like that feels like a vacation all the time.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I have a few posts under construction.

Yet, I find this point in the season brings a bit of a pause, before the slide into constant deadheading and cutting back as perennials fade away.
The late bloomers are getting ready to show off, and in most of the properties I help maintain, the weeds are largely under control.
Sort of . Somewhat.
The heavy and frequent rainfall has transformed some spaces into mini jungles.
Slugs, snails, spiders take up residence greedily.

Weeds suddenly appear as carpets, or flowering science fiction sized intruders . I've walked by a section or two thinking all was well with the Rubeckia bed filled out to meet the Autumn Joy Sedum patch, when suddenly I feel the need to quick draw my L tool and pruners , two fisted and quaking with flashbacks to Day of the Triffads.

The tiny vegetable garden at the side of our property finally provided a few tomatoes, the just red enough much awaited beauties hanging like too heavy earrings on the soggy drooping stems, low enough that the slugs that glisten on my interlocking stone are even "sluggier", flesh oozing a ruby glow of evidence. My windowsill is now lined with greenish hope.

Peculiar weather perhaps, but the lushness ! The thickness of air and green. It feels voluptuous. Vines and shrubs and lawns that usually know enough to modestly share the parched and tired soil, now wave and spill over and flatter .
Tempting .
Drink this up and into , the cool refreshing abundance.
Feel the vigour, the ripeness.
Know this joy for awhile.
Let it stroke your soul and adorn dull routines.

Soon enough September breezes will remind everyone to behave .

So for a short while longer, I'll let the gardens party, and use the sheers and edgers sparingly.
I'll gulp it down greedily too.

Monday, July 27, 2009


The more I study this picture from the late spring archives, the more I am convinced that I.am.not.losing.it.
I planted spinach, a few kinds of lettuce, parsely, sage, and basil.
Hidden behind the silk , deep in the eyes of innocence, the soil lingers.
Reminding me that paws dig, friends lend a helping hand or heave, dogs drive us crazy
I might give him a talking to, attempt to explain the importance of seeds staying where they've been planted. Basic gardening for actual crop advice.
I'm guessing he'll be hard to catch or hold in eye to eye contact, scurrying and playing hide and go seek, and spraying dirt and mulch , blossoms, and vegetation skyward.
I forgive you Diesel, I'm just heading out to the Farmer's Market for a bit...

Friday, July 24, 2009


A soft place to land this morning, waking up in the grating of living. Bell chimes of pots and pans in the gush of washing away the grime of our marching.

It takes a fairy tale land of sweet tarts and rain heavy dreaming, to ease me into awakening.

Whispering glides of rake, like flowing silk skirt edges, catch petals and pods and pollen as I crouch down to greet the bees. Gossamer divine flights flutter in my drifting eye edges, and I feel carried too,
transported to celestial cities of white halcyon spirits .

Where a morning is a lifetime of beginnings. Eyelash brushes of petals and heart.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


An evening walk in our neighbourhood , window shopping , gallery stops and admiration.
A driveway meets France.
( Except that this is probably the Hidcote Blue variety, a Zone 5/6 English lavender.)
Patches and swatches of colour and texture and scent.
I am drawn to mini masterpiece gardens that I barely noticed in the past few years, the weeks of scorching sun, parched earth, watering bans.
Suddenly the green crescents and streets canvas rolled out under unpredictable Southern Ontario skies, are painted with bold purples, yellows, pinks, and whites , salmons, orange.

A vibrancy that startles.

I am resigned to my little gardening space, usually confirmed at this point in the season when wilted and scorched attempts hardly awaken plant envy, instead bring sighs of relief that I have less to water, mulch, water again.
Mourn the loss of.

So suddenly here I am , yearning for more space to brush up against a hedge of this and that, and drift in perfumed holiday.
Even the roses look like they belong here, naturally knit among daisies, coneflowers, coreopsis, stella d'oro daylily standard hardy fare.

Do birds take advantage of milder , balmy stretch of days? The cardinals, finch , chickadees, and robins meet and greet each other and us in any hour of this mellow July. Socializing , rejoicing, and making merry in the cool lush promise .

Where I normally sigh in faith at droopy shrivelling leaves of our tired lilac , spent and succumbing to constant thirst, glaring sun. I now approach with respectful quiet and wonder.

This lilac was just a scrawny yet to bloom symbol of putting down roots to our young family and first home .
When my husband and I fought to keep eyes open and legs moving, piling boxes and baby living into the rented moving truck in the quiet of night meeting morning, we both knew without much discussion that we couldn't leave it behind.
We laughed at the sneaky theft of garden bones, like the new owners were suddenly robbed of spring.
But those tender shoots that bowed in wind and snow held our hope too.
Of family seasons that come and go and fill the heart with violet gladness . Deliverance from winter 's grip in defiant blossom of redemption.

The lilac has flourished in the protected corner outside the kitchen eating area window. Passed countless times on the way to, in and out of the yard, our days. We divide the bounty of sweet passage into spring , bouquets filling the bedrooms, kitchen, family room, and powder room with such overpowering fragrant life.
I wrap up wet chilly bundles of faith for teachers , for friends that drop by.
I share the trust with 2 sisters friends. Women that I've come to know in these past pitch of years as chained to my soul. Bound in the tears and joy of marriage and children and community.

One dear love receives them as reminder of what was too, as the other is delivered through the grief and quiet grace of her left behind family. Hands no longer reaching over the fence to snatch our glory, my heart, my innocence.

Our lilac gives and gives this year. As time subsides the flow of tears and bleeding pain , it gifts life.
This spring we hosted a family of robins tucked in the arms of our humble offering.

But the nest is vessel for patient trust yet again.

What masterpiece of Creation startles us all in the hectic bounty of our backyard. Persevering in the wrath of dog and people traffic.
Yet another birth, large family hope joining ours.
Survival .
Grateful praise.
Painting chirping bold living on a subdued spirit.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


It thrills that some love brushes against me as I stomp on the pine needles and cedar mulch path under the forest pansy. I drop the bucket of tools, the empty one for debris, the rake, cultivator, edger, broom, and head for the shed.
I'm taken back in it's smell, to cottages and cabins , canoeing at sunset, the call of the loon, chipmunks scurrying .
There I find the leaf bags I'll need, and a visual mix in the supplies of almost retirees, grandparents, gardeners.
This sweet couple is kind enough to let me forage about in their retreat in the older part of the city, tucked in among the treasured tree canopies and ones being taken down for newer homes.

I look forward to the monthly English garden getaways , eager to root among the thirsty ones , weeding, deadheading, trimming.

The soil down near the lake is sandier than the clay that frustrates most of my neighbours.
The cool shade rewards efforts for rhododendrons , hydrangeas, ferns, woodland bulbs, and the like.
This garden looks organic and easy, meandering here and there, freely mixing and swaying and blooming .
I've discovered, as with most things in life, that it takes many behind the scene hours of work, with pruners, trimmer, clippers, and a trusty LTool to achieve a look of natural beauty.

The refined, the delicate, the muted tones and subtle shade contrasts.

Arbours and paths gently entice to tucked away seating for reflection. A pond babbles, nestled in ivy and wild violet . A gazebo beckons for refreshments , bird watching.

But behind many castle walls the fairy tales do not exist.
High tea illusions of the downstairs drudgery.
She taunts me there , that lady always waiting. With demure downcast eyes and plain dress.
For all is not peaceful in extreme gardening ventures , when you go in unprepared and stay in the game when the body cries otherwise.

I have spent the last few days in a woozy stupor of throbbing head and slow motion limbs.
I partied too hard on that day away from it all.
Too many hours bending and crawling in the snickering sun. Without a drop of liquid, water or otherwise.
Collecting bites and giving up blood .
Chirped at by the knowing chipmunk while I loaded my car, hands shaking in the hurried invoicing.

Even when things are as lush and innocent as a forest opening, one still needs to be prepared , with supplies, and common sense.

A good lesson at this point in the summer, with the schedules , the routines, the days and nights and sounds mixing like a cottage garden of tipsy July days. It's time to thin out, and cut back, and remember the basics. The wild rain drunk gardens are getting a little edgy lately, and this gardener feels like she 's recovering from jungle fever.

I rushed angrily, and frustrated, to escape the CD's blaring pulse from my own backyard, hoping to find sweet music for my soul at the home of elsewhere.

Only to need to be reminded to rest and drink and thirst for more of the love here where my heart beats best.
It really isn't all that romantic a notion to bloom where you're planted, and put in good strong roots to live by.
Plants wither quickly when you shock them in transplanting. Extra care in watering, fertilizing, support, pinching back, and soil conditions are vital factors in the transition.

So too with mothers and summers with almost grown children.

I must take care to tend to these transitions , and remember to take time to sway freely in the many colours of love and life giving roots.