December 30, 2016

Twelve of My Favorite Things (2016)

Are you hopeful for the year ahead?

The 18th century English architect and landscape designer William Kent offered sage advice: "Garden as though you will live forever." Gardens give us hope—for ourselves and for the generations to follow.

In that spirit, I contemplated simple gardening joys of this year that I hope to see again in 2017. For the past several years, I've created lists of favorite garden and nature "things." They help me appreciate each moment and each season in its time.

Here are my reminders for the next 12 months:


Songbirds of many species are common in my winter garden. I hope I'll also see a few rarer visitors, like this fluffy Common Redpoll, who stopped by last January.


If there's a temporary thaw in February, I'll watch for moss stalks and flowers reaching for the sun.


Will the graceful Snowdrops bloom in March? They're always among the first flowers to appear each spring.


April will bring more new life, with unfurling Buckeye foliage and the leaves of other trees.


I do hope a few Indigo Buntings will visit as they migrate north in May.


June should bring bright colors and sunny blooms filled with pollinators.


Butterflies, like this Northern Broken Dash, will be plentiful in July.


August will be golden with blooming Black-Eyed Susans near the lake.


I hope to watch Monarch caterpillars chomping on my Milkweed plants in September.


In October, Sandhill Cranes will migrate south and dance in local prairies and meadows along the way.


Frosty Oaks will form a magical carpet, as November turns its page to winter.


And in December, our avian "forever friends" will entertain with their acrobatics and spunky competitions.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

When I think of these simple pleasures, and many more, the year ahead looks brighter. Each month carries its own unique, simple blessings.

My wish for you in the year ahead is that you'll find many "favorite things" and gifts that will bring you much joy.

Happy New Year!

December 01, 2016

From Fashion to Current Events:
Lessons From the Past Season


Does this happen to you? ...

You look out the window, and the arrangement of colors and elements offers fashion advice?

You spend a day raking leaves, and the twist and turn of swirling debris conveys wisdom about current events?

I don't think I'm unique, in that my garden offers mundane and life lessons every time I look or step outside.

As autumn fades to winter here, I'm contemplating the lessons I've learned this past season, as entries in the "garden lessons learned" meme. Here are a few thoughts:


Allow time to look very closely at nature, to see the true "big picture."


When it's time to say goodbye, rejoice for another soul's "freedom flight."


Rejoice in the promise of tomorrow, whether there are signs of it today, or not.


Appreciate the beauty of a life that may not mature or grow; it is simply beautiful today.


Young and old, together, can make the world a better place.

lady beetle

Keep on moving--the journey is worth the effort.


Adjust your tools to match the conditions and the challenges.


Sing with your true friends--those who stay with you in every season.


Break the rules! Hike when the weather says "no" and point your camera toward the sun.

What lessons did you learn this past season? Leave a comment, or share your link to a blog post--old or new--that conveys practical or thoughtful lessons from the past season. Winter blessings to those in the Northern Hemisphere and happy summer to those in the Southern Hemisphere!

November 28, 2016

In a Vase at Season's End

sea oats

Just a few days before Thanksgiving, a first hard freeze hit our area--very late for Southern Wisconsin. I clipped the last of the garden blooms before it hit and created an arrangement of Zinnias, Marigolds, and Lantanas, with a few spikes of Northern Sea Oats.


For staging, I placed pumpkins and pine cones around the base. (This didn't last long, because the cat tried to chew on the lot.)


The vase was saved one from a previous arrangement, which came with a matching autumnal saucer.

Tagetes spp.

Zinnia elegans

lantana 2
Lantana camara

lantana 1
Lantana camara

sea oats 2
Chasmanthium latifolium


It's fading now, but it sure was nice to have cut flowers from the garden in late November.

Cathy at Rambling in the Garden hosts the meme In a Vase on Monday. Visit her blog for more cut-flower inspiration.

I hope all who celebrated had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Blessings as we move through the busy holiday season ahead!

November 11, 2016

Tomorrow's Big Picture


I've been around long enough to know that today is tomorrow's past. The moment after the autumn leaves flame, they're "past peak." When a flower blooms, it starts to fade. When a human being reaches the pinnacle of his or her career (or health or vibrancy), that person begins a certain decline. When we're born, we begin to die (during this life, anyway).

This is not intended to be a downer post. On the contrary, it's to remind me there is more promise in a tiny seed than in a plant in full bloom.

This autumn, I've been collecting seeds--studying them, playing with them, photographing them, appreciating them. What follows is a simple vignette of a few seeds and seedpods that have captured my curiosity.

Rudbeckia hirta

Agastache foeniculum

Phaseolus coccineus

Chasmanthium latifolium

Passiflora incarnata

Lablab purpureus

Mixed prairie grasses

Echinacea purpurea

Conoclinium coelestinum

Asclepias tuberosa

Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks'

All these plants are dormant. To some, they appear small ... insignificant ... boring. To the wise among us, they're stunningly beautiful ... full of promise ... worthy of great praise.

And lest we think of them as "little" things, we must remember that these tiny seeds, together ...


... are tomorrow's "big picture."

They are beautiful and powerful alone, but together in all their diversity and flaws, they can change the world.


Messy, yes ... but think of what they will become.