My Favorite Things

“Now, when I feel bad about how many unchecked items there are on my gardening to-do list, I remember my lack of tidying is really for the benefit of wintering wildlife and the nourishment of my garden.”

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

As I sit in my comfy chair today, there’s a favorite thing going on just outside my window. Big, fat snowflakes are falling. ‘The Sound of Music’ kind of favorite snowflake that stays on your nose and eyelashes. It’ll probably vanish by tomorrow, but there it is, making the world outside my window look like a giant snow globe.

Otherwise, there’s not a lot going on in my garden. But what is there reminds me of a few of my favorite things. While I’m sitting here, I thought I’d join in with my gardening friends for a Six on Saturday post where gardeners around the world take time to post about six garden related things. A hearty thanks to Jim Stephens of Garden Ruminations for hosting.


One and Two : Birds and New Feeders

Robins are one of my favorite birds, but they’ve been noticeably absent lately. Although robins sometimes stick around in the winter, my guess is that they’ve quietly moved on to a warmer place. I’ve noticed, too, that the geese are noisily practicing their V-formations as they make ready for their winter migration journey. My hubby and I sometimes think about joining them in their quest for warmer temps, but we choose to stay near family for now. Thankfully, some birds choose to stay for the winter in Wisconsin too. Since they have kindly decided to keep us company and amused during the long, cold months, we decided to return the favor and add some new bird feeders–feeders that the thieving squirrels couldn’t empty in a few hours. We bought three new feeders, all of which have some “squirrel resistance” mentioned on the label. Two of the feeder designs involve surrounding a tube feeder with a cage that only song birds can fit through. The third is a long red tube with slider perches. If a squirrel tries to climb aboard for a snack, its weight will trigger a sliding mechanism that closes off the seed access hole. It took our frequent diners a few hours to decide they liked the new feeders, but they seem to have adjusted well. We haven’t noticed the resident squirrels having success with snitching from the feeders…of course, we also greased the feeder poles to make their initial approach a bit slippery.

Two of the new feeders shown here (caged in background, and red in foreground). The older feeder on the right is a favorite of our resident bird-life, but the squirrels consider it a favorite too and quickly empty it.
One of the new caged tube feeders is a favorite of some of our resident birds. It’s my favorite too because it is right next to our dining area in the kitchen, allowing for a closeup view of our feathered friends.

Three: Unfinished Fall Garden Tidying + A Favorite Article

My Siberian irises are one of those plants which won’t be harmed by letting its fallen leaves stay put, but I’ll want to take care of that in early spring before new growth gets too high.

There are still quite a few garden cleanup tasks left to be accomplished. I’m thankful there is no harm in letting any of it wait until spring; in fact, there is some value in leaving it all behind. I love this article by Houzz, 7 Reasons Not to Clean Up Your Fall Garden, which explains some of those benefits, so thought I’d share it with my readers. Now, when I feel bad about how many unchecked items there are on my fall gardening to-do list, I remember my lack of tidying is really for the benefit of wintering wildlife and the nourishment of my garden.

Four & Five-ish: A Favorite Porch Plant

For several seasons now, I have been growing this ‘Livingstone Daisy’ in the pots on my south-facing front porch. There’s so much to love about this nearly care-free plant. It is an over-achiever in the foliage department, putting out beautifully lush, succulent-like foliage. The nicely variegated green and white leaves make this a very desirable plant and teeny-weeny, hot pinky-red blossoms (summer to fall) further embellish this lovely plant. I first acquired this plant when doing some volunteer deadheading of flowers at the assisted living memory care place where I work as a part-time baker. They had several of these vigorous plants which needed a haircut. I composted most of the cuttings, but took a few home to attempt water-rooting. I’m so glad I did.

Now that winter temps have decided to stick around, a few of my porch pots have unsightly frostbitten growth dangling from them, including my Livingstone Daisy. I plan to tidy those up with a haircut next time the sun pays us a visit on one of my days off.

Six: A Favorite Bush in Winter Garb

I’ve taken a real shine to hydrangea bushes the past few years. As in life, their beauty is in a constant state of change. Some color changes are soft and easy, others are dramatic and bold. All of them beautiful…even the last stage where life seems to ebb and the beauty fades.

Looking at the browned out petals, one thinks that the beauty has faded. True, but this stage has its quiet beauty too. Help me to remember that, Lord, in my later season of life.

“The grass withers, the flower fades,
    but the word of our God will stand forever.”

Isaiah 40:8

Watering Can Memories

For several years now, this little watering can has held various succulents from my garden. I bought this little watering can around 17 years ago for my first grandbaby. My mind’s eye sees Violet, dressed in her pink ballerina tutu, carrying this pint-sized watering can around and joyfully watering my flowers…and rocks…and me.

One by one, each granddaughter took her turn as a toddler helping me water the garden using this watering can. Mia, then Noelle, each dressed in various Disney princess dresses, liked to use their budding culinary skills while they watered. They’d take the bucket of water I provided for watering can refills and add handfuls of their special ingredients: leaves, twigs, grass, and dirt, of course. Together they would create imaginary “salads” and “soups” for grandma and grandpa to enjoy. Then along came the stairstep grandsons, Charlie, Henry and George, who gravitated toward using squirt-guns over watering cans to get the job of watering plants (and each other) done.

Though the sun has faded the paint and the grandkids have all outgrown using it, I can’t part with the memories.

The Peaceful Golden Tunnel

“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water…” from Psalm 1:3

A beautiful place of calm respite is just a few steps outside of my front door. This time of year, it’s not my garden. It’s the park just down the street. On this crisp autumn day, I decided to take a stroll around the park just before lunch.

I just love this weeping willow lined pathway. A row of towering trees strung all in a row alongside one of the park’s ponds, with a nice walking path dividing the pond-side trees from several willow friends reaching over the path from the other side.

The Peaceful Golden Tunnel of Weeping Willow Trees

Today, as my feet crunch through the leafy tunnel, I take in the aroma of fallen leaves and the shivering sound of the gold-kissed leaves as gentle breezes play with the dangling cascade of branches.

An unexpected blessing was finding my friend Rita just on the other side of this tunnel taking her own peaceful walk through the park. She changed directions to join me in my walk and together we talked trees, bushes, Mexican sunflowers, peonies, and all things garden-y. Her beautiful garden is on the other side of the park and is always worth a tiny detour to visit. I love her garden. Even though her garden is winding down for the growing season, I can see that it has good bones. She knows just where to plant her newest bush or tree so that it will reach its fullest measure of beauty and harmonize with neighboring trees and bushes. I learn so much from my friend. We really should visit more often.

Honestly, I’m befuddled as to why I don’t take walks in the park more often. It used to be an almost daily habit. Maybe I could make it just that once again. The first step out of the door is the hardest, but is always richly rewarded.

Six on Saturday: Last Bit of Color

No snow. Yet!

But our weather in south-central Wisconsin has been anything and nearly everything possible these days. In the past week, we’ve experienced frost on the ground most mornings, and even a frosty morning where I had to use my ice-scraper on my car’s windshield. Most days had at least a little bit of sunshine. A few rainclouds watered the earth for at least a few minutes. One day the raindrops seemed to be a little sharp with ice, but the sleet melted before hitting the ground.

Other than a few splashes of color here and there, our south-central Wisconsin colorama of autumnal splendor is definitely over. Just about any time I’m outside I can hear the sound of lawn mowers doing one final mowing and neighbors raking leaves. I’ve been out there tidying up flowerbeds too. I’m not going crazy with it this year. I’m just cutting back peonies, joe pye weed, pulling back spent foliage on daylilies and mildew-prone hostas, and the such.

Except for these few die-hard blossoms, my garden is finished for 2022. And, you know what? I’m ready for it. As much as I like playing in the dirt, I’m ready for the work to be done until spring.

A pelargonium (geranium) I overwintered in 2021 gives its final 2022 show
Hibiscus Moscheutos ‘Tye Dye’ shouts one more “ta-dah!” for 2022 (left). On the right you’ll see a taste of its show-stopping beauty showcased from mid-summer to early fall.

A trio of clematis blossoms bid me to stop to admire their delicate beauty. This vine grows nearest my front porch and is a delight most of the summer, then gives a tiny flush of blossoms in the fall.

Snapdragons really don’t mind the cold. I let them seed themselves willy-nilly wherever they please and look forward to seeing them next year.

I’m still gardening in my bare feet (barefoot lily lady, you know), but my feet will find my shoes pretty soon…if my winter boots don’t find my feet first.


If you’re finished with your gardening chores in your corner of God’s earth, you might enjoy a virtual visit to see what is happening in other gardens all over the world. Just use this link to visit Jim’s Garden Ruminations to enjoy Six on Saturday to its fullest.

Mandevilla: Bringing the Outside In

This post is dedicated to my good friend Judy to honor her wishes for more photos of my Mandevilla plant. Judy is one of those friends everyone needs in life — an encouraging sister in Christ who is also my enthusiastic cheerleader to all of my gardening endeavors, and a friend who can see the beauty in my garden no matter what its state of weediness.

“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice. Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.” ~Proverbs 27:9


Wisconsin is gorgeous this time of year as trees put on their colorful robes of autumnal splendor. Sooner than we care to imagine, those beautiful leaves will be exchanged for a gorgeous dusting of snow. In fact, just today on this 14th day of October, we had a flurry of snowflakes and a brief but insistent windborne hailstorm–a wintry tease.

Houseplants that have spent the summer on my front porch are being transitioned indoors to my enclosed 3-season porch. Here they will slowly acclimate to being indoors while I inspect them for tagalong bugs and trim them up a bit. Each plant will get a shower before taking its place in the house proper.

My Pink Mandevilla Vine

This summer I grew a Pink Mandevilla Vine in a pot. I set it at the base of an arbor hoping that it would clamor up and create a lavish pink arched entrance to my backyard deck. It didn’t grow very tall, as you can see in the photo above, but it’s still beautiful. In hindsight, it probably needed a sunnier location. It’s perennial in warmer growing zones, but here in Wisconsin, it needs to come inside for the winter and be kept as a houseplant through the winter months if I want to keep it.

Hanging out on in my 3-season porch

My hubby helped me lug a few pots into the enclosed 3-season porch when we first began experiencing overnight frost warnings a few weeks ago, including the Mandevilla. As pretty as it looks on that porch, it’ll need to make the transition into the house for the winter because the 3-season porch gets cold enough to serve as a second fridge.

The Mandevilla gets repotted for winter’s indoor engagement.

I decided to go ahead and make the effort to overwinter this lovely plant (plus a few others). Hubby took me shopping to find a few new pots for my “bringing the outside in” endeavor. We purchased a roomier ceramic pot in a neutral color for the Mandevilla. I dug the plant out of its summer pot and inspected the roots for signs of disease and pests before replanting it in fresh potting soil in its new pottery abode. I gave the plant a thorough shower in the kitchen sink and then placed it in a bright spot on my family room window seat. According to one of my internet resources, I’m supposed to cut it back a bit, but want to enjoy the blossoms a little bit longer before giving it a haircut.

Waiting for next spring!

Orange is for Sunny

I’m especially thankful this week for the beauty of my garden, bountifully brimming with daylilies. The riot of color brings my husband Wayne and I joy as we sit on our deck recovering from the Covid that finally caught up with us. I find that if I stay on the deck and squint a little, I don’t notice the weeds so much. Last night I ventured into one flowerbed armed with an empty 5-gallon bucket, emerging only minutes later when my bucket was full of weeds and my body said “enough!”

I have often been asked what colors I enjoy in my garden. Honestly, I would have to say ALL of them, but will admit that I seem to gravitate toward a lot of pink, purple and yellow. Over the past few years I have added lots of orange (or shades thereof) and splashes of vibrant red. Much of it is in garden splendor right now, so I thought I’d dedicate this post to photos of the sunny oranges in my end-of-July garden.


Well, friendly readers, that’s all for now. Thanks for joining me in admiring the color orange in its many luscious and sunshine-filled shades. I hope it brought a sunny smile to your face too. I tried, but just couldn’t whittle the orange-y beauty down to only six photos for Six on Saturday, the all things gardening meme hosted by The Propagator.

Psalms and Peonies

“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for I trust in you. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”

Psalm 143:8

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

Psalm 145:8

“Prove me, O Lord, and try me, test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.”

Psalm 26:2-3

“But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.”

Psalm 59:16a

“O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.”

Psalm 59:17

“Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.”

Psalm 63:3-4

“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me….”

Psalm 86:12, 13a

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and harp, to the melody of the lyre. For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the work of your hands I sing for joy.”

Psalm 92:1-4

“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”

Psalm 33:20-22

“For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.”

Psalm 33:4-5

“When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”

Psalm 94:18-19

“For the Lord is good, his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

Psalm 100:5

The Merry Month of May

I don’t want to speak too soon, but I think winter is finally losing its grip and spring has sprung.

I took a barefoot stroll around a few of my flowerbeds this afternoon. The stroll was brief because the grass beneath my feet was wet and very cold. Even so, a warm feeling of peace washed over me. I could almost feel my winter-weary heart filling with the joy of spring as I meandered from one flowerbed to another inspecting the colorful spring blossoms.

Nothing beats the bright yellow of a daffodil in spring-time cheerfulness!

One of the first signs of spring in my Wisconsin garden is the very early blossoms of Pulmonaria, whose very unfortunate common name is lungwort. If it were not a tad bit prone to powdery mildew, I would say I love everything about this plant. It grows in the shadier areas of my garden, thriving well on the north or east side of my house, but blooms best if it gets at least a splash of sun and plenty of moisture. The leaves can’t seem to make up their mind as to whether they will be lance or heart-shaped, but each fuzzy leaf sports sweet silvery spots. To me, the leaves are incredibly cool, but it is said that the common name of ‘lungwort’ came about because their appearance reminded some botanist of a diseased lung. It has a habit of reseeding itself in the garden, but does so very politely. I have several cultivar in my garden, but the one pictured is a pass-along from another gardener, so I’m unsure as to its cultivar name. Based upon its beautiful blue, pink and lavender bells, it’s likely ‘Mrs. Moon’.

The demure pink and blue blossoms of Lungwort in an old crystal salt shaker

Winter has been slow in releasing its grip, and May is off to a chilly and rainy start, but the promise of warmer weather is in the forecast for the weekend. In previous years, the daffodils and some tulips were finishing their spring engagement in the garden; this year, they are just getting started. While it would be nice to have more sunshine, we need the rain. Another ‘upside’ is that the chillier temps will keep the daffs and tulips strutting their stuff a little while longer.

Raindrops on tulips just outside my front door

These beautiful tulips have charmed me out of a writing slump. My friend Wendy aptly described them as a “pretty sunshiny yellow,” although they take on a soft, orange-sherbet glow in certain light. Either way, they are incredibly sweet.

Well that’s my “Six on Saturday” – thanks for joining me on a little photographic spring tour of my early floral arrivals. And a special thanks to “The Propagator” for hosting “Six on Saturday” each week. If you check out Jon’s “comments” section, you can visit a whole bunch of lovely gardens, gather ideas and suggestions for your own, or have a go at posting your own six.

Another gorgeous harbinger of spring…magnolias!

49 Days ’til Spring

Gardens are still snugly nestled beneath a lovely quilt of white snow in Wisconsin. It’s hard to capture in a photo, but, if you squint your eyes as you look at this photo of my backyard, you might be able to spy where bunnies and critters have created many intersecting paths in the snow — reminding me very much of quilting stitches, especially when viewed from a second-story window.

Critter quilting stitches

Standing just outside a side entrance to our home is this little metal sunflower sticking out of a little bank of snow. The rusty patina of the artsy sunflower against the similarly colored backdrop of last season’s Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ lends a bit of rustic beauty and charm.

This just makes me smile!

Following the snow-covered pathway through the arbor entrance, now naked without its summertime covering of clematis, I happily traipse around in our backyard for a few brisk minutes. If I were a young girl, one of my parents would surely be leaning out of our home’s backdoor yelling, “Cynthia Lynn! Where’s your coat?”

It was certainly chilly without a coat, but there was more to see.

August and January Beauty

To my admiring eyes, the paper-thin beauty of spent hydrangea blossoms still speaks of their Creator even in the hushed silence of winter.

Tucked in the northwest corner of our yard, the swelling buds of the magnolia tree speak to the promise of beauty in the Spring.

Winter’s Promise of Blossoms in Spring

Thanks for taking time out of your day to stroll along with me in my winter wonderland for a little ‘Six on Saturday’ tour (SOS for short). SOS is a virtual gathering of gardeners who like to write about their gardens. My posts are a bit sporadic, but I do quite enjoy the eclectic mix of gardeners who gather on Saturdays to write and give a six photo tour of what’s going on in their gardens.  Click here if you want to learn more about SOS from our host, The Propagator.

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