Upcycled Firewood Ring in the Garden

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

~Margaret Atwood

Encore Tulip and Daffodil Performance

Last fall I planted some “late” season tulips and daffodils. While not all of them seem to have bloomed, many have, so I am blessed with an encore performance of mostly white or pale yellow flowers (not planned). The delicate beauty of the various shades of white and yellow stands in lovely contrast to the riot of color I had going on over the past few weeks – almost like a different garden. To add to the beauty, I have some of the flowerbeds edged in various succulents, which are looking pretty impressive filling in the front row and edges.

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Just Mimicking Nature

The calendar reads May 1st today, but our temps are in the high 80’s and winds are blustery with gusts up to 50 mph. It feels more like summer than spring. I gardened a bit today, but it’s a little too windy to enjoy it. My hubby suggested we go visit the Allen Centennial Garden. This beautiful public garden is really an outdoor classroom nestled within the heart of the UW-Madison campus.

We smiled as university seniors donned their cap and gown and posed for friends taking informal iPhone portraits along the paths of this picturesque place. On other occasions, we have seen professional photographers taking engagement or family portraits, and we have even stumbled upon a wedding taking place in a reserved area of the garden.

This garden often mirrors my own in its stages, so I was not surprised to find that we were catching just the tail end of this garden’s tulip and daffodil show. A few weeks from now, the “show” will change once again as iris and peonies put on their own performance.

It was so windy, it was hard to take photos, but here are a few tulips which were still looking pretty fabulous. I especially loved their collection of potted tulips.

Once in awhile I am able to observe the student interns and volunteers hard at work planting and maintaining this beautiful place. I sometimes wish I could borrow them for a weekend or so to help spruce up my own place. As I’m growing older, I will admit that I am having more trouble keeping up with the tasks of gardening. But as we walked the garden’s paths today, I couldn’t help but notice that some areas seemed a bit unkempt. One sign pointed to the reason this garden seemed less than tidy. I had to laugh when I read it and told my hubby that I needed this sign for my own garden.

Weeds or not, no matter what’s happening at any particular time in this lovely place, I know I will leave having been glad I had been there. That’s just how I want people to feel when they visit my little plot of God’s creation.

Hand a (Grand)Kid a Camera

Having grown up a few states away from my own grandparents, I vividly recall those long “summer vacation” trips from Wisconsin to Ohio and West Virginia…and back. Three sweaty siblings elbowing each other in the backseat of our sedan in the years before our family car had air-conditioning. I loved seeing my grandparents, but the trip, not so much. Memories of that once a year trip make me feel particularly blessed to have our daughter Beth and her family living about ten minutes away from us and able to stop by often.

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Mr. and Mrs. Robin Return

Mr. Robin Redbreast perches like a king on the purple garden chair - 
Pudgy tummy rounded and very handsomely red-vested.
I wonder where he and his queen have built their perfect cup-shaped nest?
In the eaves, atop the downspout, or in the leafy shelter of the crabapple tree?

Cheerily, cheer up! Cheerily, cheer up!

My robin friends require nothing from me, not even to be fed.
Crabapples and blueberries are choice morsels, and juicy worms make a fine dessert.
Their hop-run-run-run hunt for tasty fare is entertaining to watch.  
How many baby robins will join them this year; two broods or three?

Cheerily, cheer up! Cheerily, cheer up!

My robin friend takes wing abdicating his backyard purple throne,
Landing on the fountain, he cocks his head, first left, then right. 
Mrs. Robin joins him from her treetop perch for a splish-splashy fountain rendezvous. 
Then, off they flit to the locust tree where the king serenades his queen with his song.

Cheerily, cheer up! Cheerily, cheer up!
Photo by Skyler Ewing on Pexels.com

Raindrops on Roses

We’ve been in rainy Louisiana this week enjoying more than “raindrops on roses,” but also enjoying whiskers on kittens (four cats) and the playful antics of three dogs (sometimes five) in the home of our friends and gracious hosts, Don and Melinda. Our little vacation started out sunny and beautiful, but most of the week has been more than a little wet…

yet still beautiful, as these photos of Melinda’s garden will prove.

A beautiful ‘Porch Begonia’ (aka: Angel Wing begonia)
Raindrops on roses
A gorgeous orchid bloomed on the last day of our vacation

The rain hasn’t dampened our quiet fellowship. Together we have enjoyed Melinda’s amazing cooking (she truly loves to cook), a never-ending tea-time, the challenge of putting together two 1,000-piece puzzles, or our time spent binge-watching episodes of British tv’s “Pie in the Sky” and “Rosemary and Thyme” trying to see who can figure out whodunit before the detectives. Oh, and I must not forget the menagerie of critters!

As wonderful as every single minute of our vacation was, it was nice to pull up into our driveway tonight and be welcomed by lovely daffodils and tulips.

Our lovely “welcome home”

Thank you to Jon the Propagator for hosting this fun, around-the-world garden tour each week.

DIY Gardener

The summer of 1982, my neighbor Adele reached over her backyard fence and handed me a freshly dug perennial from her lovely garden. In passing me that tiny bit of her garden, she inspired me to create my own garden. I have been a do-it-yourself gardener ever since. Like my gardening inspiration and mentor Adele, I use traditional tools like cultivator hoes, trowels, and other hand tools, rather than power this ‘n thats to get the job done. My idea of a rototiller is to go in the house and ask my hubby to come outside and dig for me. He can dig in a matter of minutes what it would take me days to dig.

Likewise, most of the other members of my “gardening staff” all call me “Grandma.” Other than occasionally paying a grandchild to help pull weeds or pick up seed pods from our locust tree, or a friend who is temporarily out of work, I have never hired anyone to help me in the garden.

Okay, I will admit to a tiny twinge of jealousy as I see landscaping trucks in the neighborhood. It sure would be nice to hire a professional landscape artist to draw up a plan for that Pinterest-inspired garden space I have been dreaming about – complete with the cozy two-story structure with a little sitting room beneath and a cozy bunkhouse above which would provide a grandkid-friendly (and fun) summer sleep space. It would be so cool to have a landscaping crew, each with more muscles than Wayne and I combined, jump out of those trucks and in a matter of days transform my garden space into the luscious dream garden I have in my head.

Oh, I have loads of ideas!

As nice as it would be to have a professional landscape team doing all the grunt-work, I must admit there is a special joy and satisfaction when I look at God’s wonderful artistry in our gardens robed in summer’s splendor and realize that “we did this” ourselves.

No one can rightly call his garden his own unless he himself made it.
~ Alfred Austin, Poet Laureate 1986

My Garden Frog

One day while wandering through Pier1 Imports, a ceramic frog called my name from atop a sale rack. My sweet hubby bought him for me and Mr. Frog has stayed with us ever since. He customarily sits on our kitchen countertop and keeps busy much of the year holding oranges or apples for us. At Christmas you might even spy him holding a few especially pretty ornaments.

I looked at my frog today and decided he needs to make a return engagement to my garden this summer. He’s been so happy there in the past.

I have been nurturing a few garden succulents over the winter months, so planted the survivors in the little leafy bowl this afternoon. I think he looks rather spiffy.

“Mr. Frog” just doesn’t suit this dapper guy. I think he needs a name. What shall it be?

A Garden Memory to Savor

Our local weatherman says we’re in for a few days of chilly temps, so I decided to take advantage of today’s fleeting afternoon warmth to rake leaves out of the flowerbed on the east side of our home. This flowerbed has never been a show-stopping focal point of our landscape and few people actually see it, so it’s usually the last flowerbed to garner any attention whatsoever from me. With a little more effort, I mused, I could create something eye-catching and special in this particular garden space.

I thought about that as I gingerly pulled the rake through the bed, gently coaxing last year’s leaves and debris toward the edge of the bed. Moving more slowly than usual because of a grumpy shoulder, I raked very carefully, slowly uncovering the new beginnings of unfurling leaves and flowers yet to bloom. Among them, a dozen or more clumps of hosta push their spikey heads above the earth; a Siberian iris and a daylily send leafy blades skyward; and a huge clump of sedum I wish I had divided long ago.

Beauty yet to come…

But there, in the far corner of this plot of earth was the plant I treasure very much. A few gentle pulls of the rake uncovered the red tips of one of my dad’s peonies inching their way out of the warming earth. A twinge of pain reminded me to take a little break, so I pulled my garden stool into the corner next to dad’s peony and surveyed the work I had accomplished thus far. It was looking good.

A brisk breeze tossed my hair in my eyes. Closing my eyes for a moment, I just listened to the nearby windchime’s frenzied melody and the sweet call of the cardinal in a neighboring magnolia tree. Opening my eyes again, I focused on carefully weeding around dad’s peony. As I pinched and pried, I thought about my dad and how much he nurtured and enjoyed his peonies. Few things brought him greater joy than snipping a few for the passersby who stopped to admire their beauty. That memory of him made me smile.

My parents: Charlotte and Jerry Boyles

The wind was growing colder and a niggling of pain suggested it was time to gather my tools and call it a day. It’s hard to give thanks for the painful things in life, but I found myself offering a prayer of thanks to God for slowing me down enough so that I could savor the quietude of memories and the simple beauty of an emerging garden.


One word. Five minutes to write about it. This is the idea behind the Five Minute Friday community. Today’s free-writing word prompt: SAVOR

When ‘Great Expectations’ Happen

If my great expectations of gardening goals were met at all this week, it was through no effort of my own, but by the loving efforts of my dear husband. I had two projects in mind and he took care of one of them for me. It had been my desire to rake the flowerbed on the east side of our home and clean up a winter’s worth of birdseed hulls from underneath my bird-feeding station. The later was quite handily accomplished by my husband, who also took the time to relocate that feeding station to a spot a little further away from the fountain.

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Garden ‘Great Expectations’

I have been re-reading Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations this week. I remember reading it many moons ago when I was in junior high school. As a teen, I struggled with getting into the story. Truth be told, I didn’t put much effort into reading for comprehension and enjoyment. Well, I’m thoroughly into it this time through. Though it has absolutely nothing to do with gardening, I just love the title of the book and have found myself viewing my garden through the lens of great expectations.

Nothing show-stopping happening in my garden this week, but the snow has melted and there are definitely some great expectations and emerging signs of beauty to come…and a whole lot of grunt work needed to tidy up the flowerbeds.

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