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

Promising Signs of Spring

I love to see the tips of my spring-blooming flowers poking their weary of winter heads above the earth. First to emerge and then open in my garden is the lovely crocus. At the very first sight of the flower buds forming I begin listening for robins. Just about the time the earliest crocus flowers open, the robins return from their winter migration and begin announcing spring’s arrival with their song.

Crocus – my garden’s herald of spring

Another sure sign that spring has sprung is when I begin seeing a lot more activity in and around the various birdhouses and nestboxes in our yard. The one pictured below was painted by my grandson Charlie. I cleaned this nestbox out a few weeks ago so the new tenants would have a fresh start. As you can see in the photo collage below, the side of the box hinges open, revealing the fact that new tenants are making good use of our neighbor’s pine needles in their cozy abode.

The old-fashioned bleeding heart is another harbinger of spring’s arrival in my garden. As Dicentra Spectabilis’ leaves push their way out of the earth to begin their yearly show, their fuschia colored leaves remind me of old-fashioned feather dusters and are always a welcome sight. They’re one of those plants which you plant one year and then they take up residence wherever they want in your garden.

Tulips like the sun, so I’m always surprised (and extra thankful) to see the tips of tulips pushing their way up into sight on the shady north side of my house. Here are a few which have emerged right next to my only remaining swath of snow.

I inspected my yellow peony for buds and was overjoyed to see lots of signs of spring growth (see the photo on the left below). If the blog space I’ve used to write about any given flower in my garden is any indicator, it’s definitely a favorite in my garden, I wrote about this charming peony here, here, and here, and am very much looking forward to seeing its enthralling beauty again (see the photo on the right below).

Paeonia Itoh ‘Bartzella’ – What is now and the promise of what is to come

I look forward to having you join me in the weeks to come for more little walks through the little plot I tend in my little corner of God’s beautiful earth.


The Propagator provides a virtual garden plot each Saturday where gardeners and all those who like to write about playing in the dirt can gather and plant their respective garden-related missives. Known as “Six on Saturday,” it’s a virtual show n’ tell where each tiller of the earth shows off six photos of that week’s garden happenings (or anything garden-related). You’re invited to click on The Propagator link and begin your own personal tour of gardens around the world. Such fun!

Peony and Iris on Parade

Just about the time the last tulip drops its pretty petals in a graceful exit from the yearly garden show, iris and peonies are beginning to unfurl their lovely petals. I love to see my neighbors stopping to admire the gorgeous blossoms. This year has been a spectacular year for these little beauties to parade their lovely petals for the world to see.

I wish the parade was longer. Alas, one by one, the peonies are dropping their lovely petals and the iris are calling it quits too.

Well, there’s my Six on Saturday, where fellow gardeners around the world share six photos of what’s going on in their own little botanical spaces. You can take the tour too by visiting The Propogator’s blog here. We’d love to see YOUR gardening photos too.

Beautiful Garden Partners: Peony and Iris

I’m known as the ‘barefoot lily lady’ in my neighborhood – and for good cause. I do have a habit of gardening in my bare feet and daylilies are right at the top of my long list of favorite flowers. In late June through early August, our gardens put forth a beautiful daylily show. Right now though, its all about peonies and iris strutting their beautiful stuff. Even though the wind and rain are doing their best to beat them down, these lovely garden partners are still exceptionally lovely this year.

My flower gardens have been a bit neglected over the past few years as I have focused on caring for my mom. They’re still beautiful, but weeds and more than my fair share of invasive plants have taken more than just a toe-hold in these years of less attention. I am so thankful to have a little extra time to play in the dirt these days now that Momma is cared for and content in her new abode at BeeHive Homes of Oregon. Gardening is my ‘dirt therapy’!

Two of my dad’s peonies flourish beneath our locust tree’s dappled shade: one hosts magnificent rosy red flowers and the other is a lovely white with a hint of cream and pink at its center. As I dig and carefully coax the weeds and invasives from this bed, my mind’s eye can still see my daddy carrying his big galvanized watering can around to the west side of our Milwaukee home so that his show-stopping peonies would flourish.

Dad’s white peonies are equally beautiful balls of fragrant fluffiness. The closed bud is tinged with pink. As it unfurls its white ruffles the center has a sweet creaminess tinged with pink.

Side note: Today I found this fantastic blog post by Christine Covino which thoroughly discusses everything you could possibly want to know about growing peonies.

I’ve long since forgotten the name of this iris, but call it ‘Beth’s Favorite,’ as it is a favorite of my daughter Beth’s. It garners quite a few ‘oohs and aahs’ as neighbors stroll through the gardens. There is not a more perfect purple and lavender combination in the world.

Let me close with a shout-out to my husband Wayne for taking many of these photos. Hope this little garden visit brought you a bit of joy and wonder at God’s amazing creation.

Bye, for now.

Paeonia ‘Gold Standard’ – a Japanese (Anemone Imperial) form

Gifts Given in Secret

When our children were little, I recall an occasion when we secretly planned something we called “Operation: Secret Drop.” Whenever we would grocery shop, we’d let the kids pick out an extra item or two for someone else. We didn’t have a huge grocery budget ourselves, so just bought a few non-perishables every week. A few weeks later, we had a few Continue reading “Gifts Given in Secret”