Garden with Grace

"I hope that while so many people are out smelling the flowers, someone is taking the time to plant some." ~H.Rappaport


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Spring Awakening

It snowed again in southern New Hampshire over the weekend – about five inches of slushy, heavy snow. The wintry early April day brought a flock of seven Cedar Waxwings to the garden. When they weren’t stripping the few remaining red berries from the holly shrubs, they were huddled in the Weeping Cherry tree.

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Today, it’s sunny and 60 degrees (F) at 4pm. The longer days of sunshine are quickly melting the latest – and hopefully last – blanket of snow.

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While most of the paths in the garden are still white and slippery,  a swath of purple blooms caught my eye when I stepped onto my my front porch to get the mail.

Spring has arrived! The crocus are blooming — just as expected in early April.

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I grabbed my camera and walked through the areas of the garden where sun melted the snow from the stone paths.  (The ground in these few areas is very soft, almost muddy, so I didn’t venture far.)

It’s always a thrill to find the crocus in bloom. While expected, it always feels like the first flowers are a miracle.

The garden still has a brown dormant winter appearance – from the decaying leaves, pine needles, and sticks that will eventually be picked up either by the birds building their spring nests or during the initial hours of our annual spring cleanup gardening day.

No matter how sleepy the garden appears under the latest blanket of snow, Mother Nature does a spectacular job of waking the flowers that typically appear in late March thru early April.  This includes the crocus and scilla.  As soon as the purple crocus start to wind down, the bright scilla open to full bloom to bring new life and spectacular streaks of blue to line the garden paths. I don’t even need a calendar to know when Easter is just two weeks away.  Seeing these two spring flowers in bloom is always the first indication that the Easter Bunny is expected very soon. (And that it’s time to pick up the ingredients to make the traditional Pickled Beet Eggs for the pending holiday.)

While walking through the garden this afternoon, my soul filled with gratitude. Not just the sights of pops of bright color hear and there, but with the sounds of the songbirds who are out, searching for their spring mates.

I felt caught between two seasons – winter because of the snow cover. And, spring with with the early blooming bulbs.  I’d once read a quote about crocus that included the word Grace. That seems like the perfect way to end today’s story.

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“A single crocus blossom ought to be enough to convince our heart that springtime, no matter how predictable, is somehow a gift, gratuitous, gratis, a grace.”

-David Steindl-Rast


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Beauty – Always in the Eye of the Beholder

At the end of a very rainy day, I felt the need to stroll through my now fading garden. After a few minutes, I was feeling a little down that the flowers, especially the mandevilla, are starting to shrivel and drop after a very dry summer season.

I heard a car pull up and stop on the other side of the hedge and could see a woman in the driver’s seat waving to me.

She rolled down the window and asked about the “beautiful red flowers” on the trellis. (The mandevilla that I was looking at as she pulled up.)

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The woman got out of her car and told me how she enjoys looking over the hedge and into my garden while she waits to pick up her daughter who visits nearby. (She enjoys listening to the wind chimes and watching the birds, too!)

We chatted for a few minutes about gardening and nature and peacefulness. It was an interaction that lasted only a few minutes.

The irony hit me. I felt sad about the exact same thing that brought her joy.

Before she left, we exchanged introductions. Her name is Grace.


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Inspiration!

Maintaining a garden blog has been a challenge during  a long, harsh winter in New Hampshire.

While my head has been filled with motivation to keep a blog interesting during the midst of a winter filled words like “polar vortex” and “arctic blast”, actual inspiration to get the thoughts out of my head and out to the digital world has been lacking.

Until today…

Maybe the idea of an extra hour of daylight this evening and the pending arrival of spring, along with a great find that was tucked away in a binder of gardening materials, was all that I needed!

Here’s the great find. It’s a poem that a former neighbor named Kate,  wrote for my mom, Kathy, about the garden. It was written over a decade ago. Before the dog named Grace came along to inspire this garden blog.

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I love how words, put onto paper to create such a lovely poem, so many years ago, can have such a more impactful meaning many years later.  Which brings to mind this quote about inspiration that I think relates perfectly to gardening.

“Every moment and every event of every (wo)man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.” -Thomas Merton


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Peace & Grace

Fitting tribute to where Grace used to rest in the garden.

Fitting tribute to where Grace used to rest in the garden.

It’s been over a year since I blogged about the Porch Dog and the Porch Frog.  The entire 2013 gardening season went by in a  flash.

Grace, the dog, is no longer physically with us.   She passed away about 10 days after my Porch Dog/Frog post in late summer 2012. As anyone who has ever loved a pet knows, it was very sad and the loss felt profound. Someone once said that dogs come into our lives when they need us most, and they leave us when we need them most. How true that is. I still miss her today.

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While the physical presence of Grace the dog disappeared, the spirit of Grace in the garden never left.  A neighbor provided some beautiful Pixie Grace Phlox to forever honor her memory in the garden. A total of six plants were added to the garden in the autumn of 2012 (one to mark each of the years that Grace spent with us during the 2nd half of her life) .

This variety of phlox was beautiful in the late summer of 2013. It bloomed near the anniversary of Grace’s journey to the Rainbow Bridge.  It was such a fitting tribute since the flowers were planted where Grace, the dog, often rested nearby, in a shady spot between the hydrangea and lilies.

Gardening with Grace Continues

Some friends have asked me to share some various gardening experiences as they start to discover their own love of gardening.  Because of this, I’ve decided that there is a need to keep the ‘Gardening with Grace’ blog going and to provide periodic updates about my own gardening experiences in New Hampshire (I am far from being an expert, but am a third generation backyard gardener!). I also am doing this for personal reasons too, so that I can continue to improve my skills and expertise in the area of social media and expand on my own personal brand.

When I came up with the blog’s name it was about not just gardening with my dog, but gardening with the essence of the actual meaning of the word grace.  Stay tuned….even though we’re in the midst of a cold winter, getting sucked up in the early January ‘polar vortex’, I’m still tending to my indoor garden activities and will share those experiences as we look forward to all the 2014 has to offer.