We need the sweet pain of anticipation to tell us we are really alive. 
Albert Camus


Every year about this time I begin to think ahead to spring. My mind imagines those warm morning breezes with a faint a scent of earthiness that come as each day reveals new surprises in the garden. But alas, February, a brief month with short days, is long with anticipation. Snowy, cold, and devoid of vegetation, it’s beauty lies in a crisp, stark, landscape covered in snow and ice, a contrast of light and dark, of snow and structure.

It’s easy to overlook the beauty of winter in the garden, but it’s just as easy to overlook the insight winter provides. A walk in the garden in winter, reveals useful information as we look ahead to and begin planning the coming garden season. Our friend Christine Darnell touched on this nicely in a recent article she wrote for The Shoreline Times. You can read Christine’s article here, and after you do, make sure to come back and tell us what plans you have for your landscape this year, and how the winter landscape inspired you.

Yes, February is filled with the sweet pain of anticipation, as Mr. Camus states. But, remember to thank February for the gifts it brings to those of us that will venture out into the drifts and gain insight. Spring will come, but today is full of opportunity.

And on that note, I will leave you with these lyrics from Carly Simon, who gave us some very memorable thoughts on Anticipation.

I’m no prophet, I don’t know nature’s way
So I’ll try to see into your eyes right now
And stay right here, ’cause these are the good old days.

All the best my friends, stay warm!

Sunday Inspiration 4.6.14 – The Last to Fall…

Sunday Inspiration 4.6.14 – The Last to Fall…

After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.

~ Neslon Mandela

American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)
American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)


The American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) is a lovely tree. Native to Eastern North America, it’s found in landscapes and woodlands, has smooth gray bark and glossy dark green leaves. The leaves turn bronze in fall, and stay on the tree for a very long time, making it easy to spot on a winter or early spring walk. The photo above was taken yesterday, April 5th, while on my  morning walk in the nearby wood. Those leaves will persist until the buds with the new season’s growth begin to swell, knocking them to the ground. It’s a marvel the persistance of the Beech heaf to hang on until the very last minute, to be the last to fall. But for what purpose. The prize for hanging on so long, is simply to fall and let the cycle of life begin again.

The persistant effort of the Beech leaf, echos the meaning in the quote from Neslon Mandela above, and both are wonderful metaphors for the life of a gardener. Each year we cultivate our gardens, battle pests, nurtur the soil, and prune and shape. We work until the last possible moment on our cares, only to see our creations are wiped clean with the winter snows. But come spring, we are renewed, our buds begin to swell and we start climbing hills again, finally having let go of last season’s triumphs and failures.

Tell me friends, what have you let go of from last season, and what hills will you be climbing in your gardens this year? I’d love to hear about them!


Sunday Inspiration 3.23.14 – The Memory of Odors

Sunday Inspiration 3.23.14 – The Memory of Odors

I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers. I remember where a toad may live and what time the birds awaken in the summer — and what trees and seasons smelled like — how people looked and walked and smelled even. The memory of odors is very rich.

~ John Steinbeck East of Eden

2011 03 13_6694

Winter is melting away here and the first signs of spring are appearing; bulbs are emerging, the ground is thawing, and buds are fattening. Soon the scent of spring will overtake the bland smell of winter. A rich earthy odor will release as frost leaves the ground, buds will open and fill the air with fragrance, and sap will run adding its own spicey flare.

Our sense of smell is powerful, and stirs our memory reminding us of times past. The smell of wild onion when digging takes me to my grandfather’s backyard as a boy, and the scent of the foliage of PJM Rhododendron instantly transports me back to a nursery I worked in many years ago, my first job in the industry. As spring awakens and we busy ourselves with the tasks of the yard and garden, I hope you find happiness in the memory of odor!

Your Turn!

What smells spark memory in you? Are they happy memories? I’d love to hear about them!

Sunday Inspiration 3.16.14 – Lines Written in Early Spring

Sunday Inspiration 3.16.14 – Lines Written in Early Spring

In his poem Lines Written in Early Spring, William Wordsworth, the author, finds a sadness while enjoying a natural setting. He wonders why amongst such beauty and harmony, whether it comes from God or from nature, that mankind has come to be in the state it has. Written in 1798, it sounds as if it could have been written today.


2010 05 01_3465b

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
2010 04 18_3220b
The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:–
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

I find the poem inspiring, and also sad. Our gardens provide us a getaway from the world, one that we need from time to time. They are places that we hold special, that we retreat to to recharge our inner batteries. But, does that in turn mean that the poet is correct about that mankind needs to be lamented? I’d love to hear your thoughts about that message, and about your place to go to escape. Please leave a comment!



Sunday Inspiration 3.9.14

Sunday Inspiration 3.9.14

A garden should make you feel you’ve entered privileged space — a place not just set apart but reverberant — and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry.

~ Michael Pollan

Crocus emerge in early spring!
Crocus emerge in early spring!

This morning we turned the clocks ahead in that yearly ritual that no one seems to understand, daylight savings time. For those of us who spend the long winter days thinking about lush foliage and sinking our hands into the dark crusty earth, this weekend stirs something deep within. It reminds us that although there still may be snow on the ground, we are nearing the garden season. Hope returns, knowing that spring’s first official day is imminent and we will soon spend our time outdoors, working the soil, nurturing our souls!

I love the way Michael Pollan describes the feel of a garden in the quote above. A garden, or landscape, is more than just a collection of plants or a place to dine on a late summer’s eve. Your outdoor spaces should evoke a sense of you and your passions. It should affect you on a deeper more intimate level. Don’t you think?

What do you feel in your garden? What poetry have you created? I’d love to hear about your successes, your failures, and most importantly, your for the upcoming season.

Happy gardening my friends and take heart, for spring is imminent!

Monday Inspiration – Mom’s garden in November!

Monday Inspiration – Mom’s garden in November!

November comesDSC02742_6141
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring                                                                                              ~ Clyde Watson