A SUNDAY MYSTERY

I don’t surrender my fall weekends easily.

John’s 50th class reunion

Certainly justifies

A non gardening weekend.

586 graduates in the College High Class of ’67

13 National Merit Scholar Finalist.

Pretty impressive.

And a fun group of people, too.

So with little to report

From the garden.

I’ll just leave you with this

Mystery to solve.

We found this suspended in the Mandavilla

Just before we left on Friday.

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It’s still here this evening.

It’s not attached,

It’s just hanging ,

In the midst of a web

Connected to the plant.

I’ve been observing nature

Up close for a very long time.

This is completely new to me.

Anyone know what’s about to hatch

Right outside my back door?

Gail

“He who finds a thought that lets us a little deeper into the eternal mystery of nature has been granted great peace.”

                                                Albert Einstein

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PLAY DATES

Ours is an “arranged” friendship.

When Bay and Debra moved to town.

Bay’s mother, Jean,

Was concerned that Debra wouldn’t have time

To meet new people.

What with two toddlers,

A new medical practice

And studying for her medical boards!

Jean asked if I’d give her a call.

I did.

The four of us went to dinner

And have been friends for decades.

Early on we decided we needed

Scheduled “play dates”.

This often consisted of trips to

The city.

Clothes shopping for kids

And long lunches.

During which we discovered

That we had been living

Somewhat parallel lives.

Over the decades play dates

Turned into scheduled weekly calls

When Debra moved to the city.

There were years where life overtook us

And we didn’t have much time to

Keep up with each other.

But ours is an easy friendship

Since we see the world

Through many shared life experiences.

Friday was the first scheduled play date

For quite some time.

The plan was to go to the city.

Run errands together

Have lunch

And great conversation.

But mid-week

I realized that my garden

Is full of bugs

This time of year.

And Debra is in full-blown

“Macro bug mode”.

Her Instagram tag line is

“Read images while at work.

Take images while away from work.’

She takes the most amazing pictures.

Birds in the winter.

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June flowers in Giverny

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And now bugs.

Early in the week.

I had spotted three orb spiders

And a big praying mantis.

But by Thursday night

I was down to one orb.

I feared I had gotten her here

Under false pretenses.

Friday morning she arrived

At sunrise.

Bearing gifts.

Her famed cookie dough.

The Holy Grail of Chocolate Chip cookies.

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I directed her to the surviving orb.

She began to click away.

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John couldn’t resist

Getting in on the day.

Catching bugs

To feed to the spider

For Debra to photograph.

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And before we knew it

Orbs began to appear.

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Totaling four in all.

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Next I found a praying mantis

Or two.

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So she clicked

And I scouted for bugs.

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She sees the garden through her macro lens.

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I see it as a gardener.

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I know where the bugs

Hang out.

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We were a good team

As usual.

It was a delightful morning.

Play.

It’s as important now

As it’s ever been.

Gail

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Monterey – 2010 with Debra & Kristina

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE

This has been an unusual summer

On many fronts.

I’ve been gone half the summer.

Two weeks here

A week there.

Grand kids will do that to you

I’ve learned.

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Not that I mind

I don’t.

But I’m not used to flitting around

Like that.

Then there was August.

Days turned into

Weeks of mid-80’s

And there was the rain.

In a month when it might not rain

At all

We had 6 inches!

So…

Combine my absence

With cool temperatures

And gentle rains

And what do you get?

A jungle.

The Cockscomb is officially

Growing out of its mind.

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Zinnias have popped up

Everywhere.

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The Asters are blooming,

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And Cleome is still going strong.

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Then there is the crabgrass.

If you don’t pull it.

It just keeps growing

And growing.

I think I’ve filled

Four poly carts

With the stuff.

Yesterday I managed

To get about half way through

The weeding process.

With a little deadheading

Along the way.

That’s really all there is

To do out there right now.

That and enjoy Mother Nature.

Yesterday was a tough day

To be one of these.

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Not sure if it’s a moth

Or a butterfly.

First one was eaten for lunch

By a Praying Mantis.

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Then this Orb spider

Had another one

For dinner.

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I was still

In the garden

At dusk

When the locust chorus

Began singing

A familiar song.

Fall

Isn’t it yummy?

Gail

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SUMMER LOVE

There’s something about the flowers

Of late summer

That I love.

Maybe it’s because they are sturdy enough

To thrive in the normal August heat.

With the cool days

And unprecedented rain

We’ve been having

This year’s August garden

Is lush.

Out of control really.

The cockscomb is doing it’s usual thing.

Blooming EVERYWHERE

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Zinnias are beginning to bloom.

They didn’t get planted till around the 4th of July

So they are just now kicking in.

 

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Endless Summer hydrangea

Are putting on new blooms.

While their cousin Annabelle

Has never stopped.

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And Cleome is still going strong.

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The thing that I notice

Is how different each of these flowers is.

Their forms.

Their needs.

Their appearance.

Yet when you put them together

In a simple vase.

They not only

Play well together

They encourage one another.

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How can you not love a garden?

Gail

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MERCI

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No one goes on a trip of a lifetime

Without the help of

Shall we say “a village”.

First in my village

Is John

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Chief “encourager”

And underwriter.

Without him

I would have spent June

In my own garden.

And Merci to Elliott

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Who went from being an involved

Parent of not yet 3-year-old twins.

To being the one in charge.

Giving Kristina this opportunity.

Then come Debra & Kristina.

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A trip like this should be taken

With friends

Good friends

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Who are willing to share your excitement,

Travel through today’s stressful airports,

Laugh until you loose control,

Not keep count

Of croissant consumption,

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And give each other a little space

When we need it.

And yes,

A mother-in-law

And daughter-in-law

Can be good friends – great actually.

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Much to the amazement of many!

On the subject of friends.

We made many new ones.

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And we learned that a few of us

From the middle of the country

Had much in common with

The majority of travelers

From the West Coast.

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A late night conversation

On the first night

With Bonnie and Annette

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Proved that.

Not to mention

A few bonding misadventures

Along the way.

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And Merci

To Elizabeth.

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For inviting us in.

Actually drawing us in

To her dream

That has so enriched her life.

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She’s going again next year.

If you have dreams of

Dew laced gardens

In the early morning light

Of the north of France.

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Au revoir,

Gail

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece”

Claude Monet

http://www.elizabethmurray.com

Photo credits to Kathleen Hurley, Duncan Berry, Elizabeth Murray, Debra Mitchell, Kristina Wynne and whoever else I have added to my files and gotten jumbled together!_DSC7657

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THE GARDENERS

One of the thing that intrigued me

About Monet’s garden

Was how you keep it looking so good

For 500,000 visitors a season.

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A challenge to say the least.

So I was curious about the gardeners.

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Normally in this situation I would simply

Sic Debra on them.

After all she is a most curious person

And has a way of interrogation that is

Gentle and charming.

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But we had a couple of problems,

One, the gardeners were at work.

And we were there during their busy hours.

So we were asked not to bother them.

Then there was the fact

That they spoke French

And I don’t.

But you can learn a lot

By observing from afar.

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One question was about poppies.

They pulled them up

By the root

Just as the last bloom wilted

Before the seeds had matured.

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Yet they look like

They have self-seeded.

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So the unanswered questions was

How?

Do they dry the green pods

And save the seeds

To sprinkle in the snow?

My suspicion is that they return

To the garden

Via compost.

I never got the answer.

But sometimes mystery

And unanswered questions

Are just as much fun!

So since I wasn’t sure

Of the fate of these green pods

Packed with seeds of a color of poppy

I had never seen before.

A few seemed to find their way

Into my pocket.

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Couldn’t wait to get them home

And dried

And sprinkled

Into my own garden.

But….the last night

Someone commented about how fast customs moves

With the use of drug dogs.

And since these are the very variety

Of poppies that the USDA has banned in quantity.

We decided to leave them behind.

Kristina really wanted to see her children again.

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And not get caught up

In a gardening tour

Drug bust!

You would think that pulling all these poppies.

Would leave giant gaps in the color.

But as soon as one plant was pulled

Someone else came along

With a plant just as tall in hand

And planted them in the empty space.

While we were there

They replaced the poppies

 

With Cosmos.

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Three foot tall cosmos.

Which took me to

Wander through shall we say

The “guts” of the place.

The greenhouses.

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And cold frames

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Where they are grown.

They were filled with plants

Ready for the big show.

I found the  yellow wheelbarrows

I had noticed throughout the garden

Brimming with plants

Headed to the compost pile.

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They were stacked against the fence

Just like mine at home.

For me

Seeing the process

Was just as interesting

As the finished product.

I think it was there

That I found

My gardening Monet muse.

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Gail

“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way.  So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”

Claude Monet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CLAIRE AND CONSTANCE

On Wednesday we traveled to Vargeneville sur la Mer

On the Normandy Coast

To visit the Mallet sisters

Claire and Constance

And their homes and gardens.

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Claire lives on the family estate

Le Bois de Moutiers

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Built by her ancestors

One of whom was a Haviland.

As in china.

Gardens and china.

I’m in double heaven.

It was designed by the then young British architect

Edwin Lutyens in the Arts & Crafts style.

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It’s a splendid house

A home really.

Unlike many period homes I’ve toured

This one was inviting

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Full of life and light

Streaming into the house

Through large and plentiful windows

And back out with a view of the forest

Leading to the sea.

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The grounds and the gardens

Were designed by Lutyens and the owner Guillaume Mallet

In conjunction with Gertrude Jekyll

The renowned English garden designer

Who brought us the perennial border

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And a more relaxed feel to gardens

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The garden is walled

And divided

With crisp clipped yew hedges.

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There are sweeping perennial borders

Doing what they do best.

Amaze and inspire.

Claire is tall and stately

And ever so gracious

Walking the garden with us

Pruners in hand

Snipping away as she goes.

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She reminds me of my friend Nancy

Elegant

Full of grace.

She tells us the stories of how the home and garden

Came to be.

Of the war years when it was occupied.

Of the art

And family treasures

That have been sold

To help pay for the upkeep of the estate.

When my family was struggling with

What to do with the family farm

Hers was having the same conversation

On another continent.

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From Claire’s home

We traveled to see Constance.

At 85 she gardens 4 -5 hours a day.

I like this lady.

She is shorter

More casual

And fun.

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Her garden reflects her personality

Less formal

Wild in areas

 

And on a smaller scale.

Widowed for 20 years

With both children living abroad

Most of the year

You might think she is alone.

But something tells me

People are drawn to her.

Kristina was.

Constance reminded her

Of  her own spunky grandmother.

They had a long visit

Including a tour of her home

Which is much smaller

More intimate.

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She told Kristina

Her garden was inspired by Gertrude Jekyll

Since she was a friend of her parents

And grandparents.

“She was in the milk of my bottle.”

Constance drank her in

In a sense.

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Gardening is a common bond

Through generations

And across continents.

Gail

“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.”

“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.”
Gertrude Jekyll

http://www.boisdesmoutiers.com/index.php

 

 

 

 

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