A Tribute

The weather finally cooled down enough

For me to plant a few bulbs today.

So the first of my Oriental Lilies are now

Happily tucked away for their long winter’s nap.

As I was digging and burying

I got to thinking about what else

The election

And my dad.

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Those of you who know me

Likely know that my dad was in politics

But first and foremost he was a farmer.

The 12 years he spent in Washington

Were broken up by trips home every other weekend

To get on his tractor.

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There he would empty his head

So that he could think

What he called “the long thoughts”

He’d return to D.C. on Sunday night.

Ready to get back to the business of governing.

He was there in what is now being referred to

As the “Golden Age of the Senate”.

It was a time when members of Congress,

Though partisan,

Worked together for the good of the people.

There was give and take.

Sometimes you would win.

Sometimes you would lose.

There would always be another chance

To get things done.

But even then he still needed to literally touch the ground.

To keep him able to govern.

His father had registered him to vote while he was away at WWII.

So he didn’t exactly pick his party.

Maybe that’s why he was such an advocate

For two strong political parties.

He is often credited with resurrecting his party

In his beloved home state.

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A party that is now unrecognizable to him

Were he still alive.

So what is it that made the generation governing

During this “Golden Age” so different.

So willing to stand up for what they believed

And yet able to listen and work with people

Who thought differently than they did.

In my dad’s case it had a lot to do

With how and when he grew up.

During the Depression

In the Dust Bowl.

Then there was his war experience.

In a tank

On Iwo Jima.

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But I honestly think the greatest influence

On who he was

And how he governed

Was his connection to the earth.

Those of us who garden and farm and observe nature

Know that we rarely if ever

Get things 100% our way.

And we are never actually in charge.

Weather

Bugs

Critters

And just the vicissitudes of nature

Rearrange our garden plans

Constantly.

So we learn to adjust

To compromise

To re-evaluate

And to change directions.

All of this is necessary to be a good gardener.

And in my opinion to be good at governing.

So daddy, I’ll be thinking of you Tuesday night.

And remembering a few nail biting election nights

Of our own.

HENRY BELLMON

Recalling how you taught me

To respect and trust the system

To work with not against people

And to love God’s great earth.

Gail

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Filed under Election, Farmers, Politics, Uncategorized

BACK IN THE GARDEN

I’ve been gone the last two weekends

Which meant

No time in the garden.

It takes a lot to get me out of the garden

Two fall weekends in a row.

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But a visit with Harper & Henry

And the out-of-state wedding

Of a dear friend’s son.

Collided

Leaving me out of the garden.

While we were gone

We got a big rain

Six inches of rain

To be exact.

So the ground is just right

For fall rituals.

Moving things

Pulling up spent Cockscomb

And just generally puttering around.

This is the time of year

Where the present

And the future meet.

In the garden.

Spring flowering bulbs

Have started to arrive.

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Though the soil isn’t quite cool enough

To bury them yet.

My potting bench is covered with

Little containers of seeds.

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Glimpses of things to come.

And the Dahlias hit their stride.

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But the action isn’t all outside

Normally this time of the year I’m making pesto.

But our hot summer

Combined with my negligence in keeping the basil from bolting

Landed me with tons of bitter basil.

So there’s no pesto this year.

Instead I’m planning to freeze

Cubes of herb butter

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For winter cooking.

And the kitchen windowsill is filled with

Tomatoes in different stages of ripening.

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It’s a defensive move

Against whatever four-legged devil

Is dining on my almost ripe tomatoes

Every night.

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They get them just before they ripen on the vine.

So I’ve figured out just how long I can leave them

Then pick them before they are stolen.

Now I don’t mind sharing a few

But they are taking more than their fair share.

October

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You just can’t beat it

For perfect days in the garden

For relishing in a season well spent

And planning for the future

Gail

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bees, cockscomb, Dahlias, Fall, Herbs, Seeds, Tomato, Uncategorized, Zinnia

GARDENING FOR GOOD

This summer I’ve been dividing my gardening days

Between two gardens.

It’s the first summer that Faith Farm

Has been an all volunteer effort.

It was a leap of faith.

What a fun

And rewarding leap.

We started the season with a plan

Put together by my fellow gardeners

Jim & Michael.

It’s an ambitious three season plan

Since we have a 9 month growing season.

We started harvesting lettuce

In March.

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And we haven’t stopped.

200 lbs of lettuce

120 lbs of gorgeous carrots

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More basil than all of Italy

and almost 900 lbs of cucumbers.

Wow what a year.

We have literally grown well over a ton of vegetables.

All of this done by a dedicated group

Of volunteers.

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Including a few Master Gardeners.

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Twice a week they harvest this bounty

And take it to Loaves & Fishes

Where it is then given

To our hungry neighbors.

Several times a year

Jim offers  gardening classes

To the L & F clients.

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And every so often

We have a Saturday work day

To catch up on the big jobs.

Yesterday was one of those work days.

We had an ambitious list

OK…we had an impossible list.

Thanks to a few new volunteers

We got most of the big jobs done.

Morning glories pulled off the fence

Before they set seed.

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Bolted basil pulled, dried and ground into mulch.

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Ground pecan hulls put on the paths.

And soil added to beds.

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Then there was the shed.

Michael spent the morning organizing it.

Thank goodness.

These are not glamorous gardening jobs

But they are essential.

And feel good to have done.

Along the way we made a few new friends

Loaves & Fishes board member Randi

Brought her family.

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Including her son

Who got to meet Charlotte

Our resident Orb Spinner Spider

She’s been “hanging” around

Since July.

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He also found caterpillars and praying mantis.

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It’s always a good day when you can introduce

A child to the wonders of nature.

And do a little

Gardening for Good.

Gail

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Basil, Bugs, Carrots, Children in the Garden, Community Garden, Compost, Cucumbers, Fall Vegetables, Garden Planning, Gardening Friends, Herbs, late summer garden, Lettuce, Morning Glories, Nature, Orb Spider, Uncategorized, Vegetables

ARRANGEMENTS

One of the joys of having abundant flowers

Is sharing them.

I don’t have a lot of exotic plants.

But I have flowers.

And fall brings arm loads

Of late summer’s glory.

Cockscomb is the staple

This time of year.

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And the beginning

Of every arrangement I make.

If you cut it long

You’ll have lots of branches

To hold other less stable stem in place.

And the color

Just oozes a fall feeling.

I’ve nominated myself

In-house florist

At church

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As well as Loaves & Fishes.

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They are willing to indulge me

And let me bring flowers each week.

Since friends drop vases by

When they clean out their cabinets.

I always have a good supply.

You can create reasons

For other flower fairy gifts.

This week included

A “thank you” bouquet

To a fellow L & F board member

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And a “hello” bouquet

To a new family

Moving on the block.

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It’s a simple way

To keep the cockscomb

Trimmed away from the path

And to share the glory of the season.

Someday when life slows down.

I’d love to do this all the time.

Enjoy the week.

Gail

“I must have flowers always and always.”

Claude Monet

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Filed under Bouquets, cleome, cockscomb, Hydrangea, late summer garden, Uncategorized, Zinnia

FLUTTERBYS

For weeks now

I’ve been seeing the signs

Orb spiders have arrived

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Praying Mantis are hanging around

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As are Locust.

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Dahlias have made their debut

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I can hear the band practice

At the high school football field.

Cockscomb is everywhere

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And Flutterbys

Are here.

Somewhere along the way

Butterflies became flutterbys

At our house.

Elliott loved them as a child.

Even bringing them into the house

To live…briefly!

When you think about it

Flutterby is a more accurate description

Of these late summer visitors.

The Monarchs are on their way

To Mexico.

And a few are stopping by

For a snack in my garden.

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They brought along their friend

The Tiger Swallowtail

Which has been impossible

To get on camera.

I can’t say enough about this season

Especially in a year

That brought such heat.

In some ways I find it

As much a source of renewal

As spring.

It’s cooler days

Are refreshing

Even though I know

My least favorite season

Is close behind.

For now

I’ll pick peppers

And tomatoes…finally

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Transplant roses

And make extravagant flower arrangements.

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Because fall is the season of bounty

In my garden

For that I am grateful.

Gail

Surely this is the last Easter egg out there!

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Filed under Bugs, Butterflies, cockscomb, Dahlias, Fall, Gardening, Gratitude, late summer garden, Orb Spider, Peppers, Tomato, Uncategorized

PASSING IT ON

I consider myself very fortunate to have a garden.

It’s the place I go to work

Get sweaty

And think things through.

Or as my dad used to say

“To think the long thoughts.”

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Lately it seems I need that place

The “long thoughts” are occupying my mind

Much of the time.

Perhaps it’s a stage

Or my age

Or summer

When my schedule is a little freer

Than the rest of the year.

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One thing I do know

Is it’s important to pass this along

To the next generation.

As a toddler Elliott was by my side

In the garden

Then like all kids

He grew to want and need more freedom

And began to roam the neighborhood.

There were days in junior high

That I thought I had failed

To teach him to love the soil.

Not so

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He’s grown into quite a capable gardener

Growing vegetables for their family

And flowers for Kristina to arrange

And share with friends.

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I’m certain Elliott’s time on the farm

With my parents

Contributed to his deep appreciation

Of this earth.

So is it nature

Or nurture

I’ve wondered

As the next generation has come along

These past two years?

Can a child being raised in the center

Of a major city

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Grow into an appreciation

Of the earth

And the things that can be learned there?

Even at two

It seems we have our answer.

Both Harper and Henry

Love being outside

Constantly wanting to check in on

Sally the salamander.

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Who lives in the valve box

Of the park’s sprinkling system.

Or helping with Jojo’s “work”

In the yard.

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Henry seems especially interested.

So perhaps it’s both.

Being born into a family

With dirt under their fingernails

On both sides.

Carrying the name of family members.

And watching their parents

Love and appreciate nature

And the gifts that God has given us all.

Gail

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I’m home from vacation now and will get back to regular gardening stories soon.

Thanks for indulging m

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under cleome, Gardening, Gardening Mentors, Gloriosa Daisy, Grandchildren, Uncategorized

Marry a Carpenter

I think I’ve written before

About the great match of

A carpenter married to a gardener.

Over the years John has built

Fences and gates and arbors and potting benches

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And much more

Basically he’s handy – very handy.

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A few years back he built this screen

To help hide the back of the garden.

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You know

That place where you store things

Old broken pots

Millions of flats and plastic pots

That you haven’t gotten around to recycling.

Old hoses

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And whatever else you haven’t found a permanent home for.

This “hidey hole” has another side.

It’s where I park my double bin compost tumbler.

I literally wore one out last fall.

It’s taken us this long to get it replaced.

And John decided this time it needed a screen

So he built it.

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Nothing much has ever grown in the space

Opposite the compost tumbler.

So we talked about repeating

The plants that have done well

In the shade of the cedar tree

On the other side of the garden

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John planted Yews that will spread to create a backdrop

More Oak Leaf Hydrangea

And a passalong Hosta.

The largest I’ve ever seen

Which John divided into four large Hosta.

Who knows how big they will get.

 

I’ve also added two “Incrediball Hydrangea”.

They are pretty sad right now,

But since they are related to

Those wonderful Annabelle hydrangea

I’m hoping they’ll thrive like their cousins.

 

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All of this joined existing Hellebores and Ferns.

This fall

I’ll extend the brick path

And sprinkle in a few spring flowering perennials

To complete the space.

Thank you John for hours of hard work

In this hotter than usual summer.

This all started with the death of the old compost tumbler.

I was sad to lose my rusted out old friend.

You just never know what will grow

Out of loss.

Enjoy the week,

Gail

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Filed under Compost, Garden Planning, Gardening, Hellebores, Hosta, Hydrangea, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Uncategorized