Category Archives: Gardening Friends

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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Filed under Bugs, Butterflies, Fall, Garden Photography, Gardening, Gardening Friends, late summer garden, Monet's Giverny, Nature, Orb Spider, Praying Mantis, Uncategorized

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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Filed under Garden Photography, Garden Travel, Gardening Friends, Generations, Monet's Garden, Monet's Giverny, Uncategorized

MONET’S GARDEN

There are some gardens

I have dreamed of seeing

All my gardening life.

This month I was lucky enough

To spend time in one of them.

Monet’s garden in Giverny, France.

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It was an extraordinary opportunity.

A week staying in a manor house

With private access each morning

Before the garden opened to the public

And each evening

After it closed.

As John put it when I first told him about it

“You have to go.”

Fortunately Kristina was up for a trip.

As was Debra.

So the three of us

Set out for France.

Spending a few days in Paris

Where chocolate mousse is served

In a soup tureen!!!

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Before traveling north to the countryside.

We were part of a group of 12 women

Mostly from the west coast

Who had some connection to

Elizabeth Murray…

Who years ago was

The first woman gardener at Giverny.

She has returned each year for 33 years.

Maintaining friendships with gardeners.

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And making more friends along the way.

This was the first year she has taken a group

To the garden.

We were along for the second week.

And fortunate to have learned about it.

Over the next few weeks

I want to share this experience with you.

So let’s begin at the beginning.

I first became aware of Elizabeth

When I bought her book “Monet’s Passion”.

It was a resource book for my garden design days.

I highly recommend it.

Decades later I would learn that she offers

“Days of creativity” in her home.

And journey to Monterrey

With friends for my 60th birthday.

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When she emailed last fall

Telling me about the trip

I got just the tiniest bit excited

And spread that to Kristina and Debra.

I would like to thank my friends

Who patiently listened to me for 6 long months

Anticipating our trip.

We gathered at La Reserve just outside Giverny

On a Sunday afternoon.

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Twelve women

Two from Australia

Two from Oklahoma

One from Colorado

Seven from Northern California.

Some had come to paint.

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Some to draw.

Others to photograph

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And me who wanted to sit

On one of those famous green benches

And write.

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To wait for my Monet muse.

To walk the paths of this garden he created.

To see the famous light that so inspired him.

To breath the garden air.

To simply take it all in.

Because our time in the garden

Was before it opened

Each day began with a “pre-breakfast snack”

At 6:30

Which is really no problem since the sun

Came up at 5:30!

We gathered at the gardeners gate

And entered through their “shed” which was Monet’s first studio.

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Images etched in my mind over decades

Pale to the reality before me.

Color everywhere.

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Flowers I have known and grown

Others that are new to me.

Then there is the famous light

Ever changing

Moment by moment

Turning poppy petals into small stained glass works of art.

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Elizabeth points out the window to Monet’s bedroom

And tells me that each morning he would open the windows

To see what was in bloom.

A habit I have with my own bedroom window

Overlooking my garden

You can tell this is a garden

Created by a gardener

Who also happened to be an artist.

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Thanks for indulging me.

Gail

“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”

Claude Monet

The photos I will share over the next few weeks are from Debra, Kristina and me.  I’m guessing you can tell which ones are from Debra!  Thank you for sharing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Gardening Friends, Gardening Mentors, Monet's Garden, Garden Travel, Trip of a Lifetime, Elizabeth Murray, Poppy, Uncategorized

THE GOOD NEWS EASTER EGG HUNT V.5

Family

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Kids

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Gardens

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Friends

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Community

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These are the things I love

Once a year

They all roll into one afternoon.

Five years ago

My friend Kay and I hosted the first

Good News Easter Egg Hunt

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For members of our church

Our neighbors

And extended families.

It quickly became a tradition.

Once again this year

Family…Kids…Gardens…Friends and Community

Came together on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

The crafts this year

Were musical instruments.

Which brings me to my friend Eddie Lou.

It’s always handy to have a music teacher

At your side.

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And that’s where we’ve been.

Side by side for the last forty plus years.

Church choir.

Raising kids

And now grand motherhood.

So it was natural

That the three of us would plan this year’s event.

Kay a master at the grand motherhood thing

And entertaining children.

Eddie Lou & Kay

Eddie Lou using her well honed teaching skills

To help children create

Rain sticks

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And Drums

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And Shakers

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And Tambourines

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More details were worked out by

Kara, Abbey and Tashana.

While Andrew and Katie provided

Bags of candy for all the kids.

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Megan filled 700 Easter eggs,

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And Monica supplied her famous lemon cookies

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The Ladybug release has become the highlight of the afternoon.

With kids not just expecting

To have bugs crawling up their arms.

They actually look forward to it.

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Needless to say

It takes a village

A community

To create memories

To nurture

To simply share

In the joys

Of Life!

Gail

Thank you Beth Young and Jennifer Cole for the use of your marvelous pictures.

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Filed under Butterflies, Children in the Garden, Easter Baskets, Easter Egg Hunt, Garden House, Gardening Friends, Grandchildren, Gratitude, Lady Bugs, Spring Flowering Bulbs, tulips, Uncategorized

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

THE BASIL RITUAL

There’s a rhythm about fall that seems to be well, common.

At least among my friends.

With our first freeze predicted for Halloween

I began cutting basil on Thursday

And again on Friday.

Buckets of basil.

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I always plant too much

Which means I have basil to spare

For months on end.

I use it during the growing season.

But by October it’s giant and going to seed everywhere.

Yet I feel that none of it can go to waste.

I either have to dry it

Or make pesto

Or find it a home.

Pesto is my first plan of attack.

So on Friday

When the weather men were issuing their threatening forecast.

My sister Ann called and said.

“So I’m guessing you’re making pesto.”

And I was.

She’s in the same place I am.

With way too much basil.

But she has the advantage of being able to feed her extra.

To her bunnies.

I on the other hand

Do not have hungry bunnies living at my house.

So when a friend dropped by with  a cape for Coco to wear for Halloween.

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She was rewarded with bonus basil.

Others who dropped by were also given the chance

But most declined.

I thought of bagging it up in little bags and giving it out

To the 400+ kids who came trick or treating.

But there might be potential for misunderstanding there!

I’ve now made 3 batches of regular pesto

3 C. packed fresh basil leaves

1/3 C. grated parmesan cheese

6 cloves chopped garlic

6 T toasted Pine nuts

4 T olive oil

Put all ingredients into food processor.

Pulse till well chopped but not a puree.

Spray ice-cube tray with non-stick cooking spray.

Freeze.  Then store cubes in plastic bag.

It’s about a tablespoon or 2 of pesto.

And a couple of roasted red pepper and sun-dried tomato pesto.

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3 medium red bell peppers 0r 1 jar .

12 sun-dried tomatoes – soaked and drained

1 clove garlic chopped

3 T roasted pine nuts.

a handful of fresh basil leaves.

A handful of fresh Italian parsley

Juice of 1 lemon

2 T grated parmesan cheese.

Prepare like basil pesto

I’ve also been roasting and freezing the last of the ripe tomatoes.

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All of which is giving our house

A rather Italian aroma.

Now…what to do with all those

Peppers and green tomatoes.

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And in the end

It didn’t even freeze!

Gail

The other fall ritual I love

Is sharing plants with friends

Kay and Tori came by on Saturday morning.

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To dig the last of the ferns.

New plans for this area

Come spring.

 

 

 

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Filed under Basil, Fall Vegetables, Gardening Friends, Green Tomatoes, Herbs, Peppers, Pesto, Pettit Basset Griffon Vendeen, Tomato, Uncategorized, Vegetables

FAMILY VOLUNTEERING DAY V.2

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Yesterday was time for fall clean up

At Faith Farm.

It’s been an astounding first year of

“Gardening for Good”.

We will soon surpass 3,000 pounds of fresh organic produce

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Grown for Loaves & Fishes

And given to our hungry clients each week.

Freshly picked, organic produce

Given to people who otherwise might not have food on the table.

Week after week, Charity and a small group of volunteers

Have harvested literal 1 1/2 tons of food.

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And it’s a good thing

Since July was the busiest month ever at L & F

Serving 954 households…YIKES!

But we want to do more

With the space we have.

So yesterday we began a simple transition

From less ornamentals

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To more raised beds.

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We moved some from L & F

Over to Faith Farm

And set them in place

With the help of Jim

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Our perennial volunteer

And a couple of friends from the Air Force base.

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We were also joined by a group of young women

From the 2020 club at Chisholm Middle School

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They’ll graduate in the year 2020

Which gives us lots of time to train them

As gardeners.

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They have great potential

Because even a big ole tomato horn worm

Didn’t scare them.

Instead they were fascinated.

Gotta love girls who likes bugs!

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They were all great help

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So I hope they’ll be back

Another day

For another installment

Of this great adventure.

Feeding the hungry

Fresh, organic vegetables

And lots of love.

Gail

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Filed under Bugs, Community Garden, Fall, Fall Vegetables, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Lettuce, Raised Beds, Uncategorized, Vegetables