Category Archives: Gardening Friends

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

EASTER – CHILDREN – GARDENS

Sometimes holding an annual event

Can be well…dicey. Expectations increase.

People can get tired of the same thing.

The odds for good weather decrease.

Not so if children are involved

And Easter eggs filled with candy. DSCN3793

So, yesterday we hosted the 3rd

I’d say it’s safe to say Annual 1st Presbyterian Church Easter Egg.

Each year Kay, master of children’s  Christian education

Mixes things up a bit. DSCN3730

And this year we decided to invite the families

Of our neighboring church St. Matthews Episcopal.

We have been lucky with the weather all these years.

And this year was no exception. DSCN3766

It was a glorious afternoon.

And to top it off The Redbud trees were still in full bloom

Providing a marvelous backdrop for

The blanket of tulips leading up to the garden house. DSCN3752

Now you realize this is just luck.

No gardener has any say about when things bloom in the spring.

And if you try to plan it – it simply will not happen.

So you might as well just give it up

And hope for the best.

This is an attitude I’ve had to learn.

Fortunately, I had an excellent teacher.

My mother was the most relaxed hostess I’ve ever known. SCAN0001

Oh she would get “flustered” as she would say.

But she learned during the wild ride of her life.

To relax and enjoy it.

So yesterday as 50 or 60 children

(We don’t really know how many came.)

Were running through the garden. DSCN3781

Releasing lady bugs DSCN3736

Listening to the resurrection story DSCN3756

 

Exploring the compost pile

Trying out the  chimney of the outdoor fireplace

And gathering Easter Eggs DSCN3768

One child brought back a wonderful memory of my mother

And the grace that she showed so many people during her life.

It happened during a family Sunday School Class party

Of many of these very people.

It was in the late 1980’s and we decided to have the party

At my parent’s home in the city.

Big house – big yard – big draw.

Dozens of us showed up and swarmed the place. Image (4)

At one point several young mothers were standing in the kitchen

Visiting with mother as Cristina, maybe 3 or so

Appeared with a bouquet of flowers for the hostess.

Freshly picked from her own flower beds.

Beth, her mother, turned ashen.

Mother bent down and thanked

And likely hugged Cristina.

She was thrilled with the gift.

So yesterday

When I noticed Kay’s granddaughter

Walking along the garden house path

Snapping off tulips DSCN3798

I smiled

Then laughed

What a gift this memory is.

Children and Gardens and God.

If you don’t have children to invite into your garden.

I hope you’ll find some

To teach about nature

And grace.

Happy Easter,

Gail

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Filed under Easter Baskets, Easter Egg Hunt, Garden House, Gardening Friends, Redbud Trees, spring, Spring Flowering Bulbs, tulips

IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Saturday morning dawned cool, cloudy.

And sad.

Sloan dubbed them “mean teenagers”

The group that swept through our neighborhood

Stealing and smashing pumpkins Friday night.

Two solid block of streets littered with pumpkin parts.

And little girl’s broken hearts.

Since they smashed the pumpkin

Sloan had grown from seed.

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In the early morning dampness

We all dragged our poly carts out and cleaned up the mess.

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Shortly after that

The sun came out.

And the day began again.

This was the weekend I’d set aside for planting tulips

In the new bed at the front landing.

You may recall I ordered these

From a new (to me) catalog

Called “Colorblends”.

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Because I hadn’t ordered from them before.

I was a little nervous

Would they be big and firm?

What you need to grow glorious tulips

Come spring.

I was not disappointed.

They are great.

I followed my tried and true method of bulb planting.

Plant lots in a smallish place.

It gives you a burst of color

And stops people dead in their tracks.

Guess I have to confess and give an exact example.

Okay, I bought 500 tulips for this new bed

The L shaped bed is approximately

One foot wide by eighteen feet long.

And if you’re planting that many bulbs

You won’t dig 500 holes.

Dig a trench

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Placing the dirt in a wheel barrow

Or on a tarp close by.

My trench was about 4″ – 6″ deep.

I’ll plant annuals here after the tulips fade.

Which means they will likely rot

From summer’s watering.

So I consider them an annual.

And don’t plant them too deep.

Once the trench is dug

Sprinkle bone meal

Then mix it with the loosened dirt.

Place the bulbs point end up

Close together but not touching.

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Refill the trench.

Gently at first to keep from knocking the bulbs over.

Pack it down from time to time

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You should be able to replace all of the dirt.

This year I’m over-planting

With solid purple pansies.

There’s a lot of yellow in this tulip mix

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So I’m thinking the complimentary color scheme

Will be fun.

Now you may recall I’ve written a similar blog

Each fall at this time.

But this year is different

New bed

New tulips

From a new source.

And…you may also recall

That my tulip planting buddy Megan.

Married and moved to Florida.

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Where I’m guessing

She won’t be planting any tulips

In her zone 9 flower beds.

I missed you Megan

Both your help and our conversation.

Some new helpers arrived

Dressed in their cowboy boots

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After attending “Family Farm Day”

At the museum.

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Interesting concept here in the farmbelt

That you go to the museum to learn about the farm!

They may be city girls

But they are not afraid of dirt.

They helped me refill the trench.

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Having a great time

Throwing the dirt.

In the trench

On each other

And in those cute new cowboy boots.

Today we added the purple pansies.

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And watered it all in.

Megan’s sister Katie refers to this

As “the enchanted neighborhood”.

She’s moved back to raise her family here.

Saturday proved her right.

It’s not perfect.

Clouds will roll in.

Your pumpkin may get smashed.

But even a four-year old will bounce back.

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And bask in the community and love

Of this neighborhood.

Gail

“The connections we make in the course of a life–maybe that’s what heaven is.”
Fred Rogers

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Filed under Fall, Fred Rogers, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Lady Bugs, Pansies, Pumpkins, tulips, Uncategorized

PEG

I have been blessed

With two wonderful garden dogs.

The first was a West Highland Terrier

Named Popcorn.

She ruled over my last garden.

But it is Peg who has been my buddy

My assistant, my companion

All the days I have gardened here.

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Peg loved my garden.

When we first created it

We had a pretty healthy bunny population.

Each spring she would spend hours searching

For bunnies.

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You could tell how hot her trail was

By the speed of her wagging tail.

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After Peg caught a couple of baby bunnies

They found other places to play.

Bugs on the other hand

Are prolific in a garden.

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Each evening with the cooler summer air

Peg would spend hours on end “Buggin”.

Hopping and bouncing hoping to catch

One more cricket.

There would be nights when she was so deep into the blackness

That I simply had to patiently wait for her to finish

Before I could entice her in.

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Now if you are thinking of Peg as a typical dog.

You would be right in some regards.

But, Peg was after all a Scottish Terrier.

And Scottish Terriers are very independent by nature.

Peg got a double dose!

Curious and friendly

Those who met her instantly connected with her sweet nature.

But a few minutes in Peg was done.

No need for all that oohing and awing.

Not being an “in your face dog”

Peg would park herself on the opposite

End of the couch.

Close, but not actually touching.

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And so it was in the garden

She was always with me

But rarely in the way.

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She did love to eat

Basically anything that hit the floor.

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Especially crispy veggies.

One spring she not only ate the snap peas

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She also helped herself to the tasty vines.

She loved watching the

Westminster Kennel Show.

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A few weeks ago

After her summer vacation in Colorado

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Peg got sick.

Though she tried

She simply couldn’t recover.

It was a grueling decision for John and me.

But it was time to let her go.

A kindly local vet offers cremation services

Which seemed right for Peg.

Recently John and I spread her ashes

In her favorite place

The garden.

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John wrote a poem for the occasion.

Reminding us of her nature

True to herself to the end.

Goodbye, sweet Peg,

Thanks for the days of companionship

In my garden.

Gail

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LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH

Regal and royal,

For nothing I beg.

Not feline but canine.

I am the “Peg”.

Aloof to all others,

A Scottie by breed.

Ignoring your voice,

Neglecting your heed.

A lick or a nuzzle,

For you is unsure.

My bloodline prevents it,

What’s yours?  Is it pure?

Praise for my plumage,

On a neighborhood walk.

My head held high,

No time to talk.

Drawn to the garden,

Stalking crickets galore.

Bright flowers bow to me,

It is “Peg” they adore.

A pat or a scratch,

I quickly discard.

One shake and it falls of,

No thanks or regard.

As my nature demands it,

Engrained daily or such.

I say it quite firmly,

Look but don’t touch.

Goodbye Queen Peg

John

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Filed under Gardening Friends, Scottish Terrier, Uncategorized

MAXINE’S VASE

If you are going to grow flowers

You’ll eventually need a vase

Or two………….dozen.

Somewhere over the last few decades

I developed the habit

Of finding old vases

At garage sales

And estate sales.

At first I wanted crystal vases.

That’s what my mother had

And now her vases grace my dining room china cabinet.

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Mother loved crystal.

And so do I.

Then early in our marriage

John & I ventured to Europe.

Where we discovered pottery

In Florence

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And Barcelona

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And lugged a bit of it home.

But my vase collecting

Really kicked in after we settled in here

And began to make connections with people

Of all ages.

Many of these were women I knew from church.

It seems when you’re a Presbyterian in these parts.

You have a long

And interesting life.

So as these and other ladies around town died

I would go to their estate sale

And find a single thing

That would remind me of them.

The first was this vase

From Gladys.

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Gone now probably 30 years

I still remember her spunky nature.

Eventually I focused my purchases

On painted pottery from the 40’s and 50’s

McCoy is the best known brand

Thus you can find many knock offs

Of their soft color palette.

I’m partial to white, yellow, soft blue and lime green.

My mother in law’s blue pitcher is a favorite

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Along with a yellow vase my friend Marilyn

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Brought from her mother’s home in Louisiana.

Then there is this terrific lime green Claire Lerner

That I found at a neighbor’s garage sale

At a cost of $1.25!

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I have two rules.

Don’t go crazy on price $10. – $15.

Is usually my max.

And you have to know where you are going to store it

Before you bring it home.

The second rule has forced me to slow down a bit

Since my garden house cupboards are filling up.

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So it was this history

That followed me to the estate sale of

My friend, my neighbor, my fellow Presbyterian

And wise women extraordinaire

Maxine Sanford Austin.

Maxine died this year at the age of 102.

Her life

And her home

Were filled with treasures.

She was a poet

A teller of tales

A loyal friend

And fiercely opinionated.

I just loved her.

When she married in 1933

Her mother made her wedding veil.

Long and trailing

With lace flowers embroidered on it.

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Her daughter Ann wore it in 1961

And Maxine wore it when she married again in 1993…

At the age of 80 something!

She was both traditional

And non traditional

All rolled into one.

It took me three trips of wondering through her home

To find my memory memento of Maxine.

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I can’t tell you anything about this particular vase

I’m guessing it was from her mother’s travels.

She told me once that after her father died

Her mother began traveling around the world.

It’s very different from any other vase I own.

Doesn’t fit the mold.

Won’t have a shelf of similar stuff to join.

It’s unique.

It’s Maxine.

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AWARENESS

by Maxine Sanford Austin

In every day we have, dear Lord,

Let us truly see

The things we should:

The flight of bee.

The flash of bird,

Sun on a brilliant flower,

Then thunder heard

Before a sudden shower.

In all things, dear Lord,

Let us truly know

That this is Thy World

And in our actions show

That we truly know.

Thanks Maxine,

Gail

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Filed under Flower Arrangements, Garden House, Gardening Friends, Gardening Mentors, Hydrangea, Uncategorized, Vases

We moved into this house 9 years ago this summer.

It was a very busy summer.

It began with my father’s Memorial Day visit to the emergency room

Followed by his quadruple bypass surgery the next week.

Daddy and his grandsons on his 85th bir

Daddy and his grandsons on his 85th birthday

Two weeks later Elliott and Kristina were married.

Elliott's Wedding 155

Two weeks after that we moved here.

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By August I was unpacked

But far from settled.

My memory is it was a cool August.

Much like this year.

I had moved my house

And since I work at home

My office had come along.

The only thing left behind

Was my garden.

Kind of.

Earlier that spring

Before we put our old house on the market.

I had dug up about 1/2 of my garden

And planted it in a borrowed bed.

My old friend and new next door neighbor Patti

Was graciously loaning me a flower bed

At her house.

It was packed with plants

I was anxious to put in their permanent home.

But it was after all August.

And our “new old” house

Didn’t have a single flower bed.

The back yard was a blank slate.

We had big plans to add beds

But not until the next spring.

So it was my first summer in decades

Without a garden.

A slight depression began to set in.

I was understandably tired

With no place to contemplate it all.

Nothing to lose myself in.

No garden for my quiet conversations with God.

Then one day hope arrived.

I stepped out the back door

Rounded the corner of the house

There they were

With no warning

Right in the middle of the yard.

Surprise Lilies

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Alias Naked Ladies.

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I’d seen them around town

But never had planted any.

What a gift.

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Though I’m sure the saying

“Hope springs eternal” is true.

In my case it’s more like

“Hope sprouts eternal”

Gail

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Filed under Gardening, Gardening Friends, Gardening;Perennials, late summer garden, Surprise Lilies, Uncategorized

SHARING SEASON

Gardeners are known for sharing.

They love to share

Information

Plants

Flowers

Seeds

Cuttings

And, of course, the bounty of their gardens.

Zucchini comes to mind.

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For me it’s all of the above

But mostly flowers.

I have long contended that flowers

“Are food for the soul”.

That we need flowers

Just like we need food.

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I think this goes back to college

And John.

When we first began dating

He brought me flowers several times a week

For months on end.

The most spectacular was that first spring.

He brought me an enormous bouquet

Of Iris.

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Years later I realized that florists don’t sell that kind of Iris.

You know them – German Bearded Iris.

The kind that grow in little old ladies gardens

In college towns.

I’m not sure she intended to share!

His choice of vases was most unique.

A plastic pumpkin

Left from Halloween.

Simply had to marry the guy after that!

And so in the ensuing 40+ years

I’ve made it a point to make bouquets

And spread them around.

I’m pleased to say that Elliott and Kristina

Are carrying on the same tradition.

Kristina rarely leaves home for an evening with friends.

Without a bouquet in tow.

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And she always has fresh flowers throughout their home

When we come to visit.

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I must confess here that this year my bouquets are going

Not to individuals so much

As to places.

On Saturday I pluck whatever is happy

For church on Sunday.

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Then during the week

Loaves & Fishes gets a bouquet.

A cheerful greeting for the volunteers

And clients who come in need of help feeding their families.

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Now all of this is well and good.

Lovely really

But it doesn’t hold a candle to the real pros

When it comes to sharing from your garden.

Those of you who focus on vegetables

Leave the rest of us in the shade.

Just this week

Kelly came by with a basket of green beans.

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Yum!

Earlier in the week the Koehns

Brought tons of cucumbers and squash of all sorts

To Loaves & Fishes.

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Mitch brought squash, too

Ann gave her weekly supply of basil

And assorted veggies.

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Then yesterday the fun and lively members of the Freed family

Called at the end of the Farmers Market

To donate what was left to Loaves & Fishes

I met them there.

Their 4 sons, daughter and her friend

Unloaded hundreds of pounds of freshly picked produce

Watermelon

Cantaloupe

Peppers

Eggplant

Squash

After working at their produce stand all morning.

They loved the cooler.

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What a great family

Working together

Laughing

Sharing

Those are lucky kids.

I know

I come from the same kind of family

And it has painted my life

With sharing.

Gail

Early 1950's

Early 1950’s

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Filed under Basil, Bouquets, Farmer's Market, Flower Arrangements, Gardening Friends, Herbs, Iris, Uncategorized, Vegetables

COMMUNITY GARDENING

I have long been interested in community gardens.

They come in several different configurations.

It can be a large area divided into plots.

Each plot tended by a different gardener.

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Or it can be a place where a community comes together

To grow things.

For themselves

Or for others.

This spring I finally get to participate in a community garden.

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You may recall I wrote about planting it a few months ago.

It’s located at our new local client choice food pantry

And food resource center named Loaves & Fishes.

At the moment this garden consists of 10 raised beds.

 

Built as an Eagle Scout project.

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Then our volunteer extraordinaire David

Added 3 – 250 gallon rain barrels that are catching the rain water

From the roof of the building.

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After a 2 inch rain

They are full.

We’ve been cutting greens each week

To share with the clients who come to us for food.

Imagine going to a food pantry and getting a bag of freshly cut spinach

Or lettuce.

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Or Swiss chard.

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It’s just heavenly!

But we’ve had a few challenges along the way.

As it turns out our garden sits at the bottom of a slight bowl.

And it’s been

Well a bit of a pond.

So Saturday was Family Volunteering Day

At Loaves & Fishes.

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75 volunteers from the community,

A Cub Scout Troop

As well as the corporate sponsors for the day

Triangle Insurance

And Central National Bank

Came to help.

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They made quick work of spreading

A truck load of fill sand.

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Then moving gravel into the paths between the beds.

Within a few hours we went from pond

To problem solved.

It was an amazing transformation.

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Now this is really more hardscape work

Than actual gardening.

And we may have completely worn out this group of volunteers.

But the thing is

We are community.

Cheerfully helping

To solve a problem.

Growing great food

For people who really need it

And appreciate the care

We take to help them.

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For years my passion has been feeding people in need.

Now at Loaves & Fishes I get to watch others find their passion.

If you haven’t found a way to help others.

I hope you find a passion

And a home for it

That is as much fun as this wonderful community.

Or better still

Come and join us

Gardening for good and helping feed others.

Gail

P.S.  If you have extra produce or eggs from your own garden we would appreciate

Your bring them to Loaves & Fishes.  We’ll find them a grateful home!

 

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Filed under Community Garden, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Hunger, Lettuce, Rain Barrels, Raised Beds, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Uncategorized, Vegetables

MEGAN

A couple of decades ago my job was designing, installing and maintaining perennial flower garden

All around town.

It was fun and very hard work.

During the summer maintenance season

I would hire daughters of friends to help me.

Megan, Cristina and Ashley outlasted them all.

For instance Megan’s sister Katie told me at the end of the first…and only summer for her.

“This has been fun, but I don’t ever want to do this again.”

But it was Megan who just kept coming back.

She worked from Jr. High through High School.

Then in college she would come back each fall to help me plant bulbs.

Even post college she was there for me digging trenches

And burying bulbs.

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We’ve had great conversations

That have matured with each year.

We often talked about the garden party I would have for her.

When she married.

Last fall when Megan came for our bulb planting ritual

There was only one subject of conversation

JP

So it was no surprise that at Christmas Megan and JP were engaged.

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After years of dreaming about Megan’s wedding and parties

The planning began.

What’s that saying about making plans.

“If you want to make God laugh…tell him your plans.”

Well God must have doubled over with laughter at this one.

Because JP is in the Navy

Scheduling of everything was on Navy time.

In this instance that means fast.

A mid-April wedding was planned not at home

But in Corpus Christi where JP was stationed.

No problem…if there’s anything Megan loves as much as JP and gardens

Its’ the beach

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But there was only time and space for family and a few close friends.

No problem…we’ll have a reception here

In my garden

Just like we planned

Sometime in Mid-May when all is happily blooming!

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Well…maybe not.

JP and Megan have to be in their new destination by May 6th.

OK we’re flexible

May 2nd it will be.

A simple ice cream social with wedding cakes

Friends and family in attendance for the perfect send off.

Well…maybe not.

The morning of May 2nd brought

Sleet

Rain

Clouds

30 mile an hour north winds

With gusts to 40

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OK God I get the idea.

Thankfully for once I half way believed

Our over zealous weather forecaster

And cut every tulip that was blooming

The Saturday before the party.

They spent the week in the safety of my spare refrigerator.

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And the day before the party Kay – Megan’s mother suggested

“We might want to go ahead and cut whatever else we need.”

So we cut buckets of Boxwood and Viburnum

And even cut a few Lilacs from Kelly’s yard.

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We simply brought the garden indoors.

Now there’s no doubt that I was disappointed

That I couldn’t give Megan the garden party of her dreams.

But here’s the thing.

When Thursday night came.

Megan and JP were beaming

Friends who have watched her grow up

Family who loved her from the moment they knew she was coming into this world.

All of us were there

Eating gelato and wedding cake.

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And sending Megan & JP out into the world

Knowing that they are deeply loved.

That they are rooted and grounded in this place with these people.

As my sister Pat said at Elliott & Kristina’s wedding.

“We have loved giving you roots and wings

It is the greatest satisfaction of our lives.

Know that we celebrate with you as you join hands,

Spread your wings and fly.”

Here’s to a happy life Megan

And gardening all over the world.

All my love,

Gail

 

 

 

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Filed under Bridal Showers, Flower Arrangements, Garden House, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Gardening;Perennials, Perennials, spring, Spring Flowering Bulbs, tulips, Wedding Flowers

FAITH

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It happens every year.

When I finally get winter’s blanket of leaves removed

I wonder where everything has gone.

Sure the early blooming show offs are visible

The Iris and Peonies.

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And Larkspur sprouts are everywhere.

But right now I’m wondering why is there so much dirt showing.

And what is lying in wait beneath?

My friend Suellen used to call every spring

To tell me that everything had died over the winter.

Then…she’d call back in a week

Saying it’s OK.

And we would have a good laugh

Remembering the same conversation from the year before.

Faith

It’s as important to gardening as fertilizer, healthy soil and water.

It’s the belief that a tiny green frond

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Will unfurl into a gorgeous fern.

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That the precious buds on my Japanese Tree Peony

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Will soon take my breath away.

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That come June

These few leaves at the bottom of what looks like a stick plant

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Will give astonishing blooms.

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The robins have returned.

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Lady bugs and honey bees abound

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Peg is on her never-ending bunny search

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And the Hellebores are blooming their hearts out.

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It must be spring.

Faith

All we need to do is trust

And believe.

And as my friend Jerry used to say

Do the best we can…

God will take care of the rest.

Take time to breathe it all in.

Gail

 

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Filed under Bugs, Ferns, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Grape Hyacinths, Hellebores, Hydrangea, Iris, Japanese Tree Peony, Lady Bugs, Larkspur, Peonies, Perennials, Redbud Trees, Violets