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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Filed under Garden Planning, Gardening;Perennials, Generations, Monet's Garden, Garden Travel, Trip of a Lifetime, Elizabeth Murray, Perennials, Pruners, Uncategorized, Wise Women

DEWY DETAILS

On Tuesday morning at Monet’s garden

We found it covered in heavy dew.

I made two entries into my journal

 

DETAILS

On my second morning in the garden

I’m struck by the details.

Granted it is a mass of abundant bloom

But it is the detail

That draws me in.

The light streaming through the poppy leaf

Highlighting the drops of dew

Along it’s edge.

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Allium

Resembling firecrackers

As they go to seed.IMG_0353 (1)

Bees

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And bugs.

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Details take time.

Time to slow down

Enough to notice.

To breathe them in

To ponder them

To absorb them.

In most of my life

I am not a detail person.

I see the “big picture”

And look forward.

But over the years of gardening

I’ve trained my eye to look

For the details.

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And thankfully

My brain

Has trained my eye

To slow down.

To stop

To take it all in.

Being here at Giverny

In the quiet of the morning.

Allows the time

To see and feel the details

Of dew

Of new flowers opening.

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The last of the protective shell

Of a poppy blossom.

Before it hits the ground.

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This place is magical

I can see why Monet was such a productive artist

With this to inspire him.

The painter inspires the garden.

The garden inspires the painter.

 

 

HEAVY DEW

This morning the garden

Is bathed

In heavy dew.

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It coats

And nurtures

Each leaf

And blossom.

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A giver of life

Refreshing the blooms

For another day.

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So what is my heavy dew

Refreshing me each day?

What do I allow myself

to be bathed in?

What oozes into my pours

To nurture me

For the new day?

 

Gail

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

Once again the really good pictures are Debra’s!

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Filed under Allium, Garden Photography, Monet's Garden, Garden Travel, Trip of a Lifetime, Elizabeth Murray, Poppy, 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

DISSONENT HARMONY

Here’s week 2

This one’s a little bit about gardens

And another passion…music.

I’ll be back to regular blogs in another week or so.

 

Sometimes I forget

Just how much

Music and nature have in common.

Until this morning.

Before I left for church I reminded myself

To cut that single RED tulip

Blooming wildly in the midst

Of all those perfect pastel beauties.

It has somehow survived the year

And returned to bloom again.

But it doesn’t fit into this year’s color scheme

So…off with it’s head.

I thought.

It’s probably the only tulip

That’s been saved from cutting

By the tenor section!

Here’s how.

We were practicing for our annual

“Palms to Passion” service this morning.

Doing a glorious version of

“God So Loved the World”

We were sounding pretty good

Except for one measure when those aforementioned tenors

Were moving from note to note ahead of us

The melody loving soprano section.

The tenors should know this by now.

I thought.

Then I took a moment

And actually looked at the music.

They were singing it correctly

Our parts were not the same

Imagine that…

Harmony in a church choir.

For some reason

This moment really spoke to me

Music is like a garden

Is like life.

Sometimes it’s the very things that sound off tune

That resolve into true beauty.

It’s the difference that make us richer

And deeper.

Sameness is comfortable

Appealing initially.

But it is in the bounty of difference

That we experience the true nature

Of all that God created.

Gail

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STAYING PUT

I’m going to be distracted from my garden for the next few weeks.

So I won’t be posting about my garden.

But I’ve found a few “draft blogs” that aren’t necessarily about gardening.

They are more about my small town life.

So here’s a post written last Christmas

No pictures.

Just thoughts.

 

I’ve lived in the same town

For a little over 42 years now.

In all honesty I’ve never moved around a lot.

After all, being born the daughter of farming parents

And marrying a man whose chosen career is to be

A small town attorney

Means I’m likely to put down roots

Deep roots.

Generally, farmers and attorneys

Don’t move around much.

And that’s been fine with me,

Good actually.

I like being connected

To my friends

To my church

To my community.

I’ve loved the years of watching Elliott and his friends

Grow up

And now raise their own families.

That familiarity

That security.

For me it has worked well.

There are natural pitfalls.

My personality loves tradition

Doing things the same way year after year.

I’ve literally had to fight myself

To be more open to change.

Something I work consciously on

As I grow older.

I DO NOT want to be the person

Who always wants things done the same way.

So today when Andrew spoke about the irony

of the traditions of Christmas

when actually God sending his son

Was the greatest change in history.

I had to smile.

But now I’m learning

The real challenge of staying put.

In the past few weeks I’ve been to more funerals

Than in the past few years.

Friends are preparing for the hard fight

Against gruesome diseases

While others are experiencing devastating

Emergency medical challenges.

If I had moved around the country every few years

My life would be oh so different.

Sure, I would learn of these life altering changes

But from afar.

I wouldn’t be looking into the faces of people

On Christmas morning

Who I know are facing loss.

It’s not that I wouldn’t care.

I would.

But it would be caring on a different level.

My 24-year-old self was certainly not conscious

Of the choice we were making

When we planted ourselves deeply

In this place.

Had I known how difficult this stage of life can be

Would I have made another choice?

I can say with absolute certainty

That for me

I would not.

Yes, the past month has been tough.

For the whole town.

And considering my stage of life.

It’s not going to get easier.

But the friendships that are here.

The years of raising kids together

Working through the various ages and stages

Of adulthood.

Have created friendships

That often don’t even need words

To know how much we care.

We can and do go days

Sometimes weeks

Without seeing each other.

Yet we are here.

Through the years

Through it all

Staying put.

Gail

 

 

 

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FAITH FARM UPDATE

I’m not a vegetable gardener.

Sure I’ve dropped a few in the middle of my flower beds

But I’ve never committed a block of space

Totally to vegetables.

So a few years ago

When my favorite non-profit Loaves & Fishes

Took over a vegetable garden called Faith Farm

I knew I was in over my head.

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This year we were determined to get an early start.

So around the third week of February

We began.

Hundreds of onion starts were planted

Along with carrot seeds.

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We’re working with Michael’s new theory

On growing these cool season veggies.

Last year he noticed that when we planted carrots

Along the edges of the beds

They did much better.

So we planted one end and one edge of

Of each raised bed to onions.

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The remaining end and edge was planted to carrots.

Our suspicion is that the soil along the edge

Warms more quickly than the soil in the middle of the bed.

And results in glorious onions and carrots.

Now, after a few months of growing

We are being rewarded.

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The onions have started maturing

Last Wednesday we pulled 64 lbs.

 

Thinking it would last through 2 days of pantry.

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But within 2 hours of Wednesday’s pantry

They were gone.

Onions are popular.

Carrots will take a little more time.

But if this year’s crop is anything like last year

We’ll have many happy clients

We call this

Gardening for good.

And it is.

Gail

 

 

 

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Filed under Carrots, Community Garden, Onion, Raised Beds, Uncategorized, Vegetables

PUTTERING AROUND

You can tell that spring is winding down.

The temperature is rising slightly.

There are fewer rainy days.

And the big garden jobs are done.

The few pots I have are planted.

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Tulips have been pulled.

And the plants I couldn’t resist

Have nestled into their new home.

Now comes the weekend

When there is time

To putter.

You know

Doing the little things

That you’ve been walking past

And ignoring

Till the time was right.

Digging and thinning the Iris.

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Hanging the sticky traps for those nasty thrip.

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Spreading the crushed egg shells around the Hosta

Hoping to discourage the slugs and snails.

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Planting the first Zinnias in the bare spots.

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Staking, trimming and caging the tomatoes.

It’s going to be a good tomato year

Since I’m all ready seeing blooms and tomatoes

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And finding time to see the world

Through my macro lens

Discovering a pollen laden bee

Inside a Hollyhock bloom.

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I so enjoy puttering.

Gail

P.S.  In my last blog I said that there was not a farmer in my generation.

I stand corrected and apologize.

My sister Ann took delivery on her new tractor this week.

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She’ll use it as she tends her 40 acre pecan grove.

Planted by our father.

Which she inherited

And is improving.

So she can pass it on

To the next generation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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