Category Archives: my garden

I map the topography of love.

Yarrow blooming in front garden.

March is the month that my husband fell asleep in the Lord, two years ago now. My experience of bereavement is all over the map, following the topography of the seasons and the holidays and whatever physical ailments fall on me.

Most of the time I am happily swamped by a myriad of plans and activities, and tasks I’m behind on. But sometimes the absence of my husband when I lie down and when I rise up, when I go from room to room or when I come home from a walk, is like a huge and strange presence.

March always features Lent, which is a mercy, because that is an opportunity to focus on prayer, which keeps me in the present, where my husband and I are both living in the Kingdom of God. I can put our marriage in historical perspective and in the context of eternity.

This year once again I cooked for 100 people, with the help of several dear friends, an agape meal after last Sunday’s Divine Liturgy, as a memorial for my husband. I made the same menu as last year. We had so much fun cooking on Saturday that I completely forgot to take pictures.

But the night before, I had been soaking 20# of Great Northern beans to make the Greek Beans , and I took pictures of them soaked and being dried off on a tablecloth. They have to be dried off a bit so you can sauté them in olive oil before stewing them. Neither of the photos shows the whole 20#.

I also borrowed some pictures from last year that are pretty much identical to the scene from last week.

garlic and bay leaves
Preparing tarragon for cabbage salad.

Partly because of Lent, March is always very busy. Not all Orthodox churches are able to celebrate a full calendar of services, partly because many parishes have only one priest, and he might also have another job. But God has arranged for me to be where I can be nourished and helped a great deal by praying in church and receiving Communion several times a week during Lent. We have so many services that no one can attend all of them.

Yellow freesias starting to bloom in the distance.

 

March is when the garden takes off. If I didn’t have my garden, what would my life be like? Would I keep a tidier house? Pray more? Probably neither. I am always happy in the garden – and it’s a good place to pray, without a doubt. Better to have a garden that is somewhat neglected than to have no garden.

I started thinning the lamb’s ears with the help of a kneeling bench
that my cousin Renée gave me.

I used to not like Euphorbia (above),
but now that it is falling over my own garden wall I find I am quite fond of it.

lovely lithodora

The native currant bushes (ribes) aren’t very bushy,
but they are three times as tall as last year.

Bay tree (Laurus nobilis) in a pot.

The first week of Lent I started out grumpy. But Lent is a good cure for that. I have since been given wonderful gifts of thankfulness. God has let me see how all through my life He has abundantly provided for me, and He continues to do this every day. When I think of the love that has been given me in my childhood, my marriage, my children and my friends – and now the Holy Orthodox Church that is “the fullness of Him that fills all in all,” my cup runs over.

No doubt I will lapse into grumbling and self-pity before long, and have to repent again (That’s what life is for!) but the view of my widow’s world from this mountain on which I stand at the moment is quite beautiful, and it’s a Happy Spring.

I began this post yesterday, and then went out to pull weeds and deadhead flowers. I was kneeling in the mulch by the yarrow when the florist delivery girl walked up with an elegant vase for “Gretchen.” Lilies, roses, carnations, blue flowers, sweet smells… Before I could get it into the house I started weeping, not being able to guess who would do this – it could be anyone, in God’s world that is full of miracles, and seemingly brimming with people who care about me. But it was my children and their spouses, with an early remembrance of their parents’ wedding anniversary:

“Mama, these are sent in celebration of you and Papa, and with love for you,
from your children.”  See what I mean about that landscape?

Winter and Spring

bearded iris

Last night just as I was ready to go upstairs to bed, I thought about how I hadn’t checked my fountain in the back garden for a couple of days, and the rain had fallen in very small quantities of late… so I went out in the dark with my flashlight and sure enough, I had let it go dry.  I could hear the pump whirring inside but there was no water for it to pump up to tube, so nothing was trickling down.

I grabbed the hose and filled the bowl, but still nothing happened, even after a few minutes. So I turned it off for the night and decided I would deal with it after the sun came up. When I went out this morning I had rolled up my sleeves to pull open the “door” to the inside of the fountain where the little pump does its thing. I had put several inches of water in last night and had to shove my arm through all of that and wiggle the pump out of its cramped space inside.

Usually some leaves and debris have clogged the intake, but nothing much was there this time. I rapped the pump against the side of the fountain, because the people who sold it to me told me to do that if it stops. In the few seconds that all that took, my hands were going from painfully cold to numb. The water was like snowmelt. I didn’t bother to put the pump back but I turned on the switch again and water immediately began falling from the upper bowl. I just left the pump sitting in the water outside its compartment and ran indoors to rescue my blue hands. That was my winter’s morning.

But the afternoon was Spring. I drove only fifteen miles inland to the dentist and it was a sunny 72°. When I came home more flowers were blooming – the hellebores are going to town, and a new bearded iris had opened.

For my town they are forecasting 75° for next week – yay! But by then, we will have Sprung Forward for the sake of our crazy time-tampering 😦  Should that be the definitive sign of Spring in our Northern Hemisphere? I don’t think so! It is more like a trial and tribulation of the season, but at least that has the potential to make us pray more, and that’s very appropriate to Lent. God can use anything! Glory to God!

hellebore

 

Lovely new things…

So many newly sprung buds and flowers to be seen around here — also some not so lovely, even ugly things in my garden. One of the most pure and fresh is the bloom on the plum trees:gl-p1060882

I spent hours in the garden over the last few days; one task was to provide some more strings for the snow pea plants that keep growing up and up and have even formed two infant pods so far. Why do they keep on – how do they do it, on the stems that seem rotted and dried near the ground?

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I wouldn’t be surprised if I go out one morning and find that they have keeled over, but strangely, life flows through those brown and emaciated tubes. The sugar snap peas did not survive long enough to get flowers, and I removed them yesterday as well.

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Evidently being beaten down by rain and then frozen every night is not their idea of seasonable weather. Truly, October is the month we are supposed to plant peas in our area, but this hasn’t been a typical year weather-wise….

For a week we’ve been having more frosts, so I brought the Christmas Cactus indoors by my computer table and it is giving us Christmas in March.

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The arugula and pak choi have gone to flowering, so I pulled them out and planted some parsley and new pak choi, purple this time. From the flowers you can guess that it is in the Brassica family.

This first week of Lent we have so many wonderful services, I’ve been at church a lot, and am glad to have my phone with me so I can save images like this. Somehow the camellia escaped getting brown spots from being constantly wet. It is giving us a picture of the purity and beauty that is God’s will for our souls.

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Finches say No to microgreens.

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euphorbia

I wondered wp1060683crphy I hadn’t seen any goldfinches on the feeder lately. It hasn’t been pouring rain all the time, and a couple of weeks ago they liked feeding even during showers. The weather has been mostly a big cloud, and then added to that, I have personally been Under the Weather. When I came out from under, and the sun also came out, I explored my estate this morning and discovered that the nyger seed has become sprout soup.

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tarragon

 

 

The Christmas cactus missed Christmas, being shut up in the dark greenhouse. Now it is blooming, and frosty weather isn’t imminent, so I took it out where I can see it from my kitchen window. The tarragon is growing well in that greenhouse, though.

 

 

 

 

 

How many pictures of poppies can I post here before my readers start to rebel? How would you show your ennui? Probably you all are too kind to say anything. It’s really not that easy to get a good picture of an Iceland poppy; there is just a moment when the delicate petals are fresh and new, and the sun is not too bright. Yellow flowers are almost always too bright even without the sun. They blooms can’t be too wet, or they hang their heads soggily. This one was a the morning’s gift.

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