Consider the Lilies

(Star Gazer Oriental Lily)

Liles reign in July. Their stately spires and glorious blooms take centerstage when the Japanese beetles are at their worse and my poor roses are frazzled and frayed. Two years ago, without realizing how big they’d get, I planted bulbs of a large white lily. The image accompanying the advertisement pictured the stalks towering over a small child, so I figured maybe waist/chest height for me. I had not yet heard of tree lilies and missed the image of these flowers rising above a women. The first season they were big but not like this second year. They’re taller than me. Lilies rise from the Memorial Garden like Jack’s beanstalk, with an incredibly sweet fragrance. Their pure white flowers scent the air, especially in the evening, but it’s always heavenly near them.

One of our Old Order Mennonite neighbors called me about these giants. She frequently passes our farm in her horse and buggy and has ample opportunity to admire the flowers. These lilies are like nothing she’s ever seen. If I get around to it this fall, I’ll divide this clump and give her several bulbs. I also grow the Star Gazer Oriental lilies and a variety of others. Lilies are magical additions to the garden. Last fall I fell all over Breck’s lily grab bag sale and wound up with quite a few new varieties. Exciting! But I was busy getting these bulbs in until Christmas. Fortunately, the ground wasn’t frozen hard. Last winter was mild. Who knows about 2021-2022?

My main challenge with lilies isn’t winter but spring. I mulch the bulbs well to discourage early growth. Even so, they are almost always lured out by an unseasonable warm spell in April and then zapped by frost. Every spring I’m out covering clumps of lilies to try and protect the sensitive stalks from the icy blast. If a stalk is hit, it’s gone. Tiger lilies are more resistant to the cold. I also grow daylilies and they can handle lower temps than the Oriental and Asiatic varieties. These beauties are worth the battle, I remind myself on those chilly spring evenings. They are royalty.

(Gorgeous white tree lilies)

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say unto you, Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” ~Matthew 6: 28.

Lilies and I have a long history. I memorized this verse (part of a longer passage) as a child and proudly recited it for the entire school. Those were different days. It was a public school in Bristol, Tennessee. I’ve always liked this passage as it assures us of God’s care, but also because of the lilies. I loved flowers even then. I checked to see what variety of lily is referred to in this verse and it seems they are a native red anemone. Very pretty, but not what I’d envisioned. I guess something got lost in translation. Just as well, the word anemone would have gone over my head as a child.

(Above: Red carpet of flowers in Shokeda Forest, Israel. Image by Zachi Evenor.)

If you haven’t ever planted lilies, give them a go. Watch for sales. I have several dozen bulbs to get in the ground from a summer sale. I plant them in among the roses and other flowers. A perfect cottage garden plant, the look I aim for.

(Tiger lilies above)

(The big white lily again)

The Garden is a Magical Place


We’ve had a splendid June this year. To venture forth outside in the early morning is pure joy. The garden reveals fresh wonders no matter how often I go there. Even if the earth is parched, beads of dew sparkle on the glistening leaves like tiny jewels. Morning makes all things new. 

I’m incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by this mini Eden and gratified to help bring it to life. I also give nature and our creator, God, quite a bit of the credit. The garden is a magical place. God walks the garden at dusk and the fairies dance at dawn. 

As I reluctantly bid early summer adieu and brace myself for hot July, I will seek the beauty, and keep watch for fairies.

“Plants give us oxygen for the lungs and for the soul.” ~Terri Guillemets

“In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts here and there. To the flowers I whisper the secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe. I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels.” ~Dodinsky

“I sit in my garden, gazing upon a beauty that cannot gaze upon itself. And I find sufficient purpose for my day.” ~Robert Brault,

And with that, I agree.

My wildflower border is a medley of colors.

NA Historical Romance The Bearwalker’s Daughter–free in Kindle

The Bearwalker’s Daughter was inspired by a true account:

The ill-fated romance of a young captive woman who fell in love with the son of a chief lies behind The Bearwalker’s Daughter. As the result of a treaty, the young wife was taken from her warrior husband and forced back to her white family where she gave birth to a girl. Then her husband did the unthinkable and left the tribe to go live among the whites, but such was their hatred of Indians that before he reached his beloved her brothers killed him. Inconsolable and weak from the birth, she grieved herself to death.

Heart-wrenching, that tale haunts me to this day. And I wondered, was there some way those young lovers could have been spared such anguish, and what happened to their infant daughter when she grew up? I know she was raised by her white family–-not what they told her about her mother and warrior father.

Not only did The Bearwalker’s Daughter spring from that sad account, but it also had a profound influence on my historical romance novel Red Bird’s Song. Now that I’ve threaded it through these two novels, perhaps I can let go…perhaps….

The history the story draws from is raw and real, a passionate era where only the strong survive. Superstition ran high among both the Scots and Native Americans, and far more, a vision that transcends what is, to reach what can be. We think we’ve gained much in our modern era, and so we have.  But we’ve also lost a great deal. In my writing, I try to recapture what should not be forgotten.  Remember those who’ve gone before you.

As to bearwalking, this belief/practice predates modern Native Americans to the more ancient people. In essence,  a warrior transforms himself into a bear and goes where he wills in that form, a kind of shapeshifting. 

Blurb: A Handsome Frontiersman, Mysterious Scots-Irish Woman, Shapeshifting Warrior, Dark Secret, Pulsing Romance…The Bearwalker’s Daughter~

Karin McNeal hasn’t grasped who she really is or her fierce birthright. A tragic secret from the past haunts the young Scots-Irish woman who longs to learn more of her mother’s death and the mysterious father no one will name. The elusive voices she hears in the wind hint at the dramatic changes soon to unfold in the mist-shrouded Alleghenies in Autumn, 1784.

Jack McCray, the wounded stranger who staggers through the door on the eve of her twentieth birthday and anniversary of her mother’s death, holds the key to unlock the past. Will Karin let this handsome frontiersman lead her to the truth and into his arms, or seek the shelter of her fiercely possessive kinsmen? Is it only her imagination or does someone, or something, wait beyond the brooding ridges–for her?~

The Bearwalker’s Daughter
 is available at: 
Amazon Kindle. (Free through Thursday February 4th)

“This fabulous historical fantasy story doesn’t hesitate from word one…Ms. Trissel’s alluring style of writing invites the reader into a world of fantasy and makes it so believable it is spellbinding.” -Long and Short Reviews

“Winter and spring overlap at the seams…” ~Terri Guillemets

Thus far winter has been mild in the Shenandoah Valley. I haven’t yet needed a heavy coat to go outdoors. A thick gardening jacket, gloves, and a scarf will do. Last week found me still planting crocus and other small bulbs, unheard of in January. But the extended forecast suggests we are in for a stretch of colder temps, though not a lengthy period. The long range forecast points to a warmer February and March while still having some chilly nights. This works for me. After a snowfall or two, I’m satisfied that winter has paid us a respectable visit and we can move on to glorious spring, my giddy season.

The number of bulbs I’ve planted this fall/winter, added to the vast host already in place, promises a stunning display of color, fragrance, and beauty. And there are forget-me-nots, iris, peonies, violas, roses…a wealth to look forward to. All seems possible and probable in January. I’m filled with gardening schemes and dreams.

While I contemplate digging up the front yard, (an annual dream) I grow lovely things in my window garden and the sunspace, and I’m starting seeds. The garden makes me happy and I feel more deeply connected to God and the dear ones who’ve gone before me who also loved the good earth. And since I’m quickly done with winter, I’ll beat the groundhog to his prediction, whatever it may be, and declare an early spring. You’re welcome.

More images from my window garden to brighten your day.

(Amaryllis, orchids, cyclamen, paperwhites…)

‘Spring stirs under silent snow.’ ~Terri Guillemets

‘Winter and spring overlap at the seams
chilly breezes and warm green dreams!’
~Terri Guillemets

‘Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day.’ ~W. Earl Hall

Amen to that.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled program.

This Crazy Year and My Garden

(Cyclamen in my window garden)

How can I describe 2020? Covid turned our world on its head in March and it flipped again in May with daughter Alison’s cancer diagnosis. The big C is bad anytime, but Covid makes it worse. These past six months I’ve supported her as she underwent emergency surgery and a grueling course of Chemo for colon cancer–stage 3. Her three children, especially two–year-old Charlie, needed a lot of attention (still do). Only a few of us, like her husband and the other grandma, could help with the kids because of their tight covid circle. Our area continues to be a hotspot. But we were amazed by the stream of faithful friends and neighbors who brought meals, ran errands, and did loads of laundry for the family. This generous outpouring made a huge difference, as did the countless prayers. We are eternally grateful. Shortly before Christmas, the oncologist declared Alison’s latest scans good. Thank God. She’s free from cancer treatment, apart from follow up scans and tests. It’s hard to believe this challenging episode is done. It seemed endless.

My indoor Window Garden.

In addition to helping Alison and the kids, I threw myself into the garden. Planting, pruning, digging–all that goes with gardening–lifts my spirts and calms my mind. Every time events threatened to send me up a tree, I ordered a rose for the Memorial Garden. I’d already planted a great many, but the number swelled with such a memorable year. When it got too late for rose planting, I ordered a LOT of bulbs and added tulips, hyacinths, crocus, daffodils, and lilies to the many lying dormant in the ground. When spring comes, they will burst forth with abundant color and fragrances.

When the weather grew too frigid to plant bulbs outside I turned to my indoor garden. Geraniums and rosemary brighten the sunspace and I add new amaryllis bulbs each fall. I’ve been given four orchids, several cyclamen, and acquired a variety of succulents. Bringing hyacinths into bloom early is on the agenda and I always grow paperwhites. Gardening, indoors or out, helps keep me sane. Hubby Dennis is putting up a greenhouse outside the sunspace which will give me more room for starting seeds. The dahlias daughter Elise and I dug are overwintering in an unused bedroom and I’ve ordered a few more flamboyant tubers. And tuberous begonias. *Of course.

Cyclamen in my window garden.

I’m still an author, guess I always will be, but writing has been on the backburner these past months. I felt as if I’d been holding my breath since Alison’s diagnosis and didn’t have the heart to venture into the writing world. I’ve relaxed a bit since her recent good news. Maybe I’ll finish that time travel I began B. C. –Before Covid. Meanwhile, two of my novels are free this week from Sunday through Thursday at Amazon. Promo has been nonexistent for me, so I figured I’d better do something.

Kindle Links (Free thru Thursday):

Historical Romance Novel Through the Fire: (Native American Warrior Book 2) – Kindle edition by Trissel, Beth, Trissel. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ (Free thru Thursday)

Will love inflame these two natural-born enemies in fiery destruction?

Passions run deep in the raging battle to possess a continent, its wealth and furs. Both the French and English count powerful Indian tribes as their allies.
English lady Rebecca Elliot, having eloped to America with a British captain, finds herself a widow. When she ventures into the colonial frontier with the militia to seek her uncle, she unwittingly enters a dangerous world of rugged mountains, wild animals, and even wilder men. The rules are different here and she doesn’t know them, especially those of the savagely handsome warrior who captures her body and her heart.

Time Travel Romance Novel Somewhere My Lass (Somewhere in Time Book 2) – Kindle edition by Trissel, Beth, Trissel. Paranormal Romance Kindle eBooks @ (Free thru Thursday)

Will Mora and Neil be too late to save a love that began centuries before?

‘‘The MacDonald comes’ warns Mora Campbell when Neil MacKenzie finds the young Scotswoman lying unconscious at the top of his stairs after he discovers his murdered housekeeper slumped at the bottom. Mora’s claim that she’s his fiancé from 1602 and was chased to the future by clan chieftain, Red MacDonald, through ‘the door to nowhere’ seems utter nonsense. Neil thinks she’s addled from the blow to her head until his life spirals into chaos and the avenging Highlander shows up wanting blood. Mora knows the Neil of the future is truly her beloved Niall who disappeared from the past, but he must also remember. And fast.

Visit my Amazon Author Page at:

See you next year!

My Mum was a GI Bride from Northern Ireland by Patty Koontz

I’m happy to have my dear friend Patty Koontz here to share the fascinating, romantic, and touching story of her Irish mother and American GI father. Portions of Patty’s post and the wonderful images are part of an oral history project at the Northern Ireland War Memorial in Belfast, Ireland. Called The War and Me, the project features a collection of stories about GI Brides and the American presence in Northern Ireland during the Second World War. As their website says, most GI Brides have now sadly passed away, so it is often their children who tell their stories. This is Patty’s.

Patty: My beloved Irish Mum, Evelyn Vance, married my father, Luther M. Taylor, an American Sergeant, during WWII. Evelyn was born January 20th, 1925 to her loving parents, Thomas Vance and Alice McMaster Vance, in a quaint home nestled in County Down, Northern Ireland. Little did they know, their daughter would endure a life of many challenges.  Her courage, strength, and the adventures she faced, changed not only her life, but those of many others for years to come.  Her story is her legacy.

My Mum was a beautiful lady, both inside and out. It made me smile how people always complimented her on her long, thick red hair. I can still hear her soft Irish brogue and see her brown eyes sparkle as she shared stories of her family and homeland. Her Grandfather, William McMaster, from Portrush, Ballymoney, was a fisherman who died at sea. Unfortunately, his body was never found, and his death had a huge impact on the entire family.  Mum’s grandmother was a dressmaker/seamstress to help support her children, although one child was sent to live with nearby relatives, during tough times.

Mum bore scars on the left side of her chin and neck from a childhood incident that left her trapped inside a fiery room. She rarely spoke of the accident and was self conscious about the scars. Her hero, her father Thomas, rescued her from the blaze and saved her life. After losing all her beautiful hair, she was forced to wear a cap to school. Kids teased her about her cap until one day someone pulled it off.  She ran home in tears, but again, her father came to her rescue. With her family’s encouragement, she returned to school.

From the stories she shared, I believe my Mum was a wee bit of a tomboy.  She inherited her love for the ocean, (and how to swim with dolphins), her love for horses, dogs, and storytelling from her beloved Father and five devoted uncles.

On January 22nd, 1942, (just two days after her 17th birthday), my Mum received her recruiting instructions to The Women’s British Army (WBA). She had enlisted in the ATS.  (The thought of her enlisting at that age is still hard for me to imagine). Even though her mother was not happy about this turn of events, Mum was determined to do her part to help the war effort.

She served from 1942 to 1946 as a cook and assisted in the infirmary, attaining the rank of first lieutenant. The toughest thing she said she had to do was walk through a closed building filled with teargas, without a mask. She told me they were required to do this in case they ever encountered this situation. She also spoke about nightly blackouts, bombings in Northern Ireland, and food and clothes rations. A dear friend of hers was shot and killed during this rough time. Her best friend, Mary Flynn, served with Mum. They remained close and kept in touch until my Mum passed.

I love the story of how my parents met. During the war, occasional dances were held for the enlisted men and women. Mum and her friend decided to attend one evening, at a nearby recreation center/hall in Belfast. Due to the blackouts at night, the hall was also quite dark, but they enjoyed the music and opportunity for the break. Mum remembers starting to dance with a British lieutenant, and halfway through the song, she felt her arm slightly lifted. When the dance was over, my five-foot two-inch Mum (in heels), was escorted off the floor by a handsome six-foot four-inch American Sergeant. My father. Daddy always said it was love at first sight when he spotted her.

A few days later, my father was introduced to my Grandparents, and her five protective uncles.They welcomed him into the family, and from my understanding, they knew right away this was the man Mum would marry one day. They included my father in family meals and outings and treated him as their own son. Mum gave Daddy the grand tour of the legendary Antrim Coast, they walked the beach on Port Stewart Strand, (where I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to visit myself). 

I get goosebumps remembering how I walked through the beautiful places where my parents walked, hand-in-hand.  

I believe my Daddy enjoyed visiting the Mourne Mountains, as he loved the mountains that reminded him of home. My father often spoke of the kindness and hospitality the Irish people always showed him.

My parents soon married, on April 6th, 1945 at Cregagh Methodist Church in Belfast. Mary Flynn, Mum’s best friend who later became a nun, was her Maid of Honor, and Charles Chapman was my Dad’s best man.  

I was told my parents walked beneath a row of raised, crossed swords, held by both British and American soldiers, forming a line facing each other.  

How I wish there was a photo of that. Unfortunately, the only photo I have of their wedding is of their beautiful cake. The good luck symbol of the black cat inside the horseshoe hung beneath the cake on the left side of the table. 

I believe my parents wore their uniforms on their wedding day. A wedding dress was never spoken of.

After my father returned to the states, they corresponded in writing letters and by telegram until my Mum could obtain passage to come to the United States. With help, she obtained her immigration records and departed from Southampton, England on the ship named the USAT Saturnia, arriving in New York on June 1, 1946, over a year after their wedding.

She brought the handmade ship inside an old whiskey bottle, made by an elderly sea captain, that was given to her in memory of her grandfather who was lost at sea. My Mum said that she would never forget the first thing she spotted that welcomed her to the United States.The Statue of Liberty. That statue made a huge impression on Mum.

My handsome father, Luther M. Taylor, was born June 7th, 19221, son of Bertie M. and Ethel Taylor of Carroll County Maryland. After enlisting as a Private, in the US Army on July 3rd, 1942, he soon found himself traveling by ship, to report to Ebrington Barracks, located in Derry, Northern Ireland. My father earned the rank of Sergeant and also fought in the Battle of the Bulge, one of the largest battles the US Army ever fought. He fell in love with not only my mother, but her family, uncles, the Irish people and the beautiful green countryside. He was sent to Holland for a short time, where he became fascinated with their windmills.

In 1984, Daddy built a windmill in my family’s back yard with colorful tulips enveloping his creation. His work of art was photographed and featured in the Carroll County Times newspaper, and in later years featured in the local “back in history of our town” paper section. 

My father, a tall, quiet man, worked hard all his life. He was a stone mason by trade and loved surprising my Mum by making wooden furniture.  His last project is that of an eight-foot-tall grandfather clock made out of cherry wood; at the bottom of the base, he engraved my Mum’s name, Evelyn, into a hand-carved shamrock. My parents continued to attend and enjoy dances at the local VFW for many years until their health worsened. My Daddy never spoke of the war. His family said he had changed when he came back to the states. He was wounded during the war and carried shrapnel in parts of his body.

Mum said my Daddy had seen too much, which haunted him until he died. He named his first-born son, (my brother), Robert, after his best friend who was killed in the war. My father only spoke of my Mum’s family, the fun he had with her uncles, and of the sincerity and hospitality he was given. Unfortunately, my father never returned to Ireland, but enjoyed working at home and in his community. One item he brought back with him from the war was a painting which hung in our family basement. Mum told us it was given to my father as a gift from a prisoner of war, in exchange for cigarettes my Daddy had given the man. 

Daddy’s love for his wife and children were his life. Sadly, he died on November 18th, 1986 from “old wounds” from the war. My father was happy spending time with Mum’s family in Ireland, and I sometimes wonder how their lives would have been if my Daddy had decided to live there.

A year after the birth of her first child, Mum was proud to pass her test and receive her US citizen papers on November 25th, 1949. She stood in front of a judge at the Circuit Court here in Westminster, Carroll County Maryland. Below is a copy of the handwritten letter she read to witnesses after receiving her papers. I truly believe she learned more about the history of this country from doing her own research, than I actually did from school. Her words brought tears to my eyes as I read the following, I’d like to share a few of her sentences that touched my heart:

“Freedom and What it Means. What a wonderful word, Freedom, do you know what it means?  We here in America can’t possibly know its meaning. Just think of the men and woman, yes and even children, who risk their lives each day for one little glimpse of freedom. Something we all take for granted. We here in America are free to worship, have freedom of speech, and have the right to vote, for whom we want in office. Have you ever stopped to think of the men who died for this great country of ours, and also the men who risk their lives each day to keep us free. Let us use the privilege we’ve been blessed with and pray for peace and a better world to live in for all mankind. And remember our pledge, one nation, under God with Liberty and justice for all.” She also wrote a prayer below that for the ending.

Mum was a goodhearted person who did not have an easy life. She was only able to return to her beloved Ireland when her own Mother was sick and passed away. Mum was always homesick, (especially during the holidays), but refused to leave her children. She was thrilled when her sister Pat and niece Yvonne came to the states to visit several times. I remember how heartbroken she was when they left to head home, as she somehow knew this would be the last time she’d ever see her sister again. Mum always said she felt fortunate, as she had two countries to cherish. She carried the memories of her family and homeland in her heart until she passed from heart disease and kidney failure on November 28th, 1994. Her love of God, of her husband, her children and grandchildren are what kept my mother going.

During my beloved Mum’s short life on this earth, her warm personality, compassion, and kindness touched the lives of many. She may be gone from this world, but her legacy and spirit lives on forever.

A final thought: Every year until my Mum died, we watched the famous Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne in one of our favorite movies, The Quiet Man. My parents enjoyed these actors, as did I. Knowing the lovely actress was born in Dublin, a little over four years earlier than Mum, I always imagined what a wonderful thing it would have been if they had met. I never did mention this to my Mum. I know it wasn’t meant to be, but I sometimes think, if only those four could have met, I’m sure they would have been great friends. Believing people would consider me foolish, I never voiced these thoughts, but the older I’ve become, the more I’ve found life’s too short not to share loving memories of my parents, which always help to brighten my day. I hope this brightens yours.

For Patty’s piece on her mother at the Northern Ireland War Memorial, visit their website at:

A talented storyteller, artist, and craftswoman, Patty inherited her love of all things Celtic from her beloved Mum.  For more on Patty, visit her Amazon Author Page:

Her website at:

At Facebook

Thank you for stopping by. Please leave Patty a comment.


I Love the Dark Prince – It’s his Birthday!!!

Pink Fuzzy Slippers Authors

Today, May 29, 1630, Charles Stuart was born at Saint James Palace in London, United Kingdom.  His father was Charles I and his mother Henrietta Maria of France.  As their eldest surviving child, he was Prince of Wales and due to become King. He was a very large baby and due to his mother’s Medici blood very dark, causing him to be called the Black Boy as a child. He was also a taller man than most of that time. He was an intelligent and serious boy that his mother joked she sometimes felt he was far older and wiser than she. Below is Charles’ Coat of Arms as Prince of Wales.

Coat of Arms of the Stuart Princes of Wales (1610-1688).svgAs Prince of Wales, he was destined for the throne, but  forces were already in play that would delay that destiny for some time.

The court masques were the most splendid of the occasions on which Prince Charles…

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This May in the Shenandoah Valley

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April (May) day.
~Robert Frost

(Image from a past spring of my Abraham Darby rose, and below of my Bathsheba climbing rose taken last spring. Both are from David Austin)

May is a  balmy, blissful, sometimes treacherous month.  This May has been stressful on various fronts. I sometimes feel as if I’m clinging to a wind-tossed bough. Why the heck did they rock that poor baby in the tree tops, anyway? Crazy nursery rhyme.

Cold winds blasted my darling buds and frost struck not once but three times, after early spring warmth had lured everything out. My roses suffered. I even had iris buds freeze for the first time and the peonies were knocked back or out. Asiatic lilies froze beneath their covers… Weather can be sinister, and yes, I take it personally.

Despite a perilous spring, abundant beauty cloaks our green valley and my beloved garden is rebounding–including the roses. I’ve mulched them with rich wormy compost, added organic rose fertilizer, and I’m using Garden Sentinel, a new biofungicide/bacteriacide spray from Gardens Alive, an organic company. Its based on a naturally occurring bacteria and is fighting the black spot that struck after frost damaged their leaves. I also use liquid kelp to give them a boost. If the Japanese beetles arrive again in a plague of Biblical proportions, there are organic products for that too. Mostly I do hand-to-hand combat.

On the family front, May hit hard when our oldest daughter Alison, in her late 30’s, was stricken with a blockage in her colon and underwent emergency surgery. She went from not feeling well to being in severe pain in a matter hours. Thank God she had a highly skilled surgeon who got her through the surgery and successfully removed the mass. However, pathology reports said the tumor was cancerous and it had spread to one of the several dozen lymph nodes the doctor also removed, so she will have to undergo chemotherapy this summer. He assures us that chemo has come a long way in recent years and he’s confident she will make a full recovery. We pray so with all our hearts. If you have an encouraging cancer survivor story to share please do. We’ve lost too many dear friends and family to this monster.

Of course, we’ve still got Covid to hide from. Virginia is among the worst states for it, but we have a new C-word to worry us. I’m thankful for modern medicine. This is scary.

I’m also open to good rose growing suggestions.

And God bless us everyone.


Out My Kitchen Window

How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence. ~Benjamin Disraeli

Spring arrived in the Shenandoah Valley with balmy mildness in mid March and carried into early April. Glory days. Roses and other beloved perennials responded to the unseasonable warmth by leafing out–too soon. Raw wind blasted the vulnerable plants as I battled to cover them with blankets. Tender leaves suffered from hard frost. Sigh. On the brighter side, early vegetables escaped and the roses, delphinium, foxglove…are growing out.

Image of the hills and mountains behind our farm taken from the kitchen window on April 27th.

Virginia is headed into the third month of the quarantine, so heaven knows I’ve had ample time for garden projects. I’ve expanded my memorial garden and enclosed the addition with a low stone wall and wiggly Piggly fence, laboring over them for days. The whimsical fence is made from lengths of wood, including the special sticks Dad had saved to carve into canes, far more than he completed. I incorporated a few he’d worked on.

Other wood I gleaned from our farm, my folk’s place, and daughter Alison’s field above the creek, plus I repurposed objects and old metal. Everything is carefully chosen. Dad would heartily approve as he believed in recycling and making things yourself from materials at hand. I’ve also gathered worms and composted manure from the farm and added wheel barrow loads to my garden and beds.

(Wiggly Piggly garden fence with water feature made from an old metal tub. I added the solar fountain. Bunny statue below by my stone wall. Only the bunny wasn’t repurposed, and is from  And yes, I own stock in the company. 🙂

Garden savvy folk probably know this, but seeds from online catalogues are selling out like mad. I’m a seed addict and have a large box filled with packs. Even so, I need to restock a few varieties and was challenged this morning in my efforts. Like many others, it seems, I’m choosing heirloom kinds that produce savable seed. These are especially sought after. I’m also avoiding local nurseries this year and starting many vegetables, herbs, and flowers on my sunspace.  So far, they’re sprouting well.

Image below of my spinach patch we’ve harvested from for weeks. I sowed the seed last fall and covered the patch over the winter, added compost when I uncovered it. The spinach has thrived, as has the asparagus pictured below. It’s been here decades. And seedlings on the sunporch below that.

In these uncertain times, people are putting in gardens more than ever. If you have any interest, best hop to it and get your seeds while there are any left. The garden world, like many others, has run mad. Seed and plant companies are sending out emails saying they’ve never seen anything like the deluge they’ve come under. Some have had to shut down, others are sold out and or experiencing shipping delays. Oddly enough, you’re more likely to find a rose bush for sale online than beet seeds. Who the heck knew this was coming?

Not me.

The last of my tulips. These beauties are in a sheltered spot and have bloomed for weeks. My new favorites.

Onward ho and good luck with all your gardening endeavors. I’m in hustle mode before the heat settles in, planting and mulching like crazy.

Oh, and baby chicks are sold out. Backyard chickens have taken off.  I’m toying with getting an incubator and eggs, or ducklings…

Daffodil Season

I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden. ~Ruth Stout

Daffodils are such happy flowers. I can’t imagine anyone not liking them. They’re easy to grow and mix in beautifully with crocus, hyacinths, and other early blooms. Daffodils have always been on the farm. My mother-in-law had them, and the families who lived here before her. I’ve divided old clumps, spread them around, and planted new varieties over the years. The waving yellow and white blooms are a spirit lifting sight. When I’m outside working among the flowers, I feel more peaceful and not as freaked out about the pandemic. Like countless others, I’m at home for the duration and especially grateful for the garden. Having an early spring in the valley is a boon. I wish I could share the beauty with everyone. This is the best I can do.

Spring forever appears
the soothing music part
of lyrics unspoken.
It thaws the frozen fears,
mends the wounded heart
that Winter has broken.
~Aarno Davidson

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. ~Henry Van Dyke

The sun has come out… and the air is vivid with spring light. ~Byron Caldwell Smith, letter to Kate Stephens

A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King.
~Emily Dickinson

Winter sprouts springtime wings and flies off into the budding year. ~Terri Guillemets

Daffodils, so bright and yellow,
Hyacinths of varied hues,
As they nod their heads, in gladness,
Telling us they bring good news…
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “Springtime” (1940s)

I sure hope spring brings good news to us all