Category Archives: Gardening in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

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 @ Amazon.com. (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 @ Amazon.com. (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: https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6/

See you next year!

My June Garden in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia


June is the Garden of Eden time here, while the plants are still fresh and new and the Japanese beetles haven’t yet arrived. Dewy mornings filled with glowing flowers and bird song are a little piece of heaven. Our rich green valley reminds me of the Shire with the hobbits, especially in June. Loveliness surrounds us. Then as summer advances and the heat, usually drought, and bad bugs settle in gardening is less idyllic. Although, some summers are much kinder than others. This one will be glorious.

(Shirley poppies and larkspur)

Pollinators are all over the garden. After unusually heavy rain for days the sun has finally reappeared. Bees and butterflies love forget-me-nots. These are the Chinese variety below.

“The garden is a love song, a duet between a human being and Mother Nature.” ~Jeff Cox

“It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not.” ~W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman, Garden Rubbish, 1936

The first coneflower in bloom. Echinacea.

“You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.” ~Author Unknown

“I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I worked in the garden.” ~John Erskine


The breadseed poppy is beginning to bloom. Papaver somniferum.

“In my garden I spend my days; in my library I spend my nights. My interests are divided between my geraniums and my books. With the flower I am in the present; with the book I am in the past.” ~Alexander Smith, “Books and Gardens,” Dreamthorp: A Book of Essays Written in the Country, 1863

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” ~Cicero



Beautiful rose-red buckwheat blooming in the garden above, covered with pollinators. White coriander is flowering beside the barley.

“Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps;
Perennial pleasures plants, and wholesome harvest reaps.”
~A. Bronson Alcott, “The Garden,” Tablets, 1868

Children also inhabit my garden. These are three of my creative grandkids and this is some of what becomes of my Amazon boxes. Cardboard weapons and protective gear for wars against Orks and other great dangers. They even made a crossbow.

Imagination blooms in the garden.

I think on the latest book I’m writing while I’m weeding, and develop the plots. Sometimes, I just ‘am’ while I muse with the earth. The garden is a good place to ‘be’.

For more on me, visit my Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6

Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke


I’ve been so engrossed in my gardening, I nearly forgot it was Earth Day. Some images and quotes below to mark the day.

(My front garden in April. Virginia bluebells in the foreground. My dear grandmother gave me a start of these decades ago and they have thrived.)

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. ~Margaret Atwood, “Unearthing Suite,” 1983  (I’ve certainly been covered in dirt lately)

I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden. ~Ruth Stout (I love this quote and greatly admire the wonderful Ruth Stout and her gardening wisdom.)

(Most mornings I wake up to geese in my yard and garden. How about you?)

In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. ~Mark Twain (Yep. And this spring has been extra wacky)

‘Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.’ ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke

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

(Another shot of the bluebells and tulips)

April is a promise that May is bound to keep. ~Hal Borlan

Every April, God rewrites the Book of Genesis. ~Author Unknown (I know what he means, new life and all that. Like the valley is recreated each spring)

Exciting spring smells waft through wide open windows… ~David J. Beard (1947–2016), tweet, 2009 March 7th

The window is open and a warm, delicious little breeze comes wandering in. It smells of magnolias and dogwood and it whispers in our ears enticing little stories of gurgling brooks and cool woods. Yes, we have got spring fever and got it bad. ~Country Life, June 1922 (Me, too)

(This deep purple lilac has been on the farm since long before my time. Does anyone not like lilacs? I love them.)

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
~Robert Frost (I do, indeed)
The sun has come out… and the air is vivid with spring light. ~Byron Caldwell Smith, letter to Kate Stephens

…the sweet wildflower breath of spring… ~Terri Guillemets (I have planted oodles of wildflower seeds. Pics to come.)

(Puffy flowering pussy willow)

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything. ~William Shakespeare

It’s spring! Farewell
To chills and colds!
The blushing, girlish
World unfolds
Each flower, leaf
And blade of sod—
Small letters sent
To her from God.
~John Updike, “April,” A Child’s Calendar, 1965

(My front garden in April. Note the much used wheelbarrow in back)

Spring: the music of open windows. ~Terri Guillemets

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

The front door to springtime is a photographer’s best friend. ~Terri Guillemets, “Cephalophyllum,” 2007 (True)

(My back garden with cherry blossoms, herbs, flowers…preparing to bloom)

Spring in verses
Verses in spring.
~Terri Guillemets

The Blizzard Wedding


As some of you, possibly the entire country, are aware, last weekend saw the biggest snowstorm to strike the East in many years.  We haven’t seen that much snow in the Shenandoah Valley since the 1990’s.

The heaviest snow fell on Saturday, my younger sister’s wedding day.  Major yikes!  Multiple phone calls to everyone and their brother and we had no solutions except to wait it out.  Yes, my farmer hubby has a snow blower he attached to his mighty tractor, but it could only do so much with the white stuff coming down at an inch per hour.  No snow plows even attempted our country back roads until later that evening after the blizzard slowed.

Then joy!  Sunday the snow fizzled out and the sun shone brightly on all that glistening white.  The wedding was on for anyone who could make it to the church in town.  Mostly those of us with four wheel drive.
The church is a beautiful old remodeled plantation home.

Handicapped parking was nonexistent.

Front yard of the church.

Lovely scenic setting.  Very romantic.


Hubby, Dennis, and me. Attire for blizzard weddings is informal, although note the necklace I added to my turtleneck.

My sister, Catherine, and darling nieces.  This is her second marriage.  Some of you may remember that they lived on the farm with my husband and me for a year and a half. 🙂
The happy couple.  Catherine and Andy.  He’s a true hero and one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. My husband is another.  ‘God bless us everyone!’

Warble Me A Song~Thought for the Day



Warble me a song of soft pink roses and lush leafed out trees stirring gently in the morning breeze. This is what I see out my window.

Tend the Earth


Green-gold light slants into the walled garden in the back of the house, my secret place. Time stops here as I kneel beside the heady mix of herbs…silvery sage, lavender-flowered nepeta, and minty bergamot. The red blossoms that will follow are irresistible to hummers. Pungent Russian sage awaits the blue flowers that envelope it later this summer.

Unaware of my silent presence, a rust-capped sparrow rustles beneath the wild privet, planted by his kind, and the bittersweet vine…its white flowers lemony sweet when they appear later in spring. He darts past the peach tree in the center of this verdant space to scavenge sunflower seeds from under the feeder that hangs in the sour cherry tree. A towering crabapple that my great Uncle Houston warned me would get far too large has fulfilled his prediction and presses against the back of the house. But its shady branches filter the hot western sun from the kitchen and are glorious beyond words when dripping with a wealth of crimson blossoms. A profusion of flowers, more than is sane or possible, crowd along the garden wall, fill the island around and under the peach, and creep or swarm their way into the rock-strewn path.

Soft light touches glistening white iris, spires of lavender dame’s rocket and regal lupines. Nodding columbines meld together like kindred spirits in shades of pink, rose and yellow. Dainty sprays of pink coral bells float above a cloud of blue forget-me-nots and filmy love-in-a-mist. Bright yellow globe amaranth flowers intersperse almost everything, all rioting together in happy abandon.

More herbs mingle with the flowers in every bed I touch and the vegetable garden: thyme, sweet marjoram, lavender, dill, basil, parsley, and with them their rich link to the past. Ancient Romans, Greeks, and my ancestors from the British Isles knew many of these same plants as they are today and cherished their varied uses. When I see, touch, smell, or taste herbs of antiquity, I am experiencing what countless generations have before me.

My job? To tend this bit of earth, but mostly to savor and learn.