Category Archives: heirloom flowers

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


Oh, yes. I know. April in the Shenandoah Valley is up and down and all around. Some days are heavenly blue and balmy. I ache to capture the beauty, and can’t bear to come inside from the garden.

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Daughter Elise brings her camera over, but even her talent cannot totally convey the beauty. A wash of rich green spreads from the yard down across the meadow. Tender new leaves flushed with rose blend in with the many shades of green in the woods on the hills behind our farm. Daffodils, tulips, Virginia bluebells, lilac, pears, bridal veil spirea…beloved blossoms return as old friends to color the trees and flower beds. Wild flowers star the roadside and the creek bank. A wonderland. On those days, we are like ‘The Shire’.

spring flowers in the Shenandoah Valley

Other days are cold, gray, and windy–as if the Norsemen are coming in their dragon-headed ships. Or the furious wind fairies are gathering to attack, as our resident fairy expert, my niece Cailin, would warn. Soft rains are gentle and sooth the earth. Animals, plants, and people hunker down on the chill-you-to-the bone blasting kind of days. Spring is ‘right mixy’ to quote a local country woman.

Beauty of Apeldoorn tulips
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

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

The front door to springtime is a photographer’s best friend. ~Terri Guillemets

_MG_8464_1 (1)       (Elise made an arrangement of daffodils)

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

A wizard must have passed this way
Since—was it only yesterday?
arrangement of violets in an old lavender bottleThen all was bare, and now, behold,
A hundred cups of living gold!
~Emma C. Dowd, “Daffodil and Crocus,” in Country Life in America: A Magazine for the Home-maker, the Vacation-seeker, the Gardener, the Farmer, the Nature-teacher, the Naturalist, April 1902

(Elise made an arrangement of violets in an old bottle we found on the farm)

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

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(An arrangement in our kitchen window by Elise. All images by Elise)

Spring: the music of open windows. ~Terri Guillemets

***Many of our flowers are heirlooms.

Autumn Harvest


A cold autumn wind blew as my younger daughter, Elise, and I scurried about the garden in the last of the light to gather in our treasures. She heaped great orange pumpkins into the wheelbarrow and picked the rest of her pink and blue Indian corn. Beams of sun touched the crimson cockscomb flowers just coming into full bloom, an antiquated variety that I seeded late and coaxed through our wet summer.

The vibrant color of the plumes stood out against the grayish black clouds like a king’s velvet robes. This wealth will quickly dwindle if the temperatures dip too low tonight. The weather is quite cool here today. Forecasters are calling for the chance of frost tonight, but only if the gray blanket covering the sky clears and bright cold stars come out. Then maybe Jack Frost’s chill breath will silver the hoary earth.

I must get myself to the garden and pick the last of the orange persimmon tomatoes–truly the most luscious variety in the world–and the heirloom lima beans, called Christmas limas. These beans are mottled a lovely wine color and very tasty. Perhaps I can get our dog, Mia, to help me. But I doubt it. She takes no interest in vacuuming or dusting either, just wants to know when its time to eat.

I have this wild hope in the back of my mind that maybe I will wake up one day and find the house ordered and gleaming, all put to rights while I slept. I suspect this delusion comes from my having read The Elves and the Shoemaker too often, and other fairy tales. I have also seen too many Disney movies.