Tag Archives: Seed

Seeds, Faith, and Spring–Beth Trissel


yellowtulips“I believe that gardens themselves are very healing. To be surrounded by the exquisite beauty of nature is to experience a healing of the soul.” — Author unknown

It’s gorgeous in the Shenandoah Valley now, and today a soft April shower is making everything even that much greener. The jonquils are in bloom and tulips just beginning to flower with the promise of many more buds. I’ve ordered several new David Austin roses to add to the roses that survived the winter (mostly Austin varieties so I’m sticking with those from now on), and the greenhouse is filled with seedlings for the vegetable, herb, and flower gardens. What wealth, if you count your riches in the bounties of the earth, and I do. I particularly love seeds. Each one holds such potential.

old seed packetsThere is much symbolism in seeds. Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” And mustard seeds are tiny. I ought to be able to manage that much faith…

Daughter Elise and I save seed, and get carried away ordering more, but use them all sooner or later. And we share. A  box of filled with ziplock bags laden with various kinds of seeds (I endeavored to  organize them into categories) sits under my coffee table by the couch as I write. That way, I can sort through them at any time, know what I have and need. And I just like having them nearby. The table itself is laden with gardening and herbal   books and seed catalogues…I’m seeing a pattern here.

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

“Almost any garden, if you see it at just the right moment, can be confused with paradise.” — Henry Mitchell

“Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God.” — Thomas Jefferson

sprouting seed“Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden.”  ~Robert Brault

“The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.”
~Dorothy Frances Gurney, “Garden Thoughts”

 

“The spring has sprung, the grass is rizz. I wonder where them birdies is?” ~A.A. Milne


Tribute to Spring

Actually, the birds are singing away outside my door, but I like the quote and that’s how it goes.To declare the Shenandoah Valley in the full bloom of spring is a tad premature, but we are poised to burst forth. The early plants already are. And, like the happy kitty above, I say bring it on! This has seemed an exceedingly long and tiresome winter.

The report on the seeds I’ve started in my little greenhouse is that many of them are coming up, though not all. It’s said that parsley has to go to the devil and back again seven times (and he keeps some for himself) before those seedlings emerge. And I have more seeds I need to start. But I will. I’m using the large yogurt containers to begin the seeds and will transplant them into the small yogurt containers and whatever else I can find. I’m recycling, and we’re eating a lot of yogurt these days, also begging the containers from friends and family. If the cost of shipping were cheaper I’d ask you to mail me yours. 🙂
For The Love of Fur Babies--Beth TrisselAs to my gardens, before the snow that hit on Sunday and into Monday, I was able to work outdoors and pull a whole wheelbarrow full of overwintering weeds. Yes, they always manage to survive the harshest weather. I’m taking stock of what else made it through and considering which plants didn’t and should be replaced or grow something different in that spot. I am expanding my herbs, so look for more fragrance this year.
For those of you who love gardening and country life, I recommend my nonfiction book, Shenandoah Watercolors, was 2.99, now only .99 at Amazon. The book is also available in print with beautiful pics of the valley and mountains taken by my talented family. And Happy spring!

 

A Perfect Summer’s Day In The Garden


“It’s the longest day of the year, one to bottle and take out when November is come and the day ends at 5:00. I will tip the bottle over and pour liquid sunlight all over the gray autumnal shadows as they seep over the hills and into the meadow…the scents too, new mown hay, lavender, attar of roses, and the gleeful chatter of birds.” ~ Beth Trissel, from my nonfiction book,  Shenandoah Watercolors

While the light was pure this morning, my talented art major daughter took some pictures of the garden.  This is of our double-flowered apricot hollyhocks.

“This morning glows like a green-gold sun drop and every blade of grass glistens in the light. The newly washed spires of larkspur stand tall to greet the day. Fellows on every side, yellow lilies, bright-eyed pansies, lavender candytuft, crimson yarrow, and white asters all sit up straighter as if answering an unspoken summons and shine. Is it magic or June in the Valley? Is there a difference? ” ~ Shenandoah Watercolors

“Several plants reign supreme because of Elise. ‘Magic flowers,’ yellow evening primrose, have taken over a generous quadrant at the edge of the vegetable garden. She rushes me out at twilight to view the wonder as they pop open, charged with fragrance. Hummingbird moths swoop in like little fairies to feed on the blossoms.

She doesn’t like the bats that also come. I love the nighthawks. Dill is also taking over because black swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs on its leaves and hatch into little caterpillars which she watches closely, puts some into jars and feeds until they make a chrysalis, then one day they emerge with wet crumpled wings and she releases them to the sky.

I feel a bit like those uncertain butterflies, taking those first tentative flights. “~ Shenandoah Watercolors

“The best place to seek God is in a garden.  You can dig for him there.”  ~George Bernard Shaw

“Brilliant yellow gold finches streaked across the garden today and landed on the fence beside the hollyhocks. I love these birds, one of my absolute favorites. In midsummer, when the sunflowers bloom, they gather in chattering clusters to feed on the seeds. Their wings flash in the sun as they suspend on flower heads and peck away, and meticulously open each seed. I’ve never heard such euphoric birds, continually exclaiming over their finds. They have a lot to say and do not keep secrets well.

If I were to confide in birds, it would not be them, or to crows, loudly proclaiming the latest gossip. Warblers are fairy creatures, but not silent fairies. Possibly to wolves––no. They howl. Frogs croak and gribbit. Turtles are quiet. Tell all to turtles, then. Box or painted ones. Snappers are treacherous and would as soon bite you as listen.” ~ Shenandoah Watercolors

“The larkspur is in full bloom, a sea of blue and pink spires rise above a mass of poppies. Delphinium is a more glorious shade of blue but I lost so many blooms to gusting winds and winter cold that I finally became discouraged with cultivating those beauties. And so I content myself with larkspur, simpler but a survivor as are so many of the old heirloom flowers. Someday I will be an heirloom. Maybe I already am. But there are not many people in this world like me as there are seedlings of larkspur. ” ~Shenandoah Watercolors

*Note, I recently took the plunge and planted more delphinium seedlings, so we shall see.  One must try and nurture that which we love.

“I’ve enough spare flowers to fill a meadow and make butterflies and bees giddy with delight, but who would tend them? Only the most ‘satisfactory’ plants could compete with the grass and weeds that would choke them out. How do wild flowers survive? Queen Ann’s lace, tiny red poppies, and blue chicory run free along our unruly roadsides. Orange day lilies too, but they are tough with gnarly roots.”~Shenandoah Watercolors 

“A sea of herbs and flowers continually change with the season. Some perennials are lost each winter and new ones are planted by Elise and me, others by the birds. I’ve a wild aster that blooms in late spring, covered with small white flowers. It’s very pretty really, although hard to contain. I like white flowers. They glow at dusk while all else fades. ” ~Shenandoah Watercolors

“Earth laughs in flowers.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I’m particularly drawn to the heirloom varieties and the English cottage garden look. Even with these fairly trouble free plants it still takes considerable effort to fight the weeds and curtail the extremely aggressive flowers.

Years ago, I met a gardener who referred to the varieties that take over the garden on their march to the sea as ‘highly successful.’  So are weeds. The beds I tend could never be called orderly and can best be described as a happy confusion of plants. And we’ve nothing to sit on outside, so one simply strolls about and then comes back indoors. And one works one’s tail off.”~ Shenandoah Watercolors

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

*Roman Chamomile and Evening Primrose

Shenandoah Watercolors is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble~

Spring Rites


Spring can be very wintry here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, with snow lying on the ground sometimes until Easter and a chill wind blowing from the North.  But the sun shines more brightly, when it shines, and the barnyard geese get fussy, a sure harbinger of spring.  Squawky geese are always the first sign, even before the pussy willow blooms, or whatever it is that pussy willows do. This sign of spring makes me think of other annual observances, such as my battle with cows.  In winter I give them little thought, but in spring they’re the enemy.

March is usually the first month when gardeners can get their hands into the earth and plant something, like those first rows of peas, often put in with cold fingers right before a rain.  The rains come so closely together there may only be a day or two when the soil is workable before it’s too wet again.  Veteran gardeners watch the sky and feel the earth, wrinkled pea seed in readiness, and when it’s all systems go, there’s a mad scramble for the garden as the gray clouds roll in.  I have yet to beat the clouds this year.

Along with the peas, a bit of lettuce, spinach, and radish seeds are scattered in short rows, then back to the house for a hot cup of tea and toasting of numbed extremities by the wood stove, the contentment of a spring rite observed. There’s something of a one-upmanship among country folk about who gets their peas in the earliest.  “Got your peas in yet?” is apt to be a seemingly casual conversation opener, but only for the one who has, of course.

Spring is also the time of year when I regard the cows on our farm with a deep wariness.  Inevitably, the cows will get out.  I don’t know exactly when they’ll time their visit, but their attraction for newly planted gardens and flower beds is their annual spring rite. They particularly like a newly planted garden just after an April shower, because they can really sink their hooves in and churn up the earth.   The fence my father installed around the vegetable garden has helped deter them, unless someone forgets to close the gate.  However, my flower/herb beds and borders are unprotected.  And cows enjoy a freshly re-seeded lawn, which needs doing again after their last rampage.    Cows are also fond of shrubbery.  We have a side of the house called “Cow corner” where the bushes appear to have been strangely pruned by a mad gardener.

I don’t know of any plant that doesn’t attract them except maybe thistles, which we battle in the meadow.  I once threw myself in front of a stampeding young heifer as she made her way for my newly planted raspberry bushes––bushes I was in the midst of planting when she and several others escaped from the pen my husband was cleaning.  He’d left the gate unbolted for a second––that second cows live for.  Yelling “No!” I hurled myself in her path.  He came running just in time to see me prepared to be martyred for my cause, stalwart gardener that I am.

Not so the heifer, a coward at heart, who veered at the last moment and leapt off the small wall at one end of the garden.  I later heard some discussion about the value of the raspberries compared to the cow if she’d broken her leg.  There’s no comparison in my mind, but I’m relieved to add that she didn’t and there was some concern for my safety, had I disappeared under her charge.

I’ve watched in horror as bovines of all ages have frisked their way through tender young snapdragons, newly emerging peas, and dozens of other cherished plantings.  Later in the season when the weeds get thick and the weather grows hot and dry, my enthusiasm for the garden wanes.  As does the cows.  They prefer to make their pilgrimages while the earth is fresh and new, the plants carefully chosen and special.

*Pics are of the author, Beth Trissel, daughter Elise, our farm, cows, geese, and granddog Grady

Let’s Call It Spring!


At long last, today is the first of March.  After spending much of January and most all of February sick with one thing or another, I tottered forth into the sunshine and managed to accomplish a few much-needed errands.  Now I’m whacked and feeling it’s time for a nap.  That’s what seemingly endless virus’s will do to a body.  Considering I’m not the only sufferer in the Shenandoah Valley or the country, I think most everyone except the die-hard skiing fanatics would agree that what we all need is SPRING!  A tonic to mind, body, and spirit.

To that end, I point out the snow crocus and snowdrops blooming here and there in sheltered spots of my yard and garden.    Welcome green shoots of crocus, daffodils, tulips…are pushing up through the earth most everywhere, and tomorrow the weather is to be sunny and 60 degrees.   The pussy willow is bursting forth with catkins, and fussy barnyard geese are laying eggs.   I conclude it’s early spring and much prefer that term to ‘late winter.’  Far more mood brightening.

In keeping with the season, I’m sorting through boxes stuffed with envelopes of seeds leftover from the past year or two and ordering more (we count our wealth in seeds) as well as potatoes, strawberries, culinary herbs and all things garden.   Which as far as I’m concerned equals all things good as any true gardener will agree.  I also save seed, am a big fan of  heirloom seeds, and have been known to share  so I’m not simply hording my treasure trove.

An excellent place to be for those in want of  plants is out in the garden with me on a fine spring day while I divide perennials and thin overly generous larkspur, love in a mist, and poppy seedlings…I’ll soon tire, allowing them to take over certain spots of the garden, but in the beginning I’m imbued with the determination that this year all will be in order.  I soon concede to a more wildflower look and justify many of the weeds as ‘kind of pretty.’  We definitely have a wildlife habitat here, another justification for the unkempt tangle that encroaches as the season unfolds.  But now, all is fresh, new, and filled with promise.

In my search of every more seeds on the internet I came across an interesting site with images of vintage seed packets for sale: http://www.seedart.com/flowers.html