Tag Archives: spring

Every spring is the only spring — a perpetual astonishment. ~Ellis Peters


Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn. ~Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You

(Crocus and violas in the garden blooming now)

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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

The naked earth is warm with Spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun’s kiss glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze.
~Julian Grenfell

I wonder if the Daffodil
Shrinks from the touch of frost,
And when her veins grow stiff and still
She dreams that life is lost?
Ah, if she does, how sweet a thing
Her resurrection day in spring!
~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

In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. ~Mark Twain

Her fairies climb the bare, brown trees,
And set green caps on every stalk;
Her primroses peep bashfully
From borders of the garden walk,
And in the reddened maple tops
Her blackbird gossips sit and talk.
~Hannah R. Hudson, “April,” The Atlantic Monthly, April 1868

(Grecian wind flowers)

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 sweet wildflower breath of spring… ~Terri Guillemets

I hear the passing echoes of winter and feel the warming spring on my face. ~Terri Guillemets

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

The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring. ~Bern Williams

(Snowdrops blooming in the garden)

Spring Is When the Meadowlark Sings and It’s Singing


Signs of spring are everywhere on the farm. February is like an erratic March. So was January. We’ve had little real winter. Almost no snow. Our weather blows mild then cold then warm again, even balmy before the wind cuts through us once more. The geese are in hyper fussy mating/nesting mode. Don’t even try to talk to them now. Fuzzy pussy willows will soon burst into full-blown catkins. Possibly today. I’m calling it. Spring is here. I’ve got pea seed and early greens ready to plant.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
― Margaret Atwood

Early spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Meadowlark, Eastern MeadowlarkBack to the meadowlark, my goal is to ever actually see one of these elusive birds again. Theoretically, this shouldn’t be such a challenge, with our meadows and all. Once or twice, I’ve glimpsed a yellow flash and spotted the bird perched on a fence post before it flew. Mostly, they hide in the grass and skim away to another spot before I get a good look, calling all the while from various positions in the meadow.

Several years ago, daughter Elise and I were determined to track down the evasive songster and take its picture, like photographing fairies. We tenaciously followed its calls, even climbed over the fence into the neighbor’s pasture and picked our way along the little creek that flows from our pond, but never caught up with that bird, or birds. There may have been more than one taunting us. Unless I catch another rare glimpse, I must content myself with their beautiful trills. Birds like this need tall grasses and untidy hedge rows for nesting. Bear that in mind in your own yard and garden. Keeping everything trim and cultivated robs our feathered friends of habitat. It’s also a good excuse for a less than perfectly kept landscape. A little wilderness here and there is a good thing.

The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in spring“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

***Images of spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia by my mom, Pat Churchman.

I bought the image of the meadowlark. Sigh.

The hum of bees is the voice of the garden. ~Elizabeth Lawrence


“Gardening requires lots of water — most of it in the form of perspiration.” ~Lou Erickson~ This quote repeated in my mind while I weeded this afternoon. The sun came out after cold rainy days and the meadow shone like a green jewel in the glorious light. All was bright and beautiful.

blue iris and poppies

(Image taken by my mom)

“Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.” ~ And a lot of herbs, flowers, wild flowers, vegetables, and weeds.  Many of my plants were sown by the birds, or carried in by the wind. My goal is to have a garden for butterflies, bees, birds, and people to enjoy. The cats like it too.

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

warbler

I’ve spotted this little warbler in the back garden. They migrate through in the spring and fall, wish they’d stay. I purchased this image because none of us are fast enough to capture him ourselves.

In every gardener there is a child who believes in The Seed Fairy. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

No matter how many seeds we have, it’s never enough. I count my wealth in seeds and just ordered some more. Seeds are filled with promise of the magic to come. The garden is magical. I believe in seed fairies too.

“In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.” ~Abram L. Urban

The garden uplifts my spirits and is a perfect place to dream lovely dreams.

“It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought.” ~James Douglas,Down Shoe Lane

June Roses Abraham Darby

(My favorite rose, Abraham Darby, by daughter Elise)

blue phlox spring blooming

(Native blue phlox.  Image by Elise)

“Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.” ~Marcelene Cox

“It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson

“Gardens are a form of autobiography.” ~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture magazine, August/September 1993

owl-cat-in-the-garden.jpg1

(Owl Cat in the garden. Image by my hubby)

“Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.” ~Lindley Karstens, noproblemgarden.com

Salad garden.

(Salad Garden. Image by Elise)

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

“The garden is the poor man’s apothecary.” ~German Proverb

“No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden.” ~Hugh Johnson

‘No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.’


As drab February drags on, my thoughts turn to the shimmering promise of spring. Glorious days lie before me, filled with promise of the riches to come here in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, I call ‘the Shire.’

“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.” ~Ruth Stout (Me too!)

spring flowers in the Shenandoah Valley

Seeds are ordered and hoarded–I have enough for a meadow–but can’t commence in my little greenhouse until the deep freeze passes. It’s only solar heated. I don’t start anything in there before March. Cruel frosts can strike us into mid-May, even later, so no tender seedlings go into the ground until the ‘Corn Planting’ moon is past, as some Algonquin tribes referred to it. Frosts often coincide with a full moon. Outside, hardy plant seeds go in the garden as soon as it’s dry enough. Not likely before March. Many lovely heirloom flowers, and some vegetables, reseed themselves freely. As do the weeds. Hardiest of the lot.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” ~Anne Bradstreet (True, Anne, but we’d rather not.)

Farm garden with horse and buggy going by1

(Mounds of rhubarb in our garden with piles of compost and buggy going past.)

Each year, I declare THIS will be the best garden ever! I’m an optimist. Whatever comes, there will be bounty and beauty despite adversity, bugs, and blight. Daughter Elise and I are researching and rethinking which organic gardening methods and aides are best. We’re big into companion planting and expanding on that theme. Also using lots of compost. If anyone has any great ideas about battling the squash vine borer, that also attacks our beloved pumpkins, please speak up. It’s enemy number one. The hoard of squash bugs are enemy number two. We’ll be planting many more herbs and flowers in among the vegetables to attract the good bugs and repel the bad, plus trying floating row covers, and an insecticidal oil from Gardens Alive. I like their products and use various ones. I will report in and let you know how we fare with our schemes and dreams.

Spring 2015

(Snowdrops in bloom from last year. In bud now)

“Every spring is the only spring — a perpetual astonishment.” ~Ellis Peters

“I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring. Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature’s rebirth?” ~Edward Giobbi

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

Early spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

(The Shenandoah Valley–image by my mom)

“The naked earth is warm with Spring,

And with green grass and bursting trees

Leans to the sun’s kiss glorying,

And quivers in the sunny breeze.”
~Julian Grenfell

“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.” ~Mark Twain

Indeed.

(Images by Elise Trissel unless otherwise noted)

Never Give Up On Anything You Love


flowers near gardenYou probably think I’m speaking of my writing that I’ve fought like a mad dog for, but in this instance I’m referring to my beloved garden(s). After learning I rank in the top ten percent of allergy sufferers in the nation, which explained a lot and has led to 30 plus years of allergy shots (four at at time), daily meds, inhalers, etc, I can be outside much of the year, although ragweed season remains a challenge. My allergist declares I’m the only patient extremely allergic to spring who revels in it anyway. And definitely the only one who gardens as I do despite my inherent intolerance of all pollen.

hyssop in the gardenBefore making strides with my shots, allergies drove me indoors from August through late September, with bouts in between. This is actually how I ended up writing novels. I called that time ‘being under house arrest’ and gazed longingly out the windows. It occurred to me that I could focus on my love of literature, history, mystery, romance, and yes, the out of doors, in my books. My passion for herbs and herbal lore is woven throughout many of my stories, and I’ve even written an herbal. If I didn’t have allergies I’d probably still be making dried wreaths and arrangements, potpourri, raising and selling seedlings…Now, my gardening is strictly for myself and whoever else enjoys entering in. Daughter Elise is my right arm. The grandbabies take a keen interest, and those who drive past our farm enjoy seeing the garden(s) visible from the road. When allergies surge, they grow neglected, but my many hardy perennials, reseeding heirloom flowers, and herbs have a way of hanging on. And there’s always next year.

With spring around the corner, my thoughts turn, as ever, to the garden. My beautiful valley I call, ‘The Shire’, is known for being quite inhospitable to allergy sufferers, but nothing would compel me to leave.

Never give up on anything you love.

Emma and Owen in the garden1Images by Elise and hubby Dennis

Wham! It’s Spring!


shirley poppies, larkspur, coreopsis tinctoria

(Larkspur, Shirley poppies, Coreopsis tinctoria, in bed along road by Elise)

We flashed from cold nights with the threat of frost and chill winds blowing when we worked in the garden, to full-blown, everything needs to be done NOW–spring. The valley is like that. Whimsical, enchanting, maddening May. I’m torn between admiration for the wondrous beauty bursting out all over, to how the heck are we gonna get everything weeded, planted, mulched, etc. The annual gardening challenge. Even with vital help from daughter, Elise, keeping up with our many gardens is getting beyond us. She has art projects and a job. I’m supposed to be writing stories, and then there’s all the things to do to keep a household afloat and maintain contact with friends and family. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, ball games, recitals…all that stuff called life.

dill and poppies

The fact that certain body parts are complaining about the sudden rush, also has to be taken into account. Mine, not Elise’s. She’s young and in better shape. That’s why we go with the carefree wildflower meadow look as much as we do, and just beat back the worst of the weeds; those declared pretty stay.

Our flower beds are a mix of reseeding heirloom annuals, wildflowers, and perennials that come back from the root, bulbs, some rose, and of course, a lot of herbs. We love herbs, and always want more.

The vegetable garden is a beast in itself to keep up and requires much diligence. although, it doesn’t always get it. We still seem to harvest an abundance of edibles, though. And yes, it’s all organic. We use composted manure, hay, and whatever else we can get our hands on that’s lying about the farm breaking down and no longer of use for feeding cows. The beds that reseed heavily get no mulch, just tending to keep plants in some kind of bounds. I spray an occasional herbal brew on them to feed and fight fungus and some bugs, but only with stuff that doesn’t hurt the bees and butterflies.. If anyone is interested in the particulars, I’m glad to share.

(Dill and heirloom poppies above by Elise)

fuzzy sage with blue larkspur

(Sage and larkspur by Elise)

Sometimes I also receive assistance from the ten and under crowed, but there’s a limit to how much you can count on from a four and six-year-old, or even those who’ve achieved the great age of seven. By the time the grandbabies are of old enough to really enter in, will they still be interested in gardening? That remains to be seen.

The cats are not much help in the garden, but the outside ones look on while I labor. My dogs want to be with me every second, which isn’t possible for tiny Sadie Sue when it gets too hot or cold or much of anything. She peters out pretty fast, so she sits by the kitchen door or looks out the windows and protests loudly. Jilly also wants to be by my side, but will head for the hills, I fear, if not on her lead. Good old Luca can come along. And that’s the gang. I need gardening elves.

wildflowers and reseeding annuals

***Larkspur and coreopsis tinctoria by Elise

I’ve written a book about herbs, Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles. available in print and kindle at Amazon. Many of these herbs are also used today. It’s also in print at Barnes & Noble.

‘An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.’

(Images are from late last May and soon to be repeating here, more or less,)

Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life. ~S.D. Gordon


Easter Eggs Hidden in CrocusI’ve always loved Easter, a joyous season when the earth is reborn in a swell of new life washed with vibrant color, a time of spiritual and physical renewal. I can’t imagine Christ’s resurrection taking place at any other time of year. This is most fitting. As a six-year-old recently returned from an early childhood spent in Taiwan, I delighted in my first egg hunt in a neighbor’s yard filled with blooming crocus and daffodils. Tucked in the green grass and among those shining blossoms were the many-colored eggs, like hidden jewels. Magical. And chocolate rabbits. I was in awe of an American Easter.

Nostalgic Easter PhotographOf course, in those days little girls wore hats and gloves and crinolines under their Easter dresses. Yes, I was born in the 1800’s. I also received my first white Bible on Easter, which is still my favorite one. It had this new book smell and books were quite special back then because my father was an underpaid English professor and we were poor. I just liked smelling my new Bible, but did eventually read much of it. The names of my favorite Sunday School teachers are inked in the front under the section entitled Friends at Church. I must have been a real nerd not to have any children listed. Actually, I know I was.

Another early Easter memory is our family returning home from church and me climbing from the car to bury my face in a golden clump of daffodils by the back doorstep, beaded with rain. Their sweet scent said spring to me. And new life. I always imagined the tomb where Christ was buried and rose again surrounded by daffodils and crocus.

“For I remember it is Easter morn,
And life and love and peace are all new born.”  ~Alice Freeman Palmer

“Let the resurrection joy lift us from loneliness and weakness and despair to strength and beauty and happiness.”  ~Floyd W. Tomkins

“It is the hour to rend thy chains,
The blossom time of souls.”  ~Katherine Lee Bates