Tag Archives: Vita Sackville-West

A Glorious Defeat–My August Garden in the Shenandoah Valley


bright lights cosmosThe garden has gone to flowers, abuzz with bees and fluttering  butterflies. We can barely wend our way through the forest of blossoms. Corn battles to survive, potatoes are there for the digging, squash hangs on, and pumpkin vines wind and weave. I make forays to free the herbs; some are perfectly able to compete with this jungle, but not all, and those must be rescued. My salad patch needs work, and I will recover and replant it. Meanwhile, we enjoy a spectacular display. And it’s prompted me to consider giving in and growing a riot of color, and buying more of our vegetables at Farmer’s Markets.  Flowers feed the soul. Almost all the ones I grow are heirloom varieties.  Elise got some super pics. Our garden is below. Bright Lights Cosmos pictured above. Sunflowers abound.

flowers in garden and our old red barn

“Earth laughs in flowers.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I like to think a flower opens itself to outgrow its plantedness.  That it yearns to be carried away.”  ~Author Unknown

“A flower can not blossom without sunshine, and man can not live without love.”
 ~Max Muller

“For man, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive.” ~David Herbert Lawrence

black eyed Susans and Rudibeckia

*Black-eyed Susans and heirloom zinnias. Bright lights cosmos above.

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”  ~Iris Murdoch

“To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat.”  ~Beverly Nichols

black eyed Susans and Rudibeckia

“Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.”  ~John Ruskin

“Flowers really do intoxicate me.” ~Vita Sackville-West

“Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature.”  ~Gerard de Nerval

“Can we conceive what humanity would be if it did not know the flowers?”  ~Maurice Maeterlinck

heirloom cockscomb

Crimson celosia, heirloom variety

“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…” ~Susan Polis Shutz

“The flower that follows the sun does so even in cloudy days.”  ~Robert Leighton
“Flowers have spoken to me more than I can tell in written words.  They are the hieroglyphics of angels, loved by all men for the beauty of their character, though few can decipher even fragments of their meaning.”  ~Lydia M. Child

nicotiana and black eyed susans

Nicotiana, sweet scented heirloom variety

“I must have flowers, always, and always.”  ~Claude Monet

“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”  ~Claude Monet

garden in August

June in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia–Beth Trissel


*Lovely images by daughter Elise Trissel.

Abraham Darby

“A profusion of pink roses bending ragged in the rain speaks to me of all gentleness and its enduring.”  ~The Collected Later Poems of William Carlos Williams

“Can we conceive what humanity would be if it did not know the flowers?”  ~Maurice Maeterlinck “Flowers really do intoxicate me.”  ~Vita Sackville-West

“Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men or animals.  Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others again are plain, honest and upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock.”  ~Henry Ward Beecher, Star Papers: A Discourse of Flowers

wild ox eye daisies“The poet’s darling.”  ~William Wordsworth, “To the Daisy”

“The artist is the confidant of nature, flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms.  Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs towards him.”  ~Auguste Rodin

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”  ~John Muir, 1913, in L.M. Wolfe, ed., John Muir, John of the Mountains:  The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, 1938

poppies“Summer set lip to earth’s bosom bare,
And left the flushed print in a poppy there.”
~Francis Thompson, “The Poppy,” 1891

“Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.”  ~Standing Bear

“Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.”  ~Author unknown, commonly attributed to Martin Luther

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”  ~e.e. cummings

wild wood's phlox“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”  ~John Muir

“To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.” ~Jane Austen

“Great things are done when men and mountains meet.  This is not done by jostling in the street.”  ~William Blake


“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”  ~William Shakespeare

Abraham Darby Roses, Ox Eye Daisies, Shirley Poppies,  wild Phlox

April On Our Farm in the Shenandoah Valley


So far this spring is filled with remodeling our old farm-house, and gardening, when it’s not raining,  and all the small people in my life, though not as much writing as I would like.  The remodeling is at an end, for now–there’s always more to be done in future projects.

Weather wise, we’ve gone from a gradually diminishing drought to flood watches out today.  April 2011 is turning into quite a wet month.  I’m not sure what ‘normal’ is in the Shenandoah Valley, but I’d prefer less extremes.   Still, I seek for the beauty amid the imperfection and this spring is sublime.  Thought I’d share a few pics of our farm along with some favorite quotes.

“April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go.”  ~Christopher Morley,  John Mistletoe

“Hoe while it is spring, and enjoy the best anticipations.  It is not much matter if things do not turn out well.”  ~Charles Dudley Warner

“The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven –
All’s right with the world!”
~Robert Browning

“April is a promise that May is bound to keep.”  ~Hal Borland

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”  ~Iris MurdochA Fairly Honourable Defeat

“To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat. ” ~Beverly Nichols

“Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out values all the utilities of the world.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Flowers really do intoxicate me.”  ~Vita Sackville-West

“The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.”  ~Gertrude S. Wister

“Flowers have spoken to me more than I can tell in written words.  They are the hieroglyphics of angels, loved by all men for the beauty of their character, though few can decipher even fragments of their meaning.”  ~Lydia M. Child

“Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

“Cares melt when you kneel in your garden.”

“A garden is a friend you can visit any time.”

“Kiss of the sun for pardon. Song of the birds for mirth. You’re closer to God’s heart in a garden than any place else on earth.” — Dorothy Frances Gurney

“But each spring…a gardening instinct, sure as the sap rising in the trees, stirs within us. We look about and decide to tame another little bit of ground.” ~Lewis Gantt

“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.” — Henry David Thoreau

“It is a greater act of faith to plant a bulb than to plant a tree.”~Clare Leighton

“To dig one’s own spade into one’s own earth! Has life anything better to offer than this?”~Beverley Nichols