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Archive for December, 2009

Barbara: Like most of you, I’ve been doing a lot of end-of-the-year/beginning-of-the-new year navel gazing, which I kind of hate, but can’t stop doing. I’ve been groping around for some profound, life-changing insight, some thought that can carry me into 2010 with energy and excitement, but which I have been having the hardest time generating given how unrelentingly crappy 2009 has been.

Of course there have been many moments, even days, filled with joy and gratitude, but like many others here in California and the rest of the country, I have been struggling to get by and I’ve been finding it harder and harder to keep my spirits up.

And then this morning I was in my garden and I saw this:

I have been walking by my little basket of lettuce for a few weeks now and it always brings a smile to my lips because I remember the story that led me to plant lettuce seedlings in a basket.

A few years ago my daughter visited her college friend, Holly, at her friend’s family’s home in Connecticut. There she observed a very quirky scene. Holly’s father craved summer-sweet tomatoes, but lacked sufficient sun in any one location. His solution was to plant his seedlings in a wagon and he “took his tomatoes for a walk” several times a day.

At the time I thought this was funny and just a teensy bit eccentric, but this summer when I was desperate to grow something, anything edible, I remembered this story and saw it for what it was, an elegant way to solve the seemingly insurmountable problem of not enough sunlight.

So I planted my seedlings and I’ve been walking them around the patio into the pools of sunlight that manage to sneak through the canopy of eucalyptus trees surrounding my property. And every time I do, it makes me chuckle a little thinking of Holly’s dad pulling his bright red tomato wagon around his yard.

This morning though, I realized that my basket of salad greens is more than a solution to not having enough sunlight. This little basket of greens represents one small victory over circumstances that I had been letting get the best of me. And there was my insight, a small glimmer of profundity, proof that creativity and persistence will overcome all obstacles. It might not be the Big Revelation, but it’ll get me where I need to go.

Happy New Year everybody! Mary Beth and I send our best wishes for a love- and light-filled 2010!

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The lovely quince

Mary Beth: I can write this post now because the cold weather has finally come to the Island and my husband won’t blame me for “jinxing” the unusually warm weather we’ve enjoyed recently.

Every time I spoke about how wonderful it’s been and of the flowers that are still blooming around the Island and in the gardens, he shushed me and clapped his hands overs his ears. Apparently, just speaking about the warm weather will make it disappear. I guess having to work outside makes one desperately (crazily?) grasp onto these final warm days.

I’ve really enjoyed these last few weeks, discovering new blooms and admiring how beautiful they are among the fallen leaves, in low light.

As I type this, a gale is blowing and these tough as nails beauties will be swirling away in the whipping winds. Tomorrow’s garden will be a winter garden. In the meantime, here are the miracles in my garden — the last flowers of the season. In December!

Nicotiana

Heritage Rose

Heritage Rose

One of my sweet girls in lavender

Winter rain on Heritage Rose

Winter rain on Heritage Rose

Sweet Alyssum

William Shakespeare 2000 Rose - a last promise of spring

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Mary Beth and I were talking about a comment we ran across on a Garden Rant post wherein the commenter was critical of many garden blogs that “contain too many personal anecdotes…and not a lot of useful gardening information.”  Now, in case you didn’t notice, we love our personal anecdotes. It’s one of the reasons we do this blog and that’s not likely to change anytime soon, but we also realized that we’re probably guilty of not providing enough in the way of gardening information. And if there’s anything we have in abundance, it’s gardening information, advice, tips, etc. Whatever you want to call it, between the two of us, we have about a bajillion years worth of it. So we decided to add a new element to our blog. Starting today we’re going to do a regular post (every week or two) of gardening and beekeeping tips. We hope you find them useful.

Garden Gift Tip

In keeping with the holiday season, our very first tip is about where to find a great gift for the gardener on your list. And, you probably won’t be surprised to hear this has a little story attached to it. When I was feeling very down in the dumps (and I mean loooow down) one day last spring, the UPS truck pulled up to my house. I thought that surely the driver had the wrong address, but no that package was for me. I opened it up to find the most beautiful set of green Vermont slate garden markers for my newly planted herb garden from my very best and oldest friend, Liz. Those markers‚ and the thought behind them, really lifted my spirits and they’ll do the same for whomever you give them to.

Liz and her husband make laser-etched Vermont slate garden markers (and other useful stuff). You’ll be amazed at the finely-etched details of the herbs, vegetables and perennials on the markers — really lovely.  Aside from being beautiful, the markers are very sturdy and hold up to any kind of weather. So if you’re looking for a great gift for a gardener, or anyone else on your list, Vermont Slate Images is the ticket. Check out their website.

Beekeeping Tip

This goes under the heading of “slightly weird things you probably didn’t know, but should.” Never, and we mean NEVER, go near your beehive while eating, or just after eating a banana.

It turns out that when bees detect an intruder and sting it, they release an alarm pheromone that contains a chemical that calls other bees to the defense of the hive. This same chemical is found in bananas (and pears, too). Three guesses as to what happens to you with your banana breath!

Two tips — and that’s just the beginning. Check back in a week or so for more.

And wrapping up on yet another personal note: blogging has many rewards and one of the best so far revealed itself this week. We were thrilled to receive a comment (we love comments) on our last post from Christine. She also mentioned that, by the way, she might be our cousin and, amazingly, she is!

Not to air the family laundry, but there was a bit of some people not talking to other people going on for years and years. But now, luck and good fortune have connected us once again and we couldn’t be happier. You just never know!

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