Month: May 2014


It started with the birds chirping and chattering excitedly but I couldn’t quite understand them. Then the news was taken up by the wind as it whistled through the trees. The butterfly, newly emerged, caught the gist of the message and went off to tell the grasshopper who told the spider. The spider didn’t tell anyone, having other things to take care of but the flies and bees overheard and spread the word. As I walked to the studio that morning I finally realized what they were all saying…the ants had done their job and created an explosion in the garden. A riot of odiferous pink flowers bowed to greet me and nodded in approval of the day. The Siberian Iris looked on in adoration. The Clematis, torn asunder by the freezing temperatures cried silently as it remembered past years of glory and perfume.

nodding in approval
nodding in approval
line of pink
line of pink
can ants smell?
can ants smell?

92 trees

A bunch of men

showed up here


and planted

92 trees

at the bottom of the hill.

I won’t be around

in 30 years

to see them grow

to their full



I must use

my imagination

to envision

a protected stream bed,

houses and food for birds,

and more oxygen

in the atmosphere.

But for now,

I can watch them grow

a little more

each year.

planting 92 trees
planting 92 trees
trees, mulch and protective tubes.
trees, mulch and protective tubes.

I don’t often have a reason to actually thank elected officials these days. So it is a nice feeling to be able to send my thanks to Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and the Carroll County Bureau of Resource Management. The governor has a very clearly stated group of social and environmental goals and is pretty honest about how much has been accomplished. Carroll County is not known for having a liberal bent, in fact, quite the opposite is true. However, the Bureau jumped on the state’s initiative and is planting hundreds of trees along waterways in our county. It was a pleasure to work with them. All I had to do was say yes to having the trees planted and pick out which ones I wanted. The county takes care of the planting and yearly maintenance for three years at no cost to me. What a no-brainer!!! I am not the only one who has benefitted, a friend of mine also has a bunch of little trees along her rapidly expanding stream. Her erosion is ten times worse than mine and she is hoping that this will slow it down somewhat.

I will enjoy being the guardian of these trees…hopefully the deer will leave them alone.




On a day when

much is perfect,

a closer look

at the garden



not easily seen from a distance.

One could argue that these

holey (holy?) leaves and

dead branches

are perfect

and one would not be far off.

For the invisible world,

the one we don’t pay attention to,

has either caused

or benefited from

these moments of


and death.

And who am I to judge that

their need to survive is


than my need for

visual perfection.

And I am taught,

once again,

that visual perfection

resides in


holey leaf
holey leaf

My pyracantha was seriously affected by the bitter cold. Some of it has survived but I am loathe to clip it down to the green until all creatures have stopped finding a use for it as is.

spider using everything around to anchor it's web
spider using everything around to anchor it’s web
webs in the pyracantha
webs in the pyracantha
more webs
more webs
wrapped around
wrapped around


The mushroom

is camouflaged

under a layer of

last year’s



iris leaves

and only comes to light

when the gardener

starts the


spring cleaning

in order


turn brown




all the colors in between.


a fine mess

-Look at my garden, I said. I couldn’t help but keep the smugness and pride out of my voice.

-It’s beautiful, he said. You must have worked very hard this spring, despite the cold weather.

-I did! Here, let me show you what’s new.

-Okay, he said.

-First of all, the kitchen porch garden is finally looking put together again, which only took two years from when the construction dudes destroyed it to add on to the porch.

-I remember! he exclaimed. That was such a big deal. It looks great now! Even the bird bath looks good. And I love love love the little owl hiding under the…what is that?

-It’s actually a huechera or coral bell…I love finding new varieties. And the birdbath, which is really a bug bath, got a shiny new paint job this year!

porch garden
porch garden

-Now around the side of the house…

-Wait, he said, why is this tree half bare?


-I think it’s because of the harsh winter. This redbud seems to be re-leafing very slowly. I’m hoping that it eventually finishes by fall! Now, as I was saying, around the house, the patio garden is finally all coming together. I moved some things from in front of the house to fill in some of the bare spots and now it looks like a real garden.

patio garden
patio garden

-What’s the vine that looks like it is taking over some of the bushes?  he asked.

-Ugh, I said, that is bindweed. I’m not sure where it came from but I have it in a few places and I wish I didn’t. I’ll send you a link so you can read about it.


-Next on the tour is my shade garden. Now remember, this is still a work in process so don’t expect much yet. There are, however, a few areas that are really starting to come together.

-Wow, he said, is that an Oak Leaf Hydrangea?

-Yup, isn’t it beautiful? And the hostas, astilbe and other shade plants seem to be thriving this year. Ignore the weeds, that’s something I still have to get to.

oak leaf hydrangea
oak leaf hydrangea
shade garden
shade garden

-And finally, my pièce de résistance…the goose girl garden. She went in last October and I didn’t have time to really fill in the bare spots. I hope you like it.

-Oh, I do very much. She seems so tranquil and happy in that setting. It looks like some of the plants in the back got hit by the winter as well.

-Yes, but I think those Laurels will look beautiful in another month or so. They had a double shock, being transplanted in the fall and then the long freeze. They are already starting to get new leaves. And eventually they will block the view of the driveway.

Goose Girl garden
Goose Girl garden
goose girl
goose girl

-So, he said, the curb appeal of your house is awesome…what’s next on the list?

-Oh. I wish you hadn’t asked. I have one more garden but it is a complete disaster area as it took me this long to plant, weed and mulch around the house and I had no time to work on it.

-Oh do show…I want to see it.

-Sigh. Okay. But remember, it needs a lot of work. This is my barn garden, started from scratch and full of things that like to take over. It needs an enormous overhaul…weeding, replanting etc.

And before I could ask if he wanted to help, he remembered a Very Important Appointment that he had to get to and disappeared so quickly I barely had a chance to say goodbye. I guess he liked looking at gardens more than digging in them. Weird.

disaster area
disaster area
lots of work
lots of work
what path?
what path?



Two trees,

neighbors for years,

different personalities,

different fears.


tall, resolute

and green all year round.

Wearing the kind of green that

brooks no argument.

The other,

shorter, sturdy

and showing its

bright green coat

for exactly

half a year,

fickle in its adornment.

Side by side,

one notices

the differences

and delights in them both.

pine and oak
pine and oak

monarch butterfly

I know

you are expecting

a picture

of an

orange winged creature.

But instead

I will show you

the home for its


The mighty milkweed,

home and food

for monarch caterpillars

has been planted

by my

little stream today.


Long live the monarch!

a new home
a new home


Note: I am hoping this is the first two of many new milkweed that will be growing here over the next few years. I am excited that there is something, albeit a small something, that I can do to help the monarchs. They have given me so much pleasure over the years and I feel like I want to help them in any way I can. I hope it is not too late.

links for more info on the butterflies and the difficulties of their loss of habitat: