Sketching Ahead, Studying the Lines

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Italian ceramic piece that finally found her home in the garden.

My little cabbage child now greets me as I walk to my front door. She is cheerful and light—and maybe a tad bit creepy to some of you. To my mind she is just what I need now as I continue to garden while my life sorts itself out and calms to the pace I find comfortable.

If I have to wear a mask, this is the mask I will wear because I think we all feel a bit naive and innocent sometimes—even as adults. Reentering the world after what I’ve been through still often has me feeling quite fresh and new. I don’t ever want to be as crusty and hard as those I’ve seen who’ve worn too proudly the calluses life has inflicted. I want my sight to remain open.

Jack-in-the-pulpit, (Arisaema triphyllum).

It is with those eyes that I annually witness returning blooms anew.

I removed the planted ring of succulents from the bird bath but not I must center it so that the water doesn’t all flow to the back.

For the first time I’m looking at the garden in light of design and am making changes. I never wanted to design the place, but here I am doing a better job of it. Designing means making choices (a lot of them) and when you’re very stressed, I’ve learned that for some of us, we simply stop being able to make many choices easily. For someone like me, that makes getting by while still feeling like yourself very difficult.

Mona sunbathes while I wait and wait for the Dracunculus vulgaris to bloom.

It is funny to wait so impatiently for a flower to unfurl that smells so much like rotting meat, but it is truly quite a show stopper. Each year I like to remind my neighbor that if he smells something rather putrid out back its just my plants blooming.

Jasminum parkeri.

This tiny Jasmine from Cistus Nursery was a really fragrant edition to my Mother’s Day flower arrangement on the table this year. It has not been in my garden for long but I’ve already found that its compactness of form is quite nice in my small city garden.

Ledum groenlandicum.

My native plants never let me down during the springtime, although the heat we recently had blasted the blooms on a few of the plants. Luckily this Ledum really kept its head together. It had more blooms than last year and I think it really looked quite beautiful this past month.

Dark Columbine, Aquilegia atrata.

I sold seeds for this plant in my Etsy shop and then I ran out. Last year the plant didn’t really do much or produce any seed, but this season, these will be back in stock. I like that when that happens.

Hybrid roses from the garden of Gina—my boyfriend’s mother.

On Mother’s Day it made me very happy to receive roses from a seasoned gardener. I spent a week watching their tight buds open and the house was filled with their fragrance. They were truly a real treat for me since I’m unable now to care for my roses.

It reminded me of my old rental home in the old Italian neighborhood in SE Portland where I’d planted nearly a dozen hybrid roses and I pruned and pruned them as my health worsened. I learned a lot that year in the garden and it led me to where I am now.

Pasta with Peas and Bacon.

Lastly I’m going to close with more food. If you have any delicious fresh peas, I highly recommend making this pasta. (Sorry for not adding the recipe. I will do that more in the future. In the meantime, just do a search on this and you’ll find lots of recipes. The one with lemon is good too.)

So, now it’s back to the drawing board. This girl needs to continue to reinvent herself and a new form of employment is in order. Wish me luck!

Wordless Wednesday: Entering September

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Remembering the foster kids.
Japanese Gerbera, Leibnitzia anandria.
Tube Clematis, Clematis heracleifolia.
A pretty planter arrangement for my 38th birthday and open garden parties. 
Begonia hemsleyana (Hardy to zone 8).
Jack-in-the-Pulpit seeds (Arisaema).
Miniature climbing rose, (Rosa ‘Clove Love and Kisses’).
Enjoying the cooler evenings.

Growth Takes Time—At Least for Me

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I used to tell people jokingly that our house just happened to be in my garden. This is no longer a laughing matter though as I enter into that next phase of deciding what to do with my life and my belongings—even the green ones.
Yes, divorce takes time. I see that now. It’s not like I will wake up tomorrow and the instant nearly overnight beauty of the mature Japanese maple and some choice tulips will be what my life will look like. I think my current new growth will take some time.
As I grow I will observe, and not judge. Like a gardener tending to a new plant, I will decide what kind of growing conditions are needed and I will watch and wait. If I need to be moved somewhere else to flourish, I will be moved.
Recently, as I’ve been walking around Portland I’ve been thinking about the similarities and differences I have with plants, and the activity has been more informative than I’d imagined it would be and so much more positive than several of the alternatives…

The Laburnum tree that I grew from seed didn’t take long at all before it started to put on its show.

I won’t grow at that rate though and I am alright with that.

For those who know me you’re bound to agree that I can be as tacky and as flashy as the hot pink Azaleas people are always trying to get rid of in the FREE section of Craigslist—at least they do this in the Portland area.

I am part Italian after all and I do love to be a bit over the top at times.

Then there is a lot about me that needs to be looked at closely to be examined and I have to examine it regularly myself. Sadly this does make me a bit of a ruminator, but just so long as my illness stays in remission and I can take that ruminating behavior to the streets, it’s not at all the issue it can become when I am required to be physically inactive due to my health problems.
I know this now and it is the teeny bit of green I’m currently proud to wear. (At least here I have seen growth—lots of it!)

There are also those dainty girl moments which I’ve been having far more of recently. They don’t need to be discussed here necessarily, but let’s just say that my friend pampered me and she took me to have a mani/pedi in California and it was great fun for a change. I had no idea either that an eyebrow waxing could be as exciting as pruning a shrub but there you go. I learned something completely new!

Overall I do feel like the special plant, unusual, hard-to-find, maybe a bit damaged and bruised on the sale rack right now. I am that item most gardeners will pass up because I cost too much, or look a bit odd and my novelty may not come in the correct color for their garden. Ok, I might even need a bit of extra care and attention.

Looking at my illness this way has been a relief. Honestly it has been because I think all of what I just wrote is very true for many of us living with chronic illness.

Sometimes I burst open at the seams a bit and explode like my Clematis did while I was in California. That’s ok too I think, and maybe it makes me more common, and less likely to be as delicate as I sometimes think that I am.

Things I will never go without though as I change and grow will be my tall boots and my odd choice of hot pink luggage with polka dots. Life is too short to be dull and colorless.

This is at my core. These items will remain at my center. They are part of what identify me as who I am.

My humor is also at the center of who I am and remembering why I’m called Annie, and how much I love hearing it with an Irish brogue. This too is part of where I come from and I am proud to have known some very amazing Irish priests.

Lastly, to help me as I grow I will not miss out on my deepest and darkest of treats. There are many foods which I love, but my love of pommes frites with truffle oil, parmesan cheese, and squid ink aioli reaches such depths that I truly would be lost without them.
So yes, it’s an in between phase for me. I am growing but it is slow and as I do so I am noting what characteristics define me and where I am best suited in the design of things. In all seriousness, thinking like this has been far more beneficial than any book or online posting I’ve read about the divorce process. I guess I really do just see things through nature and plants, and yes, I really do still believe that the house just happens to be in my garden.
I just don’t know yet if I can grow here anymore.

Garden Blogger Blooms on a Wordless Wednesday

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Bat Face Cuphea, Cuphea llavea.
Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum.
Dainty Daisy, Daisy Fleabane, Oregon Fleabane, Erigeron speciosus ‘Grandiflorus’.
Dianthus plumarius ‘White Lace’.
Armeria pseudoarmeria.
Dianthus plumarius ‘White Lace’.
Kniphofia uvaria.
Kniphofia uvaria.
Yellow Onion, Golden Garlic, Allium moly.
Columbine ‘McKana’s Giant’, Aquilegia ‘McKana’s Giant’.
Dianthus.
Allium christophii.
Nectaroscordum siculum.
Allium cernuum.
Sedum kamtschaticum.
Rosa ‘Julia Child’.
Iris tenax.
Common Rue, Ruta gaveolens.
Rosa ‘Sweet Chariot’.
Aquilegia vulgaris.
Rosa ‘Sombreuil’.
Dicentra formosa.
Goat’s Beard, Aruncus dioicus.
Aquilegia atrata.
Dianthus superbus ‘Rainbow Loveliness’.
Spanish Snapdragon, Antirrhinum braun-blanquetii.
Western Labrador Tea, Ledum glandulosum.
Rosa viridiflora.
Rosa damascena.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (May 15th, 2011)

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Clematis montana var. rubens.
Viola.
Tulipa ‘Queen of the Night.’
Iris suaveolens.
Glechoma hederacea Variegata.
Primula auricula.
Dicentra formosa.
Rhododendron occidentale.
Dicentra eximia.
Dicentra ‘Bacchanal.’
Clematis montana var. rubens.
Iberis sempervirens.
Alyssum montanum ‘Mountain Gold.’
Arisaema triphyllum.
Viola glabella.
Gaultheria shallon.
Rhododendron occidentale.
Rhododendron x ‘Jean Marie de Montague.’
Saxifraga umbrosa.