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Showing posts with label garden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label garden. Show all posts

Monday, March 12, 2018


This scene (and so the picture) is an image I never want to forget. It is also full of reminders of these days in our life as a family. It is a record of a day in early March, 2018 - a day of sunshine and planting and doing things together. You can tell that Joe and Nora are planting seeds and seedlings. I also see trust and tenderness between an 80 year old grandfather and an almost 4 year old little girl. What the photo does not reflect that my heart does is the back story.  Nora and I read Jan Karon's book The Trellis and the Seed,  a beautifully illustrated children's book by one of my favorite authors - one I have given to all my grandchildren, usually with a package of Moonflower seeds tucked inside. I told Nora we would look to see if there were Moonflower seeds in our box of garden seeds. Joe said he had Moonflower seeds sprouting already under his growlight! Then Nora's mom found a bag of seeds collected from last years Moonflowers. So the planting is a picture of extended family and cooperation.

Now there are sprouts. We check every day for leafing and climbing. We will all watch for the first fragrant white blooms that grace us only at night, fading just as the Morning Glories begin to open!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Harvest June 13, 2017

Summer may be a few days away on the calendar, but it has already arrived with a vengeance here. You only have to open the door to the back porch, which feels like opening an oven door. It is pleasant very early in the day, but by 8:30 this morning, the heat was wilting.  We are harvesting plenty from our small raised bed garden.  We need a bigger picking basket because this one is overflowing and we still left tomatoes on the vine beginning to turn pink. We try to pick them at that stage to get ahead of the birds. We enjoy this rush of producing now because we know for everything except the okra and peppers, the heat will soon stop flowering and fruit setting. Tonight we will have tomato and corn pie.  Gumbo tomorrow. Pickling and freezing will enable us to use most of it, with some to share as well.

Blessed with bounty!

Monday, May 22, 2017


This is the first chocolate tomato harvested this year.  If the birds do not get to them before we do, there should be many more, along with other types of heirloom tomato goodies. I fell in love once with a tomato called Cherokee Purple,  An old Cherokee Indian heirloom, pre-1890 variety; it has a beautiful deep dusky purple-rosy red color and sweet flavor.  And so I began to learn more about heirloom plants in general, and especially tomatoes. I love them for their stories, for their names, and for the adventure of growing them. They are not as hardy as the recently hybridized tomatoes. In addition to these 2, this year we have Brandywine, Louisiana Pink, Eva Purple Ball, and Kosovo plus a yellow heirloom I failed to tag. No, we don't have a large garden, only 1 or 2 plants of each. Joe, Ben, and my daughter in law Kristen do most of the work, and I get to pick a tomato or two and enjoy the benefits. Nora, at 3, already loves harvesting cucumbers and tomatoes and peppers with her mom. 

I find heirloom plants intriguing, and am thankful for the pleasure gardening brings to all of us.  I believe the love of gardening is another heirloom, one passed down to me and mine from my parents and grandparents, who first showed me how to garden, but also introduced me to delicious fresh food on our table.  Long before the current farm to table trends, I knew that eating local (as in very local, our own garden) tasted better and helped to keep us healthy.  

Celebrating Heirlooms!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Starting a Garden. Again.

We have lived in many places, moved many times.  Each time, we made the new place home and part of that was the garden we began and grew there. There were a few apartments, lived in for short periods.  In those, plants were grown in containers and inside. But every house we have called home brought new gardening projects for us. In the early years of moving often and raising little boys, that may have been limited to planting a few flowers and digging to plant the cuttings that family and friends so generously shared with us. By the time we moved to our home on Deep Valley in Plano, TX in 1976, a vegetable garden had joined our early home building projects. In that home, I remember Joe outlining our garden bed with railroad ties.  There I grew enough Zucchini squash to feed the neighborhood and try every Zucchini recipe in my cookbook collection.  We had an apricot tree there that had a bountiful harvest every year, and made wonderful pies.I was by then an avid organic gardener and our sons who were 3, almost 6 and 8, loved helping plant and harvest.

Some of our homes came with the bonus of some planting already established.  In our old Victorian home in Jacksonville in the 90's we tended a giant magnolia, mimosas, camellias, and wisteria along with the delight of finding a long row of purple iris that came up the next Spring. In California, previous owners had planted avocado, lemon, and plum trees as well as some beautiful roses in the courtyard. In Indonesia, we grew orchids in our flower beds along with a mango tree that hung heavy with fruit.  When we came back to the U.S. and began to live longer in one place, we added 2 serious garden passions:  herbs and antique roses.  When he was in college, Ben dug and edged a long rectangle for a gift for first large herb garden.  We had a pool there and little room for a bigger garden in the back, but we had a giant old pecan tree in our front yard and shade beds. I planted old roses across the back of the house:  Sombreuil, Maggie and a fragrant French 18th century rose that looked like watered apricot silk which I cannot find anymore. 13 years later when we moved from that home to a smaller one, we filled our back yard with stone paths and garden, including another herb garden with a sitting wall. We moved from that home last year and left another garden for someone else to enjoy.  Our new home, which we share with Ben, Kristen, Nora, and Oliver, has the largest yard we have ever had but the fewest plants! Amaryllis that were my Mother's and white iris that were my grandmothers went into a front bed. We put in vegetable and herb beds to keep us cooking, and thought about it.

Over the past few months, as we discussed how a new garden might take shape, we asked advice of a landscape planning friend, and the project which began last week became work of our hands as well as our hearts.  Our favorite gardening center came out to make some planting areas, we put in a few plants we already had, and more are one the way.  Morning Glory and Moonflower seeds are already in the ground thanks to Joe and Kristen, Ben has been hard at work digging and planting, and we are all excited to work on this together.  Kristen found some seeds to plant which she gathered from our old house.  The Touch- Me- Not flowers in the photo above are not only old-fashioned and pretty, their seed pods are fun and bring out the child in anyone!  When the pods are full and beginning to dry, just a touch will send the seeds flying! Garden on the way!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Promise of Spring

Last week I found Forsythia branches at my grocery store!  I like to stroll through the flower offerings although I seldom buy flowers for myself.  But I love bringing forsythia and plum and pussy willow to bloom inside when the outside is still bleak and cold.  These branches responded promptly, beginning to flower the very next day, and continuing to delight us every day since.  Spring started on my kitchen counter!  So I am browsing the seed catalogs and beginning garden plans while smiling everytime I see these yellow blossoms.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fall Garden

One of the consolations or our summer heat is the arrival of our second growing season, our fall garden.  We again grow a salad bowl of lettuces - Romaine, Red and
Green Leaf and Butter lettuce thrive, and cold weather veggies like cabbage, collards, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, and chard begin to thrive.

We plant old favorite herbs in the new beds as well - basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, sage, and Mexican mint marigold, the Texas offering which tastes like Tarragon, which does not grow well here. Our garden is one more thing which makes  us feel at home in our new surroundings.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hope Floats

Signs of recovery and restoration are in many places in our county following the Brazos River flood. While the river is still high, the area labeled as a Federal disaster and many homes have been destroyed or severely damaged, many more have been cleared out and cleaned so that some can return to the places they lived. Our church's Red Cross shelter has been closed; the remaining residents have received assistance to go to relatives or hotels. Agencies have come together in the previous shelter location (ordinarily our church gym and kitchen) for access by those who need help and direction. Friends, neighbors, and generous volunteers have helped to do the hard work necessary to clean and organize.  Fields that were under water show green beginnings under brown, withered foliage.  I have chosen to post photos and story of one of our favorite places as an example of the stories of many.

 Enchanted Forest is one of 2 garden centers owned and operated by the Linderman family.  Before our recent move, we lived near Enchanted Forest, so for 24 years have loved going there, stocking our garden and leaning on their advice in many ways.  Gary Lenderman and Danny Lenderman, his son, have in particular been good friends who have helped us over and over. We shook our heads sadly as we learned of the flooding at this beautiful place and saw pictures of what looked like a river instead of the place of beauty we have enjoyed with our family and friends.  So when they announced they would reopen on June 18, we were there along with others expressing the same "We are so glad you are back!"  Without exception, every Linderman family member there along with every employee smiled and welcomed us. We learned that all the plants floated away and all the plants now displayed were new ones. There was extensive damage to buildings, offices, and gift shop. But there were still smiles (along with aching backs, I am sure.)

Not every story of loss and grief will have the beauty and message of green growing things and poetry of flowers, but almost all the stories I hear contain somewhere a glimmer of one thing in common:  HOPE.  Last Saturday, T shirts were being sold at Enchanted Forest's reopening with this message:  "Even when the river gets high, hope always floats."  Typical of their generosity and gifts to this community, the proceeds all go to Fort Bend County charities.

Friday, April 22, 2016


It is no secret that our garden has been a delight for us here in the place we have lived for 11 years. The sign in our front yard announces we are choosing to pass on the care and enjoyment of this back yard to the family that will live here very soon. There is an important word in that last sentence:  "choosing."  We have made this decision after prayerful deliberation and feel that it is the right thing for us to do.  Of course, we will miss many things about this home and garden, but we are excited about our move, knowing that it will be a new place and a different landscape.
 Yes, it is very different!  That is exciting, too, knowing we can choose the fruit trees and roses and garden spot and once again make it "ours."  The most exciting part of these choices is that our youngest son Ben and his wife and 2-year-old daughter share them with us. To see Nora running in the grass with the wind blowing wisps of hair across her happy face has already made this place feel like home!  The work of moving and putting two households into place is not over, but we are thankful for helping hands and plenty of hugs.  The joy of journey as a family!  The satisfaction of homework, in the deepest sense!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Skye is 13!

Today is our lovely granddaughter's thirteenth birthday.  From the moment of her parents' excited news of her tiny beginning, she has been so much joy and gladness for me. In the months before her birth, I wrote a journal to her in the form of a letter, given to her parents on the day she was born, a tradition I have continued with each new grandchild.  I simply wanted to tell her she was already a part of our family story and would always be.  I wrote about happily we anticipated her arrival, of all the things we looked forward to sharing with her, and how we celebrate faith and family. From rocking and lullabies to planting flowers, building fairy gardens and baking macaroons, Skye continues to add delight to our time together. Thank you, and Happy Birthday, sweet girl!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Pleasure of Your Company

I enjoy so many things about my granddaughters, all 5 of them. Since they range in age from 10 months to 21 years, there is wide variation, but some things are common to all. I am happy they like to be in our home.  Without fail, when they come if I am not on the front porch waiting, they knock and peer through the leaded glass on our front door and greet me with excitement!  I love conversation with them, Nora saying it all with her gestures and her eyes, and the others chattering away with me. Like most people who enjoy cooking and being in the kitchen, I welcome them there and that seems to be their favorite place inside. I like that they like to cook and ask to help with meals and treats. I welcome their pleasure in our shaded back yard or in the sunny garden, enjoying the fragrance of herbs or looking for butterfly caterpillars or climbing trees (well, Nora looks and smells, she does not yet climb trees) ! We have fun with sidewalk chalk, planting seeds, cutting flowers to dry, art projects, dressup, and tea parties.  One of my favorite pleasures is the joy they have in being with each other, as in the top photo of Skye and Nora.  But of all the things we enjoy, Nora tells us the best...


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Opal and Gertrude

This photograph taken circa 1930 is an image of a friendship that lasted over 80 years! On the right is my mother, Opal Auntionette Terrell, who married my father,  John William Howard Teal, on December 27, 1931. On the left is Gertrude Mae Burks, who married Herod Bickerstaff on December 4, 1931. These two young women "stood up" for each other at their weddings that December in 1931. But they had been standing up for each other for years before that.  They went to church and school together, both graduating from Bullard High School in 1931. They shared  living in big families on farms with no indoor plumbing, drinking water from a dipper stuck in the well bucket,  learning to cook on wood stoves, learning to iron with flat irons heated on those stoves, writing in their diaries, the giggling of girls, and the satisfaction of working hard,. In those days, school text books were hard to come by. They shared those books, which were called "partner books"  I have one of those books with their names and that designation handwritten inside the book.

Through the years Opal and Gertrude remained close friends. They grew up on farms whose acreage backed up to each other.  There was a small creek with a bridge in between. Mother spoke fondly of the times they would plan to meet at that bridge. I am sure Gertrude was at a party Mother went to when she was a teenager. She told how she had such a good time she was late coming home and as she tip toed down the long front hall of their big white house on the hill in Bullard, she kicked a washpan that had been set outside a bedroom door and woke everyone.  Gertrude shined her patent shoes like Mother did, by rubbing a cold biscuit over the toes!

Best friends for so long, and married in the same month, their married lives began as Gertrude and Herod worked a farm in the sandy soil of East Texas, raising watermelons among other crops.  They had 2 sons and  2 daughters. Opal and Howard moved to Tyler where they both worked in Cameron's Cafeteria and where they lived when I was born in 1940, later moving to New Orleans, LA during WW II  Daddy worked in shipyards. When they came back to Texas, both worked in cafes in Jacksonville and later operated and owned cafes where Daddy was well known for being a wonderful cook.  My sister Janice was born in 1946.  When I left home to start college in 1958, Gertrude and Herod's oldest daughter Nona was my first college roommate!

Both were strong women whose faith was apparent in the way they lived life in their communities, raised their families,and served in their churches. Gertrude was an active member of First Baptist Church Bullard.Opal was a longtime member of First Baptist Church Jacksonville. Both were married for over 50 years.  Howard Teal died in 1982. Herod Bickerstaff died in 1987.  So both women were widows for many years.

 Gertrude was born August 30, 1913 lived in Bullard all her life and died in Jacksonville (less than 15 miles away) on April 15, 2002 after a couageous battle with cancer.  Opal was born October 20, 1913, lived all but 2 years of her life within a 15 mile radius of her childhood home, and  finally left her home in Jacksonville when we moved her near us the same year Gertrude died, 2002.  Often in those last few years, she would tell me she was ready to "go Home."  On that night,  September 21, 2006, as I grieved her loss, I smiled through tears and said,

"She is meeting Gertrude at the bridge."

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Four O'Clock

It is four o'clock in the afternoon on this Thursday, September 5, 2013.   I am not referring to the time of day in the title above but to the sweet old fashioned flower by that name.  I am remembering sticky, hot September afternoons many years ago when my sister and I sat on the swing in our screened front porch and made our own breeze as we pushed off with our feet to swing back and forth.  There was no air conditioning inside the house, so the shaded porch with its green painted wood floor and blue ceiling was as cool as we were going to get unless we ran through the sprinkler. I can hear the creaking of the chains which held the swing, the song of the Katydids in the Chinaberry tree, and see the shrubbery nestled up against the house on Sunset Street.  Sitting on the porch meant being close to the flowers.  Mother's flower beds held huge hydrangea bushes in the back yard, forsythia, Hawthorne, and a few rose bushes with annuals like Bachelor Buttons and Touch Me Nots and Old Maids in between.  But in front, just on the outside of the porch screens, Cape Jasmine and Four O'Clocks thrived. 

 I loved watching for Four O'Clock flowers to open in the evening air, knowing they would close by the next morning. I liked to pick the flowers, careful not to tear them at the base, and stack them in rows, making decorations and necklaces. I can smell their fragrance, light with a hint of vanilla, and feel the cool tissue papery petals.  They came in all colors - magenta, yellow, white, but the coral of the flower in this photo is the one I remember best. When they went to seed, the hard round black nubs were easy to collect and replant.  

I think the seeds of loving to garden were collected and planted while I was stacking the Four O'Clocks.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Scattered Memories

I heard a loud crash early one morning last week and rushed to check on Joe, who was getting dressed.  Then I walked through the kitchen and front part of the house looking for damage.  One cat was sitting calmly on the back of a chair but the other cat hid for the rest of the morning.  I didn't have to guess which one had knocked a bowl of homemade pot potpourri onto our ceramic tile floor. Skye came to spend the day with me and as she helped me take this picture and sweep up the broken pottery and remains of dried herbs and flowers , we talked about the damage and how breaking something can make us sad.  She wanted to keep the broken pieces of the bowl and some of the dried rosebuds to put with her fairy garden supplies.  Then we swept the rest into the trash.

It was only after I looked at the photo that I thought more about why this dish of dried petals was special.
Every thing in the bowl was from our garden and had been added one at a time.  The tiny Katrina rose buds and petals from a fragrant Maggie rose and the yellow rose which clambers over an arch,  tawny, leathery Magnolias, lavender fronds, pieces of basil and rosemary, even a dried slice of Meyer lemon.  All were gathered and collected in a small hand thrown bowl fired in a speckled jade green glaze that I bought when we lived in Indonesia over 20 years ago. Some of the rose buds had been picked by little girls and proudly presented as a gift. Joe likes to bring me a flower or piece of herb when he comes in from the garden. It was a joint endeavor.

So I was sad, not for the things broken and scattered, but for that which they represented: the growing and choosing and gathering, the connection and love of my family. And once again, I know that I can let go of things, but that I keep the love.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Gardens and Granddaughters

As you can see, Jordann is really getting into gardening these days.  She loves picking the tiny clusters of Wild Cherry tomatoes that have taken over the herb garden.  She and her sister, Maddie, also love popping a tomato in their mouths for tasting while they pick!  These plants have come up volunteer all over the garden this year, and although I have pulled up many of them as soon as they appear, there always seem to be more. The tomatoes are only half as big as most cherry tomatoes, and are great for tossing into a salad, but the plants are so sprawling and invasive they are crowding out everything else.  So, this weekend, I will be pulling them out and getting the raised bed ready for fall vegetable and herb planting.  This is clearly a lesson that applies to other parts of my life:  just because something is pretty,  interesting, fun and flourishing doesn't mean it is the right choice or the best time for me to let it continue to use up my time and energy.  I am always learning from my garden.    

When Jordann comes back to our house for another visit, she may notice the jungle of tomato vines is gone, replaced with something else that is good to eat and fun to harvest.  And I know that she will be just fine with that. As in the picture below, Maddie and she will take a basket and gather what grows in the present.  I learn that from my granddaughters - that loss and change do not always mean sorrow.  That new things are good, too. And that doing them together is the best of all.       

I love what my garden and my grandchildren teach me.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Texas Summer

Summer on the Texas Gulf Coast does not wait for the calendar to mark the solstice.  By late May and early June, we experience burning heat, sprinklers on the lawn,  homegrown tomatoes and hot peppers, katydids singing in the evenings, Crepe Myrtles and Chaste Trees blooming, suppers from the grill, iced tea, cold watermelon, bees buzzing around the basil.  The Touch Me Not seeds are popping, Morning Glories are purple delights, roses slowing down for a second breath, and there are a hundred shades of green. I may complain about being hot, but I love so many things that summer brings.

For Memorial  and Independence Day celebrations, we get the little flags back out to line the sidewalk, and celebrate  birthdays for Joe and Ben.  July brings a bumper crop of figs on our tree,  Vacation Bible School fun, plans with my granddaughters, and family outings.  It will get hotter, and we will watch the hurricane tracking news. We keep ceiling fans whirring and add a buzz fan or two for the back porch. I am thankful for cool evening breezes wafting scent of honeysuckle and cooling the flagstone paths in our garden.


"Now summer is in flower and natures hum 
Is never silent round her sultry bloom 
Insects as small as dust are never done 
Wi' glittering dance and reeling in the sun 
And green wood fly and blossom haunting bee 

Are never weary of their melody
Round field hedge now flowers in full glory twine
Large bindweed bells wild hop and streakd woodbine
That lift athirst their slender throated flowers
Agape for dew falls and for honey showers
These round each bush in sweet disorder run
And spread their wild hues to the sultry sun."

- John Clare, "June"

Friday, May 17, 2013


The year 2006 was a year of both great loss and great gain for me.  My mother died in September of that year, which is a loss I am still acutely aware of.  But in the months before her death, even as I helped to care for her and ease her transition from this life to the next, I received two immensely important gifts, gifts of sight. Only a few months earlier I was diagnosed with a degenrative corneal disease which quickly robbed me of a great deal of my functional vison.  I had Fuch's Corneal Dystrophy, for which there is no treatment or cure.  The only option was to have my own corneas removed and replaced with corneas from a donor:  cornea transplants.  This week marks the 7th anniversary of my first gift.  On May 15, 2006, I had surgery to receive my first cornea, in my left eye.  Two months later, in July, I had the same surgery for my right eye. I am eternally grateful to the families whose choices made that possible for me, and I urge all who hear my story to consider electing organ donation and making that known to your family.

The very first realization I had that my surgery had indeed been successful came as I sat in the shade by the little fish pond in our garden. All landscape had been blurry for long enough that what happened was quite like pointing my camera lens, zooming, and focusing.  I suddenly became amazed that I was seeing with brilliant clarity, and the object was a small purple iris a few feet away.  I was and am so thankful to see. In tribute to my donors and to all who are challenged with impaired vision, I am sharing some more garden photographs with you.  These flowers grow in the gardens at Antique Rose Emporium near Brenham, TX.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Our Garden

April showers might have brought May flowers, but so far May is bringing record setting low temperatures. Here on the Gulf Coast of Texas, by this time we are usually working to keep cool instead of wrapping up to stay warm.  Yesterday another cold front literallty blew in.  Wind gusts took my patio umbrella up and away, and tree branches have been whipping so hard the new leaves are hanging on for dear life.  I put on my coat and did a quick walkabout to check for garden damage, and am pleased to say it is slight.  Here is a photo walk through!

As in the photo of above, our antique roses are thriving in the cooler temperature. The colors are intense.

             Petunias, not to be outdone by the roses, but they will never muster that kind of fragrance!

      Tuscan Kale and Swiss Chard - ornamental, but also edible. Organic gardeners, we can eat our        borders!  We already have tomatoes on the vines, and a big bed of hot peppers.

       These flowers make a tasty addition to salads.  Nasturtiums, a favorite in my herb garden.

Daylilies hold up their reputation of blooming in spite of temperature - but usually that is a reference to hot!

This amaryllis has had more blooms this year than anytime since I planted it.  

Look at the blooms on this Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow bush my friend Debbie gave to me.

Sweet little nosegays of Forget-Me-Nots

This pot of geraniums on the porch makes me smile.

There are tiny Meyer lemons, the Satsuma is blooming, and the fig tree bravely sports baby figs!

Post a comment and tell me what is greening and growing in your garden!   

Friday, October 12, 2012

After Dinner Gardening

Many things we enjoyed doing with our sons when they were growing up are being revisited as we have fun with granddaughters.  One project with almost endless possibilities is "after dinner gardening."  Yes, we can grow pineapples in our own back yard here on the Gulf Coast of South Texas.  Once the pineapple top has been sliced off before paring and slicing the fruit for eating, it can be placed into soil mixed with a few coffee grounds.  Kept moist, it will root and make a new pineapple plant.  We have sprouted avocado seeds, apple, peach, and grapefruit seeds, also lemon and orange.  Celery root ends kept in a shallow dish with water will grow new celery leaves, and carrot tops done the same way are wonderful little ferns to use in a fairy garden.  We have successfully grown ginger from ginger root and garlic from garlic pods.  Of course, potato eyes can be fun to plant and grow, too.  Another part of this project is becoming seed savers which leads to sharing seeds, just like my grandmother did.

I think we are also growing gardeners!