1358. If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden. ~Frances Hodgson Burnett, THE SECRET GARDEN

Gardening about enjoying the smell
of things growing in the soil,
getting dirty without feeling guilty,
and generally taking the time to soak
up a little peace and serenity.
~Lindley Karstens

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However many years she lived, Mary always felt
that ‘she should never forget that first morning
when her garden began to grow’…I am sure there is
Magic in everything, only we have not sense enough
to get hold of it and make it do things for us.
~Excerpted lines from THE SECRET GARDEN
by Frances Hodgson Burnett

One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands out and throws one’s head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one’s heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun–which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with the millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in someone’s eyes. ~Frances Hodgson Burnett, THE SECRET GARDEN

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At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done–then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago…Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world,” he said wisely one day, “but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen. I am going to try and experiment….And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles… Much more surprising things can happen to anyone who, when a disagreeable or discouraging thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable, determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place. ~Excerpted lines from THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. ~Genesis 2:8  ✝

“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce…” ~Jeremiah 29:5  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; text added to the collage by Natalie; collage created by Natalie

1266. Man is never out of range of surprises! ~Mehmet Murat ildan

Life is so full of unpredictable
beauty and strange surprises.
~Mark Oliver Everett

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I’m not a professional photographer, but over the years I have and still do take some pretty good photos. However, when I go out on a photo shoot, I’m so focused on the object I’m trying to capture that things often appear in the background that I didn’t see or anticipate. Most of the time it means I have to toss those photos out because something has marred their beauty, but every now and again the unexpected surprise does create a thing of beauty. Such is what happened this morning while I was trying to capture morning glory images. It was very early and a few times my flash popped up, and I don’t really like to take close-up photos in nature with a flash because I find that it distorts the color and in others, the background remains too dark. Then when I edit them and try to lighten the dark background up, bad effects occur on the object(s) in the foreground. But this one above, I really liked because the flash picked up the adjacent neighbor’s pool slide and other objects around his pool that together with the two morning glories created what I think is a nicely colorful vignette.

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This second one was taken several years ago at an indoor rodeo. The barrel racer I was trying to capture was riding extremely fast of course and alongside a railing decorated with American flags which in the camera’s eye created wavy bands of red, white, and blue along with yellow bands from the artificial lighting as well as double visions of her. My daughter and I loved this one so much that as a gift to her I’ve had it blown up and created into what looks like a painting. Surprises like what’s in these 2 photos and other ones I’ve taken are the reasons I’m so passionate about taking photographs and gardening. And I’m fairly sure that I am not the only one surprised and intrigued by strange and unexpected sights.

So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” ~Exodus 3:3  ✝

1177. The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just to the body, but the soul. ~Alfred Austin

I look back with gladness to the day when I found the path to the land of heart’s desire, and thank fate ceaselessly with a loud voice that it did not permit town to sap all the years away while the heart was turning to wind-voices and flower-faces and the hands of kindly earth. ~Mrs. George Cran

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There are times when I cannot believe I am separate from this earth, when I could swear the wind blows through me as it does the woven needles of the pine tree by the creek, when I feel my feet planted deep in the earth with the roots of trees and wildflowers, drawing essence. ~Cathy Johnson

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The love of dirt is among the earliest of passions, as it is the latest.  Mud-pies gratify one of our first and best instincts.  So long as we are dirty, we are pure.  Fondness for the ground comes back to a man after he has run the round of pleasure and business, eaten dirt, and sown wild oats, drifted about the world, and taken the wind of all its moods.  The love of digging in the ground (or of looking on while he pays another to dig) is as sure to come back to him, as he is sure, at last, to go under the ground, and stay there. ~Charles Dudley Warner

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Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. ~Genesis 2:8-9  ✝

**All images but one found on Pinterest; all collages created by Natalie

1121. I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation. ~Phyllis Theroux

My extravagance is my garden –
it’s the first thing I look at
every morning when I wake up.
It gives me so much pleasure.
~Ina Garten

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According to Margaret Atwood, “Gardening is not a rational act.” And though I like to think of myself as a fairly rational person most of the time, I’m given from time to time, like most folks, to a little irrationality especially in the garden. So here goes today’s saga about my most recent fall from rational grace, as it were. The only thing I needed at the nursery was a bag of planting mix, but as always I wanted to stroll up and down the rows and rows of flowers before making my purchase. The first thing that caught my eye was this amazing white clematis with its chocolate colored anthers. As I stood admiring it, I kept saying to myself, “No, Natalie, you do NOT need to buy another plant.” So even though I’ve grown very fond of clematis, I walked away with great resolve to resist the urge to buy anything and went on down the way to look at the roses. Of course there were some gorgeous varieties of those too, but I told myself that I didn’t need those either and then headed back to the front to check out. On the way, as chance would have it, I heard someone call my name and when I turned to see who it was, my next door neighbor was standing right next to the pots of those white clematis. Nevertheless, I went ahead and walked on over to chat with her for a few minutes, and then I turned resolvedly to walk away. That was when I could swear I heard the white clematis speaking to me and saying, “you’ll regret it if you don’t come back and take me home.” And darn it, I knew I would. So I walked back one more time to see how much it was and read the information about it hoping that either or both would deter me. Despite the fact that it was a little pricey however, how could anyone walk away from anything described with the word chocolate for heaven’s sake. Okay! Okay! I’ll admit it! I’m a bonafide, pocketbook-carrying, irrational flower “junkie!” So shoot me! But I’m really not extravagant about anything except my garden-not jewelry, not clothes, not shoes, not cars, nothing but my pretty flowers. And ya know, I don’t regret it for one second. I worked hard and for long hours for nearly 40 years; I’m in my 70’s, I’ve survived a stroke; so I guess I can live with an occasional lack of restraint. With what years I have left, I think I deserve my one and only extravagance perhaps because it is as Theroux said, “it is the closest I’ll ever come to being present at creation.” And oh how I would have loved to have been there and witnessed that!

The human soul is hungry for beauty;
we seek it everywhere – in landscape,
music, art, clothes, furniture,
gardening, companionship, love,
religion, and in ourselves.
When we experience the beautiful,
there is a sense of homecoming.
~John O’Donohue

The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it, nor could the juniper equal its boughs, nor could the plane trees compare with its branches—no tree in the garden of God could match its beauty. ~Ezekiel 8-9  ✝

1099. To write as one should of a garden one must not write outside it or merely somewhere near it, but in the garden. ~Frances Hodgson Burnett

Gardening is about enjoying
the smell of things growing in the soil,
getting dirty without feeling guilty,
and generally taking the time
to soak up a little peace and serenity.
~Lindley Karstens

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Spring
I lift my face to the
pale flowers of the rain.
They’re soft as linen,
clean as holy water.
Meanwhile my dog runs off,
noses down packed leaves
into damp, mysterious tunnels.
He says the smells are
rising now stiff and lively;
he says the beasts are waking up now
full of oil, sleep sweat, tag-ends of dreams.
The rain rubs its shining hands all over me.
My dog returns and barks fiercely,
he says each secret body is
is the richest advisor,
deep in the black earth
such fuming nuggets of joy!
~Mary Oliver

Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” ~Hosea 6:3  ✝

**Images of rain splattered Crocus and Mary Oliver with one of her dogs via Pinterest

1083. When we create peace and harmony and balance in our minds, we will find it in our lives. ~Louise L. Hay

I am probably exaggerating a little,
but I owe my equilibrium to ink and paper,
flowers and gardening.
~Edited line by Julien Green

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And so I come here tonight to find my equilibrium, my balance, that has been thrown off after days fraught with fears and tears and the unknown. This tiny little corner of the world is my safe harbor, and in it I so often turn to the Lord. In so doing, I find a balm to create at least some measure of peace and harmony and balance in my mind and life. Now that blood has been drawn and MRI’s taken, we shall soon find out what the future holds.

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For Equilibrium, a Blessing
Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity by lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of God.
~John O’Donohue

He will be our peace. ~Micah 5:5  ✝

1068. Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. ~Lindley Karstens

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A garden is a grand teacher.
It teaches patience and careful watchfulness;
it teaches industry and thrift;
above all it teaches entire trust.
~Gertrude Jekyll

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Garden Magic

This is the garden’s magic,
That through the sunny hours
The gardener who tends it,
Himself outgrows his flowers.

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He grows by gift of patience,
Since he who sows must know
That only in the Lord’s good time
Does any seedling grow.

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He learns from buds unfolding,
From each tight leaf unfurled,
That his own heart, expanding,
Is one with all the world.

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He bares his head to sunshine,
His bending back a sign
Of grace, and ev’ry shower becomes
His sacramental wine.

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Bring forth the very stuff
And substance of all beauty
This is reward enough.
~Marie Nettleton Carroll

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The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. ~Genesis 1:15  ✝

**All images via my garden in 2015