728. There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air is softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

Poetry is a rich, full bodied whistle,
Cracked ice crunching in pails,
The night that numbs the leaf,
The duel of two nightingales,
The sweat pea that has run wild,
Creation’s tears in shoulder blades.
~Boris Pasternak

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Well, perhaps not every child had such a garden in their childhood, but I wish they had. I did, but the enchanted place was actually all the blocks around our house more than just a single garden. Nevertheless, Lawrence’s description fits my childhood perfectly. For, you see, in southern California where my life began, flowers grow everywhere, and many of the houses, like ours, which were perpendicular to the Pacific Ocean had car-width alleyways behind them. While many of the backyards were filled with all kinds flowers, the fences along the alleys were covered oftentimes with sweet pea vines. So strong an imprint did those images and scents make on my mind, heart, and soul that the memory of them hasn’t faded, not even a smidgen, for the fifty years I’ve been gone from there. Had I known 20 years ago that sweet peas would grow here, I would have started sowing their seeds when I first took up gardening. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I stumbled across a packet of sweet pea seeds in a nursery and thought what the heck. Why not give ‘em a try?! And guess what? They have done fairly well the years we’ve gotten a good amount of rain and the temperatures haven’t gotten too warm, too quickly. Et voilà! Today sweet peas are abloom on my back fence again! And the halcyon days of my childhood have been flooding the foreground of my memory the livelong day. My oh my, but those were wondrous and wonder-filled times!

By helpful fingers taught to twine
Around its trellis, grew
A delicate and dainty vine;
The bursting bud, its blossom sign, Inlaid with honeyed-dew.

Oh, some may choose, as gaudy shows,
Those saucy sprigs of pride
The peony, the red, red rose;
But give to me the flower that grows Petite and pansy-eyed.

 Thus, meditation on Sweet Peas
Impels the ardent thought,
Would maidens all were more like these,
With modesty–that true heartsease–
Tying the lover’s knot.
~Excerpted verses from a poem
by Hattie Howard

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. ~Ephesians 5:1-2   ✝

713. Colors are the smiles of nature. ~Leigh Hunt

You’ve already won me over-in spite of me.
So don’t be alarmed if I fall head over feet.
And don’t be surprised if I love you
for all that you are.
I couldn’t help it-it’s all your fault.
~Alanis Morisette

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Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! So what do you think? Is Morisette talking about a man who has won her heart? Or is it possible to fall head over feet in love, with a flower for instance? The color of the flower above certainly makes me smile, and it was a huge surprise, and I do love it.

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It all started several years ago when I decided to plant some new iris in the large island bed. Late in the growing season, I went to a nearby nursery, and all they had were a few scraggly rhizomes that had long since lost their name tags. But not caring too much as to what color they were and trusting that they would still thrive despite their pitiful condition, I bought the five that remained, came home and planted them.

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Sure enough before winter set in, up shot some of their green spears making it appear hopeful that they would for sure “make it.” And not only did they make it that next spring as it turned, but two of them were the amazing color you see in the photos.

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I’d never seen an iris this color before, and thinking that its petals with their beards of gold looked somewhat velvety and chocolatey over their also golden centers, it was indeed this flower’s fault that I couldn’t help but fall in love with its beauty nor resist taking shots of its blooms from all angles year after year. Ain’t love grand with whomever or whatever wins us over?! I think so and apparently so does the Lord.

It (love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ~1 Corinthians 13:7   ✝

488. Happy is he who still loves something he loved in the nursery: He has not been broken in two by time; he is not two men, but one, and he has saved not only his soul but his life. ~G. K. Chesterton

Feel the wild imprint of surprise.
Free the joy inside the self.
Awaken to the wonder of life.
~Edited excerpts from John O’Donohue blessings

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When children first feel “the wild imprint of surprise,” they easily let go the joy inside themselves, but by the time they enter adolescence most become guarded about their feelings and their expressions of joyfulness. Then as playgrounds and backyard recreations are left far behind when they enter young adulthood, they are, like I was, less and less exposed to the wonders of Creation. However, I discovered when I first retired “that like a forgotten fire, childhood can flare up again.” The flames were sparked when I could at last spend greater amounts of time in my garden and with my creative outlets that I found my inner child was still alive and well.

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Sadly, the middle years of my life took me far from the things I loved in my childhood as well as through some deep valleys of brokenness. Now painful health issues rob me many nights of restful sleep, but I’ve yet to be “broken in two by time.” Though past and present circumstances have and continue trying to steal my “joie de vivre,” the Lord has not left me stranded on detours away from the His plan for my life nor stuck at dead ends. Instead the Shepherd keeps leading His lamb back into His keeping, and that as well as the freeing of my inner child helps to restore my joy. When one of my grandson’s was younger he told me once that he loved the way I often got down on the floor and played right alongside him and his brother. The question is: Was I doing it for them or for myself?

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. ~Isaiah 55:12 ✝

** Images via Pinterest

334. There is a place in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts here and there.
To the flowers I whisper the secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe.
I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels.
~Dodinsky

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A fellow blogger recently wrote about the garden of her childhood and at the end her post she asked her readers if they, too, remembered a garden from their childhood. And though I do, mine wasn’t just a single garden, it was garden after garden after garden because I grew up in Southern California which is a garden in and of itself. Simply put I remember flowers at every turn, colors at every turn, and fragrances everywhere; so amazing were they that more than half a century later, they are as vivid and fragrant as ever. Also my grandmother and my mother’s sister who lived in Texas where we visited almost every summer loved flowers and had lovely gardens of their own. So for me the answer to Annette’s question is a resounding yes, yes, yes.

Today while I was at the nursery buying fertilizer for the lawn, the first plant I saw (the bougainvillea below) was one that grows all over Southern California and sometimes so wild and unrestrained that it covers rooftops. So I decided to make photos from the nursery along with some of my favorite garden quotes as an answer to her question and an offering to you.

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The garden is a long son, a duet between a human being and Mother Nature.
~Jeff Cox

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To this day, I cannot see a bright daffodil,
a proud gladiola, or a smooth egglant
without thinking of Papa.
Like his plants and trees,
I grew up as a part of his garden.
~Leo Buscaglia

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As a gardener, I’m among those who believe
that much of the evidence of God’s existence has been planted.
~Robert Brault

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A garden really lives  only insofar as it is an
expression of faith, the embodiment of hope, and a song of praise.
~Russell Page

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Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace!

322. A sudden softness has replaced the meadow’s wintry grey. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Just as the remnant green in tinted pot
So are these leaves, now rough and wrecked
Behind the flower umbels, that reflect
Only a hue of blue, more do they not.

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Reflected are they, tear-stained, imperfect,
As if this they were prone to cease,
And as in blue and aged paper leaves
There’s yellow within, grey and violet.

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Faded like a washed-out pinafore
No longer worn and of so little use:
How do we our too-short life endure.

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But suddenly a blue renewed is seen
Among one of the umbels, and I sense
A blue delighted, smiling at the green.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

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Not all the hydrangeas in the photos are blue like the one Rilke is describing, but I found these at the nursery today and they were just too gorgeous not to share. I have 5 hydrangeas in my garden, but the late freeze at the beginning of March has really set them back if not killed them. I’m seeing a few green leaves but by now they would normally be fully leafed out with signs of budding. Not so this year sadly.

For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. ~Psalm 116:8-9 ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us!

297. Hand in hand, with fairy grace, will we sing, and bless this place. ~William Shakespeare, English poet and playwright

No child but must remember laying his head in the grass,
staring into the infinitesimal forest
and seeing it grow populous with fairy armies.
~Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish poet

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Digitalis, from the Latin Digitabulum, a thimble, derives its common name from the shape of its flowers that resemble the finger of a glove.  It’s a flower we call Foxglove, which delights to grow in deep hollows and woody dells.  However, it was originally called Folksglove because that’s where they, fairies or “good folk,” were thought to live.  Folksglove is one of the oldest names for Digitalis (Foxglove) and is mentioned in a list of plants as old as the time of Edward III.  The earliest known form of the word is the Anglo-Saxon foxes glofa (the glove of the fox, and the Norwegian name Revbielde that translates to Foxbell alludes to the Fox.  It is a name which may have come about from a northern legend about bad fairies who supposedly gave the blossoms of Digitalis to foxes to be put upon their toes so as to soften their tread when prowling amongst the roosts.

I adore Foxglove and believe no other flower in the garden lends itself better to stories of fairies and elves than it does.  Its dangling thimbles or gloves or bells or fingers or whatever one might call them look like enchanted, magical places where children would naturally look for the “wee folk” to lurk.  Nor is it surprising that there have been suppositions claiming the mottling in the flowers mark, like the spots on butterfly wings and on the tails of peacocks and pheasants, where elves have placed their fingers.  Though no longer a child, I have to agree in part with the writer Charles de Lint who penned, “We call them faerie.  We don’t believe in them.  Our loss.”  Sometimes, it does one a world of good to remember what it was like to be an imaginative child, full of awe and wonder and given to flights of fantasy.

Happy is he who still loves
something he loved in the nursery:
He has not been broken in two by time;
he is not two men, but one,
and he has saved not only his soul but his life.
~G. K. Chesterton, English writer, poet,
and lay theologian

If we opened our mind with enjoyment, we might
find tranquil pleasures spread about us on every side.
We might live with the angels that visit us on every sunbeam,
and sit with the fairies who wait on every flower.
~Samuel Smiles, Scottish author

May the Lord give you increase, both you and your children.  May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  ~Psalm 115:14-15   ✝

260. The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer. ~Vita Sackville-West

January is the quietest month in the garden.
. . .But just because is looks quiet
doesn’t mean that nothing is happening.
The soil, open to the sky, absorbs the pure rainfall
while microorganisms convert tilled-under fodder
into usable nutrients for the next crop of plants.
The feasting earthworms tunnel along,
aerating the soil and preparing it to welcome
the seeds and bare roots to come.
~Rosalie Muller Wright

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I’ve heard it said that “the color of springtime is in the flowers” whereas “the color of winter is in the imagination.”  Thankfully I’ve got a good imagination, and when that fails, I have a large collection of photos to look back on because by the end of January my spirit is in dire need of a boost.  A place I like to frequent also helps to keep my imagination alive and well.  It’s a nursery, and this particular Dallas nursery not only has a great selection of flowers during the growing seasons, but year round it has all sorts of indoor plants too.  In addition  to the plants it has an oak cabinet with drawers full of fascinating seeds, racks of seed packets, shelves filled with gardening books, and an array of tools.  So between the plant and seed catalogs that start arriving in the mail after Christmas and my visits to Nicholson-Hardie’s nursery, the “dream” is kept alive even when the under-the-surface busy but ravaged-atop January garden appears to be completely shut down.  And it is this “stuff” of which gardener’s dreams are made that keeps my imagination churning and my head full of schemes, schemes that are the spice of a gardener’s life.  What a blessing is our memory, our imagination, and our ability to dream; God is so good.

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving.  ~Psalm 69:30  ✝