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Archive for inspired by spring

sojourn . Starting Spring at Busy Bee

March is coming to a close with all its fickle Southern tendencies! For a month that always ushers in the Spring season, this year’s has sure given us the full spectrum of Mississippi seasons from winter freezes to summer heat. My children were out of school for Spring Break a few weeks ago, and we were able to spend the week at Busy Bee, our family farmhouse in Noxubee County. I always enjoy taking time there to unwind, enjoy unstructured family time, and get my fix of pasture walking and breathing in country air. This year, our Spring Break weather included some cold and rainy days, but we made the most of it, squeezing in at least a few of our favorite farm adventures.

I don’t know if it’s because of the burst of warmer weather we had early in 2017, but I can hardly remember a time at Busy Bee when the pre-Spring days were SO green! Although we had some freezing temperatures, the pasture carpet was full of new life. In these early Spring days, the green seems the most lush before summer’s heat has the chance to tire it out. Of course, I always have my camera with me, and it was fun to capture a few glimpses of how Spring on the farm cracks through the more stark color and contrast of winter. For us, it was a week of seeing two seasons at once, sometimes in the same frame. I came home with renewed energy and excitement for the ideas I’ve wanted to tackle this year.

letters to my daughter . 030916

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This week I have been amazed seeing photographs of the so-called “Super Bloom” in Death Valley, California! Because traveling to California over the next few weeks isn’t on our calendar, I’ve been binge searching photos of the Death Valley landscapes and information, and I’ve been so intrigued by the phenomenon. I mean, how can you not love something called a “super bloom”, right? An area that owns the designation of the hottest, driest place on the North American continent has been exploding in a surge of wildflower bloom carpeting the desert since January — something that only happens every decade or so! Scientists believe that the increased blooming in this normally dry area occurs during El Nino years following a surge in storm activity, including unusually heavy wind and rains. Typically the wildflower seeds lay dormant for months or years in such barren soil, but they are brought out of slumber by the watering of the storms. What a beautiful example of how perseverance leads to flourishing. Sometimes the most torrential storms can produce the most amazing seasons of blooming. Maybe I’m just hankering for spring flowers, but I want to capture that season and make it stay. I want to show and teach my children that storms and struggles don’t have to lay waste to fertile ground. No, very often, they can usher in a new surge of life in what we may have thought was a dead and barren land. Today, I just want to say to them (and to myself), “keep rocking that Super Bloom!” Don’t let the storms keep you silent and still and stagnant! Stay living and growing! And let the storms produce an even more vibrant season of blooming.

grow . Spring Gardening Journal

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Summer may be in full swing, but we’re still basking in the petals and blooms of the spring season in our garden. I love how the light changes through the spring as days begin to stretch out into those long summer afternoons — the “gloaming” when the light seems to dance around. It calls us outside to tend the earth and the delicate growth that’s taking hold. It’s very peaceful to me to sit outside and absorb the colors and textures and light of the garden, so I’ve gradually honed a couple of “sitting” places around the yard. I’ve been doing a lot of sitting and swinging and looking, I thought I would share the view and some of the stages our plants are going through — a spring gardening journal installment. I hope you’ll forgive a huge number of photographs!

The front porch swing is always a treat, and Baby Girl and I sometimes enjoy coloring out there on Saturday morning. It offers a side view of the front garden bed we’ve been working on for several years. This year, I was so excited to see it finally begin to have that “settled in” look. Last year, we added concrete bird bath that I took as a remembrance of my Aunt Betty. The angel child is holding her bowl for the birds while sitting on one of the old pine tree stumps in the bed. Everything has been in a flush of blooms at the same time over the last week or two, and I’ve had a chance to see the vision of that front garden come to life. That joy must be how landscape architects feel all the time!

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Knock-out Roses: They’ve had amazing blooms so far! As I wrote in March, I’ve struggled with them over the last couple of years, but it seems they’ve finally reached their happy place. They have been absolutely beautiful, so I’m holding my breath it continues.

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Lavender: I’ve wanted a border of lavender around the bed for the last year or so to provide a contrast to a full and prolific spread of evergreen vinca. The first variety we used (Blue Scent) did not do well. It was tricky to get the drainage right. So, this year, we found the Silver Anouk variety, and it’s really taken hold so far. It has a newer, less traditional bloom (and a little less showy), but the scent is the same and it seems that the leaves are holding their silvery green color. My mom helped me plant quite a few for the border, and they are starting to meld together.

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Lilies: I’ve had orange daylilies in the front bed for several years, and this year, it’s been neat to see some Easter lilies from 2014 bloom. You know, they never bloom at the “right” time engineered by the nurseries to spread their white petals at Easter. Ours are actually blooming now, and I love that pop of white alongside the green, orange and red!

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Black-eyed Susans: One of my favorite flowers because they have that wild feel, we have them planted in front of the porch beside our swing. Last week we saw tons of blooming clumps on gravel roads near the farm. They bloom slower at our house, but we have one fully opened and some blooms on the way. Last year, they ended up getting really tall like those on the side of the road!

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In the backyard this year, we’ve squeezed a basketball goal the boys got for Christmas onto the patio along with our tables and glider seats. I think we all still have room to do our favorite things 🙂 The patio often serves as an adjunct office during milder days of spring, summer and fall (thank goodness for wifi), and I enjoy being able to look around at pretty blooms. We usually plant Lantana bedding plants in the brick wall that borders the patio. Beyond that, I have some impatiens, begonias and angelonias in pots. The Serenita Angelonia in a mix of pink, purple and white has become a real favorite over the last two years. I love the touch of cool colors mixed in with the reddish color of the other potted plants.

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In the back corner of our backyard, we have another swing installed. I love that area of the yard because it is deep, deep shade. We actually call it the “tree room” because the surrounding treetops merge to provide a roof canopy as we swing. The space feels kind of enclosed by Baby Girls “blue house” and “the little house,” our storage building I had constructed with its own front porch. I’m not sure why we insist on naming everything, but it works.  We have some impatiens hanging back there, but it’s mostly a blur of green around and overhead. Now, if we could only get green grass to grow! Last year, we added a picnic table beside “the little house”, and I’m committed to using it more this summer to take advantage of the shade.

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Grandmother’s Roses: I can’t finish a garden journal entry this time of year without talking about these. This is the second year since we transplanted them from the farm, and they have faithfully bloomed. The blossoms are such a delicate mix of pink and white. You would never guess that they came from the side of our farm road, having been left unattended for a lot of years! They only bloom in spring for a few weeks, and then remain evergreen throughout the year. My next goal for them is to get them planted in the ground and running on a bigger trellis. Right now they are still sitting in the old black plastic pot we dumped them in. I guess I’ve been afraid to bother with a thing that’s working! I’m thinking of an old screen door or a metal structure. We’ll see what happens!

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grow . March Gardening Journal

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We’ve weathered some extremely fun snow days and some typically unpredictable Mississippi weather during the first quarter of 2015, and it’s safe to say that we are very excited about spring weather! I love the seasonal changes, regardless of how random they may be in a given week here, and usually when we have a few really nice sunny days, I get a renewed excitement for cultivating our little garden spaces.

My husband, Mike, was a landscape architect, and through the years before he died, I heard a lot about various plants and learned to enjoy watching their customs, so to speak. In fact, one of the ways I knew I was finally healing after Mike’s death is that I could give an answer to the kids like, “I don’t know what that tree is, but if Daddy were here, he could tell us.” And I could say it without squelching back a tear. I suppose it’s fitting that the evidence of life and growth and seasons changing that are found in the green world also give me good reminders of those evidences in my own seasons.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been getting outside a little more and looking again at what the plants are doing. I decided to record a monthly gardening journal of the outdoor changes happening, our progress in designing and caring for our little plot of land, and the blooms appearing at different times of the year. I’m not a gardener, but I love creating pretty places outside for us to eat, play, paint and even work. So, I’m paying attention, experimenting, and enjoying the process of home- and garden-making. Here are a few of the things I’ve noticed outside this month…

Flowering Quince: They’re so beautiful, and a sure first look at spring. I love these blooms that precede the green leaves on bare branches. We discovered one little branch on the west side of our house several years ago. It’s in an almost hidden spot where only I can see it out my bedroom window. After cleaning around it a bit and some pruning it has been putting on a few more blooms each year. This year, I noticed they had bloomed out when we returned from spring break mid-month.

Vinca Major: This ground cover was here when we bought our house. It has lovely purple blooms in spring and has been blooming for two or three weeks now. Vinca is ever-green, but it really “stands tall” with all the rain and mild temperatures we’ve had in March. The spots of purple are really pretty with our yellow daffodils popping up through the greenery.

Carolina Jasmine: It survived it’s first year climbing a trellis by the mailbox — and didn’t even lose all it’s leaves! The yellow flowers started blooming mid-month. It’s not as filled with blooms as I had hoped, but it’s doing pretty well with no care.

Bradford Pear: We call it “the flower tree” at our house. We came home from spring break to a few buds opening and within a day or so, the tree was completely white. Today, most of the blooms are gone, replaced by full green. The blooms are kind of stinky, but we love the look.

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Knock-out Roses: These have been a real challenge in our front bed, I think mainly because of some poor soil, and maybe the overly prolific vinca. At the end of the fall, I was convinced we would need to pull them out and start again this spring. NOW, they have come out over the last two weeks very full and green with lots of purplish leaves showing where we hope they’ll put on blooms. Get me the rose food! Crossing my fingers!

Grandmother’s Roses: I’m not sure you can kill these. After all, they survived years beside the pasture roads. The cuttings we brought from the farm are now in their second growing season in a big ol’ plastic pot. They never lost all their leaves and died back even in some pretty cold snow days, and this month they’ve come out very full. Right now they are at the corner of our little storage house porch. I want to keep them there, but put them in the ground and set up a metal trellis to let them climb.

Tulips: Well, I think they did their tulip thing! No foliage or blooms this year 🙁 BUT, neither did the other bulbs that were planted with them in front of the little house porch. So, I’m holding out hope that our last freezing snow days came at a time to squelch their blooms. We’ll see next year.

Hydrangeas: We see green!

Lavender: I saw it at the garden center last year, and decided I wanted to use it for a border around our front bed. The variety I chose has a silvery gray-green leaf and of course, the typical sweet-smelling purple blooms. We had a huge learning curve with it, and finally settled on a row of pea gravel to plant in since it needs very well-drained soil. Only one plant survived this year, but I’m now seeing new growth on it. I’m planning to replace plants and finishing out the border. I really want this to work, so I’ll keep you posted.

Black eyed Susans: We see green!

Redbuds: Beautiful blooming out late this month.

Wisteria: I’m noticing a few more pods than last year, and just yesterday, they started to open out!

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I hope to share more progress on the garden as a possible monthly post. Meanwhile, we’re planning an outdoor “hot dog party” complete with s’mores on the fire pit if the weather’s right this weekend.

Welcome April! [printable calendar]

Well, the saying goes… April showers bring May flowers! I’m not sure we really want a repeat of all the rain we had in March this year, but if rain is indeed in the forecast, I hope we’ll trust whatever April has to offer as goodness for each new day! I decided to revive my calendar downloads this month along with a desktop wallpaper version — inspired by drops. And, I’m really loving gray and yellow together these days! You can click below to download the files, and as usual, I’ve included a little cut-away sentiment you can share with a friend when the month is done… “nothing’s worrying me!”

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PRINTABLE CALENDAR

DESKTOP WALLPAPER

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grow . For the Love of Daffodils

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It’s daffodil season, the sure sign of spring, and I cut these from the backyard last week for my desk. I was particularly excited to see these this year because a few of them came from plants my great grandmother grew!

Our farm house has a collection of daffodil bulbs that bloom each year along the fencerow. It’s behind the house and separates the “yard” from the front pasture, and my grandmother planted them sometime when my mom was a child. There are also a row of them that usually sprout up in a line out in the side pasture marking the place where an old fence once stood. And then, randomly with almost inexplicable origins, there are some that tend to crop up across the road, next to ditches, and various other odd places around the yard. I’m not convinced on whether my grandmother planted those, or if they arrived by pure magic! These daffodils are ones we look forward to seeing when we make what’s become the annual spring break trek to the farm in search of carefree days (and muddy play, like this year).

One of the places where we play at the farm is the “hay yard” just down the road from our farmhouse, and its actually a cleared plot where my great-grandmother’s house once stood. I can vaguely remember the house, although it was long abandoned by the time I probably saw it. The house was the last home of my grandfather’s parents, and my mom remembers walking there to visit her grandmother and get orange slices. I guess that’s why more daffodils were there.

For the last year or two, we’ve noticed a huge number of daffodil bulbs blooming in the pasture on the south side of the hay yard, and I like to imagine my grandmother and great-grandmother planting a few that then started multiplying over the years. I suppose they’ve been there for much longer that we can remember seeing them, but our more recent pasture adventures brought us into close contact.

I’ve long wanted to dig up a collection of those daffodils to bring home and enjoy another piece of the farm in our own little garden spaces. Last year when we visited for spring break, we took the opportunity. We loaded up a pick-up truck bed practically full of daffodil bulbs with their blooms still in place and brought them back to Starkville to plant. You can see a few bonus shots of baby Sally “helping” with the planting in the photo evidence below!

This year, Sally is much bigger, and the daffodils have sprouted! Most of them have only put out greenery this year, which is common since we transplanted them while the blooms were still on. However, a few, like the ones above, have graced us with their yellow springtime goodness. I’ll be excited to see their progress next year when they are more accustomed to their new digs!

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make . Hop Along Theater Finger Puppets [printable]

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As promised yesterday, this morning I’m sharing a printable download for Easter finger puppets to go with our mini banners — the acting company in our “Hop Along” Theater! This made for a fun Sunday afternoon with Baby Girl coloring and making the puppets. When we finished, I was told, “I have some good ideas,” for the photos, so today’s post is very sweetly styled by Maggie! I think she did a wonderful job setting a spring scene, and it’s clear she already has that “creative director” tendency. What a joy to see her little ideas blossom! We’re having a pretty fun Easter season blogging together 🙂

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These are pretty easy to make! Just cut along the yellow lines for the base and cut around the figures at whatever level of detail you like. Once they are colored, you can wrap around a test finger and tape — Presto, theater company!

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morning letters . friday 032015

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Happy Vernal Equinox!Just a little reminder to be who you are and add to the loveliness!

make . Easter Egg Holders [printable]

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I’ve been getting into cute bunny mode this week since the kids helped me get down the box of our Easter decorations this weekend. I decided to use a couple of the bunnies from this year’s Easter gift tags (plus a few new watercolor illustrations) to create these printable egg holders. Baby Girl and I had a fun time making the samples! Just click the image below to download the printable. Print the designs onto cardstock, and cut along the dotted lines and around the illustrations. Then, cut the slits shown and thread together to create rings. These would probably be cute napkin rings for a little tea party as well! Enjoy!

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morning letters . monday 031615

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We’ve had two back-to-back sunny days around these parts and we now have spring fever!
Happy Monday!

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