Lovely Things ~ Of The Past

“The ‘Amen’ of nature is always a flower.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Does anyone else love vintage seed packets and garden catalogs?  Perhaps they are simply just another one of the many things I find lovely, but I even thought they were wonderful when I was a young girl.  I would collect my grandmother’s seed packets and tuck them in a notebook.  Goodness, I wish I had those packets today.  I’m not quite sure what I would do with them ~ but I still wish I had them.  Although, I don’t remember any of them being quite as lovely as the ones I am about to show you. 

Still today, pretty seed packets tug at the heart of every gardener.  Seeing gorgeous images on seed packets, makes me want to purchase many and plant them all.  Because that is how gardeners feel and what they do when they lay their eyes on beauties of the plant world.  

 

“Happiness held is the seed, happiness shared is the flower.” ~ Margaret Lindsey

 

 

What a find it would be to come upon a vintage seedbox.  I have memories of hardware stores with whirling ceiling fans, wooden floors that creak, filled with all sorts of treasures and wonderful smells.  The seedbox was always sitting by the cash register, chocked full of glorious seeds, waiting for customer selection. 

 

“Flowers are beautiful hieroglyphics of nature.” ~ Wolfgang von Goethe

Seeing this seed packet of marvelous poppies a gardener clearly imagines a huge vase of them, placed in their home.  

Vintage seed packets not only charmed gardeners by their beauty, their price was sweet.  Today, one couldn’t begin to imagine purchasing six packages of seed, one each of these lovely flowers, for .35 cents including postage and shipping.

Or these nasturtiums for 5 cents a packet.  And,  just a bit of information: Nasturtiums are not only pretty to grow, they are most enjoyable sprinkled on top of a salad.

And who could resist purchasing a packet of seeds with this precious little girl on the front?  Surely, any company who approved this image must have wonderful seeds that would grow and thrive.

So while we may no longer be able to purchase our seeds in such lovely packets ~ the joy of planting and watching things grow still remains. 

Popping outside first thing in the morning, in your bare feet, to see what changed while you were sleeping, filling vases with gorgeousness, drinking in the fragrance and beauty is what keeps gardeners moving forward.  It truly is a magnificent world.  Once discovered ~ remains with you always. 

“The flowering plant is a metaphor, easily observed for the whole of life.  Everything is contained within the bud, which holds all the promise.  But the glory of the open flower is beyond all anticipation.” ~ Linda Funk 

 

 

Thanks for visiting.  Wishing you a beautiful day! 

Au Revoir,

Sandra

 

Special NotesThe ‘Event Section’ of this blog has been updated.  Please take a look, there may be something you would like to attend. There are many lovely events happening around the country. 

Also, we have changed Web Managers.  In the process of also changing servers, a few of the comments were lost from my last post, I apologize for this.  Know your comments are always a joy and I so appreciate the time you take to write them. 

Photos:  Pinterest and Facebook

 

 

 

A Special Day

“A mother’s love can not be measured.  It’s a brilliant gem to be treasured.” ~ Unknown

Much has changed since the first Mother’s Day Celebration which was held in 1908, at a little Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. However, our devotion to our mothers has remained the same.  Mothers profoundly impact our lives and therefore the world.  With that being said, we want to celebrate, honor and shower them with all the goodness and love we can possibly put forth.  So, should you be in need of a little inspiration to create that extra special day, I hope you will find it here.  After all, you have arrived at Where Inspiration Blooms.  

 

“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Mothers are the very heart of our homes.  Our homes are where families are comfortable and happy ~ which makes them the absolute perfect place for our celebrations. But, let’s make this special day all about memories, not work.   

Today, I am honored to share with you the lovely creations of a most talented lady and my blogging friend,  Pam at ~ Everyday Living.  For those of you who may not be familiar with her work or her inspiring blog, she is a gifted interior decorator, photographer, and writer.  Pam is also a wife, mother and grandmother ~ one busy lady.  And when you see her work, my goodness you will be inspired, because no one does more beautiful tablescapes than Pam.  You will jump out of your seat and busy yourself with new ideas to create a perfectly stunning setting for your own celebration. 

Brace yourself ~ Beauty is about to unfold!

  http://everydayliving.me/2017/07/11/blue-white-on-a-summer-night/

http://everydayliving.me/2017/07/25/nestled-in-the-grasses-a-giveaway/

“The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation.” – James E. Faust

It is true, we do not all have lovely gardens which serve as a wonderful setting for special occasions.  Even for those who do, weather can often determine a change to indoors.  So my answer to this:  Fill your room with bloom!

Blooms atop a stack of plates on a buffet, instantly signify ~ a special occasion.

And of course, a table filled with gorgeous flowers always conveys love and thoughtfulness.

“The most indispensable ingredient of all good home cooking:  love for those you are cooking for.” ~ Sophia Loren

Now, that you have a few ideas for a beautiful table whirling around in your mind, let’s talk about food.  Truly, you can have wonderful food without intense preparation.  I am sharing several recipes which can mostly be made ahead of time.  Leaving you time to play with blooms, enjoy Your day and Your wonderful family! 

Salads

Sarah Frost Stamps’ Chicken Salad

Shrimp Salad

Chicken Salad

6 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves

1 onion quartered

11 stalks celery, divided

3 stems flat-leaf parsley

1 Tbls. plus 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided

1/2 tsp. ground red pepper

2 Tbls. sugar

1 Tbls. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. dry mustard

1/4 tsp. ground white pepper

1/4 tsp. ground red pepper

2 egg yolks, lightly beaten

1/4 cup tarragon vinegar

1 Tbls. unsalted butter

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

In a large pot, combine chicken, onion, 3 celery stalks, parsley, 1 Tbls. salt and 1/2 tsp. red pepper.  Cover with water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until chicken is falling off the bone, approximately 30 minutes.  Remove the chicken from broth.  Strain and reserve the broth for another use, discard vegetables.  Let chicken cool completely.  Shred meat, and place in a large bowl.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, combine sugar, flour, mustard, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, white pepper, and red pepper.  Whisk in egg yolks and vinegar.  Whisk constantly until mixture is thickened.  Remove from heat, and whisk in butter, then cream.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  Finely chop remaining 8 celery stalks.  Add to bowl with chicken.  Pour dressing over chicken and celery, tossing to combine.  At this point you can add any or all of the following:  red seedless grapes – halved, a golden delicious apple – peeled and chopped, chopped pecans, and raisins.  Serve cold, with or on soft rolls.  Note: Make this a day ahead and refrigerate overnight.

 

Shrimp Salad

Note:  I have made this recipe for so many years, I could put it together in my sleep.  If you have shrimp lovers in your family, you will never go wrong with this recipe.

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise ( I use Hellman’s)

1.2 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

3 Tbls. ketchup

4 tsp. fresh lemon juice (fresh only)

3 tsp. horseradish

1 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined

1 (16-ounce) box macaroni noodles, cooked and drained (I use Barilla elbow macaroni)

In a large bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, onion, celery, ketchup, lemon juice, horseradish, salt, and pepper.  Stir mp and macaroni.  Cover, and chill for at least 4 hours before serving.  Note:  Make this a day ahead and refrigerate overnight.  Serve cold and with soft rolls.

 

Warm From The Oven 

Hampton Roads Crab Imperial 

 

Hampton Roads Crab Imperial

Note:  I have been making this recipe for close to forty years.  It is a recipe from the Virginia coast.  I make it a day ahead, pull it from the refrigerator and pop it in the oven.  You have a marvelous warm dish.  It is wonderful for a luncheon or dinner.

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 tsp. dry mustard

dash of white pepper

2 lbs. backfin crabmeat ( you read that correctly – it is 2 lbs.)

4 Tbls. chopped pimento

2 1/4 cups mayonnaise ( I use Hellman’s)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  Beat the eggs with mustard and pepper.  Add crabmeat, pimento and 2 cups of the mayonnaise.  Spoon the mixture into a 2-quart casserole baking dish and spread with 1/4 cup mayonnaise and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.  Bake for about 20 minutes until brown and bubbly.  Note – I check this at 20 minutes, but I usually bake it for 30.

 

Dessert

Pound Cake, With Choice of Fresh Berries

Or

Vanilla Ice Cream, With Choice of Fresh Berries

 

 

Pound Cake

1 stick butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the sour cream and mix until incorporated. Sift the baking soda and flour together. Add to the creamed mixture alternating with eggs, beating in each egg 1 at a time. Add vanilla.

Pour the mixture into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit today and have received some great ideas and inspiration.  As you can see the recipes are easy and are meant to provide a day free of work.  They assure you will spend little time in the kitchen, after all,  it is your day.

In closing, I want to thank Pam at Everyday Living for her kindness and generosity.  I believe it was Maya Angelou who said, “A person will always remember how you made them feel.”  So true with regard to my friend, Pam.  She has been a great source of inspiration since I began this blog and I will never forget her kindness and how she has made me feel.

So, to all the mother’s who may be reading this today, I wish you a glorious day, filled with everyone and everything you love.  A day of beauty and celebration! Never doubt your love radiates in our world and is a true force for good! 

“The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the heart of a mother.” ~ St. Therese of Lixieux

Au Revoir,

Sandra 

 

 

 

PhotosEveryday Living, Michael Lambiotte, Traditional Home, Pinterest

 

Sunday Morning

Outside the window, the morning air is awash with angels.” ~  Richard Wilbur

 

Good Morning, Everyone! 

I know you don’t usually hear from me on Sunday’s.  However, I have something lovely to share this morning, and I wanted to let you know just a bit about my upcoming post.  A post, I hope will be a wonderful inspiration for  Mother’s Day.  My thoughts are:  It will be filled with gorgeous flowers, inspiring words, fabulous recipes, and much love.  And, I know you will be truly inspired when you see the beauty and creativity of a remarkably talented woman and blogging friend.   I am honored she has agreed for me to share a little of her work with all of you.  So be sure to tune in Wednesday, May 9, 2018.      

As many of you already know, I am from West Virginia and I make “My Home Among The Hills.”   Truly, I will be forever grateful for having been raised where the glory of nature abounds in every season.   Even though I lived away for over thirty years, I know growing up in such a gorgeous part of our world was the beginning of my lifelong love affair with beauty.  So, without further chatter, I hope you will enjoy what I feel is a perfectly beautiful beginning to a ‘Sunday Morning.’  For my fellow West Virginians, wherever you may be, I know this will tug at your heart.  And if you do not have West Virginia blood running through your veins ~ I still believe you will enjoy the beauty.   Please Visit 

 

Whatsoever things are true, Whatsoever things are honest, Whatsoever things are just, Whatsoever things are pure, Whatsoever things are lovely, Whatsoever things are of good report:  If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, Think on these things.”  – Philippians 4:8

 

 

Thanks so much for your visit. Wishing you and yours a beautiful and peaceful day!

Au Revoir, 

Sandra

 

Photo:  Photo Pinterest, Words and Music by E. W. James – youtube

 

 

What Is Your Name?

“If the names are unknown, knowledge of the things also perishes.” ~ Carl Linnaeus, Philosophia Botanica, 1751

Paeonia ~ Peony, Gardenia ~ Photo was taken spring, 2017.  She is a favorite in our garden.

 

One spring day, too many years ago, I was with my mom and we were visiting one of her favorite garden centers.  No doubt, she was in pursuit of some fabulous horticulture specimen she had recently seen at a flower show.  I enjoyed admiring all the gorgeousness, making mental notes of things I deemed lovely, visualizing them in my own garden.  On this outing, mom was not only focused on her pursuit, she was also busy being my teacher.  She was teaching me about names, by saying things like: “Oh Sandra, aren’t Beverly Sills and Edith Wolford stunning? And, isn’t the blue-green color in Jensen pretty?”  I remember after one of her many introductions, saying to her, “Mom, how do you ever remember all those names?” Her reply, “Sandra, you want people to remember your name ~ don’t you?”

While I do not remember what fabulous plant mom was in pursuit of that particular day, I will never forget what she said to me.  And just recently, after all these years, the dots finally connected. 

Tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes.”  William Wordsworth

Iris Germanica ~ Iris, Edith Wolford

Iris Germanica ~ Iris, Beverly Sills ~ In our garden, spring 2017.

Mom’s beloved, Iris Germanica ~ Iris, Laced Cotton.  Happily living in our garden.

Ever since that day with mom, I have always done my best to remember plant names. However, the dots completely connected, when I recently read the words of Carl Linnaeus, written in 1751. Truly, I had an “Aha moment.”  You may have even heard the bells ringing as I thought, “That is what mom meant by how important it is to remember the names of  lovely things from the garden world.”  We want to prevent lost knowledge.

“Flowers are the hieroglyphics of angels, loved by all human beings for the beauty of their character, although few can decipher even a few fragments of their meaning.” ~ Lydia M. Child

To prevent knowledge of plants being lost is one of the many reasons plant societies exist.  Societies such as… the American Peony Society, the American Iris Society, and the Texas Rose Rustlers ~ just to name a few.  These societies do way more than announce award winners and sponsor shows.  I will share what I know and some of the detailed and important work they do in another post. 

So, while I do my best to remember common names of plants, I also try to learn their botanical names. While clearly, I don’t begin to know all botanical names, not even a small percentage.  I do try to make a note of such names when writing about a specific plant in my garden journal or giving a plant as a gift.  Both names are important.

“Won’t you come into the garden?  I would like the roses to see you.” ~ Richard Brimsley Sheridan

Because of their beauty and fragrance ~ roses are queens of many gardens.  Therefore, one certainly would never want to invite others into the garden on their behalf without knowing their names. 

Rosa ~ Rose, Chrysler Imperial ~ My husband’s favorite, which explains why there are two in our garden.

Rosa ~ Rose, Billy Graham

Rosa ~ Rose, Peace ~ I have included special information about this beautiful rose at the end of this post.

 

Perfumes are the feeling of flowers. – Heinrich Heine

 

In closing, I will share a couple of recent experiences I have had regarding plant names or I should say, lack of.  When shopping last spring for a Dwarf English Boxwood, the boxwoods which were available for purchase were marked ~ Assorted Boxwood.  Now, this was quite disturbing, as there are many, many different varieties of boxwood.  Ranging in size from dwarf to other numerous varieties which will grow quite large.  I needed dwarf, we have a small space.  Another reason I needed to know what I was purchasing was for my planting zone.  It can get below zero by several degrees in North Central West Virginia.  Therefore, I required a plant which would survive such temperatures.  Needless to say, I ordered my boxwood to be assured of what I was purchasing.

Also last spring, my husband came home with the most glorious pot of daffodils.  In all my gardening years, I had never seen this particular daffodil.  When I looked at the tag to see what these gorgeous things were, guess what the tag said?  You guessed it ~ Assorted Daffodils.  I was sick.  Of course, we planted them and this year they were as beautiful as I remembered, but I don’t know who they are.  Unless there is a record of them through a daffodil society, their name and information about them may well be lost forever.

“The earth laughs in flowers.” ~ Emerson

Paeonia ~ Peony, The Fawn ~ Another favorite of our garden.  I love her dark pink speckles.

So, dear friends,  the next time you see a stunning beauty of the garden world and your heart pounds a little harder, I hope you will ask~ “What is your name?” And perhaps, today, you have found a little inspiration to remember.

 

Thanks for visiting.  Have a most beautiful day

 

Au Revoir,

Sandra

 

Note:  A little information regarding the Peace Rose.

Just prior to Hitler’s invasion of France, the French rose breeder, Francis Meilland feared the beautiful Meilland gardens would be destroyed.  Mr. Meilland hastily sent out of France, three parcels of cuttings.  One of which was smuggled out in a diplomatic bag to America.  For the duration of the war, the Meilland family had no idea what happened to their treasured cuttings or if any survived.  In America, the rose grower who received the cuttings from France planted them in his trial beds.  The rose grew and thrived and thousands of plants were propagated.  It was decided that this magnificent new rose would be launched in Pasadena, California on April 29, 1945.  It was a coincidence that this was the same day Berlin fell and a truce was declared.  Because ‘peace’ was the world’s greatest desire, it was decided this new rose should be named ‘PEACE.’  And, so it was.  In case you may be wondering, the advancing German forces totally destroyed the Meilland gardens. What was not burned, was crushed by tanks.  However, they re-built the gardens after the war, and today have branches all over the world.  Further reading about the Peace Rose:  For Love of a Rose written by,  Antonia Ridge. 

 

Photos:  Michael Lambiotte and Pinterest

 

 

 

 

 

Home, Sweet Home !

“Beauty reaches into the depths of our hearts to stir the feelings God placed there.” ~ Greta Crank

Good morning, everyone!  I hope this finds you seeing blue skies and lovely signs of spring.  Spring is taking her sweet time arriving in the hills of West Virginia.  However, that will make her arrival all the more glorious, and has given me extra time to think about our ‘Home, Sweet Home.’

Do you have a long spring ‘to do’ list? I always seem to.  Things I say I will do during the winter, but come spring there they are ~ patiently awaiting my attention.    Spring seems to be the time of year I give our home some extra love, as I imagine it is for most.  Our homes are vitally important to us ~ they are where we hang our hearts. We all have the chance to make our homes a sacred place, one of beauty which will “reach into our hearts and stir the feelings God placed there.” Creating a beautiful home can be one of our greatest achievements.  And, to me, the joy is in the process.

Therefore,  today I would like to share some lovely spaces which certainly have been given love.  Whether you home is large, small or in between, there are many ways to add charm. I hope you will find inspiration for things such as:  furniture placement, style of furniture and colors.  So grab your coffee and enjoy.  And, think about your “Home, Sweet Home.”  We live in houses ~ they become homes when they radiate our own unique personalities.

“There is no reason, either in prose or in rhyme, why a whole house should not be a poem.” ~ Ella Church Rodman 

Isn’t this a lovely entry?  What a beautiful greeting to see this gorgeous basket of blooms.  Certainly not all homes have such an entry.  But, if you have even a tiny space, a vase of something blooming is always an inviting touch.  Our home is one without a large entry.  We have a small space below the side lights of the front door During the spring and summer, I try to keep a filled bud vase on this space.  I have had our mail carrier thank me.  He said, “seeing blooms through the window makes his day.”

“Your home should represent who you are on your best day.”  ~ Eric Ross

I enjoy the colors in this room and the details.  Details, such as the blue on the inside of the tables and the dark blue band on the skirt of the sofa.

This room has the power to make one feel it is spring in January.  It is so fresh and full of life.  The stage is set for good times ~ memories!

My old friend blue, funny how she most always shows herself in my posts. Blue, simply makes my heart pound just a little harder.  You?

Would you like to add color to a room or perhaps change the color?  While painting can be work, it can certainly give a room an entirely new personality without significant cost.  However, if you don’t wish to paint, or may be a little shy of painting an entire room, try adding a color which appeals to you in accents, such as pillows, window treatments, ottomans, pottery, china or lovely florals.

“For without the private world of retreat man becomes virtually an unbalanced creature.” ~ Eleanor McMillen Brown

I hope you have enjoyed your visit this morning and perhaps have gained some inspiration for your “Home, Sweet Home.”  When we show our homes love, although it may be invisible to our eyes, this loving energy and spirit can be felt.  Our homes stand proud with the love they have received, and our “hearts are stirred” by the beauty we have created.

In closing, personally, I feel one of the most significant things we can do to shower our homes with love is ~ give them a name. Something I have written about before. Immediately they stand a little taller.  Perhaps, this notion of mine came from the great amount of time I have spent in the South, where many homes are named.  Honestly, I can’t tell you why, but what I can tell you is, “It truly adds a great deal to a home.”  Gives them that extra little something or as the French say,  a little “je ne sais quoi.”   Should you be in the need of any suggestions, contact me. I have loads of names whirling around in my head, just waiting for a home.

Now you know where the name for this blog originated.  Yes, Maison de Jardin is the name of our ‘home’ ~ translated, The Garden House.

Thanks for visiting.  Wishing you a most beautiful weekend ! 

 

Au Revoir,

Sandra

 

“It never occurred to me until I had this house to take a vacation and stay home.” ~   Bill Robinson, Interior Decorator

 

Photos:  Facebook, Michael Lambiotte, Pinterest, Atlanta Homes, Architectural Digest, Better Homes and GardensTraditional Home, Tumblr~ The Style Cocktail. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Better homes and gardens photo

“Through The Garden Gate”

“This is the gate of my garden.  I invite you to enter in:  not only into my garden, but into the world of gardens ~ a world as old as the history of man, and as new as the latest contribution of science; a world of mystery, adventure and romance; a world of poetry and philosophy; a world of beauty; and a world of work.”  ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

Many of you may or may not be familiar with Elizabeth Lawrence.  She wrote Through the Garden Gate, a Sunday column in the Charlotte Observer, from 1957 ~ 1971.  The quote from her, was part of her first column on August 11, 1957. Along with writing her weekly column, she was the author of several wonderful gardening books.  One I am especially fond of is “Through the Garden Gate.”  It is a collection of 144 columns by Ms. Lawrence and is a marvelous treasure.  Still today, her words continue to serve as great inspiration for gardeners, and the thought of following her into her garden remains a lovely invitation. One, I would  certainly would accept. 

As all gardeners know, through the garden gate there lies a “world of work.” However, many gardeners would probably agree with Frances Schultz.  “Doing, creating, practicing, cultivating, or caring for something you love is one of the most spirit~feeding, heart~singing things you can do.”  Gardeners love sharing their gardens and value the time spent in them.  Gardeners enjoy gorgeous flowers in a kaleidoscope of colors, shrubbery, trees, luscious vegetables and herbs, sweet bird song and heavenly smells.  However, I believe there may be something much greater all gardeners enjoy ~ a respite from the weariness of the world.  

“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.” ~ Unknown

Gardens restore our souls.  They are a sweet, fresh, gentle and delightful place.  Where we can enjoy the many different symphonies of bird song, the hum of bees, and the sound of trickling water.  A place to simply, “Be.”  All of which, lulls us to a place of peace.  And, in this place of peace, our sense of sight, smell, sound, taste and touch is restored.  This restoration enables us to see sweet fairytale wonder, a multitude of minute details, regain hope, and feel the presence of God.

“From the tickle of grass underneath bare feet to the sweet perfume of antique roses that whisks us along on a sentimental journey, being in the garden means being in the moment.  Every sense gets engaged, while the other cares of the world melt away.” ~ June, 2016, issue of Flower

Planning and planting an enchanted garden takes time.  I have known many gardens, had the great joy of planting three, and have had the wonderful opportunity to visit many.  Added to the list of beautiful gardens I have seen ~ my mother’s garden.  Where spectacular wide sweeps of blush pink rhododendron were backed by giant hemlocks and flanked along the sides by bridal wreath spiarea.  Truly, one was transported to another world. 

Obviously, I can’t fail to mention our garden in Virginia.  She was dressed with tall loblolly pines, which shaded blood red Tom Knudsen camellias and white Sister Theresa hydrangeas.  For fragrance and color, the garden was drenched in an assortment of over 200 peonies, along with 70 plus roses. 

I am blessed beyond measure to have the memory of these gardens.  And, in each and every one of these magical places, I paused and felt a presence calling me to slow down, linger a while, enjoy the beauty and simply “Be.” I felt a sense of reverence for the peace and loveliness ~ a sense of gratitude for the privilege to enjoy such exquisite beauty.

“You haven’t really experienced a garden until you have slept in it, seen it, that is, in light fading to extinction, explored it at night with hesitant steps, and watched it come awake to birdsong at dawn. ~ Hugh Johnson

As we enter into this glorious season of spring, I wish all of you who are gardeners the happiest of moments in your gardens.  For those who may not be gardeners, perhaps you may have found a bit of inspiration here this morning.  Contemplate the impact a peaceful garden could make and thereby, enhance the quality of life for you and those you love.  Walk ‘through your garden gate.’ Visualize how you would like it to look, be fearless, dream big, but start small.  Create a place where you and your family can immerse yourselves in beauty and be in awe of the splendor of nature.  

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” ~ Rachel Carson

 

Thanks for visiting.  Wishing you a glorious day ! 

Au Revoir,

Sandra

 

 

Photos:  Michael Lambiotte, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr,Madaboutgardendesign and Veranda Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When The Lilacs Bloom !

“But remembering those moments, I stand still in ecstasy, inhaling through the noise of falling rain, the smell of invisible, enduring lilacs.” ~ Marcel Proust

With the promise of spring soon to arrive to the hills of West Virginia, one of the things we will see and enjoy, are lilacs. Lilacs are one of the many fabulous beauties of the garden world, but they are not happy in all parts of the country.  So, today I thought I would share some of what I have learned with regard to growing these beauties.

Like many things that grow easily and are abundant, lilacs can often be taken for granted.  They are common in this part of the country, and thrive in our climate.  However, because I always adored them, when we moved to Virginia, I was determined to have them at our home.  My decision to grow them went completely against the advice of a grand and experienced gardener, my mom.  I can’t tell you the many years I struggled to grow them, with zero success.  I watched too many, that I nurtured and prayed over, only make it through one or perhaps two growing seasons, then wilt under the boiling sun and die.  I ordered specific cultivars, special food, amended the soil, purchased books about their care ~ you name it, I tried it.  I desperately wanted lilacs by our back gate. After all, what could possibly be more inviting than lilacs greeting everyone who entered?

“Lilacs are May in essence.” ~ Jean Hersey

But, I finally learned one gigantic lesson in gardening.  Not all plants thrive in all parts of the country.  And no amount of wishing, hoping and praying will make it happen.  Lilacs are not happy in coastal Virginia.  They are not fond of sandy soil, torrential rain, brutal heat and humidity.  They like rocky soil, something their little roots can wrap themselves around, cold winters and moderate summers.  

When we returned to West Virginia, one of the first things that went into our garden was a lilac.  We now have three, and one of my favorites is a dark violet lilac, Ludwig Spaeth.  He is a beauty and was given to me by my friend, Cathy.  A snip from an old one in her garden.

Lilacs are easily started from a start of  an old shrub.  Usually, if you look at the base of a mature plant you will see young sprouts.  Select one about 3 or 4 inches tall and give a quick, firm jerk.  You should see some roots.  I usually pot this in a medium size pot, with garden soil.  Place it where you can easily water, and check its progress.  Give it a little morning sun and shade in the afternoon.  It may wilt a little, but it should soon perk up and take off.  After it looks strong and is beginning to grow, you can plant it in the desired location. Try to plant on a cloud-covered day, with the possibility of rain in the forecast.  And, if possible, it is better to wait until early fall to plant.

We have another, quite special lilac, which came from my husbands family farm in Pennsylvania.  The home, barn, and outbuildings are all gone now, but the lilac continues to grow and bloom.  Visiting the home-place several years ago, we were able to obtain a piece of it ~ now a joy every spring.  I believe it to be a cultivar named President Lincoln, an heirloom variety.

Lilacs grow rapidly and can quickly get out of hand.  They are at their best and can be enjoyed the most, when they are kept at a height you can easily reach to cut their blooms.  After all, lilacs are all about enjoying their fragrance ~ something you can’t do when the blooms are high above your head.  Lilacs should be pruned immediately after the blooms are finished.  If you have an old lilac in need of having the height reduced, you can prune the height by one-third each year until it reaches the desired height.  Be sure to check the shrub well each year, removing any branches that are crossing or rubbing each other.  This can cause a break on the skin of the shrub.  Therefore, inviting insects and disease.  Also, keep the inside thinned to allow for good circulation.

“A faint smell of lilac filled the air.  There was always lilac in this part of town.  Where there were grandmothers, there was always lilac.” ~ Laura Miller

So now you know, I have garden loves other than peonies.  I hope you have enjoyed “When The Lilacs Bloom,” and that you live where you can enjoy them, too.  However, if you do not, at the end of this post I have listed a few lilac festivals you might enjoy visiting this spring.  And most importantly, do remember:  “You will know it is here, or getting near, when the LILACS Bloom !” ~ Unknown   (The words on a vintage sampler, gifted to me from my husband for my birthday many years ago.)

Did you know?   “When a man gives a woman a lilac, he’s asking her a question:  do you still love me? ~ Colleen Houck

 

 

Thanks so much for visiting.  Wishing you and yours a most beautiful day ! 

Au Revoir,

Sandra

 

 

Lilac Festivals

Lilac Time at Lilacia Park

Lombard, Illinois

May 4 through 20, 2018

 

Rochester, New York Lilac Festival

May 11 through 20, 2018

 

The Mackinac Island, Michigan Lilac Festival

June 8 through 17, 2018

www.mackinacisland.org

 

Photos:  Pinterest and facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter Joy!

“Twas Easter-Sunday.  The full-blossomed trees filled all the air with fragrance and with joy.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Good morning, everyone! I hope wherever you may be, this finds you enjoying this most beautiful of seasons, and that you have plans for a lovely, peaceful Easter Sunday.

I don’t know about you, but Easter has rather crept up on me this year.  I am going to blame it on the weather.  Until just the past few days it has been quite cold, and there isn’t much blooming, with the exception of a few daffodils.  However, if  you also feel like you may have a few loose ends,  are scurrying about with regard to plans for your Easter table, or wondering what to give as a token of love and appreciation for someone special ~ take heart.  I am sending along a few ideas. All of which can be quickly arranged, easily transported, and materials are readily available at garden centers this time of year. 

 

First, and a favorite are: Sweet Tete~a~Tete daffodils. They are a miniature daffodil, an early season bloomer, are perfect for an Easter table, or to take as a small gift.  They are most always available in small pots at garden centers and grocery stores.  They can easily be placed in a grapevine nest or basket. Afterwards, they can be planted in the garden ~ spring blooms for years to come. 

Don’t you love this grapevine centerpiece?  It is simply a woven basket, filled with any  gorgeousness of your choice, and placed in the middle of a grapevine wreath.  It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Here is another example of the same type centerpiece.  It is filled with a cute bunny, greens, and a nest of eggs.  The possibilities of this type of arrangement are never-ending.

Another of my favorites for an Easter table are pansies.  I enjoy seeing a fairly large container of them for the center of the table and a small cup or mug at each place setting.  Because they come in such a wide variety of colors, they are easily paired with almost any color scheme.

Now that you have a few easy ideas for dressing your table, I am sending a tried and true dessert recipe.  I really can’t tell you why, but I associate coconut with spring. Although, in the deep south, a coconut cake is often served at Christmas.  But, really this recipe is great anytime of the year.  It is an elegant~looking cake (4 layers), but so easy to prepare.  It is a perfect choice for any special occasion, especially if you are making last minute plans.

Fresh Coconut Cake

1 Box Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Golden Cake Mix

2 packages fresh frozen coconut

1 cup sugar

1 and 1/2 cups sour cream

1~9oz. container cool whip

Directions:

Prepare the cake according to package directions.  Bake in 2 layers.  Let the layers completely cool.  Slice each one, making 4 layers.

Filling and Frosting:

Thaw coconut completely.  Reserve 1/2 of 1 package to use on top of the cake.  Add sugar to sour cream and mix well, then add coconut and mix again.  Place 1st layer on serving plate.  Add a layer of filling and a layer of cool whip.  Repeat with 2 more layers.  On the top layer – use cool whip only.  Spread remaining coconut(not mixed with sour cream and sugar) on top of cool whip. Cover cake well and refrigerate over-night before cutting and serving.  Enjoy! 

CLOSING THOUGHTS

“I think of the garden after the rain;  And hope to my heart comes singing, at morn the cherry-blooms will be white, and the Easter bells be ringing !” ~ Edna Dean Proctor,Easter Bells

“For I remember it is Easter Morn, and Life and Love and Peace are all New Born.” ~ Alice Freeman Palmer

 

Wishing you and all those you love, a glorious Easter weekend !

 

Many Blessings,

Sandra

 

Photos:  Martha Stewart.com, Pinterest and Facebook

 

 

 

From A Neighbor’s Window

“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” ~ Roald Dahl

 

A few years ago, I remember reading we should be able to see something we deem beautiful from every window of our home.  I thought about this the other day, as I was looking across the street at my neighbor’s cherry trees,  imagining what a sight they will soon be weeping to the ground, full of bloom.  From another window, I see my dear friend Cathy scurrying about her garden, and the daffodils she planted just about to bloom.  And from still another window I see a magnificent purple beech, which will shelter many birds, and provide huge swaths of shade during hot summer days. 

All my window sight-seeing started me to think about what may be in my neighbors view.  So I thought I would share a few photos from last spring ~ my neighbors view.  You can see we replaced a shrub on the right side of the house.  The new rhododendron is blush pink, and doubled its size last year.  Soon, it will catch up in size to its deep pink neighbors on either side.  I am quite anxious to see it bloom this spring.

“A rhododendron bud lavender-tipped.  Soon a glory of blooms to clash with the cardinals and gladden the hummingbirds!” ~ Dave Beard

The rhododendron is the state flower of  West Virginia, my home.

The urn at the foot of the front steps, is loaded with cheerful geraniums.  Geraniums are happy in this spot, as they enjoy morning sun and afternoon shade.  Just what they love.

“Long experience has taught me that people who do not like geraniums have something morally unsound about them. Sooner or later you will find them out; you will discover that they drink, or steal books, or speak sharply to cats. Never trust a man or a woman who is not passionately devoted to geraniums.”  ~ John Beverley Nichols, Merry Hall

Lining the walkway to the ‘jardin’ are the Annabelle girls.  These girls literally stop traffic every year.  They are glorious with their enormous blooms of white, changing to chartreuse before turning a soft brown.  I disagree with Carl Sandburg who said, “I tell you the white hydrangeas turn rust and go soon.”  Really, they do not.  They begin to bloom around the 15th of June, and it is August before they are brown.  Did you know, a bouquet of hydrangeas expresses the giver’s gratefulness for the recipients understanding?  Also, hydrangeas symbolize appreciation and heartfelt emotion.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing a little of my neighbor’s view.  And I hope, from the windows of your home, you also see something  you deem lovely. I believe we miss a great deal when we don’t stop to look ‘out and around.’  For it truly is in the “most unlikely places that we see hidden secrets”, glimpses of extraordinary beauty, and more.

 

Wishing you and those you love, a most beautiful and peaceful Sunday !

Au Revoir,

Sandra

 

 

Photos:  Michael Lambiotte, Pinterest

In The Green

“Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.” – From Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Good morning dear friends and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day !  This time of year always finds me enjoying green.  The brown is slowly turning green, green shoots emerging everywhere, and the entire earth seems happy.  So today, I thought I would share a bit of nature’s color ~ both from the garden world, and interior spaces.  Grab your coffee, and come along. Perhaps, “In The Green” will speak to you. 

 

“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.” ~ Ruth Stout

Cleveland Botanical Gardens

Something I love in a garden is a parterre.   If you are not familiar with parterres, they have their origins in France.  They are meant to represent, a garden within a garden.   While I no longer wish to care for one the size in this photo, I do have a small one in our garden, which I will share later in the spring.  They can be a joy to a gardener, because of the endless creative possibilities.  They can be designed to immediately show the treasures they hold or designed to slowly open, so as to reveal lovely things.  Often they contain spring blooms of daffodils and tulips, and pretty summer blooms of every description.  They can also be pretty and interesting when planted with delightful herbs and vegetables.  Parterres are also wonderful homes for roses too, as roses prefer to have their ankles hidden.  

“For still there are so many things that I have never seen:  In every wood, in every spring, there is a different green.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Moving along to interior spaces let’s go in the back door, and begin our tour in this wonderful garden room.  Truly, every gardener or floral designer dreams of having a room ~ a green room, with a great sink, shelves for vessels, cabinets for storage, and places to hang baskets and tools.

What a charming space to curl up and enjoy a nice coffee or tea.  Perhaps a great book, followed by a nap.

And who doesn’t love a cheerful dining area ?  This room would be spring in January, with its touches of green.

What a beautiful bathroom, dressed with a marvelous shade of green.  However, I believe the real beauty  of this room is in the design.  The entire look of the room  could be easily be changed,  simply by a different color selection of towels. To me, great design is when an area can be refreshed without significant cost or effort.

Have you read the book, “The Bee Cottage Story?”  The book was written by Frances Schultz, and it is about the renovation of her cottage in New York.  She was clearly  ‘In The Green’ as she made fabric selections for her lovely living room.  Schultz is also an interior designer, and often writes for House Beautiful magazine.

I too, found myself  ‘In The Green’ a few years ago when a category in a Standard Flower show needed filling.  For those of you who may not know ~ if all categories in a show are not filled the show is null and void.  This is not a good thing, as there is a tremendous amount of work and hours of planning that goes into a flower show.  But, back to me “In The Green” ~ my first thought was, “How in the world will I do an all green design?”  But, I did.  And, it won the Designers Choice Award and Best In Show Award. The plant material is: hydrangea, spider mum, bells of Ireland, English ivy, and curly willow.  The vase is green glass.

 

I hope you have enjoyed your time ‘In The Green.’  And, as it is Saint Patrick’s Day, I will leave you with one of my favorite Irish Blessings.

 

“May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day.

May songbirds serenade you every step along the way.

May a rainbow run beside you in a sky that’s always blue.

And may happiness fill your heart each day your whole life through.”

 

 

Thanks so much for stopping by.  Know how much I appreciate your comments.

Wishing you and yours a beautiful day !

 

 

Au Revoir,

Sandra

 

 

Photos:  Pinterest, Michael Lambiotte, Veranda, House Beautiful and Country Living.