On Gardening

Garden Tour

Garden Tour (Photo credit: Abby Lanes)

There are a little over six weeks until the calendar declares the first day of Spring.  Of course that’s not really significant to the gardener because calendars know nothing about weather patterns or whether it is warm enough to begin planting anything, especially in Missouri.  However, the serious gardeners have already planted in the fall, and can watch tiny green points push up from the earth before the rest of us, who still believe planting season begins with warm weather.  There are always weeds to pull while we’re waiting for our late seeds and bulbs to grow, of course, so there’s work for everybody.

My mom always plants a vegetable garden behind our house, out back of the crippled tool shed, but the grass takes over every year so we’re constantly plowing it up or inviting someone with more powerful machinery to plow it for us.  The usual menu from our garden includes: cucumbers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, squash, and stawberries.  Last year, we tried onions, though they were nearly washed away by frequent rains, and peppers.  Sometimes, we plant okra because my mom likes it, and we’ve tried corn several times, but it generally produces cobs of corn too small and undeveloped to be worth picking.  Maybe this year the garden fairies will be good to us…

We also plant a few flowers along the foundation of the house, carport, around a few tree stumps, and inside some flower beds.  My favorite plants are the peonies, surprise lilies, and the hens and chicks, which though pretty, aren’t flowers at all.  I also love the long, glorious tangles of honeysuckle that stretch along the back of our garden and behind our clothesline to scent the summer air and welcome gardeners and laundresses to their work. 

Since I’ve got gardens on the brain, I want to share some fun quotes I found on the subject.  All quotes were taken from http://www.quotegarden.com/gardens.html.  I love that so many are taken from garden-lovers who lived a century or more ago; it offers a peek at our long history of passionately planting and tending our little seeds, bulbs, and grafts.  So, here we go!


Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans. ~Marcelene Cox

God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done. ~Author Unknown  (I love this one!)

Don’t wear perfume in the garden – unless you want to be pollinated by bees.  ~Anne Raver

It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought.  ~James Douglas, Down Shoe Lane

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.  ~Mirabel Osler

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it.  ~Author Unknown

How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence.  ~Benjamin Disraeli

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, noproblemgarden.com

You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.  ~Author Unknown

Plants cry their gratitude for the sun in green joy.  ~Terri Guillemets

The garden is the poor man’s apothecary.  ~German Proverb

No two gardens are the same.  No two days are the same in one garden.  ~Hugh Johnson

Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.  ~Author Unknown

From an aunt, long ago:  “Death has come for me many times but finds me always in my lovely garden and leaves me there, I think, as an excuse to return.”  ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

We have descended into the garden and caught three hundred slugs.  How I love the mixture of the beautiful and the squalid in gardening.  It makes it so lifelike.  ~Evelyn Underhill, Letters

I think that if ever a mortal heard the voice of God it would be in a garden at the cool of the day.  ~F. Frankfort Moore, A Garden of Peace

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, www.dodinsky.com

I never had any other desire so strong, and so like to covetousness, as that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and a large Garden.  ~Abraham Cowley, The Garden, 1666

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it.  If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.  ~Author Unknown

When I go into the garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let no one think that real gardening is a bucolic and meditative occupation.  It is an insatiable passion, like everything else to which a man gives his heart.  ~Karel Čapek, The Gardener’s Year, translated by M. and R. Weatherall, 1931

I appreciate the misunderstanding I have had with Nature over my perennial border.  I think it is a flower garden; she thinks it is a meadow lacking grass, and tries to correct the error.  ~Sara Stein, My Weeds, 1988

It takes a while to grasp that not all failures are self-imposed, the result of ignorance, carelessness or inexperience.  It takes a while to grasp that a garden isn’t a testing ground for character and to stop asking, what did I do wrong?  Maybe nothing.  ~Eleanor Perényi, Green Thoughts, 1981

Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden.  ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
~Dorothy Frances Gurney, “Garden Thoughts”

Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw.  ~Henry David Thoreau

Just because you’ve only got houseplants doesn’t mean you don’t have the gardening spirit – I look upon myself as an indoor gardener.  ~Sara Moss-Wolfe

If you’ve never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden.  ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

Gardening is a kind of disease.  It infects you, you cannot escape it.  When you go visiting, your eyes rove about the garden; you interrupt the serious cocktail drinking because of an irresistible impulse to get up and pull a weed.  ~Lewis Gannit

By the time one is eighty, it is said, there is no longer a tug of war in the garden with the May flowers hauling like mad against the claims of the other months.  All is at last in balance and all is serene.  The gardener is usually dead, of course.  ~Henry Mitchell, The Essential Earthman, 1981

Most people who possess anything like an acre, or half of it, contribute weekly to the support of a gentleman known as Jobbing Gardener.  You are warned of the danger that he may prove to be Garden Pest no 1.  ~C.E. Lucas-Phillips, The New Small Garden

There is no gardening without humility.  Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder.  ~Alfred Austin


My Dream Breakfast

With six people in one house, it’s hard to find breakfast food that’s quick and filling, much less that has any flavor.  We have a lot of cereal, some oatmeal (only my dad ever eats that), granola bars, Pop Tarts, and maybe some apples or oranges.  Or leftovers if you have extra time.  Toast is an option if you want to go without a sandwich for lunch.

Since I’ve been dreaming about having my own space and getting to cook for myself (though I’m sure some days that will seem like a terrible chore), I’ve decided on the leisurely breakfast I would love to have after a victorious trip to the market:

Hot tea

Turkey bacon (more meat, less fat, real tasty) with syrup

Homemade waffles with butter and syrup

Sausage links or patties with syrup (seriously, syrup makes everything taste better; I learned this at camp)

French toast with butter and syrup (no worries, I bought two bags of bread–one for breakfast and one for lunch)

Honey ham with syrup

Hashbrowns or fried potatoes with the option of syrup

Hot biscuits with butter (no syrup)

Fresh strawberries and grapes, possibly the only foods on this list that won’t send me into sugar shock

Then I will probably need someone to roll me out the door to work, but at least I’ll have a smile on my face!  :)

Buddy the Elf with his breakfast of spaghetti + syrup + candy

A Celebratione Oxford English Dictionary

Cover of "The Professor and the Madman: A...

A history of words

To the Oxford English Dictionary, I wish you another happy birthday and many more.  Not too many folks make it to 128 these days, but you showed ’em it can still be done!  I can’t even imagine what the world was like in 1884, nevermind the years, full of research and preparation, beforehand. 

Ever since you splashed into our wonderful and wacky language, we have loved you for your clear-sighted guidance and marvelously detailed entries stuffed with information.  Though I never knew you well, you being confined to the reference section of my college library and marked “Library Use Only”, I know intuitively you are a kindred spirit. You are so much more than just another dictionary; you are a complete history of words–a history of a language, a culture, a people.  I hope we become good friends in the future.  How about I distract the librarian so I can take you out for tea?

If you would like to learn more about the fascinating history of the Oxford English Dictionary, try this site.  I think you might enjoy it.   :) 

P.S. There is a book called The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester.  I have yet to read this one, but it sits, alert and ready, on my night table, ever eager to guide my exploration into the world of the English language’s official dictionary.

Additional Note: The title for this post reads, “In Celebration of the Oxford English Dictionary”.  I had it translated into Latin, which is a significant contributor to the English language.

Embracing Life

Central Park, New York City, Winter: The Skati...

Ice Skating in Central Park

I just finished reading an interview with a college student who turned off all of his social media outlets (including e-mail and YouTube) and his phone for 90 days in favor of enjoying the simple realities around him. 

He re-learned how to write a letter (and that he should mail it right away so he doesn’t lose it), go ice-skating, re-introduce himself to the people nearest to him, enjoy a bike ride or a day in the park, have breakfast with friends, and have an enviably solid work session without the distractions of social networking.  I loved that he discovered who his true friends were, versus the acquaintances who wanted him to be always available in case they got bored. 

I hope you take a few minutes to read about this student’s adventure.  Maybe it will inspire you to check out of the online world for a little while and plug back into the simple joys of your life.  I think it’s something I will plan for.  Want to join me?

Give it a try.  Let me know what you think.

What About You?

I live in a tiny town that doesn’t have a whole lot to offer, aside from a library, park, dollar store, and three gas stations.  A few nearby towns have more to do and see, but they are a bit of a drive and I only get to see them if I have a doctor appointment or have to go grocery shopping.

Today’s question is going to be all about you, since I like to know what other people are up to.  :)

What are some of your favorite hangouts where you live?  Is it a cafe?  A mall?  A bookstore?  The gas station?  (Maybe only in small towns…)  I think your favorite place to be (outside of your home) says a lot about your personality and where you and your friends feel comfortable spending time together. 

What is it about your fav. place that you love?  Is it the people, the atmosphere, the food, or the location?  Or is it several of those together?


Dreaming in Colors of Independence

In the wee morning hours of today, my brain was extra talkative–so chatty that I couldn’t sleep.  So I turned to dreaming my favorite dream: taking up housekeeping for myself.  I know it’s still a ways off, but I can hardly wait to get a place of my own and manage it the way I want!  I’m grateful my parents have let me stay at home after college, especially since I have had a chance to build up my bank account, but I really need to get out on my own.  I feel like I should have been out years ago.

Since sleep wasn’t working for me, I whipped out my journal and made a list of the basics I would need to set up housekeeping–from forks and laundry soap to beds and lounge chairs–and I was so excited about it, I stayed up for an hour or two just making sure I hadn’t missed anything.  I’m just so eager to have a space all to myself and make it mine.  A space I can invite people to, learn to cook in (yes, I will learn!), and in which I can finally grow up and make a clean separation from my parents, though I love them very much.

The frustrating thing is that I have to get a new job first, which may take awhile.  Welcome to the real world!  But I’m certainly not going to give up trying; I’m going to use the excitement for getting my own place as a motivator.  Every time I get discouraged or tired and want to give up, I’ll think about how much I need to move on and how much fun it will be to do that.  I feel like maybe once I get out of my parents’ house, I will finally be an adult.  It’s funny how the things we do or don’t do make society think of us in certain ways.  Who determined all those standards in the first place?

What is one dream you are working toward? 

If you haven’t begun, what is one dream you want to work toward?