from the ground up

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Apple nostalgia

Spring surrounds us with fragrance. Some strong, some faint.  All sweet, fresh, lingering. For us, the soft scent of apple blossoms smell deeply rich, like home.  The presence of several stately trees in the backyard of our childhood, one just outside our bedroom windows, was something we took for granted most of the year.  But the old photos jog our memories of time spent beneath them.

circa 1982

Thick photo albums show us smiling under the leaves of the apple trees, donning our name-embroidered backpacks, fresh and ready for our first days of school.  The blossoms decorated many Easter celebrations. Birthday parties were held in their shade.  The trees provided yearly harvests into which our mom, stirring the bubbling pot, batched tangy sauce and sweet apple butter.  We enjoyed a tree house in one of the trees and so did the earwigs, who sent us screeching and squealing from the branches.

And the blossoms.  Oh, how they remind us of home.

Their 5 thick petals, with creamy white on the inside and the softest of pinks on the outside.

photos courtesy of Mom

But, this is mostly nostalgia. Our present living climates offer an abbreviated version of this sweetness where some years the apple blossoms get frozen by a late May storm or the sharp wind takes the petals long before we get to enjoy them.

But the nostalgia is rich, sweet, and lingering.

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Jonquils.  That is what my Grandpa calls them.  I love to talk gardening with him, especially when I can eek out a conversation where he will talk about Jonquils. 

This old fashioned flower is bright like sunshine and creamy soft like butter.  Their nodding heads are a sure sign that we are soon to be turning the pages of our calendar to a warmer month.  Their height, blossom size and color are amazingly variable.  Here are a few details to get you started on planting jonquils in your own garden.

Common Name: Daffodil, Jonquil

Latin Name: Narcissus spp.

Family: Amaryllis

Planting: Species are readily available during late summer and autumn at garden centers and even grocery stores.  Bulbs should be planted at a depth of 1x their height, in any type of soil.  Toss the bulbs onto the ground in the area where you want to plant the and then plant where they have landed.  This gives your planting a “natural” look, instead of a straight rows.

Warnings:  All parts of the daffodil plant; bulbs, leaves and flowers are inedible.  They contain alkaloid compounds that can cause general stomach upset, vomiting and convulsions.

An additional bonus for us zone 4 gardeners, daffodils are deer resistant!  They wont eat them….now tulips are another story.

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Warming our winter bones

This time of year, in our Northern scapes, we oscillate.  Last week, we basked in bright sunshine.  We bared our arms, legs, and faces to draw in the warmth. We donned our shades and discussed sprinklers and lawns as though it were mid-July. Then….we were sharply reminded that it is in fact still early spring here.  As the littles say, “Jack Frost came back”, the weather shifted.  We are back indoors to shirk the  strong winds, cold rain…and yes, more snow.  But our small greenhouse, just out our back door, reminds of warmth on the way, we can feel it.

Some days, we trudge out the door in our boots and coat, through deep snow, and very shortly begin peeling off layers. In our arid climate, about 51% of our days are sun-filled.  Midday, if the sun is shining, the greenhouse is warm.  Often it is hot, too hot.  We prop the door open halfway or all the way and let the cool air in. The plants savor the heat, but not at 114 degrees!  They prefer the mid 70’s F.  Don’t we all!

Then in a blink, swift-moving clouds fill our blustery valley and we dash out to close the door. Keeping the humid, warm air tucked inside for ourselves and of course the plants.  But sure enough, here is the sun again.  Ah, the shiver of warmth on cold.  Back out we go, breathing in the green, checking for dry soil.  From March until July, we repeat this again and again.

Lucky plants!  Lucky us.

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With cold nights and crisp mornings still lingering, and bright white still frosting the mountains, we reason that Summer is still a long way off. But in the garden, the steadfast Allium family shows us the first sign of spring. Chives peek out of the ground just in time for hiding easter eggs among them and for snipping tips to layer on deviled eggs. A favorite and versatile member of the Allium family pushes its robust tips through the soil overnight. Garlic. These simple bulbs have waited, patiently, side by side, in darkness. As the sun moves higher, the earth is warmed just one degree more. POP. Hello.


And we have waited. Each day, on our way to greet the greenhouse, we wonder: did we plant too deep, or did the dog run across the top of it one too many times, or did a furry  “excavator” “transplant” it to a new location?  Suddenly, there it is.  Growing almost before your eyes. Now it is certain, that on that brisk October day, with the wind howling and the patience for this task running rather thin, the first of this year’s garden was planted. Now, the garden season begins.

As the days grow longer, and the garden grows greener, we will keep you posted on our steadfast garden gauge – garlic. More on how we use garlic through the season and planting and selecting varieties as summer turns to autumn.




to spring up.

to expand.

to develop.

to become.

to raise.

to change.

Here we are, springing up, side by side. From dark, cool earth, a flash of green. From thoughtful inspiration, a flash of brightness. Soil gently falls away but covers the roots. Comfort rolls away, but stays the anchor. Leaves unfold, our voices expand. To tell ourselves, our world, what it is we love. From within, reaching up, reaching out, the ground is covered, the community develops, we are surrounded. The garden path, fresh, wild, free. We lead, we follow, we become our best selves. Raising up our own in lightness, in joy, in love. Embracing, ever changing.

Daughters, sisters, wives, mothers thriving where our passions lie: in our gardens, in our families, in our homes, in our words.