Tag Archives: Garden

Friends in High Places

24 Sep

img_5986Recently, I made friends with a green Lynx spider in my garden. Which is stupid, because spiders and people can’t really have relationships. But we humans love to anthropomorphize the creatures we come in contact with, so in my mind, “Lynxie” and I were friends. I’m sure our friendship was the furthest thing from Lynxie’s mind; she probably considered me a nuisance, if not a predator, as I spent a great deal of time examining her up close.

I was drawn to Lynxie because she was spectacular: a beautiful green color with an intricate geometric design on her back. She had made her home on a large black-eyed Susan plant, as her green color exactly matched that of the leaves. After I posted a photo of her on social media, friends on Instagram and Facebook set out to discover what kind of spider she was. In a matter of hours, I knew all I needed to know about my new best friend: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peucetia_viridans

For weeks, I checked on her each morning, watching with fascination as she waited patiently for her prey (mostly bees and moths) to get close. My family got involved as well, making it a habit to check on her every time we walked by the flower bed. Soon there was an egg sack attached to the stem—and we were thrilled—babies were on the way!img_6052

Days passed, and she stayed put, but something was different: she was no longer catching and eating her prey. She began to shrink, and her vibrant green color began to fade. It was as if she was putting all her energy into her babies. I began to worry about her.

Yesterday morning, I stopped to check on my friend. She was gone. Panicked, I inspected the entire plant to see if she had moved to another leaf, but I couldn’t locate her. Did she move closer to the ground to have her babies? Had another predator spied her egg sack and thought it was a delicious hors d’oeuvre? Or even worse, was she sick of my constant scrutiny and decided to flee?

Whatever her reasons are for ghosting me, I wish her luck. She brought me and my family great joy, and I don’t regret a single moment we spent together.

Proof that her sudden disappearance has affected the entire family:



12 Mar

The rain is here and the flowers are singing! The caterpillars are happily stuffing themselves with milkweed leaves. I hope you enjoy these most recent photos of my garden. I have a feeling it’s going to be a spectacular spring!


Pink ranunculus 




Iceland Poppies


Sweet peas and Freesia


Caterpillars chomping on Milkweed leaves


Magenta Freesia


Yellow Iceland Poppies





One of the Lucky Ones

11 Feb

a5473b30-fd36-4183-9492-e434f9c87dc3-3513-000001ddc6b3956dThe roads are finally open again and my daughter, Isa and I took a drive through Montecito this afternoon. It was so much worse than I could have ever imagined. News stories on television don’t really show the full extent of the destruction.

Santa Barbara was hit hard at beginning of December when the Thomas Fire burned the mountains above Montecito. Then on January 9, we had a 200-year rain event where half an inch of rain came down in five minutes. This triggered a devastating mud flow. Twenty-three people were killed and many of the homes saved during the fire were damaged or destroyed by the mud flow.

While there have been numerous stories of tragedy and loss, I’ve also heard stories of the incredible generosity and kindness of people in our community. It’s inevitable that we initially focus on all the bad things that have occurred–we cry. We grieve. We get angry. Then we try to find the good.

I wasn’t personally affected the tragic events of the past two months, but lately I have felt so lost watching the suffering of others. After Isa and I returned home from our drive, I looked around my own neighborhood and felt so grateful. My home is safe and not full of mud. I suddenly felt the need to document the beauty around me.

For now, I’m one of the lucky ones. And I’m so thankful.


One of my favorite flowers: Stock. Such a lovely, spicy scent!



A caterpillar chomping on my milkweed plant.


First tulips of the season


Love this magenta!



The spring garden is planted!


Lake Los Carneros


Happy little pansies.


The color of Iceland poppies are so vibrant!


Isa and the dogs on a walk around the lake.

No Place I’d Rather Be

17 Jun

I normally teach Saturday mornings, but with several students out of town on vacation, I miraculously had the morning off. Not only that, I had a very generous gift card for a local nursery that one of my graduating seniors gave me as a goodbye gift. Talk about bliss! Starbucks in hand, I browsed through the colorful flower displays and went completely nuts, choosing whatever I wanted with no residual guilt about spending too much money. My trunk stuffed with color, I headed home to plant.img_1413

I started with the back patio where the zinnias were on their last legs. I pulled everything out of the pots and started over. Here’s the final result. Can you tell I’m into pink and purple these days?

Next, I tackled the front porch, where the pots have been empty for months. I think it turned out really well.

Now I’m tired. I think I’ll sit on the front porch chair and gaze out over my kingdom.

There’s no place I’d rather be than the garden. Life is good.

Drying Up

8 May

may 8 2015 1 may 8 2015 2 may 8 2015 5 may 8 2015 6 may 8 2015 7 may 8 2015 8 may 8 2015 9 may 8 2015 10 may 8 2015 11 may 8 2015 12 may 8 2015 13The garden has yet to realize we’re in a severe drought. We’ve completely stopped watering the lawn and it has since turned it into a crunchy plot of brown turf that makes me cringe every time I drive up to the house. I absolutely refuse to let my flowers die though, which means it’s bucket time around our house. We now have buckets in each shower to catch all the cold water that would normally go down the drain until the water temperature is hot enough.

For the longest time I couldn’t figure out why my back was hurting so much until I figured out it’s because I’m lugging buckets of water out to the yard every day.  Curse you, drought!

For those of you around the country who are experiencing hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, hail the size of baseballs and massive flooding, I apologize for complaining about a little dead grass. I humbly request that you please send some of your surplus rain out to Santa Barbara!

August Light

9 Aug

aug 9 14 1It’s a lovely August evening and I just couldn’t resist taking some photographs of the garden. Ever so slightly the light is beginning to change, signaling that the end of summer is approaching.

But all is well. Summer always comes around again.

Enjoy the burst of color!





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5 Jun

june 5 flowers 8It’s the last day of school for my daughter, Isa and that means summer is officially here. Even with the drought here in Santa Barbara, the flowers are spectacular this year.

Every day when I walk out the front door I’m greeted by a glorious blanket of color that wraps me up in joy even when my heart is heavy. There’s been so much sadness in our community since the shootings that took place in Isla Vista on May 23. There is still so much healing that needs to take place.

Despite this tragedy, I still believe that beauty always finds its way into our lives and somehow continues to blossom even when the conditions are unfavorable.

I choose to believe in the goodness of all people. I pray  for change. I watch for growth. And I hope for love.

And it’s all right there in the garden to remind me every single day.

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August Bliss

5 Aug

I got out in the garden for a few hours today and it felt so good to get my hands in the dirt again! Flowers just make me happy. Hope you’re all having a lovely summer. Enjoy it while it lasts….

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Saturday Afternoon in the Garden

27 Apr

I spent the afternoon in the garden and although my muscles are sore, I feel such a sense of accomplishment! Thought I’d share some of the results with you!

Salpiglossis (Velvet Flower) is my favorite, but is very sensitive and will often die if you look at it wrong!

Salpiglossis (Velvet Flower) is my favorite, but is very sensitive and will often die if you look at it wrong!

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My garden imp, Isa

My garden imp, Isa

A Cottage Life

10 May

This morning, I was pondering my life and thinking about what makes me feel most happy. I decided that quite possibly in a former existence, I spent many blissful years living in an old English Cottage surrounded by cool leafy trees, blooming flowers, and birds that sing all day long.

I could have been Beatrix Potter, quietly spending my days writing and drawing while I sipped good English tea and nibbled on freshly buttered scones. When I tired of my creative pursuits and needed to clear my mind, I would meander along the garden pathway and pick flowers for arranging around the cottage. A leisurely walk in the sunshine would undoubtedly clear my mind.

Larkspur and Foxglove from my garden

I figured this out as I puttered about my own tiny front yard garden this morning, staking up purple and pink larkspur plants that were so heavy with flowers that they threatened to topple over. I picked up dainty foxglove blooms off the ground as the bees hummed busily beside me, probably annoyed that my presence blocked their easy access to the speckled blooms that still remained on the stalks. I listened as the Mockingbirds trilled their infinite repertoire of calls as if they were performing an outdoor concert just for me. I practically swooned with pleasure when I stuck my nose into a newly opened rosebud, its deep burgundy petals softer than the skin on the back my young daughter’s neck.

My favorite rose, “Mr. Lincoln”

Most likely, my obsession with English cottages and gardens began when I was a young girl and I discovered that I could leave the stress and sadness of my own life and escape into a more peaceful one through the reading of books.

One of my absolute favorite stories was “The Plain Princess” by Phyllis McGinley—I must’ve read it over a hundred times. It’s about a young princess, so doted on and spoiled that her true beauty is hidden by her selfish and superior attitude. She is sent away to live in the modest cottage of Dame Goodwit, a woman who is thought to have magical powers, and if all goes right, will be able to transform Esmerelda into the beautiful princess she is meant to be.       There, in that humble cottage, the four daughters of Dame Goodwit help Esmerelda understand that real beauty can never be found on the outside, but only through selfless acts of kindness and goodwill toward others, will it be able to shine forth from within.

Because I never thought that I was beautiful, this message resonated deeply with me. I didn’t relate to the rich and entitled Esmerelda—living in a luxurious palace didn’t appeal to me at all. I wanted to be one of the Goodwit sisters who lived a simple life in a cozy, thatched-roof cottage with knotty pine floors and downy featherbeds. I wanted to sit and read surrounded by shelves stuffed full of books, a fire blazing in a stone fireplace while a spring thunderstorm raged outside. I imagined a hearty kitchen; a savory soup bubbling on the stove, fresh baked biscuits just out of the oven, while a streusel-topped apple pie cooled on the windowsill. I truly believed that if I lived in a quaint cottage with a colorful garden filled with Hollyhocks and Delphinium and Larkspur, I could leave the sadness of my own childhood behind and find the safety and comfort that I craved.

I eventually grew up and moved on with my life, going to college, getting married and raising four children, and I thought I had left my childhood fantasy of living in an English cottage far behind me. But just this morning, as I worked in the garden, I suddenly became conscious of the fact that I’ve created my own version of cottage life right here in my own home.

On any given day, there’s a hearty soup simmering on the stove and freshly bakes scones cooling on the counter for my family to enjoy when they get home from school or work. I have time in the mornings before I start teaching my afternoon piano lessons to work on my writing. If I choose to, I can even sit by my fireplace with my nose in a novel. And most dear to my heart, I can putter about my flower garden, filled with the kinds of varieties that one would find growing in front of a quaint, country cottage in England.

My garden pathway

I have everything I ever dreamed of and never even realized it until right now.

I guess you could say I live a storybook life—and I guess I’d have to agree with you.

Flowers freshly picked from my garden