Feeling Awkward Around Young Kids?

Reading a snippet about feeling awkward around kids reaffirmed there is nothing wrong with those of us who feel uncomfortable around children.   It’s not that I don’t like children.  It’s just that my gut groans around most pre-adolescent kids (loud noises and chaos included).  This could largely be due to my being an HSP (highly sensitive person).  My joy is in the serene garden or when helping others.

Have you purposely chosen to not father children but instead protectively care for plants, pets, or a project benefiting the planet?  Rather than judge or condemn, I respect those who live authentically.  One size does not fit all.  We are not meant to be experts at everything; some are better at some things than others, and that sustained diversity honors all aspects of life.   I respect individuality but believe all of us need nurturing in whatever form it may be as evidenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s sentiments:


Fathering is “to treat with protective care.”

What are you fathering?



Digging with Orphans in the Garden

Digging in the dirt…unearthing rocks, weeds, my thoughts turn to life’s struggles…times my heart was breaking and I did not see a way out, a reasonable solution, how to get past the pain of the moment.  Not knowing what else to do, I dug in the dirt.  I weeded.  I carried rocks.  Pails of small ones, and wheelbarrows of large ones until I ached.  Ached so bad I could barely sleep but went back out and did it all over again the next day.  And the next.

Unable to remove the boulder that was there, and would always be there like unresolved abysmal hurt, I tried to conceal it.  Find a way around it.  Moving on, I cultivated the impermeable soil to breathe and grow while filling my thoughts with affirmations and new perspectives.  Taking time to nurture nature, nature began nurturing me.

Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

If you’ve ever felt dishonored or abandoned, turn to nature.  Love her.  Honor her.  Nurture her to soothe the soul.  She is always there for you.




Take orphans — or any neglected children — into the garden.  Create.  Nurture.  Love.  Watch them grow.



Featured black/white photo (original in color) by Meghan Holmes on Unsplash.

Nature Teacher: When Love Dies…

A joyous heart in newfound love…

bleeding hearts


Opens freely…

Bleeding Heart


bleeding hearts 001



paying no attention to shadowed pretense and allusion…




bleeding hearts 009




until reckless carelessness taints the heart

and withers the spirit…




bleeding hearts 011




leaving only an apparition, a ghostly memory

of beguiled love.

All The Buzz About Bees

I hadn’t realized pollinator week is upon us but am acutely (and sadly) aware that most of the honey — even “organic,” is being reported to be contaminated with the glyphosate of Monsanto’s Roundup.
It’s pleasing to see more people interested in honeybee production but we need to do more — via planting and becoming more vocal — to help these bees stay busy and thrive.  I’ve reblogged this post “All the Buzz about Bees” to see what you can do at home to help them.

P.S. to this post…link to the EU “banning” bee-harming pesticides.  America can learn a lot from the EU’s approach to heathy living.

Giving Voice to My Astonishment

It’s a busy time of year for everyone: spring gardening, spring cleaning, graduations, end-of-year award ceremonies, holiday travel, and a whole lot of other happenings.

IMG_2831My photo of article in Midtown magazine. Photo of bee on flower by Matt Williams.

I’ve been busy working on several upcoming article assignments, and that’s the reason for my lack of writing a recent blog post. So, I thought I’d share an article I wrote for the current issue of Midtown magazine. It’s on a subject that’s near and dear to my heart, pollinators, specifically honeybees (Apis mellifera). Their numbers have been declining due to several reasons, most notably Varroa mite infestation. There is encouraging news, though. Some local beekeepers are starting to see an increase in their colonies. What can home gardeners do to help? Read more about it in my most recent article appearing in the May/June issue of Midtown…

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Loving Your Mothers Days

Actually every day is a mother’s day.   This lifetime commitment isn’t always easy, celebrated, or what you thought it would be.  I’ve been lucky enough to be Bess’ Mom for 13 years but she’s the one teaching me.  Bess is my beloved Border Collie who romps around the garden and shows me how to love all days:


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Wishing all mothers happy days!


Nature Teacher: Getting Along with Others

You’ve probably been in a situation where you can’t wait to get away from someone’s toxicity.  Maybe it’s a stranger.  Maybe it’s family.  Maybe it’s your employer who you see day after day after day.  You’re not alone.  Nature deals with this too.
daffodilsDaffodils (aka narcissus or jonquils) are often the showy greeters in springtime, yet, like the attractive stranger or successful relative, we often don’t readily see their toxicity.  Daffodils contain toxic lycorine and calcium oxalate crystals and when freshly cut, they emit a virtually invisible but poisonous, gooey sap — similar to insidious commentary from passive-aggressives.  No wonder they usually appear solo in a vase.  But, you can help them get along with others!

daffodils separatedTo create a diverse but happy springtime bouquet, give daffodils a time out before introducing others to the vase.  Cut their stems at an angle and leave them by themselves in a vase of cool water overnight.

The next morning, after most of the sap has seeped out, change the water and safely add other flowers.  Then change the water every few days to maintain the harmony of this mixed bouquet.

blue tulip daffs 011

Cutting Trees for Arbor Day?

Forgot about American Arbor Day this year?  It’s recognized on the last Friday in April (April 27th this year) but many states celebrate on their best tree planting date.  Still, you may decide to chop down a tree for Arbor Day rather than plant one.  Yes, that’s what I said — chop down a tree.

The first tree I planted over 20 years ago was a Bradford pear. Weeping and kwanzan cherry, rose of sharons, lilacs, flowering plum, weeping willow, star magnolia, Harry Lauder’s walking stick, redbud, and my beloved dogwoods followed.  Most thrived.  A few didn’t.

For years, I longed to line my driveway with more of those pretty Q-tip shaped, white flowering Bradford pear trees like I’d been admiring in other sweeping driveways.  Thankfully, I never got around to it, even though I lamented year-after year, “Think how big those trees would be by now.”

pear trees
CC BY-SA 3.0 Attribution: jwshaw

Certified Nurseryman and Arborist Durant Ashmore, who has a master’s degree in landscape architecture and over 30 years experience, says, “The Bradford pear is worse than kudzu.”  Builders cursed many neighborhoods by landscaping with an abundance of Bradford pear trees.  Besides smelling bad (some say like stinking fish although I haven’t detected it in the one Bradford pear I do have) flowering pears now appear on some invasive plant watch lists, and their wood is weak.   The Bradford pear’s life expectancy before breakage is only 25 years.  Seems mine is ready to go.

tree chopped

Avoid cultivated forms of this invasive species (aka Pyrus calleryana or Callery pear tree) and commonly available ornamental pear cultivars which include:  Bradford, New Bradford®, Cleveland select, autumn blaze, Aristocrat®, capitol, Chanticleer®, and dozens more. 

Ashmore says the problem with Bradford pear trees is that they aren’t sterile.  “No two Bradford pears will ever reproduce among themselves, but they do cross pollinate with every other pear tree out there, including the Cleveland select pear trees.  The introduction of other pear varieties has compounded the problem to the point where it is almost too late to rectify.  Because of the cross pollination problem, pear trees have now proliferated exponentially across our environment. And, to make matters worse, the evil offspring has reverted to the ancient Chinese Callery pears which form impenetrable thorny thickets that choke out the life of pines, dogwoods, maples, redbuds, oaks, hickories, etc.”  So, for Arbor Day I’m considering chopping down my one Bradford pear.

If your Bradford pear is splitting, maybe you want to cut it down too or if you already have a lot of these pear trees Ashmore suggests applying the Principle of Regeneration. “Plant substitutes in the gaps between your pears, and when the substitutes gain a few years of maturity, cut down the pears at that point and have a great celebratory bonfire.  Pears make great firewood.”

So, if you’re ready to regenerate and “plant” in recognition of National Arbor Day, check out some fun options on the Arbor Day Foundation (ADF) website.   A mere $10 can get you 10 seedlings to plant in your hardiness zone, or 10 seedlings planted in your honor in a needy national forest.  This small donation helps millions by preserving clean air, drinking water and the habitat — a small gift with big results (and probably less than you spend on a month of cell service or latte’s).

The first American Arbor Day was on April 10, 1872 when an estimated one million trees were planted in Nebraska.  Global Forest Watch states 73.4 million acres of tree cover were lost in the world’s forests by 2016 due to poor forest management, climate change-driven drought and fires.  This was a 51% increase over 2015!  In 2018, the Arbor Day Foundation (ADF) will provide 5 million trees to help replenish those wiped out by fires and storms in California, Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico.