Unlike so much of life, as I weed my way through the garden beds, it is easy to tell where I am in the process.


Iris free of weeds………………………………………………………Iris somewhere in the crab grass

The Magic of Spring

This is a magic time in the gardens. Only my cut up hands and creaking knees would disagree.

Soil amendments and manure have been put on all the garden beds. My back particularly remembers the spreading of 400# of lime.

Old foliage from last season has been cut away. How is it that I always think I have done this job well in the fall, and then in the spring, it looks like I didn’t even do any cleaning up at all?

The lawn has turned that luscious spring green and Jim is counting his final hours of freedom before he and his lawnmower become inseparable.

The last of the pruning is behind me and it was a particular joy to finish the Pear tree that seventeen year old William started to prune in February but then “didn’t have time to finish” in the last eight weeks- What can I say…. March Madness NCAA basketball IS time consuming.

I am still in one piece except maybe for my face where a plum branch took a divet out of my cheek yesterday.

Fresh green leaves rise up, each one a returning Flower friend that I am glad to see except for the crab grass.

It’s a moment of promise. Except maybe not from William.

There is the fantasy sense that even if plants haven’t peeked out of the ground with new green growth yet, they are still alive.

I can be optimistic though really I can sort of tell that almost all of the Thyme is dead from our snowless winter-
I can look out on all the gardens and believe that I remembered to correct all the flaws in their designs I noticed last season even though I didn’t look at my copious notes once or actually change anything.

Ahhhhh Spring….. when hope springs eternal and I crawl happily into the house at the end of each day, finally understanding why they sell those stupid stands for gardeners to kneel on.


Of Scilla and Scratches

Today is a bit cooler than yesterday’s 85 degrees, and it’s our official day in the gardens.

We mixed up an enormous cart full of potting soil so that many houseplants can get repotted. Emily is in charge of this project, leaving me free to turn my attention to battling the Roses. I have been out there with the Roses off and on this last week of heat, hurrying to get done what usually waits until at least April to get my attention. But it feels like the Roses are going to need their compost and manure sooner than later. This means I have to sort out what’s going on out there so I don’t feed plants I am just going to cut out.

The old fashioned shrub Roses we have here are very vigorous, unlike tea Roses, and they like nothing better than sending out suckers into other Roses’ territory. As far as I can tell, some of the Roses here seem to make this their primary reason for being. This means I spend a lot of time sorting out who’s who and who belongs where (AND WHO DOESN’T!). Then I tie the Roses up onto their trellises and cut out the rogue suckers in between the plants.

Much as I try and cover myself with leather gloves up to my elbows and other protective gear when I do this work, it is just too darn hot. Especially this year with its July temperatures! Without really noticing it, I find myself taking off the equipment only to get whacked by a Rose cane or five. I look a bit torn up right about now. A bloody mess is how others might put it!

But this can hardly temper the exhilaration of this moment! What’s a few hundred scratches when the gardens are already flooded with so many spring Flowers and the Roses all tidy and ready to translate all this attention into a similar gush of Flowers later this season.




These Hellebores weren’t even out of the ground a few days ago and now they look like Scarlett O’Hara heading off to the picnic to flirt with the Tarleton twins.

And the carpet of Scilla Siberica in the Arbor Garden makes me almost as happy as it makes the bees!

A Spring of Firsts

This spring has brought many awesome and surprising firsts.

The maple syruping season ended after a rollicking three weeks with some excellent sap runs in the usually too cold early March. Then a series of above freezing nights brought the season to an abrupt and unusually early end. It was a first to put away our sap buckets before St Patrick’s Day!

In the gardens, it has also been all about firsts. Yesterday, I spent the day tying up Rose canes and pruning back Rose runners in the Rose garden. I have never even approached the Roses in March, let alone wrangled them into some semblance of organization. Usually they are still under snow!

So many spring Flowers have arrived in the gardens weeks ahead of usual! The honeybees are out and about buried in Crocus, Snowdrops, Winter Aconite, Iris Reticulata and Scilla Siberica. From the office, we watch them bomb into the hives with enormous balls of pollen on their legs! Bee happiness!

Last night, to end our weekend doing garden chores, we settled down to a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner for a slightly late celebration of St Patrick’s Day. It was too hot a meal for the hot hot night! With sunburned faces over steaming bowls, we did our best to chow down, but it felt like a winter dish on a summer night. It was definitely a first to have this meal feel so out of place for an evening in March!

Our hilltop has had some unusual first time mud issues. High temperatures meant an early and intense mud season that blew out the roads all over our town. While our road has often been impassable during mud season, the first for us was a mudslide right out front of the farm that created a crazy wave of mud the likes of which I have never seen before. More cars than I can count got stuck in this wave, and it gave us cause to use all kinds of unlikely surf lingo in discussing the prospects of anyone getting to work or being able to leave to go home.

I have saved the best first for last…..Our happiest and most wonderful first is the engagement of Elizabeth to Miguel Ramirez.

While this will come as no surprise to anyone who read her book, Elizabeth met Miguel because of the Camino.

A Green Hope friend who read Lizzy’s book, The Trail, then decided to walk the Camino early last summer. On this friend’s Camino she met Miguel and was sure Miguel and Elizabeth were meant to meet. Miguel had been living in France, England and Kenya for the last eight years. He had done a stretch of the Camino right before Elizabeth’s first Camino, then returned to the Camino to finish it right before Elizabeth walked her third Camino. They missed each other by a few short days at several points! However the Camino prevailed kindness of this Green Hope friend and they met after all!

The courtship began in Miguel’s hometown of Austin, Texas and led to a marriage proposal out in the hayfields of Green Hope Farm on the eve of Lizzy’s birthday in early February.

Now we are knee deep in planning a garden wedding celebration! It is a most happy of firsts for all of us as we all love Miguel and are so happy he is going to be a part of our lives!

As a community of Flowers, Angels, Nature Spirits, Dogs, Cats and even some People, Green Hope Farm can be a funny place……and I love telling you all about it!