Autumn Leaves

IMG_2083It’s beginning to look very autumnal around here! The red maples, sumac and Virginia creeper are blazing red. The birch trees are turning gold and leaves everywhere are drifting down with the slightest breeze, crackling and swishing underfoot with each step we take. I love the sweet scent of fallen leaves, smelling faintly of maple syrup.

IMG_2033The garden is still hanging on, doing its glorious thing. We just barely missed getting a frost ten days ago and have been enjoying warm weather since then.IMG_2029The warm summery temperatures this past weekend were a boon and both plants and animals responded happily. We’ll take whatever we can get!


I’ve been enjoying the deep burgundy Love-lies-bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) with its long, rope-like panicles; it really is a unique plant in the garden and creates quite a statement. Hard to miss, visitors often comment on it.

IMG_2035Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium fistulosum) in the background has gone by, setting its fluffy seed, but New England asters (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) are in peak bloom, filled with buzzing bees, but alas, no monarch butterflies. Makes me sad to think about. I did see a male fluttering down by the river on Sunday visiting some Common Bone-set (Eupatorium perfoliatum), so I’m not giving up hope. I’ll keep laying out the banquet.IMG_2036


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IMG_2081Ana from Celebrating Sunshine shared in a recent post these great gratitude quotes that I think are just wonderful. Visit her site for more upbeat posts looking at the sunny side of life!


Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.      Alphonse Karr

May we never let the things we can’t have, or don’t have, spoil our enjoyment of the things we do have and can have.                                 Richard L. Evans

When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.  Shauna Niequist

Every now and then I sit and watch the sun rise to remind myself how it’s done—peacefully, steadily, warmly, and in beautiful color.  Richelle E. Goodrich

Every sunrise is an invitation for us to arise and brighten someone’s day.  Richelle E. Goodrich

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.  Melodie Beattie

Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.  Maya Angelou

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.  Epicurus

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love—then make that day count!  Steve Maraboli

Dance. Smile. Giggle. Marvel. TRUST. HOPE. LOVE. WISH. BELIEVE. Most of all, enjoy every moment of the journey, and appreciate where you are at this moment instead of always focusing on how far you have to go.  Mandy Hale

[Gratitude] turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.  Melody Beattie

The more I understand the mind and the human experience, the more I begin to suspect there is no such thing as unhappiness; there is only ungratefulness.  Steve Maraboli

I have learned over a period of time to be almost unconsciously grateful–as a child is–for a sunny day, blue water, flowers in a vase, a tree turning red. I have learned to be glad at dawn and when the sky is dark. Only children and a few spiritually evolved people are born to feel gratitude as naturally as they breathe, without even thinking. Most of us come to it step by painful step, to discover that gratitude is a form of acceptance.  Faith Baldwin

Love is such a deep gratitude. When you are truly in love with life, every breath you take is gratitude.  Bryant McGill

Two kinds of gratitude: The sudden kind we feel for what we take; the larger kind we feel for what we give.  Edwin Arlington Robinson

My personal favorites are from Maya Angelou and Steve Maraboli. Which ones touch and inspire you?


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Finally Back Home

I wanted to share with you a book I think is too good to keep to myself. It is the recently published debut anthology, Finally Back Home. It is the work of the talented young poet Irfaan Ihsan Jaffer, who is currently a Doctoral candidate studying comparative religion with the application of religious mysticism in the modern world at York University in Ontario, Canada.


I first became acquainted with Ihsan through his WordPress blog, iithinks, soon after I started my own blog. Although I would not say that I am greatly drawn to poetry, when I first read Ihsan’s poems, I was astounded at how this relatively young man was so spiritually wise. His poems expressed the depth of what I had experienced through my own spiritual journey, but found nearly impossible to articulate. I commented to him that he described “the indescribable,” a phrase he aptly adopted when he updated his About page.

Reminiscent of the great poet Rumi, his poems speak of the soul’s eternal connection to Source. As humans encased in this seemingly solid form on earth, we often forget, yet yearn for, that connection; our rightful path is a spiritual one. I expect that once he is “discovered” by folks who are fond of Rumi and Hafiz, he will become quite popular indeed.

Currently taking a break from blogging to concentrate on finishing his PhD, I miss in my inbox his daily reminders to stay soul-centered. Instead, I keep this slim volume of his work to hand, a wonderful collection of over sixty of his most popular poems. Finally Back Home is a book that you will reach for again and again. I highly recommend it! It is available at

Here’s one of my favorites from the book:

The Place Where You Are
Lying on a bed of grass
Covered by the shade of stars
In the footsteps of the sun
The future and past have set
Only this moment exists
Existence is this moment
In the still quiet
You become its breath
The peaceful rhythm of Truth
Is the movement of your chest
How can there be answers
Where questions don’t exist?
In this one and only moment
Knowledge is unveiled
Fear become a lie
Worry disappears
With your seeing heart
You know everything is fine
The place where you are 
Is exactly
Where you need to be
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Puppy Face

IMG_1986This Green-Striped Darner stopped for a short rest, giving me an opportunity to get a few shots before he headed off on his way. See his cute puppy face? After spending four to five years as a nymph in an aquatic environment, the beautifully-colored winged adults emerge in spring to feed, mate and like Monarch butterflies, are thought to migrate south in the fall, although little tagged research has been done.


Male Green-striped Darner (Aeshna verticalis)

Acrobatic in flight, these jeweled insects are predatory, catching and eating prey on the fly. Having compound eyes consisting of 30,000 individual eyes and the ability to see 360 degrees above and below, front and back, they are formidable predators that can devour their weight in prey within hours.

IMG_1982Dragonflies symbolize change and transformation, urging us to evolve to our highest potential. This one is definitely signaling a change in the seasons on this Autumnal Equinox. Happy Autumn, everyone!



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Frost Predicted


Those who don’t garden probably wonder about the sanity of those who do, particularly when they come upon a scene like this. At this time of year, why attempt to postpone the inevitable? Protecting tender annuals from a late frost in the spring makes sense, but at the end of the summer?


Sheets, drop cloths, old bedspreads lay in hodgepodge patches throughout my garden this evening. Even without a meteorologist’s warning, I know from experience that when the temperature is 47-48 degrees at sunset, we’ll likely get a frost.

Some gardeners may be more resigned than I am to the end of the season, but I must make some attempt to preserve summer and postpone what I do accept as a fact of life: Winter will come! However, often over the years, I’ve found that we may get a night or two of frost late in September and then have another few weeks of warmer weather into October where I can continue to enjoy the exuberant beauty of my tender annuals. So I cover, cross my fingers and pray for a warming trend.



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My Gardens

Although my gardens that I have been working in all summer have been blooming abundantly, it occurred to me that I haven’t written about them or posted photos. How remiss of me! So here is a recap of what has happened this growing season.



A statue of Botticelli’s Venus, the Roman goddess of Love, overlooks a Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) and Forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica). Molto romantico!

Below, this pink Azalea (Rhododendron sp.) on the west side of the house bloomed like crazy. Such a cheerful pink and the bumble bees loved it.



A few weeks later: Blue Star (Amsonia tabernaemontana), Yellow Iris (Iris pseudacorus) and Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ and G. sanguineum have started blooming. The garden is filling in.


By the front steps, a small garden with a pond and fountain (good feng shui!) planted with Corkscrew Rush (Juncus effusus), Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), Taro (Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’) and Waterlilies (Nymphaea sp.) is a haven for frogs. Two more types of Geranium (G. sanguineum var. lancastriense and G. x cantabrigiense) flank Crested Iris (I. cristata) and English Thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) and Speedwell (Veronica incana) are just behind the Geraniums. Fothergilla (F. gardenii), Japanese Iris (I. ensata), Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) and Common Geraniums (Pelargonium cv.) are in the background.


July is when the wild meadow flowers really get going. Below are Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annuus), which I love for its sweet, honeyed fragrance and looking somewhat like an airy Baby’s Breath, Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and Yarrow (Achillea millefolium). Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) and Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)  have already gone by. The pollinators love these plants! Because this area is not mowed, it is teeming with life compared to the lawn in the background. Spiders, insects, frogs, toads, snakes and rodents create a natural ecology. I mow the fields in the late fall or early spring when all is dormant to keep the habitat open and free of trees and shrubs, which would move in within a few years.


Another July event is the blooming of Clematis ‘Amanda Marie’ next to the front porch. With its outstanding color, a vibrant deep-red, almost burgundy, it performs well year after year with only a quick trim in early spring and a bit of compost.


Here’s the largest garden in the backyard at the beginning of August. Since we eat three meals a day seated on the deck (weather permitting), I try to make this vibrant all summer long. The highlights are flaming orange-red Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Yellow Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Hyperion’) and self-sown white Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana alata).  Out of sight, pink, purple and white Cleome (C. hassleriana) and Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) add height and color to the back. White and pink Phlox (P. paniculata) and New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) will follow shortly.

IMG_0855Below is a close-up of a hummingbird visiting the Nicotiana and Crocosmia.

IMG_0866I have to include photos of the purple Hosta flowers with the golden sunflowers in the background. The birds love these sunflowers and eat them as soon as they are ripe.

IMG_0740 IMG_0749


The annuals are an explosion of color and the delight of the garden these days. Purple Mealy-cup Sage (Salvia farinacea), vibrant Petunia ‘Purple Wave’ and golden Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis) provide a grand finale for the end of the garden season.


Love-lies-bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) is a marvelous annual with its pendulous flowers looking like burgundy dreadlocks! Goldenrod in the background provides a nice contrast.


Calendulas self-sow every year, taking over large areas of the garden, which I don’t mind at all – they are breath-taking to behold! Another self-sowing annual, purple Morning Glory (Ipomoea purpurea) is in the background.


Although we still have perhaps a month to go before frosts completely diminish the garden, the plants are winding down; with their seed set, their mission is fulfilled. In the fields, the last wands of the goldenrod intermingle with New York, Heart-leaved and Calico Asters (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii, S. cordifolium & S. laterifolium, respectively) weaving a beautiful tapestry of gold, lavender, purple and white.


The bees, wasps, butterflies along with a few other insects dance among the blooms, storing for the winter ahead or completing their life cycles after ensuring their next generation will emerge in the coming spring. Crickets sing all day long, a background sound that I love and will miss when it no longer accompanies me at my work or as I drift off to sleep at night. Such are the seasons; I must not resist the tide of time, but instead embrace and accept with gratitude the beauty of each and every new day.




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American goldfinches (and lots of birds) love all sorts of seeds! Consider leaving seed heads for the birds to forage. Coneflower (Echinacea), Tickseed (Coreopsis), Sunflower (Helianthus), Ox Eye Sunflower (Heliopsis), Thistle (Circium, Caduus) and Cosmos are just a few favored by our feathered friends.

image from YardMap

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