In the gardens of my friends, week 4

They will say, “This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.” —Ezekiel 36:35

Summer may be coming to an end for many of you as school doors open again. I always think of back-to-school time as the start of fall. It’s not fall here by a long shot, but the blistering heat has abated some. Instead of triple digits, we’ve enjoyed low 90s for the last few days. Ahhhhh.

As I’ve wandered my friends’ gardens this summer, my love of trees has expanded. The shade they provide make this boiling hot place tolerable in summer. Backyard pools—much more commonplace here than where I’m from—help, too. The friend whose garden I’m touring with you today has both. She also has something no other garden I’ve seen has: a guard she calls Don Quixote.

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Don Quixote guards the garden.

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In the gardens of my friends, week 3

For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
To spring up before all the nations.
— Isaiah 61:11

I’m more than a little bit addicted to the Olympics right now (you, too?). Perhaps this post will encourage you to take a few moments away from the games’ coverage to walk through a garden. Today marks week three in the series of tours through some of my California friend’s gardens.

My friend whose garden I feature today loves sharing goodies from her garden. When I was going through a rough patch this spring, we met for coffee, and she showed up with a bouquet of camellias from her garden. They cheered me for days.

She’s one of my writing group friends, and invariably, she brings herbs from her garden to share. The last time we gathered, she had mint by the bag full for us.

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Tons of delicious mint

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In the gardens of my friends, week 2

They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion,
And they will be radiant over the bounty of the Lord—
Over the grain and the new wine and the oil,
And over the young of the flock and the herd;
And their life will be like a watered garden,
And they will never languish again.
—Jeremiah 31:12

I hope you enjoyed last week’s stop on my friends’ garden tour. This week brings us to the garden of a friend who leads a group of us fearless writers. She often opens her home so we can gather and spend a few hours in quiet, companionable writing. Depending on where I sit to write, I often find myself gazing out into her yard, enjoying the abundant beauty there.

She also happens to share my love of nurseries, and she introduced me to one of my favorite nurseries one weekend as we strolled and chatted, laughed to see hummingbirds buzzing about, and tarried over favorite flowers to dream about and plan our own gardens.

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My friend’s favorite flower, the princess lily

As we walked through the rows and rows of flowers, we talked of flowers that grow well here and flowers that grow well in North Carolina. I’m always delighted to find reminders of home in friends’ gardens: Continue reading

In the gardens of my friends

And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
— Isaiah 58:11

Earlier this summer, friends from North Carolina began posting pictures of their gardens on Facebook. Their posts reminded me of times we chatted about gardening or wandered through public gardens together or visited our favorite nursery for plants and lunch. (The best nurseries have cafes to encourage you to linger.)

Their photos stirred up a longing to visit with my North Carolina friends but also inspired me to reach out to California friends who have green thumbs. I asked if I could wander through their gardens and take some pictures. Most apologized for their garden’s appearance because of the drought, but I think you’ll see that, even in a dry land, beautiful gardens abound. (Sprinklers and less restrictive watering rules have helped this summer.)

August can be a tough time for gardeners. In the south, too much heat and humidity. In California’s Central Valley, too much heat and no rain since May. Whether your own garden looks a bit scraggly these days or is bursting with beauty, I hope you’ll enjoy touring these friend’s gardens with me over the next few weeks.

First up, the garden of a friend who welcomed me to California with the gift of a poinsettia the day after I arrived here. (A plant is a perfect housewarming gift, especially for someone who has moved cross-country and likely had to leave all the houseplants behind.)

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Furry firefighters

The sound of the dog’s distant but loud bark piqued my dog’s curiosity. The bark spoke of urgency and intruders. As we continued our walk, I soon realized who the intruders were. They were firefighters hard at work clearing land of flammable dead brush. My dog picked up their scent.

These weren’t your typical firefighters, though, using hoses and shovels and axes. Their firefighting tools? Their mouths.

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Goats and sheep wait in a pen for freedom … and breakfast.

The county has hired these furry firefighters to help clear land of dangerous, dry brush. It’s cheaper than hiring crews to use lawnmowers, apparently. And way more fun to watch. Continue reading