Winter roses

We’ve had a recent cold snap, and though last week I may have poked gentle fun at rainy day behaviors out here in California, I have to make fun of myself this week. I am quickly losing my tolerance for cold.

Monday’s cold weather brought a bitter wind, and all I wanted to do was hide inside—after a morning run, of course. I have to dust off the winter running clothes every now and then, right?

It was cold here over Christmas, too, and when I returned from balmy North Carolina after the holidays, I knew I had to tackle a winter gardening chore: pruning the roses. (Not my favorite gardening activity, I’ll confess.) I left three stems taller than the rest because small buds graced them, and I hoped they might bloom, despite freezing temperatures in December.

One bud finally began to open within the last week. So I cut all three buds to bring inside and finished the pruning chores.

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To me, this is the exact color of dusty rose

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Celebrating Earth Day but not the pollen

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
Let the sea roar, and all it contains;
Let the field exult, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy
– Psalm 96:11–12

Today is Earth Day, and I wanted to celebrate by sharing some photos of what’s blooming in my garden right now.

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The previous owners left behind lots of beautiful roses.

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Rhododendron in bloom

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A delicate iris

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Deep purple bearded iris … so velvety beautiful!

How’s the earth exulting (and celebrating spring and Earth Day) where you are?

One thing I simply cannot celebrate today, though I know it has to exist for all these wonderful plants to grow, is pollen. I’ve struggled with springtime allergies for many, many years. I had hoped the move might bring fewer allergies. Boy, was I in for an unpleasant surprise.

California has brought me the worst pollen-related allergies I’ve ever experienced. My tried-and-true allergy medicine is barely making a dent in what’s happening in my head and throat, and my constant coughing leaves me exhausted.

California won me over during winter, but in the NC2NC contest, I have to declare North Carolina a winner in the springtime pollen game. I never thought I’d yearn for NC’s thick yellow pine pollen. However, the drought and warmer-than-usual temperatures here in Northern California are making me sick. Bleh.

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North Carolina wins when it comes to the pollen war, at least for me. Are allergies getting the best of you, too?

Let’s talk about something more fun this Earth Day. I’ve been thinking about some of my favorite places on earth. Some are near home, and some I may never see again. One favorite I hope to visit again some day is Knocknarea in County Sligo, Ireland:

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Serene Knocknarea overlooks Strandhill (the little village you can see sparkling at the shoreline) and Sligo Bay. My husband and I hiked up late in the day to see this stunning vista.

Do you have a favorite spot on earth? If so, I’d love for you to describe it in the comments below. Happy Earth Day!

Neglecting the riotous garden

Two years ago, I wrote one of my favorite posts called The riotous garden and shared photos and the story of the garden my husband and I have created in our front yard.

The garden has been years in the making and the creating and the trying and failing and sometimes succeeding. A woman whose garden I admired told me once that gardening is equal parts tending and neglecting and knowing when to do each.

The last few weeks – while my broken toe has been healing – our riotous garden has seen too much neglect but has also produced so much beautiful chaos in its rush to bloom that I feel undeserving of it all. I thought you might enjoy a photo update of the garden as it looks today.

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A sea of irises

Despite my promise to myself each of the last two years that “this will be the year I divide the iris bulbs,” it still hasn’t happened. I’m vowing to divide them this year, but the neglect has rewarded me with abundant blooms that make me giddy. I’m guessing the irises loved the cold winter. Continue reading