Tag Archives: horticulture

September 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

September has been a better month for me. It’s not been so tumultuous, and I am enjoying the peace I am experiencing. I know though that I have several important decisions to make, but in the meantime, I am going to savour the peace.

Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

“The Giblin Guide to Writing Children’s Books” by James Cross Giblin

Though the latest reprint of this book is 2005, I was using it in a course as recently as 2017. I only skimmed it back then, but took the plunge this month to read it as a book study. Read more about it on my Mount TBR 2021 post.

“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Read more about this book below.

Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

“Escape to Reality” by Mark Cullen with Ben Cullen

You may have seen him on TV or heard him on the radio, but have you read any of Canada’s most famous and loved horticultural expert’s books? In this collection of short essays, Cullen (with the occasional piping in of his son) writes about everything from the value of a gardener’s work to how to think like a plant.

Consider this:

“Experience tells us, according to <Peter> Ladner, that local food reduces our dependency on oil. A Canadian study on ‘food miles’ estimated that sourcing fifty-eight food items locally or regionally rather than globally could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about fifty thousand tonnes annually. That is the equivalent of removing almost seventeen thousand vehicles from the road.”

“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

This is hands down one of the best books I have ever read in my life! My book club partner and I took our time over it, savouring it over several weeks. 

There are just too many fantastic learnings to mention here, so I will leave you with this video about “the honourable harvest”.

Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

None

Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

I haven’t been writing every day.

Read related literature to my writing.

Not done.

Analyze two creative nonfiction essays per month. These are the two that I analyzed:

“Why I resigned from my tenured position teaching climate science in college” by Heather Short

Why I like this:

-it’s a timely piece, and it mentions several things I have been thinking about lately

-it’s an expert’s point of view

-it’s a mixture of facts and opinion

Favourite quote:

‘Teaching this to an 18 year old is like telling them that they have cancer, then ushering them out the door, saying “sorry, good luck with that.”’

“On Sept. 30, I hope people will do more than just take the day off” by Andrea Johns

Why I like this:

-it’s written from the perspective of a Mohawk woman

-it’s another timely piece, written as a reflection on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

-it offers solutions

Favourite quotes:

“It’s great to, again, have a holiday that recognizes the legacy of the residential school system. But there’s a lot of things that are tied to the residential school system: socio-economic issues and missing and murdered Indigenous women and land and economic inequalities.”

and

“I hope that people won’t just take the day off, like they would treat it like any other holiday, going to your cottage on potentially unceded Indigenous territories or spending the time not engaging with … the history of residential schools.”

Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.

“Woodland Dreams” by Karen Jameson; illustrated by Marc Boutavant

What I like about this book:

-every creature gets a unique, descriptive name: Big Paws, Velvet Nose

-repetition: every refrain starts with “Come Home…”

-sparse and poetic text is a delight on the tongue

-unique rhymes, e.g., schemer/dreamer

“Butterflies are Pretty Gross” by Rosemary Mosco; illustrated by Jacob Souva

-breaks the fourth wall

-very humorous (I’ll never think of breakfast in the same way)

-plenty of tongue pleasing alliteration (deliciously disgusting, pretty peculiar)

-fascinating facts presented in an interesting way, e.g. read about the sneaky Alcon Blue caterpillar

Special shoutout about the “little senses” series, written for those who are very sensitive, e.g., those on the autism spectrum. I read “It Was Supposed to Be Sunny” by Samantha Cotterhill. A girl adapts to not having her birthday party work out exactly as she wants to with the gentle help of her mother.

Submit one story to a contest per season.

I placed eighth in the first round of the latest NYC Midnight contest, which gives me 8 points. Yay! I submitted my second story. This time I got mystery, which I have never written before, but it was fun writing outside of my comfort zone.

Attend one writing webinar per month. (flexible)

Suzanne Simard on her book “Finding the Mother Tree”. (Guelph Arboretum)

Work on one lesson of a writing course per month. (flexible)

Not done

Attend a writing group session per week. (flexible)

I did this.

Blog at least twice a month.

Not done

Weekly treasure:

One of my local blue jays

Challenges:

HaikuforTwo:

I wrote three.

100 day challenge:

Read two chapters of a book a day. 

I didn’t do this, but I intend to get back to it, as there are two library books I wish to complete.

How was your month?

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

August 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

This was another challenging month for me with a lot of soul searching, but I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Here are my results:

Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

“The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben

In my third attempt to read this book, I finally succeeded! I don’t know why I didn’t finish the first two times, because it really is a wonderful book. Perhaps I just got distracted? Anyway, to read more about my impressions of the book, see the entry below.

Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

“The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben 

This quote sums up the book and the feeling that you will leave with after reading it:

“When you know that trees experience pain and have memories and that tree parents live together with their children, then you no longer can just chop them down and disrupt their lives with large machines.”

I believe the book should be required reading material in school.

Apparently also there is a related movie.

Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

“World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Written by a poet, Nezhukumatathil weaves her story into observations of nature. A delightful read!

Favourite quotes:

“And so, I ask: When is the last time you danced like a superb bird of paradise? I mean, when was the last time you really cut a rug, and did you mosh, bust a move, cavort, frisk, frolic, skip, prance, romp, gambol, jig, bound, leap, jump, spring, bob, hop, trip, or bounce?”

and

“It is this way with wonder: it takes a bit of patience, and it takes putting yourself in the right place at the right time. It requires that we be curious enough to forgo our small distractions in order to find the world.”

“Three Simple Lines: A Writer’s Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku” by Natalie Goldberg

I started this when I was on vacation in July and finished it upon returning home. Part history, part travelogue, I really enjoyed journeying along with Goldberg. The book motivated me to write several haikus about what happened on my vacation, and I wrote them in the book, so the book has become a keepsake.

“The Comfort Book” by Matt Haig

I loved this book so much that I bought it after I read my library copy. So much deliciousness here!

Example:

“…one of the most common feelings among people was the feeling of not fitting in among people. The comfort, then, is the weird truth that in one sense we have most in common with others when we feel awkward and alone. Isolation is as universal as it gets.”

and

“I used to worry about fitting in until I realized the reason I didn’t fit in was because I didn’t want to.”

Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

Very sporadic.

Read related literature to my novel writing.

No, I didn’t do this.

Analyze two creative nonfiction essays per month. These are the two that I analyzed:

“My greatest pandemic discovery has been finding the wild in the city” by Andrea Curtis

What I like about this essay:

-Evocative language:

“We’ve also slipped down the side of steep embankments, threaded our way over boulders, passed ancient washed-out bridges, dodged storm water outtake pipes, graffitied underpasses and fjorded frozen streams.”

-Unexpected discoveries:

‘In his beautiful book about walking called The Old Ways, the British naturalist Robert Macfarlane calls unofficial urban paths, the ones trodden but not formally marked “desire lines.”’

-A thoughtful takeaway

“Hearing the voices from my family’s past 50 years later felt like coming home again” by Gayle Belsher

A couple of discoveries:

-The essay starts with a few facts.

-The essay mentions how the author’s journey links to the pandemic, which I am seeing is a common topic now in creative nonfiction essays.

Overall I am starting to see patterns, and I am going to try such techniques as peppering facts in my creative nonfiction essays.

Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.

These are the two that I analyzed:

“This Pretty Planet” by Tom Chapin and John Forster; illustrated by Lee White

The book is based on a song, so it’s not a surprise that the text is musical. Short and sometimes rhyming text make it easy on the ear; the illustrations also make it easy on the eye.

Favourite part:

“You’re a garden

You’re a harbour

You’re a holy place.”

“Peace” by Baptiste Paul and Miranda Paul; illustrated by Esteli Meza

What I liked:

-beautiful and creative rhyming pairs, such as correctly/directly

-peace explained in a child friendly way: “Peace is pronouncing your friend’s name correctly

-animals are featured in the pictures, and the author’s note explains how peace also affects animals

Submit one story to a contest per season.

Not a good month: I got five rejections. However, I am planning on repurposing two of those stories.

Attend one writing webinar per month. (flexible)

I didn’t do this.

Work on one lesson of a writing course per month. (flexible)

I’ve been working my way through a course about marketing writing.

Attend a writing group session per week. (flexible)

I have dropped out of one of my critique groups due to scheduling conflicts. However, I still continue meeting with my first critique partner weekly.

Blog at least twice a month.

I’ve completed this task.

Weekly treasure:

The birds that have been coming to my bird feeder have provided a lot of comfort. How many sparrows can you see?

Challenges:

HaikuForTwo

I wrote four!

100 day challenge

Read two chapters of a book a day. This works well for me, and I will continue it.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

May 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

It’s been a weird month weather wise. We’ve had heat warnings along with snow warnings! During this chaos, I’ve been busy with a couple courses including “Writing Nature Essays” and “Foundations for Practitioners of Horticultural Therapy”, both of which I really enjoyed and highly recommend.

Now I’m looking forward to a break where I can play more in my garden and do some more reading.

-Read 24 books for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

Alas, I didn’t do any this month!  I am looking forward to catching up over the next few months.

-Read 12 nature related books to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

“The Nature Fix” by Florence Williams

So much goodness in this book. It’s hard for me to pick just a couple of quotes to give you, because there is so much to share. 

Instead I will share this: 

“Distilling what I learned, I came up with a kind of ultrasimple coda: Go outside, often, sometimes in wild places. Bring friends or not. Breathe.”

You can watch this video for a little bit more.

-Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

Unbelievably I didn’t read any this month, but I am ahead in this category anyway.

-Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

Done!

-Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week.

Done! My favourites:

“Helping my mother clean out her closet, the year before she died” by Kandace Chapple 

I cannot imagine doing this!

Favourite quote:

“I couldn’t stand to clean out an entire closet, haul away my mother’s wardrobe while she still sat there, living and breathing. I wanted to hear my mother say this wasn’t happening. I wanted another summer with her under the crabapple tree and silver maple, where the branches had met above and grown together, cupping mother and daughter each season.”

“The Single Sentence” by Kandace Chapple

While writing an obituary, a single sentence Chapple writes about her mom changes her approach to parenting.

“Can You Tie My Shoe?” by Kris Martinez

Martinez writes how she chose alcohol over her life, but then decided on her life.

Favourite quote:

“…not every sixth grader knows how to tie her shoes. And we are not the only family who has been through a thing.

But thankfully, we survived.”

“Widow’s Walk” by Melissa Knox 

A stunning essay on grief!

“Shaping the Narrative” by Kelly Eden

In this braided essay, Eden compares her life to the essays she edits.

-Read 5 picture books per month

Done! My favourites:

“Different? Same!” By Heather Teckavec, illustrated by Pippa Curnick

Differences are shown in a group of animals but the group also always has something the same, e.g., they may all live in a different place but they also all have whiskers.

“The Hike” by Alison Farrell

Three friends go on a discovery hike. Lots of great labelled drawings too!

“Percy’s Museum” by Sara O’Leary; illustrated by Carmen Mok

Percy moves an discovers that his new house just isn’t the same as his old house until he starts exploring his backyard.

-Submit one story to a contest per season.

I finally submitted my story to CANSCAIP’s Writing for Children Competition.

Also I am participating in the Mix ’n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge

-Attend one writing webinar per month.

“Love Your Mother Earth” with Diana Beresford-Kroeger (Toronto Storytelling Festival)

“Song of the Universe” with Diana Beresford-Kroeger (Toronto Storytelling Festival)

-Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.

I’m not doing well in this category at all.

-Attend a writing group session per week.

Done!

-Blog at least twice a month.

-Weekly treasure:

Challenges:

HaikuForTwo

I wrote one using two words from “The Nature Fix”.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

2021 Bookish Resolutions February Wrap-up

Is it the end of February? Already? Where does the time go?

I traditionally struggle with February, but this year the month felt somehow easier to bear, although it was not without its challenges including a couple of tumbles on the ice resulting in some swelling…Ouch! That’s not like me at all. I usually am steady on my feet on ice…Anyway, perhaps it was a signal to slow down and pay attention more, which I have been trying to do, but I guess I needed to be reminded. A painful reminder indeed. Why couldn’t a sticky note with this message have come fluttering down, landing gently on my forehead instead? Hmmm, this might be the plot of a new story. Messages from the sky!

Anyway, without further adieu, here’s my monthly wrap up.

-Read 24 books for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

I finished one book for this challenge—a book written by my uncle called “Africa Revisited”—so that puts me a bit behind, but I am reading a few other books from my TBR list. I am sure that I will catch up soon. Click here to read about the book.

-Read 12 nature related books to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

I have the book for this month’s CHTA book club, which I have skimmed but not finished. Some more catch up to do.

-Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

Success! I read one memoir this month.

“this is not the end of me” by Dakshana Bascaramurty 

Bascaramurty documented friend Layton Reid’s dying and then eventual death of cancer. It’s refreshing to see more chapters of how his family is doing after his death.

Favourite quotes:

“would you like to learn the secret to taking on life’s most brutal obstacles?

here it is.

there is no secret. just keep moving, dummy. that’s it.”

and

“for better or worse there are days that just suck the good out of you. your spirit, your strength and your hope. and then there are days when the universe seems to rally around your cause when all prospects seem lost at that particular moment.”

-Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

Done!

-Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week. 

Completed! Here are my favourites:

“After Amanda Gorman’s performance, I’m reminded that poetry has the power to ease a frantic mind” by Millie Morton

Favourite quote:

“Memorized lines of poetry can be retrieved anywhere and anytime, without a charged battery, even in the middle of a dark, sleepless night.”

“I Don’t Buy The Idea That Women Need To Enforce ‘Positive Rudeness’ To Succeed” by Janice Quirt

Favourite quote:

“The world needs compassionate people to lead, work, parent and contribute. I want to teach my kids that they don’t need to sell themselves short in life, but they have to be decent people. Being aggressive or yelling at people may sometimes provide short-term results, but such strategies do little to build long-term trust and loyalty. That’s as true in the corporate world as it was in kindergarten.

I desire to be heard, and I want my kids to be heard, but not at the expense of resorting to cruel tactics. I’m not suggesting that women bend to the whims of assertive men by placating with false niceties, because that won’t resolve anything. But I do think a cultural shift needs to occur, and I’m hoping a more kindness-forward approach, and not flexing to take up space, could benefit everyone involved.”

“Caught in my mental darkness, I don’t know if I can tough it out” by Scott Lear

Favourite quote:

“I also wonder if I have the courage to continue to expose myself in such a naked way. Is courage even the right word, or is it self-serving selfishness? I’m not thinking of the reader I’ve never met, but about my family, friends and colleagues. How will they feel when they read this? Will they feel guilty or mad I haven’t shared my feelings with them? Will they think I’m weak? I don’t want them to feel any of this.

There’s a lot of mental-health stories written after the fact. When someone’s standing at the top, looking down at the abyss they crawled out of. I find this helpful and inspiring. There’s far less written about being in that abyss. What it’s like to be in darkness. To be surrounded by people, yet feel alone. Perhaps it’s because it’s so painful bringing that emotion to the front. It’s easier to keep it inside and let it simmer. Or maybe I just haven’t bothered to look.”

“The Colors of My Life” by Jacqueline V. Carter

Carter writes about her experiences with colourism, which is not the same as racism but a form of prejudice based on skin colour.

“We Need To Calm The F&%$ Down About Parenting Teens” by Jeni Marinucci

Favourite quote:

“It’s about balance. If I freak out and make a huge deal out of a teen sleeping in until 1 p.m. on a Saturday, or spend all our driving time harping about that friend I don’t like or every meal becomes an inquisition over vegetable consumption, I’m raising the stakes AGAINST myself.”

-Read 5 picture books per month

Completed! 

My favourite:

“The Boy and the Gorilla” by Jackie Azua Kramer; illustrated by Cindy Derby

After his mother dies, a boy talks through his grief with an imaginary gorilla, which helps him connect to his father.

-Submit one story to a contest per season.

I’m on fire in this category! I submitted to two contests. Although I didn’t win or place in either one, I now have a couple of stories I can play with.

Valentiny 2021

Click here for the results.

Fanexpo Flash Fiction Competition

Click here to read the winning stories.

-Attend one writing webinar per month.

I attended three, making up for the lack of webinars I attended last month.

“A Conversation with Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer” hosted by UBC

So many fantastic takeaways from this webinar with the author of “Braiding Sweetgrass”, but my favourite is the response to what an educated person is:

“An educated person knows what their gifts are and how to put them into the world.”

“The Power of Hope: Using Psychological Theory to Help Our Hearts…and Our Writing” (WriteonCon)

diy MFA: My #1 Go-To Writing Technique

-Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.

I did not do that, although last month I did several.

-Attend a writing group session per week.

Done!

Blog at least twice a month.

Done!

-Weekly treasure:

The tree I sat on while I watched my husband and daughter tobogganing

Challenges:

NF Fest

I read all the posts, but I did not complete enough challenges to qualify for prizes. It’s not the point anyway. The posts are excellent, and I learned a lot.

100 days

100 days to work on a project of your choosing

I have been reading two pages a day of my German novel, and I am surprised and pleased at how much easier tackling a novel that you find intimidating is that way.

HaikuForTwo

I have done one haiku for this challenge.

New challenge:

30 Words

This is a challenge that has been revived. I’ve not posted my first one yet, but stay tuned…coming soon.

I also realize that if my guiding word for this year is Nurture, I need to set some goals to do that. You would think that would be an easy thing to do, but I don’t even notice I’m not doing it. Thus the message from the ice…

I hope that you have had a good February. Now we turn to March and thoughts of spring. Already I can hear the birds singing in the morning again. Bliss.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

January 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

It’s been a great start to my year.

 -Read 24 books for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

This month I read “The Happiness of Pursuit” by Chris Guillebeau and “The Kindness Diaries” by Leon Logothetis. Click here to read my summaries of the books.

-Read 12 nature related books to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

I only read 1/3 of my book club selection for my CHTA book club meeting, so I’ll have to do some catching up. I did, however, read one other related book this month.

“Vitamin N: 500 Ways to Enrich the Health & Happiness of Your Family & Community” by Richard Louv

-A huge selection of nature based activities for kids and/or adults and individuals and /or organizations to engage in

Favourite quote:

“The point isn’t that technology is bad for kids or the rest of us, but that daily, monthly, yearlong electronic immersion, without a force to balance it, can drain our ability to pay attention, to think clearly, to be productive and creative.”

-Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

I read one memoir.

“Field Notes From An Unintentional Birder” by Julia Zarankin

From the jacket cover: The book “…tells the story of finding meaning in mid-life through birds. The book follows the peregrinations of a narrator who learns more from birds than she ever anticipated, as she begins to realize that she herself is a migratory species…”

Favourite quote:

“What I love about birding isn’t so much the birds I see but the circumstances within which I see them. That seeing the birds allows me to reflect on my own life, to forgive myself for things I’ve done, or to understand how they might not have happened otherwise.”

I particularly liked the chapter called “Going Solo”, in which she observes “Birding was helping me develop affection for Toronto, the place I’d always wanted to flee, and that might have been the biggest surprise of all…The most unexpected fringe benefit of birding has been falling in love with my own city.” I can relate. Since I’ve started to learn horticultural therapy and really pay attention to my surroundings during my walks, the urge to flee has been lessened.

-Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

Completed!

-Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week. 

Completed! Here are my favourites:

“The Serviceberry: an Economy of Abundance” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

One of my favourite authors writes about different types of economies. It’s a longer read, but it’s worth it.

Favourite quote:

“I want to be part of a system in which wealth means having enough to share, and where the gratification of meeting your family needs is not poisoned by destroying that possibility for someone else. I want to live in a society where the currency of exchange is gratitude and the infinitely renewable resource of kindness, which multiplies every time it is shared rather than depreciating with use.”

“After my miscarriage, ‘hope’ isn’t what I needed to move forward” by Sarah Faye Bauer

The author writes about a different way of viewing hope, and it really made me think. 

Favourite quote:

“Chodron describes hope as the opposite of mindfulness. Hope “robs us of the present moment,” whereas mindfulness means, “being one with our experience, not dissociating, being right there when our hand touches the doorknob or the telephone rings or feelings of all kinds arise.”

Hope assumes a future time and place of stability. Chodron believes nothing is stable, ever. We are groundless. All we have is right now, just this very moment. This golden, terrible, elevating, horrifying, gigantic moment. And then, if we’re very lucky, another moment more.”

-Read 5 picture books a month.

Completed! Here are my favourites:

“Pirate Queen: A Story of Zheng Yi Sao” by Helaine Becker; illustrated by Liz Wong

Did you know that the most powerful pirate of all was actually a Chinese woman in the 18th century? Read about her in this book.

“Harlem Grown” by Tony Hillery; illustrated by Jessie Hartland

Written by the founder, this picture book is the story of how an urban farm transformed the neighbourhood kids and their families.

“The Great Realization” by Tomas Roberts; illustrated by Nomoco

The poem about 2020 that went viral is recreated in picture book form. Click here to view a reading.

Bonus book:

“Music for Tigers” by Michelle Kadarusman

Set in Tasmania, this chapter book explores the rumours that the Tasmanian Tiger—the last known captive one died in 1936—still exists. The main characters are neurodiverse.

-Submit one story to a contest per season.

This was a biggie for me. I entered the NYC Midnight Short Story Contest. I had 8 days to complete a maximum 2500 word story.

Luckily I came up with an idea right away with the genre of historical fiction, subject of a long journey, and character of surveyor.

This is the most challenging contest I have ever entered, but I am glad that I completed it.

-Attend one writing webinar per month.

I signed up for Jael Richardson’s launch of “Gutter Child”, but unfortunately missed it, so I will watch the recording when I can. That means watching two writing webinars in February.

-Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.

I did several lessons of “Write, Heal, Transform: a Magical Memoir Writing Course” from DailyOm. I have now completed the course. Yay me!

-Attend a writing group session per week.

I have done two a week.

-Blog at least twice a month.

This is my third blog post this month.

-Weekly treasure:

Looking up, up, up while laying down on our blanket during our winter picnic in Guelph.

Other Challenges:

Storystorm

Completed with 50 ideas!

New:

100 days

100 days to work on a project of your choosing starting today.

I chose to read 2 pages every day of the German novel I started 2 years ago, because, hey, it’ll motivate me to finish the novel ,and also I’ll spend some time on improving my German every day.

HaikuForTwo

I love this idea of taking two words from the current book that you are reading and creating a haiku poem from it. You can read more about it in this Storystorm post.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

Reconnecting with my Garden

It’s hard to believe that I graduated 20 years ago with my diploma in horticultural technology. I did work in a greenhouse for over two years after graduating, but life had other plans for me. Instead of continuing in the industry, I got married, relocated, did some teaching for a while, then some writing, had a baby, became the primary caregiver of my father…After my father passed away, we decided to buy out the rest of my siblings and settle down more permanently in my parents’ house. Along with the house we inherited my parents’ garden.
Although I had been trying to gradually revamp the garden over the years, it’s become somewhat overgrown. OK, in some areas it could be considered to be jungle like. I have told people that the chaos of our property reflected the chaotic nature of my life over the years of caregiving.
But there’s also something else going on. My thesis in college was on xeriscaping, also called water wise gardening. I am not too fond of plants that are big water suckers. I’m not talking about the plants you grow for food. I mean other culprits like some grasses and many flowering annuals. So I always took a hands off approach: whatever wanted to establish itself naturally on my property, I figured was what was most suited for my property. I didn’t have to invest a lot of time and energy and especially water in their care.
Though this might be true, there is a challenge with this philosophy. There are many plants that will take advantage of this way of thinking. Those are generally the invasive and non native plants that reproduce quickly and tend to overtake those that are less aggressive. So, if I want my wild strawberries to thrive, much as I love my forget-me-nots, I realize that I will have to cull some of the flowers and let them flourish in non wild strawberry plant areas instead.
I will never get rid of the wildness of my property totally. But I don’t want to become overwhelmed with it either. Balance is key.
My teachers at college always told us that we need to “use it or lose it”. That is, if we didn’t use the knowledge we learned we wouldn’t remember it. I can confirm that this is very true. In many respects, I feel that I am starting from the beginning again. But beginner’s mind isn’t always a bad thing.
My current jam is the app called Seek by iNaturalist. (I like it better than iNaturalist itself.) You can take a picture and fairly soon it will identify what plant you have in your garden. It will also identify animals and even insect damage. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but no technology is perfect. Still, I have made so many fascinating discoveries. This morning, for example, I discovered I have something called “enchanted nightshade” behind my shed. It’s probably not the sort of nightshade you know, but a rather more innocent variety.
I was always interested in the healing nature of plants, which is something that I never studied at college, so I am learning about that aspect. I have discovered that I do have healing plants like motherwort in my garden.
I am also striving to be more conscious of what is native to my area. I was gifted some perennials that are native, which I have planted. My foamflower has already bloomed!

Foamflower


One of the books I am learning from is “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. I love this philosophy: “…in Native ways of knowing, human people are often referred to as ‘the younger brothers of Creation.’ We say that humans have the least experience with how to live and thus the most to learn—we must look to our teachers among the other species for guidance…They’ve been on the earth far longer than we have been, and have had time to figure things out.”
A garden—like life—is always a work in progress. It’s a great place to learn not only about nature, but also about yourself.

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler