Friday, April 30, 2010


"Besides germination, April is also the month for planting.  With enthusiasm, yes, with wild enthusiasm and impatience you order seedlings from the nurseries, for you cannot exist any longer without them; you promised all your friends who have gardens that you would come for cuttings; I tell you that you are never satisfied with what you already have.  And so, one day, some 170 seedlings meet in your house, and they must be planted immediately; and then you look round in your garden and find with overwhelming certainty that you have no space left for them!  ...'No, it's not possible here,' he murmurs in a low voice; 'here I have those damned chrysanthemums; phlox would smother it here...and near this achillea there is no room either--where shall I put it?  ...Ha, here is a bit of space; wait, my little seedling, in a moment I will make your bed.  So, there you are, and now grow in peace.'  Yes, but in two days the gardener will discover that he has planted it right on top of the scarlet shoots of an emerging evening primrose..."
- Karel Capek, from The Gardener’s Year

Thursday, April 29, 2010


"That strain again; it had a dying fall,
O' it came o'er my ear like the sweet south
That breathes upon a bank of violets
Stealing and giving odour."
- William Shakespeare

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


"There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream;
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light"
- William Wordsworth

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


"If it were of any use, every day the gardener would fall on his knees and pray somehow like this:
O Lord, grant that in some way it may rain every day, say from about midnight until three o'clock in the morning, but you see, it must be gentle and warm so that it can soak in; grant that at the same time it would not rain on campion, alyssum, helianthemum, lavender, and the others which you in your infinite wisdom know are drought-loving plants--I can write their names on a bit of paper if you like--and grant that the sun may shine the whole day long, but not everywhere...and not too much; that there may be plenty of dew and little wind, enough worms, no plant-lice and snails, no mildew, and that once a week, thin liquid manure and guano may fall from Heaven. Amen. "
-Karel Capek, The Gardener's Year, 1929

Monday, April 26, 2010


"We must learn to look on plants not as mere points of color, but as old friends on whose coming we can rely; and who, returning with the recurring seasons, bring back with them pleasant memories of past years."
Henry Bright

Sunday, April 25, 2010


"The boughs of the oak are roaring inside the acorn."
- Charles Tomlinson

Saturday, April 24, 2010


"A garden is a private world or it is nothing, and the gardener must be allowed his vagaries."
- Eleanor Perenyi

Friday, April 23, 2010


"Almost anything you do in the garden, for example weeding, is an effort to create some sort of order out of nature's tendency to run wild. There has to be a certain degree of domestication in a garden. The danger is that you can so tame a garden that it becomes a thing. It becomes landscaping."
- Stanley Kunitz

Thursday, April 22, 2010


For My Daughter, Age 16, Downcast by Winter
by Philip Legler

April now, and from the ground up
the snow is going, melting
in its six-month hold, the way
ice locks the bay in. Trout,
deep under, rise as if
from their shadows, and along
Lakeshore you park our car
off the road to watch the ice-
breaker slice through and open us
up to summer, the first ore boat
at the harbor.

Ashore, you wade
through puddles, mud, slush,
water flooding our town,
in gutters, from roofs, wind
blowing off Lake Superior, shaking
the Amoco sign like kids
banging a lid. A kite,
bobbing with its string adrift,
swoops over Presque Isle,
climbs a moment, lifts your head
to the sun in a perfect sky.

patting self on back, breaking arm

This web log been getting some notice lately, completely undeserved, but happily accepted! Unfortunately, lately I haven't been posting regularly - life has been getting in the way of art, so to speak. If you're here for the first time, forgive the mess, and please, look to the labels in the sidebar... there might be something worth your visit, there.
What prompted this mea culpa? I ran across a compliment on another website today - Betsy's Herb Garden was listed by the writer as one of the 50 best blogs to read to learn about herbalism.
 50 best blogs to learn about herbalism

During the last few years I've been asked to advertise a couple of garden products, and to write for a well known herb magazine ... but purely as a volunteer proposition, without any real monetary payment other than getting my "name" out there into the big world, and, wooo! a link back to my blog.
Ahem, I don't need to advertise my blog. I have all the Attagirls I'll ever need from paid staff who know the precise value of volunteers* for their own program's bottom lines. I've volunteered for non-profits thousands of hours, literally. I've made memories and  friends, and have earned the opportunity to contribute to my community, but no points on my Social Security account, nor gas money for a' that. Brownie points, not redeemable for cash. My mother raised me wrong.

*over 20 dollars an hour in 2010, what I call "padding".

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


"Seeds are a link to the past."
- Rosalind Creasy

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


"Wth umbled hair of swarms of bees,
And flower-robes dancing in the breeze,
with sweet, unsteady lotus-glances,
Intoxicated, Spring advances."
Translated from Sanskrit poem

Monday, April 19, 2010


"Oh, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day!
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun
And by and bye a cloud takes all away."
- William Shakespeare

Saturday, April 17, 2010


"We begin as a mineral. 
We emerge into plant life and
into animal state, and then into
being human, and always
we have forgotten our former states,
except in early spring, when we slightly recall
being Green again."
- unknown (Can anyone i.d. the origination of this quote?)

Here's another snippet from who knows where(?):

" I am a part of all you see
 In Nature: part of all you feel:
 I am the impact of the bee
 Upon the blossom; in the tree
 I am the sap--that shall reveal
 The leaf, the bloom--that flows and flutes
 Up from the darkness through its roots. "

Friday, April 16, 2010


"It may indeed be phantasy, when I
Essay to draw from all created things
Deep, heartfelt, inward joy that closely clings;
And trace in leaves and flowers that round me lie
Lessons of love and earnest piety."
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Thursday, April 15, 2010


"Sell the country? Why no sell the air, the clouds, the great sea?"
- Chief Tecumseh

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


"A real gardener is not a man who cultivates flowers; he is a man who cultivates the soil ... If he came into the Garden of Eden he would sniff excitedly and say: "Good Lord, what humus!"
- Karl Capek

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


"The more help a person has in his garden, the less it belongs to him."
- william H. Davis

Monday, April 12, 2010


"I love the verse that, mild and bland,
Breathes of green fields and open sky.
I love the muse that in her hand
Bears flowers of native poesy."
- The Native Muse by John Clare

Sunday, April 11, 2010


You won't find them in places where society goes,
Like flower shows.
Their affections
Run more to junk yards and other low-rent sections--
Not flowers to make perfume of or wear.
People see them in their lawns and swear.
Cows eat them and their milk tastes funny.
Bees make them into honey.
The farmer turns them under with his plow,
Or makes them into wine if he knows how.
They hang around street corners on pipestem legs,
And taste good in salad with vinegar and hard-boiled eggs.
In broken bricks and cinders they
Do well.  Also in clay.
Hills they prefer to valleys.
They like to grow
Where kids go,
In vacant lots and alleys.
Little girls use them for various things,
Such as money.  They put them on strings,
Or hold them under their chins to see if they like butter.
Golfers knock their heads off with a putter.
You can split them with your tongue to make long curls,
Which small comedians wear to look like girls.
They hug the earth where lawnmowers mow,
And so survive.
Elsewhere they stretch taller.
In areas where nothing else will grow
They thrive--
More like the sun than sunflowers,
Only smaller.
They can't be stopped although you hoe and spray them;
The best that you can hope is to delay them.
No skirmish ever proves to be the last;
No victory quite manages to stay won.
They seem to propagate about as fast
As a middle-aged gardener can run.
There isn't any more that you can say
About these tawny, undesired plants
(Teeth of the lion is what they're called in France)
Except that certain things are here to stay,
Things that don't pertain to public good,

Such as firecrackers, unplanned parenthood,
Snowballs, or a bedtime story--
Things you'd never dream
Of including in a modern social scheme.
Dandelions fall in this category.
- Will D. Stanton

Saturday, April 10, 2010


 Back, for a moment.
*I've just been blogging on the Genesee County Herb Society blog about our April meeting, if you're interested.

**If you're wondering about those extra page links above,  so am I. I still haven't figured out what to do with them yet. All in good time, Grasshoppa.

***And, I ran across a Google feature that lets me make a custom search engine - and put in my favorite, personal favorite  "herbal living"  blogs as the sites to search, which should bypass a lot of digging if you want a herbal response to a question you might have. It's posted over there on the right side of the page and I call it Google For Herbs (recommended sites).
Want to test it out? Just type say, violets, or huckleberries, into the search line and see what happens.
Cool, huh? (Btw, when you want to clear the search, click on the x.) Just don't forget to come back after your wanders.
I've added a bunch of my favorite herbally oriented blogs and websites that I read with my Google Reader (RSS), and I'll add more as I remember or run across them.

 Now for my personal update....
"It's been a week." That's what I used to say after a particularly awful week, but I'm updating my complaint to March was a month.
Well, not all of March - it did come in 'like a lamb', weatherwise, and I got a wonderful head start on pruning and flowerbed maintenance, though that was cut short. Herb had a heart attack, his third. Yep, TGFHI (Thank Goodness For Health Insurance - I pray everyone will someday have the same quality of health care he got, without being forced into bankruptcy and lifetime peonage).
And... he caught a cold from a sick nurse in the hospital (why do you go to work in a cardiac ward when you're sick? Is the money that important?) and then he gave it to me. It musta been some super germ, 'cause it knocked me flat for a week. But NOW Herb is well, feeling better in fact, back to work - he got a consulting job with a friend, so it suits him perfectly, and I'm getting back to life as well.
But like the poem says, April is cruel. We've lost our tentative hold on spring - the daffodils are blooming, and though it hasn't snowed on them (my personal weather adage) it's definitely cold enough for that to happen. The incredible pure white blossoms of the star magnolia browned after last night's heavy frost, and working outdoors isn't fun in these temperatures.
And the ground is finally wet after a long dry spell. We had 2 inches of rain in a day... it seems like the weather isn't as moderate as it used to be.

The holiday was great. Patrick and Mary Clare flew home and we all were together the weekend after Herb checked out of the hospital, but for actual Easter the family gathered at Skip and Tree's house. I left my camera at home. I'm not a great photographer anyways, but it would have been nice to help recall how beautifully Ashley dresses up my little K and A. and how animated they were over their Egg Hunt.
Skip and Tree are such good "from scratch" cooks, too, we really get a gourmet meal when they host the party. Skip is the master of the grill and served barbecued hot wings of his own recipe to nosh, and later, grilled pork roast on a bed of onion and fennel, with salads and a side of his incredible risotto. Followed by strawberries and whipped cream.

And here's the quote that was previously scheduled for today:
"When there is personal darkness, when there is pain to be overcome, when we are forced to renew ourselves against all the odds, the psychic energy required simply to survive has tremendous force, as great as that of a bulb pushing up through icy ground in spring, so after the overcoming, there is extra energy, a flood of energy that can go into creation. "
- May Sarton

Friday, April 09, 2010


 "Honest winter, snow-clad and with the frosted beard, I can welcome not uncordially; but that long deferment of the calendar's promise, that weeping gloom of March and April, that bitter blast outraging the honour of May--how often has it robbed me of heart and hope."
- George Gissing

Thursday, April 08, 2010


"Those of us who are gardeners do not need to train ourselves to be aware of the seasons, intuitively or in any other way, for the seasons have us by the throat."
- Germain Greer

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Spring tiptoed through the town last night,
Disguised in robes of winter-white.
 Today it seems so far away
   The wind is cold, the skies are gray
 But there are signs that prove it so-
Small crocus footprints in the snow!
- E.A.Guest, I believe

"Quietly Nature
does her work,
warming the
earth where the
violets lurk,
bidding the
crocus rise and
though the
garden's still
with winter's
then she tells
the birds to
and green
leaves usher in
the spring."
- Louise Riotte

Tuesday, April 06, 2010



It's a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds' cries;
I never hear the west wind but tears are in my eyes.
For it comes from the west lands, the old brown hills,
And April's in the west wind, and daffodils.

It's a fine land, the west land, for hearts as tired as mine,
Apple orchards blossom there, and the air's like wine.
There is cool green grass there, where men may lie at rest,
And the thrushes are in song there, fluting from the nest.

'Will ye not come home, brother? ye have been long away,
It's April, and blossom time, and white is the May;
And bright is the sun, brother, and warm is the rain,--
Will ye not come home, brother, home to us again?

'The young corn is green, brother, where the rabbits run,
It's blue sky, and white clouds, and warm rain and sun.
It's song to a man's woul, brother, fire to a man's brain,
To hear the wild bees and see the merry spring again.

'Larks are singing in the west, brother, above the green wheat,
So will ye not come home, brother, and rest your tired feet?
I've a balm for bruised hearts, brother, sleep for aching eyes,'
Says the warm wind, the west wind, full of birds' cries.

It's the white road westwards is the road I must tread
To the green grass, the cool grass, and rest for heart and head,
To the violets and the warm hearts and the thrushes' song,
In the fine land, the west land, the land where I belong.
- John Masefield

Monday, April 05, 2010


It seems so sad to see the birds
fighting and squabbling and having words
When one little robin finds a worm
the other with jealousy starts to squirm
Just like people

Even the birds have joined the race
flitting around at an awful pace
Flying hither and flying fro never
knowing where to go
Just like people

You know the trouble with them today
is they can't live their lives in a simple way
They always seem so in a stew
never knowing what to do
Just like people.

I know that they must feel the same
and are just as tired of playing the game
They would like to stop a while and rest
allowing time to feather their nest
Just like people

If we could get off this merry-go-round
and put our feet on the solid ground
And stop a minute just to view the sky
with its colors of every hue
We could be nice people

The world is full of trouble and woe
there's not much to live for as you know
But if we look at the grass so green
after the rain has washed it clean
We could be nice people

If we could live just like the flower
sparkling with color of a shower
Growing together with all kind of faces
we wouldn't have trouble with different races
We would be nice people

If we look at the beauty all around
the birds and the bees make a beautiful sound
The trees that are so full of leaves
We wouldn't have time for petty peeves...
We would be nice people.
- Pauline Carroll

Sunday, April 04, 2010


"I think these difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way and that so many things that one goes around worrying about are of no importance whatsoever."
- Isak Dinesen

Saturday, April 03, 2010


The flower that smiles today
                      Tomorrow dies;
All that we wish to stay,
                      Tempts and then flies.
What is this world's delight?
Lightning that mocks the night,
   Brief even as bright.

Virtue, how frail it is!    
                       Friendship how rare!
Love, how it sells poor bliss
                       For proud despair!
But we, though soon they fall,
Survive their joy and all
  Which ours we call.

Whilst skies are blue and bright,
                       Whilst flowers are gay,
Whilst eyes that change ere night
                        Make glad the day,
Whilst yet the calm hours creep,
Dream thou--and from thy sleep
  Then wake to weep.
 --Percy Bysshe Shelley

Friday, April 02, 2010


To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.  
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only underground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.
- Edna St.Vincent Millay

Thursday, April 01, 2010

a silly season classic

"I am a wayward, willful, contrary gardener. I don't follow seed-packet directions."
- Barbara Dodge Borland

"Every year, back comes spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants."
- Dorothy Parker, 1893-1967, American author, poet, journalist, humorist

April Fools, need a smile? Try out this solid gold classic "Garden Humor" site. Back whenever- in the 90's, I enormously enjoyed "Dibble's" storytelling - whenever his next installment arrived in my e-mailbox...