Jan 23, 2011

The Lessons of Impermanence

Little did I know that the young girl who grew up reading her mother’s House and Garden magazines would one day spend her days in a garden worthy of the cover of the magazine. As I contemplate my last week in the garden where I spent twelve enchanting falls and twelve long winters, where I spent eleven magical springs and eleven summers, I realize that I have spent a third of my life at Lakewold.

I grew up in valley surrounded by forests, adventuring on horseback through the magical, thousand-acre wood behind my home. Memories of primitive forests filled with sword ferns and firs shaped what lay ahead. My mother, a painter, would paint delicious portraits of flowers. I would follow her, but instead of painting canvas, I would paint flowers quite literally. I belonged among the flowers... a ripeness that has always called to me.

As I think back on my eleven years at Lakewold, I realize that I know the gardens as well as I know myself. Every branch and stone, every slope and valley, the way the garden comes to life each year, I know these like my own face. Some days, when the skies were filled with rain, and I did not want to rug up and head out to the garden, I did anyway, knowing there would be something to delight. Even if it was just the outline of a tree, the garden always rewarded me. When the witch hazels began to bloom and the snowdrops peeked out of the forest’s duff, I knew that spring was near. When the scented purple flowers of the Paulonia opened, I knew that summer had arrived. When the cyclamen bloomed, I knew that fall was coming. Because of Lakewold, I better know the rhythms of nature, the subtleties of the color green, the many ways that light reflects off the texture of a leaf, the way that weather moves through the sky. I also know what Mrs. Wagner must have felt as, each day, she walked into the garden.

Mrs. Wagner spent five decades at Lakewold. I spent slightly more than one. To think about how the garden changed me helps me understand why Mrs. Wagner left the garden to the community. She could not part with it. Through a gift, she was able to remain at Lakewold. I am saying good-bye to Lakewold, but in so many ways I am not leaving either. The gardens are a major part of who I am: I became an adult at Lakewold; I married at Lakewold; I met and made many dear friends at Lakewold; I became a leader at Lakewold; and I learned lessons of impermanence and patience at Lakewold. A faithful gardener knows that garden is anything but permanent. Without care, it can rather quickly go back to the wild. And even the most well laid plans take years to bear fruit. A garden teaches you about cycles of loss and renewal, and about the true potency of life.

When I leave Lakewold, I will leave part of myself behind. My rhythms are so deeply connected to hers; I will have to reinvent myself when I leave Lakewold. I have changed the garden, and it has changed me. Just as the woods behind my childhood home shaped my choices, so have the majestic firs of Lakewold matured me. I cannot wait to see where my new path leads me, and I thank Mrs. Wagner for the gift of Lakewold, for sharing this beautiful garden with me.

The poetry of Mary Oliver has always brought me comfort in times of change. Like Lakewold, Oliver—the poet of nature--has taught me to be a quiet observer. I come to her again at this time of change in my life. As I leave Lakewold, I trust that, like the little butterfly, I will find many places to rest and to listen and to taste the world.

One or Two Things (from Dream Works)


Don’t bother me.

I’ve just

been born.


The butterfly’s loping flight

carries it through the country of the leaves

delicately, and well enough to get it

where it wants to go, wherever that is, stopping

here and there to fuzzle the damp throats

of flowers and the black mud; up

and down it swings, frenzied and aimless, and sometimes

for long delicious moments it is perfectly

lazy, riding motionless in the breeze on the soft stalk

of some ordinary flower.


The god of dirt

came up to me many times and said

so many wise and delectable things, I lay

on the grass listening

to his dog voice,

crow voice,

frog voice, now,

he said, and now,

and never once mentioned forever,


which has nevertheless always been,

like a sharp iron hoof,

at the center of my mind.


One or two things are all you need

to travel over the blue pond, over the deep

roughage of the trees and through the stiff

flowers of lightening—some deep

memory of pleasure, some cutting

knowledge of pain.


But to lift the hoof!

For that you need

an idea.


For years and years I struggled

just to love my life. And then

the butterfly

rose, weightless, in the wind.

“Don’t love your life

too much,” it said,

and vanished

into the world.

Nov 12, 2010

I Heart Hanalei

I have to admit that it has been nearly a decade since i have swam in the chilly waters of the puget sound. I am pretty embarrased by the fact. But, i have really made up for it these past two weeks. I spent one lovely week swimming in the lagoons at Ko Olina, on Oahu, at my Aunt and Uncles Condo. My nephew Jason got to play around in the resorts many pools, one special for kids with tiny pebbles on the bottom. The water was amazing, so soft and salty, and just the perfect temperature. I liked to wade right in, but my mom, she used the self-torture method and I swear it would take her nearly 15 minutes to finally make it in.

Then after a week of spending time with family, i flew solo to Kauai to meet Jon and Heather for our North Shore Kauai adventure, itinerary thanks to Erika!! The highlights proved to be everything Hanalei, plus a few south island adventures. Hanalei stole our hearts. We had wonderful days at the calm beach of Hanalei Bay: body surfing, upright paddle boarding, practicing the fly stroke, mermaid style, but mostly laughing at each other being crushed by waves, oh and maybe our dismounts from the paddleboard:) Jon had the graceful dive off, Heather the butt thump on the board, and me, i perfected the Texas ten-step. We tested out erika's restaurant and Bar recommendations. Had a dizzying car ride to the Waimea Canyon, followed by a beautiful sunset adventure collecting the tiniest pieces of glass at "Glass Beach". We shot awesome golden light photos at Hannapepe. Throughout we entertained our selves by mispronouncing , on accident, and on purpose, all the Hawaiian names. For instance Hannapepe turned into Hanna"peepee" and then Poi i'pu turned into well, poo poo. Childish, yes, but quite ammusing. I cannot wait to return to the islands and this time maybe have a better grasp of the Hawaiian Language. Can you say, "I would like to buy a vowel"?

Sep 7, 2010

The Mystical Summit Lakes

Mystical describes the morning four friends hiked to summit lake. We were fortunate not to get poured on, but not fortunate enough to see said, Mystical, Summit Lake (Lake in photo above is not summit lake, but a small lake on the way up). She decided that she would rather be shroud in Fog than in the limitless mountain views and described unique color of her water. Regardless I always feel fortunate to be up in the mountains; feeling the fresh, crisp, misty air. After a short hike up and a freezing cold stop for lunch, I was glad i brought extra socks that served very well as mittens (they were hard to pick berries with, though). I impressed my fellow hikers with my mountain fashion sense. i wore my socks, lime green, for mittens and my hand/arm cuffs, pink, as leg-warmers. We were back by 12:30, glad that we were not sopping wet, but pleased that we dared the ominous weather to enjoy some of Washington's mountain beauty.

Aug 30, 2010

My dogs name is blue and Hydrangeas are too!

Blue and green are my two favorite colors. if i look in my closet i see black, white, strips of the two, and blue and green, not much of anything else. hydrangeas are the flower of August and are just so blue. they need next to nothing and provide many months of interest and become more and more beautiful as they age. i like the lace caps much more than the heady mop heads, but each have their place. as children, my sister and i (she probably does not remember) would pick the perfect star flowers of the lace caps and throw them up into the air like we were at a wedding. i would try to stick their flower stems through my earring holes to make them into jewelry. they were just so pretty and perfect to not have tons of fun with.

i have found that even though their name sounds like they like water, they are actually quite drought tolerant and recover well from periods of neglect. they are old fashion and so, so, pretty. i think that if they were to have a smell it should be of something clear, clean, and crisp; like the ocean, but minus the yucky tides-out smell.

The other wonderful thing about Hydrangeas is just how easy they dress up the home or a simple garden table. a few years ago, vickie, owner of the garden shop at Lakewold, purchased this table set and created this wonderful space for visitors to sit and read the best, import garden mags. So, i say, go out there and pick a few of your hydrangeas and if you don't have any, go get some!!!

Jul 31, 2010

Sweet Pea

i had a wonderful mini-vacation on Orcas Island this last week of July. my mom, who 'retired' on the island is the most productive gardener i know. in just a mere few years she can create amazing gardens and homes, for that matter. i would hope to think that i inherited this same gene, but i am sure she is out there weeding and watering as my fingers go pitter patter on the keyboard. not quite the same! this blog posts' garden delight was the sweetest, sweet peas that graced her garden gate. their fragrance made it the most wonderful welcome that one could have. i think that i commented on them just about everytime i walked through the darn thing. i spent two lovely "island days" (those of which do not understand this time difference only need to spend a few days on any of the San Juan Island's to understand) with my sweet cousin, Sarah, and my lovely Aunt, Janet. sarah and i had great moments laughing at our silly mothers. there is nothing better than being able to commiserate about family with family. luckily ours is only due to embarrassment rather than mean nasty stuff. then i had another two days on the island filled with marathon reading, chatting with my mom and evening walks to eastsound and the beach. i hated to come back to the hustle and bustle of the "real world", but rather than run around "getting ahead" foolishly, like the rest of the puget sound metropolis, i spent more time with more family, seeing my sister, baby Jason, and Jason's Daddy, Bobby, home for a holiday from the middle east. and then friends... and more babies. i now just need to check dad off the list. two more days to go....(update Dad is checked off)

I summarized my time off, at work, by saying that i was able to do everything that i wanted except win the lottery!

Jul 17, 2010

Water Wise

Since i was already in Bellevue for the Demonstration garden lecture i thought that i would take a quick side trip to the BBG to look at their renovated perennial borders.  Their water wise garden stole the show.  it is so photogenic!  But stay tuned for the perennial Borders.

Bellevue Demonstration Garden

Last Saturday i did a lecture on ferns at the Bellevue Demonstration Garden.  What a cool place!  I was cautious as it was a newly created lecture and quite a distance to drive, especially for a day off.  It was one of the best demonstration gardens I have ever been to! Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, even their garden dog, a shibu-enu (They look like a small fox).  I am not sure why i didn't take his photo.  I met the strawberry lady, who's sole duty is to take care of the strawberry patch in the demonstration garden.  They even had a very nice fern garden!  

Back to the presentation...Using a projector and laptop is always a challenge.  Power point presentations are a blessing and a curse.  You can see what i am leading up to, right, ...a disaster!  My Mac was not acknowledged by the projector (should have tried at home), but I was busy at the apple store last night getting help from a mac-genius, who by the way was pretty cute and now i think that only mac computer geeks can actually be cute.  Well cutie-pie-mac-guy ended up getting me for 140 dollars for my charging issues.  So, 140 dollars later i thought i was all set to go.  Ao, after all that, i had to do my presentation on my little 14" screen.  What a patient group.  Be sure that i am going to figure out the compatibility issue. I get so frustrated at Mac Haters!  It is really not fair!  I use both PC at work and mac at home.  So, i go both ways!  Can't they, too!