Gifts of Nature

Hi Friends!

I bundled up warmly at sunrise on that February morning. My heart told me that there was something very important that I must do… and I always listen to my heart! 💗

I hugged a tree… two trees, in fact.

It was a day to thank our towering pines for the many gifts they have bestowed upon us for over one hundred years ~ homes for the cardinals and other birds, a playground for the squirrels, and cool shade for the hostas, ferns, and mature perennials that thrived beneath them. Such an important gift for our climate, as well. Every few years, an arborist would come to check our pine trees and trim a few branches. He always shared the happy news that our pines were in good health.

As I hugged the trees, gratitude filled my heart! Our pine trees have provided a magnificent background for many of our treasured family photos over the past thirty five years. They provided welcome shade on our deck for quiet mornings, yoga practice, family Fourth of July celebrations, and tea parties with friends. They shaded teacher curriculum-planning sessions on so many summer mornings. The beautiful pines were always appreciated as we talked late into the night with family and friends, from near and far. The neighbors enjoyed the far-reaching branches that shaded their family gatherings, too. What fun to hang a piñata from the lowest pine branches for their birthday parties! Every year in early December, I loved to snip a few pine greens and gather fallen pine cones to fill an antique wooden box and to mix with dried garden gatherings to decorate an antique sled for our front porch.

Our towering pines watched over many life changing moments, too. My husband and I spent many hours getting to know one another while relaxing on my shady deck. A truly heartwarming part of our first date, on a Sunday afternoon in July nearly twenty years ago, was spent talking on my shady deck. The pines cooled our deck and entire backyard for the special picnic where both of our families had fun getting to know one another following our engagement! The following summer, my mom and I spent a lovely June afternoon on our shady deck tying bundles of flowers from my garden with satin ribbons, to hang from the chairs for our Victorian-style wedding ceremony. Ten years ago, the pines shaded our wonderful family celebration in honor of my dad’s 80th birthday.

If those trees could talk, they would tell so many stories of the single woman who dreamed of owning a home of her own to put down roots so long ago. The moment she saw the cozy, little 1922 bungalow, with a swing on the front porch, a big garden, and two towering pine trees… it was love at first sight!💗

Alas, there are BIG changes happening nearby! A very large, new home will be built next door. Half of the branches and half of the root systems would soon be destroyed. Our towering pines couldn’t safely survive the construction next door. So, my hugs and thanks that February morning were also a heartbroken ‘goodbye’ to our beloved pine trees.

Just a few hours later, the heavy equipment arrived…

A week earlier, I met with Matt, the tree man. I had two very important requests! He must be sure to protect my mom’s beautiful Rhododendron that grew on the edge of my Shade Garden, beneath the long reaching pine branches. This large plant grew in my childhood garden and is almost as old as I am. It was a gift to my garden many years ago when my parents moved to Arizona. Every summer, its large, pink blossoms warm my heart! My second wish was to have several slices of the tree trunks to use in a future garden project. Matt promised that he would make my wishes come true!

Oh my! It was a sight to behold! As I safely watched from the door of our deck, Matt worked from high in the air with pinpoint accuracy, cutting long branches, dropping them in the space between my white picket fence Herb & Tea Garden, our deck, and our roof. Mountains of branches were chipped into pine mulch. His team of four worked with guide ropes, chain saws, helmets, and ear protection.

As I watched the crew from the window, they were also watching me! It must have been entertaining to watch the little lady alternating between covering her eyes, giving thumbs up, and prayer hands of thanks as they worked. The four, strong men on the ground performed a ballet of twirls, turns, and leaps to quickly guide the falling limbs away from Mom’s Rhododendron.

Our century old pines towered over 75 feet tall. Our little house shook and my teacup collection rattled as each thirty foot section of trunk plummeted to the ground, landing in an ever-growing pile of branches in the neighbor’s yard.

The white sheet marks my mom’s Rhododendron surrounded by fallen pine branches.

When there was a safe path through the yard, I walked out to carefully uncover Mom’s special plant. It was perfect! Only two flower buds had fallen to the ground.

(You can see my beautiful mom and her Rhododendron in bloom

last summer here. Such a treasured photo.💗)

I walked over to thank the crew for their very careful work and to take a closer look at the fallen tree trunks. That’s when I discovered it…

a final gift from our towering pines!

A huge heart!

None of the crew noticed it… but I saw it right away!

It felt like a final gift of love from our pines.

We will find a way to use the carefully cut wood slices in our new, sunny garden design in the coming months. Although our towering pines are no longer with us, they will always be a huge part of our story!

We cherish their lovely memories…

and ALL of the gifts they gave us over the years!

🌸 🌸 🌸

Wishing you many Springtime blessings!

Stay safe and healthy!

Warmest hugs,

💗 Dawn

A Walk through Our Friendship Garden…

      “It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”  

~   John Leonard  ~

Our Friendship Garden warms my heart!

Our Friendship Garden is filled with heartwarming stories!


Hi Friends!

Every day as I walk past our Friendship Garden, I stop and linger a bit. “It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”  So true! The seeds of kindness and nurturing help friendships to blossom. This special garden bed is living proof that dear friendships grow and flourish over time. For me, one of the special joys of gardening has always been sharing plants with perennial friends. It’s such fun to dig up perennials from my garden and plant a little happiness in my friends’ and neighbors’ gardens!  In early June, our Friendship Garden suddenly bursts into color!  Should we take a peek?

The perennials in our Friendship Garden celebrate nearly thirty years of dear friendships. Located near our back door and garden arbor, it’s the perfect place to reflect and remember all of the special friends that have become part of this garden. Over the years, each plant in this bed was a gift from the garden of a friend. What could be sweeter?

Yellow Bearded Irises are the first to bloom in our Friendship Garden.

Yellow Bearded Irises are the first to bloom in our Friendship Garden.

Every plant in this garden bed tells a special story of friendship. These yellow Bearded Irises are from the Wisconsin lakeside cottage of of dear friends. We transplanted them here so long ago. Every Spring, they celebrate our friendship in the sunniest of ways!

Spiderwort, with blossoms lasting a single day,  attracts bees to the garden.

Spiderwort, with blossoms lasting a single day, attracts bees to the garden.

This Spiderwort was a surprise gift from a dear next-door neighbor. We always stopped to chat as we worked in our gardens. She was from the island of Guernsey and her British English filled me with delight. I could listen to her charming stories forever! We were both surprised to find this Spiderwort from her garden growing in my Friendship Garden one day. It landed in just the right flower bed. Gardening magic!

Dwarf Siberian Irises bloom near a birdbath.

Siberian Irises bloom near a special birdbath.

Siberian Irises are a gift of friendship from a sweet gardening friend. They were plentiful in her garden and are now thriving in our Friendship Garden, too.

Peonies, Anemones, and Dwarf Siberian Irises fill the garden with color each Spring.

Peonies, Anemones, and Siberian Irises fill the Friendship Garden with color each Spring.

The Peonies are the oldest perennials in this garden bed. They have lived here longer than I have! Every June, they bloom vigorously reminding me of the special lady that lived in this cozy, little home before me. She wanted to be sure that someone would take care of her garden when she moved away. She even wrote me letters to see how the gardens were growing. She told me that this little house had such a pretty garden when she moved here many years earlier. So she wanted to leave a pretty garden for me! What a lovely tradition! Over nearly three decades, I’ve moved so many of her perennials to new places in the garden, to create a garden of my own. Yet her perennials always provide history and tradition in our garden.

Purple Bearded Irises were transplanted from the garden of a special friend.

Purple Bearded Irises were transplanted from the garden of a special friend.

Irises have always grown near my door to celebrate the special gift of my faraway friend! As I pass by, I happily greet them, with “Hi, Iris!”  ♡


Oh, how sweet to be named after a flower!


Now our Friendship Garden is overflowing with abundant blooms.

It’s the perfect reminder of how my life is overflowing

 …with the blessings of friendship! ♡


There are so many other plants shared by my perennial friends sprinkled throughout all of our garden beds ~

         heirloom Hollyhocks from Julie’s garden in Minnesota,

lush ferns from Anna’s shade garden,

 delicate “Blue Mist” Bluebeard bushes from Candy’s garden,

a beautiful Rhododendron, Yucca, sage, and chives from my mom’s garden,

 bright, cheerful Daisies from Kim’s garden,

pale pink and rose-colored Hollyhocks from Mildred’s garden next-door,

and very old ferns from Mildred’s hometown garden in Wisconsin.

Recent gifts of friendship also have a very special place in our garden…

Garden Stones by Kristin (hand-lettered, and oh-so-beautiful),

“Tiny Dino” Asiatic Lilies from a young student (Celebrating our ‘dino-mite’ year together!),

 pretty wildflowers from Sabine in Rheinstetten,

and lovely, old-fashioned “Lenten Rose” Hellebore from Sandie’s garden. ♡

As I walked through our gardens today, 

I realized that everywhere I look

there are perennial gifts

celebrating friendships that continue to grow and flourish in my life!

“It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”

… and new friends add more sweetness every day.


 All of my friends are such blessings in my life!


♡ Dawn

P.S.   What special memories have you planted in your garden?