Nesting…

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Hi Friends!

I hope you are enjoying nice Springtime (or Autumn) days in your little corner of the world! Our weather has been so crazy in the Midwest for the past few weeks. It seems to change every few minutes ~ raindrops, snowflakes, a bit of sunshine, and high winds. Our bright, yellow daffodils and forsythia add a touch of sunshine to the garden, as their cheerful blossoms dance in the strong Springtime breezes. Near the front porch, our magnolia is already showing its bright fuchsia blossoms. Sweet, green leaves are so welcome as the trees and shrubs wake up.  We have squishy, wet lawns and lots of mud, too! Robins are everywhere. I’ve never seen so many! Yet, it’s still much too early to clean up our garden beds here in USDA Zone 5b. Our nighttime temperatures are still dropping into the 20s. Snowflakes are dancing down even as I write…

So, I have been very busy nesting… and resting, with anticipation!

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I’m enjoying spending creative hours downstairs, in my little ‘Paper Garden’ studio, where the sun always shines. (Thanks to daylight bulbs! 🙂 )  I’ve been busy playing with watercolors and stamping petite, garden scenes for my handmade cards. Sometimes we just have to make our own bits of Springtime!

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Since childhood, I have been passionate about writing old-fashioned letters to family and friends, near and far. So, I’m taking on the challenge of writing one letter or note every day this month. By spending less time online, I have found much more time for the joy of letter writing!

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I’ve gathered pretty stationery from my writing desk, a favorite pen, and lots of postage stamps. Letters carry handmade smiles, since they come right from the heart. Nothing makes me happier than mailing off a handmade card or letter to someone special! While writing or creating, I think about the recipient the entire time… so it feels almost like a little visit. Sharing handmade kindness has always been my cup of tea! (I think I’m going to need more postage stamps soon! 🙂 )

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My favorite project for the past few weeks has been a secret, surprise, family memory-keeping project. 🙂 I’m enjoying it immensely, and find myself smiling the whole time I am journaling! Can’t wait to deliver this heartfelt gift of family memories, in person, very soon! ♥♥

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Reading is always one of the best parts of nesting! Finding new inspiration for the garden, the front porch, and our home is just one of the delights of the changing seasons. I’m already dreaming of antiquing trips to the 3 French Hens French Country Market and have marked the 2016 dates on our calendar!

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The past week, I’ve been rereading The Fairy Tale Girl by Susan Branch. It has been so lovely to enjoy this volume of her beautifully illustrated, handwritten, watercolored memoir again. It’s filled with both smiles and heartbreak, as we learn more about Susan’s early years. Published last year, this volume of Susan’s memoir ended with a real ‘Cliff-hanger.’ So, I’ve been waiting… and waiting… and waiting enthusiastically for ~

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Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, the second volume of Susan’s memoir.  Her excited fans were able to preorder this book last November, while Susan was still lovingly writing, illustrating, and watercoloring her story. It feels like I have been waiting for this book for thirty years… since Susan published her first Heart of the Home book. It arrived in our mailbox just yesterday!! 🙂

Oh my! I can’t tell you how much I adore (and connect to) Susan’s story of buying a little house of her own, transforming it into a cozy home, honoring the history of the previous homeowner, planting a garden, and creating a happy, little ‘nest’ to write and watercolor, in her own special, handmade way! I’m trying to read s-l-o-w-l-y…  to savor Susan’s wonderful story and artwork. Of course, I read into the wee hours of last night. (I just couldn’t stop!)

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Susan Branch’s long-awaited memoir is now complete!! She is celebrating this trilogy ~ with A Fine Romance (dessert, served first!), The Fairy Tale Girl (the appetizer), and now Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams (the main course). Readers can indulge in her memoir in any order, and will be immediately drawn into her personal stories. It feels like such an amazing honor to read the lifetime memories of someone I have admired for so long!  A movie or tv series based on Susan’s memoir is already in the planning stages! (We are all wondering which actress will be chosen to play Susan!) All three books are available now through Susan Branch’s website (autographed) and will be in bookstores everywhere in time for Mother’s Day! Next month, I’m really looking forward to another Afternoon Tea and book signing with Susan Branch. Of course, I will bring you along!! ♥♥

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Thank you so much for stopping to visit today!

It’s so sweet of you to keep me company

as I wait for busy, Springtime days in garden!

Happy weekend!

♡Dawn

P.S.  Are you already enjoying time outdoors, or nesting inside… while waiting for warm Springtime days?

A Wee Bit o’ Green…

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Hi Friends!

‘Twas a lucky morn here!

As the rain showers ended, the birds began to sing so loudly,

as if to share the happy news…

I grabbed my denim jacket and headed out for my morning walk through the garden

observing the quick growth of foliage, in so many shades of green.

I have been checking the garden each day for a week or so.

Today was different ~ a wee bit o’ green and purple!

Oh, my heart! The first Springtime blossoms were open!

Miniature irises were in full bloom

and crocuses were just unfurling their petals.

Daffodils will add sunshine to the garden any day now.

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It’s still too early to uncover our Midwest garden beds

from their crunchy, leafy confetti

here in USDA Zone 5.

Snowflakes are predicted this weekend.

(We have memories of one late March snowstorm of 16 inches!)

While we wait, we enjoy our favorite garden books and magazines

and dream our garden dreams…

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Our Conservatory, in a nearby park,

is a lovely oasis

filled with sunshine

and

wee bits o’ green.

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It’s the perfect place to pause and reflect…

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I have been feeling so lucky

(and by lucky, I mean blessed beyond measure!)

for all of the special people in my life.

YOU are one of them!

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Thank you so much for stopping to visit today.

Wishing you lucky days, too!

(‘A Wee Bit o’ Green’ ~ all supplies by Stampin’ Up)

Erin Go Bragh!

♡Dawn

P.S.  What’s blooming in your neighborhood and your garden this week?

A Moment in Time

Spring Anenomes dance in the late May breeze.

Hi Friends!

Rabbit! Rabbit!

June, June, Hooray, it’s June…

Wishing you a whole new month of sunny days in the garden!

The magical month of May really flew by quickly! Although I spent many happy hours in the garden, rainy days kept me inside much more than usual the past few weeks. There were so many days when I could only enjoy the garden through the windows, as the raindrops trickled down the glass panes.

Luckily, I knew where to find a ‘sunny’ spot, even on the rainiest of days. With a cup of tea in hand, I happily disappeared into the ‘Paper Garden’ ~ my little papercrafting studio downstairs. The bright ‘sunshine’ of daylight bulbs and colorful, dried flowers and herbs (from last year’s garden) hanging from the ceiling rafters, inspired creative ideas to bloom. Creating cheery cards and playing with watercolors are two of my favorite ways to create my own sunshine in spite of the weather outside.

Between downpours, my camera lens captured some favorite ‘moments in time’ in the garden last week. The final week of May was a very colorful one in our Midwest cottage garden. What fun to fill vases with flowers to bring some of the garden inside!

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Anemones were breathtaking in the early evening sunlight. I filled small vases with dainty bouquets of Anemones and Dianthus.

Pale purple iris in bloom

Irises were the first flowers to bloom in my Friendship Garden. They always remind me of a very special friend!

The delicate blossoms of Cranesbill Geranium, Lilies of the Valley, Daisies, Allium, and Spirea add color to the garden in mid to late May.

The delicate blossoms of Cranesbill Geranium, Lilies of the Valley, Anemones, Daisies, Allium, and Spirea added soft color to the garden in late May.

Bright pink Rhododendron

This Rhododendron holds fond family memories. Originally a gift from a neighbor, it grew in my mom’s garden while I was young. Before my parents moved across the country, they dug up the Rhododendron and brought it to me. I just love the sweet family memories it adds to my garden today!

Bleeding Hearts, Columbine, Cranesbill Geranium, and Peonies added pops of color to our old-fashioned cottage garden in late May.

Delicate Bleeding Hearts, blue and pink Columbine, and bright Peonies added pops of color to our old-fashioned cottage garden in late May. This Peony plant was already growing in the garden when I moved here 28 years ago. Caring for plants that are a part of our home’s long history is really an honor!

As meteorological summer begins, the first week of June predicts delightful days in the garden!

A full week of sunshine is expected, as our temperatures gradually warm up.

I can hardly wait!

There is so much gardenkeeping to do everywhere I look.

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Dandelions have really been flourishing in all of the rain, too.  (Just keeping it real!)

As always, there are challenges in the garden. Creeping Charlie (ground ivy) is invading our lawn and making its way over the mulch and into the flower beds. A friend, who often sees me pulling out these bothersome vines, says that we have ‘Galloping Charlie.’ I agree! Our other big challenge in the neighborhood is an abundance of hungry groundhogs (woodchucks) who think of our garden as a salad bar. It must be groundhog GPS that leads them right to the newly planted perennials and alerts them to tender, tasty blossoms to nibble. If only we could train the groundhogs to develop a taste for Creeping Charlie! It would be a gardener’s dream-come-true!

What challenges are you facing in your garden as spring turns to summer?

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Take delight in those small

moments in time

that have never been seen before,

and shall never be seen again!

Wishing you a day filled with joyful moments!

♡Dawn

Happy Trails…

Hi Friends!

Rabbit, Rabbit! May is finally here…  and that is something that I always celebrate!

In our Midwest perennial and herb gardens, mid-May is planting time. Very soon, seeds can be sown in our garden beds and tender annuals can be planted in containers for the deck and front porch. Spring Planting Day is always the happiest of days at our house! I’ve been planning, buying seeds, and waiting for the big day to arrive…

Celebrating the small moments that make life so sweet is something we often do here at Petals.Paper.Simple Thymes. Today is a BIG celebration of a small moment ~ and you are a very special part of our celebration!

Over the past year, so much has grown in our garden.

Along with the water and sunshine that helped our flowers and herbs grow,

stories from the heart, photos, and friends (old and new)

have helped our little blog grow, too.

Today,

Petals.Paper.Simple Thymes 

is exactly one year old!!

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This week, at at Floral Design workshop, it was such fun to create a bouquet to celebrate our first year!

It has been such a joy to connect with so many kindred spirits across the globe!

Gardeners, paper crafters, and those of us who celebrate the simple things in life

have been gathering here for the past twelve months.

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Each one of you has become a sweet blossom in our bouquet of friends!

Thank you all so much for spending time here,

returning again and again,

and leaving such thoughtful comments.

I am truly humbled by your friendship!

YOU

are my favorite part of our blog!

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It is always a special joy to to think of YOU while writing each post.

Year Two will bring more stories to warm your heart,

simple garden ideas to inspire you,

and lots of surprises, too!

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♡ Heartfelt thanks!

Happy Trails…

Are you ready for a nice, long walk? Lace up your sturdy boots, grab a hat and sunscreen, and don’t forget to bring a bottle of water! Our ‘Happy Trails’ will take us deep into the Sonoran Desert in Arizona.

Last week, the weather was just perfect for long hikes in the Arizona desert.

Last week, the weather was just perfect for long hikes in the Arizona desert.

Just a week ago, my husband and I had a wonderful time exploring the Lost Dutchman State Park, near Apache Junction, Arizona. Temperatures were in the low 80s the day we packed a picnic and set out for a new adventure. The blue skies and gentle breezes were just perfect for hiking!

Four Peaks, with elevations of 7,000 feet, towers majestically over the Tonto National Forest.

Four Peaks, with elevations of 7,000 feet, tower majestically over the Tonto National Forest. An amethyst mine on one peak produces the most exquisite purple gem stones. During the winter, snow can often be seen on top of Four Peaks.

Early spring rains and above average temperatures during March, made the Sonoran desert more lush and colorful than usual this April.

Let’s hit the trail…

The Palo Verde trees in bloom bring an extra burst of sunshine to the desert landscape in April.

The Palo Verde trees in bloom brought an extra burst of sunshine to the desert landscape in April. What a stunning contrast to the dark, rugged Superstition Mountains in the distance.

The spectacular mountain views were such a treat as we followed one of the many trails through the Lost Dutchman State Park. It was so different from the flat trails we often hike in Illinois. Desert lizards, birds, bees, and butterflies were our companions as we hiked along the dusty trails.

Beautiful views captured our attention around each bend in the trail.

Beautiful views captured our attention around each bend in the trails.

Legends of  a hidden gold mine added an element of mystery to the natural beauty of  The Lost Dutchman State Park. It was easy to imagine the days of the Old West as we hiked along the trails.

Just two weeks earlier, the desert was a sea of yellow. Above average temperatures turned the bright, yellow blossoms of the brittle brush dry and brown.

So glad you could hike along with us!

Next time, join us for a hike along The Great Western Trail,

through the Tonto National Forest.

You’ll love the breathtaking views, with mountains in every direction.

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Wishing you ‘Happy Trails’, sweet friends!

I’m so glad that you stopped by today!

Sending warm sunshine!

♡Dawn

Magnolia Blossoms

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Hi Friends! What a wonderful welcome home! After a lovely summer-like visit with relatives in the Southwest, it was time to return home to springtime in the Midwest. While we were away, I was curious about our Magnolia tree, near the front porch. Would we miss its bloom time while we were away? Since we arrived home late at night, the answer to my question had to wait until dawn. We were thrilled to discover our Magnolia tree in full bloom in the morning light! Bright and beautiful, the blossoms danced in the breeze under bright blue skies. Our Magnolia welcomed us Home, Sweet, Home in the happiest of ways!

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What a joy to see our Magnolia tree in full bloom!

Our Magnolia tree is a very dear part of our garden. It was planted fourteen years ago, to replace an old Crab Apple tree that was no longer healthy. After admiring the Magnolias growing throughout town, I knew that it would be the next tree planted here. The day it was planted, it was only waist-high. It looked more like a bush! With patience, we happily watched our little tree grow to its mature height. With just a bit of pruning  of the lower branches each year, our Magnolia gives us so many gifts throughout each season.

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In the springtime, our Magnolia tree becomes a giant, fuchsia bouquet, flowering for a week or two, before its leaves appear. Throughout the summer, we are often surprised by more blossoms tucked amongst its leafy branches. We often discover a bird’s nest hidden in the Magnolia. A birdhouse also offers shelter to our feathered friends.  The perennial bed beneath the Magnolia  tree adds an ever-changing splash of color throughout the entire growing season. Winter snows cling to the bare branches and the new buds for next year’s Magnolia blossoms. There is always something interesting to observe! While reading on the front porch swing on a summer afternoon, our Magnolia provides the perfect bit of privacy. The birds sing its praises and the gentle breezes create a little dance among the leaves. On summer evenings, the Magnolia provides pleasant company as we watch sunsets from the front porch.

“The best time to 

plant a tree

was twenty years ago.

The second best time

is now.”  

~ Chinese Proverb

National Arbor Day, celebrated on the fourth Friday in April, is the perfect time to think about all of the amazing  benefits of planting trees. Planting times vary across the country, based on temperature and moisture conditions. Spring is a great time to plant trees in the Midwest and Northeast. In the Northwest, people often plant trees in the Fall. In the Southern states, trees are often planted in late winter.

We recently watched the beautiful, animated short film ‘The Man Who Planted Trees.’  Based on a story by Jean Giono, this award winning film shares an optimistic tale of the importance of planting trees. It’s definitely worth watching here.

This year, we are looking forward to planting dwarf, re-blooming Lilac trees (Syringa Bloomerang) in our yard. Just imagine lilacs blooming in the spring, and again from mid-summer to the first frost. I’m already dreaming of crocks filled with Lilacs on the front porch throughout the summer months!

During our visit to the Phoenix area last week, one amazing tree captured my heart! The Jacaranda tree thrives in warm climates with sandy soil.  Its gorgeous purple panicles caught my attention everywhere we went. The Jacaranda tree could not survive our harsh Midwestern winters. So, I took lots of pictures so that I could ‘bring home’ the warm memories of  this colorful tree!

The Jacaranda trees were all in bloom in the Phoenix area last week.

The Jacaranda trees were all in bloom in the Phoenix area last week. Their blossoms are just beautiful against the blue sky!

Everywhere I look, there are trees in full bloom. What a joy! It is the perfect time to grab my camera and take a springtime walk through the neighborhood. I’m so happy that the recent rain and wind spared the blossoms.

What a wonderful ‘Welcome Home!’

Take time to enjoy the trees today!

Take time to enjoy the trees today!

I hope you are enjoying springtime blossoms on the trees where you live, too!

Which trees are your favorites? Which trees would you love to plant?

Have a lovely day! I always enjoy our visits!

Scatter sunshine!

♡ Dawn

A Burst of Spring Color!

“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.

You know how it is with an April day.”

~ Robert Frost

Hi Friends!

With the arrival of April rainstorms and warmer temperatures, our Midwest garden is displaying its first burst of color. Gardening season is just beginning here… but garden happiness is in full bloom!  Wherever you live, I hope you can feel the excitement of new beginnings, too!

Springtime is definitely my favorite season in the garden. I can see the changes each day as new foliage emerges from the dark, wet soil. The burst of color from each blossom lights up early Spring garden beds! I love to take slow, daily walks through the garden, just to take note of all of the new growth. On the heels of our cold, snowy Winter, this burst of new growth feels like a miracle. Each Spring, my heart is simply filled with delight!

Come take a peek at the early Springtime colors in our garden this week….

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The garden is all abloom, with tiny bursts of early Springtime blossoms! (Top: Crocus, Daffodil, Crocus; Bottom: Scilla, Miniature Iris, Pulmonaria)

Just last week, hidden beneath a clump of dried leaves, I spotted miniature Iris in full bloom. I couldn’t help doing a ‘happy dance’ right in the garden! Seriously! Day after day, the parade of color has continued ~ Crocus, Daffodil, Scilla, and today I discovered Pulmonaria in bloom.

Beauty is in the details ~ especially in the Springtime!

This week, I wanted to spotlight two of these early Spring bloomers.

They always bring a bright burst of color and it’s really fascinating to watch them grow!

Scilla siberica  {Photo Credit}

A few years ago, I planted several tiny bulbs of the eye-catching blue Scilla siberica (also known as: Siberian squill). Unlike my other Spring flowers, Scilla blooms while it is emerging from the soil. It’s such fun to see a tiny, blue blossom practically touching the soil. Growing to 8 inches in height, Scilla lifts its bloom as it grows. Within a few days, the blue, star-like flowers are dancing in the April breeze!

Pulmunaria officinalis  {Photo Credit}

For many years, I have enjoyed growing Pulmonaria officinalis (Common name: lungwort) in my garden. This shade-loving plant grows happily beneath our towering pine trees. It spreads very slowly from the original clump and thrives in soil rich with organic matter. I am always fascinated by the pink and blue flowers growing on the same stem in early Spring. Cutting off the leaves immediately after the bloom time encourages new white-speckled leaves to grow.

This Spring celebrates my 28th year of gardening happiness! It warms my heart to look back on all of the changes in my garden over the years. The ‘seasons’ of my gardening life have brought big changes to my gardening style. I learned to garden by planting flats of annuals, providing bright, season-long color throughout the garden. Neat and tidy, growing in staggered rows, annuals filled my border beds with instant color. Annuals were a perfect choice for a brand new gardener!

When I began visiting our Wednesday farmer’s market, I would treat myself to a new perennial each week. Before long, my neat, tidy annual beds evolved into old-fashioned perennial cottage gardens. What could be sweeter surrounding a cozy 1922 Bungalow? I adored the crowded, old-fashioned look of big, beautiful blossoms all tumbling together in my garden beds. There were so many flowers filling my collection of vases, that I began using stoneware crocks and pitchers to display the garden blossoms!

After several years of happily growing cottage gardens, my style changed again. I wanted to enjoy the beautiful form and unique foliage of each of my perennial charmers. I think I spent that entire summer digging ~ dividing and moving the perennials to different parts of the garden, allowing space to walk amongst the flowers. I made repeated trips to the garden center to buy bags of mulch, stacking six bags of mulch into my small car each time. Ahhhh, it felt wonderful to have room to breathe in my cottage gardens.

This long journey has been brimming over with garden happiness!  My garden teaches me wondrous, new things every day. I truly love my perennial, cottage-style beds. Now I enjoy them so much more, with freshly mulched paths, encouraging me to walk through the garden admiring each individual plant. On Summer mornings, you will often find me walking amongst the blossoms, with my snips, and a basket filled with flowers. It is so exciting when the gardener grows…  along with the garden!

Garden happiness will be in full bloom soon.

It all begins with a burst of Spring color!

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What is your favorite gardening style? How have your gardens evolved over the years?

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I always enjoy our visits in the garden!

Scatter sunshine!

♡ Dawn

Let’s Party!

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Hi Friends!

♫♬  “Silver white Winters that melt into Springs,
                 These are a few of my favorite things…” ♬♫

Our smiles are a bit brighter and our steps feel a bit lighter today! Can you feel it, too?

Hello Spring!!

I have always loved the change of seasons, each filled with changing weather patterns, new outdoor activities, holiday traditions to celebrate, and of course, big changes in the garden.  From my earliest days as a gardener, Spring has always been my very favorite time of year.

It’s so exciting to watch the garden grow in early Spring. Here in the Midwest, it’s still much too early to plant. For the next few weeks, I will enjoy daily walks through the garden, a bit of pruning here and there, and a lot of gardenkeeping. It’s the perfect time for dreaming and garden planning, too.

After a long, cold, snowy winter in the Midwest, we are all happily celebrating the arrival of Spring today! What a delightful time of new beginnings! Are you ready?

Spring is nature’s way of saying,

“Let’s party!”

~ Robin Williams ~

A few decorations always make a ‘party‘ extra-special! Inside there are folk art bunnies, faux nests filled with speckled eggs, and pots of blooming shamrocks (Oxalis). My colorful, folk art birdhouse collection sits atop the mantle. On the front porch, an old zinc watering can is filled with freshly cut Forsythia branches, with hopes of forcing bright, yellow blossoms to welcome Springtime.

Just this week, a brilliant, red blossom has opened near the sunny, southern exposure of our dining room window. The small Mandevilla Vine, that bloomed all summer long on the deck has made it through the winter. I have been pinching off the tips of the fast growing vines for the past few months. Several more buds are ready to open in the days to come. The flowers are sure to add a colorful, tropical flair inside, until the weather warms up. Then the Mandevilla Vine will move back outside to the deck. It has been such fun to watch this tropical vine grow and change with the seasons.

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Lace curtains provide filtered sunlight for the Mandevilla Vine as it overwinters in our dining room.

The packets of flower seeds that jumped into my shopping cart on a frigid, snowy day last month have become a quick bunting to celebrate Spring. Until it is time to plant them in the garden in mid-May, the packets of Sweet Pea, Larkspur, Cosmos, and Zinnia seeds make me smile each time I pass them. I know what treasures they hold inside!

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I quickly gave the seed packets a ‘vintage’ look, by applying ‘Gathered Twigs’ Distress Ink with a Mini Blending Tool. Using natural hemp and Darice Mini Clothespins, the bunting was hanging up to welcome Spring in just minutes!

The real ‘party’ is going on in our perennial and herb gardens. Now the flower buds are beginning to swell on our Magnolia tree near the front porch. Each day for the past week, I have noticed small changes happening in the garden beds. It’s so exciting to watch new leaves emerge from the soil, watered so deeply by all of the melting snow.

The small moments, as our garden changes daily, are really something very big to celebrate!

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Just a little reminder of the joys of Springtime in the garden!

The early days of Spring remind gardeners to be patient and hopeful,

for very soon…

warm sunshine and gentle showers will nurture our gardens

into the lush, colorful, fragrant places of our dreams.

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Here in the Midwest, we are expecting snow and freezing rain on the first weekend of Spring!

“Despite the forecast, live like it’s Spring!”  

~ Lily Pulitzer ~   

Let’s Party!

♡ Dawn

              P.S.  Does it feel like Spring where you live?  How will you celebrate the change of season?

A Wee Bit o’ Green…

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Hi Friends!

Top o’ the Morn! Hope your day today is brightened by a wee bit o’ green, wherever you go! So many wee bits o’ green are sprinkled throughout our home and garden in March. We always enjoy celebrating our Irish family roots in small, meaningful ways as St. Patrick’s Day nears.

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St. Patrick’s Day framed art (All products by Stampin’ Up) sits atop my grandfather’s trunk.

When my grandfather, Samuel, set sail from Londonderry, Ireland, at age 28, he carried his hopes and dreams in a beautiful, old steamer trunk. Packed with a few family mementos and his most precious belongings, this trunk accompanied him on his trip to America, aboard the ship Columbia. I often think about how brave he was setting out to make a new home in a strange, new place. I wonder how he felt as his ship docked in the Port of New York, on that summer day in 1913. How hard it must have been to search for work in New York, and later in Chicago. Although my grandfather passed away when I was very, very young, I can still hear the lilt of his laughter, his Irish brogue, and his wonderful stories!

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My grandfather, Sam

It’s such a wonderful blessing to have my grandfather’s steamer trunk here in our house today. It is one of our most important family treasures. It was passed down to me, as a gift, many years ago when I bought my own home. For a while, his trunk was used as a coffee table in our living room. Years later, it displayed my travel books in the family room. Now my grandfather’s trunk sits in the corner of my papercrafting studio downstairs, displaying handmade St. Patrick’s Day artwork and a basket of dried flowers and herbs from our garden.  I have always left his trunk empty inside ~ so there is always plenty of room to hold our hopes and dreams!

Shamrocks

Of course, we need shamrocks! There are pots of Oxalis in bloom on our sunny dining room table. Some have bright, green leaflets with tiny white blossoms. Others have dark, burgundy leaflets with small, purple flowers. This week, our shamrocks are decked out with tiny flags, too!

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It’s also the perfect time to celebrate sweet family memories in the kitchen. Baking my dear mother-in-law’s recipe for Monsignor’s Irish Soda Bread has mouthwatering scents wafting through the whole house today. It’s the wee blessings that make our days so heartwarming!

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Yesterday, we had a wonderful one-day heat wave here in the Midwest. What a treatl! Sunny skies and afternoon temperatures of 73 degrees F were a true delight! It made my heart sing to spend a few hours in the garden.

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There are wee bits o’ green poking up through the soil in all of the garden beds. What a joy to see perennials popping up everywhere after our long, snowy Winter!  I was so happy to spy wee bits o’ green Daylilles, Irises, Tulips, Daffodils, and Grape Hyacinths. The buds on the Rhododendron  and the Magnolia tree are swelling in anticipation of Springtime.

‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea

I took advantage of the warm day to prune my ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea (H. arborescence) bushes. They are about eight years old and their huge, white blooms fill vases, pitchers, and crocks all summer long. Their dried flowers also fill many baskets, bringing the garden inside all winter long. To prepare the area around our deck for a construction project, I knew that this was the year my ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea would need severe pruning. I have read so many different ideas about pruning ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea. This variety blooms each year on new wood.  ‘Garden Gate’ magazine, my trusted source over the years, suggested cutting back this variety of Hydrangea to 6 inches tall in early Spring for fresh new growth. So, I bravely cut all of the four foot long stems down to the recommended height.

Master Gardener, Mary Costello, in this video, shows how she prunes her ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea all the way down to the ground. I’m wondering which way is the very best for producing strong stems to support the large flowers of ‘Annabelle.’

Hope you will share your experience with pruning ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea, in the Midwest.

Erin Go Bragh!

Wishing you a wee bit o’ green today… and every day!

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Happy Almost Spring!

♡ Dawn

Anticipation…

www.MaryEnglebreit.com {via Pinterest}

Hi Friends!

Anticipation…

Can you feel it?

Are there signs of Spring in your garden?

What signs of Spring are stirring in your heart?

In the Midwest, we are still living in a ‘Marshmallow World.’ The bright sunshine makes our snowy landscape sparkle like glitter. Our bone-chilling temperatures keep us bundled up in layers, hoping to find a bit of warmth. The Winter winds are still biting cold. Waist-high snowpiles along our driveway make backing down the driveway a bit of a challenge.

My perennial and herb gardens remain buried under a very thick blanket of snow. I’m longing to peek into the garden! I’m yearning to see a blade of green grass anywhere. Although we are surrounded by the reminders of a very long Winter, I can already feel the early signs of Spring sprinkled throughout each day!

The signs are everywhere…

Last night, I read the entire issue of ‘Garden Gate’ magazine, from cover to cover.

We shivered and huddled for warmth, while standing under the full ‘Worm Moon’ and star gazing.

At the market today, packets of flower seeds jumped into my basket.

A pair of cute, sturdy garden gloves hopped into the basket, too.

I have been sketching a few plans in my Garden Journal already!

This weekend, our clocks will ‘Spring Forward’ one hour, as Daylight Savings Time begins.

Our extended weather forecast calls for more seasonal temperatures, above freezing, at last!

The signs are everywhere…

Exactly two weeks from today,

at 5:45 pm Central DST,

Spring arrives!!

(Check out the Countdown to Spring clock.)

♥♥♥

“One of the most delightful things

about the garden 

is the 

anticipation it provides.”

                                                                                ~ W.E. Johns

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In the Springtime, the Magnolia, tree near our front porch, bursts into bloom.

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Spring bulbs add bright, cheery pops of color throughout the garden.

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Irises are one of special flowers that brighten our Friendship Garden.

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Bright peonies in late Spring bring old-fashioned charm to the garden.

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Following the stepping stone path across the yard to the Herb and Tea Garden in the Spring makes my heart sing!

Let's relax and enjoy a cup of tea together!

Right now, snow is still halfway up my white picket fence. I can’t wait for the glorious Spring day when I can first open the garden gate… and step inside!

Spring is on the way…

and the 

 anticipation

is so delightful!

While our gardens rest, insulated by the snow, Midwest gardeners are so curious to see what’s happening in our garden beds. We haven’t been able to see our gardens since the blizzard buried us in snow five weeks ago! Our gardening friends in New England have been waiting much longer, through their relentless series of winter snowstorms.

As we all anticipate Spring here in the Northern Hemisphere, our friends in the Southern Hemisphere are waiting for the arrival of Autumn. Visiting garden blogs from other parts of the world has been such a joy during our Winter days. It has been so lovely to peek into gardens of blog friends in Wales, Scotland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, and closer to home in California and Arizona. Although we are separated by distance, we all share the same joys of digging in the soil and nurturing new growth in our beloved gardens. 

Wherever you live, I hope you will take time to notice all of the subtle changes…  

in nature and in your heart. 

Anticipation…

Enjoy every moment!

I can’t wait to share a few of my garden plans with you! It will be fun to hear about your garden plans, too!

Counting the days!

♡Dawn

P.S.  Have you seen any signs of Spring yet in nature… or in your heart? Hope you’ll share…

Lions, Lambs, and Bunnies, too!

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Hi Friends!

Rabbit! Rabbit!

What a fun tradition!  I can still remember saying these words in my childhood. Saying ‘Rabbit Rabbit’ to the first people you greet on the first day of a new month will (hopefully) bring you good fortune throughout the month. Rabbits have been considered a sign of good luck for over 2,000 years. Written references to beginning the month with this superstition date back to the early 1900’s in the United States. Even President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was known to begin the month with this quirky saying. (You can ‘Listen to the Story’ in a clip from NPR news here.) Oh, no! Have you forgotten to say ‘Rabbit Rabbit’ this morning?  No worries!  Before bedtime, you can say ‘Black Rabbit’ or ‘tibbaR tibbaR.’ That’s ‘Rabbit Rabbit’ backwards!  Just wanted to welcome you with a little smile today…

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Girlfriends greet one another with ‘Rabbit Rabbit’ each month on Susan Branch’s blog. Any ‘Downton Abbey’ fans will really enjoy her wonderful recaps of each episode!

♥♥♥

We also have a weather saying for the month of March.

“March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb.”

It’s definitely true here in the Midwest today! March is roaring in like a lion, bringing more snow and cold temperatures. At this very moment, I can hear snowblowers roaring in the distance. My garden is still buried under a thick blanket of sparkly, white snow. More snowflakes will fall on Tuesday. It’s truly a ‘Marshmallow World’ everywhere we look. 

Our herb

Our Herb Garden in February

...

Our snow-covered Magnolia tree

After one of the coldest, snowiest Februarys on record, so many people are celebrating the arrival of March! Today marks the start of meteorological Spring.  The First Day of Spring (March 20th) is just around the corner!!

Spring is on the way…

and I’m just helping it along!

I’ve been busy inside packing away our folk art Snowman collection

a bit earlier than most years.

It will be lovely to see them again next Winter!

Snowmen

 Bunnies and baskets

have begun popping up.

Bunnies

What fun to dream new Garden Dreams

and make new plans for this year’s growing season!

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It’s heavenly to pour over favorite gardening books,

while sipping a cup of tea,

as the snowflakes dance and twirl outside.

Gardening magazines are overflowing with inspiration.

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It’s definitely ‘Spring Fever’ time in the Midwest.

Spring is my very favorite season…

and I just can’t wait to get started digging in the soil,

cleaning up the garden beds, and planting a few new native plants!

I’m dreaming of daily walks through my perennial and herb gardens,

watching closely for tiny green shoots to appear.

Spending time in the garden always makes my heart bloom!

♥♥♥

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St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, on March 17th, spread lots of cheer.

Everyone can feel just a wee bit Irish on that day.

Our thoughts turn to parades, wearing our brightest green sweaters,

and the scent of Irish Soda Bread baking in the oven.

♥♥♥

What will you do to celebrate the small moments that make March special?

Are you making garden plans? Or are you already busy working in your garden?

Spring is already on the way!

We can all celebrate its arrival a little bit early… especially this year!

♥♥♥♥♥

Some very special celebrations to share…

Did you know that the Welsh people are celebrating a special day today? It’s St. David’s Day in Wales! My friend, Deb, is celebrating on her lovely blog. Deb will be so happy to share the festivities with you, with photos and videos of the St. David’s Day traditions in her village, in west Wales.

 

Whether you are planning a trip to Europe or enjoy armchair travel, I know you will enjoy my blog friend, Sandy Allnock’s, amazing slideshow celebrating  her recent adventures in London, Edinburgh, Paris, and Rome. Sandy is a true artist, and it shows in everything she does!

♥♥♥♥♥

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Thanks so much for visiting! 

Hope you will find a small moment to celebrate today!

Warm hugs,

♡Dawn