Saturday Snippet: “Transplanting”

Assortment of dry flower bulbs.

I don’t post nearly as many Saturday Snippets as I used to; that was something I started when I was housebound, healing from a broken shoulder and unable to garden. But I have just discovered a poem, “Transplanting”, by Lee Ann Roripaugh, and it took my breath away, especially the fourth section:

4. Dalmatian
There is an art to this. To shish
kebab the varnished pit of avocado
on three toothpicks above a pickle jar
of cool water, tease down the pale
thirsty hairs of root until one sinewy
arm punches up and unclenches its green
fisted hand, palm open, to the sun.
To discern the oniony star-struck
subterfuge of bulbs, their perverse
desires, death-like sleeps, and conspire
behind the scenes to embroider
the Elizabethan ruffles and festoons
of their flamboyant resurrections.
To trick the tomatoes into letting down
their swelling, tumescent orbs
in the cottony baked heat of the attic
until their sunburnt faces glow
like round orange lanterns under
the crepuscular twilight of the eaves.
Unwrapping the cuttings of succulents
from their moist, paper-towel bandages,
and snugging them down into firm
dimples of dirt and peat, coaxing up
the apple-green serpentine coils of sweet
pea with a snake charmer’s song to wind
around the trellis and flicker their quick
pink-petaled tongues. The tender slips
of mint, sueded upturned bells of petunia,
and slim fingers of pine that pluck
the metal window screen like a tin harp
by the breakfast nook where my father
stirs his morning coffee and waits
for the neighbors’ Dalmatian to hurl
itself over the back fence and hang,
limply twisting and gasping on the end
of its chain and collar like a polka-dotted
petticoat, until my father goes outside
and takes its baleful kicking weight
in his arms and gently tosses it back
over the fence into the neighbors’ yard.
Year after year, the dandelions
and clover are weeded out, summers
come and go, and roots stubbornly inch
down around the foundation of the house—
labyrinthine, powerful and deep.
Wow. If I could write one line like this:

“To discern the oniony star-struck
subterfuge of bulbs, their perverse
desires, death-like sleeps, and conspire
behind the scenes to embroider
the Elizabethan ruffles and festoons
of their flamboyant resurrections,”
I would consider retiring my pen, content that I had done my best.
Assortment of different Dutch flower bulbs
Dutch flower bulbs
Featured image from

Scent Sample Sunday: Brainiac

Bringing together my interest in plants AND in perfume! I learned about “armoise”, artemisia, and mugworts.

Serenity Now

I always appreciate a quality fragrance that is also affordable, and I appreciate other writers alerting me to those, so here’s my contribution to the “bang for the buck” list of fragrances. The mid-price chain Target has launched a store exclusive line of fragrances called “Good Chemistry” in January; the line is a division of the company Illume. They must be selling well, as the shelves were almost empty when I wandered over to my local Target to check them out. According to the promotional copy:

… the niche fragrance brand includes four collections inspired by different personalities: Confident and Charming, Good and Grounded, Vibrant and Playful and Cool and Collected. Each collection then includes four unique scents that come in perfume, body sprays and rollerballs.

I tried a few from the testers in the store and came home with two rollerballs: Brainiac and Apricot Bloom. (Full…

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Happy (COLD) New Year!

You know all those wonderful photos of beautiful gardens made even more beautiful by a fretwork of silver frost, or a blanket of white snow? That’s not my garden right now. We are in the midst of record-breaking cold, but here it has been a very dry cold, the worst kind for plants. Temperatures in the mid-teens (stop laughing, Chicago, New England and upstate New York friends!) and not even an insulating covering of snow. We’re doing the best we can with frost cloths, and I know my pathetic, drooping pansies and snapdragons will recover when it gets warmer again.

Thank you for reading my occasional garden posts; I will try to post more often in 2018, and not about the weather.

A frosty morning at Petersham Nurseries – and the Christmas Trees arrive …

Some truly gorgeous frosty photos from The Teddington Gardener! Morning frost is so fleeting, and so lovely.

The Teddington Gardener

Almost a perfect mirror, crossing by Teddington Lock this morning. Had to stop and take a picture though Important Business going on at Petersham Nurseries with the arrival of the Christmas trees. They were packed up for us in Warwickshire at about 5am to get to us in time for opening. Busy Busy.

But first I had to have a look around the nurseries as frost rimed many of the plants, so delicately, and the first rays of the morning sun soon cleared away the spectacle.

But to business with the trees ….

Beautiful Nordmann Firs, from little ‘uns through to 2.25m beauties. I had thought not to have a Christmas tree this year (I have a suspended holly bush in my mind for the conservatory) but I’m sure once I have sorted through this selection tomorrow, well I might have to reserve on before they are all taken.


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Roses for Guy Fawkes Day

Remember Remember the 5th of November, Gunpowder, treason and…. Roses? This floriferous rose garden certainly has other ideas about a quiet slide into senescence, leaf-drop and rose-hips – these are flower-packed shrubs with more to come. Colour, fragrance aplenty and fresh, clean leaves in abundance. A remarkable display given it really is November and hardly […]

via The Rose Garden at Kew. Vital still in November …. — The Teddington Gardener

One of my favorite gardening/photography blogs has this lovely post with photographs of roses still blooming in November, many of them the David Austin roses I love. Enjoy!

Tuberose Explosion

In Grasse, where Chanel has planted the only tuberose fields in France (and the biggest in Europe), having bought a box of bulbs from a retiring farmer six years ago, they blossom only twice a year and are harvested by a team of pickers in crisp cream aprons over two weeks. — The Evening Standard…

via A box of bulbs — Now Smell This

Tuberose is making a big comeback in fragrances, another love of mine, and apparently Chanel is leading the way in tuberose horticulture! Long may they and their tuberoses thrive!


Redoute Exhibition

Aren’t these photos, paintings, sketches, and embroidery designs beautiful? Some day I will find the time to stitch one of these patterns …

Hello Everyone

Hope this finds you well?

Continuing on with my recent overseas trip, this week I would love to share with you a rare and wonderful opportunity that presented itself on a stopver in Paris, on our return trip to Cape Town from Italy.

As you all probably know, my first book was “Redoute’s Finest Flowers In Embroidery”, published in 2001.  It is almost out of print now but still holds a very special place in my heart.

Book 1 (2)

The botanical paintings of the artist Pierre Joseph Redoute have always held a fascination for me and unbelievably, for the first time in France, Musée de la Vie Romantique (the Museum of Romantics) and the Museum of Natural History were holding an exhibition of 250 of his rare, original, watercolours.  I was beyond excited!


Pierre-Joseph Redouté, (1759 – 1840) was a painter and botanist from Belgium, known for his watercolours of…

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Saturday Snippet: Scented Moss

Orbella’s new Fragrant Moss is bioengineered to smell like patchouli (earthy and spicy), linalool (floral and fresh) or geraniol (rose-like and bug repelling). “Orbella Fragrant Moss is a line of home fragrances cultivated in a glass terrarium. Using nature’s simplest ingredients — sunlight, CO2, and water — Orbella delivers a safer, cleaner, greener alternative to…

via The daily lemming — Now Smell This

I haven’t posted a Saturday Snippet in a long time, but this popped up on one of the fragrance blogs I follow and I couldn’t resist sharing! Talk about combining my interests: fragrance AND plants. And I do love moss. If it were a bit cooler in my part of the world, I would have a moss garden. Haven’t quite figured out how to make that work in Zone 7 with high humidity and summer temperatures …

Saturday Snippet: A Succulent Manicure

We love succulents, and we love tiny things. So we’re not suprised that these veritable mini garden manicures are growing (heh) super popular on Instagram. Australian botanical artist Roz Borg normally uses succulents to create stunning bouquets, terrariums, and jewelry, but recently started turning the tiny living plants into nail art. “I had been making […]

This is WONDERFUL! Can’t say I would do this myself, but how lovely that someone else has thought this up and done it. I rarely get manicures — hello, I garden, often without gloves — but this really tickled my fancy. Do you have favorite succulents? Likes or dislikes?

via Show Off Your Green Thumb with Succulent Nails — #Trending — Round Two