Monday, July 18, 2016

rewilding ourselves

There has been talk over at Spirit Cloth about stitching secret gardens and such -- a tiny woven piece from over a year ago is already growing into one with a butterfly and flowers.

I love my birthday cards -- one girl always paints me wearing my crescent moon necklace. 

I'm starting to collect a small amount of surplus seeds to package in origami seed packets. First up is beautiful nigella, Nigella damascena, next will be larkspur. Aren't the nigella seed capsules wonderful?

Nearly speechless over the passion flower, Passiflora caerulea.....ten petals, dozens of radial filaments with five anthers and three stigmas....I have tried to grow passion flower before but this is a first.

In order for our honeybees to become mite-resistant which is a huge problem for colonies everywhere, I'm giving up control. Weeds, vegetables, flowers and bushes all get to bloom and go to seed. Mint gets to grow wherever it wants and thyme, borage and oregano can follow along. I am not making any more white-sugar syrup to feed the bees and have removed most of the man-made foundation frames from inside the hive. Instead of using plastic chemical-laden "honeycomb" cells, they are drawing their own beeswax foundation in which to lay eggs and store food. The tiny hexagonal wax cells they draw on their own will be the size they need and not what the honey industry wants them to be. Mites don't like the smaller cells. Mites don't like peppermint or thyme. Mites don't like bees that have rewilded themselves into smaller, tamer bodies. 

That is the plan -- we are rewilding ourselves here.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

the sacred in the ordinary

At the beginning of this turn of the wheel, I pledged to find the sacred in the ordinary. Now at Midsummer I realize that it's all right here in my own backyard...the sacred in the ordinary.

The birds love angelica seeds, I love the solitary hollyhock.

Maximilian sunflowers and St. Theresa grapes both do well here in Colorado. In case you didn't know, Maximilian sunflower roots form a thick barrier to block invading species.

I like the perfectly fringed petals of an elecampagne, Inula helenium, flower. Elecampagne roots are a source of blue dye and a respiratory medicine but I don't think I'll have the heart to dig them up for either purpose.

Looking up -- this is a pinon pine tree that we thought was a lost cause many years ago but she endures. The flicker house has been home to birds and squirrels, there is a family of blue jays hanging around it right now but I've never heard of blue jays using a birdhouse so it might just be coincidence.

The nettle patch has been sparse for some reason although this grandmother plant is over 7' tall. I decided to help the family recover by not harvesting any leaves -- look at all her seeds.

A new bee-house -- each tube can be home to a solitary bee and her offspring. About 85% of all bees are solitary bees, wonderful pollinators who often go unnoticed because of their small size.

Birth of a sunflower blossom.

The garden is vibrant and lush, a flurry of activity with butterflies and bees and when things begin to go to seed more, the birds will join in as well. Lush is not so easy to come by here in Colorado, being inlanders the landscape can dry up quickly into varying shades of brown and tan. I think we are considered to have a high desert climate based on altitude and rainfall. Alongside the Buddha garden is a patch of grass already going dormant for the hot months.

Today I made a list of most of the plants I started from seed for this growing season, leaving room for additional notes -- a minimalist version of a garden journal.

A little 3" x 4" Solstice book cloth was woven, stitched and fringed. As I sewed I thought about planting more trees, bushes and plants and which ones and where. I thought about attracting more birds and how birdsong stimulates growth and makes the trees, bushes and plants happy. And I thought about naming this space I am so lucky to tend. All of this is in the works.

Blessings of the garden to you. xxxx

Friday, June 24, 2016

solitary solstice 2

A token Midsummer's Day offering for the wildlife who visit here -- red and white alpine strawberries on a bark trencher, dropped off by our maple tree during the last rainstorm. The white berries are sweet but not quite equal to the red.

On the other side of the fence between a neighbor and us. The more aged and weathered, the more beautiful this tree becomes. 

One might assume the tree is dead, but to the contrary, she is teaming with life inside and outside.

The beginning of a woven midsummer's day cloth, about 4" square.

A Midsummer's Eve offering for the spirits -- things I would like if I was a faery...cottonwood fluff, strips of plant-dyed cloth, shiny foil...actually the same things I like as a human!

When the dogs and I walked into the park near the creek earlier today, hundreds of dragonflies greeted us. Magic is afoot. Happy Midsummer's Day to you. xx

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

solitary solstice

I heard the first cricket of the summer on Solstice Eve and she's been chirping ever since. We always wonder if things like this are happening earlier or later than normal so I try to write them down in a little nature daybook -- under June 19 I'll enter "2016: first cricket-song".  Also, the chickadees fledged and amazingly, house wrens took over their house the next day so that'll go in the book too. I'm glad birds can time-share like that.

Starting with lighting a fire for s'mores with my family on Solstice Eve, I've been enjoying simple rituals each day since and will continue through Midsummer's Day. I'm calling these six days Solitary Solstice as I'm circling on my own for the first time in 25 years. If you have ever wanted to create a spirit ritual but felt you needed to be in a group of people or a special place for it to be successful or meaningful, you are mistaken. I am going to be exploring ways to deepen my solitary practice in the days and weeks ahead.

The Green Woman is the connecting energy between plants and humans -- and she is definitely here. Yesterday she called me to the wild(er) side of our back yard, directly to the patches of lemon balm, Melissa officinalis. I sat on the ground, sank into the green, hummed, sang and pinched enough lemon balm tops to fill a quart jar. I filled the jar again with cold water and topped it with cheesecloth and a screw-on metal ring. I placed it on the altar in the Buddha garden to be infused with the energies of both the full sun and the full moon. Lemon balm water melds the elements of moon (water) and sun (fire) to enhance meditation and is one of my favorite summer rites. The Green Woman is a taskmaster -- she also reminded me that the motherwort flowers are ready for tincturing soon. And the perennials in pots on the front porch needed to be given homes immediately, among other things.

Later I remembered my unfinished moon cloth with stones and a lemon balm leaf and began to rework/simplify it. (The Green Woman needed a rest, I know I did.) I'm thinking it might make a nice patch on a pillow cover or a bag.

Today she guided me to the St. Joan's wort, Hypericum perforatum, in the Buddha garden -- a circular area with entrance paths at the four directions and the Buddha altar in the center. After smudging with white sage and rattling to invoke directional spirits, a circle was cast, a candle lit. I sat on the ground by the St. Joan's wort, accepted and absorbed the heat of the day while bees of every size and color worked Joan's starry yellow flowers. It is mighty hot here but the humming of bees soothed me and my own sweat cooled me. Fire being the essence of transformation is often used to purify or let go of things in rituals. Instead I used it to call in change, igniting my desires written on slips of paper, one by one. I sipped the warm lemon balm water, taking in pure green light. Singing softly, I plucked Joan's yellow stars for an oil of magic and healing. The one thing I know for sure is that plants love to be sung to. More about St. Joan's wort here.

There are three more days until Midsummer's Day on June 24 -- each day presents its own opportunity for a bit of growth and magic. Mostly it's spontaneous but one thing is already in the works -- a faery offering on Midsummer's Eve.

Thanks for visiting and Happy Solstice -- I'd love to know about your Solstice traditions.


Monday, June 13, 2016

healing and magic

Chamomile flowers are drying for plant magic and plant healing -- Linda Rago says that magic and healing are interchangeable concepts because they are both the result of a conscious shift in energy. I like thinking about creating some fragrant chamomile magic.

My friend Dulcy over at dulcysdoorstep and I just did a trade -- one of her gorgeous hand-dyed & hooked wool Midnight Garden bags for a June calendar moon cloth. I'm pretty sure I came out on top of this one. To me that vintage button closure is a golden honeycomb moon...I love everything about this bag.

Roses are the heart of healing and magic...Gertrude Jekyl is my favorite variety for our climate and location, they always do well, if not in quantity they make up for it in size and fragrance. This first batch will be dried for either healthy heart infusion or a milder self-love tea.

Oh, if I had known that a person can take notes like this, I would've been a much better note-taker my whole life long. By the time I've worked through this little book, the page will be completely full of brick notes. I refer to old notes from herbal seminars, lectures and classes fairly often -- and have always wanted to type them out to make them neater and easier to read, but brick notes will be even better. Think of all the facts, ideas and interesting phrases that could be brick-noted. I have never been a highlighter, if I don't write it down, it is lost so I really love this. They can be as simple or as elaborate as needed, some chapters will need their own page and one page could also hold many books or one lecture per page. Like that. I learned about brick notes here

My garden hat hangs on a cabinet by the back door. It does the job too but the brim is over-sized so I'm looking for a smaller western style hat now. The lady wants a straw cowboy hat.

Today is a waxing moonday in the sign of Libra. The Libra moon helps create balance, justice, comfort and peace for all. Healing magic. xx

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


It's a May cloth. I plan to work on it into the night since it's already the last day of May...if you know the feeling of snowflakes in your brain when something finally reveals itself, then you know how I felt when it came to me. A branch of May we'll bring to you is a line from the Cambridge May Song. 

This year I'm planting polyculture beds in the Buddha garden. That means mixing it all up for better growth, more beneficial insects, less harmful insects, and more beauty. This excites me to no end because even though I always intermingle vegetables with flowers, usually all the green beans are together and all the peppers together, etc. to make rotation easier. But this year there will be a few bush beans here and a few over there. A pepper plant here and another one there and there. Carrots over there and carrots here. Sunflowers wherever. Like that.

My planting ritual is a little different this year too. I still whisper grow-baby-grow while placing each plant (or seed) into its new home. But now there's more. I promise the plant deva (spirit) the plant has a good home by watering it immediately with water from the big enamel pot, filled earlier and warmed by the sun. Saying I will take care of you.

And all of a sudden tedious changed into sacred.


Friday, May 20, 2016

welcome home newbees

They're here at last and all is right with the world again, I really missed having a bee presence in the garden.

I hope to choose a mythological name for this colony but since we keep calling them the new bees maybe it should just be The Newbees -- for now at least.

I was surprised to learn that honeybee colonies have personalities and preferences just like everyone else -- these honeybees use a different entrance than our last ones and they look a little different as well. And they might be just a little more fierce.

We purchased what is called a nuc -- a nucleus colony -- with a queen and about 20,000 worker bees already established on five frames. I picked up a nuc for someone else as well so drove home with two nucs and two bees on the loose in the car. Nothing happened though. The next day it was easy to lift the frames out and place them in the brood box quickly before the rain started up again.

Afterwards I realized I forgot to put on the entrance reducer so went to the hive unprotected. One honeybee got caught in my hair, I tried to get her out and she stung the top of my ear. I was sorry for her that it happened and was reminded of my mistake of not wearing head protection for the next few days.

If getting stung was a message of some sort, I think it would've been that I wasn't listening to my wiser self who knew perfectly well the bees were excited so a person should cover up.

All of this bee-ness got me going on the beekeeper quilt again.

The hawthorn tree is further along than the photo shows, I'm just starting to stitch the flowers. It's a spontaneous undertaking, I don't know what comes next or when but hope there will be more.

I've been enjoying a cup of Earl Grey tea with honey and milk in the afternoons lately. It's sort of a reward for whatever I think I should be rewarded for.

Lots of wishes to be made with all the dandelion puffs. I love that people in my neighborhood are starting to leave their dandelions alone and not spray or otherwise kill them. Local beekeepers are successfully creating awareness on the importance of dandelions for bees, especially in early spring.

Five things I want to do:

1) name the bees
2) finish reading Celeste's Garden Delights
3) begin a list of common names for all the plants in our gardens. Linda Rago says in Wear a Sprig of Thyme that plant common names are their real names, the ones they've named themselves and told to humans -- and we all like to be called by our real names.
4) continue to sow seeds every week, I usually give up by the end of June (a tip from an expert)
5) start taking notes like this, should work for lectures, podcasts, etc. too

Welcome home, Newbees.

And happy weekending to you. xo