Gathering Natural Offerings for a Holiday Wreath


Happy Thanksgiving Week, dearest readers! Yes, the temperatures have dropped, and we have entered the holiday season! I decided that this week I’m choosing to create for myself a gratitude meditation, being mindful of giving thanks for the very many blessings that grace our lives. This sunny Sunday afternoon set the tone. And as I know our weather will shortly give way to much colder temps I decided it was a perfect time to walk around my garden, as well as my “hood” to see what I might gather together to use in a holiday wreath, which I’d already decided I would make at home this year. What an excellent idea, as here were the results of my first foray into collecting a palette from which to create a beautiful wreath to grace the front door! From left to right: willow, acacia, holly, pyracantha (red berries) and privet (dark berries). As I knew that today was strictly about gathering, I decided to store this first batch of goodies in the large tub that’s always in my backyard. (Somehow these tubs always accompany households that include Border Collies, who take to them after playing ball in the heat of summer.)


And, yes, that is a grape vine on top, which I gathered in my second round! :)

Inspired, I set out again, clippers in hand, looking for other options.


This second round was even more fun, as by now I’d dropped preconceptions and expanded my field of possibilities! I found in addition to the grape vines, a length of dried borage, several trumpet vine pods (which I may or may not spray gold!), quinces, and, my fave, these wonderful spidery creations my new clematis made after it blossomed. LOVE them! If I were a horticulturist, or Master Gardener, or That Sort of Gardener, I might even know their proper name. But I don’t. And it’s far more likely someone will read this post and tell us all. (If you do, thank you!) I have no real need to know. I sometimes prefer dwelling in the mystery of beauties than to name them… 😉 Here’s a closer peek:


What more? What more? This last exploration was more a list of things ready at hand I will go back and cut when I actually construct the wreathe–maybe Thanksgiving Day itself or Friday. And I will post. But meanwhile, those things will do best remaining where they are growing, in my garden. They are:


true myrtle



Surely I will add a bit of evergreen from somewhere, but there’s plenty of beauty right here, don’t you think? I’m quite excited!

Many warm wishes for a lovely holiday.

Love and blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: Recently Fire and Ice Roses interviewed me for their site, which was very kind of them, and which I thoroughly enjoyed! Best sources for copies of my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy are Amazon [25 five-star reviews!], indie bookstores and Barnes and Noble, both online and in their brick and mortar stores. A complete list is available (look in right column on this page). I hope you will consider copies as gifts for Christmas! And remember it’s possible to email the Kindle version of the book as a last minute–or very convenient–present! Thank you! xoxox

Learning about Plectranthus


One of the more interesting and unexpected Christmas presents I received last year was a little silver pot with a leafy sprig of what my neighbor told me was Zulu Wonder. Intriguing! She said it would have flowers later. So I watched over it throughout the winter, leaving it on the porch thinking that would suffice, and it did. And then surprisingly it started getting quite leafy and broad in spring and it was obvious I needed to transplant. By then I’d googled and learned its proper name was Plectranthus ciliatus, part of the extended mint family. It’s also known as blue spur flower and Swedish ivy. I was promised a plant that would expand to 2′-3′ wide and 12″-18″ high. I also learned the Plectranthus has needs that are similar to clematis–shady, some sun, not too hot. So I opted to place it in a tall burgundy pot that was needing something new, next to my two clematis plants in pots, that get morning sun and shade the balance of the day. I’m very glad I did, as it kept growing and growing way beyond my expectations. I must forewarn, however, that on the hottest mornings I would go out and the poor Plectranthus would essentially be saying, ow, ow, ow, with its leaves contracted, not unlike an unhappy hydrangea which missed its daily watering. You know, right? Yeah, that. But it bounced back quickly with water and shade, so I left it where I’d planned.
I kept watching for the promised blooms and at last near summer’s end I saw what would undoubtedly be some kind of blossom. Here’s what unfolded!


And don’t you love it when a plant you put in makes friends with an adjacent already placed plant or statuary? I find my Zulu Wonder so pretty!


Now, a word on reproduction. My neighbor said, “Oh, you just do a leaf cutting! Put it in water. That’s what I did!” And I’ve just begun to try that. However, and this remains a mystery to me, which I love, but if someone more savvy might venture a guess, please explain to me how this happened. For a sprig of Plectranthus is now growing in my strawberry pot. Granted, when it was still in the silver pot, they might have been cavorting, but, still…


Love and fall blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: Latest great things are that a story from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy was excerpted in Western North Carolina Woman in their fall issue!
Also I’m delighted that Barnes and Noble has restocked copies in stores around the country! Yay! Thank you for purchasing copies. It means so much to know my stories and lessons are being well received and shared with new readers! xoxo

The Face of a Rose


Not one for keeping records of my garden, but rather a woman who relishes the treasures and surprises each day and season offers, I’d be hard-pressed to say if this particular garden ever once displayed the abundance of roses it currently does, but I’d say, “No. Nearly September? Hardly.” And yet here it is. And so I share the wealth with all of you.

This loveliness comes from a batch of Meidiland roses I found orphaned at one of my rare ventures into a big box store. Gradually I’ve transplanted them into bigger and bigger pots and they have not disappointed! I love their simple beauty.


Here’s another of the Meidiland sisters, now living in a very large pot and quite prolific!


Honestly? I hardly expected to see another 4th of July rose this year–there were hundreds last May, I can barely believe how one plant could generate such a bevy of beautiful roses, and yet, here they are, in Indian Summer. It’s full of buds so I just count the blessings.


Now. In the far back corner of the garden adjacent to an ancient apple tree, from which I’ve just harvested the best delicious apples (organic, of course!) used to live a huge overgrown plum tree, which sounds lovely unless you are from Northern California where an abundance of basically useless plum trees grow. No one eats them, not even the birds, which tells you something. And so it was happily removed. What to put in? As it so happened some elderly neighbors were pitching some very old heirloom roses, if you can believe that, to my good fortune. When they arrived, as bare root roses, we shall kindly call them after being rooted from their long slumbering home, I stuck them in a very large washtub full of icey water. Eventually they moved to black plastic pots, where they began to rally, and last spring I told a teenager helping me in the garden, “Oh, just put them where the plum tree was growing!” Which he did, randomly, in about fifteen minutes. That fast. And here’s how they’ve thanked me.


“I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.” ~Emma Goldman


“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince


“Love planted a rose, and the world turned sweet.” ~Katherine Lee Bates


And here was my big surprise. Because I kept asking myself, “Where did Jevyn put that dark red rose that looks like a Dr. Huey but isn’t?” Haha. I realized that I’d stuck a cutting from a neighbor’s yellow rose into the same temporary pot as the dark red one, and, my teenage helper recognized them as one rose, and so there they are, married forever. Quite nice, actually. I call it my Happy Accident.


I shall bookend with another of the yellow roses, which are truly the most spectacular. I hope you have enjoyed this morning walk in my sweet garden. Thank you for visiting!


Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

**I want to give a special shout out to my long time faithful subscribers–and to my newest subscribers, too. Thank you and enjoy!

Book News: Lots to report! Western North Carolina Woman will be running an excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in their September issue. And we’ve restocked copies of the book in Malaprop’s in Asheville; throughout Copperfields in Napa and Sonoma; and at Four Eyed Frog Books in Gualala. Copies always available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and in Barnes and Noble brick and mortar stores around the country–and many indie bookstores as well, for which I am most grateful! I’ve also been working some magic on our publishing site, Estrella Catarina, where the home page sports testimonials for my book from publications around the country of which I am very proud!
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