The Seed Bank

OBELISK

Readers of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy will be familiar with this one of the 52 lessons: “Never pull up and discard what you cannot identify,” a metaphorical invitation to not pre-judge that which enters your life that seems unfamiliar. “The Lord works in mysterious ways,” as we know. The blessings in our lives can show up in many different unexpected packages. So when I planted morning glory seeds in March on a rosy obelisk, well away from the rest of the garden, so it could not overcome whatever was growing nearby, I thought I was so clever both to get a head start, and to plant in a trouble-free spot. Imagine my surprise when what emerged were clearly not morning glories. To this day in May I am befuddled by what came up, and how, but the only “logical” explanation is that the morning glory seeds did not come up, but something that had lain dormant, waiting, did. But what? Reluctantly, I continued to water the mysterious seedlings, seeking patience, fostering curiosity, attempting to transcend my annoyance that my vision for my lovely blue flowers climbing the white obelisk was not to be. But what were they? For the longest time I didn’t have a clue. And then suddenly, out of the blue, I had a solid moment of surprised recognition. “I think those are hollyhocks!” I found myself thinking. Stunned. Incredulous. Hollyhocks? Two dozen in one spot? How could that be? I ran to the back of the garden and picked a large hollyhock leaf from my established hollyhocks, and ran back to compare. Indeed. Impossible to imagine, yet there it was. Identical. So the truth of the matter is that I planted morning glory seeds from my glass bottle of collected seeds from last year, still in their husks, some of them, and what emerged were a myriad of hollyhock seeds. Not a single morning glory seed among them.

For doubters (easy to imagine) let me assure you that I know my way around flat, round, dry, paperlike hollyhock seeds and hard dark morning glory seeds in their dry husks. No question. But there you have it. The only (near impossible) explanation is that I’d chosen a dry patch of earth away from the main garden, a place that never gets watered beyond rain, and beneath that seeming barren spot were the seeds of someone else’s long ago garden just awaiting that exact set of circumstances to take place.

There’s a metaphor in that one, dear ones, and I will let you ponder.

And as if that were not enough (it must be the time) I spent countless days admiring a new crop of mullein, in the exact spot where mullein had spontaneously emerged two years ago, and about which I wrote, watering it, talking to it, and wondering when it would bolt and produce some yellow flowers–which never happened, and why? One morning I looked at it and found myself saying, “You are not mullein. You are lamb’s ear.” What?? In the nine years I’ve lived on this property and tended this garden I have never seen a sprig of lamb’s ear. Not one. Nor have I planted it. Nor did it blow over the fence. No. For who knows how long, lamb’s ear has been living, invisibly, under the surface of the earth, unbeknownst to me and anyone who has ever walked My Garden, just waiting for the perfect conditions to make its beautiful self visible.
How stunning. Nine years. At the very least.

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The oldest carbon-14-dated seed that has grown into a viable plant was Silene stenophylla (narrow-leafed campion), an Arctic flower native to Siberia. Radiocarbon dating has confirmed an age of 31,800 ±300 years for the seeds. In 2007, more than 600,000 frozen mature and immature seeds were found buried in 70 squirrel hibernation burrows 38 metres (125 ft) below the permafrost near the banks of the Kolyma River. Believed to have been buried by Arctic ground squirrels, the mature seeds had been damaged to prevent germination in the burrow, however, three of the immature seeds contained viable embryos. Scientists extracted the embryos and successfully germinated plants in vitro which grew, flowered and created viable seeds of their own. The shape of the flowers differed from that of modern S. stenophylla with the petals being longer and more widely spaced than modern versions of the plant. ~ Wiki

So let’s think about this, metaphorically. What beauty, what gift, what treasure lies within you, or your children, or your spouse, or your best friends, or your students, invisibly, that is awaiting the perfect conditions to make itself gloriously known, adding to the blessings that surround you? This is something impossibly close, something you are apparently oblivious to. This gift would be content to lie beneath the earth for a long long time. It has no scheduled agenda. However, with the right amount of tending, of rain, of warmth, of sunshine, it might surprise you. What would that be in your life?

I shared these stories with an elderly neighbor recently, a longtime gardener, and she said, “You know we all thought with the drought there would be no wildflowers this year. But the truth is there are more than we have seen in decades.” (She hikes. A lot.) About the hollyhocks and the lamb’s ears? “It’s the Seed Bank,” she said. Yes. The Seed Bank.

It is time, apparently, for us to suspend what we tell ourselves, what our natural expectations are, and to open to the possibility that all is not precisely what we think, how we see things. It might be different. Or better. Or unexpected. And a bigger outcome than we imagined. Better than we could have thought up for ourselves. It happens. What a miracle and blessing that the garden stands ready to remind us at any time.

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxox

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Book News: Are you a member of Goodreads? If not, it’s easy to sign up. Now through June 5th Goodreads is hosting a Book Giveaway for Plant Whatever Brings You Joy. A simple click enters you into the Giveaway! And there are ten free copies being mailed out to winners!

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Plant Whatever Brings You Joy by Kathryn  Hall

Plant Whatever Brings You Joy

by Kathryn Hall

Giveaway ends June 05, 2015.

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The Rustic Quiche

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rustic quiche with roasted red peppers and kalamata olives

Back when Antonia was a little girl a lovely Asian woman in San Francisco gave me a recipe for quiche which I vaguely recall making successfully a couple of times, and then, inexplicably, the recipe failed. I have no idea why. But I concluded that I “didn’t know how to make quiche.” (How many times do we do this one way or another?) I moved on to other endeavors in the kitchen. Making yogurt. Crafting tortillas. Baking bread. Astoundingly it’s taken me decades to get back to making quiches. And even that began with a failure! Even though I long ago mastered pie crusts some devilish misplaced part of me said, “Just buy a frozen one at the health food store.” So I did. Googled a recipe for quiche. Made up the mixture I’d decided upon. And poured it into the pie crust only to discover the ready made pie crust was too shallow for my filling! What a mess! So hurriedly I threw together a pie crust, which I’d ought to have done to start with, and poured my salvaged egg concoction into the deeper pan. In my haste, my crust was rather ragged, but somehow charming, and not one but two folks, upon seeing a picture I posted on social media, declared, “I love your rustic crust.” So, voila! I now have a successful recipe for Rustic Quiche and I’m going to share with you, as it’s really quite delicious, and so easy!

So, first you make a pie crust. I don’t measure a thing, so I’m no help to you, really. I put flour in a bowl. I add a bit of salt. Then I add extra virgin olive oil and about a fourth of a square of butter, and chop that in with a pastry blender. I pour in some very cold water, mix quickly, put on a floured board and roll out. And that’s that. Note the ragged edge. ;)

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Place the crust into a 375ªF. oven for about 20 minutes, then pull to cool.

Then this is the fun part. You get to decide what to use to embellish the quiche! For one of the two pictured in this post, I sauteed some mushrooms in butter, carmelized a medium onion in olive oil, and chopped up some zucchini. Thusly:

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And then I grated a cup of gruyere cheese.

So I had these:

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Then I whisked six large eggs, into which I put all the above ingredients, as well as 3/4 of a cup of heavy cream. And then I put in a bit of salt and white pepper.

Pour the egg mixture into the pie crust. Bake until set (think custard) about 45 minutes. Serve warm.

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I know by now some of you are thinking “bacon”. Yes, you can use bacon, too. ;)

Love and kitchen blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

A Goodreads Book Giveaway has been launched! To win a copy of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy, simply enter to win!

Books News: Every now and then I google the title of my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden, just to see what has sprouted here and there, and was delighted to find a blog post, which, inexplicably has just surfaced on the Net at large, in Holland, in Dutch. The author focuses on a excerpt from my book which appeared in The Intelligent Optimist in Dutch a couple of years ago. A lovely find… I can see why this would appeal to her. Her tagline is “Tips for Gardening in the City”, and the excerpt was the story of when Antonia and I dug up the sidewalks in our neighborhood in Amsterdam, and replaced the large cement blocks with dirt and flowers, transforming our entire relationship with our neighborhood. If you’ve not read this story yet, there are more, and I invite you to buy a copy of my book on Amazon today. Thank you!


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Fire Pits: Part Two

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As some of you will recall my last blog post was afire with enthusiasm for fire pits, inspired by gardening author Helen Yoest, who wrote a guest post about her own fire pit in her garden. Kindled in my new found passion was the realization my 72nd birthday was upon me, nearly, and that if I applied myself aptly I might actually combine the two, making a new fire pit the center of my birthday festivities. I began researching fire pits and made the decision to purchase one made by Landman and to purchase it locally. All that was left was to decide which design. I chose the vine pattern since I live in wine country. I added a simple layer of white granite stones beneath and a circle of flat stones to provide some small bit of structure. Granted, having two Border Collies who chase balls in the back garden, the stones are on occasion rearranged, but all in all I am quite delighted with the simple yet tasteful result.

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While processing all of this I had come to the conclusion I needed someone who could bring folks together at my party in a profound and meaningful yet fun way, and what came to me was to contact my old friend Onye Onyemaechi, a very talented Nigerian drummer I’d met at a conference in Acapulco where he was performing. I remembered fondly his contribution and wondered if he might be available for my celebration. Happily, he was! And so it was arranged.

Once I knew I had the gift and support of Onye’s talents I proceeded to pull my garden from its winter state into something resembling spring! Fortunately the weather warmed over the days and weeks and met me more than half way. My guests were treated to a bevy of promises of spring.

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Petunias on the picnic table

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Honeysuckle miraculously opening just in time

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Favorite roses lending their charm

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Moroccan daisies!

Nigerian drummer Onye Onyemaechi came up last Sunday afternoon to the party with his many beautiful drums!
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He led my guests in a wonderful birthday celebration, leading us in a drumming circle as well as inviting my dear friends to share their wishes for me for 2015. What a joy and honor!

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“There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.”
~Teilhard de Chardin

And then we all had cake! Princess cake, of course!

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“Age is a number and it doesn’t matter unless you’re a bottle of wine.” ~Joan Collins

This truly was my all time favorite birthday! I am so grateful I listened to the whisperings of my heart, prompting me to find the perfect fire pit, clearing the space, inviting Onye and the many guests who came from many counties to join me. To each I extend my heartfelt gratitude for your love, blessing and presence. And a special thank you to my dearest daughter who drove up from Southern California to share in the festivities!

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What is it your heart is telling you, dear readers, on this newest Earthly spring day? What might you create, surprising and delighting yourselves? Do tell!

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Footnote: More information about Onye’s wonderful work can be found at Village Rhythms!

Book News: Nicest thing I heard this week about Plant Whatever Brings You Joy is that Mary Jasch, editor of Dig-It Magazine spoke recently at a garden club in New Jersey, and she says they loved my book and bought two copies to give as door prizes to those who attended her talk. How special and how sweet and how grateful I am! ~ If you have not yet “liked” the Plant Whatever Brings You Joy Fan Page on Facebook, here’s a link! Thank you!


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