Flower Games of Children

Summer brings the abundant gift of many kinds of flowers, and, so, it was not unlikely a friend and I would begin reminiscing recently about games we played as children with various blossoms and plants in our childhood gardens. Here are the ones we most readily recalled.

Daisy chains
“Daisy chain” by User Ecrips on en.wikipedia

Who has not spent time sitting in the grass lacing daisies together into a lovely chain, which one could then decide how to use–as a bracelet, a necklace, or, if long enough, as a crown in our hair? What a lovely memory.

Wishing on dandelions
It actually tickles me as an adult that I would blithely and most happily pick a dandelion as a child and feel no guilt whatsoever in blowing their seeds into the wind, scattering them to neighbors’ gardens, focusing solely on the granted wishes they might bring me and the sheer delight of watching them drift away in the breeze. Ha!

Blowing across a blade of grass
Long ago, Aboriginal people discovered that blowing across a blade of grass placed between the thumb and index finger produced a musical sound. This childhood delight was most likely our first experience of making and using a “primitive” wind instrument! The memory of this brings a smile to my lips. Yours, too?

Hollyhock dolls


Hollyhock dolls are one of our earliest garden delights! Did your mother or grandmother teach you how? You pick a bud for the head, a half opened blossom for the core and a fully opened blossom for the skirt. They are assembled readily with a toothpick here and there. I’m guessing I have readers who are grandmothers who have passed this garden loveliness on to their grandchildren. Right? :)

Finding four-leaved clovers
When I mentioned to my daughter I was internally composing this post she immediately suggested searching for four-leaved clovers, which she loved to do as a child. Four leaved clovers are simply a variation of the more common three leaved clover. If one finds one “by accident” it’s regarded as special, bringing good luck. The four leaves are believed to represent faith, hope, love, and luck. I would regard this as a particularly endearing and positive garden game to introduce to the children in our care.

What were your favorite flower games in the garden? I’d love to hear.

Love and summer blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: An excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy is running in the summer issues of both GreenPrints (North Carolina publication) and GreenWoman magazine. Also, I want to thank each one of you who has taken the time to post your wonderful reviews of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy on my Amazon page. So appreciated! You have no idea how this warms an author’s heart! :)


Another Part of Life

Anyone who has read Plant Whatever Brings You Joy knows I’ve not shied away from addressing the full spectrum of life in the garden, which includes the passing away and letting go that comes bound into our life contract. Flowers, beloved puppies and cats, trees, and, ultimately, our own dear bodies. Having entrusted myself with much of the writing of the final chapters of my Grandmother’s life, who lived to be 100 years old, I learned a lot! One of those lessons was the sacred duty of how to handle her final resting place, once she had departed. Fortunately, and amazingly, in her case, her father, who died a month after she was born (thus 100 years prior!) had dutifully and lovingly purchased a family plot which I had access to for her. And so she was buried a century later with her Danish father, Norwegian mother and baby sister, Rendena Helena. Lesson duly noted.

The truth is I’d been rather scouting cemeteries for years in both Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. There is a tiny one surrounded by an old fashioned iron fence that sits on a hillside that can be seen from the highway. Utterly enchanting. And utterly closed, I’d learned. I’d considered two in the town of Mendocino itself, but upon learning at Mendocino Botanical Gardens that (supposedly) 40 acres of land was swept into the ocean by a tsunami, only just north of the cemeteries, I thought, uh, no. As the family historian, this would not do. At all.

And then organically I found myself drawn to a pioneer cemetery in the heart of Mendocino County. I found this spot, which is a certified nature habitat, to be a place of comfort, solace, beauty and intrigue. And, interestingly, years later my daughter had the same response, as she would find herself going there to meditate. It has a very old feel to it, there is an extended family of deer who live among the tombstones and towering trees, and ravens and woodpeckers find easy refuge among the branches. At the far edge is a California vineyard; at another edge a school playground, and, thus the sounds of children playing is a common and unexpected sound by day. At dusk older children come and stand beneath the trees to meet and chat and have a sense of privacy.


And, so, I inquired. And, yes, a very old section of the cemetery had recently opened up and so a family plot was secured. I then took it upon myself to design my own gravestone, working with a company in Seattle, choosing a certain granite, a pattern, and the script, adding a line from a song I once wrote, adapting it to my own life and choices. I was there when they laid it in the ground, which seemed at the time a precious and light hearted task, rendered by two kind men who keep the grounds. It was not a bit solemn, however. But very respectful. It lies just below a very old cedar tree, a beauteous feat of nature.

I am pleased and at peace with this choice. Nearby grows a towering redwood. A small chapel stands ready to greet those who have reason to come.


Both my daughter and I are aware that there are many stories here. We both feel the same thing. Now my own story is being woven among them.

I want to reassure my friends and readers that I am fine and well, and even more-so knowing I’ve written this chapter of my life, having made loving arrangements that will ease the lives of those who remain for their time on Earth, which at the moment includes me! I could never know how this all unfolds, in actuality, and surrender to my own destiny. But meanwhile I’ve entered into a spiritual endeavor we each will encounter, by taking conscious, creative, and loving care of myself and my family.

On Memorial Day I decided that with all the graves I might have tended all too far away, I would visit briefly my own. Why not? When I arrived I found someone had poked a fake green shamrock into the ground just above my headstone and I laughed, saying out loud, “Someone is tending my grave already and I’m not even dead yet.” That tickled me.

I cleaned the granite of cedar leaves, dug up a wayward clover (of the naughty variety), and took note of the adjacent headstones. I noted with interest that Mr. M. had been buried, and his wife’s name was also on his stone, but apparently she was still alive. I wondered if our paths would ever cross?

Finished with my visit, I decided to drive a bit about the narrow roads that crisscrossed the cemetery, taking time to exit and snap the little deer above. I grinned, as this is actually where I felt safe to get used to driving my new Jeep last year. I joked, “If anything goes wrong, I won’t have far to go!” Satisfied, I drove one more time back to my own plot, and lo and behold, Mrs. M. was tending her husband’s grave! (It was Memorial Day, afterall!) I exited the car, noting she also drives a Jeep, and extended my hand to her, “You must be Mrs. M.! I was wondering if I might ever meet you!” We chatted a bit, and I noticed then she had two dogs in her car. More synchronicities! She said, “Maybe we will see each other again.” I flashed her a big smile, “Yes! On the other side!”

Yesterday I returned to do something I’d been planning for quite some time–to introduce violets into the grounds around my headstone. Will they withstand the deer? It’s chancey, but perhaps! I’m hoping so!

Love and summer blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: The summer issue of GreenPrints has been published and editor Pat Stone, who was longtime gardening editor of Mother Earth News has included an excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy, which he has illustrated with an original drawing! Thank you, Pat!


The Beauty of a Rose


This year has been without a doubt the most abundant and luxurious year for roses I’ve seen in my many years here in Northern California! I can only surmise it has something to do with the late unexpected rains, a gift from the gods for our drought-stricken state. What a bounty! “An embarrassment of riches,” one might say. My experience has been one of catching my breath upon entering the garden each morning, just overwhelmingly stunned by that much beauty all in one place, where before, not that long ago, there were bare branches stock still in hibernation. So I would close my eyes, breath, and allow all that beauty to permeate my being, my day, my life in deeply satisfying gratitude. Lucky me. Please allow me to share the wealth!

“Won’t you come into my garden? I would like my roses to see you.” ~ Richard Brinsley Sheridan

The rose arbor, planted many decades ago, has always been a source of great inspiration to me, but this year it was over the top. Roses hung at eye level, emitting the sweetest fragrance you can imagine. Mon Dieu!


And the 4th of July roses were bursting with growth! I was amazed at how many roses that single bush gave birth to! Here’s a bird’s eye view of some of them.



And I include this one as I love the movement of the petals between these flowers.


“A rose is a rose is a rose.” ~Gertrude Stein

Honestly, I rarely know what cultivar a rose is. If people ask I say, “Um, old. Heritage? I call that one my Pepto Pink.”

“pepto pink”

I know it’s disgraceful, but I don’t think the roses care. And, besides, there is a bit of a story with the Pepto Pinks. I planted them just outside the laundry room window, as the laundry room, which is clean and bright, doubles as a refuge for my kitty, Coco. And, before, served as same for Sweet Pea and Luna, before they left for heaven. There’s a kennel with a cozy blanket on top pushed up against the window, so in spring, when it’s warm enough to open said window, the kitties (who are indoor kitties only) have enjoyed the garden from a safe perch, so I was very pleased when the peptos, which I purchased blindly as a bare root creature, turned out to be a nice view for my lovelies. Here’s how it looks from the outside.

kitty view

On rare occasions I have reason to learn the name, and sometimes even the history of a particular rose, if it catches my attention on a deeper level. What triggers this is random, believe me. I learned all about Dr. Huey roses once upon a time. [Put Dr. Huey in my search window, if you are interested.] This year they have been wilder than my wildest dreams. I have five bushes now. This is what they look like. I have a special fondness for them as they are used almost exclusively as root stock, hiding their beauty. However, they are so strong, whatever was planted on top of them usually succumbs first, and Dr. Huey emerges triumphant. Hahaha. ;)


Then these happened…




One morning I went out and found this little guy asleep in this prettiness. He stayed for two days and then flew away. Really.


And then I recently learned about Cecile Brunner roses as this one got rescued and I got curious. It had been living (not well) under an overgrown plum tree that was removed during winter. What a relief, it said! It’s coming back now in the sun, with some loving attention from me.


Out front I planted another bare root rose, a climber, on a trellis, and here was its first offering, just after a morning rain.


Adding to the sum of this amazing display are the orphan roses I rescued ages ago on a reject table at a big box store, which are (and I know this!) Meidiland roses, which I love. I’m slowly transplanting them into bigger containers as I have discovered they like spreading out!





Isn’t that spectacular?? Thank you so much for your visit. It means a lot to me as this whole spring I’ve been longing to share these treasures with more folks, and fortunately, there is this blog.

Love and rosey blessings,
Kathryn xoxox

Book News: Many thanks to those who met me in person at Copperfield’s Books in San Rafael last weekend! Please watch for an excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in GreenPrints in June. GreenPrints is published in NC by Pat Stone, former longtime gardening editor of Mother Earth News. And, God bless him, he’s making copies of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy available to his readers! His idea!! :) xoxo

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