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

Gently Guide the Tender Vine Else It Become Wild, Tangled and Impossible

Dearest Readers,

The following is an excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden. I have chosen this particular story for this blog post as it contains a basic teaching of my beloved teacher, Angeles Arrien, who unexpectedly passed into Spirit on April 24th. You might well be aware of this as tributes have emerged in many corners acknowledging the deep impact she had in our lives. In addition to studying extensively with her at California Institute of Integral Studies, I was also the publicist who launched her wonderful book The Tarot Handbook. While her student I feel she helped set me on a writer’s path, acknowledging my writing skills. And, years later, when that seed had taken root and blossomed, she blessed my book with the testimonial you see on the back cover of my book, which I now hold more dearly than ever.

Love and spring blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Plant Whatever Brings You Joy is an invaluable resource for understanding ‘the garden’ as a source of healing, growth, solace, joy, wisdom and inspiration. This is a spiritually uplifting and wise book!” ~Angeles Arrien, Ph.D., Cultural Anthropologist, author of The Four-Fold Way and The Second Half of Life

Gently Guide the Tender Vine…

Show me a fence and I will think of a flower. I will think of honey-
suckle, trumpet vine, potato vine, wisteria, jasmine, and morning glories.
I will see possibility. I will see beauty. And I will want to get to work
right away.

My foray into vines taught me very early on that unless one is pay-
ing very close attention they can get away from you. They have minds
of their own. You will not be on the same page. At all. You want them
to climb over the fence, covering the wires, the boards, the limbs, most
likely, and they will want to stretch out their arms in all directions. And,
oh, should they touch another surface, be it plant, tree, wall, anything
it can expand on, beware. It will take off in the night like a child run
wild. And then you have all the undoing to do, to redirect the rampant
growth in accordance with your vision. And then you will have some
untangling to do. A very gentle, very deliberate, very time consuming,
painstaking activity indeed.

We’ve all done it. We do it in a thousand ways. We were doing this,
and then we were doing that, and when we turned our backs for just a
moment, or two, things simply got out of control. The mess that ensued
was a big fat you know what.

I actually enjoy untangling vines. I do. It reminds me of playing pickup
sticks as a child. The slow, calculated act of anticipating what will happen
to this when you do that? The ever so gentle unwrapping of this tender
tendril from another while keeping it intact, and then the redirection
into a creative and pragmatic pattern. It’s fun.

The untangling of projects that have gone astray, wayward and awry
may not be as engaging, though there are those among us who do enjoy a
mess that needs to be straightened out. We enjoy the challenge. What do
we do when things have become seemingly unmanageable? The unfailing
formula I turn to when I am truly stuck I personally learned from a very
wise woman, a professor of mine, author Angeles Arrien. The bottom
line version which I have turned to a million times in my mind follows.
Any time I find myself faltering, if I run the situation through this four
point grid, I will almost always get unglued and be able to view my situ-
ation with confidence and clarity.

show up
pay attention
tell the truth
and don’t be attached to the outcome

What does this require of me?
Showing up is simply that. I come to the table, fully present.

Paying attention means bringing my full consciousness and heartful-
ness in open participation to the process.

Telling the truth means digging down and saying what is true for
me, with deep courage and authenticity. My intention is never to hurt
another person or myself in this process. It is to get to the bottom of
things. The I Ching counsels us that a situation cannot change unless
and until we are able to face it as it actually is, not as we want it to be.
Unless we are willing to do this, the situation will remain in stagnation
or deterioration.

Not being attached to the outcome is not easy. It requires a deep sur-
rendering. It is an act of faith. It lies in the realm of believing all things
happen for a reason, that there is a guiding force at work in our lives
that we can trust. This is the essence of being truly grounded in spirit.
What are the wild, tangled and impossible tasks and challenges in your
life? What do you need to do to resolve them? Do you need assistance
or is it something you can do on your own? Will you be stronger and
wiser on the other side?


Book News: Last Friday I was a guest on “Conscious Talk” which you can listen to here. And “The Christine Upchurch Show” kindly just sent me a link to my interview with Christine. MP3 here. In June please watch for an excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in GreenPrints, published in North Carolina. And next Saturday, on May 10th, Copperfield’s Books in San Rafael, in Marin Co., will be hosting an Author Meet and Greet for me. I hope to see some of you there! I would love that. :)

Getting Ready for the Garden

Ha! I know what you were thinking when you read Getting Ready for the Garden. You thought new gloves, cleaning up handtools, preparing the Earth, raking, bringing out the lawn mower and all the requisite steps we each are required to do for a successful season. But actually, I was talking about getting YOU ready for the garden. Really. Because having certain things in place, ready for the wear and tear of gardening, happens to be a very good idea. So I’m going to depart from my usual practice of rarely mentioning products, etc. and actually share with you some of the products I’ve come to rely on for balancing and healing from the rigors of gardening–especially at this time of year, when after the long days of winter we are eager to get our hands dirty, to spring into action and transform our winter gardens into summer loveliness. It’s part of what we live for, isn’t it? And with good reason.

I will preface this information with a reminder first and foremost to urge you to pace yourselves as you launch headlong into garden activities. I myself have been very good to myself this year, consciously holding back just a bit, and increasing my activities just a little each day. I know we all have the experience of getting in the zone and losing track of time and before we know it we’ve been out there at the garden for hours at a time, to the chagrin of our backs and necks and hands and knees. So what might we turn to in that case? I honestly could not imagine my life without arnica balm, arnica salve, arnica gel or arnica pellets (homeopathic)!
I first learned about using arnica when I was running a Spanish program for 1st through 8th graders at a Rudolf Steiner School when my daughter was still in school. The teachers reached for it when a child had a bump or bang in the playground. Arnica is excellent for bruises. (Not cuts; bruises.) It’s also an amazing assistant to healing sore backs and muscles. And if I’ve really “done it” I will reach for the homeopathic version as well. Ask for assistance in your local health food store. I’d recommend Boiron.

Another product I use regularly on big bumps and sore back muscles is Tiger Balm. I put it on half an hour after a warm bath or shower. This ensures pores are properly restored, not wide open, in applying. There are two versions. The stronger of the two will stain whatever you have on, so put on a t-shirt that’s not important to you. It’s worth it, though! I have healed so many out of sorts muscle aches with Tiger Balm! Sometimes it takes a bit of time, but I’d far rather take my time, combine with the needed rest and not resort to heavy medicines.

Now, a word about bath salts. If you only take showers I highly recommend you schedule a bath with yourself and have bath salts on hand, especially after heavy duty activities in the garden. There are many to choose from, though my preferences are Himalayan or any from Israel. I personally would not “try to save money” and buy salts from China. Sorry. Use Epsom Salts if you want to budget. Soaking in hot water with added bath salts is another luxurious way to soften the blow of hard garden work.
Now say you do your utmost to care for yourself but you find you have fallen. Or stung by a bee. Or pounded yourself with a hammer. Anything that hurts. I would reach for the Rescue Remedy. Bach Flower Remedies, which I was fortunate to take a class on, in Europe, are an ever so good thing to have on hand for balancing out any experience you find as discomforting or upsetting. It will not relieve pain, per se, but it will help you come to terms internally, with any kind of shock to your body or emotions. So easy to use–simply put a couple of drops under your tongue. Done. They are not hard to come by and we have used them for decades. Oh, and they make one for dogs now, and I highly recommend you keep it out of your medicine cabinet as the bottles are very similar and I must confess I have twice taken the one that bears a small paw, which I must have missed midst my upset. (No harm done. I didn’t woof or anything.)
Now what about your hands? I hope you are learning to wear gloves, as cumbersome as they might feel, but in spite of glove protection your hands are still going to suffer, right? They dry out, get cut and poked and dirty and all manner of abuses abound. (Don’t we just love it anyway? We do!) The absolute best thing I’ve found to heal my hands the fastest is Burt’s Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Cream. Instant fix!
Now a word on allergies. I have found a homeopathic remedy that relieves me of my allergy symptoms. Really. Skeptic that I was it worked. I recommend you see if you are one of the ones this will also help. Ask your local health food store for guidance. Let me know, will you?

Now go out into your gardens, dear readers, and enjoy yourselves!

Love and spring blessings,
Kathryn xoxox

Book News: On April 25th I was a guest on “The Christine Upchurch Show”in Seattle. If you missed it, here’s a link, Give a listen! If you were one of Christine Upchurch’s listeners on Friday, or listened to “Conscious Talk” this morning and are visiting my blog for the first time, thank you and welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment! Kathryn xoxo
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