Gardeners and their Dogs

Kathryn’s Thistle 🙂

As a longtime gardening blogger I am fortunate to enjoy friendships with other gardening bloggers not just in America but in Canada and the UK and Europe. I dearly cherish those friendships. As I have gotten to know these wonderful folks and their landscaping talents and personal gardens I find that I have an especial place in my heart for those who own and adore their dogs. So I reached out recently to a few asking them to please send me a photo of themselves with their beloved canine companions, who occupy a big place in their lives which includes time spent in their gardens. Those of you who garden with your dogs will understand the value of sharing your gardens with your canines. So this post is introducing you to some of my favorite gardeners–and their dogs, and I do it also in honor of the eleventh year of the life of this blog, another blogiversary to celebrate.

My post thus began with an informal vid I shot one warm afternoon a month or so ago, out in the back garden with my sweetheart puppy, Thistle, whom followers of this blog have already met. This was an especially hot summer, and, yes, we endured living very close to the worst fire in California history, so you will hear me speak of the smokey conditions of the day, but you will also get a peek into how Thistle and I enjoyed late afternoons, with me tucked under the canopy of the ancient mulberry tree, and Thistle enjoying his little wading pool which he jumped in all summer long to play. I have very fond memories of our summertime together.

Now here are the most wonderful folks–and their precious dogs– I would like to introduce you to today.

This is rancher Annie Haven, and her much loved dog, Hoppy. They live on a ranch in Southern California and Annie is the purveyor of one of gardeners’ favorite products–MooPoo Tea!

Meet Personal Garden Coach, Christina Salwitz, and her adorable rescued pup Cersei, who live in Washington state. Christina has indulged me by sending me numerous pics of her precious foxy-faced cutie, which always make my heart smile.

This is longtime former Mendocino neighbor and friend, artist Marsha Mello and her two Border Collies, Cooper and Ceilidh [pronounced Kay-lee]. It is noteworthy that Ceilidh is a working Border Collie whom Marsha showcases in sheepdog trials in Oregon. Some of you will recognize Marsha’s artwork through knowing Digging Dog Nursery’s lovely catalogue, which she has long designed and illustrated Here’s a sample!


Enter talented Atlanta-based author Michael Nolan, and his very special sweetheart companion, Sadie, whom he clearly adores.

Michael is the author of I Garden: Urban Style and Plant-Based Boot Camp.

Now here is beloved author Helen Yoest, of North Carolina. And below this photo is a pic of Helen and her daughter, walking her much loved Border Collie, Pepper, in the snow. (How many of you have zillions of pics of your dogs, but few of the two of you together, as you are the one taking pics of your dogs all the time??) Helen is the author of Gardening with Confidence, and has begun helping to save our bees with her foundation Bee Better.

Back in the Pacific Northwest lives Kathleen Grube, a devoted gardener and dog lover–with a particular interest in site hounds. Here she is with her friend, the beauteous and elegant Topper.

Some of you will be familiar with Teresa O’Connor’s blog Seasonal Wisdom, and you might not be aware she’s transitioning to sharing info on low carb living at Farm Fresh Low Carb Living. Here she is in the garden, with her dog, Maggie.

And now I am introducing you to author Dayna Macy, whom I’ve known for many years. You might know Dayna through her work with Yoga Journal, or you may have read her book Ravenous. Appropriately Dayna chose to send me a pic of her and her dog Nico dressed for Halloween. I was charmed recently when she posted a pic of what she called “a lemon canopy” as she stood beneath a large and abundant lemon tree in her garden. It was a word coupling I’d not heard before, not thought about, and I found it a memorable image.

Lastly, my heart will not allow me not to share the four dogs who came before Thistle–all of them Border Collies. They spent countless days and years enriching my life in the various gardens in my life, in Mendocino County, in Marin and Sonoma Counties, in Arizona and in even in North Carolina. My first two were Moxie and Peaches.

And when passed along into another realm, I was lucky to be accompanied by Conner and Ruby.

Words could never describe fully how these amazing dogs filled my life. Let me simply say I am filled with love and gratitude beyond measure. I thank them all.

If you are one of the lucky ones who share your garden with a beloved dog, please feel free to send me jpegs at plantjoyblog [@] and I will post below. Thank you!

Love and autumnal blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: My book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden has been included in Fupping’s new article “12 Books That Will Put A Smile On Your Face | Books To Make You Happy”. Also, please watch for an upcoming excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in Awareness Magazine!

Welcoming strangers in our garden to learn what they have to share

As I’ve said many times, “You have to grow a plant to know a plant.” So when something shows up in my garden I’ve never seen before, I’m quite apt to let it grow and learn what I might from it, and then decide if it’s a permanent guest or someone who just paid a visit and I learned all I could while it was here. Thus my summer learning all about mullein, for example. Also, there was my discovery of borage, which continues to blossom on its own and I still treasure.

The story of this year’s unexpected guest begins in my neighbor’s yard, across the street. The house, owned by a gardener, was sold last year to a young busy couple, rarely at home and lo and behold I one day, to my dismay, discovered a prickly plant growing upright in front of their house. It had not come to blossom yet, but I was pretty darn sure it was a thistle. And I was, quite honestly, kind of piqued. Oh, yes. Had you read my mind you would have found over the weeks such unlofty thoughts as, “Don’t they realize this plant will go to seed and we will be pulling up thistles??” You get the picture. My gardening self was self righteously annoyed and let me know. Haha.

Eventually the plant did blossom and confirmed my suspicions, and then one day it was simply gone. They cut it down. Good.

Meanwhile, and this will sound like a wide diversion, my elderly Border Collie was beginning to fail, and missed the one we lost last summer (I told myself) so I reached into my Border Collie history and was immediately told of two litters of puppies, and given two phone numbers. One didn’t answer and the second one did. One little boy, ready for a new home. The breeder shared his background. Scottish roots she said. She’d given him a temporary name, as breeders do, which I will not reveal here (the past is past), but I will say that I endeavored somewhat to find a name that would be akin. And then I discovered that the national flower of Scotland is a thistle. Voila! And so Thistle came to live with us and here he is. Adorable, right? Love, love, love him.

And then a funny thing happened. Very near where I discovered my first mullein, along the fence, emerged a prickly plant low to the ground, which a gardener ID’d for me as common thistle. Oh course now the reframe fell in place. The one in my neighbor’s yard had been a harbinger of what was to come. (It could happen.) And so I decided immediately to let it grow and honor it as a tribute to my new love and see what it was about. Since I watered it continually (it grew among hollyhocks) it thrived! And I loved it. So pretty. And the bees love it. And then one day I looked out the window and this had happened!

And that’s when I learned that thistles have a very efficient way of propagating themselves. They EXPLODE! And if you are not there when it happens, or shortly thereafter, those feathery lovely seed carriers filter down into prickly land where you do not want to go. Handy. Smart. And not how you want to spend your gardening time, right? So I rushed out the door, plastic bag and clippers in hand, and got every single one of those white puffies in the plastic bag and they are gone. You have to admit to their being both fascinating and beautiful…

I continue to indulge in the beauty of those purple flowers. It is really hard for me to dispose of anything the bees like, bless them. But I will be watching carefully for any more explosions. And this will be my single adventure into growing this plant, which I have enjoyed immensely.

What plants have shown up in your garden you allowed to grow that you learned from?

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book Notes: Good news. Awareness Magazine will be excerpting a story from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in an upcoming issue. And I have begun doing author Meet and Greets again and was hosted by Copperfield’s Books in Healdsburg recently which was a joy, and for which I am grateful.

Trees in Spring

apple tree

Synchronistically, Arbor Day arrived yesterday and I experienced a moment of glee when I learned, as I have been going about town for the last few weeks, at various times of the day, combing neighborhoods, to capture images of the beauty of trees in spring which are such a blessing. Today I’m unveiling some of my recent discoveries. Most bear flowers, as that was my intention, but ultimately I included a couple not in that category, but that captured my heart and imagination. The one of the apple tree above grows in my back garden, among other fruit trees, including a fig, a plum and a walnut tree, for which I am all most grateful.

“Invest in trees.” ~Kathryn Hall, Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden

Another on this property is a small hawthorne, which bears scant white blossoms, though dear. Here’s a bough, showing the leaves…


When the few blossoms began to emerge I brought one in to enjoy.

white blossom of the hawthorne

There are several trees I photographed I’m not familiar with. Whoever ID’s the ones I myself don’t know will be sent a copy of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy! Here is one such tree.The delicate pink and white flowers are spread along hanging or weeping branches.

These much loved redbuds have been gracing our town for a few weeks.


Another–a closer view. This one was full of bumblebees who seemed, not alarmed, but protective of their find. I didn’t feel threatened but they were aggressive about letting me know it was their redbud tree! Haha.


I am told, and I tend to believe, that this is the only tree of its kind in this town. Many folks have taken note of its whereabouts and look forward to seeing it each spring. I only know its name, paulownia, because I included it on a post years ago, which led to a proper ID.


“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” ~ Chinese Proverb

This is one of the flowerless trees that I really love. It’s called curly willow or corkscrew willow. I prefer the former, don’t you?

curly willow

Concurrent with the abundance of redbuds are the dogwoods. I’m including three in this post.

white dogwood

Here’s the pink, with which you might be more familiar.

pink dogwood

And, lastly, I include Pacific dogwood. There is a story in this neighborhood that the man who used to own the house down the street, where this tree resides, had purchased a few acres “for firewood” up north of here. And apparently on that property was this Pacific dogwood. He dug it up and placed it in his garden in town. But no one knew its name. It was simply called “a wild dogwood”. (As fate would have it) horticulturist Roger Raiche happened to post a picture of a branch of this tree he located in Sonoma County, properly labeled as Pacific dogwood, so I sent him the pic below and he responded that he’d never seen one with so many flowers, and he suspected this one thrived because it had no competition to expand. As a lover, student and author of gardening metaphors, you can imagine I loved hearing this from him. Note that Pacific dogwood flowers have five petals, not four, and they emerge rather green and turn white within weeks.

Pacific dogwood

Now. Mystery trees still needing IDing are:

And this one.

Whoever can ID the three I’ve left unnamed wins a copy of my book! Just leave a comment below.

I know East Coasters especially are still awaiting the glories of spring. I do hope you are finding the annual joy of watching our gardens come into promising bud, and emerging with their full beauty. Those of us who honor this tradition and practice are so so lucky! What is your favorite thing you look forward to each spring in your garden?

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Footnote: Here’s a pic of a shad bush in flower, which Alice mentions on comments below. She’s in New York state.

UPDATE! The many subscribers to this blog contact me not only through the comments section below, but also via FB and email. So what readers missed was the vast amount of information sent to me by Julie Rice in Ohio, all in the attempt to help ID the trees posted above, which she ultimately did! A copy of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy goes out to her today! Congratulations, Julie! XOXO

Book Notes: Reminder that Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden makes a lovely gift for the loved Mothers in your life. Thank you for ordering a copy on Amazon, or Kobo or Barnes and Noble!
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