To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Friday, August 5, 2011

On finding inspiration

Every year I say I'm going to tear out my grass and turn my yard into complete gardens, and every year I still have grass. I have an idea of what I want to do, but I can't visualize how I want it to turn out. I was in need of inspiration, I was also in need of a granddaughter fix, and there just happened to be garden tours going on last weekend. Trifecta! I have Nicola to thank for reminding me about garden tours as inspiration.

The delightful Miss M stayed with me Friday night so we could go for breakfast together Saturday morning. I admit, I kept her up far too late on Friday, but there's so much fun to be had with this girl that it's difficult for us to get to sleep. Mm hmm, that lack of sleep did not help her decision making regarding what to eat at the restaurant. I went through the whole list of food choices with her and in spite of the fact that she's not a picky eater, everything was, "nah, no, yuck, don't like that, etc.," until I finally laid the menu on the table and said, "look, I've just read the entire menu to you so you just tell me what you feel like eating and I'll order it." "Fine," says she, "I'll have pancakes." Good! We'll have an order of buckwheat pancakes and Cuban eggs, please. Our plates arrived, and we ate and talked cheerfully for a bit until Miss M laid her knife and fork across her plate, leaned towards me and asked, "could we please switch plates?" Um, okay. She thought my Cuban eggs looked delicious and proceeded to devour them. This girl is eating beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, Gaia sauce, eggs and sour cream for breakfast - there might have been avocado in there too - and loved it. Oh, I love this girl. We ended up sharing my breakfast and ate her pancakes later for lunch.

Okay, time to wander over to the garden tours, but first we had to stop at a yard sale that looked interesting. I told her we weren't buying junk, but if we found something we absolutely couldn't live without...and we did, she did. See, I have a briefcase beside my desk that holds all Miss M's paper crafting supplies. Things like paper, scissors, stencils, pens and colored pencils, glue sticks, and she always gets my tote of paper punches out to make books and notes for everyone. She spends a great deal of time decorating her papers, punching out shapes and gluing them in her handmade books. Well, she spied a very large flower punch that was only 50 cents and right next to it was a complete stack of 12x12 scrapbook paper in patterns that a sweet 6 y/o couldn't help but swoon over, and it was only $1.50. As she walked to the car with her treasures she assured me that, "this is the best day ever." Oh, darlin', I know just how you feel.

I'm thrilled I brought her along on the garden tour. In her innocence she wandered everywhere in the gardens and found many cozy and hidden nooks that I would have missed. I followed her lead as she explored every area of every garden and she wasn't ready to move on to the next garden until we had covered the entire space. She made me look closer at the small touches that people used and how they formed their conversation spaces. What a day.
Water was a popular feature in these gardens and with the temperature well into the 90's by the time we were done, you know we had our hands in it at every opportunity.
See that wall behind her? It's not really a stone wall. It's actually a wooden wall covered in the fake stones. How smart is that?
Miss M found these cute little faces hidden amongst the hostas. I probably would have missed them, but she gave them a well deserved awwww.
(Where does she learn that pose from?) She loved this shady area tucked into a side yard. There was just enough room to walk past this table, but the area was so well decorated that you really wanted to sit down and have tea and sandwiches or something.
It's a path so it must mean there is something interesting at the end of it. There was, another water feature and while I don't have a picture of it, this house also had a larger pond that I was sure I would be slipping into in the evenings to cool off from the heat. When I asked the owner if he used it, he looked at me like I was crazy. Something about it being a fish pond? I'm telling you, I would have gotten in - that's how welcoming he made it look.
A clever use of stones. I have plenty of moss growing in my back yard and I thought this might make a nice patio area to sit.
See that red flower? It's a cut up water bottle. I'm pretty sure this idea will end up in my garden as a way to keep color during those lulls between blooms that inevitably happen. And the beads gave a wonderful sparkle to the tree. I have lots of beads.
Now here's a cute craft idea for me to do with the Littles and I get great garden decor as well.
Oh, she was a trooper. I had her slathered in sunscreen and she was practically melting at one point. We took refuge in a coffee shop for iced tea and water with lots of crushed ice. My gosh it was hot out!
She fell in love with these iron chairs and thought they were just the right size for her. We spied them in several gardens and she sat in them each time. You  know I'll be on the lookout for some of these, but I'll have to decide if I'll put them in my garden or give them to her for her own home. We'll see. She would have done well with a gauzy dress and a parasol this day.

You can't see it but there's a stone heart on the ground near her that had a saying like, "all the trees in a garden have music, you just have to quiet your heart to hear it." She took that saying to her heart because I had called her to move on and she mouthed something to me that I couldn't hear. Three times I asked her what she said before walking over and telling her I couldn't hear her. She whispered, "I'm trying to hear the music." Just about melted my heart, I tell ya.
Another great use for all those feathers I've collected over the years.
Part of what intrigued both of us was the coziness of the paths. It all seemed so quaint and tiny and I think that was the point of the conversation areas too. I need to remember that when I implement my garden. Lots of winding paths leading to sitting areas.
Oooh, another fish and this one will use up those jars of shells in the cellar.

I think we walked a total of 26 city blocks before we were done. She hung in there though, right up until the very end when she hit her wall. Both of us were grateful that the tour was finished, but thrilled with our day. So many ideas. Such a wonderful time with Miss M. Best day ever!

Why didn't I do this before?


  1. she is too cute. we love garden tours.

    my mom specializes in yards with not a whole lot of grass. you might get some ideas in the portfolio section

    p.s. i just got a call from your son last night. you must be happy he's home :)

  2. I'm thrilled he's home! He's leaving soon on his bike tour, but he'll meet up with us in Grand Marais. Really looking forward to that.

    How do I find your mom's portfolio?

  3. whoops i guess i forgot the link :P