Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

The sky above the gardens this day matched my mood, but it also kept the afternoon from becoming too hot. Seventy-eight acres of natural woodland and wide open meadows returned my gaze at the entrance, and I had never before seen such a spectacular field of California poppies staring right back at me.

Having never visited, I had my expectations. But as The Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens website explains, the native garden is not "just another place with open space and pretty flowers."  

It is the sort of place to wander: an invitation to meditation, or education, or both. And almost involuntarily, I gave myself over.

We had gone on a whim, as some of the best jaunts begin. The parking was impossible. Why so busy on a random Wednesday morning?

Turns out it was Senior Day with no entrance fee! But as we moved past the entering crowd, the winding paths and secret spaces opened themselves up.

I was eager to capture the variety and detail...

but this less than sharp photo makes me want to try my hand at an impressionistic painting!

However, no picture can capture the scent nor the stillness; a peace broken only by the trickle of water, the call of a bird, or one's lone thoughts. . . .

"Granny's Bench"


"Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth."

Henry David Thoreau

Peace to you in all your wanderings,



Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Pretty Garden Books

Hello friends! It's been a long while between posts for me here. I have been folded up into my own snug cocoon for the long winter months and feel like spring has finally awakened me a little. I have needed the rest and haven't minded the general isolation of our times. 

The light and warmth has given me a subtle lift. Do you feel the same? I am slowly gathering up to something nameless, like the deep stretch of a dumb creature emerging from the depths. The bright morning of this room always calls to me, and I have spread out a few things to feed the spirit.  

I have been working up to messing with watercolors. It's all process, and I have been looking to favorite artists for inspiration. I have a decent collection of pretty books to guide me: some old, some new, all garden and nature themed. I have pulled together just a few for you.

Some of you may remember IN AND OUT OF THE GARDEN. My edition is from 1981.  There are still a lot of used versions floating around. I recently got one on Ebay to give away. The Country Diary Herbal is in the back, which has Edith Holden's illustrations, and others, alongside the text. A beautiful book.

I have tucked in a sprig between pages of the HERBAL for you to see.

The second-hand "In And Out" had an inscription, as used books often do, that looked artful enough to me too. It adds a bit of mystery and character. Otherwise it was apparent that the original owner had hardly cracked the book.

But I have always been enchanted with the art and drawings on its pages. I am giving the merest sample of what you find. It's lush and highly detailed in miniature, and a wonderful way to get lost in garden lore.

I pulled it out again to get me stoked on painting techniques. Every day or so I put a few dabs on paper. 

I am trying to do lilacs. (These are mine.) (You can tell. 😊)

Even if you only peruse a page or two a day, you will be delighted!

On my field walk yesterday I saw someone at a distance that looked exactly like this as he worked with a hoe in the vast public gardens, alone with his thoughts.

I have a freebie day book that I got as a giveaway from B&N during the holidays that I jot in everyday. It is not carefully kept. It is mostly full of reminders and notes to do since my short term memory is shot lately. Now and then I write down a quote from something I have read. And now I will pepper the pages with little drawings. A little dabbling makes me feel as cheery as a grade schooler! 

This is my new portable paint box from Winsor & Newton.

I have a couple of new titles that I discovered on IG from a British blogger, Miranda Mills Bookcase. I found The Cottage Book there, and Old Herbaceous.

The Cottage Book is from the diary of an Edwardian gentleman who wrote about his English country house with his wife. It is illustrated by Philip Snow whose wildlife art and writing are also found on his website here.  It's a very nice collaboration from 1999.

Old Herbaceous is suited for those who admire the written word as much as they admire gardens. Originally printed in 1951, it is now a part of the Modern Library Garden Series. I have enjoyed meandering through its pages as much as a wander through my local fields. 

"Young Herbert sat down on the bank with his bucket and, as many a gardener has done, mourned that he couldn't pack all summer into one August afternoon."

I love the cover art too!

The Hedgerow Handbook was recommended by Marian of Miss Mustard Seed. The introduction gives a delightful history of hedgerows in which the author states," I want this book to be a trigger for memories: of a summer filled with hot sunny days; or of the time you got drenched in a sudden rain shower miles away from the warmth and dryness of your car or home, which made that hard-earned blackberry pie even more enjoyable."

The book has wonderful drawings and lots of information about the uses of plants.

I had pulled a few things out for Easter, but I might use this cheery casserole dish as a catchall for awhile. The bunny ear lid feels nice in the hand.

My poor Oxalis has seen better days, but she is an old faithful and will spring back soon with a little better care and feeding.

As pretty from the back as the front!

This is an especially soothing basket of stone eggs left out from Easter that are hefty and smooth with a bit of a flat side so that they don't roll. They make a great worry stone at your work table!

The paper cover...

And the cloth binding in white.

The new used one is a lovely sage green. (I may need them both! haha!)

I found an old tissue from Crabtree & Evelyn tucked into my own old copy.

Another of my heroes is Susan Branch, the illustrator, who has a wonderful blog you may already know about here. Her most recent post is about dealing with her own recent "black cloud" that kept her away from blogging for a time. But she writes such an enjoyable blog all of the time!

I hope you are enjoying the fullness of the season in your own way wherever you are. . . .

My best to you from the Land of Enchantment,

and wishing you still brighter days ahead,