Category Archives: Art & the Garden

Paper Roses and Marigolds . . . and Costumes!

vintageprintable-comflowerfairy

Image from VintagePrintable.com via Pinterest

 

This week I received a note from a friend. She’s read about my life through my newsletter, so I was very happy to finally get a glimpse into her life. When readers share, a connection is made. It’s beautiful!

Virginia (she signs her emails “Virg”) told me about her gardening history, how she’d had a lot of fun over the years tending gardens that she didn’t actually own. One she tended for 14 years, a church garden across the street from where she lived. When the Episcopalian priest went on vacation, she’d also take care of the “manse.” (Oooh, I thought, a manse! I wanted to see it, and the garden!) Other adopted gardens were a vacation rental by the water every August, and her son and daughter-in-law’s garden. As it was nearing Halloween, Virg mused on how she wished she had some marigolds. They would be just the thing for her black Depression glass salt and pepper shakers. Earlier she’d written to me about how her mother put garden flowers in the tiny containers, so fairy-like, so charming.

After mentioning the marigolds she wrote, “If I were my mother I’d just whip up a few crepe paper  marigolds! If I were only a witch I would conjure up a few. Concentrate, concentrate, visualize——I’m in a trance—I’ll let you know if it works.

No, no not daisies, marigolds!”

I grinned reading that—and thought about marigolds, the favorite flower of El Dia de los Muertos, or the Mexican Day of the Dead. I’ve been fascinated with that celebration for a long time—so much more meaningful than just dressing up and candy!

The thought of crepe paper marigolds really intrigued me. My mother had mentioned making flowers and decorations out of paper as a kid, but by the 1960s it was considered pretty “old-fashioned.” Decorations and fake flowers were now mass-produced.

I looked it up and found that others were intrigued by these delicate creations. Of course they sold them on Etsy. WHAT FUN!

buttonmumszobedesignsetsy

12 Button Mums, 1″ size, for only $4.80 on Etsy at ZoBeDesigns!

crepepapermarigolds

From SnootyBlooms on Etsy – 12 for $12.99!

 

simplecraftideamarigolds

I thought these were amazing. They’re not for sale, but you can learn how to make them at the website Simple Craft Ideas.

I wrote Virg back with the links to these blooms. I asked her if I could share her thoughts on crepe paper flowers and the holidays. She wrote back,

“I’m flattered, be my guest. I remember sitting in my crib downstairs when I was sick watching  Mom making crepe paper flowers at the dining room table after supper while listening to Wayne King (the waltz king) playing The Waltz You Saved For Me, The Lady Ester program—radio, of course.  I Remember Dennison crepe paper. This was BIG business back in the day. Look up the Dennison crepe paper costume books from the 20’s and 30’s, you will not believe Marie Antoinette in crepe paper complete with roses.!!!!! Do you have your black candles ready?”

She then sent me the link to a book on crepe paper costumes, which I ordered, and then she sent me a link for a free PDF of the book, How to Make Crepe Paper Flowers, now in the public domain, from the Dennison paper company.

Again—WHAT FUN. I was especially happy to the marigolds! Maybe next year I would (finally) be all set for El Dia de los Muertos. Maybe I would have some black candles, too!

Last night I found another free book, this one from Internet Archives. How to Make Paper Costumes, also from Dennison. It gives instructions for all kinds of enchanting costumes, including those that celebrate nature—flowers, vegetables, butterflies, birds, even “the elements.”

dennisonflowercostumes-2

Lily, Sweet Pea, and Jonquil

Somehow I feel that I will try this craft—or at the minimum enjoy some beautiful flowers from Etsy.

Perhaps poinsettias?

crepe_paper_flowers_2

Crepe Paper Flowers, by Chris, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Thanks for connecting with me, Virg. You certainly brightened my Halloween!

—Sandra Knauf

 

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Sandra Knauf is the one-woman-show behind Greenwoman Publishing. Her books include the six-volume series Greenwoman, (a literary digest), her young adult fantasy novel, Zera and the Green Man, and an anthology of sexy gardening stories that she says is the feminist gardener answer to Fifty Shades of GreyFifty Shades of Green. She was a 2008-09 featured “Colorado Voices” columnist for The Denver Post and her humorous essays have appeared nationally in GreenPrints and MaryJanesFarm. Sandra lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her family, dogs, huge urban garden, and lots of books.

 

 

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Through a Garden Gate

Through a Garden Gate (2).jpg

Framing the Garden in Photo and Poetry

Gardeners and photographers have in common a reverence for “frame.” Gardeners prune to get the right view through a bush to another plant, a stone, a gate. The photographer crops a photo to change the focus. When a poet collaborates to hone to the essence of a garden, a beautiful book of poetry and photos of a large garden results: Though a Garden Gate.

The photographer and landscape designer of his own garden is Vincent Covello who is well-known as a risk and crisis consultant. The poet is Charlotte Mandel who has received widespread recognition as a poet from New Jersey who recently retired from teaching poetry writing at Barnard College Center for Research on Women.

Mandel issues “A guided invitation to a garden path” in one of her poems. The book is a leisurely stroll through a carefully designed ten-acre garden landscape that catches the frames of a Chinese Garden and gate, dark wood torii gates, standing stones at sunrise, falling water, a Japanese fountain and the reflections of oak leaves in a pond. The seasons kaleidoscope through poetry and photos of the flowering cherry in its “breeze-sent dance,” the vernal equinox’s “report on summer’s evolving designs,” how October acts like a season’s traffic signal, and the first footsteps in snow through an aging gate garden waits through winter with the animals in their burrows. The book captures both the joy and wabi sabi of gardening.

In the middle of this collaboration, the poet and photographer stop at “Enclave –”

Later afternoon, a cloisonné tray
will be brought with two
crystal stemmed glasses
of dark red dubonnet
and on other days
a golden sherry

This is where the gardener rests after “assiduous caretaking – lift dig prune weed” and the poet gets to raise her glass to the twilight and assemble the spirit that comes close to the end of the collection:

Let the garden teach patience
in changes of earth, water, rock, wind,
the play of wills by a gardener
who has gazed at starved ground,
a straggle of brush and skeletal trees,
and said, “Let there be this.”

We gardeners know the hard work of arranging, rearranging, cutting, digging – creating garden frames that lift us out of the ordinary into transformation into quiet beauty. This book may well serve as an inspiration to other poet-gardeners like me to revere our work from the sky blue morning glory in August heat to the quiet winter garden in repose. It did that for me.

—Tricia Knoll

mandel and covello (2)

Vincent and Charlotte 72614 (2)

The author and photographer; photo by Carol Ann Mandel.

Through a Garden Gate, a collaboration of photographs by Vincent Covello and poet Charlotte Mandel, (WordTech Communications, 2015). 57 pages of poetry and color photographs. Available at Amazon for $20.

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Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet with two books in print – Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press 2016) and Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press 2014). Website: triciaknoll.com

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Radish Gets Around

Greenwoman Comix Heading No Text USR_edited-5

I don’t think this one appeared in any of the Greenwoman volumes, but in each issue we (meaning myself, a.k.a. Mae Fayne, and my daughter Zora, a.k.a. Angus Skillet), tried to create a comic. Anthropomorphism, hooray!

—Sandra Knauf

Radish Gets Around Final

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Butterfly Ladies

Butterfly women (2)

Aren’t they beautiful? At first it dampened the fun for me to learn that these ladies were from cards that came in cigarette packages in the 1920s. Flappers as butterflies, one tucked into each pack, with the common and Latin names of each species. There were 50 in the collection.

 

The red admiral

The Red Admiral, George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library, public domain.

 

I thought (rather sourly) at first, well, that’s a nice way for men to “collect” women, maybe they could even pin them to the walls! But then I thought about lady smokers, women enjoying a new and wild (albeit unwise) freedom. It was an exciting decade of change for women, both politically and socially. The 1920s was when women got the right to vote and it’s when they began wearing short hair. If you think about it, it’s not hard to see the metaphor of women going from caterpillar to butterfly! I concluded that these ladies, and their non-smoking lady friends, probably loved collecting these cards far more than the men.

Sandra Knauf

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Spider Web Haiku

Photo_By_Norbert_Kaiser,_via_Wikimedia_Commons

 

in the dead
of frozen winter
remnant spider web

 

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Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet who has maintained gardens all her life, sowing the seeds of sanity. She grew up admiring her mother’s roses and vegetable garden. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and volunteers at Portland’s Washington Park Rose Test Garden. Her chapbook Urban Wild is available from Amazon and focuses on interactions between humans and wildlife in urban habitat.

Her lyric and eco-poetry of  Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press) focuses on a small town on the Oregon coast, Manzanita. Website: triciaknoll.com
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Apples of Evil: Three Eerie Fruit Folktales

In the Garden of Eden, Eve offers Adam the apple. Line engraving by C. Galle after G.B. Paggi. Iconographic Collections Keywords: Johannes Carolus Avria; Cornelis Galle; Adam; Giovanni Battista Paggi; Eve

(The father of all evil apple stories?) In the Garden of Eden, Eve offers Adam the apple. Line engraving by Cornelis Galle after Giovanni Battista Paggi, via Wikimedia Commons.

 

For your Halloween pleasure! Sheryl is a favorite garden artist/writer/greenwoman, and friend. She’s the author of The Haunted Garden: Death and Transfiguration in the Folklore of Plants, a deliciously creepy book on plant lore. I love her paintings as well, which were featured here a couple of years ago and in my article in US Represented this summer. You can see more of her amazing work here.

And now, her eerie apple stories!

Happy Halloween!

–Sandra Knauf

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A curious fact: The Latin words for “apple” and “evil” are the same: malum. This is odd, considering that the apple tree–fair of flower and of fruit–has many positive associations, and is celebrated with cheerful rhymes, stories, songs, and festivals. Nevertheless, an exploration of apples in folklore and legend does reveal a darker aspect.

It is apt that Pomona, the ancient Roman goddess of fruit, is sometimes depicted as a young woman holding an apple in one hand and a formidable-looking pruning knife or a sickle in the other. As demonstrated in the following tales, the Brothers Grimm story of Snow White, with its wicked queen who tries to kill her stepdaughter via a poisoned apple, is not the only folktale linking an apple with murder.

The Legend of Micah Rood

According to folklorist Charles Skinner, there was once a popular variety of American apple called Micah Rood, or Bloody Hearts. These apples were said to be “sweet of flavor, fragrant, handsomely red outside, and while most of the flesh is white, there is at the core a red spot that represents human blood.” A story was traced back to Franklin, Connecticut, where a farmer named Micah Rood lived in the late 1700s. In those times much commerce was done with itinerant peddlers, and these early traveling salesmen sometimes fell victim to violence because of the purses of money they might be carrying.

A peddler who had recently been trading with the local citizens was found dead under an apple tree on Micah Rood’s farm, his skull cracked open and his money stolen. Rood was suspected of murder, but there was no proof. He became a recluse to shut out the whisperings of his neighbors.

Later that year, the story goes, the tree on which the unfortunate victim had bled and died bore red apples instead of its normal yellow ones. And from then on the tree’s fruit had the red mark at the core, like a bloodstain. It was said that every apple was a curse on Micah Rood; he and his farm fell into decay and disrepair, and he died. The tree lived on, and grafts from it spread the apple to orchards across Connecticut and other states. The variety was said to have been widely cultivated, but I have not been able to find a Micah Rood apple available today. If it did really exist, I fear it has been lost like so many other early heirloom varieties.

The Bloody Ploughman

Luckily a similar heirloom variety of apple, also with a gruesome legend and a sensational appearance, still thrives in the United Kingdom. The Bloody Ploughman apple was first recorded in 1883, in Scotland. Like the Micah Rood apple, it has red “bloodstains” in its flesh, and dark, blood-red skin.

The tale behind the name is that a laborer was regularly stealing apples from a Scottish estate, but he got caught and was shot dead. His widow threw the apples out onto the midden with the refuse, thinking them unlucky. A tree sprouted there, grew into a tree, bore new apples, and was given a spooky new name. Bloody Ploughman apples are said to be juicy and crisp, a mid-season variety when grown in southeast England.

 

Apples_Apfelsorten_Diel-Lucas Image from the 6th edition of Meyers großem Konversationslexikon (1885–90), via Wikimedia Commons.

Image from the 6th edition of Meyers großem Konversationslexikon (1885–90), via Wikimedia Commons.

 

The Apple Girl

One of the most popular of the stories collected and retold by Italo Calvino in his Italian Folktales is “Apple Girl” (condensed and paraphrased here by me). Even though murder is attempted only indirectly in the tale, the imagery and rather nonsensical plot are eerie unto themselves:

A childless king and queen wished for a baby. The queen wondered why she couldn’t bear children the way an apple tree produces apples. Soon enough, she gave birth–to an apple. It was an exceptionally beautiful apple, and the king displayed it on a tray of gold, on his balcony. One day, another king glanced at the balcony and saw a lovely young woman, bathing and combing her hair. When she saw him, she ran to the apple, dove in, and disappeared. But this king had already fallen in love with her.

The king begged Apple Girl’s parents to give him the apple. They refused, but finally gave in to keep the peace with their royal neighbor. He took the apple home to his own chambers, and laid out everything Apple Girl needed: a golden fruit bowl, a comb, and water. Apple Girl would emerge from the fruit each morning; all she would do was comb her hair and perform her ablutions. She never spoke, and never ate.

The king kept to his chambers so much that his stepmother became suspicious. She wanted to know what he was up to. When he had to go off to fight in a war, he left the care of the magical apple to his most trustworthy servant. But as soon as the king left, the stepmother managed to sneak into his rooms. The only thing unusual she saw there was the magnificent apple in its golden bowl. Out of pure spite, she stabbed the apple all over with a small dagger she kept hidden in her gown. The apple began to bleed red blood out of every wound, and the wicked stepmother ran away in terror.

When the servant found the bloody scene, he panicked. The king would kill him for failing to protect the apple. Luckily, the servant had an aunt with knowledge of magical powders. She blended the right mix for him, which he sprinkled on the apple’s wounds. Instantly the apple split open, and out came Apple Girl, covered in bandages.

The king returned from war, and Apple Girl spoke her first words to him. She told him how she had been under a spell, and how his stepmother had almost killed her but that the servant had saved her. Apple Girl married the king and they lived happily near her parents; the stepmother fled and was never seen again.

© 2015 by Sheryl Humphrey. All rights reserved.

. . .

Further Reading

Calvino, Italo. Italian Folktales. Translated by George Martin. New York: Harcourt, Inc., 1980 [originally published 1956 in Italian by Giulio Einaudi, Torino].

Garden Apple I.D. website: http://www.gardenappleid.co.uk/index.php/alphabetic-list-of-apples/92-bloody-ploughman .

Humphrey, Sheryl. The Haunted Garden: Death and Transfiguration in the Folklore of Plants. Self-published, 2012. [The stories of Micah Rood and Bloody Ploughman in this post are excerpted, in slightly edited form, from this book.]

Skinner, Charles M. Myths and Legends of Flowers, Trees, Fruits, and Plants in All Ages and in All Climes. Amsterdam: Fredonia Books, 2002 [reprinted from the 1911 edition]

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Photo by Sheryl's husband, Edward Coppola.

Photo by Sheryl’s husband, Edward Coppola.

 

Sheryl Humphrey is an artist in Staten Island, NY; see her art at http://www.sherylhumphrey.tumblr.com/. She is also the author of The Haunted Garden: Death and Transfiguration in the Folklore of Plants, available at https://www.etsy.com/listing/118819081/the-haunted-garden.

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To All the Lusty Gardeners: Fifty Shades of Green Interview with Publisher Sandra Knauf

Photo by Lily Knauf.

Photo by Lily Knauf.

Well, here I am, interviewing myself for a press release I put together for Fifty Shades of Green last fall. (When you hear self-publishers wear a lot of hats, that is the truth!) I was going to share this interview back with you then, but other things came up and it got stuck in the Drafts folder here on WordPress. Since the film of the other Fifty Shades book is out, I thought now might be a good time.

If you haven’t bought a copy of my book yet, you’re in luck. We have a special going on now – retail price is $15.95, sale price is $12.95 (and it looks like Amazon has taken another dollar off from there). Don’t delay; the savings will not get better than this! Here’s the link!

—Sandra Knauf

And Now . . . the Interview

What brought this book about? It started as a joke. I read Fifty Shades of Grey and was shocked. Not by the BDSM sex, but by the inequality in the relationship. I thought: This is what women find sexy? The story had no basis in reality and the heroine was the “submissive”—in bed, in experience, and economically and socially. What’s sexy about that?

I talked to friends and saw most had the same reaction. At first I thought it would be funny to do a parody, a novel with a female protagonist who was older and a billionaire, someone who had all the power in society, and in the bedroom, who would mete out discipline to a virginal, college-aged male love interest. But after exploring that idea, I found it didn’t hold my interest. So the idea changed to a collection of stories.

Where did the gardening theme come from? Gardening had to be a theme. It’s my personal passion and it’s the subject of all my publishing work. Plus, the garden is the perfect setting for sexual encounters. Non-gardeners may not know this, but the garden is a sexy, fruitful, lustful place. And besides, women and gardens have shared an intimate relationship since the beginning; starting, one could say, with Eve.

Can you tell us about the writers? I fell in love with all the writers. Most are seasoned erotica writers and avid gardeners, so they know what they’re writing about in both departments. Several are men, and it was wonderful to have that perspective; two of the writers are from Britain, and I found that thrilling as the British are known for their mad gardening skills. Another writer’s the editor for a regional gardening magazine, and one graduated from Harvard Law School. There’s an exciting diversity in styles and backgrounds.

Do you have a background in the erotica genre? No, and I honestly didn’t know a lot about the genre before I started this project. But I learned, and I read some of the best work out there, and the more I learned the greater my respect for the genre grew. This is my feeling on the subject: sexuality is one of the most important, powerful, and certainly one of the most beautiful aspects of our existence and the way it’s treated is sad. We have a culture where sex=porn and that is just not so. There needs to be a return to honoring sexuality and lovemaking. Placing sexuality in a dark, forbidden place breeds a lot of society’s ills.

How do you feel erotica fits into today’s literature and why is it becoming so popular? I feel that readers are looking for deeper connections, and when you have access to a character’s sexuality, you see the whole person. I think this is the reason TV shows have become more sexual—not for the titillation, though that can be a part of it, but because we want fully-developed characters. In a big way, A Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert validated this book project for me. Here was a story, from a respected author, about a virginal woman in the 1800s obsessed with studying, of all things, mosses. There’s a lot about horticulture and history and becoming a fully-realized human being, but Gilbert also explored her protagonist’s sexuality. It was enthralling, reading about this character’s sexual awakening and her desires.

What surprised you most about the stories you received? The imagination, and the heart. Eros is the god of love and where the word erotica originates, and there is a joy and a depth in these stories that goes far beyond the sex act. In pornography there is no heart; it’s only about the stimulation. I found myself moved by some of the stories, such as “Pulse of the Earth,” a healing love story between two men. “Love Lies Bleeding” is so beautifully written it took my breath away, and “Phallus Impudicus” is high comedy. “The Judgment of Eric” is a riddle. There are a couple of stories where love potions figure in and that’s always fun, both from an adult “fairy tale” perspective and from a psychological standpoint. The collection is a mix of many aspects of the sexual psyche.

Did you have a favorite? Yes and no. I hand-picked them all, and I love them all, but there are a few that are special to me. I won’t name my favorites, but what’s funny is they changed during the editorial process. One story I read aloud recently and just went, “Wow. I think this is my favorite.” I also find it interesting that there’s no consensus among those who’ve read the book. This tells me there’s something for everyone.

Do you garden? (And do you think gardening’s sexy?) Can I scream, “Oh YESSSS!”? I have been an obsessed gardener for over two decades, when we first bought a home that had a yard. I went through master gardener training twice, the second time as a refresher course. I remember the first cottage garden I saw. I was 19 and my soon-to-be husband and I were house-sitting for his brother and his wife. Victoria and Danny had little money but they had an amazing garden: chickens and flowers, a vegetable garden, fruit trees in barrels, a tiered strawberry bed. This was in Colorado in the 1980s and enjoying this humble yet wildly productive and beautiful garden I thought, “This is paradise. I want to do this one day.” And I did.

As far as sex and the garden go, there is no place sexier. Flowers are the sex organs of plants, you know. They are beautiful and many emit intoxicating perfumes. If you have a flower garden and a vegetable garden, you have an orgy going on during the spring and summer, right in your backyard! The bees and butterflies are pollinating, the flowers are cross-pollinating. It’s amazing. You’re surrounded by sex.                                                                                                                                                                                         

P. S. I thought you might find it amusing that the pose and setting for my press kit photo was inspired by one of my favorite garden writers—that true champion of organic growing, Ruth Stout! I love her so! It I wrote about her life last year in a mini-bio that you can read either in Greenwoman #5 or in the Kindle publication, The Whole Ruth: A Biography of Ruth Stout.

Thank you, Ruth. Your sexy good humor was just what I was looking for.

My sultry and sensual garden mentor, Ruth Stout. Did you know she enjoyed gardening in the nude?

I imagine Ruth Stout thought this photo funny and suggestive of a “roll in the hay” with the author of books on straw mulch gardening!
(Did you know she enjoyed gardening in the nude?)

And, once more, the link to buy yourself (or your lusty gardening pal/s) a copy. You know they make great gifts, too!

Poppy FInal June 17 copy

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