Category Archives: Art & the Garden

Dog’s Apocalypse


Zoe Poster Tilley shares her Independence Day 2012.  –Sandra Knauf

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Busy days of early-morning chamomile picking, dill snipping, drawing all day, cooking without heat as best I can, then pitting sour cherries, trying to empty the crisper of market and garden which must go into belly, not compost.

Almost busy enough to not resent city. Last night I sat on porch, invigorated by sudden rainstorm, and found myself pumping fist in air and silently screaming (that’s when you just mouth the words, but loud!)… ha! muthaf%#@s !

My little way of celebrating the fact that everyone else is getting their fireworks display rained out, but my dog is sleeping peacefully.

Rain stops, fireworks start, dog agitates. Whole valley has that match-strike smell. There is this Maxfield Parrish sunset, and heat lightning, and fireflies. Everyone’s looking up, but I think those who see what I see . . . we’re in the minority.

–Zoe Tilley Poster

Poster is an artist, gardener, and wanderer of the woods. At her blog, pearled earth, she records those notions which take a brief roost in her brain before fluttering out the exit ear and away on the wind.


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Fresh Growth at Red Rock Canyon

Spring is a time of fresh growth and new chapters, an annual miracle that brightens our lives after the gray and brown and, sometimes, white of winter. I took this photo at Red Rock Canyon on May 11, a blustery day that blew the cobwebs out of my mind.

–Rhonda Van Pelt

(Photo of Douglas fir, above, showing baby cones and new growth; sunrise at Red Rock Canyon below.)

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“The Sisterhood of Flora” and the Art of Sheryl Humphrey

It was last March that I read Growing the Good Life author Michele Owens’ post on Garden Rant about the lovely seed packages from Hudson Valley Seed Library. Of course I had to go to the site at once and it was there that I first saw Sheryl Humphrey’s work, on a design for Rainbow Chard. The art, all by local artists, wowed me and I remember happily whiling away a good part of an hour immersed in the library’s work and their Art Packs of heirloom seeds.

When I came upon Humphrey’s work again this week on her Etsy site, her art and the “Sisterhood of Flora” theme spoke to me deeply. I had to share.

Here’s two more of her paintings and what she has to say about them and her gardening connection.

–Sandra Knauf 

I started gardening after I got married, and for 25 years my husband and I have created small urban oases in our yards in Brooklyn and now Staten Island. Learning about the plants, caring for them, and being able to appreciate their beauty and discover their structures on a daily basis was a life-changing process for me. My relationship to Nature became strongly spiritual. Nature themes began to appear in my artwork, in tandem with a looking inward.

“The Sisterhood of Flora” is my ongoing series of small-scale oil paintings, depicting girls’ and women’s faces surrounded by blossoms. These faces appear to me as I admire the flowers I am growing. Their mysteriously compelling gazes have an otherworldly aspect, and the invented portraits can be seen as the flowers’ guardians or spirits.

As an artist I really enjoy the challenge of combining observation of the floral still-life with a fantasy portrait in a stylistically unified painting. I have been influenced by painters of the early Italian Renaissance, and by the Pre-Raphaelites, the Symbolists, Art Nouveau, the Magic Realists, and many visionary, psychedelic, and outsider artists.

I read a lot about herbalism, alchemy, folklore, and mythology, and this enters into my work. My paintings are included in the upcoming group exhibition “Witchy Women: Mothers, Myths, and Magic,” curated by Laura James and Mary See (see catalog here ). I am working on a nonfiction book, “The Haunted Garden: Death and Transfiguration in the Folklore of Plants,” which will be published later this year thanks to a 2012 DCA Premier Grant from the Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island, with public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

–Sheryl Humphrey


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Ladybug, Ladybug

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home,
Your house is on fire, your children all gone,
Except little Nan, who sits in a pan,
Weaving gold laces as fast as she can.

According to this site  the “Ladybird, Ladybird” song was sung in Britain before burning crops at the end of the harvest as a warning to the beloved insects. The ladybird beetles’ children could heed the warning but the pupae or larvae (“Nan” in some versions) were not able to escape as they were still fastened to the plants.

Gardeners especially love ladybugs (as we call them in the U.S.) for their value as a predator of crop-damaging pests but they are celebrated the world over as insects of good fortune. For interesting ladybug lore, check out this site.

Colorado Springs artist and writer Rhonda Van Pelt took this photo early last June in Monument Valley Park in Colorado Springs. As we are about a month ahead this year in growth, I felt this beautiful shot was appropriate for this week.

Rhonda’s “teeny tiny essay” on the photo:

“Sometimes people ask me how I get photos of insects going about their business on flowers. Generally, my hiking/walking buddies don’t even notice the bees or ladybugs until I freeze and focus my camera. ‘It’s easy,’ I say. ‘Just be still and quiet, and let nature come to you.’ ”

Rhonda enjoys celebrating nature through her art and sharing small, quiet moments of beauty with others. You can see more of her work here.

–Sandra Knauf

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Espalier Envy

Zoe Poster is one of the most soulful gardeners I know. She is also a talented photographer, elegant writer, whimsical artist and (I’ve never tasted her food, but I know it has to be divine) cook. When I saw this picture of her espaliers the other day and read her post, below, on her blog pearled earth I just said “Wow.” I’ve wanted to do this for so long! But I don’t really have a spot for it, and, okay, I’ll be honest, the discipline or time to take care of them properly. Now I’m thinking I really need to add espaliers to my bucket list. After I create that bucket list . . . the bucket list I’ve said I’d like to add things on before, but never created. See why I don’t have espaliers?

–Sandra Knauf

Espaliered Apples

For the first time, our apple espaliers look like the real deal (we planted them five or six years ago, depending on whose memory you’re asking). Their trunks have thickened up nicely, and they have the beginnings of gnarled spurs (the bits that bear the fruit). They are loaded with blossoms! This is all in thanks to Matt’s careful pruning and training. But getting apples is not easy. With diligent spraying of Surround, an organic clay-based barrier to keep out the evil curculio bug, we can coax a modest crop. Then, when squirrels haul our whole harvest up into the neighbor’s maple tree, we can dodge the cores as they’re hucked at us from above. None of this matters to me, though, because I am wholly sustained by beauty, and I do not need to eat food.

–Zoe Tilley Poster

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I am a gardener by profession and pastime. I write about the art of cultivation, nature, and other items which take a brief roost in my brain before fluttering out the exit ear and away on the wind. I like to draw pictures, too. zoetilleyposter(at)



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Bright Little Flags – This Week’s Photo

Colorado Springs artist/writer Rhonda Van Pelt took this photo March 25 at Monument Valley Park in Colorado Springs. She says, “I love the optimism and determination of early spring flowers. Not only must they work their way through the soil, but also through the layer of last year’s leaves forming a blanket to warm the earth. These bright little flags signal the renewal and the hope that is spring.”

Rhonda Van Pelt enjoys celebrating nature through her art and sharing small, quiet moments of beauty with others.
To see more of her work, visit her website.

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