Category Archives: Garden Writers We Love

Woolly Bears and Rose Hips

Wooly_Bear_(2)

“Wooly Bear” by By Gerry Dincher from Hope Mills, NC (Uploaded by GrapedApe), via Wikimedia Commons

Fall 

You could opine that leaves burnished too early,
too hot this summer, too dry, the drifts
of wildfire smoke cured garden plants
like old tobacco. Then the woolly bears
seek sun-warmed cement, roses force
dwindling charms to make hips on forked canes,
last tomatoes announce they will only get green,
and powdery mildew silvers up the cucumber vines
like a harvest moon. Then it is fall.

—Tricia Knoll

 

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Tricia Knoll’s most recent book is Broadfork Farm, a series of love poems for the creatures, family, and gardens at a small organic farm in Trout Lake, Washington. In a time of urban disturbance, retreating to the farm brings a measure of peace.

 

Website: triciaknoll.com

 

(Note on wooly/woolly bear from the photographer on the Wikimedia Commons page:
“Legend in my part of Pennsylvania states that you can predict the winter weather by looking at the coloring of a wooly bear caterpillar (Pyrrharctia isabella). This guy says that Pennsylvania will have a cold start and finish to winter with a mild period in between. Either way I am glad I live in North Carolina. This critter was photographed at

Cowanesque Lake in Lawrence Township, Tioga County, Pennsylvania.”)—SK

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Autumn Sonata

Franz_Bischoff_-_Chrysanthemums_(2)

“Chrysanthemums” by Franz Bischoff (American Painter, 1864-1929); via Wikimedia Commons.

Simone Martel sent in a short story that evokes so much: the restlessness and awkwardness (and secret thoughts) of youth, the old watching life through the actions of the young, gardening in autumn.

Always, life brings us flowers. Thank you for this autumn bouquet, Simone! —SK

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Autumn Sonata

Laura trudged up to Peter’s duplex, past Mrs. Chen standing in her half of the front yard among her yellow and orange flowers. In Peter’s half, dandelions sprouted in cracked soil; takeout menus and free weeklies bleached and curled. While Laura waited for Peter to answer his door, she unzipped her backpack and found her dad’s check.

All she ever saw of Peter were his hands, pale and pink-knuckled, first as they opened the door and took the check, then as they cleared sheet music off the piano bench and finally as they poised beside hers on the keys. “I think he never goes outside,” she’d said. “He’s like something disgusting under a rock.” Her dad had laughed: “He’s an innocent music student trying to pay his tuition.”

“Have you…mmm?”

“Every morning before school,” she told Peter, not mentioning that she’d practiced with the TV on and an English muffin dripping butter over the piano keys. She liked to twist on the bench and work out the notes one at a time. Then she’d lick butter off her fingers and try again. A satisfactory rhythm would begin to develop and by the fourth time through, the rhythm had taken over. Now, on Friday, it was fixed, inevitable. Laura played the tune for Peter twice, with all the same mistakes.

“Again. Only this time, read the music.”

Slowly, painfully, they picked her song to pieces. After five minutes, nothing of it remained. Laura sat with her face close to the music book, her fingers clumsy, her body tense with un-learning. Outside, an ice cream truck’s jingle grew louder. She wished they could go outside and buy Popsicles and talk. They’d look into each other’s eyes, instead of at their hands on the piano keys. She’d show him the drawings in her art binder. Just because she was bad at piano didn’t mean she was bad at everything.

Now that the ice cream truck’s song had faded, they were both listening through the pinging piano notes for her father’s footsteps on the porch. The sun had begun to set, the room growing orange and even dimmer. Dusk fell like a judgment, a doom: too late for this day, anyhow.

“Rats.” Laura had let loose a stream of notes–trying to get to the next line–and in her rush had lapsed into the old way.

“Try again.”

Laura said goodbye to the bottom of the page and started over.

* * *

Dorothea Chen paused with her secateurs above her gold and rust-colored chrysanthemums as a white BMW rolled up to the curb. A man in a suit hurried along the walkway that ran parallel to her own, returning a minute later with the girl walking quickly at his side. The expensive car bucked away down the street, leaving silence. Soon the light would be too dim for Dorothea to continue deadheading her spent flowers. Her eyes moved to her neighbor’s door. On the other side of its blank face of chipped brown paint she heard a stifled cry or scream. Then the notes began–a waterfall of music that would stop, return as a trickle, then pour forth again more forcefully. He would be at it all evening, practicing, practicing, as though trying to exorcise a spirit from the piano. Poor boy. And poor girl. Each week she dragged herself up to the door and flew out of the house an hour later as though a demon were after her.

Dorothea returned her secateurs to their leather holster. In the dirt border that mirrored her own, dandelions shed their fluff in the evening breeze. Dorothea’s eyebrows rose toward her hairline. To share a yard with a boy who grew weeds instead of flowers crowded her as surely as sharing a piano bench for sixty minutes a week seemed to crowd those two young people. She’d been growing flowers for forty years, though, and knew that a garden was an invitation to aphids and mildew and dandelions, that success and frustration were inseparable and that, most of all, beauty was a private thing, difficult to share with anyone. She kept trying, of course, offering a view of mums to passersby on foot or car or bus, but mostly she cherished the autumnal blooms for their own sake and for herself: a worthy love, if solitary.

As the streetlamps flickered on, Dorothea turned toward her own front door, then paused again before going in, as an orange dragonfly, bright and shiny as hard candy, whirred past her ear. She turned to watch it hover over her cement birdbath and shoot out toward the road, buzzing, into the steady grind of commute traffic, flame-colored, vanishing under the street lamps’ moonlight glow.

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Simone with roses

Simone’s short story originally appeared in the Irish magazine Crannog.

Simone Martel’s debut novel, A Cat Came Back, was released last year by Harvard Square Editions. The novel is a subversive love story about a woman trapped in the body of a cat. Simone Martel is also the author of a memoir, The Expectant Gardener, and a story collection, Exile’s Garden. She’s published essays and stories in many journals including Hip Mama, Horticulture, GreenwomanThe Main Street Rag and The Tishman Review. Her work is online at Carbon Culture, F(r)iction and Fogged Clarity. After studying English at U.C. Berkeley, Simone Martel operated an organic tomato farm near Stockton, California. She’s working on a new novel based on that experience.

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From the Compost Pile

Compost_2017

Image from a corner of Sandra Knauf’s compost pile, August 2017, featuring a surprise potato plant.

 

From the Compost Pile

Voluptuous vines mix in
with basil stems and potatoes,
sprouting from last winter’s seeds.

We come from something, some egg,
virus, dirt, but in my vegetable bed
this vigorous survivor fittest
tangling-with-everything

does not look like any melon
I ate last summer. Its squashes
are blander orange butternuts.
The what I grew is not what I knew.

—Tricia Knoll

 

Tricia Knoll (2)

Tricia Knoll is a contented gardener come late August. Four harvests of basil mixed up as pesto. The Romas about to explode bright red very soon. Her most recent book is Broadfork Farm, a series of love poems for the creatures, family, and gardens at a small organic farm in Trout Lake, Washington. In a time of urban disturbance, retreating to the farm brings a measure of peace.

 

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Victoria Regia at Kew

The_Gardens_of_Kew-_the_work_of_Kew_Gardens_in_Wartime,_Surrey,_England,_UK,_1943_D16496 (2)

“The Work of Kew Gardens in Wartime”, 1943, via Wikimedia Commons

 

From Wikimedia Commons:

“A young member of staff tends the ‘Victoria Regia’, a giant water lily from Guiana, in the tropical house at Kew Gardens. According to the original caption, the lily is very popular with visitors: ‘Grown from a seed the size of a pea in February, it develops leaves up to seven foot six in diameter by July. Underside of leaf is ribbed to help it float, and covered with prickles to keep off fish. Flowers appear in July and August, changing from white to pink on their second day’.”

(My first thought is, What an incredible vascular system on this lily pad! Then I imagine what it must have been like to live in England during that terrible war. –SK)

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Sky Father

(c) Museums Sheffield; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Donati’s Comet (November 1, 1858) by James Poole (1803-1886), via Wikimedia Commons.

 

(When I read Virginia’s poem, I thought of another big celestial event that’s happening on August 21st – a total solar eclipse. Virginia reminded me that there would also be a Perseid meteor shower on the night of August 12th/early August 13th. – SK)

Sky Father

Vibrant sphere of light
Slowly arcs across the heavens,
Casting paths of silver beams.
Ancient traveler over distant lands.
Mute observer, eyes cast down,
Mouth turned up in patient smile,
Silent witness to our lives,
Father of the midnight sky.

(November 1988)

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virginia_gambardella

Virginia Gambardella lives in New York. She has one son and three grandchildren and enjoys: people, holidays, antiques, nature, gardening, fishing, decorating, fashion, sharing knowledge, cooking and baking. She’s a cancer survivor, a pancreatitis survivor, a widow, and the re-inventor of her life, “as necessary.”

 

 

 

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On Fire Orange Legs

Ensatina_eschscholtzii_e (2)

Ensatina eschscholtzii eschscholtzii”, photo by Chris Brown, via Wikimedia Commons

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Rock Wall in Suburban Woods

Stones in the wall nest with each other
as communion comes in touch and quiet.

The moss earns its way in solace
giving seasons a green to measure.

An ensatina salamander slips
from the verge of stone and mud

on fire-orange legs in the dark
and scrabbles for spiders and slugs.

Breathing through skin, hidden
under a rock roof, moss for a rug,

and silence as its hiding place.

—Tricia Knoll

 aiawiwi
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Tricia Knoll has clan in Vermont and follows the ever-so-gradual coming out of snow and snowfest of this late to bloom state. Her garden is full of wildly blooming forsythia, daffodils, hellebore, and the tulips are thinking about it. In summer 2017 her new book, Broadfork Farm, is coming out from The Poetry Box. It salutes life on a small organic farm in Trout Lake, Washington.

Now available at Amazon.com from Aldrich Press, Ocean’s Laughter — a book of lyric and eco-poetry about Manzanita, Oregon. Reviews. 

Urban Wild, a poetry chapbook now available from Finishing Line Press
website: triciaknoll.com
 SIE
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siei

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April Musings

Tulipa 'Apeldoorn Elite', Hybridized by J.S. Verdegaal, 1968

Tulipa ‘Apeldoorn Elite’, by By Jerzy Opioła, via Wikimedia Commons

April Musings

No rain today, a break
from weeks of showers.
A slight headache.

I could have raked up
alder catkins or
plucked off spent daffodils.

I picked up most
of the twigs
that windstorm tore down.

An orange and yellow
tulip opened. The roses
are shooting out new thorns.

I swept up dog hair and dirt
and wrote a poem,
not a good one,

one without wind,
or dirt, thorns or rain.
It feels of old daffodils

and dogs settled into naps –
a comma for the big dog
and a dash for the terrier.

—Tricia Knoll

 aiawiwi
sieiei
Tricia Knoll has clan in Vermont and follows the ever-so-gradual coming out of snow and snowfest of this late to bloom state. Her garden is full of wildly blooming forsythia, daffodils, hellebore, and the tulips are thinking about it. In summer 2017 her new book, Broadfork Farm, is coming out from The Poetry Box. It salutes life on a small organic farm in Trout Lake, Washington.

Now available at Amazon.com from Aldrich Press, Ocean’s Laughter — a book of lyric and eco-poetry about Manzanita, Oregon. Reviews. 

Urban Wild, a poetry chapbook now available from Finishing Line Press
website: triciaknoll.com
* * *

siei

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