Category Archives: Garden Writers We Love

Take Me Down to Broadfork Farm


One of the gorgeous views at Broadfork Farm. Photo by Darrell Salk.

I’ve been looking forward to reading a copy of Tricia Knoll’s Broadfork Farm: Trout Lake, Washington for months. I first learned about the farm over a year ago when Tricia, a regular contributor here at Flora’s Forum, sent in her poem “Backyard Chickens”. The poem was one of my favorites, and I loved the chicken photo. Tricia explained that the hens were residents of Broadfork Farm, where she farmsat once or twice a year. She also said that a book was in the works.

Now I know farmsitting is not easyall those animals to feed and worry about, not to mention all the green and growing things to take care ofbut, oh, in return, you get to live, for a while, on a real farm!  (One of my dreams.) As a side note, believe me when I say I do not romanticize farm life. Much. I’ve had a dose of it here in town raising a menagerie of animals through the years, including rabbits, chickens and ducks, and growing food and flowers in almost every available nook and cranny. It’s not easy taking care of animals and plants. In fact, it’s a 24/7 job.

Getting to read Tricia’s book is the next best thing to a visit to Broadfork. The first passage I read is one of the few offerings not in poem form and it hooked me immediately.

“Gloucestershire Old Spots”

Two steps out of the van, the boldest little girl asks if she can hold a baby pig. I’m not a real farmer, just a stand in for these neighbor kids, friends. I choose not to answer. (The Old Spots are darn big even if they are a fifth the size they could grow to be. In this high-nineties heat they have started wallowing in mud instead of dust.)

The chaperones and kids follow me to the barn. The toddler delays at the John Deere toy tractor. I whip out my conversation starter: what do you like about your favorite friends? They say friends should be kind, gentle and fun. I say that’s exactly what Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs were bred to be . . . kind, gentle, friendly to people. Good citizen pigs. 

I rattle off that Old Spots are Princess Anne’s favorite pigs. Pigs with royal patronage, orchard pigs that can thrive on pasture grass and windfall apples in all kinds of weather. They need shade because they sunburn and can’t sweat. I do not mention how factory farms dock pig tails to keep crammed-in neighbors from biting them off. These pigs live the life pigs are meant to live. Nosing for greens, roots and bugs. Loving organic grains. Wallowing. One will live to be a very good mother. The male will be eaten at a neighbor’s Christmas Eve.

       hundreds of years
       heritage and breeding
       the perfect small farm pig

Two of these girls visited Broadfork weeks ago when the piglets arrived as timid beings with soft fur. Since then, the farmers and students have nurtured these pigs with chances for petting, clean water, sweet feed and foraging. Gone was soft fur. Added was bulk. No one asked again to pick one up. Everyone petted. We did not talk bacon. This time.

After cursory looks at the meat chicks, lambs, the big white guard dog, and the laying ducks, the adults herded six sweaty and thirsty children back to the van. I wished I’d had time to talk about duck eggs. Next stop inflatable swimming pool, the kid wallow.

That’s that. Kids mimicking pig noises. Touching. Barn Smells. Hands on. All good.

Then evening. Back to the barn to close the door to the chicken’s henitentiary. The lambs had left the barn for pasture to graze in the cool evening wind off the mountain.

I glance into the part of the barn the pigs choose for sleeping. Spooned together in straw against a wall, the two Old Spots snore. I flashback to my tiptoe nights to a crib to check on my infant daughter. Our visitors saw how fast babies grow, how we care for them. How long-time-forever we are wired to love babies, safe and vulnerable in sleep.


“Gloucestershire Old Spots” by Darrell Salk

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This little story is a microcosm of life on Broadfork Farm, which has the humble goal to “feed a few and teach caring.” That caring, along with the sharing, the interconnectedness, and the realities of the bitter and the sweet are examined and celebrated in Knoll’s book. In it, you’ll  find a world that is mostly breathtakingly beautiful, but where the ugly isn’t sugarcoated; murderous animals, for example, exist on the farm and in the wilderness surrounding it, as do reminders of the problems of the world outside, where atrocities like terrorism, hate crime, and exploitation of humans and land sometime take center stage. Tricia shows us how all relate, all are interconnected.

One of the things I relish in Knoll’s work is that she paints with all the emotions. The delightful intermingles with the dark, and even the banal is important enough (because it, too, is part of life) to be noted. One poem, “Motha of the Bride” brought tears to my eyes, and I laughed out loud at a stanza in “Farmku”, a poem that shares over a dozen unique moments of farm-life,  haiku style.

the scarecrow
drops her bra
in the forget-me-nots

(Gosh, I love that.)

While there are many things to admire about Tricia Knoll’s work, perhaps her greatest quality is that she is an eco-poet who doesn’t overwhelm you with that message. The elegant pictures she paints with her poetry, her many astute, and sometimes wry observations of nature simply show you what she loves about this world. And through her art, you love it too.

Broadfork Farm was published by The Poetry Box and you can buy it here.

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Sandra Knauf is the one-woman-show behind Greenwoman Publishing. Her books include the six-volume series Greenwoman (compilations of literary garden writing and art), 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. She has also been a guest commentator on KRCC’s (NPR’s southern Colorado affiliate) “Western Skies” radio show. Sandra lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her family, dogs, huge urban garden, and lots of books.
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Monthly Museletter – January 2018


“Lunar Libration” by Tomruen, via Wikimedia Commons

Two full moons this month—tonight and January 31st (a blue moon!).

Thinking ahead for next winter:
Grow your own snowman! This spring plant white pumpkin seeds (check out “Casper”  here or here) and keep three sizes to stack for Frosty days!

Chocolate-Bean-Chocoladeboon-by-Oriel-WC (2)

“Chocolade boon” (chocolate bean – or – technically cacao bean), by Oriel, via Wikimedia Commons

Nothing Like Chocolate, a documentary by Professor Kum-kum Bhavnani, is about the slavery-free products from the Grenada Chocolate Company. Watch it for free on Vimeo (search: Nothing Like Chocolate).

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“Nothing is softer than water, yet for overcoming what is hard and strong, nothing surpasses water.”Lao Tzu

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Did you know? Two of the worst global catastrophes occurred as the result of sleep deprivationthe Chernobyl Meltdown and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Lack of sleep can also wreck our immune system and can doubles the risk of cancer. (From Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker)

Collective Eye Films, who brought us Queen of the Sun has now blessed us with another informative beauty Seed: The Untold Story. Reserve it at your local library or buy it for your kids & grandkids . . .

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Jane Goodall on Mother Earth! 

Iceland’s new Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, is a 41-year-old feminist and environmentalist . . . could we please follow suit?

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“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness—it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”—Brené Brown

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I’m thankful for intrepid photographers, camera technology, and the web—all of which give us glimpses like these into the hidden beauties of Mother Earth, like these emerald pools in Zion National Park.


“The Emerald Pools were rushing with water as rain and snow continued to fall on April 14th, 2012.” (Upper Emerald Pools, Zion National Park), by Jonathan Fortner, via Wikimedia Commons.


How to reduce your use of single-use plastic products and keep a lot out of our Oceans from the Canadian Wildlife Federation:


India’s Forest Man:
“You’ll have to kill me first, before you kill the trees. . . . Nature is Godas long as it survives, we survive.”  Jadav Payeng (of the Mishing tribe of India) who’s planted 1500 acres of forest on his home island since 1979. Learn about him here.

One of my favorite quotes:
“If you’ve ever been called defiant, incorrigible, forward, cunning, insurgent, unruly, or rebelliousyou’re on the right track.” Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of Women Who Run with the Wolves


“Quebec Wild Wolf” by Peupleloup, via Wikimedia Commons


Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


A Happy New Year to all!—Karla and Sandra




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Filed under Fauna, Garden Writers We Love, Mother Nature, Power to the People

Jack Frost Mystery



A couple of weeks ago Virginia Gambardella sent me a few lines of this Jack Frost-themed poem (below). I “Googled” the stanza and found the rest of the poem in an old textbook. Then I found this image (above) on Pinterest. The strange thing is that I haven’t been able to find the artist of the illustration or the name of the poet. Hence, “Jack Frost Mystery”!

How fun it is to read the poems during grandma or great-grandma’s time. Can you imagine how magical it must have been to read classroom books that featured poems and stories about  fairies and Jack Frost?
—S. K.

The Little Artist

Oh, there is a little artist
Who paints in the cold night hours
Pictures of wee, wee children
Of wondrous trees and flowers;

Pictures of snow-capped mountains
Touching the snow-white sky;
Pictures of distance oceans
Where pygmy ships sail by;

Pictures of rushing rivers,
By fairy-bridges spanned;
Bits of beautiful landscapes,
Copied from elfin land.

The moon is the lamp he paints by,
His canvas the windowpane;
His brush is a frozen snowflake;
Jack Frost is the artist’s name.

(From Essentials of English: Lower Grades by Henry Carr Pearson and Mary Frederika Kirshwey, copyright 1921, American Book Company)

By Angela-Marie-from-NRW-slash-Germany-via Wikimedia Commons

“Ice-Crystals II” by Angela Marie from NRW/Germany, via Wikimedia Commons



Filed under Art & the Garden, Garden Writers We Love, Nature Poetry

The December Rose


Photo by Tricia Knoll.

The December Rose

From so many, so few,
survivors of first pruning,
waywards scrabbling
sideways for some sun,
as Lenten roses plump
up their buds, those faux
first flowers of late winter.

Where summer gives
lush of reds in silk,
just these, orphans
of short days, of freeze,
they narrow
the number
of months
without roses,
that darkness
of impossible

—Tricia Knoll

Tricia Knoll (2)
Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet whose rose garden keeps expanding. In 2018 her new poetry collection How I Learned to Be White is coming out from Antrim House. Her 2017 collection Broadfork Farm (The Poetry Box) focuses on life on a small family-run organic farm in Trout Lake, Washington where Knoll farmsits when the farmers need to go away.

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Crystal Light of Morning


Pikesview Quarry, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Photo from The Gazette Telegraph archives, by Carol Lawrence.


Crystal Light of Morning

In the crystal light of morning I look to the mountains.
The earth has been cut open, it is bleeding red.
the snow is like a blanket covering the dread.

In this shimmering, frigid air I can see the veil between us and them.

This ancient earth and the ancient humans abhor the modern world that is now.

The earth is alive. The broken open skin of the earth cries because of these atrocities.

—Ginger Hipszky

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Photo of Ginger and Gretchen by Skee Hipszky.

Virginia (Ginger) A. Hipszky was born in 1960 in Franklin, Indiana. She relocated to Colorado Springs, Colorado in December 1979. She has one daughter and two stepsons. Various interests include reading, collecting modern and ancient coins, amateur radio, book proofreading, and collecting rocks and fossils. Meteorology and astronomy are two of her favorite passions, and she also enjoys writing poems and prose.

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Note from the Editor: I met Ginger a couple of weeks ago at a mutual friend’s art sale. She told us of a poem that had come to her, inspired by that morning’s view of the first significant snow of the season on a mining site nearby. I found the poem captivating and asked her if I could publish it here. Ginger said yes, and then wrote a little about how it came about in an email: “When the sun first comes up, it turns the exposed granite pink. . . [The poem] just came to me. I felt anxious all day till the words got out and on paper.”

Everyone in Colorado Springs, Colorado is familiar with the mining scar of Queens Canyon Quarry, not far from the one in Ginger’s poem. During a little research I found an article that told how that quarry was mined for limestone, to be used in the concrete foundations of buildings at the Air Force Academy, the Colorado Springs Airport and NORAD (and, I’d add, tens of thousands of homes and businesses). The article stated that in 1966 when Stewart Udall, then Secretary of the Interior, visited here he dubbed our city as “the city with a scar”. For many decades people remarked on its ugliness and how it marred a landscape that held, so close by, geologic wonders like our Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak. Here’s the link to that article if you’d like to read about how 20,000 hours of volunteer labor went into reclamation of that area below. The good news is that now you can actually see trees growing on this area.


Queens Canyon Quary, Image from Another discovery I made is that it is very difficult to find images of the scars. Understandably, they are not something people enjoy photographing.


As the YA author John Green wrote, “The marks humans leave are too often scars.”



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Happy Thanksgiving!

This is the first thing I read when opening up The Gardeners’ Community Cookbook this morning. They seemed like the perfect words to share this Thanksgiving.

With much love to all,


Smith&Hawken-Gardeners-Cookbook-opening-Victoria-Wise 001

From Smith & Hawken The Gardeners’ Community Cookbook, published by Workman Publishing Company in 1999, compiled and written by Victoria Wise.


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What are we here for?


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November 16, 2017 · 5:33 pm