Posts Tagged ‘gardens’

Once More with Feeling: Hummingbird Visitors

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Homing Instinct

The seasons pass through with different studio visitors. But my favorite are the summer visitors. If nothing else, they  get to see the garden in bloom. Some of them consider it a ritual seasonal visit. They come year after year, for their pleasure, for my joy.

702 Homing Instinct Detail 1

Homing Instinct detail

I especially love my hummingbird  visitors. Actually he, and his wife, are both emerald green. But I dressed him up with a red head, just because I though he’d like to be formal for his portrait. Why do I know it’s a he? I didn’t look under his skirt. But if it’s a day glow bright bird, it’s a boy.

I was afraid I lost these visitors when my neighbors insisted I take down the day lily garden.  They had come back year to year to those flowers, and I’d never seen them anywhere but in front in the day lily strip.

 Floral Arrangement 24

Floral Arrangement 24

Of course, if one buffet closes, you look around for what’s nearby. They found the back sun garden without any trouble the next year. I was delighted to watch their visit from the back planting rather than from the front porch.


We forget that the things we grow for our pleasure, are survival for the other beings that live in our worlds.  I am honored they keep coming back.



The Town of Torper and the Very Vulgar Day Lily

The Town of Torper and the Very Vulgar Day Lily

If you missed the entertaining and cautionary tale about my garden wars, The Town of Torper and the Very Vulgar Day Lily , you’ll find it on my web site  at or on, 

My hope is that if you cannot avoid your own, you can at least laugh at mine.

You can read more about the Town of Torper at

Changing the Rules. Can You Outgrow a Fairy Tale

And  Telling Stories

Once More with Feeling: Mantis Mania

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013
756 Dancing in the light (1)

Dancing in the Light

The first time I saw a praying mantis was in a Dover book called Animals. This great copyright free book of older etchings is a go to bible for animal imagery.

I was astonished. I am an arm chair traveler. I was sick much of my childhood and early adulthood and spend most of my time put together with spit and chewing gum. Except that we don’t chew gum. Art gum spirits? Perhaps.

So I’ve lived in books most of my life. And what I see as images fills my heart, mind, soul and senses.

I instantly loved the mantis shape, the almost alien eyes and the weird way they moved. I’ve been captivated ever since.

When I got my garden, I purchased and placed a praying mantis egg in it. There may have been thousands of mantises hatched. I only saw one. It was three quarters of an inch long. And it fulfilled my favorite truism. You don’t have to be big to be mighty.

Mantises are one of my strongest alter egos. They’re good gardeners. They’re quite lovely. They’re definitely odd. How close can you get?

Oddly enough, they’re the quilts that seem to end up in major collections. Dancing in the Light is in the National Quilt Museum.

Twilight Time

Twilight Time

Twilight Time is in the State of Illinois Museum. It was my first larger mantis quilt. Rondo Redoubled ended up in a prominent private  collection. There’s just something about praying mantises. So I do them, over and over. I love their very odd,exquisite beauty. And their help in the garden.


Rondo Redoubled







But they’re really all portraits of me.

 On the fun side, any time I’ve needed to to a college lecture ( full of 18 year old guys who think they’re hearing a standard quilter) I like to put up something like this on the stand. It seems to create instant respect. And a self portrait teaches you about yourself.

What have I learned about myself?

  • That I am beautiful. It just might not be in your taste.
  • That I love my garden.
  • That I am small but mighty. My size is irrelevant to what I can accomplish.
  • I’m fierce. I will and do protect things I love.
  • My appetite is just part of the bargain. But I’m hungry for many things. Green leaves, Sunlight, joy, beauty, wild pathways. A certain amount of hunger is simply life.
Fall Confetti

Fall Confetti

animalsYou’ll find Animals on Perhaps one of the best source books I’ve ever seen. Hopefully you’ll find your own alter ego in the mirror and in your own art. There’s nothing like a self portrait for getting to know yourself.



Once More with Feeling: From the Garden

Friday, January 25th, 2013

646 Floral Arrangement 25 (1) There’s a truth that we can’t envision what we’ve never seen. I lived for so long in an apartment in Chicago that I’d lost the rhythms. There was an Easter Vigil were I walked out into the church garden and saw the daffodils. And an odd voice in my head said, “Why did they put plastic daffodils out?” Of course they hadn’t. I was that out of touch.

The oddest thing about buying a house, is that with it comes a garden. I was 44 and I had the first garden of my adult life. I had a terrifying case of constipated gardening. I planted everything everywhere. I even planted the hell strip in front of the street and got in trouble with the city fathers. I put in roses of Sharon, roses of all kinds, quince, five kind of lilac, day lilies everywhere, bee balm, Russian sage, pinks. dogwood, I couldn’t pass a garden center. I planted or mulched every square inch. I brought in a weeping juniper and white cherry tree. Eventually I ran out of land. And began to simply watch it happen, season after season   382 Fallen Petals RiseAll time is spiral in a garden Time is measured in one season after another. The season of tulips, of alliums, of lilies, of blackberries, of tomatoes, and the dreaded zuchinni. They cycle through faithful, every year. So the flowers themselves sudden began to pop up in my quilts.


I discovered that sheers made the best flower petals because petals are see through. I discovered that no petal is the same shape size or color as any other in the flower Which meant I needed to use easily 20 c0lors for a larger flower. learned that every flower is potentially a bird feeder. I learned I could be outside in a yard and not be attacked. It was a time of intense learning. Then I had to learn to let it go. The first October, I lost Gabriel, my big golden cat the day the leaves fell from the maple. Fall had fallen and all I could do was weep at the base of the roots. I cried until after Christmas. Then the garden catalogs started to arrive.

There’s a wonder a bout cycles. You watch things die. You watch things come back. I believe in resurrection for many reasons. But my garden is perhaps the most tangible. The cold came and went and then the cycle came back.

I walk through my garden in the winter and can see all of the dead waiting resurrection. Some things, like helborus rose, just refuse to go down. But even the tenderest roses poke their head up. I 

I also came to realize I wasn’t the only gardener. There were bees, humming birds, praying mantises and frogs all carefully tending the plants. I came to love and look for their hands in my garden. It’s there’s as much as mine. After all, we all live there.

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