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How does my garden grow?

Decluttering leads to ‘How does my garden grow?’

I have mentioned that I am using Mary Margaret’s idea of decluttering. Her brilliant idea is to pull a playing card out of the patch and that’s the number of things to remove/sort out over the week. My first 3 cards were two jacks and a queen ~ 100 things decluttered.

Then last week I pulled out a 6. It coincided with a visit to a new clinic for a mammogram. (Bear with me here, I can make the connection!) The clinic asked if I had my previous mammogram for comparison purposes. I dug them out and found out I had collected them for many years. They needed to go. So there were my 6 things….more than 6, but let’s not quibble.

The next step was to find somewhere to recycle the x-rays. Interestingly I found a library that has an e-waste collection system, including x-rays and it is on the way to my Mum’s, I am going to drop them off next week. Out of the house, and recycled. Yes!!

I continued my problem solving by using the paper sleeves of the xrays as weed suppression in the garden.

You know that weeds are a constant problem of mine and I have some, like sour sobs, that are impossible to get rid of. My gardener Linda suggested that I layer cardboard and newspapers over the weeds…and the sleeves from the x-rays!

This week I pulled out 7 out of the pack of cards, and wanted to get rid of more paperwork. Seven files of papers. I am reluctant to put vaguely sensitive papers in the recycling. My brain went zing and decided to recycle them in the garden too. More layers of mulch.

Then a final layer of mulch. Unfortunately, as you can see in the photo below, I didn’t buy enough. Back to the garden shop.

Now I can easily get to the compost bins, rather than battle my way through the weeds. So the bin is up and running. Double win.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and garden – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

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How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my garden grow?

It is pleasing to be able to say that I am happy with the garden at the moment. I haven’t said that for quite a while. And the difference? My gardener Linda.

She has come once a month since the beginning of the year. Each visit she mows and edges the nature strip. This used to be the Fella’s job, but over the last few years he has lost the energy to do it, and we were relying on the goodness of neighbours and friends.

And the growth of the grass over Summer was rampant. Not just in my patch, but all along the street. You could practically see it growing before your eyes. Without Linda I think it would have joined us in the house!

Then she attacked the weeds. I have moaned to you on many occasions about how prolific they are. No sooner would I clear out one patch than another would burst forth. Of course they will come back, but I know they will be dealt with. It is very comforting to be able to ignore; or to be able to use a pocket of time ~ 10 minutes is enough ~ to pull out some when they are small.

Previously I had never been satisfied with my plantings under the rose bush, now I think that has changed. It was the first area Linda cleared for me, when it was the right time to plant.

Hard to tell what is growing there ~ and they have really taken off after this photo ~ but there are statice, geraniums, cat mints, sage, salvias, as well as the iris and various bulbs I planted ages ago. Since this photo the cornflower seeds have sprouted, as have silver beet seeds.

Linda fought her way, decimating the weeds, to the compost bins. I am now using them again, which pleases me. Not only are they more accessible, but I also have more time to look after them. Hopefully they won’t become the slimy mess again.

Some times, in past posts about my garden you may have seen a bath lurking under the maple. we took it out of the bathroom many years ago. Occasionally the Fella would ask what I was going to do with it. In the early days I would answer that I wanted to make it into a pond. That was too complicated! So then I would answer hmmmm, not sure.

The brainwave came a couple of weeks ago….make it into a veggie patch. So Linda helped me move it, put it up on some bricks and pavers, and told me how to set up the soil.

So, here it is, yet to be filled with the soil, but sitting gloriously in the part of the garden that gets the most sun. It was also another weedy area, so I am pleased to be making it more productive too. (You can see more of the recent growth in the newly planted garden bed. And yes, that is a self-seeded tomato.)

The other benefit is the area where the bath was. Hellebores grow well there, so I will plant more. As you can tell from the photo other things grow very well there too! Once I would have turned away from it, but now I know that I have time and help to deal with it. It’s good feeling.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and garden – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. 

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How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my garden grow….or outfoxing possums

We have no air-conditioning. In Summer we rely on our grape vine to drape over the pergola to keep out the morning sun. It’s been that way for many years.

Until the last couple of years when the possums discovered the tasty new shoots that emerge. So I joined the large group of gardeners suffering from The Attack of the Possums, working out ways to out-fox the critters. Mine seem to be the very cute little ringtails, rather than the big boofy brush tails. I am hoping that the small ringtails eat less!

Of course they are excellent climbers and the trunks of the vine, the fence and the supports for the pergola make excellent highways. They can hang and nibble on those tasty shoots. The top of the vine is perfect for them. Not so good for the vine.

By December this should be a canopy of leaves and tendrils.

Fortunately the vine is also persistent and sends shoots out from below. I am relying on them to create the shade.

My thoughts are that if the possums can’t get a secure purchase they won’t be able to nibble. So here’s the plan….to encourage these shoots to grow up to the top, away from the grasp of the pesky pests. That plan needs a few things.

Firstly, strings attached to the wires at the top and then tied to the shoot. Climbing a ladder and trying to throw the string wasn’t the best method. With some lateral thinking I realised the rake was the perfect solution. I could put the ball on one of the tines and direct it over the string, making sure the shoot is growing up away from anything that might give a secure footing. (Then dodging as the ball of string came tumbling down!)

This one is certainly reaching for the sky.

The second part of the strategy is to wrap the new shoots up at night as possums are nocturnal. Each night I go out and tenderly wrap the little ones up in an old bedsheet. Each morning I take it away so that they can photosynthesis their little hearts out.

So far my strategy is working. However I am sure you can see the flaw in it….what happens when the shoots reach the top. I have tried to put the strings into places on the wires that aren’t so easy to reach. As well I am hoping that these upright ones will provide some sun protection.

So far I am out-foxing those pesky possums, but who knows what the outcome will be!

The glory days of the vine!

P.S. You know how WordPress gives you a link to similar posts at the bottom of each post? Well, after I published this I saw one titled “Pesky Possums”. Not only have I told you about this problem before, but used almost the same language!! That made me smile!


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and garden – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. 

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How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my garden grow?

Last gardening post I showed you the front garden, and the murnong in particular. This time I want to show you around the backyard.

I have never been able to have straight garden beds and areas of lawn, my style is much more free form gardening. Until they really annoy me, I am happy to let plants be. So the nasturtiums wander happily, seeding freely. I am also happy to have them because I can pull them out easily.

The corn flowers also self-seed and not always in the best places. However, again, I am happy to let them be. They did flop over the path, so I staked them, making a little avenue. You might be able to see smaller cornflower plants growing around the paver. That’s not the best spot, but so far I am happy to step over them.

It is iris time too, one of my favourite flowers; I am not sure why I love them so much. It may be because they are so undemanding and very drought tolerant. I know that they flower on new rhizomes, so clearing out the patch every couple of years is a good idea. They are very easy to replant ~ simply semi-burying the rhizome.

Both of these patches in the photos have white flowers. There is a third patch that is just coming into flower with rich browny purple flowers. As much as I enjoy the white ones these darker ones are definitely my favourites.

Another showy plant was the tea tree. It was a mass of pink blossoms that the bees loved. Now the flowers are ripening into wonderful seed capsules. Look at the different colours as the capsules mature.

It’s not all tip toeing around the corn flowers and dead heading iris. A spur of the moment decision was to cut back the correa that had been growing happily through drought and neglect. It served its purpose, but time to go as it was too much of a visual barrier. Not that the view behind it was grand….more mess and weeds.

Before the cutback
During the devastation
After

You can see from all the new growth how happy it was to be ruthlessly pruned! I thought I would dig it out, but I am not up for that at the moment. So in the spirit of my gardening ethos, it can stay.

The other thing I have been doing is the continual weeding. And just so you know that my garden is not pristine and Instagram worthy, take a look at this….

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And there will be plenty more weeds with all the lovely rain that has fallen.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live and garden – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present.

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How does my garden grow?

How does my garden grow?

Let’s take a break from exhibitions and stitching samplers and see what is happening in the garden in the almost-spring sunshine.

The long view (taken from the beginning of the front path ~ my front yard is only small!) shows the potatoes in the front. I planted them too early, and despaired about them coming up. However, eventually they did and are doing well. The striking purple plant is a mustard plant, which self seeds. The deep purple and lime green combo of the leaves is stunning.

Looking back the other way, from the front door, over the indigenous plants.

You might remember that I am growing indigenous native plants. They are doing really well. All the plants have survived, which is a success rate I have never achieved with exotic plants.

This grass clump was only a small tube stock a year ago. It has certainly bulked up.

In the photos above you might be able to see a pretty, pink flower. This delicate beauty is a thryptomene.

It is a native of Western Australia, so certainly not indigenous to my area of the grass plains of western Melbourne. I put it in a pot as the soils of Western Australia are generally much sandier than my heavy clays. It also allows me to move it around, as in flower it makes a stunning pot plant.

I am sure that these plants are unfamiliar to you, as they were to me not so long ago. So I want to introduce some to you.

Today I will show you one plant that I am delighted to have in the garden.

It is the murnong, Microseris sp., I think M. lanceolata.

Why am I delighted? Well, these little plants were extremely common across large parts of the plains. They are also called yam daisies, which tells you that the tubers can be eaten. These plants were part of the staple crop of many First Australians. Far from being gathered in an ad hoc fashion, Bruce Pascoe argues in his book “Dark Emu” that crops like the murnong were actively managed and cultivated. (There is on-going discussion about this.)

While I don’t intend to harvest the tuber ~ well, not until I have a number of plants ~ I am pleased to have them growing back where they belong.

Yes, they do look a bit like a dandelion. This link explains the difference.

An intriguing things about this little lovely is its flowers. They grow up on arching stems, and then open up to the sun. However, today is the first day that I have actually seen the flower.

I know there have been flowers, as there are at least four spent seed heads. You can see them in the photo above of the whole plant. And no, the plant hasn’t been hidden away. Not like the daffodils that I found when I weeded out the back. I go past this plant every time I walk out the front door. I have seen the buds and the spent seed head, but not, until today, the actual flower.

I was so excited! This is what it was like an hour or so ago. The photo above is of the same flower a couple of hours earlier.

It still has some opening to do. I also found a seed head. Hopefully these seeds will blow away to my garden, or someone else’s, and produce the next crop.

It is the little things that often bring us the most delight.


I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and emerging. They would have eaten many murnong where I now garden.

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How does my garden grow? Melbourne

How does my garden grow?

My front garden is changing from a veggie patch to an indigenous garden. Last year I realised that a veggie garden was just too time consuming for me to keep up.

I have been reading about the plants that were here before colonization, and how the First Peoples cultivated the land to harvest grains and roots. It makes sense to me that the native plants are the ones that are suited to my garden, and therefore should flourish. That’s the plan, and so far they seem to be. The ones I showed you a few months ago bulked up nicely over the Summer and Autumn.

You can see some of them from back then in the feature photo, where they are being overwhelmed by the parsley plants.

The other hoped for benefit is that they will attract and nurture native insects.

So, some photos

These are my favourites at the moment. The one at the back — is a native pelargonium. I think it dies back to in Winter, but at the moment the red leaves glow with the Sun shining through them. In front is a Wahlenbergia. Its delicate blue flower is peeking through the pelargonium.

To those walking past with their dogs and takeaway coffees I am sure the garden looks a little unkempt, an out of the ordinary garden. However I am fine with that. I see that the plants are settling in, bulking up and will strut their stuff when the time comes. That’s when I will become a neighbourhood trend setter!

And I am still in love with my new fence 💕

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Uncategorized

How does my garden grow?

A gardening guru recently used floriferous to describe his garden. It fits my garden well too; it is surprisingly floriferous. Surprising because it is not particularly planned, relying on some very welcome volunteers.

Like the pale blue/darker blue starry flower in the foreground. I think it is a delphinium. Do you agree? Its small shoots appeared months ago. As the leaves didn’t look like a weed I was familiar with I let it grow. This is how it has repaid me. Smiles!

Behind are white and blue salvias. To the right, out of the picture is a mass of nasturtiums, rambling around. I certainly haven’t planted them for ages, but they happily return year upon year.

The corn flowers are have also sprung from seeds of last year’s flowers.

I am very tolerant of volunteer plants, happy to wait for them to grow, to see what they will turn out to be. I quite like some weeds. I even did a zoom talk recently about edible weeds!

I love the seed heads of salsify. That’s another plant that many see as a weed, although the root is apparently edible, but I am happy to have its company. How can I resist admiring them as the morning sun shines through the delicate seed balls?

The front garden is another area that is doing its own thing at the moment. One half it is a parsley patch. The plants are almost a metre high and in flower.

Look at the soft yellow flowers and the umbral shape of the flowers. But what I love most is how it attracts so many insects. The bees! There must be at least a dozen working away every time I go past. Hover flies hover. When you look closely you see spiders and ladybirds, which means there must be many other creatures that I don’t see.

I wonder what the passerbys think…..

Which brings me to the verandah. You may remember that I was pondering what to do with the verandah-shaped space at my front door. After workshopping it through with friends and family, I decided to pave the area. I found some pavers, ordered 15 of them, only to find out that it was going to cost $99.00 to deliver them! After I picked my jaw off the floor I said “Thank you, but can you cancel the order”. So now I am on Plan N, or there abouts, deciding to have a proper wooden verandah built. Not that the plans have gone any further. In the meantime I have put two plastic chairs out there on the sand and enjoy cups of tea in the sunshine.

There is progress planting the other part of the front yard.

It doesn’t look much, but I can see the potential! I have planted:

  • Poa labillarderi ~ a native grass that will clump to be about a metre wide. At the moment they look like grassy weeds!
  • Copper crest grevillia ~ very low growing, and hopefully will not only cover a large area but also bring in birds
  • Wahlenbergia stricta ~ these are the native bluebell, whisky little things, but quite pretty.
  • Pelargonium australe ~ this was a surprise as I didn’t know there was a native pelargonium. It has a little, pretty pink flower.
  • The taller, broad-leafed plant is a sunflower, the only plant that came up from the many seeds I sowed.

There are plans for more. I am looking for some murnong plants (a native yam) and bright yellow billy buttons.

I must tell you of my David Attenborough moment. I was sitting with my cup of tea on the ‘verandah’, reading and idly watching the insect world go about business, when I looked down. I noticed some flying insects digging in the sand. From later research I think I was watching three sand wasps at work. The digging fascinated me, as the wasp madly dug a little, then moved to another spot, madly dug a little more. All three were frantically digging. I figured that they were testing out the sand, searching for the perfect spot. Then one started to be really serious about her hole. The digging action was rapid so the hole got quite deep quite quickly. At times she would appear with larger grains in her mandible and toss the grain away from the hole. In the end I think the hole must have been about twice the length of her body, which was a couple of centimetres.

My cup of tea caught my attention for a few minutes. When I looked back at the hole I was amazed to see that she had brought a caterpillar from somewhere, which she dragged down the hole. She spent a little time down there, so I presume she was laying egg/s into the caterpillar. Up she came, and fastidiously covered it in, caterpillar and all.

I helped me remember all the interactions that are happening that we have no knowledge of. We need to slow down and look.

I know that many of you are heading into a cold and anxious Winter, so I will leave you with some flowers from other gardens. I hope they bring a smile. Stay well, my friends.

Categories
How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my garden grow?

It is a year since I last wrote about my garden ~ well I think it is. Lately I have been planning changes.

Very little has been done over the last seven months of staying at home. It may have been in March when I bought potting mix with the grand idea of repotting during this time at home. eventually I opened the bags over the weekend! Much to the chagrin of a trillion ants that have happily nested in the pots for who knows how long, I repotted the mint, an ivy geranium (which is actually a pelargonium) and a couple of succulents. Still a few more pots to go (and more ants to annoy!), but I have run out of potting mix. It looks like more online shopping. (Our shops are only open for click and collect.)

Newly minted mint

It is out the front where the larger plans are underway. You may know that the front yard is where we have been growing our veggies as it faces north and gets sun most of the day. However, the last eighteen months ~ the Fella’s medical issues and the virus ~ have made me realise that it is impractical to have a veggie garden. It is a question of priorities. To have a proper patch, with rotations and well maintained soil takes time and thought that I have to, and want to, spend elsewhere. It means that this year it has been a jumble of weeds.

So, my plan is to plant out the front with plants that are indigenous to my area, things like kangaroo grass and murnong, a native yam. I found a great pack of 10 tubes of plants from nursery I like. However, I am foiled by the pandemic again. The nursery is not delivering because they have a large backlog of orders. I could do a pick up, but it is outside of my 5 km radius. Patience.

The weeds are still growing well!

The other part of the plan for the front of the house is the verandah. For an embarrassing number of years it has been an area of unwanted junk ~ old plasterboard sheeting, bits of wood etc. This year I decided it was time for a council hard rubbish collection, so more unwanted stuff accumulated. The pandemic thwarted me again because I couldn’t book the collection. Until yesterday when they came and took it all away!

It went from this….

to this…..

in the space of a few minutes! Hurrah!

Now the observant among you will realise that we don’t actually have a verandah, just a verandah-shaped space. My current project is come up with some temporary solution before decking is put in. However, I know that temporary becomes permanent quite easily around here, so it has to be something quite nice. But easy. My thoughts involve big pots and some comfy chairs to enjoy the sunshine and chat to neighbours as they pass by.

Out the back, the Fella, AKA the Undergardener, took out a big bush, which opened up some space. This space is one of the few in the back garden that all day sun, which is why the rose flourishes. The spot for veggies, just a few that take my fancy. I sowed in some silver beet and spring onion seeds, and haven’t seen a single sprout. The dandelions love it though.

I take heart from the flowers that grow despite the lack of attention over the last year. They just do their own thing and I love them for it.

Now, I am going to take a chair out onto the verandah and have a read in the beautiful sunshine. Celebrate the small things. Take care.

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How does my garden grow? Odds and Ends Plants

Beeutiful, belicious 🐝

There is a world out there…..

Let me show you some of the bee magnets in my garden.

Salvias. I love them, and so do the bees. Also I have seen a wattle bird drinking the nectar. Now a wattle bird is more the size of a blackbird than a hummingbird. The stems certainly sway when this bird comes to drink, making me fear for the bush when I see one feeding, as salvias are quite brittle. The bees are much more gentle.

I have also had a couple of blue banded native bees visit. Maybe it is the intense blue of the flower. They do say that bees are attracted to blue.

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Rosemary. If you have one, you know how the bees love it. If you don’t, think about popping one into your garden. They grow well in pots. I am going to plant a prostrate one at some point.

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Sedum, Autumn Joy, I think. Not only does it attract bees, but the dried flower heads make a lovely feature either kept on the plant in a winter garden or brought indoors. And it is so easy to split the base and roots and replant elsewhere.

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However the most attractive flower to bees is this little unassuming one ~ oregano, if I remember right. It flowers for ages and whenever I look there are usually at least half a dozen bees in attendance. The bush sprawls its way over everything else, but I never have the heart to cut it back until flowering has well and truely finished. By that time it is already sprouting new shoots from the base.

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Of course bees are not the only good helpers in the garden, so I like to encourage others too. This strategy has the added benefit of allowing me to be lazy, letting things go to seed instead of clearing and tidying. Hover flies and ladybirds love the parsley flowers and the newly setting seeds. So parsley umbels stay, set seed and drop their seed everywhere. Parsley seed is best sown fresh. Consequently I have way more parsley than I could ever use.

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If you are stuck inside, longing for the outside world, my Instagram posts might help a little. On every daily walk I try to find something in the outside world that makes me feel good. When I can’t walk outside, I will post from my garden. And there is usually a bit of arty/sewing going on there too.

Stay well my friends  🙏🏽

 

Categories
How does my garden grow? Plants

A catch-up in my garden

How about this…two posts in one week! It may be an indication that life is returning to some sort of normality. Fingers crossed.

In my last post I wrote about an issue with my computer, explaining that I had to leave it at the shop for a few days, a few internet-free days. Did I miss Facebook? No way, especially as that is where the hacked message came from. However, I did miss this blogging world. I missed finding out what you were up to, catching up on the news.

I think it is a special place we have nurtured, a warm and welcoming space. We have built friendships across the globe. While we may never meet in person, we are friends. Dr Snail posted recently about the loss of her blogging friend Patricia. It is a loss that touches all of us who may have read Patricia’s wise posts.

So, come my friends and sit with me in my Spring garden. Let’s forget about droughts and fires and the insanity of the world for a little. We will have tea, or coffee, or even a glass of wine, and cake and natter about whatever comes to mind! We will find a little space in our lives to just sit and enjoy.

For my garden is now in a fit state to have visitors. The weeds have gone. I have moaned about them before and some got to be about a metre high.

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The compost bins were being engulfed.

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And then my brother came and like a whirlwind uprooted them all.

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Thanks to his hard work I have weed free spaces and can easily find the compost bins.

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I am delighted by the flowers that have not only survived the neglect, but seem to have thrived on it.

 

 

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Sit with me and enjoy the foxgloves that I planted last year and are coming into their own this Spring. Admire the three different coloured irises ~ you can see one of them behind the foxgloves. The aran lilies are past their best, but the salvias are thriving, and it seems to be a glorious year for roses. (Remember how pruning the roses was the only thing I did in the garden over Winter? I am reaping the reward of finding that small pocket of time!)

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Let’s admire the complexity and beauty of the foxglove spires. Can’t you just imagine the little fox paws inside these?

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It is still rather weedy out the front, but let’s ignore them and admire the poppies that are exploding into flower.

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I must show you the seed heads of the salsify. I am not sure that the neighbours love these seed blowing in the wind, but I think they are wondrous.

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I managed to get the tomatoes in before Cup Day ~ that’s the marker for the right time to plant tomatoes in Melbourne. (And yes, we do get a public holiday for a horse race. We get another for the grand final of the Australian Football League. That’s how obsessed with sport many Melbournians tend to be ~ the rest of us just enjoy the day off!) There are strawberries to be harvested too.

Thank you for sitting and strolling with me, for taking some deep breaths and enjoying what the botanical world has to show. Your company is very special to me and I thank you for that too. Here’s to friendship, and foxgloves!