NEVER SET SAIL IN A PEA-GREEN BOAT … A ROMANCE WITH AN UNHAPPY ENDING.

The silver scissors cut her hair so she could fly away.

The owl had found his own true love.

He said good bye to the pussy-cat

And gave her a ten pound note.

Invest it wisely, but not in bonds.

She left the pea-green boat in tears.

The Golden Maiden and the Two-Timing owl

Sailed away for year and a day.

The romance couldn’t last.

He never cut his nails.

(Greeting card on card-stock with images gleaned from old masters and other  secret sources.)

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MYSTERY FLOWER IN THE WILD GARDEN . . . what is its name?

Bel’Occhio’s Wild Flower Garden

The mystery flower.   It flaunts its beauty and seduces the bees, then as the sun sets  tightly folds it blossoms and disappears.

It was the long talk with my friend, Oswald, gentleman rabbit,  that gave me the idea for this garden.  He is a master gardener and is responsible for all things growing.  He voiced his concern about the challenges facing bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.  Pesticides, climate change,  and the disappearances of their habitats in rural areas have drastically reduced their population.

We took a third of our vegetable garden and dedicated  it to wild flowers .   I thought I would  have some  dainty flowers growing wild and free in the breeze.   A few bees and butterflies, and the occasional hummingbird doing what they do best.    This outrageous, flamboyant display was a wonderful surprise and I am thrilled beyond belief.  It is my secret garden,  hidden from public viewing in the  quiet privacy of our vegetable garden.

Today I discovered  a brilliant, sapphire blue flower.  It took my breath away.   I searched my garden books but haven’t discovered its name.  I hope someone will know.

The mystery flower.

 

THE SECRET GARDEN OF BEES, BUTTERFLIES AND HUMMINGBIRDS

I have a wild flower garden.   It’s a secret garden.  A garden where bees, butterflies and hummingbirds quietly go about their business in calm privacy.  It is surrounded by hay fields.  Near by are ditches filled with water and grassy thickets and brambles.

This spring I took almost half of our vegetable garden and sowed it with wild flowers.    I filled it with annuals, biennials and perennials.   Bees are especially drawn to  blue, purple and yellow flowers.   

The bees love these single petal flowers.  They hum songs of happiness as they fly from blossom to blossom.  Occasionally makings forays into the vegetable garden for flavours or oregano and mint.  This is their secret magic world.  A garden of earthly delights for bees.

My wild flowers flaunt outrageous colors .  Waving gossamer petals to entice butterflies and hummingbirds to dine on their nectar .

I’ve added extra flower seeds to my wild flower mixture.  Lots of flamboyant poppies and delicious blue and pink bachelor buttons.  Their bright colours catch the attention of hummingbirds and butterflies.

The wild flower garden is rather like  Christmas.  Early in the morning, when the dew still sparkles on the cobwebs in the grass, I stroll out to the garden.  There’s always a new surprise for the contents of the wild flower mixture are not listed.  They are yours to discover one by one.  I never take flowers from the bee garden.  I don’t dead head.  It is their sanctuary.

I’ve close planted the flowers creating   a brilliant  kaleidoscope of colour.  The garden  is in full sun from morning to evening.    It is a garden of joy.    A small thing , this garden for bees, butterflies and hummingbird, but incredibly important to our environment.

It is estimated one out of every three bites of food we take is made possible by bees and other pollinating wild life.  Food and shelter for bees allows them to nest and increase their population in safety.

My secret bee garden.  Oswald, the master gardener would approve.  He understands the need for a rabbit proof fence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU A BAG OF LEMONS . . . MAKE PRESERVED LEMONS!

The other day my favourite local grocery store featured organic lemons twenty five cents each.  A bargain.  I filled my shopping bag  with a couple of dozen of these little darlings to make PRESERVED LEMONS.

PRESERVED LEMONS are one of the indispensable ingredients of Moroccan cooking.  I use it not just in tagines or with lamb and chicken I add the lemons to salads and vegetable dishes and use the pickling juice in salad dressings.  No matter what some food writers  say  their unique pickled taste and silken texture cannot be duplicated with fresh lemon or lime juice.

The important thing in preserving lemons is to cover them with salted lemon juice.  You can use the lemon juice over and over again.   Preserved lemons are not complicated to make.  You partially slice the lemons.  Jam them into sterilized jars, add a few spices if desired and freshly squeezed lemon juice,   You let the lemons ripen in a warm place for thirty days, shaking the jar each day to distribute the salt and juice.     To use simply rinse the lemons as needed under running water, removing and discarding the pulp, if desired.

I have preserved lemons with olive oil but I prefer this recipe from  Paula Wolfert’s book on Morocco food.    Join me in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen  for this exotic recipe for PRESERVED LEMONS.

JAPANESE TREE PEONIES – the brightest star in the garden

Once upon a time (all good stories begin with once upon a time)  many centuries ago a delicate tree grew in China.

The flowers on this tree were so magnificent, so unusual only the Emperor of China was allowed to possess a tree peony.

These  tree peonies would live up to one hundred years, but  they could never be moved for they would die.

Beauty such as this could not be held captive by one man.

In the eighth century the royal court of China shared these blossoms with Japan.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “if the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare”.

Truly the Japanese Tree Peony is the star in this garden.    Blossoms,  heavy with fragrance and the size of dinner plate, fill one with rapturous, delirious delight.

One can only stand

and stare

and marvel.

 

THE MAGIC OF GIVING BACK

Early morning.  Five o’clock.  I am alone in a small room.    I stare at the wall facing my bed.    Chipped and battered from beds being pushed in and out.  The only decoration a faded cork board and a sign advising one how to wash your hands. Nothing beautiful to look at.  Nothing to bring me up from the black abyss.  I am alone with various tubes attached to my body.  I  weep tears of utter despair. A few years ago my breast cancer returned.  The first encounter I had a right breast lumpectomy.  This time a mastectomy in the other breast.     I am alone.    Feeling so sorry for myself when my nurse enters my room with a gift  wrapped package.  Pillows!  Soft, comfortable pillows covered in a happy flowered pattern.  Pillows to give me under the arm and breast protection.    In that moment the sun came out.

I’m smiling.  I’m not alone.

The package contained  pillows hand sewn by a group of woman who are members of the Delta Hospital Auxiliary.   The hospital is located in Ladner, British Columbia.   They are post-operative pillows tailored for post mastectomy surgery.    The pillows are a gift from the Delta Hospital Auxiliary.    These amazing women known as THE PILLOW PALS  cut, sew, stuff and package these pillows.  A thoughtful card with encouraging words are enclosed with the pillows.

I am giving back.

I am a proud member of the Delta Hospital Auxiliary.   I search for wonderful fabrics to be sewn into pillows by dedicated woman known with great affection as THE PILLOW PALS.

I am giving back.

 

 

 

 

 

A GLASS OF WINE AND CONVERSATIONS WITH A GENTLEMAN RABBIT

Early evening.  The shadows lengthen.  All is quiet on the farm.  A glass of wine.  A mystery novel.   It is my favourite time of day.   If I’m very, very quiet the rabbits come out to play.

“I beg your pardon, Miss Virginia.  I do appreciate you took the advice of your Texas friend, Miss Jo Nell,  and put a rabbit proof fence around your tulips.”  I looked up from my book to see  Oswald, gentleman rabbit,  had left supervising the play time of two young bunnies and joined me on the patio.

“Just some leaves nibbled and a few blossoms lost.  No worries, dear Oswald.  Tell me, what is happening in the rabbit world?”

Oswald circled the basket wondering if there was room for both him and a rather large shell.  Rabbits like to be quite comfortable when they chat about their day.

“It is tight quarters, but I do so like the smell of the ocean.”  Oswald tucked his rather large feet under him. Wrinkled his nose.  He began to bring me up to date on the comings and goings in the rabbit world.

“Old growth trees on The Island.  They are planning to harvest them.   Terrible, just terrible.     Over 250 years old and when they are gone they are gone forever.  We have a few of our chaps in the Sierra Club.  We’ll see what we can do.    Of course the bee thing.  It’s ongoing.  We’re having the most success in the city.  More flowers there then in the country.    Then there’s NETFLIX.  It is our most ambitious project yet!”

“NETFLIX?     What has NETFLIX got to do with your stewardship of all things growing Oswald?” I asked.

“Watch the movie Watership Down.  The BBC production .  Listen for a deep, and rather ominous  voice, ‘In the beginning Frith made the World’.  It is the  beginning of Watership Down.”  Watch it and perhaps weep a little.  It is our world.

“I had no idea rabbits were involved in the entertainment business?”

“We’ve come a long way from  ‘What’s up Doc? rabbit cartoons” replied Oswald as he tossed back his ears, licked a paw and smoothed  his fur.

And with that my dear Oswald left his basket and the perfume of the ocean shell.  He gathered the two young rabbits and disappeared  deep into  the safety of his burrow.