Archive for the ‘Home and Garden’ Category.

This is an article I wrote and never posted or published, in July of 2007. I came across it and wanted to share it with you, at the beginning of summer, so we can each picture how we want our summers to unfold.

Finding Flowers

Copyright July, 2007 by Lisa Stroyan

It’s the first day of a new ritual – going out into my garden each morning, before it gets hot, and puttering. Some days, I’ll work on weeding, I decide, and some I’ll pick and enjoy the flowers, and others I might bring out my computer, and just sit and write. I sense that this ritual is a big change for me somehow, yet it is still fresh and new, like the flowers opening around me; it holds that excitement of a new idea, the sparkle of morning dew.

There is green, lush growth everywhere. The first summer raspberries are almost ready to taste. The daylilies have popped into a profusion of blooms. My prized delphiniums are beautiful in their deep indigo purple spears, albeit upside down from toppling themselves over by their own weight. The basil is perfect for pinching; a spicy smell surrounds me as I put them into my basket. The pink yarrow is already scraggly and fading. How have I not seen this and let an entire month of summer go by? Sure, I’ve brought visitors out and we have petted the flowers and plucked bits of herbs. Yet, somehow my eyes, or perhaps my other senses, weren’t fully open. There is something magical about a morning garden. I’m energized to dig in.

I stand back and assess, trying to figure out where to start. The weeds have been just as happy with the weather as the flowers have been. I reassure myself that I don’t have to do it all today; every day I’ll make some progress. Because I love order, I choose the far corner, where the raspberries are surrounded by grass, and figure that over time I’ll work my way across to the main areas. I forget, even this soon, that this ritual was supposed to be for me, not for my garden.

Raspberries don’t mind grass around them, really, but it makes me feel better not to have it there. I realize I need gloves and scissors and a weed bag. Anxious to begin, I collect what I need and start pulling. It’s not long, however, before, I start to panic as I realize how small a corner I’ve cleared compared to the size of my garden.

It hits me. This is what I always do. I always start by trying to get rid of what I don’t want in the back corner where it doesn’t really matter. I tell myself that I’ll feel better when I have control of the edges of my life, so I should start there. This feeling of panic and overwhelm is coming from the knowledge that there will always be more weeds; their job is to fill in the space between the flowers so it doesn’t look empty. What I really want are those delphiniums. I can already picture them in my kitchen. And if I don’t get them soon, they won’t last long. I change gears. The delphiniums dare me to find a way to cross the tangle of growth in front of them. I start weeding, but this has a different feel than before. Rather than focusing on the weeds, I’m focused on the flowers, I’m focused on what will bring me the most joy.

First I need to clear a path through the spent flowers. Sometimes, the line between weed and flower is unclear, and I have to decide whether to add them to my basket. The overgrown foliage of yarrow and bellflower covers the path in a tangled mat. I cut back the entire mat, and gently remove the flowers that I’ll keep, recycling the rest. I taste a perfect raspberry that has raced ahead of the others, held up by the growth of flowers and weeds beneath it so it can reach the sun. I get sidetracked with weeds to the sides of the path now and then, but a deep purple color that must be the color of joy beckons me. Already, I have a huge pile of blooms that I’ve collected along the way, and I carefully add the rescued purple stems to the pile.

On my way in, I decide to tackle one more spot of weedy clover; my cut flowers will last for a bit on this cool early morning. These weeds are directly in the path back to the house, although low-growing so they’ve been allowed to sprawl. As I pull, I discover completely obscured flowering iceplant underneath. Perhaps there is a time for weeding after all, when the weeds smother the flowers. Yet, when I stop uncovering flowers and find myself focusing on “finishing” the weeding, I know it is time to move on. There will always be more weeds, and I have delphiniums to save.

Perfect Seed Starter Labels

I’ve been trying to find perfect labels/tags for starting seeds. I’ve seen plant tags made from old yogurt containers, which work well for once the plants are in the garden. That was my plan until I found this strawberry box in my recycle bin.

If you use a 1/4″ tape label maker or you write small, cutting up a strawberry box makes great tags for labeling the tiny compartments of a seed starting tray. First, they are clear instead of opaque which means the light will not get is blocked by the tags. Second, each tag has a little lip on which to place the variety of seed being planted. When the tag is slid into the top of a seed envelope, the lip stops it from falling all the way in.

To make the tags, first cut out the bottom of the strawberry box. Next,  cut wedges from the rest of the box. I’ve drawn lines on this box so you can see, but it’s easier to just wing it. Some of your tags won’t be perfect (you can choose whether to use them at the end when you’ve used the nicer ones, depending on how many you need). Lastly, trim the tags so they taper to a near-point for easier insertion.  Write or stick on labels. Voila!

Here they are in my envelopes, and in my seed binder, which is filled with sleeves designed for old-style floppy disks.