family · My Thoughts

Why Garden?

I write; my husband, Lin, gardens. My passion is words and stories; his is flowers and gardening. And a timely event happened today, we had a summer mountain hailstorm threatening his precious garden, but the damage was minimal.

Before we married, Lin had a couple of roses but that was it, and they died. Lin and I married October 22, 2011, and he didn’t do much with the garden the first couple of years of our marriage because we spent the month of July in Pagosa Springs, Colorado with another couple.

After a while, I missed my rose garden in my townhouse in Albuquerque. I had lived in a couple places there and had beautiful roses, so I suggested trying roses.

He lamented, “Roses don’t do well in the east mountains,”  thinking of his earlier experience. See Albuquerque is like Denver, Colorado, a mile high—5,280 feet. Tijeras is 6,322, and we are higher at above 7,000 feet, so my success with roses in Albuquerque didn’t necessarily mean they would grow in Tijeras.

So as luck would have it, Lin talked to a sales’ clerk who lived in the east mountains and gave him the success formula for growing roses in higher elevation, and it worked. So, Lin’s success with the roses encouraged him to try other plants.

Lin continued to study, bought magazines galore and gathered information on this newfound hobby, always fine tuning his floral explorations within our zone. I’ve come to learn there’s hardiness zones which identify your location and the plants that will grow there. We’re between zone 6-7 in the east mountains, but Albuquerque is zone 7, so there’s a major difference. Zone 6 can go down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit; zone 7 only goes down to the 0 degrees. That’s understandable! Because of our elevation we get more snow than Albuquerque. Also, Lin has to be cautious about his plant selection and check carefully on its zone.

If you’re wondering, here’s a place to put in your zip code and see what zone you live in:

https://shop.arborday.org/content.aspx?page=zone-lookup

In 2013, Lin experimented more with gardening possibilities. He had a few plants in pots and some in the ground, but life happened, and he put the beginning of a new passion on hold for a few years.

In 2016, Lin got bit by the gardening bug, and it has grown into a full time commitment he loves. See the pictures above of how he began.

At first, he had roses, then Lin’s circle of interest enlarged. He added New York Asters, a variety of lilies, Shasta daisies, salvia, lavender, sage, delphinium, coreopsis, peonies, alum and the list goes on.

Lin had criteria when he first started his expansion from the roses. He wanted to attract more hummingbirds to our large flock every year. He also wanted to provide for butterflies and bees, so any plant he put in this thoughtful garden had a purpose. His gardening interests piggybacked on his love of birds, butterflies and bees!

When he began, Lin added a variety of annuals which added a rich color to the landscape yet bloom once and die, but he decided over the years to add more perennials so they bloom over and over again. Now he just adds a few colorful annuals to spice up the color.

Each year he expanded after hours of research, trying his hand at a variety of new plants. Some succeeded and some went by the wayside.

Anytime I suggested a plant, Lin tried to add it. I had an amazing Butterfly Bush out my back door in Albuquerque that attracted butterflies and had a delicious fragrance, so he researched for a couple years trying to decide if one would grow up here. He planted one last year, and it has flowers this year. My Mom had red hot pokers in her front yard that were her mother’s plants. Lin never transplanted from Mom’s collection, but he did add some to his garden, and they are blooming this year.

The rabbits posed a possible threat to his lovely garden, so he put up a specific fence to keep them out, burying the chicken wire inches in the ground, and it’s worked. Lin has installed a watering system, relieving him of having to water by hand and also allowing him to leave and not worry about his garden.

Lin loves to use unusual items in his garden: he has a bathtub, a toilet and an old file cabinet as planters. He’s added several raised flower beds which help make weeding much easier. He has a whole flower bed (the outline of it is really the head board and foot board of an old bed from our ranch) full of sassy spring flowers: tulips, daffodils and crocus. To date, Lin’s rose garden has expanded to more than twenty bushes in a variety of colors. Here’s a video of his garden this year:

Last year, Lin created a side garden to the southeast of the big garden we call “Serenity Garden.” He transformed an ugly, unkempt space into a tranquil retreat to sit and enjoy God’s glorious creation. See what the Serenity garden looks like:

So why garden? For Lin, it has given him a venue to express his creativity. He doesn’t see himself as a creative person, but just look at the pictures and videos and you will disagree I’m sure.

In the early spring, he starts his gardening preparation. When summer comes, he’s out in his beautiful space he created and at peace with the world. It gives him something natural and special to focus on, and the rewards of seeing his design come to life with color and vibrancy are priceless.

As a willing observer, I have the luxury of enjoying his creation every day—the perks of being married to a passionate gardener who takes gardening to a new zenith every year.

Are you a gardener? Why do you garden? I’d be interested to hear your comments.

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

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Blogging · Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 18 & 19 Bury St. Edmunds

After my cousin, Meghan and Mike’s wedding, Lin and I spent two delightful days exploring Bury St. Edmunds. On Saturday morning after another big English breakfast at the hotel, we went to the Outdoor Market held in the square a few blocks away. This tradition in Bury St. Edmunds has been in place twice a week–Wednesdays and Saturdays–dates back to before the days of William the Conqueror.  Anything you might want was available at this market: food, flowers, clothes, hardware and technology. The booths went on and on.

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The Saturday Outdoor Market Downtown Bury St. Edmunds

After the market, Lin and I wandered around the Abbey gardens–I couldn’t keep Lin away from there because of his love for gardening. The gardens took our breath away.

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The Abbey Garden With the Cathedral in the background

We also toured Angel Hill across from the Abbey and saw the Atheneum and Angel Hotel.

In the afternoon, we took a free guided tour of the city, and the guide was exceptional. We went through the Abbey Gate onto the ruins of the Abbey which was gigantic.

Then still on the Abbey grounds, we saw the Old English Rose Garden, a permanent memorial to the American Servicemen stationed nearby and gave their lives.

The guide told us about a book we needed to read: Suffolk Summer written by John T. Appleby who was an American Serviceman who toured Suffolk County during World War II on a bicycle. The royalties from this book were devoted  to maintaining the Old English Rose Garden on the Abbey grounds.

Because we both love to read, we hunted it down and finally found it the morning we were leaving Bury St. Edmunds at the Moyses museum–more about the museum in a coming blog.

We had so much fun reading the book and remembering places there in Bury St. Edmund’s that Appleby mentioned in his book like the Atheneum.

On the guided tour, we walked through neighborhoods of Bury St. Edmunds. The guide pointed out a wall in one area where rocks from the Abbey were used.

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The Guide Points Out Rocks from the Abbey

Then he took us to the smallest pub in England, the Nutshell. I don’t drink and I had to take a quick picture inside because the bartender demanded you had to buy a pint for coming in.

We ended the day meeting our family at a nearby pub, then Lin and I had a delicious dinner at the Cafe Rouge.

The next morning we met family members at St. Mary’s Anglican Church for the morning service. I’m Episcopalian so the service was very similar to what I was used to here in the USA. Afterwards a friendly churchman gave us a tour of the church, and we saw Mary Tudor’s tomb–she was buried there.

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Mary Tudor’s Tomb

After church, Lin and I went to see the movie, “Dunkirk” at the local theater. We had found the theater the day before and the times of the show. Not knowing the procedure, we went there thirty minutes or so before showtime, thinking we could get good seats. The seats are sold online, so the only ones left were in the front row. I felt the bombing and explosions happened right in my lap, and I screamed.

We both were so glad to see the movie in the country it was about–the British saved the day with all kinds of private boats and ships to rescue the soldiers. As the story unfolded, we could feel the pride in the theater grow.

We had a leisure dinner at the Bushel and made it an early night because the next day we were taking the train to Cambridge with all of the family for the day.

Have you ever been to this part of England? Lin told me if anything ever happened to me, he would sell everything and move to either Bury St. Edmunds or some village in Ireland–he loved it so much.

Interested in more of my writing–my web site:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

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