On a Journey

Wow- a few free minutes to touch back into the blog world only to reveal it has been a whole 3 months since I posted anything!!  Time sure does fly and what can I say, my family and I have been on a journey. IMG_7718 Little Eva is almost four months old and though she is a total delight, she arrived with her own set of curve balls that have had us all kind of scrambling for some semblance of normalcy around here.  What I am constantly reminded of though, is that life with baby is never normal, it is unique, special, fully consuming and totally fleeting, so giving life the permission to NOT be normal is my biggest task right now.  Accepting the beauty along with the challenges, and truly being grateful for all that we are given.  Daily stretching myself even further to rise to what is and releasing what is not to be. I know all humans are working on that everyday, but sometimes life gives us an extra dose to kick our growth into high gear… and that is where I am and most days I end with a humble thanks. IMG_7772 While being worked on inside and out, I have learned so much and the thing I am grateful for the most is the presence of my family.  You see, we are a little counter-culture, not really keeping up with the Jones very well.  We work for ourselves, we grow our own food and we have very little money and we spend a lot of time together.  We can get a little fussy with each other with all this time, but these past months, the support and simple company of my family has gotten me through a very hard time.  Their laughter and warmth, their help and compassion.  Honestly we have all been re-calibrated by this time and have grown strong together.  If our schedules had been different this time would have been much harder, maternity leave being long gone by now.   Though we would have had more money, I am not sure where the heck I would be right now, so I consider our togetherness our greatest wealth. Another great freedom is that I can work from anywhere right now (if my kids are with me I am working!!).  Joel was invited to Utah to work on various projects so I thought it would be a good idea to tag along a get a little fresh air.  Because we don’t really have typical family vacations in our equation, we made the trip a family adventure, totally vacating from our little hive and bringing the show on the road. IMG_0619 First we went to Boulder Utah— Have you heard of this place?  The residents will probably have my hide for letting out their secret– but this town is a gem!! Very isolated and hard to get to makes it not an easy place to live, but if you, you are pretty lucky.  Joel was asked to help them establish a food forest in their town park through a Permaculture design community process.  The kids and I got to play with some new friends but kindred souls, Ana & Jeff in the many town play grounds, rivers and their backyard which was pretty much a bird sanctuary (we saw three families of geese raising their young a whooping crane nesting 100 yards from the house!) IMG_0664 From there we drove the Burr Trail to Capital Reef which will go down in history as one of the most beautiful drives of my life.  Though I didn’t get to take any pictures, the fields of desert wild flowers were truly remarkable and this year may have been the best for Desert Wild flowers ever. IMG_0699 We then rambled up to Moab where Joel taught the Interns of Community Rebuilds Permaculture principles to integrate into their low-income straw bale housing projects.   They always welcome our little family so warmly in Moab and it is no secret that Moab is a great place to play.  The Mulberry trees were bursting and the town a buzz with spring blooms. IMG_0688 The kids and I spent a lot of time on the Mill Creek bike trail “fishing”and basking in desert shade. I frequently wandered the awesome Youth Garden Project to photograph all their cool structures for inspiration and inspiring it was. IMG_0732 Then it was on to the First Four Corners Permaculture Convergence in Cortez, COIMG_0749 where Joel gave a talk and we romped around in the mud with the Curry Boys, ogggled the baby goats and got to sleep in a very tiny house!IMG_0754 We ended the trip at our beloved Circle A Ranch with the Tracking project Mentorship program which always feels like coming home.IMG_0778 Finally home now and so happy for it.  The poppies are up to my waist, the locust tree bursting with blooms and though there is plenty of work to be done around here, there is a welcome lightness that the journey gave us which we will keep kindled in our home. IMG_7756

A Garden in the Desert


Sometimes desert living can get, dry, so dry that are beautiful mountains catch on fire.  So dry the yearning for wet, green and lushness get deep under our skin.  So while the mountains as burning, we decided we needed a little family fun day.  For our family that usually involves anything green: the woods, the rivers, the mountains, or of course parks will do and being the garden tourist I am this time it was the Botanical Garden in Albuquerque.

Incredible rose wisteria arbor for weddings

Incredible rose wisteria arbor for weddings

If you are a parent in New Mexico chances are you have been there, maybe more times than you would like to admit, but we were newbies and totally thrilled.  I am sure after years of birthday parties and kid gatherings there, the love may wear off…but it was a perfect fix for a family craving a little lushness in our lives.IMG_0792

There were ponds and flowers in full bloom


but my favorite part of course was the Heritage farm.


Complete with heirloom grapes,


an apple orchard and of course a neat & tidy little veggie patch with a prefect adobe barn.


And the high light of mama’s mini farmer


the tractor of course. That’s my boy!!

So if you too are seeking a lush, smoke free day, check it out, it is green salve for the desert soul.

Desert in Bloom- Great mix for shade and desert dry hardy! Columbine(yellow), Jupiters beard(red) Mexican Primrose (pink)

Desert in Bloom- Great mix for shade and desert dry hardy!
Columbine(yellow), Jupiters beard(red) Mexican Primrose


Weekend Events June 1 & 2nd


Wendy and I when I ran the garden at Monte Del Sol Charter school.

Back to blogging after some technical difficulties and just in time to tell you about two awesome workshops I would love to share (and attend) this weekend.  The first is with Wendy Johnson , one of my mentors through the Edible School Yard in Berkley, where she consults on gardening.  We don’t know each other well, but I know  kindred garden fairy spirit when I see one and Wendy is just the kind of Fairy I aspire to be someday.  Her book is one of my favorite of all times, and I am still savoring it piece by piece and somehow i feel i can in tha tis took her ten years to write, though hopefully it won’t take me that long to read it….called Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate.  She is a Zen Buddhist and plant whisper among other amazing human vocations such as wife and mother and has nurtured many famed gardens such as those at Esalen and Green Gulch.  She will be in Santa Fe teaching at Upiya Zen Center with Roshi Joan this weekend teaching a Workshop based on her book and her experience ‘at work in the wild and cultivated world’

The next is at my very own SFCC orchard.  Dave JAckie, east coast permaculturist and author of Edible Forest Gardens, will be giving a public lecture tomorrow night from 7-9pm in the Jemez room at SFCC and then a 2 day workshop there on Saturday and Sunday called Gardening Like a Forest Workshop .  Hopefully he will help us transform thisIMG_7758

Into this


Someday that is!! Have a great weekend what ever you do!!

Farms, Gardens, & Greenhouses Oh My!!

Mountains top poppies

If you have ever read this blog, or know me at all you know of my love of for the wild and cultivated world of nature.  Growing things is not just a hobby but a necessity for me…and it seems most of Vermont as well.  Gardens are present in almost every backyard I have glimpsed, farm stands abound brimming over with maple syrup, berries, cheeses, produce and flowers and even the garden centers are places I would spread a picnic blanket under a tree spend the afternoon.

Rolling green lawns of Rocky Dale Gardens

Yes, I must admit, gardening here is”Easier” here in than in the high desert, things do just grow, seemingly overnight, on their own, with little help from the gardeners. But when I get pining for greener pastures I just remind myself that the weeds & pests also abound here and tackling those critters large and small are the work of the gardeners, often making it controlling opposed to coaxing.

Peeking over a backyard garden gate

Never the less the gardens are a sight to behold and as the perpetual garden tourist, I have spent a large portion of this vacation visiting as many plots as I can, and it hasn’t been hard.  The beauty of garden tourism is that is it mostly free and full of appreciation for people’s kind action and kinship with their land, and if you do end up spending money it is usually to feed your family and goes straight to the farmers hard working hands.  So far we have gotten at least a daily fix of garden tourism and here are the highlights.

Peas taller than Joel!!!

First day I noticed a flyer for the Localvores Garden Tour, which happened to be at a friend’s house, so we drove on over the see these awesome raised beds full of abundant produce loving gardened by the careful hands of an English couple.

Robin and Jenny Share their garden secrets

What a welcome, these crops were just glowing with life and love, we could have stayed for hours just chatting about garden secrets and techniques.

The rain sprinkled down and made everything all the more alive.

Garlic -I asked if they remove the scaps or not, as it has been on my mind this season.  Jenny answered quick as a whip, “Well of course, it may not affect the size of the bulb, but it gives you twice the yield, one harvest above and one below, so the question really is, why not!!

Next we made a special trip up to another county to see Rosemary Gladstar’s Sage Mountain Herb School and gardens. 

She has written many books on herbalism, so much of her herbal wisdom and wonderful recipes helped me through my pregnancy and continue to every day.  We made it a little homage to the medicines that so generously heal us and it was a delight to see them all growing together, emanating their healing songs on the sunny summer day.

Jaengus meets Arnica (growing above violets), friends and allies from day one

This place was amazingly alive and vibrant, I was so glad to be able to share it with my family

Herbal Interns working the hillsides of Sage Mountain

Next the greenhouses…

Von Trapp Greenhouses is just a walk away from us, is an amazingly beautiful hilltop farm with ornamental greenhouses with incredible gardens looking over the valley.

Millions of flowers in bloom and an incredible view of the Mad River Valley

The other greenhouse/ demo garden was Rocky Dale Gardens, nestled on a mountainside offered another beautiful spot to hang and smell the flowers

Borage with Calendula and Poppies

Oh and the farm stands…..

Gaylord Farm

There is Kingsburys which is a farm/ food bank collaboration, there is the Gaylord Farm, a farming family for generations, there is Hartsorns full of flowers and fruit, and there is Knoll Farm where we picked 7 quarts of organic blueberries and bought lambs wool from Icelandic sheep

Bucket of Blue

…I could go on, but I think the Vermont Tourism Dept should start paying me, though we know they don’t need my help, Summer in Vermont speaks for itself!!

Family Gathering

Oh summer is here, and the gathering has begun!  I feel so lucky to be a part of a family that loves gathering as much as I do (at least my husband does, baby is happy to be carried along wherever we are, especially if we are outside, such a great little guy!!)

Along for the ride

As the garden comes into it’s own and we wait patiently for it’s gifts, we look out into the wild for summer fare.

This little excursion was in search of Cota, a wild herb used traditionally in these parts forever for stomach ails and kidney support….a couple of years ago we found an amazing spot and harvested on the summer solstice.

Cota Harvest 2008

This year everything appears to be a little early, so we went in search…unfortunately the meadow got bulldozed and a horse was happily reigning over the spot…with not one Cota plant under foot….Luckily we still have some from that year!!

Summer gathering (pre station wagon)

This time we did come across an amazing Alfalfa stand

Alfalfa patch

And got to take a dunk in the old Rio Grande.

Sitting by the river

Just down the road we found Mulberries falling from the trees!!Mmmm.

Joel always prepared to pick!

Oh how beautiful

Mulberries in various stages of ripeness

And right across the street these ancient gifts..

Secret map to more mulberries?

And on the way home, we found the wild cherry stands, once I pick all ours, I will be back!! Grandpa is now our neighbor and makes a mean pie!!  Looking forward to that family gathering as well!!

Each Peach, Pear, Plum, I spy….Which one?

The world abounds with blooms right now, no leaves just pure bloom!!….at least where we are (In Northern Colorado), and the bees and I are in heaven.

Bursting with blooms- Nan King Cherry

While my husband teaches (a Permaculture Design Course) babe and I wander the blooms, bathing in their glow, snapping shoots and smelling the fragrant air.  It truly is dreamy, I must say…But oh so interesting as well.  I am sure you have noticed blooms along the road, on forgotten farms and maybe even in your own backyard and wonder Who are they?‘…

Well maybe I can share a few tips for at least narrowing things down.  Plants are identified by their leaves, bark, habits, structure and of course flowers.  All these characteristics are important in truly knowing who you are dealing with.  When I was learning plants someone along the way told me you can do all you want to I.D. a plant but the truth is in the flower…

Can you guess which Rosaceae this is?

So now is the perfect time to figure out just who those blooming guys are.  I won’t go into and thorough Botany lesson, as I am no expert….but here is a great book if you want one.

Botany in a Day- Great resources for teaching yourself Plant Identification

What I can share is some basics…. the trees and shrubs right now that are blooming abundantly are the Stone (ones with big pits) and Pomme (ones with little seeds) fruits, all in the Rose Family.  You can tell because the all have five petals, five sepals and lots of little stamen (the little tiny hairs with pollen at the tips).

Rosaceae is the third-largest plant family. This family includes many ornamental landscape plants, fruits, and berries, including apples, cherries, raspberries, and almonds, characterized by the shape of the hypanthium (the part of the flower where the seeds develop) and by petals in groups of five. Roses are members of the plant genus Rosa.”

Interesting right?  So here are a few Rosaceae that are blooming right now…..


Bloom first, light pink, almost white petals with very rich red pink sepals that are very distinct after petals fall, creating a dark pinkish red glow. They are often bigger than other fruit trees, and even when young have a distinctly tree shape with a few thick branches and the rest smaller

The next to bloom are the Shrub Cherries, which are bushes really, producing clusters of tiny cherries that the birds love– great for hedgerows  and wildlife habitat, & tasty too…these are Nan King Cherries

You can tell this cluster of little flowers will produce a bundle of little berries

Nan King Cherry

Next you have the Pears

Pears have large white blossoms with fewer in a bunch than other blooms right now. Pear trees are often tall and skinny, pruned to have one thick branch at the middle like a christmas tree, called the central leader

Then we have the Peaches and Nectarines (just peaches without the fuzz)

Peaches have super pink blossoms and big round petals

Another Peach, possibly even a Nectarine

then you have the wild plums

Beautiful white flowers that almost look green because of the light green stems. Cluster of many flowers and smell like welches grape juice,truly pungent

Next come the ornamental plums & pears, the tree cherries, apples, strawberries, quinces, raspberries, black berries, and then by June we will have what we all know as the classic roses. Maybe I will document those as the bloom next too, but in the meantime enjoy those gorgeous blooms, many the bees find them and the frost not, may it be a fruitful year!! If you want to plant some Rosacea of your own this year, might I recommend Tooley’s Trees in Truchas, NM. Good folks, Good trees!!