Archives for posts with tag: gardening

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Amends
by Jessica Gigot

It is hard to hold a homegrown
            head of broccoli in your hand
and not feel proud.
Seed to start,

seedling to robust stalk and floret,
I cradle this broccoli like my first born.

The infant I protected from damping-off,
            aphids, club root, and pesky flea beetles
                          dotting up all the leaves.

The green gleams and sparkles.
In that one hour on that one day

I made amends with the earth.

Other times, I buy the shipped-in stuff,
            California’s wellspring
Touched by a thousand hands
            and automated sanitation.

Sweat makes this one something special—
            the give and take of it all,
                          my muddied pride.

PHOTO: Broccoli garden. Photo by Marina Helena Muller on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem after working in the garden last summer, feeling proud of what I had grown and also overwhelmed by how vast and harmful our food systems has become over the past several decades. Chef Alice Waters wrote, “Finding the beauty in food can change your life,” and I believe that appreciating the poetics of food and the work of growing food will lead us towards farms that are more ecological and in balance with the earth.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Gigot is a poet, farmer, and wellness coach. She lives on a small sheep farm in the Skagit Valley. Her second book of poems, Feeding Hour (Wandering Aengus Press, 2020) won a Nautilus Award and was a finalist for the 2021 Washington State Book Award. Jessica’s writing and reviews appear in several publications, including Orion, Taproot, and Poetry Northwest, and she is currently a poetry editor for The Hopper. Her memoir, A Little Bit of Land, will be published by Oregon State University Press in 2022.

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Before the Naming
by Penny Harter

Yesterday I met some unknown flowers blooming
along the foundation of the neighboring condo—
the former home of an old woman who died some
years ago. I’d never noticed them before, though I’ve
lived here a decade, never witnessed their blossoms.

Like an aging nature spirit, a woodland wise-woman,
my neighbor tended her garden as if each species were
her child. She even rescued the tiny, failing rosebush
given to me when my husband died, found for it the
fertile, sunny corner where it thrived.

She planted her flowers, and they endure though she
is gone into a wicker casket strewn with roses, given
a green burial bordering the woods. Yesterday, I could
not name those pink and white pitchers, but today
I find them in a photograph, name them calla lilies.

Before the naming, seeing. Before the seeing, pausing
long enough to be there, to slowly approach whatever
is calling you into its family, and then to listen for what
it has to tell you—perhaps a name it has given itself,
or the name it has chosen for you.

PHOTO: Pink calla lilies. Photo by Ethan Robertson. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is one of many that I wrote and posted almost daily during the pandemic lockdown from spring 2020 to spring 2021. I wanted to offer hope, calm, and healing during those months of chaos and fear. Most of the poems in that collection result from my daily rides along meandering country roads down here in South Jersey, or from walks. Being present, bearing witness to the natural world has always sustained and inspired me. “Before the Naming” is included in the gathering of many those poems in my newest book, Still-Water Days. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Penny Harter’s work has appeared in Persimmon Tree, Rattle, Tiferet, and many other journals, as well as in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry column and numerous anthologies. Her most recent collections are A Prayer the Body Makes and Still-Water Days (Kelsay Books, 2020; 2021). A featured reader at the 2010 Dodge Poetry Festival, she has won three fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Art˜s, two fellowships from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), and awards from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the Poetry Society of America. She lives in the South Jersey shore area. To find her books, visit Kelsay Books and Amazon

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Green Guerrilla
by Jennifer Lagier

Revolution upends kitchen and garden routines.
I embrace healthy alternatives, eliminate plastic,
substitute glass bowls for baggies.
Kitchen scraps no longer swell garbage.
Instead, I add fruit rinds, peach pits,
wilted lettuce to recycling bin.

Coffee grinds enhance landscaping.
Shower water is collected with a bucket,
used to hydrate tree roots,
potted roses, azaleas.
At the grocery store, I rely on my stockpile
of conference give-away totes
to transport locally grown produce, the staples.

I have become a geriatric activist,
invest in solar panels, hybrid car, low-flow toilets.
As climate change accelerates,
I reduce my carbon footprint,
do my part to heal the earth,
restore our beleaguered planet.

PHOTO: A small compost heap in a garden. Photo by Edward Howell on Unsplash 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks? I have shifted from being a consumer to a more thoughtful, less destructive way of existing, reducing consumption and waste, finding imaginative ways to live within my ecological means.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier lives near the Pacific Ocean with two rescue dogs. She has published in a variety of anthologies and journals, edits Monterey Poetry Review, helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Recent books include Meditations on Seascapes and Cypress (Blue Light Press), COVID Dissonance (CyberWit), Camille Chronicles (FutureCycle Press).

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How to Revive a Distressed Peace Lily
by Anne Namatsi Lutomia

I was not at a loss when I saw you at Lowe’s
You were at the corner of plant section on the clearance rack
Your price reduced by more than half
You all labeled distressed plants
You all were neglected, unwanted and stressed

Peace lily, you were drooping and lifeless
Peace lily, you were green, yellow and brown
You were broken, withered, bent and listless
I pondered about the causes of your distress
I wondered what had happened to you

Then decided to buy three of you
Wanting to revive you – to give you life
Taking you from this death-row rack
I already had a big dark blue pot for you
I visualized how you were going to grow and thrive

Not the first time was I bringing home distressed plants
I am neither a novice nor first-time plant parent
I brought you home and got to work
I pruned the brown and yellow parts of you
I removed you from your pot where your maze-like roots thrived

I repotted you in the big blue pot
I layered the bottom with stones
Covered the stones with potting soil
Placed the root ball in the pot and added potting soil
You were thirsty, I watched you absorb all the water rapidly

I placed you away from the window to access low light
Watering you moderately once a week
One day later, your leaves were perking up
One week later, your new shiny green leaves were growing
One month later, your white flowers are blooming

I keep your plant care tag in your pot, Peace Lily Spathiphyllum
For light, bright indirect light
For water, keep soil moist
For fertilization, fertilize every two to four months
For temperature, never below fifty degrees Fahrenheit

PHOTO: Peace lily by Maksims Grigorjevs, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I enjoy growing indoor plants. A friend introduced me to distressed plants at Lowe’s some years ago, and now I like buying some of my plants from this rack. It is always inspiring to watch a plant that was almost dead come back to life. This poem was inspired by the increased interest in growing indoor plants by young people in the United States. I hope this poem can be a resource to new “plant parents.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Namatsi Lutomia is a budding poet and a member of a Champaign Urbana poetry group. She enjoys reading and writing poems. She has published poems with Silver Birch Press, BUWA and awaazmagazine. She also likes going for long walks, and now lives in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.

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Treasure
by Mary McCarthy

Last night I missed my favorite gold chain
The one with the crab charm
We bought first time at the beach
And I took the house apart
Room by room
Unable to believe
It was gone

Sorting through pots and seeds
In the cellar
I found my last year’s Amaryllis
There in the dark
Where I’d left it cut back down
To the bulb
And forgotten

It had put up a long
Pale white stem
And a huge half open
Silk-red flower
Disregarded
Without light
Without water

Resurrected from its own root
waiting for me
like a pledge
of unexpected hope

IMAGE: “Red Amaryllis,” painting by Georgia O’Keeffe (1937).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem thinking about how we spend more time mourning losses than celebrating discoveries, both large and small.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. Her work has appeared in many online and print journals, including Earth’s Daughters, Gnarled Oak, Third Wednesday, and Three Elements Review. Her echapbook, Things I Was Told Not To Think About, is available through Praxis magazine online. She is grateful for the wonderful online communities of writers and poets sharing their work and passion for writing, providing a rich world of inspiration, appreciation, and delight.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The photo was taken during a break in our recent house-hunting expedition.

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THE GERANIUM 
Poem by Theodore Roethke

When I put her out, once, by the garbage pail,
She looked so limp and bedraggled,
So foolish and trusting, like a sick poodle,
Or a wizened aster in late September,
I brought her back in again
For a new routine–
Vitamins, water, and whatever
Sustenance seemed sensible
At the time: she’d lived
So long on gin, bobbie pins, half-smoked cigars, dead beer,
Her shriveled petals falling
On the faded carpet, the stale
Steak grease stuck to her fuzzy leaves.
(Dried-out, she creaked like a tulip.)

The things she endured!–
The dumb dames shrieking half the night
Or the two of us, alone, both seedy,
Me breathing booze at her,
She leaning out of her pot toward the window.

Near the end, she seemed almost to hear me–
And that was scary–
So when that snuffling cretin of a maid
Threw her, pot and all, into the trash-can,
I said nothing.

But I sacked the presumptuous hag the next week,
I was that lonely. 

Photo: Graphic based on “Geranium exposed to easterly winds” by Robert Wallace

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CHILD ON TOP OF A GREENHOUSE
Poem by Theodore Roethke

The wind billowing out the seat of my britches,
My feet crackling splinters of glass and dried putty,
The half-grown chrysanthemums staring up like accusers,
Up through the streaked glass, flashing with sunlight,
A few white clouds all rushing eastward,
A line of elms plunging and tossing like horses,
And everyone, everyone pointing up and shouting! 

Photo: Christopher Michael Hough, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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How beautiful – 
     Red peppers
            After the autumn gale.
                                                   YOSA BUSON

PHOTO: Len McAlpine, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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THE GARDEN
By Shel Silverstein

Ol’ man Simon, planted a diamond,

Grew hisself a garden the likes of none.

Sprouts all growin’, comin’ up glowin’,

Fruit of jewels all shinin’ in the sun.

Colors of the rainbow,

See the sun and rain grow

Sapphires and rubieson ivory vines,

Grapes of jade, just

Ready for the squeezin’ into green jade wine.

Pure gold corn there,

Blowin’ in the warm air,

Ol’ crow nibblin’ on the amethyst seeds.

In between the diamonds, ol’ man Simon

Crawls about pullin’ out platinum weeds.

Pink pearl berries,

All you can carry,

Put ’em in a bushel and

Haul ’em into town.

Up in the tree there’s

Opal nuts and gold pears—
Hurry quick, grab a stick

And shake some down.

Take a silver tater,

Emerald tomater,

Fresh plump coral melons

Hangin’ in reach.

Ol’ man Simon,

Diggin’ in his diamonds,

Stops and rests and dreams about

One…real…peach.

Illustration:  Georgia Peaches, Vintage Fruit Crate Label Art postcard, available for just 88 cents at zazzle.com.

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CHILD ON TOP OF A GREENHOUSE

Poem by Theodore Roethke

The wind billowing out the seat of my britches,
My feet crackling splinters of glass and dried putty,
The half-grown chrysanthemums staring up like accusers,
Up through the streaked glass, flashing with sunlight,
A few white clouds all rushing eastward,
A line of elms plunging and tossing like horses,
And everyone, everyone pointing up and shouting! 

Photo: Christopher Michael Hough, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED