Archives for posts with tag: gardens

Fritillary_feeding_on_passion_flower
My Mistake
by Mary McCarthy

When an army of hungry
orange and black caterpillars
stripped bare half
my passion flower vine
almost overnight
I saw nothing but
their ravenous appetite
their warning armor
of black spikes.
I pulled them off
one by one
the way I would pluck
big green hornworms
from my tomato plants,
and crush them with
a booted foot.

Too late I learned
these were the larva
of the Gulf Fritillary
butterfly, a beauty,
and passion flower vine
not merely its favorite
but its only host.
How could I refuse them
their necessary food
after planting milkweed
for the monarchs,
shunning pesticides
and fertilizers,
learning to love
those humble plants
whose virtues go unnoticed
because they are not showy?

I had no excuse
for extermination,
doubly wrong
because even this hungry army
can only curb, not end
the rampant growth
of its chosen host
limiting its kudzu ambitions
enough to allow recovery–
While my murderous efficiency
could upset the essential
balance, worm and vine,
lives so absolutely
intertwined.

PHOTO: Gulf Fritillary butterfly feeding on Passion Flower. Photo by Gwillhickers.

Agraulis vanillae vanillae
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Thinking about healing the earth often seems like an impossibly big job, but must be preceded, I think, by a shift in attitude. Treating nature as only as it can be used for our needs and desires is a lopsided perspective, that leads to destructive acts on the smallest and most personal arenas. I regret killing all those caterpillars, and realize they would not only have become beautiful butterflies, but would have helped with all the pruning their host vine needs, keeping it reasonably under control.

PHOTO: Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar on Passion vine leaf. Photo by Filo gen.

mary mccarthy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy is a retired Registered Nurse who has always been a writer. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, most recently in The Plague Papers, edited by Robbi Nester, The Ekphrastic World, edited by Lorette Luzajic, the latest issue of Earth’s Daughters and Third Wednesday. She has been a Best of the Net and a Pushcart nominee. Her digital chapbook is available as a free download from Praxis magazine.

green beans
Seed Guardian
by Kim Whysall-Hammond

I joke that he is now a bean counter
as, indeed, he kneels to count his beans
small white capsules of DNA
strung up on life-giving proteins

He needs to send a minimum of two hundred
to a seed bank upcountry, for these beans are rare
a variety that may die out soon if not cherished
grown, saved, stored

A variety that may feed us when times are hard
but only if we keep it, saving for a rainy day

PAINTING: Green Beans by Claudia Bianchi. Prints available at etsy.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My husband and I are both keen gardeners and grow much of our own vegetables and fruit. This year, my husband has become a Seed Guardian for the UK Heritage Seed Library, saving seed from a rare variety of French beans that will became part of their stock. Different crop varieties have different strengths. As our climate changes, the usual varieties are more likely to fail us. We need seed guardians, and I am proud of him.

Kim Whysall-Hammond 8

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kim Whysall-Hammond grew up in London but now lives where the skies are much darker. She has worked in Climate Research and in Telecommunications. Her literary poetry has appeared in Alchemy Spoon, North of Oxford, Allegro, Marble Poetry, Blue Nib, Total Eclipse, Snakeskin, Amaryllis, Amsterdam Quarterly, American Diversity Report, Littoral, Crannóg, and other publications. Her speculative poetry has been published by Kaleidotrope, On Spec, Star*Line, Andromeda Spaceways, The Future Fire, Utopia Science Fiction, Fantasy Magazine, Sciencefictionery, and Frozen Wavelets. Her poems have appeared in anthologies published by Wild Pressed Books, Milk and Cake Press, and Palewell Press. She also shares poems at thecheesesellerswife.wordpress.com.

chinese pumpkin painting
Pandemic Pumpkins
by Barbara Quick

Yesterday I saw the first paddle-like
pale-green leaves of the Cinderella pumpkin
pushed up from the hilly mounds I made
as graves for one of last year’s gourds
that went to rot before it could be used.

The English peas I’d planted on top
had come up first,
as delicate as pen-and-ink fairies,
tendrils blindly curling forth to find
support for their climb.

On my hands and knees,
I cleared the ground of weeds—
and added a row, along the fence,
of sunflower seeds.

Though their fruit and flowers
are still months away,
my pumpkins are already
fat and dazzling orange
in the mind’s eye,
the sunflowers yellow
against the late-summer sky.

Seeds are hard to come by now;
the sunflowers long past
their use-by date.

But still, any time a dried-up seed
manages to germinate and grow,
flower and thrive, it’s truly a miracle.
Who’s to say a seed won’t wait
three years or even ten?

Seed banks count on some of them
possessing the biological patience
to stay viable, on pause,
till they’re embraced by dirt again,
licked to life by water,
and awakened from enchanted sleep
by sunlight and heat.

I’m witness to this resurrection
every day of my gardening season.
How can I not believe
that life will triumph
over lockdown and decay?

PAINTING: Pumpkin (Chinese SuZhou Art), available at ebay.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Pandemic Pumpkins” is one of more than two dozen poems I found in the garden during my year of lockdown with my husband, violist Wayne Roden, at our little farm and vineyard about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco. Half the poems in this as-yet unpublished chapbook are about gardening. The other half are about the particular interpersonal challenges imposed on people everywhere by the pandemic.

BarbaraQuickAuthor copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Award-winning poet and novelist Barbara Quick, a native Californian, has been a practitioner of organic gardening since the age of 14, when she dug up the ice-plant at the roadside fronting her mother’s house in Los Angeles to plant tomatoes and Swiss chard. Her fourth novel, What Disappears, will be published in May 2022. Her second novel, Vivaldi’s Virgins—published in 12 translations since it first came out in 2007 (and still in print) is available as an audiobook and was optioned this year as a mini-series. Barbara’s poetry has been included in half a dozen anthologies, including the two that published “Pandemic Pumpkins” this year: the 2021 Farmer-ish Print Annual and Pandemic Puzzle Poems. She has a poem forthcoming in Scientific American. Her just-published chapbook, The Light on Sifnos, won the 2020 Blue Light Press Poetry Prize. Five of her poems were recorded this year by Garrison Keillor and featured on The Writer’s Almanac. Visit her at BarbaraQuick.com.

freesia-g244a76668_1920
Freesia In Winter
by Suzanne O’Connell

Trouble can’t find me here.
Stars, the dogs of ice,
shine down on the smooth
blackness of my earthen bed.
Muffled by dirt, I hold my breath,
waiting for change.

Shivering in my brown fur overcoat
and my sprouted night cap,
I wait like a mole.
I have no vision.
Is anyone there?

Tendrils of root reach out
like a blind man reaches out
with his white cane.

The rain falls like big shoes
walking overhead.
I am a cemetery.
I survive on earthworms,
bits of shell and remembered songs.

I wait for change.
Was that warmth?
Was that light?
Was that birdsong?

At last I push aside my coverlet of leaves
and stretch my stems,
stretching them to the sun.
Soon there will be a celebration,
a homecoming.

In appreciation,
I will bring fragrant white
blossoms to share.

Previously published in 2016 in Westview (A Journal of Western Oklahoma) and in the author’s first poetry collection, A Prayer for Torn Stockings.

PHOTO: Freesia Buds by Anrita 1705.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: From the perspective of a flower bulb, what it’s like to grow up underground.

OCONNELL1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Suzanne O’Connell is a poet living in Los Angeles. Visit her at suzanneoconnell-poet.net.

girl-in-white-with-a-bouquet-1919.jpg!Large
Atonement
by Paula J. Lambert

Once, I left a bouquet of flowers on the back seat
of my car, forgotten entirely till the next afternoon

when, out of nowhere, I heard myself shout OH!
and then, Ohhhhh, oh no! It was as if my body had

remembered, before my brain did, what was lost.
I was just that tired, after a week just that busy.

My husband followed me as far as the front door
as I ran for the car, watched me flounder when I saw

the bouquet was gone. I found them this morning,
he said. They’re dead. I put them in the garbage

out back. I went to the barrel and reached for them,
withered, brown, almost certainly gone for good.

I brought them inside and trimmed the stems,
my husband incredulous as he watched: my coo

of encouragement, litany of apology, soothing
fuss over their arrangement in a vase full of water.

I wanted to look at them. That was all. To slow
down the day. To remind myself there was so much

to remember, so much that had been abandoned.
By evening, the stems had strengthened, the flowers

had brightened, and by morning, the bouquet had
come back to us, gorgeous, fragrant, full. My husband

saw them and looked at me, afraid. What had I done,
really, but pay attention? Atone. What had I done

but believe that small things matter, that love might
help a sick and frightened thing to rise, to bloom?

PAINTING: Girl in White with a Bouquet by Henri Matisse (1919).

bnw.authorphoto2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paula J. Lambert of Columbus, Ohio, has authored several collections of poetry including The Ghost of Every Feathered Thing (FutureCycle Press 2022) and How to See the World (Bottom Dog Press 2020), a finalist for the 2021 Ohioana Library Book Awards. Lambert has been awarded two Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards and two Greater Columbus Arts Council Resource Grants. She has twice been in residence at Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She owns Full/Crescent Press, a small publisher of poetry books and broadsides specializing in hand-stitched, art-quality chapbooks. Through the press, she has founded and supported numerous public readings that support the intersection of poetry and science. Learn more at paulajlambert.com and fullcrescentpress.com.

marina-helena-muller-9qt0QKk_N3M-unsplash
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.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

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.

ethan-robertson-P86-JPbDnPY-unsplash
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. 

harter photo

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

edward-howell-v7G32kVgM84-unsplash copy
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.

Lagier

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).

joshua-j-cotten-Ho93gVTRWW8-unsplash
With One Small Seed
by Kim Klugh

I am one small person
in a big wounded world
so how do I begin to help
the earth heal? How do I triage
the trauma to our soil,
to our water,
to our air?
As the writer who stares at the blank page
begins with one word
or the artist gazing at the empty canvas
begins with one splash of paint,
I begin in a small way—I plant a small seed
I plant bee balm to bring back the bees
I grow milkweed for the monarchs
I sow seeds of zinnia for the hummingbirds
coneflowers for the finches
holly for the robins
columbine and lupine
impatiens and petunias
poppies and primroses
and I begin to notice the life
that is humming and buzzing
and thriving and flying
I begin to see that small seeds
and small deeds can grow big roots
and long green stems
and shoots and leaves that curl and bend
and I will work to honor
my relationship with Earth
I will examine how I tend
to the living creatures in my own backyard,
I will practice being a caretaker
and I will continue, seed by seed,
to promote life, however small,
for my sacred portion of our world.

PHOTO: Monarch butterfly and milkweed plant. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My dad taught me to always leave things better than I found them: To pick up litter. To dry flowers and save the seeds for the following spring. To conserve energy and use water sparingly. To feed the birds. He demonstrated ways to reuse, recycle, and repurpose before it was a universal tagline. That was his legacy, so I have tried to cultivate my connection with the natural world in his memory. I can pledge to do small things each year that contribute to the healing our earth is in desperate need of.

IMG_E4638

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kim Klugh is an English/writing tutor. Her poetry has been published on Vox Poetica, Verse-Virtual, Global Poemic, and Frogpond Journal. Several of her poems have appeared as samples in three craft books edited by Diane Lockward and published by Terrapin Press: The Practicing Poet, The Crafty Poet II, and The Strategic Poet: Honing the Craft.

12682024 - view of westport house seen from the lake, county mayo, ireland.
Dear Guest of Westport House & Gardens
by Roberta Beary

House tours are canceled and the cafe closed
Pandemics wax and tourists wane
Times change

Once Lords and Ladies ruled these walks supreme
They traced their blood to Grace
The Pirate Queen

A hotel dynasty now holds the deed
Times change
Pandemics wax and tourists wane

Mind where barbed wire meets old chapel ground
Sheep graze near graves of nobles
Titled Browne

Times change
Pandemics wax and tourists wane
Please take your litter with you when you leave

PHOTO: Westport House, County Mayo, Ireland, by Gabriela Insuratelu, used by permission.

Beary8
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Westport House, a stately home in County Mayo, Ireland, was built by the Browne family, Irish peerage and descendants of Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen who ruled the west of Ireland in the 16th century. During the Covid-19 lockdown, when car travel was restricted, the owners of Westport House kindly opened its grounds to locals. This poem grew out of my walks among its lovely gardens.

PHOTO: The author during a visit to Westport House grounds and gardens (2020). Photo by Frank Stella. 

Beary3

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roberta Beary’s second collection of short poems, Carousel, is co-winner of the Snapshot Press 2019 book award contest. Her first short-form collection, The Unworn Necklace, received a finalist book award from the Poetry Society of America. Her collection of prose poetry, Deflection, was named a National Poetry Month Best Pick by Washington Independent Review of Books. A long-term editor at Modern Haiku, she lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, Frank Stella, and tweets her photoku and micro-poetry on Twitter @shortpoemz. Read more at her website or on Facebook.

Author portrait by Henry Denander