Around The Garden World – Day 49 (Parc du Bois de Coulonge)

 A visit to Quebec took me to the beautiful botanical garden Parc du Bois Coulonge

lovin’ the begonia!

 I do love a fabulous window box!

 And containers with canna, euphorbia Diamond Frost, and celosia

great combination of bronze and gold foliage

 Summer poinsettias!

 Bonfire begonia and lysimachia


 Sea holly – Echinops ritro


purple sage

Astilbe and Hosta

Gryphon Begonia

Fireworks gomphrena

a Helen Battersby sighting! 

 made for the shade



Around The Garden World – Day 21 (Les Quatres Vents)

Someone asked me recently what my goal was with this series of Around The Garden World In 365 Days. My answer was simple – I have a whole lot of pictures of gardens from lots of different places. I  thought it would be fun to show folks how diverse different gardens are and how differently people garden and how differently we all perceive beauty in the garden. One of the side effects of continually being aware of so many different landscapes and what makes a “garden” is that sometimes I can’t pass up observing the life lessons that one can glean from the landscapes and gardens. 
Sometimes we travel through life and look ahead to see uncertain and unexpected paths we have to take…
To enjoy the total experience of the gardens of Les Quatres Vents, Colin Cabot – our entertaining and charming host who grew up on these grounds – led us to this rope bridge to cross so we could experience some of the more intimate areas of the gardens.  These gardens cover more than 20 acres are considered to be one of the most ambitious private gardens in the world. 
The pathway may be way out of our comfort zone…

 and involve some risks…

Colin explained that we had to cross at our risk, but he crossed before us to show that it was secure. 

My friend Helen Battersby embraces life eagerly – I don’t think it ever crossed her mind NOT to cross this bridge.

And there are those who are willing to take risks, who have gone before me, and can encourage me along the way. 

Only one can travel this bridge at a time

but once you find your balance, press on.

 Some were willing to take the risk, some chose a different path. But a few of us experienced something few others had. Frank Cabot, who created the world class gardens at his summer home of Les Quatres Vents, reportedly hired a bridge builder from the Himalayas to replicate the bridge as he had seen them there.

photo by Helen Battersby

When I looked at these two photos that my friends had taken while I was on my rope bridge adventure, I had to notice that these pictures are pretty symbolic of my life right now. If life is an uncertain rope bridge, with risky steps yet full of adventure and beauty and leading to even greater places, I am halfway along on my journey.  There are those ahead that led by example and I need to hear their advice along the way. And there are those behind me that I can encourage along the way. And I need to press on, look around me, and embrace the adventure.

photo by Barbara Phillips-Conroy

Around The Garden World – Day 3

 To get to know the gardens of any city, one should always visit the Independent Garden Centers in the area. On the enchanting Ile d’Orleans, Le Jardin des Arts was more than a garden center – it was a place to explore local artistic work, both botanical and eclectic.

 I absolutely adored how they built garden displays INSIDE the store

 Enjoy the tour!!

How Should We Then Love?

When I was in high school, I read a book by the late theologian Francis Schaeffer called “How Should We Then Live”. It is a deeply philosophical book that often had me asking more questions that providing answers, which may have been some of Schaeffer’s intention. Schaeffer said, “There is a flow to history and culture. This flow is rooted and has its wellspring in the thoughts of people. People are unique in the inner life of the mind — what they are in their thought-world determines how they act. This is true of their value systems and it is true of their creativity. It is true of their corporate actions, such as political decisions, and it is true of their personal lives. The results of their thought-world flow through their fingers or from their tongues into the external world. This is true of Michelangelo’s chisel, and it is true of a dictator’s sword.”

These last few days I’ve been going over the thousands of pictures that I’ve taken over the last year – a year of incredibly wonderful events and a year of deep sadness, a year of major changes and a year of seeing that some things may never change – and I’ve wondered if all the extremes that I’ve been processing in my mind would be reflected in the artistry of my photographs or in the compositions of my garden designs. And would my sieve of faith in a God who loves me more than I can understand filter out bitterness and disappointment so that kindness and thoughtfulness flow into the external world. 

I look around and in the busy-ness of living I wonder how should I then love?I look at my four sons and wonder if they realize how amazed I am at their unique talents, at their capacity for giving, at their faithfulness to their friends. Do they know that I cried the whole plane ride home yesterday after dropping #4 son off at college because they are who made “being a momma” a dream job? Does my momma know that she is my inspiration for not giving up when things get hard? Does my husband know that his work in the yard (even if he accidentally pulls up my favorite clematis) is my love language? Do my friends know that their faithful companionship is a quality that I find unfathomable?
What will love look like when it travels through the extremes of emotions and tumbles into expression?
A few weeks ago one of #3 son’s close friend was killed in a hiking accident. As I listened to the multitude of friends of David Taaffe express their memories and admiration of his life, one of the young men said that what David exemplified the most was that he loved big. Love big. The words of Christ ruminating over in David’s mind and heart during his 21 years of life had produced a wellspring of love that was big and embraced the world he encountered.
So I find myself today, as I wrestle through the seasons of life, desiring to embrace Truth in my inner mind and trusting that what will flow through my fingers and from my tongue into the external world is a life that will love big.  And that loving big will be the beauty that my heart longs to create.