“Slave Steps” plant, such a horrible history. 

Just returned from Negril, Jamaica. Had the opportunity to eat at Zimbali’s Mountain Cooking School and tour their organic farm with the head gardener. Mangos, sugarcane, bananas, pumpkins, coconuts, plantains, papayas, all grown there. And then the farmer drew our attention to a little ground plant called Mimosa purdica. It’s known in other countries as “Tickle Me” plant, but in Jamaica it’s name is much more sinister–“Slave Steps.” The horrible name refers to the island’s colonial past. If an enslaved person tried to escape a plantation, his or her path could be followed, because once disturbed, “Slave Steps” completely folds shut. A path of closed foliage indicated foot traffic that could lead to the poor soul trying to escape.

Undisturbed “Slave Steps” on the left. On the right, foliage closes everywhere I touch.

Lavender harvesting day

Big storms hit this afternoon, and in anticipation, I cut all my lavender in the cool of the morning before the plants warmed and released their fabulously-scented oil. Walked back in the house with three huge bunches I couldn’t get my hands around. Made a number of  bouquets wrapped in simple twine for neighbors, my daughters, and other girlfriends. After tying the knots, I like to clean up the stems with shears so that the lengths of the stems are the same on both sides of the twine.

Fell in love with lavender when I lived in Aix-en-Provence one summer. The South of France is said to have the scent of lavender in its soul. I know the smell creates an oasis of clean and calm for me.

Firing my Landscape Crew!

Weeding, cutting the grass, edging beds, and watering are incredibly rewarding and relaxing. Outside work creates moments of Zen for me, much like meditation does for others. The peace and quiet of working alone outside is heaven. 

And then this happened. 

Caught red handed

This is Spud. She likes nothing better than to lie in a sunny spot in the grass or in our raised vegetable bed and oversee my gardening endeavors. I find her overly judgmental most of the time. It’s my fault really. I made a tactical error by having her outside with me while I fertilized my roses. I scratched around the bushes before fertilizing, and I should have known better. Since I had been scratching, clearly it meant that when I went inside, Spud needed to finish the job–by digging a pit and exposing the roots. It was all I could do to control myself. I’ll just consider it aeration. But she’s still fired. 

Anam Cara 

Heart-shaped rock at Rudolph Falls by Susan Witmer Wolffe

There is a Celtic term, Anam Cara, meaning spirit friend. For me, Anam Cara is a place. It’s Richwood, WV, a stone’s throw from the amazingly beautiful Monongahela National Forest.

Cow Pasture Trail by Jeromy Rose

Cow Pasture Trail by Jeromy Rose

Richwood is the hometown of my good buddy Jeromy, whom I’ve visited for thirty years and with whom I’ve mule packed, swum in Rudolph Falls, canoed at midnight on Summit Lake, fished, and hiked. Breathtaking views and flora do my soul good. 

Rudolph Falls rocks worn smooth by Susan Witmer Wolffe

Water lilies at Summit Lake by Susan Witmer Wolffe

First bouquet of the season!

Spring has sprung, though it’s still chilly in Charm City. One or two flowers popped up and, together, they made a nice arrangement this evening. Peonies, baptisia, irises, rhododendron, and dusty yarrow in back. And my favorite, Zéphirine Drouhin roses in front. Love their hot pink color, their thornlessness, and the fact that they grow in sun or shade. Highly recommend this fragrant climber, introduced in 1868, because it requires little hand holding.

Zéphirine Drouhin rose.

My peonies. 

Ah, Lily of the Valley!

White flowers and a clean fresh smell–what is more spring-like? Lily of the Valley are also called Mary’s Tears. The name alludes to the legend that the flower sprang from the tears of Mary during the crucifixion of Jesus.  Hence, their appearance right around Easter. In the language of flowers, Lily of the Valley signifies the return of happiness. Garden flowers in the spring, Lily of the Valley at my bedside, a candle, and a good book–these make me happy!