Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's Day 2 for the Where Lilacs Still Bloom Blog Hop (comments for Sandra Byrd)

Thank you dear friend Sandra Byrd for being today's host! 

Since Sandra doesn't have comments on her site, everyone has been instructed to comment here for your entry into the contest.  If today is your first day joining the hop and you are a little confused as to what to do, where to go, just visit here for instructions.  They are pretty easy, I promise!

Today's question (unless Sandra posted one):
What will you be planting this year in your garden? Or if you don't have one, what would be planting if you could?


A few other fun places to participate and engage.
  • Do you have a picture of last year's garden, or one that has just gotten planted? Let's see them! One place is on the Pinterest Community board, Celebrating Spring with Friends.  Anyone can participate, just visit the link.
  • Or the other place if you are not on Pinterest is Facebook.  Share your photos that speak of Spring to you on my Facebook page
  • In honor of Where Lilacs Still Bloom, Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group is giving away a membership to receive flowers for a year.  Enter here to win.
  • Don't for get to visit & comment on each blog so you can enter to win!
  • You can also follow me on Twitter, and you might find the monthly Story Sparks of interest too.


Tomorrow be sure to visit Cindy Woodsmall

Monday, April 23, 2012

Join us for the Where Lilacs Still Bloom Blog Hop, the inspirational garden & first chapter


Welcome! This week we are celebrating the release of Where Lilacs Still Bloom which just released on April 17th.  You will meet inspirational and best-selling authors, and hopefully be touched by the story of Hulda Klager's life and legacy of her lilacs.  What's a blog hop without prizes?...Not one of my blog hops!  Visit here for those details.
 
April 23-27: Where Lilacs Still Bloom Blog Hop
Tuesday: Sandra Byrd
Wednesday: Cindy Woodsmall
Thursday: Katie Ganshert

Hulda Klager's lilac gardens offered an unanswered question: what was it about this garden that drew thousands of visitors in the 1920s to Woodland, Washington, a small town north of Portland, Oregon? People came by train and cars, by steam boat and some even walked. Was it the story of her perseverance, that she endured chronic floods with their small acreage nestled between the Columbia River and the Lewis? Maybe it was her admirable character, a woman who taught herself horticulture and then used her skills and knowledge to pursue a passion? Gardens were of interest in the 1920s, that's certain but to come so far just to see a lilac or two?
The "Iron Garden" is in front. Shaped like an iron, Hulda created it because she said it was a close to a flat iron as she wanted to get!
Once I visited there, I discovered something of the answer. There is beauty there and Hulda's spirit of giving seems to hover over the Ginkgo Tree, mist around the over-flowing basket held by a sculptured young girl. (The statue on the cover of Where Lilacs Still Bloom is an actual statue in the garden). Hulda's delight in flowers for their own sake, reminding us that though they may be fleeting, the aroma of lilac, the delicacy of a Sweet William are meant to be savored, to take time for.

There is a story in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus is visiting in the home of a leper and a woman breaks an expensive alabaster jar and pours the perfume over his feet in a sign of honor. Jesus disciples are horrified we're told, deciding that her gesture is a waste of good resources. The perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor. But Jesus tells them in some translations that "she has done a good service." But the Greek word used is not Agathos, that suggests utility but rather Kalon that is translated as something not only good but lovely. (This distinction was noted by a Lutheran Pastor from River Forest, Illinois in a piece he wrote for Christina Century Magazine.) I love the idea that Jesus understood that something was good AND lovely AND perhaps even a unique expression of anointing.

I think that's what I felt when I first entered Hulda's garden, a kind of anointing. Here was a woman who left behind something lovely, something good, an honoring of creation by the way she lived her life and by the way she helped a small plot of land to flourish. I believe it's what others experience and what they told their friends about who then began making an annual trek to Woodland each spring between April 21 and Mother's Day.

Last year's bloom, Hulda's Lilac
We're at 3000 feet altitude here so my lilacs won't be blooming for awhile yet. But I happily await the blooming of my lilacs from her garden...they've leafed out but the promise of spring is still head! And I hope to see lots of you in Woodland that opening weekend when we will be in the presence of flowers appreciated for their beauty and for Kalon, something lovely.

If one tangible item represented you and the mark you want to make on this world when you leave, what would it be?

Interested in reading the first chapter? Great! Here it is: First Chapter, Where Lilacs Still Bloom


A few other points to note:
  • We continue to collect Spring-time Pins on the Pinterest Community board, Celebrating Spring with Friends.  Anyone can participate, just visit the link.
  • Not on Pinterest? Share your photos that speak of Spring to you on my Facebook page
  • In honor of Where Lilacs Still Bloom, Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group is giving away a membership to receive flowers for a year.  Enter here to win.
  • Don't for get to visit & comment on each blog so you can enter to win!
  • You can also follow me on Twitter, and you might find the monthly Story Sparks of interest too.

Will plan to see you tomorrow over at Sandra Byrd's place

Monday, April 16, 2012

A garden given as a gift

If you've never been to the Oregon Coast, you might not have encountered Shore Acres State Park. It's five acres of formal gardens where people now get married (because of the beautiful location) or families gather for picnics at the tables available just outside the entrance gate of the garden. Built by Louis J Simpson as a gift to his wife, this wealthy industrialist, financier, boat builder, town-founding man would have his ship's captains bring varieties of plants from around the world to have them planted in this lovely garden beside the sea.

The woman he built it for was Cassie Hendricks Stearns Simpson and it's her story told in A Gathering of Finches. Today thousands of visitors come to the garden and Friends of Shore Acres rescued the garden from ruin in the 1970s returning it to its glorious beauty. At Christmas time, volunteers string hundreds of thousands of lights among the plants and provide umbrellas for guests so even if it's raining (which it often is!) visitors can still enjoy the fabulous beauty of this sea side garden.

I spent many days in that garden, gazing into the Japanese pool, meandering through the rose garden, imagining the pergola covered with ivy. The guest house still stands and each year a lucky person's name is drawn to be able to spend a night in that house. So far, our name hasn't been picked! But that didn't keep me from dreaming. That story, of this garden being given as a gift, was part of the unanswered question that drove me to research and write that novel. What kind of woman would inspire all of this...and why didn't anyone talk about her? I had to answer that question but it was the garden that asked it.

Have you ever looked into the history of a garden to find a story waiting to be told?

This and That
  • Can you believe that TOMORROW is the official release day for Where Lilacs Still Bloom. Have you pre-ordered your signed copy?
  • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers is giving away a Flower Membership for a year.  Talk about flower-cheer all year round! Enter here
  • April 23-27 I will be hosting a blog hop to celebrate the release of Lilacs.  There will be some great authors to meet if you have not yet already done so.  And of course there will be some prizes involved too!
  • And for a little fun, those of you on Pinterest might want to participate in a Spring-Time community board I created.  Visit the board for instructions on how to participate.
  • If you are not on Pinterest but have some great Spring photos (whatever images represent Spring to you), feel free to upload them to my facebook page. Would love to see them!
  • There are a lot of events happening due to the release of Lilacs.  Most of them will show up on Facebook, however to see everything I will be doing all in one place just visit the events page on my website.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A ledge garden to remember

Jane Sherar had a garden. It was carved from a rock ledge overlooking the Deschutes River in Central Oregon. She and her husband ran a hotel that at the time - the late 1800's- was the largest structure between San Francisco and Seattle. The hotel called the Sherar House was built where a bridge crossed the Deschutes River on the Old Dalles Military Highway. The Dalles was a bustling town along the Columbia River at the time and shipments to the gold fields kept people on the road heading into Eastern Oregon.

Descendants told me about Jane's garden and I had photographs of little bridges leading from the third story of the hotel right out to that ledge garden high above the river in the rimrocks. In my book, I had her plant vegetables but also a sweet grape arbor. It just seemed like the perfect place. Watering wouldn't have been easy with the garden high above the river but they had hotel employees - many employed from the nearby Indian reservation - who likely carried heavy buckets of water across those little bridges out to the garden to feed those thirsty plants.

Before I finished the book, A Sweetness to the Soul, where the garden is mentioned, I received a phone call from a man who said as a boy he'd stayed at the Sherar House hotel one summer. His father was an engineer and worked on the fish ladder there. The man told me that his brother, father, mom and this now elderly man had the run of the hotel. "Do you remember the ledge garden?" I asked him.

"Oh yes. I slept on the third floor and the bridge went from my room out to that ledge where the railroad goes now."

"I don't supposed you'd have any idea what they planted there?"

"For certain they had sweet grapes. Some of the old vines still stood."

The hotel burned not long after they'd spent their summer there but I will always remember the delight of discovering that something I'd written in fiction had a basis in fact...I just hadn't known that when I wrote it. It's a garden to remember. Photos show the hotel but sadly, not the garden... You can see them here

What gardens have you visited that are worth mentioning?

Just came across this video and wanted to share it with you.  Enjoy the cheer it provides.



This Spring things are starting to get busy around here....
  • Next Tuesday is the official release day for Where Lilacs Still Bloom. Have you pre-ordered your signed copy?
  • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers is giving away a Flower Membership for a year.  Talk about flower-cheer all year round! Enter here
  • April 23-27 I will be hosting a blog hop to celebrate the release of Lilacs.  There will be some great authors to meet if you have not yet already done so.  And of course there will be some prizes involved too!
  • And for a little fun, those of you on Pinterest might want to participate in a Spring-Time community board I created.  Visit the board for instructions on how to participate.
  • If you are not on Pinterest but have some great Spring photos (whatever images represent Spring to you), feel free to upload them to my facebook page. Would love to see them!
  • There are a lot of events happening due to the release of Lilacs.  Most of them will show up on Facebook, however to see everything I will be doing all in one place just visit the events page on my website

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring is Here


It's officially spring and I thought I'd blog about a few gardens I've come to know.

Homestead Garden
My mom planted a vegetable garden and every year we'd harvest it and can green beans and freeze chopped up tomatoes and carrots but what I remember best was weeding and "my mistake" sometimes pulling up those fresh carrots, brushing off the dirt and popping them in my mouth. Sweeter than candy. The memories of my mom in her housedress, ankle socks and white nursing shoes as she crawled on her knees pulling weeds is also a sweet reverie, especially since this month marks the anniversary of both what would have been her 92 birthday and her death. Sorry, no photos of that Wisconsin garden.

When we began our grand adventure with our homestead in Oregon, my friend Sherrie Gant and I planted a garden... in August! The photograph doesn't do the garden justice as the sun beat down on our carrots and peas and beans and lettuce but you can see in the background how we were roughing it those first months while the barn and later the house was being built. We pulled our trailers into the shade of ailanthus trees where our neighbor had both running water and an old machine shed. Now that site is the home of wonderful people who built a lovely house there. They don't get to spend much time there so...no garden.

Our garden was well fertilized with the goose guano we scooped up on the gravel bars of the John Day River. We mixed the guano with the soil that hadn't been tilled for thirty years or more and it produced a luscious crop. In the fall, we moved our compound to the actual homestead site but I'll never forget the camaraderie nor the good memories of that first garden along the river.

This Spring it's going to start getting busy around here....
  • April 17th Where Lilacs Still Bloom will finally be in stores!
  • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers is giving away a Flower Membership for a year.  Who wouldn't want flowers delivered every month for 12 months! Enter here
  • April 23rd will be the start date of one great Blog Hop to meet some other creative authors.  Of course there will be some prizes to give away.
  • And for fun, a Pinterest Community Board has been created to share your Spring Pins. 
  • With the release of Lilacs, lots of events are scheduled.  Maybe I will see you at one of them?
Share your Spring photos with me on Pinterest, or feel free to load them on my facebook page too.

Do you have a garden tip to share? Please do!
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