Friday, May 18, 2012

One garden and the fragrance of mint that changed my writing life

One day in the 1990s, when the car was in for service, I rented another and drove from Portland south to Aurora, a little town on the Pudding River. I'd long seen the signs that Aurora was an historical district and I wondered what was there. I found the museum first thing and paid the small fee for the tour and followed the docent around. There were maybe six of us on the tour. My cell phone rang and I could see it was from the car place but the signal wasn't strong enough for me to respond so I had to leave the tour, drive to a higher point in town and then get the news that my car needed more work and would I authorize it. Of course, Jerry was out in the field at the ranch during the day and I couldn't reach him and I didn't know whether it was real or not, whether I should give the mechanic the go ahead or wait another day until I could talk to Jerry that evening. It was all very annoying AND I was missing the tour.

I finally decided to tell the mechanic to go ahead -- who can feel safe if a mechanic is telling you the brakes are all bad? and risk Jerry's wrath if I'd messed up. I returned to the tour and got there in time for the Emma Wakefield Herb Garden visit.
Emma Wakefield Herb Garden in the background
Secretly, I think it was the herb garden with each plant labeled for what the colonists might have used that herb for in healing, cooking, cleaning, that really caught my attention. I loved the aroma, the colors, the names of those varied plants and the garden is what I remembered when I left that day. A few years later I wrote the Change and Cherish Series about Emma Giesy (not the namesake of the garden. Emma Wakefield was a contemporary woman who donated and then kept up that lovely garden plot just outside of Emma Giesy's home). Gardens in that era -- the 1850s -- were critical for family survival and I can still smell the mint that would have freshened the breath after one of those hefty German meals that Emma would have served. It was the garden that brought me back to Aurora and changed my writing life.

Do you think you could survive on produce only from your garden? What are must-haves in your garden, or if you don't have one, what would be your must-haves?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Garden Pride

Example of 1910 Painted Glass Slide
When I researched the story of my grandmother's life as an early photographer, I had access to some of the photography association's annual meeting programs. It surprised me to see that someone was showing "slides" in 1910 of gardens in the Northwest which was what Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, were known as then. Apparently the slides were composed of black and white shots that were then colored by hand and displayed using a kerosene projecting lamp. It was the custom during that time for people to hire professional photographers to photograph their gardens and it must have been a lucrative business for a young female photographer.

People devoted long hours to their gardens that were not just vegetable gardens. Perhaps it was a status mark to have plants that were simply there for beauty and landscape rather than practicality of feeding a family. For whatever reason, flower gardens flourished and having a photograph of one's garden hanging in the parlor was considered quite the appropriate thing to do.

Condon City Park (photo credit: Erin Seale)
This era also began the idea of public spaces, public gardens. Arboretum provided public visiting but these were often managed by universities or large estates where the individual set resources aside for maintenance of the gardens. That cities or states would begin to offer spaces just for loveliness was truly a new idea at the turn of the last century. I'm reminded of that when I walk along Bend's River Walk or take my lunch in Condon at their fine park. As a public, we decided gardens and parks were worthy things and I'm so grateful! What a change of attitude can come from spending a few minutes in a quiet, flower-scented place.

How have you appreciated a public space or garden?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Winners Announced: Last week's Where Lilacs Still Bloom Blog Hop

Sorry, we are a day late in announcing the winners for last week's blog hop.  Thank you for your patience!

Thanks to everyone who participated this past week.  Did you meet a new author? Do share with us!

Congratulations to each of our winners.  An email has been sent out to each of you from Impact Author Services.  Please be sure to reply to that email by THIS FRIDAY, May 4th 11:59pm to claim your prize

Runner-Up Winners

Jane Kirkpatrick: Teresa N.
Sandra Byrd: Jax
Cindy Woodsmall: Sonya
Katie Ganshert: Linda M.
Susan Meissner: Emma
(prize: Signed copy of Where Lilacs Still Bloom, and hosting author's newest release)

Grand Prize Winner

(Prize: Signed copies of all 5 hosting author's titles & $50.00 Visa Gift Card)

A huge thank you to each of our authors who hosted last week as well as to everyone who continues to support Where Lilacs Still Bloom as word spreads.

AND....since it was just announced, a round of thanks to all the fans in the Pacific Northwest! Where Lilacs Still Bloom is #10 on the best-seller's paperback fiction category. PNBA Bestseller List April 22
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