How To Create Winter Interest In the Garden

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“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape – the loneliness of it – the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it – the whole story doesn’t show.”

~  Andrew Wyeth

I grew up near Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania in the heart of the Brandywine Valley. The American painter, Andrew Wyeth, drew his inspiration from this place, beautifully capturing the unique winter landscape in a subdued mix of browns, whites, tans and grays. My winters were painted in the same monochromatic palette, made all the more rich by the stark outlines of bare shrubbery and gnarled tree trunks silhouetted against the white winter sky. Continue reading

Christmas Tree Farm Memories

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According to the latest statistics, 2015 has so far been a big year for the purchase of live Christmas trees. This is interesting data given the fact that more and more people are turning to artificial trees for their holiday decorating. Yes, I’ve been tempted, but I still prefer the smell and touch of a live tree. To me, there is nothing like the deep earthy aroma of a fresh Douglas fir to liven up my holiday days. Continue reading

Ten Steps To A Happy Life

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Spring is a good time to start fresh and focus on what’s really important in life. For me, the month of April is a time of introspection. I make a mental list of what parts of my life need to be reorganized, adjusted or just plain thrown out.  Then I replenish my house with a happy mind.

Just like spring cleaning, the job is not effortless. But it always feels good once the task is done. Here are ten tips to get you started.

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Take Time, Slow Down and Smell the Leaves

There’s no better time than autumn to get outside and smell the leaves. The cooling temperatures and the colorful show offer a great opportunity to reconnect with the natural world. With its unmistakable earthy aroma, fall offers us a chance to renew our spirits and to recharge.

I find pleasure in all the leafy details of the season: the delicate remains of the tooth-edged brown oak, the fiery red maple formed like a palm and the heart-shaped yellow linden. Afloat on the fragrant air, these simple shapes flutter down from bared branches to spin themselves into colorful quilts. I listen to the crackling sounds beneath my feet as I savor the heady aromas; fragrant cinnamon and orange spice and the indescribable smell of dry leaves roasting in the autumn sun.

What is it about decaying leaves that conjures up our deepest memories? How can one whiff of a rotting oak stir our reflection, catapulting us back to the giant leaf piles of our youth?

My view is that the secret lies not only in fall’s colorful display, but also in something far less tangible – its smell. Continue reading