In The Gardens

This morning, RW and I have been wrangling the gardens and believe me when I say, the wrangling work is long overdue.  Everything here started blooming a couple of weeks early and then it grew hot.  The tulips are all burned up now except for one patch of the beauties in the shade of the great elm tree.  Everything seems so dried up and parched.  Even the trails on the mountain, in certain areas, show an inch of silt powder that poofs up and sticks to my legs when I run through it.  Some of our fire fighter friends have already worked on Idaho fires this year!  Can you believe that?  Yesterday, while running, I dropped down to all fours by the creek to soak my hair and cool off after crossing wide swaths of sagebrush in the full sun.  I thought I would bake to death as I wended my way up the mountain the heat was so broad.  On the South fence line, the grapevines are already bursting onto the scene with their broad leaves and twirling twisps.  It’s really lovely.  This morning, as I was pulling copious amounts of weeds out of our various garden spaces, I felt my soul pinched by melancholy, just knowing that I won’t be here this summer to tend my scrap of earth.  Plenty of gardening space awaits me in Winthrop but it’s not mine, if you know what I mean.  I’m going to miss cutting roses for vases at 6AM every morning in July.  Fortunately, Rob’s base has a plethora of peonies and I’ve already imagined myself into that space, cutting lovely specimens for our home and the Airstream.  It’s hard to love a garden and then leave it.  Well, in all actuality, it’s hard to love anything and leave it — harder for some than others — those are the people who love deeper and let good things take up residence in their souls.

While Rob was turning dirt and I was cutting away the dry garble of last year from the lavender patches I asked Robert, “What if we were to downsize our life to the point where we live in Winthrop in the summer months and then live in our Airstream in the winter months?  What if we were to sell this house and mostly everything in it and simply take to the road like gypsies in the winter months?  Would you like that?  I can hardly bear to watch our gardens dismantle themselves.

Then I asked myself, “Would I like that?

How about you?  Would you like that?  Living in an Airstream half of the year and settling in someplace other for the remainder?  I think I could like it, for a time.  Life would have to be whittled down into much less than it is now, specifically in terms of possessions.

But back to the gardens for a moment, our poor yard has suffered so greatly at the paws of two German Shorthaired Pointer puppies in the span of 18 months that I fret it may never recover.  All the perennial beds I have so lovingly tended and expanded since we bought this property are looking ragged and patchy.  They grow weary of resurrecting themselves in the face of such relentless canine antagonism.  Why do dogs love, so much, to lay directly atop the iris beds?  And the alliums…oh the alliums.  Usually I have one hundred of them in their incredibly-slender-lavender-starburst-wavering beneath the ornamental plum trees.  This year they are are a sad and ravaged looking group of twenty.  I can’t even find the courage to tell you of the blue iris patch in the back yard it has been so dismally affected by Tater’s daily stampedes along the fence line.  Such tragedy.

On the bright side, we had such a temperate winter that the roses hardly died back at all and are bursting with health and the promise of a wild froth of twenty three different colors of blossoms later this summer and my columbines are as beguiling as ever.  Let me tell you, the view from the front windows of the house these days is nothing short of glorious with seven to eight thousand foot mountains rolling wild and green in every direction and the savage orange of the poppy bed framing the view.  I can’t help but fall in love with this place every moment of the day.  Tell me what you have blooming in your life at the moment — garden or otherwise.  I’m sure it’s as rich and indefatigable as my green spaces here.  Everyone and everything I know and love has such a tendency to rise and rise again.

Thank you for all the kind, sweet and lovely comments you have posted over on the mix CD giveaway.  I look forward to drawing the names of the winners tonight or tomorrow morning.

Have a beautiful Wednesday!



  1. i think i am a gypsy at heart, i always imagine myself living wild and free. But maybe because my life at this point i am unable to do so, makes me want it all the more. Would i really be happy with out a place to really call my home, living light and free? Or do i love my STUFF far to much?
    I think we all should at some point spread our wings and fly, even if only for a season.

  2. jillian, to be sourrounded by all those peonies are going to take away some of your pain and longing that comes from you beeing apart from your own garden…..i promise!!
    ….trust me they will……both by their glorious look and scent…..i JUST KNOW that you are going to fall so madly in love with them!!

    yesterday the first bud bursted open in my flower beds! do you want to know what it was that bloomed first this year?: )….a sweet little yellow poppy : ) i actually took of my shoes and did a little happy dance in the grass to celebrate. flowering is late here this year, spring has been cold and windy so far. today we had the first spring thunder and usually the warmth often comes after that so i am hoping.
    but the sun said hello this morning, could feel the warmth from it on my body….such a wonderful feeling..

    ohhh, i LOVE what you write here:
    “It’s hard to love a garden and then leave it. Well, in all actuality, it’s hard to love anything and leave it — harder for some than others — those are the people who love deeper and let good things take up residence in their souls.”
    SO TRUE!!!!

    in addition to the tiny yellow poppy that are blooming in my garden right now i feel that my soul are blossoming too these days….today i have been so filled with this deep happiness and gratitude…while sitting at my desk today eating a big bowl of blueberries the sun warmed my back through the window. in that exact moment i felt waves of harmony running through me over and over and over again..

    oh my oooo myyyy, i am rambling too much now- sorry!!!


    • V!
      You dear peonie lover!!! I am quite excited about those peonies. I know that summer and your flowers make you feel so ALIVE — I love to see you that way, my friend. I love it. I’m so thankful you had “waves of harmony” running over you this morning. It gives me peace to know that all is well with you, body and soul.
      All love.

  3. what a lovely sentiment, to “rise and rise again.” i found this post to be very uplifting, despite the tragic news of the flower beds. the most recent thing blooming in my life right now is a camping trip this weekend to northern wisconsin!!! i only fear that i will never return to the city, and maybe live as you said- sell all my possessions and live simply on the land. it is such an enticing daydream in the middle of this city, that i know someday i will succumb.

    • Heidi! Well I am glad you found this post uplifting! That is how I meant it to be — it and all my posts.

      Have a beautiful time camping! The first camping trip of the season is always so special and wild feeling. Isn’t it?

  4. I’ve often thought about living and moving about in an Airstream type home, the problem is I love my garden too much. It is now in it’s 12th year, and despite the weeds, more glorious than ever.

    I’m in the Niagara Region of southern Ontario and we’ve had a crazy winter/spring. So, everything is out of sync – although maybe not as dramatically as your garden. I just was out looking after lunch and this is what I saw in bloom: Lily of the Valley, Carolina rose, soft purple irises (scented), yellow and brown irises, Siberian Iris (only one so far), Bleeding Heart, Summer Snowflake viburnum (it’s spectacular this year!), Forget me not, Cranesbill Geranium, Azalea (“Bixby” – I highly recommend this variety, it’s small and very cute!), Bachelor buttons, dwarf daffodils and a few leftover lilacs and Pasque flowers!

    Wow, that’s a lot when I list it like that! My peonies aren’t out yet. Mine are pink and white and scented – I hope some of the peonies you will be enjoying have a scent!

    • MY GOSH!
      I love my gardens too.
      They aren’t the gardens I DREAM of having someday but I love them just the same.

      Your garden sounds like it’s blooming incredibly well right now! Thanks for sharing the details on what it holds!

  5. I was wondering: do you have people to care for your yard/house while you are away?
    When I was younger, I always dreamed of living full time on the road. I dearly loved the many camping road trips we took while growing up. Now, I desire more than anything to put down roots, and to know a piece of hand like I know the forming lines on the back of my hand. We are still in an apt., but are working towards our own place- soon, I hope.
    Enjoy your day, Jillian!

    • We do! This year, a sister of a friend is actually renting our house from us between May and November. She’ll do a lovely job of taking care of it and the garden and she’s quite looking forward to the clawfoot tub!

      I hope you get your own place someday soon as well. A home takes on a different vibe as soon as it’s actually YOURS…’ll see. 🙂

  6. Hello lovely
    I could do that…the thing about living in the airstream and then somewhere else for the summer…though I think in my climate it would be summer in our little travel trailer and winter…well perhaps winter at our center in Colombia so I can hang with my sisters and kids for a few months of the year…oh heaven! Not sure about the hubby though…mmmmm…..I have talked him into parking the trailer for a month at a “peculiar place” just 20 minute from home for the month of July. This way we can commute back and forth according to our work though for the most part I intend on spending most of my time out there…the joy of self employment : )

    As far as what is blooming…well garden wise veggies are going into the earth…some as seeds, some have been started in the green house. May long weekend up here this coming weekend so I plan to grab a couple flats of annuals to punch up the colour a bit in the flower beds and pots…always fun….personally (don’t tell anyone) but my book is blooming…oh everytime I write I am almost brought to tears…it is such a beautiful practice that is such an intricate part of my soul….I told my “sisters” that truly, I could be a total piece of crap, but it feels so amazing when i get to spent time on it…the our come just is not what is important.

    that was a long response
    lol all this new life has got me excited!!!

    love and light

    • I love these *long responses* — 🙂

      Your trailer set up for the summer sounds wonderful! A little escape just a short ways away with the ability to run home if you need to.

      YOUR BOOK IS BLOOMING!!!!! EEEK!!!!!! Oh lady, write on.


  7. J, I think you’d find it hard to live in the Airstream all winter. Summer is one thing, because you can comfortably be outside so much… I grew up on sailboats and crewed on a 60 foot schooner for a year and a half, and I can tell you that people need space. A place to shelter alone, even if it’s just another room. Even if you madly love the person(s) you’re with. Especially in long stretches of bad, cold, dark weather.

    We just sold our house and are downsizing, so much of what you’re going through resonates here. I’ll miss my beloved Japanese maple, my irises, my “Fragrant Cloud” roses. But there are always new adventures on the horizon! The trick is to embrace them all :0)

    • I think I would find it hard too…even if we were to go down to the desert of Arizona or New Mexico. I’d still like to try though, maybe, just to see how it feels. It’s interesting to hear what you have to say about people needing SPACE. I think that’s true. Maybe it’s different at sea though, the need for alone space…because your sloop is surrounded by water and there’s nowhere to go to. If we were to park in Southern Utah or somewhere else with terra firma at the ready, finding that alone space might be easier…..

      I don’t know!
      I want to try!

      I agree! Embrace all the new adventures! Good luck with transitioning into a smaller space. I bet that takes getting used to.

  8. My hubby and I lived in a 1973 Winnebago Brave for two years, roaming from place to place. It was such fun but did get tiring eventually, maybe because we didn’t have a nice scrap of land to stand still on for part of the year. If you could park in your own garden for the entire summer and then roam in the winter – that sounds ideal.

    Our time of living like gypsies has definitely made the putting-down-roots phase we’re in right now even sweeter and more rewarding. My husband and I have bought our “dream place” – a 20-acre farmstead on the coast of Maine, and I finally feel like I’m living the life I’ve always wanted. I nearly cried planting asparagus crowns the other day because I’ve been waiting two decades to put in a permanent asparagus bed. Such a deep sense of satisfaction, especially after so many years of rented apartments, container gardening, and of course the Winnebago (which I do miss sometimes, and wish I had to use for shorter jaunts).

    Life is long (if you’re lucky) and you should cram in as much as you possibly can. Sounds like that’s exactly what you two are doing. Best of luck with all of it (and sorry about your trampled irises. My dogs do the same thing to them!)

    • Kerri!

      A Winnebago!

      I bet it does get tiring eventually…everytime you roll down the highway you uproot. Uprooting is exhausting.

      Your current life situation sounds grand! Just beautiful! Do you have horses? We have a friend who bought land in Illinois to start an asparagus farm, I wonder if he cried when he planted his starter baby asparagus?

      We’re cramming baby. We’re cramming. But not too cramfully….if that makes sense… 🙂

  9. Well…I had to find a moment to wish you bon voyage even though I am not sure this is a voyage! Sort of like changing residency like royalty, right? Summer residence versus winter residence, how cool is that?

    I would have no trouble living that way because I actually have lived that way (meaning in a very small space) for years but I don’t like for it to become a lifestyle because of very good reasons…
    For now, I am beyond busy..really it has reached the level of being painful…but it will be only for 4 weeks or so, and I look forward to the relief that normally follows.

    Got to go…arial hugs were sent to you. : )

    • It is a change of residency! I’ve been calling our place in Winthrop the “summer home” this week…it seems to suit our situation better than any other term.

      I want to hear your “living in a very small space” story sometime. Ok?

      Hang in there, sister. I know what that kind of busy feels like. Keep breathing.


  10. No matter how exciting and self-expanding travel can be, few things are as sweet as coming back to a much loved home. Your gardens will recover while the dogs are gone, later you can move some plants to allow for perimeter running trails and a few favorite dog rests. Some photos from the roof or a ladder of their existing trails/mapping might help you plan those landscaping changes while you are gone. Just a thought, your place sounds too special to let go of just yet, and it seems as if you have many friends there to come home to also.

    Blooming here: David Austen pink and apricot roses, golden raspberries, deep purple iris next to orchid purple luneria, double lilacs, yellow iris, the last blooms of a blue-purple hundred year old wisteria that will bloom twice more this summer, champagne iris, violet-edged white iris, tomatoes, deep pink unknown rose, sweet peas, bleeding hearts, cranesbill geraniums, pansies, a six-pack of pink and white cosmos from the market, a lipstick pinky red pelargonium, Solomon’s Seal, and dandelions. The hostas, ostrich ferns, woodland ferns, burgundy Japanese maple, and Soloman’s Seal are my favorites, but the anticipation of the color and fragrance of each flower in it’s own season makes it all more special. When the honeysuckle and roses bloom by the back door the entire house fills with fragrance. We built a sleeping porch up in the trees above them.

    • I think the gardens will have a well earned respite this summer, you are right. We’ve already started a plan for the back yard garden that is trampled the worst. I think we’ll put roses and peonies in that section of yard. They should be able to handle the dogs better and we can mulch the dirt which will keep the weeds down.

      We discussed the question I asked in this post, as we worked this morning, and neither of us is really ready to move yet. We love our friends here, our home and the actual area SO MUCH. We really don’t want to give it up. We’ll just have to see how a six month split between Idaho and Washington works out for us this year! If we like it, we’ll keep doing it. If we need to make a BIG change, we will.

      Your gardens sound incredible. I drooled a little while reading your bloom list. And my gosh, a hundred year old wisteria??? I just put a wisteria in two years ago and was hoping it would bloom this year. They are such beautiful vines. And honeysuckle! I have two in the backyard. They bring the hummingbirds. 🙂

  11. We decided that we would grow all the flowers for our wedding here at home. On some days, I think this is a wonderful idea and love the symbolism of nurturing and caring for pieces of our wedding day…other days, I think it was the craziest idea I’ve ever had. Since we adore flowers and gardening, we wanted a lot of flowers for the wedding and of course, nothing would do but buying seeds and raising them up to their huge, full-bloomed glory. So we now have close to 400 seedlings of various flower types in the garden, along with the regular garden plants. I went out this afternoon to find the Avalanche Petunias just barely starting to open their blooms, you can just see a hint of the palest yellow color. I have never had yellow petunias before and am so excited to see them open that I can hardly stand it.

    • Hey beauty!

      Love the idea of growing your own wedding flowers! What a loving task to take on! I can’t wait to see photos of your wedding — it’s going to be gorgeous.

  12. having lived in a bus in my past, i know the draw of being a gypsy. but now i love my property, my roots, my woods, my book shed, my things on the walls and on the shelves.

    it’s purely selfish that i don’t want to see you give up your house, or any permanent structure that you would call “home”….because who you are to me is that gardener-jam preserver-spaghetti sauce canner-artist-picnic hostess that i have come to love and revere.

    i wish you and robert and all the creatures a safe and happy trip.
    sing loud! sing long!


    • I love my roots too.
      I truly do.
      I think that’s why I love Pocatello the way I do. Since I married Rob and moved to the USA, this is the first town we have lived in where I feel like we’re really sinking roots down deep. It’s a good feeling.

      I promise, I’ll be just who I am, no matter where I live, perhaps even more so when I have my 500 acres someday and an indian pony to ride through the aspen groves that grow up alongside the creek that flows through my property…..:)

      We shall sing! We shall sing.

      Actually, I’m singing already.

  13. mashed potatoes says:

    Your flower writing made my eyes light up in technicolour.
    Something else made me cry as I connected to your words.
    Can barely wait to see your future peony photos.
    Started downsizing my possessions today- I’d love to live a year with just the bare minimum essentials!!!! Maybe even two years!
    Every single African violet in my home is in bloom- oooh beauties in pink, lavender, purple and white.
    Wishing you a fabulous trip. Then some rest. Then loads of new adventures. Keep us posted…xoxo

    • I love making you laugh.
      I love making you cry.

      I think having less sometimes makes for more spacious and soulful living. Let me know how it goes. I may follow suit.

      African violets!!! I love violets. I had a violet in Arizona that continuously bloomed. When we moved to Idaho it croaked within two days of arriving in Pocatello. Isn’t that weird?

      Today was my last day in the studio before the move. I have started my rest. It feels good.


  14. Jenn With 2 n's says:

    Spring and beautiful has done me SUCH good. I’m feeling better all the time. I planted Irises and Lilies last fall and they’re growing!! I’m so Excited! My lilac bushes are getting huge and are almost ready to bloom! I can’t wait for that!! I started what I will be planting in my new veggie garden and everything’s been sprouting nicely!! I’ve been searching and searching for the perfect family dog for us (needs to be an outdoor doggy due to the size of our house and my allergies) and I’ve finally settled on a (wait for it) Great Pyranees!!! I know I know, HUGE dog, but I’m so up for it. I put my deposit down next week and he will be mine in mid-June!! I’ve flipped flopped over a stoic, proud, male doggy name suited for how big and grand he’ll be and I’m thinking either, Odin, Porthos, or Gidion. Teehee. Which do you like best?

    • I am SO relieved to hear that you are already feeling better! I was worried about you. 🙂

      Is there anything better than a little lilac bush blooming in Canada? One of the things I miss most about Saskatoon is biking through the city when the lilacs are blooming. Utterly extraordinary in every way.

      I can’t wait to see photos of your pup. I love the name Gideon. A LOT.


      • Jenn With 2 n's says:

        Oh good! I was leaning toward Gideon as well. 🙂 Can’t wait to see the airstream all tricked out. And can’t wait to see what a great summer you all will have!!

  15. love, love, love these think-about posts. they help me grow as a person.
    another thing i love is the comments here.
    you attract the most beautiful readers.

    • I love these comments too.
      Love that people took the time to write out lists of what they have blooming as well as their thoughts on gypsy lifestyle!
      So meaningful and special…..

      Love you, J.


  17. Oh. Totally. As long as there’s electricity, indoor plumbing–HOT WATER–and I could take my bed with me. And my arm chair. And my big-arse computer. (Ha. No, not for writing, silly. To watch Eureka!) Yep. Inherited me some great Kiwi outdoorsy genes, as you can see.

    Happiest trails, Jillian. It all sounds rather beautiful!


  18. Three years ago tomorrow, my husband and I said our vows and packed our few belongings into a 1984 Toyota Van. We travelled the country (and the world) for the better part of 2 and a half years. It’s my favorite way to live, to be. We went where we wanted to go when we wanted to go there, spent time with friends in many states, had little, needed little. It is nice to be in one place for a while- I think it’s easy to feel lost and aimless after too much time on the road. Once Cody and I get our sailboat built, the plan is to voyage on the seas for some of the year, be van-dwellers for some of the year, and for the rest of the year, live somewhere and work to pay for it all.
    It is truly amazing what you can get in exchange for the little creature comforts. You can get things like the whole world, if you do it right.
    Love your post, as usual. And the photos in the most recent one- Summertime- make me want to go have a picnic. And kiss my man. If you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go do the latter!

    • When Becca was here (just recently, she slept over on her way to Yosemite), we talked about you and Cody living in a van on the road. 🙂 Sounds like it was a wonderful adventure! Sounds like you have another one coming when the boat is finished. By then you’ll probably be blessed by Patagonia sponsorship and I’ll see pictures of you in the catalogue when it lands in my mailbox. 🙂

      I love your life and how you are living it. And I love your gentle spirit.

      Also, kissing is one of my favorite activities. Even prairie dogs do it. It never gets old.


  19. You have a strong and bright enough soul to make any living situation a magical one. We need little, but want lots. It’s refreshing and cleansing to start anew and to savor a simple life.
    PS- My garden is your garden my dear and I welcome you any day to sit and picnic with me! XX

    • I think you are right. I always manage to love exactly where I am.

      Can’t wait to rotate eggs with you….IN LESS THAN A WEEK!!!!!! ***Pet quail chicks.***
      And your letter arrived here yesterday and it made me smile so BIG. Can’t wait to sow some seeds with you and watch them grow.

  20. House/garden/RV/warm winter/jewelry/Life — what a gift of choice you have. May you always be awake and yet deeply dream…thanks Jillian for the beautiful post.

Speak Your Mind


Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.