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Mothers Day – by Little Jenny Wren


Mothers Day for me , here in Tasmania was spent travelling to the south of the island to visit my two sons who attend University in the state’s capital Hobart


We travelled through the mists and autumn leaves and small villages


and arrived in Hobart to perfect, still, sunshiny autumn weather
we ate lunch at an outside cafe then strolled around the docks
to the ice cream parlour
Such a beautiful day with my beautiful family in such beautiful surroundings.
Hope you all had a Happy Mothers Day!
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Toys On A Walk

We brought some of our wooden toys for a walk in the woods!  The chicks were feeling adventurous and climbed a mossy tree.

Then they went exploring among the ivy.

Very bravely balancing across a log.  (It was just a tree branch, but they’re so tiny they thought it was a log!)

Next, they found some snails to talk to!

And finally, at the end of their quest, they found the rainbow they had been looking for!  I think they’re looking around for the pot of gold the unicorn told them about back home.

After this, the chicks went home to have some lunch of pickles and popcorn, and a long rest.

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Reford Gardens/Les Jardins de Métis

Please let me lead you into a little piece of heaven on Earth from my region. It’s a beautiful garden that became a prime touristic destination in the area. In the summer of 1926, Elsie Reford began transforming her fishing camp on the Metis River into a garden. Located 220 miles north-east of Quebec City, at 48.51º N. latitude, the gardens she created over the next thirty years were the northernmost in the eastern half of North America. Known to some as Les Jardins de Métis, to others as Reford Gardens, the gardens have become famous since they were opened to the public in 1962. It was our usual end-of-year trip at my primary school and a favourite place to go when we had family coming over the summer. Last June was it’s 50th anniversary and the entry price was only 50¢ (the price from 1962!) so I grabbed the occasion to show the garden to a friend that just moved into the region and I also grabbed my camera, hoping you’ll enjoy the photo tour!

Gardening was by no means Elsie Reford’s  first calling. From the early 1900s she had come to Grand-Metis to fish the pools on the river. She also rode, canoed and hunted. She continued fishing until 1926 when an operation for appendicitis intervened. Ordered to convalesce following surgery, her doctor suggested gardening as a genteel alternative to fishing. She was 54 years old. During the summer of 1926, she began laying out the gardens and supervised their construction. The gardens would take ten years to build. The construction would extend over more than twenty acres. When she began, with the exception of a flagpole, a cedar hedge and a tree-lined driveway, the property was barely landscaped at all. The hay was cut to provide feed for the horses. Flowerpots were arranged on the veranda. It was, after all, a fishing lodge.

Note from Elsie Reford, July 13, 1954:

“Lilacs were marvelous, azaleas very brilliant but I sometimes wonder if the sweeps of blue poppies are not the most satisfying, for apart from their great beauty they outlast everything else for length of time of flowering. They have now been giving much delight for almost a month.”

The Blue Poppy Glade was so named because it was where Elsie Reford displayed one of her rarest and most enchanting plants. The Himalayan blue poppy (Meconopsis betonicifolia) is one of the marvels of the plant world. Native to the Tsangpo Gorge in the southeast corner of Tibet, it grows at altitudes of 3,120 to 4,000 metres (10,200 to 13,100 feet). These blue poppies are the progeny of the first plants that Elsie Reford grew from seed in the 1930s. Intrigued by the enthusiasm it generated, she was among the first gardeners in North America to try the seeds, obtained from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland. Nestled between martagon lilies (Lilium martagon var. album) and maidenhair ferns (Adiantum pedatum), the blue poppies bloom from the middle of June through the end of July. Notoriously difficult to grow, part of our success is due to the climate of the Lower St.Lawrence, which provides the plants with the humidity and cool night air that the Meconopsis enjoy.

This flower became an icon of the region, and it really is beautiful to see! Hope you liked the visit, and if you ever come into the beautiful region of Mitis, you’ll find that the people are as charming as the landscape.

Information and facts taken from the Reford Gardens website. All pictures by me.

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A Year in the Garden — Part 5

Wow, the summer always sneaks up on me and then bam! it seems to end. This has been a funny year in the garden. The tomatoes are taller than I am, the pumpkins are threatening to take over, and the zucchini and squash have been bigger than ever! How has the garden been for you this year?

About this time, the cool weather crops are long gone and the harvest is at it’s peak. Maintenance in the garden is simple, just pull the occasional weed and pick the veggies when ripe. Easy peasy. But that doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels. This is the perfect time to harvest your vermiculture compost to be mixed into the garden soil before closing the garden for the winter. It’s also a great time to do any repairs to the garden boxes, trellises, and other garden features. Just a few hours spent now can save you lots of time in the future!

Here’s a glimpse at what’s growing here, and a pic of my little garden helper. He loves to pick the veggies and is thrilled each time he sees a new one growing.

Super Tall Tomatoes


Sugar Pumpkins
My Little Garden Helper
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Desert Gardening

“If you are going to take a stand in the desert, do not be unsure of your purpose.  More than anywhere else that I can think of, this land does not reward partial commitments.” 

This quote from the book, How To, edited by Susan McAllister, Jessie Rogers & Wade Patterson, describes gardening in the desert so well.  There are no “partial commitments”.  You are either all in or all out, as a gardener.  With blaring sun and little to no sky water gardening in the desert seems to be quite a feat.  And yet with a little tending life prevails.

This is the first year we are using the square foot gardening method.  This picture was taken soon after planting earlier this Spring, mid- April.


And here it is now.  We have very limited space for our tiny, backyard garden.  Just this little fenced in area for one garden bed, a palette herb garden with some containers on top & a small in ground bed to the left.

Vine tomatoes & two zucchini plants are growing well here.  There’s also some basil & marigolds in the center of the bed.


We’re harvesting zucchini’s semi regularly now.


The tomatoes are starting to turn from green to rosy.  The other day I counted 81!


The basil has given us many a pesto!


We’ve harvested a handful of cucumbers.

There’s something so beautiful about how the cucumber vines find their clingy way.


We have three cantaloupes growing strong.


And some Sunflowers growing along the perimeter of the yard.  They thankfully have kept the grasshoppers busy & away (mostly) from the garden.



The pallet herb garden is starting to work after a slow start in the dry heat.  We have parsley, sage, a newly planted oregano & basil.  And here also is my constant garden kitty companion.  I think she loves the garden as much as I do.

The wonderful thing about desert gardening is that we have an extra long growing season.  I hope to add more square foot garden beds here and keep them busy year round.  Wish me luck!


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Leif’s Garden Adventure

This is my Summer home in the Pear tree

It has been a long winter indoors and I have enjoyed doing handcrafts at the kitchen table, but I am so eager to spend time outside! Spring has come at last & life is bursting forth everywhere! I live high in a mountain climate  near Mt . Shasta, CA.  Spring and Summer come later than in the low lands. Together we will look around the yard that is my home. In my yard there are fruit trees, flower beds, Toad ponds, vegetables, herbs and lots of bird houses! Beyond the yard there are woods, fields and ponds, but they are very wet and we will visit those another time!
My summer house is in a little pear tree in the yard. I like it there because it is shady in the hot summer sun and honey bees visit me in the Spring while looking for pollen in the flowers. Many birds stop by looking for insects on their way to the bird bath or home. So we will start our adventure here in the Pear tree!

The pear blossoms are lovely white and there are so many bees collecting pollen in the tree that you can hear the hum of their busy wings clear across the yard! Bees are our garden friends who pollinate the trees to make help lots of fruit. Honey bees are very busy about their work in the Spring and Summer when it is warm. They need the flowers to collect their pollen from. In the colder seasons, they hibernate. Honey Bees and Bumble Bees are quite friendly and like them all!

Next I am going to hop to the ground and look for Jedediah, one of the garden toads. Jed always suns himself in the same place on the edge of the Toad Pond. He is one of my best pals, always friendly and so helpful in the yard. He eats all the bugs that eat the plants! He also eats mosquitos and flies. During the winter Jed digs a hole in the ground and hibernates, which is like a deep sleep, until the sun warms up the Earth and he can come out again. I will also drop by his house so you can see where he lives! Toads like houses to have a shady place when it gets hot and to rest in when they are not eating bugs or spending time in their pond.

Jed is sunning himself and watching for bugs on the edge of his pond


Jed's House made of stone and copper and is next to the toad ponds

It is such a nice day, it just makes me want to run and jump and skip! I am passing by the lovely little blue veronica speedwell, a helpful plant named after a Saint! We use this little blue ground cover to fill in all the empty places and let it cascade about the rocks and stones. It is the first plant to flower in the Spring after the daffodils, it is very hardy and comes back every year!


Running through blue the Veronica Speedwell!


Now I have reached the vegatable patch and have found strawberries in bloom! This is always exciting because the beautiful white blossoms will turn into sweet red strawberries, such a wonderful treat to eat! The strawberry patch always smells so good!  We also grow squash, lettuce and green beans in the garden. We have a short growing season where we live because of the high mountain climate. Spinach, broccoli and lettuce can grow even if it get’s cold at night.


Leif is showing us the pretty strawberry blossom

Next to the strawberries I also found some Lemon Balm, a lovely herb that smells just like lemons. In the summer we put crinkled leaves into a pitcher of ice water or make tea, both refreshing and relaxing. So nice to have all these useful plants around & the toads to watch over them! They  also get to watch over the calendula flowers in the herb garden.  The calendula flowers, sometimes called “winter marigolds” are very important to us.

Calendula flowers in the herb garden
Calendula flowers in the herb garden

Calendulas are very useful and healing to the skin. We make soap using both the flowers and the leaves infused in a vegetable glycerin base. Over the summer we make enough soap  to last all winter and use for Christmas gifts for family and friends. We put lemon grass, sage and ylang ylang oil in the soap too to make it smell good. The lovely green color is the natural color made by using the calendula plants.

Home made Calendula Soap

Now I am going to the near by fence to climb up the post to vist one of the bird houses. The songbirds work with the toads to eat pesty bugs and take care of the garden and yard. They also fill the air with their lovely songs and help wake us up with their music at dawn. The house I have reached is being used this year by Mr. & Mrs. Tree Swallow. Such a beautiful blue color and bright white chest they have. Did you ever notice that some bird pairs look different, the male bird being brighter than the female bird? And other kinds of birds, they look both the same? Well, the pairs that look just the same are birds that stay together their entire life and the different looking ones find a new partner each Spring. So let me introduce you to Mr. & Mrs. Tree Swallow! They have raised a family of 4 in this house! After the baby birds come out of the house and fly for the first time, they stay in the area feeding and making their wings strong for their flight south in when Winter comes.  They will return again in the early Spring of the following year. It is very good for us all to help the birds by putting out houses for them as often it is difficult for them to find places to make their nests.

Leif visits Mr. & Mrs. Tree Swallow

Across the yard from the Tree Swallow house is our Summer work table. This is a big table we made from  old lumber that we use to work on as well as eat outside, sometimes for breakfast and for summer evenings.   It has a shade structure over it and is next to the toad ponds. This is a peaceful and inspiring place to work, next the gardens, herbs and toad ponds.


We have been making Fairy, Elf and Gnome dishes the last few days!

A lot of the work we do is hand work, making things out of wool and felt , putting oil and beeswax on the wooden houses, drawing and painting pictures and sorting seed pods and pine cones. All this work is pleasant to do where we can hear the birds singing, the wind blowing in the tall pine trees and the toad plopping into the water of their pond.

I love helping with the work!

The last place we will visit today is one of my favorite places! The bird bath! This is a place birds come to get a drink and also take a bath!  Birds need to take baths too! They also need a place to drink all year.  In the winter we try to keep water that is not frozen available for them in the winter.  Every day about 4:30 the yellow warblers stop by to twitter and hop about in the bird bath! I like to sit on the edge & watch them!

This is the large bird bath and fountain. I am visiting here with my friend!

Thank you everyone! Thank you for going with me ! It is going to be a busy season with lots of time out of doors and longer days. We will be gathering sticks and wood from forest and then collecting acorns and other seed pods when they fall from the trees in late summer. We also collect plants for summer tea and and dried grasses for fairy house roofs. Maybe we can meet again in the Autumn  and see what we have made! Bye~~~!

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Bunnies in the Forest (Toys on a Walk series)

On a crisp, spring day, Hungry Bunny went out for a walk in Tryon Creek State Park in Portland, OR. I am so lucky to get to work in this beautiful park and I was able to capture his adventure with my camera.

Hungry Bunny decided on a trail with waterleaf lining the edges and sword fern arching overhead.

The forest is coming to life thanks to spring’s sunshine and the fiddleheads are like starting to uncurl above the bunny’s head.

Did you know that violets aren’t always, um, violet colored? These are yellow wood violets and the young leaves and flower buds are edible. Our bunny friend stopped for a little nibble. His name is Hungry Bunny after all!

Hungry Bunny passed under some salmonberry plants and decided to take a break to play dress-up with the buterfly-shaped wings.

Every hiker knows they have to share the trail so he stopped to let a banana slug pass by. There’s nothing icky about these creatures. They’re decomposers that do great work in the forest. Watch out for the slime!

At the base of a huge western red cedar tree, Hungry Bunny met up with his pals Love Bunny, Woodland Bunny and Pretty Bunny.

From their low vantage point the tree seemed to go up and up forever!

The friends frolicked in the forest and climbed the roots of a fallen Douglas fir tree.

In the soft, decomposing wood of a western red cedar stump the friends had a picnic of candy flower, also known as western miner’s lettuce.

Happy and finally no longer hungry, Hungry Bunny made his way back home, careful not to linger too long next to the huge skunk cabbage plants with the smelly flowers.

He ended the afternoon with a nice nap on the broad leaves of a trillium. These pretty flowers take 7 years to bloom and the petals start out white then turn pink and, finally, magenta as they age.


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A walk through Nairobi (Toy on a Walk Series)

Hello all!

Greetings from Nairobi, Kenya!  We are bunting baby dolls from the ziezo label and we would like to take you around our garden and neighbourhood, now that we woke from our nap under the baby pawpaw tree.























This is the flame tree, with gorgeous red – orange flowers blooming now that we are reaching the end of the long rains.














When we lay under the pawpaw tree, these are the dark skies of the rainy season. . . the sun is hiding behind the clouds.













The two of us like to climb trees and bushes, and there are plenty of those around in our neighbourhood and garden.  Here we are in a baby banana tree and a mango tree, unfortunately there are no fruits on them at the moment.























Here we are in a small acacia tree.  It’s difficult to climb this one, because of the long thorns.  Did you know that giraffes can eat the leaves from these trees despite the thorns?  There is something in their saliva to soften the thorns and then they pluck the leaves off with their tongue.























Once in a while we visit the Waldorf Kindergarten in Kileleshwa, and we then like to hang out in this lovely shrub that smells so nice and is commonly called “yesterday, today & tomorrow” (Brunfelsia) because of the different colours the flowers turn.























If you go for a ride in Nairobi, you have to be ready to wait, traffic jams are the matter of the day because of the number of cars, the state of the roads, and ongoing construction for the “Vision 2030” plan.  Here’s a view of the Nairobi Arboretum at the bottom of the hill, and some of the road construction around it.












And in some places the old road has been replaced by a new dirt road to allow for road improvements, while you also can see the rapid construction of new apartment buildings that are replacing the single standing houses.












However, after a bumper to bumper drive to Karen, reknown from Isak Dinesen’s (a.k.a. Karen Blixen) ‘Out of Africa’ it is also nice to be ending up in the lovely green environment of the Nairobi Waldorf School there.


































Nairobi and its environs have lots of sunshine (even in the rainy season), but one thing that is always certain as you could see in most of the pictures, there is never a lack of some dreamy clouds in the sky with many imaginative creatures.












We liked taking you on a short tour and know that we soon join our friends in the ziezo Designs shop to find a new home and explore new places on this lovely earth.  However, now it is time for a nap again. . .


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Living on a land (Toys on a Walk series)

Please let Albus and Victoria, our resident dolls, give you a tour of our little part of earth.

For this year we decided to rent the grand-parents house of Papa, which is located on the family land on the shore of the magnificent Saint-Laurent river, in the Province of Québec, Canada. There, my in-laws cultivate potatoes and all sorts of vegetables.

Here the land takes longer to wake up. When we took our walk, only green moss and some dandelions were at sight.

But there are lots of winged friends around!

Of course, the kings of nature here are the evergreens. Cedars, Pines, Firs are what’s green all year long.

Buds are just appearing. Roses, Maples, Birch are cautious here. They don’t want to get caught with frost!

We will plant potatoes soon, as now’s the time. But the lettuce, carrots, beans, squashes and broccoli will have to wait until the end of the month; they are much more fragile.

On the land, there are ponds to sit by and watch trouts. Sometimes a heron great us there too.

Fields waiting. Oh, the possibilities!

Back to the house is one of my favorite view. A swirly earth road borded with trees, looking at summer cottage transformed into all-year home, to the river so huge we people here call the sea.

In the sand we can find many treasures; seashells, urchins, crabs shells, special rocks and tons of drift wood.

Underwater lies more treasures, and all the activity of tiny things living in it!

With the sea and the forest so near, we feel very fortunate. It is a perfect setting for a slow-paced life and a wonderful theatre for us to witness the cycle of the seasons.

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Planting with children

{getting everyone involved)


This is a variation of one of my favorite projects seen here.

It is important to remember that:

children LOVE to work with their hands!

they ADORE getting dirty!

and they love being part of a greater project that they can literally WATCH grow.

{all hands on deck}


The easiest thing to forget when planting with children is that they will want to get their hands right in there so allow enough room for everyone to work. We used an egg crate for each child and modeled it while planting our own egg crate. In all on this day we planted 4 different types of seeds to be sown as soon as ready.

With egg crate planting you can plant the egg crate in the ground and thin where needed or you can transplant them out of the egg crate when they are ready (with gentle hands of course).


Needed for planting with children:

*A good clear workspace (outside is preferable, but this DOES make a good rainy day project as well)

*One egg crate for each child

* a medium bag of potting soil

*seeds, we love these and these, but any will do!

*gloves for you and the children (if you don’t like getting too dirty) at our house and school for this particular project we like getting our hands in the dirt and making that connection…but not all children will like the feel of dirt (adults included)!

* a watering can or spray bottle

{make sure you get the right amount of seeds in each spot}


You simply fill the egg crates about 3/4 full with potting soil, push a small hole in the middle of each and plant your seed. cover loosely with more soil and water gingerly. set on a sunny windowsill and watch. Your children will be amazed at what they have helped make and when the time is ready (read seed packet for germination times) they can help you transplant into your own home garden.