Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Forgive Me My Clay Feet

Borage in bloom in the pocket-sized kitchen garden. Scientists have found that Green Lacewings often  lay their eggs on the stems of borage when given the chance. Could it be because of the hairy stems, which would be a great protection for eggs?

What would I do without my garden?
What would I BE without my garden?

Dear Friends,

As many of you have reminded me, I DID promise to pull the give-away winners out of the hat on March 25th–and I DID. I just haven't had the time to post a blog. Chalk it up to my clay feet, which is truer than true. This garden of mine is mired in a gooey clay after the wonderful and welcome rains we just had. No matter that I've been feeding and topping the soil for six years; it still hasn't succumbed to my coddling.

Looking from Mockingbird Studio toward the kitchen garden (tin tubs are filled with mini-gardens planted by grands). Spring glints off every shimmering new leaf.

I am painting some final illustrations for My First Bird Book and Feeder, which will be released this fall, and I had to write a Lowe's blog article, and finish an upcoming personal article for Country Gardens magazine. The article was fairly lengthy, and it took me a bit longer than expected, but it is in the hands of James Baggett (editor of CG), and he will prune it as necessary.

Artichokes, rhubarb, arugula, chives, calendula, and so much more in this little pocket paradise.

Please check the end of this entry for the winners and for the upcoming give-away for this new posting. Remember, members of my Grimy Hands Girls' Club will receive a bonus give-away if drawn as the winner.

Ok, now it is time for me to admit that I am CRAZY about scented Pelargoniums (often called Geraniums) and have collected them for too many years to mention. I think I was a teenager when I bought my first, which was an Attar of Rose. You will become addicted to these easy-to-grow and  little plants. When you look at some of their blooms, you'll swear they are as glorious as orchids (my humble opinion).

Peppermint scented Pelargonium is famous not only for its scent, but also for the big (sometimes five inches across), softly furred leaves. This thrives in the shade here in San Luis Obispo. I have had this plant in all my gardens since my son Noah bought it for me for Mother's Day decades ago. This one is about five feet wide and three feet tall. I take starts to grow indoors, too. This produces a tiny, white flower, which I add to fruit salads and cold summer drinks.

What a sweetheart. This is Apple, scented like its namesake, and the flowers are about the size of a dime. These flowers, mixed with others more colorful, look lovely sprinkled over custards, salads, cheesecake, homemade ricotta or yogurt cheese. Both the apple and nutmeg are great diminutive plants for containers.

Nutmeg looks similar to apple, but the scent is very different. Though I must admit that if you've ever grated fresh nutmeg, this doesn't really smell like it. Use these flowers as above.

Oh, that garish Mrs. Taylor. She always was a show-off (in the world of scenteds).  Lipstick red and proud of it.

This Coconut is the tiniest, with blooms smaller than my baby fingernail. This actually does smell a bit like coconut. I have only been able to grow this from seed. It self sows prolifically.

Village Hill Oak scented gets large. I cut these for floral arrangements, and they last for a week. Look at those dear, splotched faces. I love them. The leaves have a dark center splotch.

Lime. The name says it all.

Lemon crispum (aka fingerbowl because it was once floated in fingerbowls at fine feasts). This photo belies the small size. This little charmer looks great in a pot. Mine has been in a big terra cotta container for a dozen years. I constantly cut this for bouquets and cooking. Yummy.

Skeleton Rose, with its finely cut, rose scented leaves, is delightful. I use this bloom in my homemade yogurt cheeses. It is lovely.

Ok, remember that I have clay feet. I might have gotten some of these names wrong, but I'm fairly sure that things are correct. I labeled them as soon as they were planted.

I could show you about another 30 of these scenteds, from apricot to ginger to cinnamon, mint to Lemon Balm, but I think you get the picture that I love these members of my garden family. If you're thinking you might be hooked on scented Pelargoniums, let me recommend the FABULOUS catalog and web-site of Mountain Valley Growers, which is the nations' largest provider of certified organic herbs, perennials, and veggies. I have dealt with them for many years, and they never let me down. The way they ship their plants guarantees that there won't be any fatalities.

Part of a large order of plants I received from Mountain Valley Growers. These arrived in compartmentalized cardboard boxes and not one was damaged. Fabulous!

My pal Karen Weir-Jimerson's book So Much Sky goes to Jeri Landers of Hopalong Hollow Gazette. This seems very fitting since Jeri leads the same sort of life as Karen. Congratulations, dear Jeri! We will send out your book this week.

Congratulations to Laura from Cottage and Broom. You've won the fabulous kneeler from Gardener's Supply Company in Burlington, Vermont. They'll ship the kneeler directly to you.

Good-bye for now and enjoy every minute of your spring. Remember to be kind and don't let anyone get your goat.

All joys,


P.S. Because of the enthusiastic response to my last postings, Gardener's Supply Company is donating ANOTHER fabulous kneeler for another give-away. Leave a comment on this posting. Gardener's Supply will ship your kneeler directly to you. This is a great, 100 percent employee owned company.

Also, the wonderful folks at Peaceful Valley Farm Supply are offering FIVE of their tin seed collections as give-aways to five of you who comment on this blog. Peaceful Valley will ship directly to you and will include an up to date catalog of their great offerings.

Drawing for both the kneeler and the five seed tins will be the day of my next posting. Notice I'm not giving you a date so you can't chide me about being late.


Anne said...

Dear Sharon ~ What a lovely blog! So happy to have found you (through a new follower to my blog ~ so much fun ~ someone new, and I can look through her favorites! ♥) ~ Anyway, I am now a member of your Grimy Hands Club as well as following you~ how fun!
I managed to put your photo on my sidebar!
So nice to "meet" you!

Lydia said...

Been gone so long not even Blogger remembers me. Here goes try #3 to post...

The humorless people at the Lotto insist that my 5 matching numbers must be on the same line to count as winners... perhaps here I can have more luck.

While I have a kneeler in the garden, my house wants to win one so it can coax me out of the sunshine so I will polish up the inside):-

Pondside said...

I've often looked at those kneelers in gardening magazines - what a treat that would be!
I'll be looking for the article in the magazine - would you please let us know when it will appear?

Marigold Jam said...

Lovely geraniums Sharon - I can almost smell them just looking at the photos. I love those little seed tins - so pretty and that fork is beautiful too!

Blondie's Journal said...

Your flowers are only rivaled by your paintings! Can't wait to read your article and I'm looking forward to your book! :)

Happy April!


Rebecca said...

Are you SERIOUS? Another possible chance for a kneeler??? How generous (and kind of you to pass on this possibility)!

I, too, am fascinated by scented geraniums...and always eager for your latest posts :)

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Dear Sharon ~ I love your sweet header picture. Your post is full of wonderful goings on in your gardens and as a writer.

Congrats to the winners. It would be neat to be the next winner of another giveaway for the kneeler. We'll see, if it's meant to be it will be.

I have one scented geranium, lemon scented. Yours are lovely and what a wonderful new order you got.

That is so funny about not giving a date of the next give away so that no one can say you're late.

I always enjoy seeing your wonderful little paradise. Very inspiring to me.

Have a great week Sharon,


From the Kitchen said...

I've enjoyed my first coffee of the day with you in your garden. It has been a lovely visit!


Elizabeth said...

I am joining the Grimy Hands Club today - a fun idea.
It's always nice to drop by and see what is growing in your garden - nothing growing in mine yet, there is still frost on the ground in the mornings!

Darla said...

I really need a new kneeler and this one looks like a dandy and the tin seed collections look darling.

Primitive Stars said...

Hello Sharon,love the pictures, so nice to see flowers this time of year. Can`t wait for your book on birds, Francine.

Cristy said...

I had no idea borage was the plant of choice for the green lacewings. I so love those insects. I have been wanting to plant borage anyway. This gives me more reason.

And I have been looking for a good source for scented geraniums. Thanks for listing it.

Please don't enter me in the kneeler contest, but I would love to win one of the 5 tin seed collections from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply. Thank you.

Sandy Schaefer said...

Hi Sharon.

I shall be investigating the world of scented geraniums a little more closely this spring. Your blog is wonderful, inspiring and full of gardening hope. I just love it.
Bless your heart.


Julie Marie said...

Congratulations to your lucky winners!... I too love scented geraniums... not sure which one is my favorite they are all so lovely... and what a precious little goat!... Happy April to you!... xoxo Julie Marie

Susan said...

Dearest friend, Who best to understand the callings of the garden than I...not to mention, the quilting, and paper flowers :-D! I'm glad you finally had rain--now will you send some sunshine my way! <3

Unknown said...

Great post! I love scented geraniums, too, and will refer to your post when I go to up to Anthony's Herb Farm in Brighton, TN (a 100 yr heritage farm) to replenish my stash.

Needless to say, I would love to win either prize.

Pamela said...

I love scented Pelargoniums but alas they will not survive overwinter here in the Mountains of N. Calif. I need to give a few a try and bring them in as I do my other tender plants. Also thank you for your last post on the SF garden show. I did not get to attend this year so I was able enjoy via your post.

Janessa said...

Fun! I want some geraniums and my kids would love them too.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I grew scented geraniums for the first time last year when a friend gave me a few starts (rose, peppermint, and I think apple).

They were glorious but mine never developed flowers. I wonder if it was because they were on the porch. I tried to bring them inside but they died so I will be starting over this year.

I don't know how you get as much done as you do. For me it would be between writing a book and blogging but I couldn't do both.

I love both your blogs and your books. :)

Vee said...

Ahhhhh...wherein the blogger gets crafty as in smart. You made me smile, Sharon. Clay feet, eh? Six years doesn't cure it. Oh dear. (We have a lot of clay here and can find it in little balls all through the soil. John says that the clay was keeping the yard from draining properly hence the basement troubles. Much better now that he has broken it up.)

Off to read one of your articles or two.

Pat said...

I could sit for a few hours at your sweet table in the garden...the soft scent of the geraniums around...

My husband just received his yearly order of fresh artichokes from Castroville, CA - what a treat to those of us in the upper midwest...

Jayne said...

Love your blog - have kept up with it for a long time. I too have several scented geraniums and love them. Haven't been able to find some of the ones you mentioned so am thrilled to have a new source. I look forward to your new book as I am a bird lover! I am a friend of Lori's and am so pleased you were able to do a quick visit to our little gem of a community. Your give-away would be so fun to win!

Pam G. said...

I love scented geraniums also but can't leave them oudoors in my climate-do you have any secrets for indoor growing? It has been several years and I'd really like to try some again.
As always-Maddie and I await the bird book!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Vee,

So sorry if you can't find my Lowe's postings. I don't know where they all are, but I will post when they materialize. Anyhow, I sent them and my photos in and they're waiting in the sidelines.

Hi dear wannagrowscentedsbutcan'ts, YES YOU CAN! and I am NOT running for office anywhere. Grow your scenteds outdoors during the summer, (in pots if you wish), cut them back in the fall and move them indoors to a sunny area, but NOT close to cold glass. Don't overwater them. They really will grow indoors and then you can slowly get them used to the outdoors come late spring in the cold hinterlands.

Lori ann said...

hee hee, no date, i like that. :)

geraniums of every kind are my favorites, thank you for the link to mountain growers! i'm sorry you have clay feet (and soil) but weren't these rains fabulous?!

we were in the carrizo last week sharon and i thought of you. it is not a year for wildflowers, but someday it will be again! xx lori

(im crossing my fingers for the kneeler!)

Joan S Bolton said...

Hi Sharon,

I sneak peppermint-scented geraniums into many of my clients' gardens as a fragrant, water-conserving ground cover for the shade.

That it is a fabulous herb is a bonus!

Wylie said...

Your photos are just exquisite! I would love to win one of the kneelers or a tin of seeds. Still anxiously awaiting for spring here in the north east!

jerilanders said...

Sharon, I haven't won anything since I was 16 yrs old and entered a dance contest. I won a really BAD record album. This time I won something very GOOD, and I didn't even have to dance for it! Thanks, I l will really enjoy this book!
It's funny, I was just about to whip up a batch of your "ants be gone outta the house" mixture, when I learned I had won.
( Every gardener should own a copy of Trowel and Error, I love it!)

Anonymous said...

Sharon I enjoyed your post about scented geraniums. They are lovely additions to anyone's garden. I have some that have been with me for years. Enjoy your day.
Martha Ellen

Donna@Conghaile Cottage said...

Oh How I enjoy reading ANYTHING you write! I really love scented geraniums and "TRY" to discover new ones along my gardening path! I understand the CLAY FEET, we've had those here in New England with the early "HOT" weather!
Your View from Mockingbird Studio is SO CHARMING! I want to sit there with you and discuss my own attempt at a kitchen herb garden!
As I read along your post today I came to a HALT with the CUTEST EVER "Smiling Goat"!!! TOOO CUTE!!!
Have a wonderful Easter Week,
Big Hugs,

Storybook Woods said...

Oh look at the lushness of your graden, it does my heart good. The joys of living on the CA coastline!! Clarice

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Sharon, because of your lovely garden posts I have started my own very small and secret garden. WE LIVE on ten acres and have huge veggie garden but I want somethinf cozy. So we started today with the goal being to use only all recycled farm items for the hardscape and transplants for the plants. THANK YOU for inspiring me so.

Michelle said...

Your garden is such an inspiration to us all. I worked on mine today and it was wonderful...and then I needed some ibuprofen....

Bonnie K said...

You brought back some wonderful memories of my pine, apple, and peppermint scented geraniums. I had them for years, but I believe an early frost caught me by surprise and I lost them. Now you have reminded me of how much I enjoyed them. I would put them outside in the spring and the bees loved them. I need to get some the next time I go to the garden center. Congrats to Jeri and Laura. I looked for those tins at peaceful vally and couldn't find them. I need to go searching again. Hope you enjoy the spring weather. Take care.

Anonymous said...

I love geraniums, too. They are so hardy and always look nice. They are the only flowers that survive the sun on our deck.

Anonymous said...

Well, don't know quite how to get signed in here. Love your blog as well as your books. Thanks! Pat at

Teri said...

I will just keep on trying until I win one of these drawings! Love Pelargoniums too! And I bet I know someone who will love the photo of the goat. Connie??

Kim said...

I've got to throw my name in for the kneeler... my mother will be having her second knee replacement in September and is struggling to keep up with her gardening. I can't think of a better Mother's Day present!

Anonymous said...

For years I scorned any aids to gardening, being very proud of my ability to sink into a yoga like gardening squat for long periods of time, and then rise straight up again. Well, you know what they say about pride going before a fall...a fall that in my case left me with damaged cartilage in both knees and incipient arthritis. Although I'm managing o.k. scooting around with my behind on a piece of tarp, it is not the most graceful way to garden, and the getting up and down part is quite a production. I see a kneeler in my future whether I win one here or not! Kelly in Oregon

Suzanne in Sweetwater said...

Really fascinating to read about all your scented Pelargoniums! I have always been intrigued by them, also, but the selection is pretty limited in my area. You have inspired me to order from Mountain Valley Growers. Thanks!!

a gardener said...

I love scented geraniums, though I have had some trouble with overwintering. But I always try again. Thanks for the heads up on Mountain Valley Growers. Thanks for sharing such a lovely garden!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Dear Friends,

You are showing such patience regarding a possible win of the kneeler from Gardener's Supply. Well, here is GREAT news–your letters and comments have been amazing and Gardener's Supply is donating, not just one, but THREE more kneelers, for which I will hold MORE give-aways during my next postings. We need to get one to you during planting season.

Thank you Gardener's Supply and thank you dear readers.


Anonymous said...

The seed boxes are very cute - would be a fun addition to my potting shed shelf. I have used the scented geraniums by my front door for years, usually citronella.Nanc

peg said...

Sharon! Darling goat!!! And, the seed packets!! Your blog is amazing....when will your new book be published? Is there an ETA???

Jennie Brooks said...

I had never heard of scented Pelargoniums. I ALWAYS learn something new when I read your blog. Thank you.

Barb said...

You've made me look at geraniums in a whole new way! Your kitchen garden looks fabulous. It's snowing here in CO - I'm visiting to find some sunshine and flowers.

Larkrise garden girl said...

Hi Sharon, sweet geraniums are my favorie plant in Southern California.I feel like a master gardener when I grow them they seem so easy to grow!Wow another chance at winning something!Pick me! Lol,Cheri

Cottage and Broome said...

Sharon, Thanks you so much!! I'm the winner of your Garden Supply kneeler! I'm very excited and it will come in so handy for my planting this year. Thanks again, Laura

Stephanie Roth Sisson said...

Dear Sharon,

LOVE the new header image- so sweet and precious. Your garden looks like you are back giving it TLC- how beautiful AND you must be having so much fun.

See you soon,

Big HUG,


Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Congratulations to the winner of Karen's book. It's a wonder. I do love essays. I also adore scented pelargoniums. They make me so happy. I grow them in pots of my deck. What I wouldn't give for Mrs. Taylor in her lipstick red. Love to you my dear friend.~~Dee

Privet and Holly said...

How fun to come home
to a post chock full of
such garden-y goodness!
I love scented geraniums,
too, and have planted many
among bigger bloomers
over the years. That said,
as a Midwesterner, I am
always sad as they will not
winter over, here. I wonder
if I would have luck trying
to winter them over, inside?
Or if we just don't have the
light requirements in the
winter months that they
would require.....hmm....

This Grimy Girl is itching
to get started. The U of M
Arboretum has a big sale
on Mother's Day weekend
and I will be seeking out the
scented geraniums, for sure : )

Happy Easter, Sharon!

xx Suzanne

PS: Fun that you hiked
Tahquitz when you were
expecting. It's actually
well done and I can't wait
to do it again, next year!

kj said...

hello sharon!

i have to talk about RED geraniums. is there any red more vibrant in all the word? often pink ones flirt with me and i succumb, but like my father, i cannot enjoy summer without red geraniums.

clay soil? that makes you an even more super duper gardener. my soil is rich and deep, the product of years and years of being part of a working farm. i 've been told the soil where i live, here in the pioneer valley, falls only behind a section of egypt in its richness. thank god i have been given that gift.

i'll be in touch.
love love

Vicki Boster said...

Hi Sharon- you should not have to give up any of your precious garden time for any reason- not even to pick a winner- lol! Your garden photos are so lovely--- sigh-- it's the most wonderful place to be- its good for your soul.

I can't wait to see your newest book- I know it will be fabulous. I love your drawings--

Have a wonderful Easter holiday-
Much love

Anonymous said...

Happy, blessed Easter, my friend. xo thea

Marguerite said...

The smell of any geranium is one of my favourite scents but the scented ones, particularly lemon are a favourite plant. Since moving to zone 5 I haven't grown any though. I see in your comments they can overwinter indoors, perhaps I'll try them again yet.

Lori said...

Hope you and your family had a wonderful Easter Sharon! The scented Pelargoniums sound great and I want to try some. Blessings.

house plans said...

Enjoyed every bit of it!


If it's any consolation, Sharon, my soil is the same way. No matter how much organic matter I slather on, it's still a clay soil and probably always will be. I remember in my Master Gardener class, the Soils instructor told us that although it's a pain to work with, clay soil is actually very nutritious to plants.

Love your scented pelargoniums. I wish our winters were a wee bit warmer. Maybe one of these years I'll get a greenhouse. :)

Please recuse me from your drawing since I'm a very grateful past winner and want to give someone new a chance.

I think we're finally seeing spring here. Sunshine and warmer temps. Hooray! Have a great week dear friend.

Little Bird said...

THANKS, SHARON......for the reminder to NOT let anyone get my goat! :)
Your scented geranium post is fantastic! I love them too.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

You've been so busy this Spring and giving away so many sweet gifts. I'm so glad to visit your blog again after losing the link to it. I'm going to put it in my favorites list so that I don't miss any more!