Life as I know It

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

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sanctuaries of the Spirit

Early 20th century painting of Selma's Garden by T.C. Steele. 
As I lectured at the historic site last week, I couldn't believe that this painting hung just a few feet from where I stood.

For a gardener, being cut off from the earth is a horrible fate. I've felt incomplete without my daily talk with my plants. We've gone 3,500 miles so far, but we still have over 1,000 to go. How do I keep sane? By dreaming of what I'll plant in Maine, by walking through my California gardens in my mind, by tugging at weeds in a park, and by losing myself in gardens we visit.

T.C. and Selma Steele's historic home, which is open for tours. Ok, I can move right in here.

We drove through the pergola at the side of the house to reach the studio where I lectured. Note Steele's painting of this scene below.

Steele painted the pergola with a view of the rolling Brown County, Indiana hills.

Steele's easel, paints, and work table. 

I always LOVE to see the tools of the trade.

One of the many outbuildings.

This lovely quote from the gardens of Indiana plein air painter T.C. Steele touched my heart. I hope it touches yours.

May your garden be your abiding sanctuary.

Sending love from the road,


P.S. On Monday afternoon, my new posting for Garden Grow Along will appear. Drop in for a visit to not only my post, but also the post of my 7 compadres-they're a treasure trove of knowledge.

P.P.S. My next stop is the Town Hall in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, on Thursday, June 17, 2010, at 6:30 pm, for a slide lecture and tea, sponsored by the Village Herb Shop. En route, I'll be doing a radio interview on Cover to Cover on WRRS-FM in Cincinnati and interviews on WCPO-TV(ABC) in Cincinnati and WTTE-TV (Fox 28) in Columbus, Ohio.


Storybook Woods said...

Man, Sharon, you are getting to see the coolest gardens. Truly. You must be inspired and overwhelmed all at the same time. Keep having fun for all of us xoxo Clarice
ps. that painting is stunning

The cottage by the Cranelake said...

Looks like a lovely place! I can´t say that they are known over here though.

I really like that outbuilding! Would be nice to have something like that over here :-)
Have a great day now!

Dee said...

That sure is an inspiring sanctuary. It must be even more so in person. Thank you for sharing such beautiful places with those of us how might not otherwise have the opportunity to visit. I am enjoying catching up on your to absorb some more of the beauty you gift us! Have a safe journey and take care.

Claudia said...

What a beautiful place. I love the pergola - I find pergolas so beautiful and welcoming. I know you're not in Maine yet, but you are certainly getting to visit some beautiful places along the way.


Were there any weeds to pull in the gardens?

jaz@octoberfarm said...

chagrin falls? i've heard of it and can't wait to hear what you think. i might have to check that out. i love th pics on today's post. i could move in there too! continue to enjoy!

lemonverbenalady said...

Can't wait! Can't wait! See you Thursday, dear Sharon! Love, LVL

Aisling said...

The Selma's Garden painting is perfect. How inviting the garden in the painting is!

Take care!

FlowerLady said...

Oh Sharon ~ What a delightful trip you are on. I just love that painting of the lady in her garden, and I could move right into that house also.

Thank you for sharing your trip and sanctuaries with us.


Vee said...

Oh Sharon, what I'm about to say may shock or surprise you. You've touched on one of my major pet peeves in this post. It's of the current state of affairs versus what used to be in the pergola scene at S. Steele's home (which is ever so much more pleasing to the eye in my opinion). The way we allow our worlds to become so completely closed in because of our love for trees and bushes is my pet peeve. There are islands on the coast of Maine that one can drive all the way around without ever being able to see the ocean. Same is true for homes built along ridges where they see nothing of the White Mountains for the forest. I'm all about judicious cutting of trees and wish that more people were. Did I shock you?

You really are getting ever closer to home!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hello Vee, well your comment sure spiced up our conversation as we drove along the highways of Ohio. Now we're perched above the Ohio River in Covington, Kentucky and PHEW it is hot and humid here. Now we're only 1,074 miles from South Bristol. The sad thing is that we'll just get to unload, walk out to our beloved porch to sip tea and eat breakfast, and then we're back in the car for the trip to my lecture at High Field Hall in Falmouth, Mass. I love Cape Cod, but it is tough to be there when it is so crammed with summer vacationers. I'm more the Henry Beston walk the beach alone type.

Ok, back to your comment. I love trees so much and I honestly don't know if I could cut one down simply to allow myself more of a view. But I really prefer to have a home at the edge of a meadow with woods behind the house.

Jeff said, "if a place is treeless I don't mind maintaining an existing view, but I don't feel right cutting down a tree for my own self interest."

So I would love to know what your friends and readers think about this. I entered this comment on your blog and did all the required things, but it didn't show up.

Thanks for giving our brains some exercise.



One Woman's Journey said...

Sharon, I love the painting of the garden, the home - I also could move right in. I know this is a trip you must take - but know in my heart you will happy to be "home".
I read your comment on Nan's about a vacuum. I have pine floors but some old oriental rugs - otherwise I would not have a vacuum. They are too heavy for me to shake outdoors. Most of the time I just run a dust mop and a damp mop - safe traveling wishes sent to you :)

Carol said...

I'm sad to say I missed your visit to Indiana last week, didn't know you would be in Brown County giving a talk! That is a beautiful part of our state.

cindy said...

How neat. I live south of Cincinnati and pick wcpo just fine. Any idea what time you'll be on?

Take care-

Vee said...

Interesting perspectives, you two! ;D I'm sorry that you had such trouble posting on my blog. I have comments closed on the most recent post. Gee, and I was just complaining about the trouble I was having posting on someone else's blog. Perhaps Blogger is having a hiccup.

Deborah Jeans Dandelion House ~ inspired living said...

Dear Sharon,
Each new garden you visit is a gem! I am enjoying being the armchair traveler on your fantastic garden tour across the U.S. Your upcoming visit in Falmouth will be one of our summer highlights for sure! Tell me! What special friends and gardens will you be visiting on Cape Cod?

Garden Dreams to you!


toasted said...

I do wonder how you cope being away from your beloved gardens for so long. Dreaming eh? Now that's good for the soul any which way you do it...

Anonymous said...

Sharon, What a beautiful, enchanting place! I love the pink cottage and the photos/paintings of the arbor. Just lovely!

Zuzana said...

Oh, what a lovely sentiment complemented by stunning images and photographs. So true, I too miss my garden the most when I am away.;)
The top painting is absolutely gorgeous.;)
Have a lovely Monday,

Pam said...

Beautiful comparison of the actual drive to the painting.
Loads of good photos...Hope you are in your gardens soon.

country girl said...

Dearest Sharon!

First of all, thank you for sharing a wonderful look at this historic home and garden.

Second, I can't help but be just a little jealous that you are on your way to Falmouth, where Ramon and I spent a most romantic two weeks last fall. We miss it! Say hi to the ocean for us! (are you going to visit sue and joe? they are so close by! also, if you have a chance, eat dinner at the glass onion...fabulous food!)

Third...well, this is an interesting discussion you and Vee (and Jeff, too) have going here. I for one LOVE woods, forests, shrubs, bushes, all things green and lush. We need trees for oxygen, shade, fruits, nuts, and homes for birds and countless other critters. Many animals are threatened by the reckless deforestation and monoculture that's going on these days. For me, trees symbolize life; not just their own, but the lives of those they support and shelter. I would have a very hard time cutting down these beautiful living beings just for a better view.

Sending love to you, sweet friend! Try to enjoy the Cape, even if it IS overrun. :)

xoxo Dawn

Thea said...

Sharon, I've been to Chagrin Falls - once - it is the loveliest little town! Sure wish I could be at your lecture! As to cutting trees, i confess to being a tree hugger. I also love the ocean! I also believe that nature takes care of itself. Trees grow and fall when they are ready. Haven't we all experienced the 'pave paradise and put up a parking lot' mentality, much to the Earth's detriment? it takes a long time for a tree to grow. if you want a view of the ocean, walk to the water's edge.

Aunt Jenny said...

Beautiful travels you are having for sure Sharon! The lady in the garden painting makes me think of looks like you!!!
Wonderful post as always!!
Have fun this week!

Roses and Lilacs said...

That is a lovely quote. I hope most gardeners view their gardens as sanctuaries.

It strikes me as an unusual house for that time period. I wasn't familiar with T C Steel so I quickly looked him up. He must have been a true romantic. His paintings show it but the name House of the Singing Winds is so full of romance.

farmlady said...

That's me in that painting. I just know it. How did someone paint a picture of me without my knowledge? Maybe it was in a former life... but that's me.
Lovely post. I understand how hard it must be to travel and be away from your home. Enjoy you trip but remember..."There's no place like home."(with your own garden)

Vee said...

Now there is more interesting discussion...guess that I'll have to do my own post one day soon and link back to your comments. My goodness! I've done it again...brought up something in someone else's blog that I should have done in my own. You can't believe how often I do this and you'd think that I'd learn!! ;>

sarah-jane down the lane said...

What a lovely garden to visit, I loved this one Sharon. I especially loved seeing the paintings, how magical.
Still in awe of how intrepid you are,

Sarah x

Nan said...

What an amazing change from the painting to real life. So much growth over the years. I like the dirt road better, don't you?

Lancerika said...

Soon you will be inside your beautiful, dreamy garden,thanks for sharing
the works of this amazing artist,
The outbuilding is wonderful!
Best Wishes from the mountains
of western NC (a green sanctuary indeed)

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Reading these comments about trees has been wonderful. We are all opinionated and I like that. What good is conversation if everyone agrees?

Look at election results. THE BIG SPLIT-50/50. Half one way, half the other.

Don't be afraid to voice your thoughts, but also, don't be afraid to read what others think!



Noelle said...

Hello Sharon,

You are certainly a seasoned traveler and have learned to enjoy the gardens where you are. Although I can understand your feeling of wanting to sit a bit and dig in your own garden(s) :-)

Lydia said...

LOVELY post. My heart is fluttering like it has butterfly wings. Flying to happiness.

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Oh Sharon,
You do have a delightful life!
What a wonderful place to see and tour. I can understand your getting homesick though. And I can't wait until you get to Maine, so I can see some of the pics of your gardens there. Plus, that awesome view!
Happy Trails to you,

suzanne said...

Dear Sharon

Selma's garden has left me speechless..~ I just love it. Being on the road must be tough. I am sure that it can be inspiring though. Just seeing all these places must be wonderful. I do know though, that there is no better place like home in ones own garden.. My beautiful vegetable garden and all my beautiful lavender bushes got destroyed by black frost this week. We have had some very cold days. I felt so sad to see everything wilted..I do look forward to lovely new life greeting me in Spring.

A happy day to you Sharon
Warmest regards

Lori ann said...

Dear Sharon,

How wonderful, I would love to be in your pocket, experiancing all that you are. Don't we have such a beautiful country?
I bet those last miles will fly by.

lots of love,

Anonymous said...

You have such a hectic schedule Sharon! I'm glad to see that at least you get to some nice refuges like this beauty here for inspiration as well as a bit of calm and wandering in the past. Bit by bit, the 1000 will get to only 1 mile away from Maine! good luck and see you on GARDEN GROW ALONG!

debra said...

Wow, Sharon, I'm blown away by this posting. What a magical, storybook place. Maybe I can make a side trip to visit when GWA meets in Indianapolis in 2011. And that outbuilding - yikes! It should have been in my book. Actually, it deserves its very own book. Or in one of your stories as the setting for a child's adventure.
Missing you and thanks for the note about your missing charm. We will find it! I'll email Laura in Europe (she left a week ago).
Love to you and to Jeff,

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

I agree with Vee. I too, love trees, but not so many that they crowd me in.

I have told [on my blog] how I love the view from my patio doors, all year long. Loved it, for years and years and years, that is.

Present neighbor has a boy friend [is that the proper phrase for now?], who keeps planting trees [which are not-in-great-shape, to begin with] in her back yard. Which my backyard and patio doors overlook.

The front yard of her house is neat. In back, they seem to be trying to create a private forest. Which is not so far from the facts, but that's a whole other story.

These scraggly trees keep growing and growing, right along the line/fence, between our property and hers. In not long, my view will no longer be of yards, sky and lovely trees, just 'down a ways.' It will be of his "forest," right smack dab on other side of our fence. :-(((

So I agree!!!

Thank you Vee.

Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said...

Sigh, those paintings made me stop and take a breath. I've worked so hard in the garden today I can hardly think, but thank you for your beautiful words. They paint pictures in my mind.

Sending you hugs and safe travels.~~Dee

Beth said...

Hi, Sharon! I keep wondering when you are getting to Maine and now I see you have 1000 miles more! I'm sure it will be good for your book, but poor you! I would be so homesick. Hang in there! By the way, we used to live in Hudson, Ohio, and we loved Chagrin Falls, which was nearby! It is a very gardeny part of Ohio, and I hope you will have a wonderful time! Good luck! love, Beth

Sharon Lovejoy said...


Unpacking, cleaning, weeding, raking, walking, watching, and loving every second.

Posting later today, but now must get organized as we leave for Cape Cod tomorrow morning for my presentation at Highgate Hall. I look forward to meeting some of you there.

More to come asap.



Vee said...

Welcome home!