Life as I know It

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

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Handful of Promises

First thing every morning I peek out my little hall window and scan the hillsides for the silhouettes of bears on the ridge. They've been spotted around here lately, and I am convinced that they're up there scouring the hills for berries. Then, I peep into the herb courtyard to watch the Black Phoebe dip into the fountain and the hummingbirds nectaring at the aloe blossoms. Finally, I step out into the garden and am just as filled with wonder as I was in my childhood. This is "twig time," and it is one of my favorite  seasons of the year.

I'm holding a handful of promises. Scions soon to be grafted onto my existing fruit trees.

The interlacing twigs on my sleeping fruit trees have captivated me for the past few weeks. I love this time of year when the buds swell on the branches. On rainy days, the drops dangle from the naked twigs, each one highlighted and shining like a gem.

Twiggy pear tree decked in Spanish Moss. I planted this pear only 3 years ago. It has already grown a couple of feet. I'm training it against the fence.

A tangle of grape vines I started from one single twig about 4 years ago. Now the vine is ten feet tall and is beginning to roam across the big arbor over our farm table. I've planted these grapes at the foot of each arbor post.

The twigs pruned from nectarine, pluot, pear, and Santa Rosa plum were too beautiful to toss into the compost pile. I think they look gorgeous starkly outlined against the window. In a couple of weeks, they will bloom in shades of pink and white.

A sculptural Brown Turkey fig twig and shadow. 

This mid-1800's chart was the last gift from my Mom before she passed away. Tattered and torn, but I love it just as it is. So full of life, so full of wisdom, and so full of twigs!

Twigs in the little hallway alcove Jeff uncovered and restored.

Thick elderberry twigs. These are from Sambucus, the music tree. The center pith of the elderberry twigs is easily removed, and the twigs can be fashioned into flutes. These were a gift from Mardi Niles, and they're bound with together with old wire. I think they're fabulous. 

My twiggy painting of a nest (see the reflection of my Mom's chart?).

Twigs in the entry hall.

A twiggy wreath over the fireplace. That is my girlfriend Stephanie Roth Sisson. She is a FABULOUS illustrator and has probably done books you've enjoyed. She is currently doing the Princess Posy series of books. We had our Kiddie Writers meeting at my home this week. Steph is sharing artwork.

A perfect ending to this very twiggy week was the 17th annual Scion Exchange and Grafting Party of my local chapter of California Rare Fruit Growers. It is fantastic. Fruit enthusiasts from our area bring in bare root trees and scions. Seasoned grafters give demonstrations of various grafting techniques. They draw quite an enthusiastic crowd. The meeting is held at Cal Poly State University, which is less than a mile from our home. 

BYOB-you have to bring your own bags and then, as you peruse the tables with dozens of varieties of fruit trees, you simply slip the scions into your bag and REMEMBER TO LABEL everything. I flunked this one because I got so excited I forgot to make notes.

These grape cuttings are like the ones I started over our arbor.

I couldn't believe the diverse colors, shapes, and choices! There were so many knowledgeable people there demonstrating and helping with choices. That was my problem; I couldn't make an intelligent choice. I wanted all of them and I wanted a yard twenty times the size of the one we have, but I can barely keep up with this one.

The grafting demonstration lured in dozens of onlookers. He used a small wood plane to even out his "whip and tongue" grafts.

Such a miracle. 

Something for all ages.

Even something for my age...a bare root pomegranate, which is reclining on my patio until tomorrow. Oh, ok, I already have one, but can a girl have too many pomegranates? And this one begins bearing in September and is still bearing now. Thin skinned and a bush rather than a big tree. This has a great shape already and will look perfect against our blue wall. This is an 'Early Wonderful.' Good name. It is wonderful.

Here is my wish for YOU. Go outside, rain, snow, or sun, and look closely at your twiggy bushes and trees. They're packed with energy, life, and beauty. In just a few weeks, they'll burst forth and amaze you yet again. 

Sending love,


P.S. Anyone who wants to join my Grimy Hands Girls' Club must send me a snail mail address. A surprise will be sent to you compliments of me and of the fabulous Renee Shepherd. Seeds to test and please all you Grimy Hands out there...give us your honest opinion. Also, coming soon...a book giveaway for followers and a special extra for GHGC members.


Teri said...

Sharon--I tried grabbing the link for the Grimy Hands Club and it would not work! Any suggestions? I did this a few days ago and tried a few different ways to get it to go on my blog sidebar but to no avail. Is it too late to join the club? I will try and send you my address if I can find your email. Thanks!

Erin | Bygone Living said...

Such lovely pictures... twigs are beautiful! I especially adore twig wreaths (with a little holly berry intertwined) :) ♥

Pondside said...

The buds are big on all the twigs around here too. A few warm days will bring everything forth - can't wait!

Susan said...

Dear friend, I loved sharing your day in wonderment of the season unfolding. Is it our age that makes these details that more pronounced or is it our appreciation of looking forward?
Our branches are budding as well as I wait with anticipation of a rebirth. Love you, XOXO

Lori ann said...

such a lovely title for your hopeful post. i love all the twigs, most especially the gift from your mother.

i would have been like you facing so many decisions with the fruit trees. but the pomegrante seems a good choice, i don't think you could ever have too many of those!

i'm off to follow the links now.

with love,

Marigold Jam said...

Such ope to be found in twigs! I noticed last evening the wonderful silhouettes made by the twiggy trees against the gradually fading sky - beautiful. I like to bring indoors a few twigs and see the buds open into spring green leaves - amazing that so much greenery can be concealed within a tiny bud!

Am off to try and post your picture on my blog.


Anonymous said...

I start my morning much the same, but I look for wolves since they´ve been seen around here for a while. All the bears are hibernation much further north here in Sweden :-)

I have to admit that I´m really bad at grafting :-) but I´m better at budding. I know we have meetings like that over here too, but not close to where I live. It´s fun just to go there even if the end result isn´t good :-) :-)

Have a great day now!

Rebecca said...

Sharon, your "wish" became my "command"! This post opened my eyes to a whole 'nother world out there!

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Good morning dear Sharon ~ What a delightful and informative post. I love the piece from your mother, all of your vases and bundles of twigs, and that little alcove that your DH uncovered and restored.

Crepe myrtles are starting to send out their green leaves and that is always a treat.

I've been getting my hands dirty and sore muscles from working playing in the dirt. Oh what fun. Last night I even dreamed about my main garden, enclosing it in some kind of fencing so that I can have things grow on it. :-)

Happy Gardening and bear watching.


Lili said...

You always open up my eyes to completely new possibilities Sharon! I admit I had to look up the word scion and I've never done any grafting, but I bet it's not too late to learn more about the wonder of twigs. I did spot some beautiful deep red twigs on my walk the other day and I can't wait to clip some of my Japanese quince twigs to bring inside for spring blooms, still weeks away though! xoxo ~Lili

Marcie said...

How wonderful to live where you can have pomegranates! I love this post. I am waiting for the moment when I can get busy in the garden in my little rental cottage. I'm eager to see what has already been planted here! But... we have a winter storm looming for this evening and tomorrow. So the garden will have to wait!

Michelle said...

Such a beautiful post about twigs! Who would have thought?! My apple, pear, plum, and peach trees will be blooming soon and I cannot wait.

Farmhouse Soaps said...

Thank you for sharing all this wonderful information! Truly, I learn something new from you every time I read a post! Here in Northern Illinois, we are just now getting some glimpses of spring! The red-winged black birds are just returning, the pussy willows are beginning to send buds, and soon it will be our apple and pear trees. You always inspire to get out and try something new. My eldest daughter is a Horticulture student at our local college - I will have to get her help with some grafting; I think I would really enjoy that - never thought of it before.
Currently reading Eliot Coleman's book on 4-season harvest - also very inspiring.
Spring is right around the corner!
Spend the Thyme Farm

marcia said...

We've noticed the buds everywhere here and await ever so patiently. We're getting more snow tonight and it will be awhile before I can get into the garden!

I have a routine each morning too,I look to see where each horse is, then the birdfeeders, and then to the garden outside the kitchen window to see what visitors are there,or have been there(footprints in snow).
It's a very soothing rhythm to start the day. Of course it will be even better when I can bring my coffee outside INTO the garden :)

Love all the twigs in the house...a kindred spirit you are for sure!

You have peaked my interest about grafting. I will have to learn more. Inspiring as always.

happy day!
love marcia

Thea said...

with all this east coast windy weather, i've had large tree limbs come down as well as small branches. And one so many of the downed branches are all the new buds that sadly, won't leaf out. last week my neighbors helped me move a huge pile of tree damage to the curb. our county will come claw it up and use it for their free mulch pile program.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Come on Thea! Now's your chance. Pick up some of the small branches with buds and tote them indoors.

Your perfect opportunity to cradle spring time indoors. Some of those buds will open.



Joe Sabol said...

Dear Sharon... What a special treat to read your blog this morning!!! I am so glad you came to the Scion Exchange/Grafting Party and took so many photos. Your descriptions are a joy to read. It was a ton of fun yesterday. I would love to share your blog with many others in CRFG, including our Fruit Gardener Magazine. Let's talk. Thanks to Carolyn Eicher for sending your blog my way!!! Joe Sabol

Larkrise garden girl said...

Hi Sharon, I loved the twig pictures and all the information. You have a lovely way of explaining
things and bringing us into your world. By bringing us unto your Life and interests you encourage us all to look at the beauty of our own world a little closer.Thanks Cheri

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Uh oh, I have a serious hero worshipping problem. I ADORE Joe Sabol. He is the best and has taught thousands of eager people how to do grafting (among many other gifts of knowledge he has given).

He is a pillar of the CRFG and has touched the hearts of so many–including MINE!

Thanks for stopping by Joe.


Vee said...

Whenever I read about the miracle of grafting, I think of John 15:5. Your mother's gift is truly wonderful. I can see why you treasure it so.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sharon, What a wonderfully informative and fun posting on all things twiglike. I agree with you that the sight of those buds just ready to burst into leaf makes one's heart skip a beat. I too love to bring in sprigs from the garden to force indoors...stealing a march on spring!

Just one thing missing for me on a posting about twigs....Twiggy that slender model who so epitomised the Swinging Sixties of London!

Unknown said...

What a fertile, rich and thriving life you lead!
The print from your mother is lovely. A treasure beyond measure!
Sending love and happy growing thoughts!

Unknown said...

Love the description of a handful of promises, Sharon. Now, if we could just get spring to start packing its bags and head our way...

cheers, jodi in winter weary Nova Scotia.

Pat said...

Love seeing your budding twigs...ours are still asleep and covered in ice and snow...

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Everything I would say - has already been said.
Love this post
Love Twigs
Love the gift from your mother!!
Love your life....

Thea said...

yes, ma'am

Bonnie K said...

Red twig dogwood and the yellow branches of the willow are my favorite. There is a wild apple down the road that is incredible. I have plans to try and graft some branches on one of my apple trees. Hope it works. A wonderful tribute to twigs.

Alyssa said...

Hi Sharon,

What a post! Full of all kinds of good info., and special treats! The grafting program looks very, very interesting. My father-in-law, who is a graduate of Stockbridge in MA, yard is a museum of plants and flowers and trees. He knows every plant by their "fancy names" He has been grafting forever! It's so interesting. Beautiful pictures and a treasured one from your mom. We are planting a pear tree for my birthday, a peach tree and an apple tree for our son's birthday! Birthday trees are the best! Love to you and I would die to be at that author's/illustrator's meeting. ( I have over 20 children's manuscripts written just waiting in the wings...waiting, waiting, waiting for someone to pick me up). If I were a bird, I'd fly there;)Alyssa

Kay's flowers said...

Love the pictures of all the twigs. I know your garden must be just wonderful! I have had such fun this year bringing in branches to bloom in the house. It is so refreshing and so hopeful that spring really is on the way. Have a great week.

Love and blessings,

Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said...

How do you pack such useful information into such a pretty and restful package my friend? It is your gift from God. I am convinced.~~Dee

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

I'll e-mail you my propagation story. It has an interesting twist. I would have flunk IDing my samples as well. xxoo Nancy

Beth said...

I'm getting excited to learn more about your fruit trees!!! I planted my first fruit tree a couple of years ago...a saturn peach! The first year they were so yummy! The second year we came home to pick our ripe fruit, and someone had snuck into our fenced back yard and stolen every last peach! I just hope it was a hungry person. love, Beth

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Beth Dear,

I haven't forgotten my promise to you. I've been taking photographs of my dwarf trees, espaliers, etc. and will write about them for you.

Thanks for stopping by and oh, the peach thieves. Shame on them. My peach thieves this year are wind and rain. Just as things bloomed they were hit with cold, wind, and rain. I have a feeling I won't be getting much fruit this year. I have hope still...and am keeping my fingers crossed.



jerilanders said...

Gosh, I could have sworn I left a comment here a few days back. Anyway, the twig print is so marvelous, what a perfect image for you to have.
I did go out and look at my little twiggys yesterday and doggone if my lavender bush didn't poke me in the eye! Ouch, it really hurt, but I gave her a nice helping of compost anyway.

Jill Kemerer said...

Sharon, I wanted to weep with joy at all these pictures of nature! I love spring and love gardening. Your home is brimming with twigs and nature!

My hubby and I recently checked on our trees out back. It's so exciting to think in another month they'll have buds on them!

Tricia Rose Rough Linen said...

What a pleasure to share in your enjoyment in helping things grow! Isn't it a thrill to propagate from slips - I even have a pinot noir picked up from a pile of trimmings in wine country, and I'm always having to consult my conscience when I see something tempting waving over a garden fence. Running out of garden here...

I think I need to join GHGC! Thank you for introducing yourself~

Nantucket Mermaid said...

Hello Sharon! So nice to see your comment on my blog....We built a sunflower house from your book back when my 25 and 27 year old boys were little and have carried your books at Nantucket Bookworks, where I was a manager before I opened my own shop a few years ago. Glad to find your informative blog as we are avid gardeners...lucky us! :)-----<

Hullabaloo Homestead said...

Well now, I certainly know what we are going to do this weekend! We are going to go a twig hunting. Your house looks so beautiful with all of that new life about to sprout.


the REAL girl said...

Sharon....awesome as always. You truly are the REAL Twiggy!!

Privet and Holly said...

Why is it that
TWIG TIME sounds
so much lovelier
I WILL look more
and LIFE have to
be in there, brewing...!
LOVE your mama's print
and its reflection
in your own sweet
nest painting caught
my heart. Enjoy your
Twig Time. I'm
lucky enough to have
a trip to Palm Springs
on next month's calendar,
so I'm looking forward
to seeing GREEN!!
xx Suzanne

Storybook Woods said...

I never thought of it that way but it is twig time. So many buds, right now. A promise !! xoxo Clarice

The Unusual Farmchick said...

Lovely post of such beautiful simplicity. This year we have so many apple trees to choose from, I know we will be harvesting some "twigs" for enjoying that sweet scent of the blossoms & bringing a piece of Spring into our home. You inspire me to adventure out of our normal apple twigs and will be clipping a few from the weeping cherry trees as well.
Pomegrants always stir the memory of the 3 years in my childhood, I lived in garden Grove Cal {on Blue Spruce street lol}. My cousin would always brave the brick stone wall a few houses away to pluck a few stray fruits that hung slightly on it's cement top. He rushed them home where all of us cousins {a total of 7 living in the same house} would escape to the treehouse and enjoy those crimson gems in silence.

Lydia said...

Good morning. I live halfway between the other Cal Poly- Pomona and the Cal State Fullerton Arboretum. I get over to Weeks Rose operation on a regular basis- but your post reminds me not to forget Fullerton.

Thank you for the nudge!

Carol said...

What a lovely post Sharon! I love it from start to finish. You offer as much as each twig . . . packed with promise. I do so agree with you regarding all the beauty in buds about to waken or wide awake, as you show in your latest post. We have a bit more of winter to wait out before our buds swell into life. I marvel at all the wondrous examples you share in this post. Your home is so lovely and a wonderful backdrop for all of your branches and twigs. I cannot imagine why anyone would have ever covered that sweet alcove up. What a fine restoration job. I am fascinated with scions and have yet to venture into this art. Grafting is most inspiring . . . I must try to find a local group of fruit growers soon. Have a lovely weekend!

Vicki Boster said...

Oh my Sharon - we truly are kindred souls - if you only know my love for twigs and sticks! I have them everywhere - I pick them up every where I go. On the beach I pick up drift wood - in the woods I pick up "beautiful" sticks. I feel that I am now vindicated in this obsession now that I know you are of the same passion.