Monday, December 31, 2012

How to Laugh at Fear

Decades ago, a great idea, and he (his house too) would say, "You can't do that." Garden plans would be diminished or stopped altogether.

Several years of this circus, I got off the merry-go-round.  No fear.  Began going to Europe, studying historic landscapes, received another degree, horticulture.  Opened a Garden Design business, new decades of family disapproval, "Use your engineering degree, don't be a bag lady."  Thanks for that refrain, dad.
Many lean years.  To the bone.  I didn't care.
Went to a career coaching weekend a decade ago & had an epiphany, "What would I do tomorrow if I were not afraid?"  Fear is a sure thing, it will keep coming back with new expertise/costume guaranteed.
Jumping forward to the last 3 years, worst economy since the Great Depression, I've had the top earning years of my career.  Moved 'him' out, bought my own home & another home nearby to use as an office/guest cottage.
Ironically, getting rid of fear taught me how to know if I'm doing the right thing in my career.  Choices are tough but once made, the choice is FUN.  And the choices aren't in my head, I ask my heart.  My head is a lizard brain.
Are you afraid?  What would you do tomorrow if you were not afraid?
Garden & Be Well,      XO Tara
Pic via Habitually Chic

"Wherever our most primal fears reside--our fears of the dark, of death, of being devoured, of meaninglessness, of lovelessness, or of loss--changes are good that beneath them lie gems of wisdom and maybe a vision or a calling. Wherever you stumble--on a tree root, on a rock, on fear or shame, or vulnerability, on someone else's words, on the truth--dig there." Gregg Levoy

Friday, December 28, 2012

Overdose Your Color

Choose a color theme.

Overdose on your choice/s.  Works every time.
Garden & Be Well,         XO Tara
Of course the cat is white.
Pic via Whimble

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Exterior Color: White on White

A client's yellow house is going white-on-white.  Cannot wait to see the results.

Pay no mind to the landscaping, above.   Totally subdivision, 1960's brick ranch let's make green foundation meatballs a la testosterone-on-wheels-mow-blow-go-commodify-all-I-touch.  And those pots?  Lipstick on a pig.
Garden & Be Well,        XO Tara & Puppet Barbuda
I adore Veranda, and subscribe, but know, too well, gardening is a pitiful stepchild to most editors.  Great exception was House & Garden magazine during the 80's.  See any at the junk shops buy-buy-buy.
Pic via Veranda.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Large Pots

Something new to desire.

                        And I don't mean man or child.  How did I miss these pots in Paris?

Desire, undervalued & counterintuitive.
Garden & Be Well,        XO Tara
Wonder which client past/future will have these in their garden.  Love Magic Man, I know he can make them!  Will have to tack on a pair to an order for me-me-me !
pics via Paris Through My Lens.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Design Simplicity

How little can you do

yet have a full narrative with your exterior?
Garden & Be Well,     XO Tara
Pic, Paris Through My Lens

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bicycle Basket


I want one on the back too.
Garden & Be Well,            XO Tara
Described this to Handy-Man when I found a trio of bikes.  He got that glassy-eyed 'women-are-crazy' look.  Popped my balloon about being original, seeing the pic, but gave me a Cheshire cat smile because before the sun sets, Handy-Man will see this picture.
And, Handy-Man, I want all my bikes to have 2 baskets.
Pic via Paris Through My Lens

Friday, December 21, 2012

How to Design Your Garden

The most important garden views are from inside your home, vanishing threshold.  Laura, below, told me yesterday, body language, there was something GOOD in the garden.

I'm glad she did, otherwise I would have missed, below, completely.

Just outside the window, above, Torte-de-Shelle, her mother (now spayed) & my garden cat a neighbor left behind.
Who needs TV with these delightful dramas?
Design your garden for every window view.  In the garden, design your home's interior for every view into the windows.
Garden & Be Well,   XO Tara
Pics taken yesterday.  Much better drama, above, than earlier this year when darling Laura climbed the drape, shown, and pulled it off the wall.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


What is the fascination with lawns?

French parks have beauty, children playing, adults relaxing, Nature thriving, without lawns.  For centuries.
Notice the choice to leave the tree trunks alone?  Brave.  Perfect.
Garden & Be Well,          XO Tara
pic Paris Through My Lens

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Penelope Bianchi: Interiors & Gardens

With heart-on-my-sleeve, & happy obligation, pro bono is done each year, and making my voice heard by our state's largest trade group.  'Voice' was asked to lecture this month about Social Media.  Oops, there is a price for 'voice' being heard.  

Too many in my industry are not using Social Media's platform.

Owning every room I lecture in, props are set.  I do 100's of acres, what is a mere room?  Setting one of my journals down I had a 'moment'.  Miss Confidence, yes Puppet Barbuda, with less than 60 seconds to start, saw, above, pages from an old journal.

My journals make my eyes, brain, & soul HAPPY.  They have pages of beloved words, below.

These pages, below, delayed my lecture.  And changed how it began.

Journal was haphazardly opened to these pages created years ago of a home/garden.  Though busy, my eyes were drawn into stunned revelation.
This is Penelope Bianchi's garden, above.  I had torn, squished, watered, dried, flattened, taped, written happy words with Penelope's garden.  Into my journal.  Moons ago.
Puppet Barbuda honors few gardens in this manner.
How is it possible in this huge world of peoples, distances, time I fell in love with a person's garden, & Providence conspired for me to meet the person, fall in love with her, and only then realize I loved her garden before I loved her?
Go to Penelope's garden, here, and you will fall in love too.
Garden & Be Well,   XO Tara
top pic Penelope's garden, other pics from my journal.  My journals are a secret weapon for serenity & hearing grace.
Penelope, You must know this experience made me, literally, woozy when it happened.  Everything you write to me about my work was mentored by Mary Kistner into my quiver of knowledge.  She's been gone for a decade, I miss her so, and yet I've met 1 person who embodies all that she was.  You.  I love you Penelope.     XO T

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pleasure Grounds

Pleasure Grounds, Pleasure Walk, Pleasure Garden were common terms, once-upon-a-time.

Look up 'pleasure' & you'll discover it includes overlapping elements of liking-wanting-learning.  
Without the science/s of today previous generations intuitively knew design-pleasure-into-life.  It is something to be taken, & given.
Is your garden a Pleasure Ground?  To you?  To all who see it?
My Pleasure Grounds, aka garden, bring Nature & friends into my life.  Many times a hand scribbled note on torn paper has been left at my door or in the mailbox, "I love your garden, my name me at this number .........", or I've been in my garden & a car stops.  Goo-goo eyed adult/s get out & sheepishly introduce themselves & ask to see my garden.
Yes, it is good to take, and give, Pleasure.
Garden & Be Well,  XO Tara
Forgot where I saved the pic from.  Built a garden house for a client last year & suggested to him we call it the Pleasure House.  Immediately he axed the idea, "It's already hard enough to keep my teenage son from having sex......."  Though he did appreciate where I was coming from historically.
Counterintuitively it's giving pleasure that is the most selfish.  It is where you will find grace.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Choosing Chairs

A small flagstone terrace is almost complete at my new French doors in the kitchen.  Need to order the Phantom screen doors this week.  

All this for a pair of garden chairs to USE.  Adirondack's, above, are too big.  French chairs, below, have no support for leaning my head back.

The new chairs must be easy to move and a lot of the time I'll be working wireless with my feet up in the opposite chair.
On the hunt for MY perfect pair of garden chairs.  Life is good.
Does anyone know how to keep cats from climbing retractable screen doors?
Garden & Be Well,   XO Tara
Project began December 2011 when my dad was diagnosed with cancer & died 22 days later.  During those 22 days my 30 year marriage was finalized in divorce.  'Planned' for last Christmas was installation of new heart of pine flooring in several rooms to match the rest of my home.  Existing flooring was refinished, all furniture, including office, was put into the garage.  To the ceiling.  I bought my own home late this fall.    That was the fear of divorcing, losing home/garden.  FEAR.  Instead, Providence deflated the housing market!  Did I mention I was afraid of losing my home of 28 years?  He, college sweetheart, began having car wrecks, most drunks do, in 2010.  One nite late, reading in bed, days after I discovered the 1st car wreck via my insurance company, I felt & knew something quite clear.  Fear had left.  After a decade+ of pure, daily, second to second fear, it was gone.  Time to divorce.  His alcoholism took me to poverty in 1999, I barely kept the roof over our heads.  Been a victim?  It stinks.  Took less than a month to figure that out.  Discovered Lois in a group meeting for friends/family of alcoholics.  Victimhood over.  Survivor.  But that wasn't enough.  Thriver.  Yes.  In a delightful twist my divorce attorney hired me recently.  Handing me a check she stopped in mid-air & began to cry.  She said it was not often she was able to see the results of her work & described my demeanor of fear/sadness when we 1st met in her office to what she had seen of me in her garden.  Teary eyed myself  & hugging each other, I thanked her for helping me divorce a 300 pound drinking problem!  We were laughing thru tears at this point, and aren't those the best?  Proudest achievements?  Financially doing all of this myself, no help, none.  Divorce was amicable.  Making the choice to be happy everyday.  'Damaged people are dangerous, they know they can survive.'  I'm super dangerous, I can thrive.            
Top pic taken in my garden!  Proof, happiness/joy can be created, and more, a zone of grace around home & life.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Checkerboard Square with Circle

Untrained, unschooled & perfect.

Viewed from deck & house the existing lower garden, above, leads to their wild wood.
They hired me to design their landscape.  Of course I left this alone!  Tweaks could be made but out goes THEIR charm.
And, they built this DIY !
Garden & Be Well,    XO Tara
Alexander Pope......Men come to build sooner than to garden finely as if gardening were the greater art.  ca. 17th century
pic via client's Facebook page

Friday, December 14, 2012

Small Kitchen Garden

A few vegetables, greens, roses.  Done!

A rare patch of sun designed the location of their kitchen garden.  Their beloved dog dictated the fencing.  When we designed/installed their garden something fabulous happened.  'They' took over immediately their creativity unleashed.

Notice the leaf litter mulch?

A tree fell & her husband used it for the fencing.
Sublime to create a garden for long-time-marrieds and they play like kids outside.
Garden & Be Well,       XO Tara
Pics taken at jobsite this week.  Alas, I was called back because of septic work that demolished a quadrant of the front garden.  Have posted their garden before & must go back in spring for more pics of various garden rooms that they've lightly touched with 'art' yet let Nature rule.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Flowers for the House

What's better the camellia, below, or the dried hydrangea blossom at its left?

Checking on a flagstone terrace project yesterday the camellias stole my attention.  These, above/below, on view from kitchen & master bedroom.

 Walking on gravel past my camellias in bloom.  Life's abundance & I feel it.

How can anyone live outside the camellia zones?

 Professor Sargent, above, is 2 stories tall.  Sitting in my antique wicker chair inside the breakfast room I look up into his blossoms.  Over 2 decades now.

Blowsy.  Adore this phase.

If I had stamens like this, above, I would show them off too.

My blowsy ballerina, above,  is peaking as the azaleas are molting.
Tells me, 'Happy Birthday girl, you've made it another year."  Odd, my birth day never does.
Garden & Be Well,    XO Tara
Pics yesterday in my garden.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Designing Anticipation

Junking last month I found a huge birdcage on plinth.

'The-plan-is', lunch with girlfriends in the Conservatory with a pair of heirloom chickens in the birdcage for entertainment.
The Girls will love the change of atmosphere from their Chinoiserie coop & run.
Life is good when Garden Enhancements are in the anticipation realm.
Garden & Be Well,      XO Tara
Pic via It's About Time  Can't imagine  having a day of life without Garden Enhancements percolating in my imagination.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Table Top Design

Mantles, tables, chests, dressers, bookshelves, and their flotsam/jetsom, tell me how to arrange clients gardens.
Do they like simplicity, focal points, pairs, drifts, matchy/watchy, shiny, bright colors, rustic, fru-fru, farm, castle, muted hues, eclectic, showy & etc.

Junking recently I found this dresser for the foyer of my new office.  Once sited I went to the kitchen & started grabbing blue/white.  Free is good.

On its way home, above/below.

What is the Garden Design indicated by the top of this chest with the blue/white?  Girlfriend obviously likes pairs & focal points.  Biggest platter is a gorgeous antique iron gate. Tulipiers are brick/stone columns with pair old urns and the smaller plates a flagstone path. Surface of the chest is groundcover Asiatic jasmine.
THIS is how I see interiors.  Source material for the garden.
Garden & Be Well,   XO Tara
Never anticipated my new office being this fun, 'camp chic' style.  Nor psycho-analyzing my own table top style.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sanctuary Gardens: Terry Hershey

Last year a client forwarded Sabbath Moment from Terry Hershey.

Every week, I take the time to read all of it.  Often passing it forward.
He gardens too, above.
Garden & Be Well,  XO Tara

Terry Hershey

Uncle George

December 10, 2012

What is honored will be cultivated there. Plato   

If I have told you these details about the asteroid, and made a note of its number for you, it is on account of the grown-ups and their ways. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, "What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?" Instead, they demand: "How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?" Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Jesus     

Do you have any relatives that make you wonder
about the gene pool in your family tree?  Well, Uncle George was demanding and difficult. Looking after him was stressful, taxing and thankless.  Driving to the funeral of Uncle George, the young man let loose with pent-up emotion.

"Thank God," he says to his wife. "I suppose I'm sorry he died, but I've got to tell you, I don't think I could have stood one more day with that annoying man. I've had enough. And I'm telling you that the only reason I gave so much time and energy to your Uncle George was because of my love for you!"

"My Uncle George," she says flabbergasted. "My Uncle George? I thought he was your Uncle George!"

We collect Uncle Georges. It is the perfect metaphor for any anxiety, worry, fret, disquiet, apprehension or fear that is elevated to the level of urgent consternation. Uncle George consumes us. And he's not even our uncle. 

"Martha, Martha! You worry and fuss about a lot of things."
Jesus, The Gospel of Luke 

Which means there is a shift: I am now worrying about stuff I can do nothing about. And I give the better part of my attention, energy and time to non-essential matters.

And yet. For all our objections to the contrary, we collect worries like we collect all our STUFF... there's always room for one more. It seems to take care of something. I know I like to use Uncle George to let you know how important, or busy, or indispensable I am. It's still about control.

But worry and fuss is a pickle, because it gums up the system. Stops the flow. Worry, from an Anglo-Saxon word "to strangle" or "to choke." As if literally cutting off the air supply that allows us to breathe emotionally and spiritually.  

It's not just the accumulation of Uncle George(s), it is that we have become untethered and susceptible. So we feel at the mercy of--whether it be exhaustion, public opinion, the need to pacify or please, the need to impress, or fear or embarrassment or potential failure.

Here's the deal: preoccupied with Uncle George, I am quite literally, not myself. I am of two minds. I am exhausted, busy, pulled in many directions... and numb, not really available for people I love. And I am not really available to any wholehearted fire or gladness or desire or intention.  This is not to say that we can't engage in activities, or service, or work. However, work that is fueled by a need to be needed, or need to prove value is too consuming, leaving no time for rejuvenation, or prayer, or delight, or the quiet work of the Spirit.

So. What to do? As if we don't feel bad enough, some opt for the willpower-on-steroids approach, "Just cut it out!" That lasts for a half hour or so, about the same amount of time I can give up serious dark chocolate.

Others opt for techno-cure. Our paper had an article promoting "Hot gadgets to chill on vacation." Who knew? To think I can't relax unless I have the proper equipment. (Although, maybe they have a devise to help me remember all the stuff I forgot to worry about.)

The bottom line? With Uncle George we lose focus. When this happened to Jesus' friends, ("because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat," The Gospel of Mark), Jesus--mercifully--didn't preach or lecture or lead a prayer or offer a gadget.  The story says, immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he sent the crowds away. "Come with me by yourselves," Jesus told them, "to a quiet place and get some rest."

It's not about creating a life absent of stress.
It's about being present, even in the hectic.
In other words, it is in the rest, the refueling, the "be-ing," the Sabbath that we refocus on essential matters, and allows us to let go, to be present, even in the busy, the noise, the demands, the lists.   

My friend tells the story about a Nativity play at his parish. Mary and Joseph show up at the inn, hoping for lodging. The little girl, playing the innkeeper, has only one line, "No room." But she apparently isn't beholden to the script. She opens the door (of the inn), looks at Mary and Joseph, and then looks out at the priest. She looks back at Mary and Joseph, and then looks out at her parents. She looks at Mary and Joseph and says, "Oh well, you might as well come on in for a drink."
Yes... I think that's great. We need the freedom (wisdom) of that little girl... the spontaneity and joy and compassion and gladness that comes from not being beholden. 

Today I am stressed. I have a rather intimidating pile on my desk (it could be two piles, but I'm afraid to try and separate them). I have obligations and travel commitments and speeches to make. I recognize that with the stress, I go through my days with a different point of view. It is predictable that I no longer see surprises, or splendor in the unexpected, because now I am too focused on what is missing, and I see only defects, imperfections and blemishes. This worry is gumming up the system. It is choking my sense of awe. Perhaps I've lost sight of essential matters.

There is more work to be done tonight, but it can wait. Sarah Mclachlan is singing Silent Night, there is a little Bordeaux left and a couple more ornaments for Zach to put on the tree. Right now, this is more important. It is the heart of Sabbath. The music washes over me. And, at least for the moment, I don't give any thought to Uncle George.
I want to know if joy, curiosity, struggle, and compassion bubble up in a person's life. I'm interested in being fully alive.  Alan Jones    

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Poems and Prayers          

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles,
but most of them never happened. Mark Twain
Why I am Happy
Now has come, an easy time. I let it
roll. There is a lake somewhere
so blue and far nobody owns it.
A wind comes by and a willow listens
I hear all this, every summer. I laugh
and cry for every turn of the world,
its terribly cold, innocent spin.
That lake stays blue and free; it goes
on and on.
And I know where it is.
William Stafford

Dear Lord,
Help us to do our very best this day
and be content with today's troubles
so that we shall not borrow the troubles of tomorrow.
Save us from the sin of worrying,
lest stomach ulcers be the badge of our lack of faith.
Peter Marshall 

Be Inspired

Misty River -- Heather's Song
Melissa Etheridge -- Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Sarah Mclachlan -- Silent Night

Favorites from Last Week:    
Patty Griffin -- I don't ever give up  
Patty Griffin -- Forgiveness  
Final dance in the movie Strictly Ballroom   
The only response is gratefulness - Brother David Steindl-Rast
When it don't come easy - Patty Griffin 
Sarah Mclachlan -- Answer 
The Prayer --  Shy Boy and his Friend Shock the Audience on Britain's Got Talent
Sarah Mclachlan -- In the arms of an angel 
Pete Seeger -- Forever Young 

Notes from Terry
(1) Sabbath Moment is only possible because of the generous gifts of readers.  For those who have donated... THANK YOU.   If you wish to be a part of making this gift possible, I appreciate your gift.     

Sabbath Moment is available to everyone--with the invitation that people forward it, and share it with those around them.  Please forward Sabbath Moment... if you work at an organization--please consider forwarding Sabbath Moment to every member of your staff or team.   

(2) Enjoy a stroll in my garden...   

(3) Share Sabbath Moment --  Here are the recent issues. Please forward the link, or cut and paste.  For archived issues, go to ARCHIVE
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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Color in the Garden

Which part of this doesn't speak?

A full narrative.
Great metaphor.  It's more important what we say 'no' to in the landscape.  And life.
Garden & Be Well,    XO Tara
Pic via Slim Paley - A Classic Combo

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rustic Light Post

Function, a certain elegance, and a craftsman who obviously cared.

Antique junk shop with vendor stalls this building, below, started life in the late 19th century as a horse/carriage business.

Of course I bought some things, but seeing the antique light post is the real treasure.
Garden & Be Well,          XO Tara
Was trying to find the antique car museum in Houston, TX.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How To Garden with Dogs

Listen to the dog!

Where do they run, lay, dig?
Have drawn dozens of gardens with a running path at the fence, shrubs/groundcovers/trees placed where the dog lets me place them.
Only 1 dog exasperated me, & her owner, I created 'cross' paths where the sweet hellion ran.  That garden is on the cover of 1 of my books.  Proof, the biggest challenges make the best gardens.
Garden & Be Well,    XO Tara
Pic from Rough Luxe Lifestyle