Snow white and rose red

Winter roses

"There was once a poor widow who lived in a lonely cottage. In front of the cottage was a garden wherein stood two rose-trees, one of which bore white and the other red roses. She had two children who were like the two rose-trees, and one was called Snow-white, and the other Rose- red. They were as good and happy, as busy and cheerful as ever two children in the world were, only Snow-white was more quiet and gentle than Rose-red. Rose-red liked better to run about in the meadows and fields seeking flowers and catching butterflies; but Snow-white sat at home with her mother, and helped her with her housework, or read to her when there was nothing to do.

"The two children were so fond of one another that they always held each other by the hand when they went out together, and when Snow- white said: ’We will not leave each other,’ Rose-red answered: ’Never so long as we live,’ and their mother would add: ’What one has she must share with the other.’

"They often ran about the forest alone and gathered red berries, and no beasts did them any harm, but came close to them trustfully. The little hare would eat a cabbage-leaf out of their hands, the roe grazed by their side, the stag leapt merrily by them, and the birds sat still upon the boughs, and sang whatever they knew."

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"Some suppose that humility is about beating ourselves up. Humility does not mean convincing ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding talents God has given us. We don't discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman."
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
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Abundance: What I see in a pomegranate


I have a favorite book that I discovered the summer of 2007. It's entitled "Beloved Bridegroom" by Donna B. Nielsen. I love understanding historical contexts to symbols found in art, literature and poetry (no surprise I was an art history major in college). Donna Nielsen book about ancient Jewish marriage and family customs gave me so much more by making the symbolic meanings of things in my Mediterranean-climate garden come alive. One symbol that has become particularly poignant for me is the pomegranate.

"The Hebrew word translated 'pomegranate' is 'rimmon' or 'bell.' Pomegranates are notable for their beautiful red flowers, shapely fruit, sweet flavor (to those in the Middle East!), and prodigious number of seeds. The fruit is the size of an orange and has a calyx which resembles a crown." [p 80]

"In Jewish thought, pomegranates have an association with the clothing of the High Priest (Exodus 28:33-34), and also because of their many seeds, with the promises of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 15:5)." [p v]

"Because of its decorative form, [the pomegranate] has long been a popular motif in Jewish art. The flowers of the pomegranate served as patterns for the 'golden bells' and also for 'open flowers' embroidered on the temple robes of the High Priest [of the tabernacle]. Fabric pomegranates adorned the hem of the robe, alternating with golden bells. The erect calyx-lobes on the fruit served as inspiration for [King] Solomon's crown, and incidentally for all crowns from that time on.

"Israelites were exhorted by their sages to 'be as full of good deeds as a pomegranate is full of seeds,' and good students were said to model their study habits upon the pomegranate, eating only the good fruit, but discarding the bitter peel." [p 80]

Now when I see the ruby seeds a pomegranate spilled on the ground after the fruit has burst open with ripeness, I think of the abundance in my life. Each seed symbolizes one of the rich and treasured blessings I enjoy.

And I am thankful.

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Autumn in the Rosehaven Cottage gardens: Canna lilies and bougainvillea blooming

November canna lilies

This morning I woke up from a dream that I was in my beloved Hawai'i. It was probably the morning sun shining through the window onto me as I slept ensconced by sun-loving cats. I found it unusual though. I usually don't yearn to escape to a tropical paradise until some time after Christmas and before Valentine's Day--in other words that cold month known as January. Since spending that entire month lounging in a chaise on the shores of Turtle Bay is completely unfeasible financially and logistically, a few years ago I set a goal to grow sub-tropical plants and shrubs in my own garden to create the feeling of being there.

Autumn canna lily

After hunting around, I found quite a few sub-tropicals that can stand winter temperatures down to 20F (-7C) which is usually the coldest it gets here in winter. I've got some sub-tropicals that prefer to remain a few degrees above freezing like a tender hibiscus and a plumeria, so I put those in pots where I can pamper them through frosty nights. The bougainvillea doesn't like frost either, but it has to tough it out in the ground (sometimes I wonder if it will come back in the spring). The rest of my homage to Hawai'i (birds of paradise, canna lilies, palms, New Zealand flax and Japanese water iris) tough it out quite well in various spots throughout the garden when our overnight temps dip down into the frosty range.

Overnight frost is still a few weeks away in our micro-climate, so even though it's November I'm enjoying the beauty of gorgeous tropical looking canna lilies in my back garden. I put in quite a few new varieties last spring so the colors are all new to me. I'm really enjoying the pretty sherbet-toned surprises.

November bougainvillea

Despite hints and scowls from Hubby, I haven't had the heart to cut back the long invasion thorny tendrils of bougainvillea that creep toward the cars parked in the driveway. Our coolish summer got it off to a late start, and I want to savor their pink and orange tissue paper blooms before they're zapped by Jack Frost's breath in a few weeks.

Soon the leaves of the canna will succumb to the colder nights too. But I know that their hardy rhizomes are underground waiting for February and March to come so they can send up shoots again and dazzle me with their glory for the next 9 months. If they can tough out January, then I can too.

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Autumn in the Rosehaven Cottage gardens: White zinnia

White zinnia

Scattered seeds some time in June or July
Hoped for quintessential summer pom poms
No seeds sprouted
Must have been a treat for the birds
Then one blossom comes in November
I don't remember planting white
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Autumn in the Rosehaven Cottage gardens: Pomegranate on abalone

Pomegranate on abalone

There were a number of things left in the garden from the two previous owners when we bought our house that would become Rosehaven Cottage. But they were hidden like buried treasure.

One such treasure was the pomegranate bush that had been cut to the ground. Not one limb remained. I didn't know it was there until it started sending up shoots from the ground. I wondered what it was for a while, but it didn't take long for me to recognize its shiny thick leaves on straight light branches with a thorn here and there. It was indeed a pomegranate. Over the past 10 years, I've let it grow under the supervision of my gardener's shears, and it has rewarded us magnificently with a beautiful bush that now towers at least 12 feet over our heads. In late spring, its tropical looking deep coral-hued blossoms delight us and the hummingbirds alike. By mid summer, those blossoms have turned into green orbs hanging like ornaments on the boughs of the bush. By the first day of autumn, the orbs have taken on a lovely blush, and by October, the rosy skins of the fruits are bursting open to reveal the glistening ruby jewels within.

Another treasure we found throughout the garden were empty abalone shells from the former owners' abalone expeditions in the San Francisco Bay in years past. Some shells were embedded in the concrete half-walls of a dilapidated covered lanai at the back of the garden. Other shells I found in piles under a few layers of fresh earth formed from leaves and debris left to compost. Each shell I've found (intact or otherwise) I've added to a collection that dots the edges of the pond I dug the first winter we were here. It seems fitting to have the abalone at waters edge, catching rainwater for lizards and other small critters to drink from.

The pomegranate bush grows at the pond's edge as well with its autumn fruit often falling on the stones and abalones in its shade, thus making pomegranates on abalone a common sight here in Rosehaven Cottage's autumnal gardens.

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