Monthly Archives: May 2023

Books I Read in April 2023

My view while reading this morning.

I have been remiss in posting my reading list for April. I thought I better get to it since May is almost over too. My only excuse is that I have been doing lots of gardening. The vegetable garden went in on Monday. The flower beds are in good shape for this time of year. I still have some more dahlia korms to plant and a few seedlings to transfer. And we are having a bit of a spring drought which means we must water, water, water! And so, at long last, here is the list.

1. Tiny beautiful things-Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar-Cheryl Strayed (Non-fiction)

And here I thought she just hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Turns out Cheryl was also an advice columnist. And quite a good one. Her answers are essays that we can all learn something from. I was impressed.

2. Killer Cupid-Laurien Berenson

Melanie Travis can get involved in a murder investigation anywhere she goes. This time it’s on a romantic Valentine’s Day retreat with her husband. I always enjoy the books from this series.

3. Red Dog-Louis De Bernieres

This work of fiction is a take on the life of a real dog who was mostly Australian Kelpie. It takes place in Australia. Red is owned by no one and everyone. His was a short life full of adventure which is shared here.

4. We Are the Light-Matthew Quick

This story is told through letters from Lucas Goodgame to his psychologist. He is a survivor of a mass shooting that took the lives of 17, including his wife, at the local theater. The shooter’s younger brother, Eli, takes up residence in a tent in Lucas’ backyard. The two forge a bond and undertake a project that they hope will heal the survivors and young Eli. At first, I wasn’t going to read this book because it sounded depressing but it got good reviews, so I gave it a chance. The book turned out to be beautiful and uplifting! I highly recommend it.

5. Said No One Ever-Stephanie Eding

Ellie Reed takes a vacation to Montana by herself after breaking up with her fiancé and boyfriend of six years. Upon arrival, her host is taken away by ambulance, leaving her with several farm animals and a bulldog to care for. She becomes entwined in the lives of her elderly hostess Marilyn and Marilyn’s grumpy grandson. What a fun book this was!

6. The Stand-Stephen King

This book is on many “Best Books” lists so I decided to give it a read. I am reading other books while I read this one because it is 1,154 pages and I find it to be depressing. Especially since the Covid pandemic. In the story, an infectious respiratory illness wipes out 99.9% of the population. Those few who remain congregate and follow either 102 year old Mother Abigail or The Dark One-Randall Flagg. I completed the first 500 pages of this book in April.

If you only have time to read one book from this list, I recommend We Are the Light. It is more about love than it is about death. And we all need more love. Peace to you, my friends.


Magazines: Yankee, Country Living, Country Living the Complete Book of Fixer Uppers, Cooking Light Mediterranean Diet, Midwest Living, Horticulture, The English Garden

Spring Blooms & Planting


It’s really starting to feel like spring. Everywhere I look I notice something in bloom that wasn’t there the last time I looked. This columbine has been so successful that I would like to get another one in a different color. Who knows, maybe I’ll even put it in my fancy decorative urn. Until this one, I have only ever had the traditional pale pink columbine that re-seed prolifically. I’m a big fan of these fancy bi-color cultivars.


My bearded irises are starting to bloom. I love their faint grape-like scent. These used to grow in a bed beside the house, but they didn’t like it there. I moved them into the walled garden where they call be in a bed that provides sun for a portion of the day, and they seem much happier. They are spreading and give us many blooms. We also have Siberian irises that will bloom as the bearded ones start to fade. Gardening is a fine dance to be planned out step by step. Most perennials bloom for a set amount of time and you don’t want them all to bloom at once and then be done. You want to plan it, so they peak in phases with something beautiful to behold at all times.


The clematis are just getting started with their blooms for the year. When this one peaks, it has over 50 blossoms at a time. I have another smaller plant that I grew from a shoot off this one after I separated it last year. We also have a burgundy clematis that gives us beautiful blooms, but it is nowhere near the monster that the purple one is. This one also provides a second, if smaller, round of blooms later in the summer.

Have you noticed that I have a penchant for purple flowers? I also like pinks and apricots. Really any pastel flower. But then I think about the reds and the orange and yellow variegated ones and I love them too. I guess I like them all.


This lily reminds me of popcorn because of its colors. I don’t know what kind of lily it is. My mother-in-law asked me if I wanted starts from the ones that she had and of course I said yes. I have these growing in several places. I always enjoy plants given to me by others the most. I get to be reminded of the thoughtful person that gave them to me in addition to the lovely plants.


These ferns were growing as weeds along the edge of our driveway. I transplanted several of them to the shady corner of my rose garden and am quite happy with their performance. They had spread so much over the past few years that I had to dig some up and move them as they were beginning to encroach on other plants. I love ferns in general. They are so lush and green. They also provide greenery throughout much of the year when other plants are dormant.

We purchased the rhododendron and the St. John’s Wort in this garden bed. All the other plants have been transplanted from off shoots or re-seedings from plants that we already had. Astilbe, red coral bells, columbine, myrtle, and snapdragons are what grow here now.

Freshly mulched

My rose bed is ready to go for the season. It looks like a simple flower bed but I already have hours worth of work invested in it. All the roses needed to be trimmed back from their winter burns. I have weeded this bed two times already. I also grow most of my gladioi in this bed because it is the sunniest one we have and in my experience, the more sun glads have, the bigger they get and the more they flower. I spent two afternoons planting glad bulbs and mulching after that. Yesterday afternoon I did the fertilizing. It will be worth it. All the rose bushes are loaded with lots of blooms. I sprung for the good fertilizer for my roses. I get the stuff that has nutrients, and prevents Japanese beetles, and black spot. It prevents a lot of heartache.

Last summer I was dubbing myself the Japanese beetle queen. I suppose Japanese beetle slayer would have been closer to the truth. I have never seen as many of these beetles as we had last year. They were on most every plant we had. I would make the rounds with my jar of soapy water, knocking beetles in as I went. I probably got 100 with each round. We even put milky spore in the yard which is supposed to kill the larvae. Fingers crossed that this year is better.

New flowers!

Does this photo look like lots of pretty flowers? It does to me too. It also looks like days worth of work which it also is. There are a few perennials for our ever growing collection. And there are annuals for the concrete planters on top of the garden wall, some for my hanging baskets, with enough left over for other urns and filling in empty spots that need a little something.

It all sounds like a lot of work, and it is. But the rewards are worth it. I find that if I put in extra work early in the season, it gives more free time to relax later in the summer. Prevent those weeds and seeds now, and it will pay off big time later. I try never to get so involved in the prepping and maintaining of the garden that I don’t take time to enjoy it. For each time I do some gardening, I also make a little time for a cool drink and reading on the patio. The dogs also hang out with me in the garden which makes it more fun for all of us. They are all trained to stay out of the flower beds and know where they can go. They think the fountain is the world’s largest dog bowl! And so, it is.