bibliophile, gardening

If ever there was a spring day so perfect…

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

… … … part of Billy Collins’ poem Today


First day of spring blooms, North Texas, zone 8a

Dutch iris, below

dutch iris

I feel a bit like Bubba in Forrest Gump… You got your bearded iris, your reticulata iris, Dutch iris, Louisiana iris, Japanese iris, Siberian iris… some are bulbous irises, some are rhizome irises… some are bearded, some are beardless… Someday I will blog about the different irises that grow well in this area.
For now: Dutch irises are perennial, grown from a bulb planted in the fall.

And now… daffodils, the harbinger of spring…
I love the shadow cast by these daffodils, below.

daffodils 2

“When the winds of March are wakening the crocuses and crickets,
Did you ever find a fairy near some budding little thickets,…
And when she sees you creeping up to get a closer peek
She tumbles through the daffodils, a playing hide and seek.”
~Marjorie Barrows

A happy little clump of daffodils, below.

daffodils 1

Leucojum, pictured below. If you ever need proof that fairies dance in the garden, this is it. Just look at that little green dot, along the scalloped blossom.

“And as the seasons come and go, here’s something you might like to know. There are fairies everywhere: under bushes, in the air, playing games just like you play, singing through their busy day. So listen, touch, and look around — in the air and on the ground. And if you watch all nature’s things, you might just see a fairy’s wing.” ~Author Unknown


I know. We aren’t suppose to believe in fairies past a certain age…

“Every time a child says, ‘I don’t believe in fairies,’ there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.” ~James Matthew Barrie, Peter Pan

Hyacinth, below.


The above bulbs are all planted in the fall for spring blooms. Make a note now of any bulbs you see and like. Mail order catalogs will start taking orders in late summer for fall shipment. Garden centers will receive bulbs in early fall, but hold off on planting until Thanksgiving.

Now, for some spring blooming shrubs…

Shrubs can be planted year-round in North Texas, just know that all new plantings (even many Texas natives) require frequent watering until they get established. Garden centers generally have their best selection of shrubs in the spring, though some also receive fall shipments.

Bridal wreath spirea, below.

bridal wreath spirea

And loropetalum, aka fringe flower. Please, please don’t prune these into round balls or square cubes. They look best when allowed to grow naturally. Loropetalum are evergreen.

fringe flower

Cherry laurel. While I didn’t capture any honeybees in this photo, the shrub was buzzing with life. It is also evergreen.

cherry laurel

Sigh… My bright orange tulips are done blooming, but I had to include a photo anyway. Because. Pollen! Just look at all that pollen!

“If we opened our minds to enjoyment, we might find tranquil pleasures spread about us on every side. We might live with the angels that visit us on every sunbeam, and sit with the fairies who wait on every flower.” ~Samuel Smiles


Welcome, Spring!

Magdalen Walks

by Oscar Wilde


The little white clouds are racing over the sky,
And the fields are strewn with the gold of the flower of March,
The daffodil breaks under foot, and the tasselled larch
Sways and swings as the thrust goes hurrying by.

A delicate odour is borne on the wings of the morning breeze,
The odour of leaves, and of grass, and of newly upturned earth,
The birds are singing for joy of the Spring’s glad birth,
Hopping from branch to branch on the rocking trees.

And all the woods are alive with the murmur and sound of Spring,
And the rose-bud breaks into pink on the climbing briar,
And the crocus-bed is a quivering moon of fire
Girdled round with the belt of an amethyst ring.

And the plane to the pine-tree is whispering some tale of love
Till it rustles with laughter and tosses its mantle of green,
And the gloom of the wych-elm’s hollow is lit with the iris sheen
Of the burnished rainbow throat and the silver breast of a dove.

See! the lark starts up from his bed in the meadow there,
Breaking the gossamer threads and the nets of dew,
And flashing adown the river, a flame of blue!
The kingfisher flies like an arrow, and wounds the air.



…of golden daffodils

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

~~~ William Wordsworth
The first daffodil of the season, hearkening in spring in the melodious garden.



The Barefoot Boy

A number of years ago, a group of school children and their mothers visited my garden. One of the mothers sent me a Thank You note after and wrote that my son reminded her of this poem, The Barefoot Boy. I have cherished the poem ever since…

To my own Barefoot Boy:
Always stay little, my little man. Though you now tower over me, please never forget the knowledge learned outside of school. Remember your childhood rich in flowers and trees, humming-birds and honey-bees. Live and laugh, my little man.

el in garden

Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy,—
I was once a barefoot boy!
Prince thou art,—the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy
In the reach of ear and eye,—
Outward sunshine, inward joy:
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!


barefoot at beach
Oh for boyhood’s painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor’s rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee’s morning chase,
Of the wild-flower’s time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole’s nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape’s clusters shine;
Of the black wasp’s cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy,—
Blessings on the barefoot boy!


el outside
Oh for boyhood’s time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard trees,
Apples of Hesperides!
Still as my horizon grew,
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy!


Oh for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread;
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the door-stone, gray and rude!
O’er me, like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frogs’ orchestra;
And, to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy
Waited on the barefoot boy!


Cheerily, then, my little man,
Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt’s for work be shod,
Made to tread the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil:
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,
Ere it passes, barefoot boy!
~~~ By John Greenleaf Whittier
bibliophile, vintage

In the garden I spend my days…

In the garden I spend my days; in my library I spend my nights. My interests are divided between my geraniums and my books. With the flower I am in the present; with the book I am in the past.
~ Alexander Smith, 1863

winnie the pooh

I stumbled across this quote a few days ago and it moved me. I have been reflective of late, now the mother of a teenage boy. As he moves into manhood and I go through our overflowing bookshelves, it hits me hard. All of the great books we have enjoyed over the years. Some I will pass on… Some I will treasure forever, both in my heart and in my home.

winne the pooh 1

Part of the melodious garden’s mission is to pass along the love of literature and share with others the joy of reading great books. In my own way, I am a literary preservationist. I find books without a home and find new homes for them.

poetry for very young

As I sort through our home library and organize and price my books for work, I am struck by how many of the books are duplicates. The books I now seek for my business are often the same books my son loved as a child. Each one a welcome piece of the past. With the flower I am in the present; with the book I am in the past. How wonderful and true that is.


Books featured on this blog post will be available this spring at the melodious garden’s boutique at The Grapevine Antique Market. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in these treasures today.


A few of the books pictured:
Bambi – copyright 1950
Five little Peppers and how they grew – copyright 1965
Hans Brinker – copyright 1957
Poems to read to the very young – copyright 1961
Winnie the pooh (before he became the yellow bear we know today!) – copyright 1946
The Pooh Story Book – copyright 1965



Cranberry Thanksgiving

Every Thanksgiving, we visit old friends.

Maggie. Her grandmother. And Mr. Whiskers.

Mr. Whiskers has too many whiskers and not enough soap, grandmother says. But that doesn’t bother us.

You see, they are literary friends. We met them over a decade ago when we were introduced to Wende and Harry Devlin’s Cranberry series for children.

cranberry thanksgiving 1

Every Thanksgiving, we pull out Cranberry Thanksgiving. I re-read the book, and we make Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread.

cranberry thanksgiving 2

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without grandma’s cranberry bread. Or Mr. Whiskers.

bibliophile, herbal fare, vintage

Vintage Tea Party, a book reviewed

Vintage Tea Party by Carolyn Caldicott is one of those books that need repeated readings to be fully absorbed.

Once through just for the photographs, which are simply stunning. From the double page spreads of English landscapes to the smaller photographs of tea cups, finger sandwiches and beautiful tablescapes, the photographs draw you in and make you want to linger a bit.

Another trip through the book and you glean the history and importance of tea, the rise of afternoon tea, the difference between low and high tea, the joy of a fireside tea and the petite adventures of a nursery tea.

The book draws you back again for the recipes, which require another – now deeper – study of the photographs. The recipes are written in English measurements, but can be easily converted.

From beginning to end, this book is charming. To quote, Vintage Tea Party tells “how afternoon tea developed from its modest beginnings to become a much-loved celebration of indulgent pleasures.” A century and a half may have passed, but I am absolutely in love with Anna, the Duchess of Bedford’s idea of “a tea and a walk in the fields.”

How to get that vintage tea party look?

Step one: Check your attic or Grandma’s china hutch for cups, silver and linens. Antique markets always offer an abundant selection of tea party essentials. One need not have matching dishes. Mix and match and coordinate to please your tastes and style.

tea 2

Step two: The food… When homemade treats are not possible, shop at a local bakery or pastry shop for tiny morsels. A baguette sliced and topped with butter and fresh jam and a few bits of fine cheese are simple enough yet pleasing. I adore Ms. Caldicott’s advice: “You don’t need to be a domestic goddess to have a tea party. As long as the tea ingredients look home-made and are served with vintage style, there are ways to cheat and make life easier.”

tea 3

Step three: The tea… Ah. The tea. So many possibilities and so many personal favorites. The British Emporium in Grapevine is one of my favorite places to shop for tea, but most groceries now carry a variety of options.

Now, about that tea and a walk in the fields. Brisk fall days such as today are the perfect pairing!

tea 1


bibliophile, vintage

Once Upon An Autumn Day

Aren’t these saucers the perfect addition to a fall tea party?

fall dish 2

I will be reviewing Vintage Tea Party by Carolyn Caldicott later this week. (Sneak preview: Neat book! Loved the vintage dishes and photography.)

Tea time is a nice pause in the middle of a hectic day, a chance to settle in, relax, enjoy a quiet moment, reflect for a bit. Once a little boy, now a young man, my son still sits down to tea. The draw? Food. He comes to the table for a snack, stays for the tea and a poem or two. The best part of a vintage tea party is that one can mix and match the dishes, cut a few early fall flowers for a small bouquet. It need not be fancy (or the food homemade) to a perfect tea party.

fall dish 1

Once upon an autumn day,
Colorful leaves began to fade
In the midst of a chilly, frosty air
As multitude of trees grew steadily bare.

Once upon an autumn day,
The whispering breeze was here to stay
Moving aimlessly through the countless trees
Scattering leaves with the greatest of ease.

Once upon an autumn day,
The leaves whirled freely in every way,
Until at last they came to rest
Finding a haven in which to nest.

Once upon an autumn day,
The trees were dormant, and the leaves lay
Waiting for the winter snow to fall
To quickly obscure them one and all.

~~~ Joseph T. Renald

ihand with fan






Miss Rumphius

A good picture book is timeless….it appeals as much to the adult reader as it does to the child.

Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney, is one such picture book. I read this book many many times to my son when he was young. It touched my heart and sang to my soul. I long to be Miss Rumphius when I am old and gray.

miss 1

Little Alice Rumphius lives by the sea and helps her grandfather paint pictures and listens to his stories of faraway places. She longs to grow up and travel the world, then settle down by the sea. Her grandfather tells her she must do one more thing: find something to make the world more beautiful.

Little Alice Rumphius does grow up and works – where else but with books? “…dusting books and keeping them from getting mixed up, and helping people find the ones they wanted.”

And she travels the world and settles down by the sea. But what will she do to make the world more beautiful? After a hard winter, she realizes what she must do. She scatters lupine seeds “along the highways and down the country lane …around the schoolhouse and back of the church.” People now call her That Crazy Old Lady. But come spring, the flowers emerge and she is called The Lupine Lady ever after.

Now, years later, children come to her garden gate and she invites them in and tells them tales of faraway places and urges them to find something to make the world a more beautiful place.

miss 4

I think most gardeners have a touch of Miss Rumphius in them – that intrinsic desire to make the world more beautiful.

My husband and I had recently bought our first home when I attended a garden club’s plant sale in a neighboring town. I still vividly recall the ladies handing me a glass of lemonade and inviting me to sit and chat about gardening. It is hard to believe that 22 years have now passed. I joined that garden club a few years after that plant sale and am still a member today. Several garden club members that I remember fondly from those early days have now passed on. But their legacies live on.  And their gardens live, too, as they scattered seeds and dug and shared plants with garden club members over the years. And they made the world a more beautiful place.

miss 5

(I recently bought these beautiful flower shears at the estate sale of a garden club member that passed away last year.)

miss 6