Saturday, June 16, 2018

My June Garden in the Shenandoah Valley

June is the Garden of Eden time here, while the plants are still fresh and new and the Japanese beetles haven't yet arrived. Dewy mornings filled with glowing flowers and bird song are a little piece of heaven. Our rich green valley reminds me of the Shire with the hobbits, especially in June. Loveliness surrounds us. Then as summer advances and the heat, usually drought, and bad bugs settle in gardening is less idyllic. Although, some summers are much kinder than others. This one will be glorious.

(Shirley poppies and larkspur)

Pollinators are all over the garden. After unusually heavy rain for days the sun has finally reappeared. Bees and butterflies love forget-me-nots. These are the Chinese variety below.


"The garden is a love song, a duet between a human being and Mother Nature." ~Jeff Cox

"It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not." ~W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman, Garden Rubbish, 1936


The first coneflower in bloom. Echinacea.


"You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt." ~Author Unknown

"I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I worked in the garden." ~John Erskine



The breadseed poppy is beginning to bloom. Papaver somniferum.

"In my 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, "Books and Gardens," Dreamthorp: A Book of Essays Written in the Country, 1863

"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." ~Cicero




Beautiful rose red buckwheat blooming in the garden above, covered with pollinators. White coriander is flowering beside the barley.

"Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps;
Perennial pleasures plants, and wholesome harvest reaps."
~A. Bronson Alcott, "The Garden," Tablets, 1868



Children also inhabit my garden. These are three of my creative grandkids and this is some of what becomes of my Amazon boxes. Cardboard weapons and protective gear for wars against Orks and other great dangers. They even made a crossbow.

Imagination blooms in the garden.

I think on the latest book I'm writing while I'm weeding, and develop the plots. Sometimes, I just 'am' while I muse with the earth. The garden is a good place to 'be'. 

For more on me, visit my Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6


Monday, May 28, 2018

The Restoration of Our Farm Pond

To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment. ~Jane Austen

Our pond, originally dug in the early 1950’s, has given people and wildlife much happiness through the years. But over time it had filled with silt and could no longer support fish. The herons were lucky to nab a minnow. As the soil level raised, weeds appeared. Eventually, they would have taken over. Since my grandson, Ian, badly wanted to fish, and all of us wanted to see the pond saved and not disappear entirely, we had no choice other than to start over. This meant eradicating what we had, a tough move that elicited groans from me.

October before last we undertook the draining of our much-loved waterhole. Storms and muskrats had already punched holes in the dam that should have been made of clay but was of softer loam; it didn’t require enormous effort for son Cory to make a much bigger gap in it. We sadly watched the water diminish. Disgruntled geese waded in the dwindling puddle until that, too, was gone. Months followed with no sight or sound of pond life, no photographs of sunsets reflected on its surface…no ice skating for two winters…

Drought settled in. During the long dry spell, our one comfort was the thought that the sooner the muddy bottom dried up, the sooner we would be able to bring in the big equipment and get to work. 
Eventually, that day finally came and stretched into weeks, then months. Late this past fall and winter, the pond was dug and reshaped, and the new dam packed with clay. Rows of soil from the bottom lined our meadow like trenches in World War One. Cory and 'team pond restore' laid the overflow pipe, built a deck, and did all the work in readiness for a break in the weather. 
We waited and waited. Our pond was like a dry crater on the moon, and just as uninhabitable. I despaired of it ever being full. We got some much-needed moisture in March and April, about the time forest fires were breaking out, but the bulk of the rains have only recently come. Some rain fell in torrents, with the biggest storm hitting yesterday. At long last, our pond is brimming. Great is our excitement


(Grandson kayaking)



Daughter Elise, the grandkids, and I have planted a lot of trees and bushes on the banks. Our goal is to bring back the wildlife. Birdsong resounds from the meadow and surrounding trees during tranquil walks around the pond. It’s incredibly peaceful there. We are planning further plantings, but for now, we’re savoring the fruits of our labor. It's a magical realm.

"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." ~John Muir (1838–1914)






"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson





"I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright." ~Henry David Thoreau

"I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. "~e.e. cummings


"The poetry of the earth is never dead." ~John Keats

"After all, I don’t see why I am always asking for private, individual, selfish miracles when every year there are miracles like white dogwood." ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

(Goose flapping his wings behind newly planted tree)

 (Grandson Owen kayaking)


(Red Wing Blackbird)


(Cory is building benches for the dock)


For more on me, follow my Amazon Author Page at: https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6/


Saturday, April 28, 2018

April in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

(In front of our farm-house)
You are likely to find me out in the garden, because the garden is where life is. Everything is green, growing, flowering, or with the promise of blooms and fruit to come.  The garden is a vibrant place, and yet, deeply peaceful, too, and ever-changing. No two days in the garden are the same.  Each day holds new discoveries. Spring is a giddy time, with so much to do at once.
Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there. ~Thomas Fuller 1732 (This is very true)


While much of the country is still buried under winter, those of us fortunate enough to dwell in the Shenandoah Valley, or 'The Shire' as I call it,  are blessed with spring loveliness. Not that the weather doesn't waffle here, because it has and does, dipping back into frigid temps after luring everything into bloom. But most plants are hardy enough to withstand this whimsy. We are well accustomed to the annual dance. I cover my gullible lilies and pray for the blossoming trees.


A new project has opened up in my gardening world with the redoing of our farm pond--digging out years of accumulating silt--and the expansion of the surrounding fence.  This gives us much more room to grow our dreams, safe from munching cows, and a lot of tree planting has ensued. Yesterday, daughter Elise and I planted thirty additional trees and bushes on the pond banks, after a long planting session this past Saturday with the enthusiastic help of my three oldest grandsons. While we labored, we were surrounded by birdsong from meadowlarks, red-winged black birds, the song sparrow, killdeer, cardinals... It's hard work, but the pond will be glorious. Our aim is to plant for the birds, water fowl, fish, pollinators, and people. I'm envisioning magic.
(One end of our Pond)
(Elise, Me, and my three grandsons after a long tree planting day)
As for my writing, admittedly it has sagged as planting and gardening take priority, but I have a new story idea buzzing around in my head. Outside time gives me the opportunity to ponder my emerging plot. How can I not be inspired while enveloped in all this spring beauty?
(Virginia Bluebells in front of our house)
"Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day." ~W. Earl Hall
"April is a promise that May is bound to keep." ~Hal Borland


"The naked earth is warm with Spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun’s kiss glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze."
~Julian Grenfell
"In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours." ~Mark Twain
The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
~Robert Frost


Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke
"It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!" ~Mark Twain
***Images by daughter Elise Trissel

Monday, March 26, 2018

New #audiobook #historicalromance #Novel Traitor's Legacy

Journey back to the intrigue of the American Revolution, where spies can be anyone and trust may prove deadly. This gripping era comes to life in the rich tones of the audio book narrated by Lisa Valdini. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the story unfold and I already know what happens. If you like mystery, history, adventure, and romance, Traitor's Legacy is for you.

Traitor's Legacy Blurb:

1781. On opposite sides of the War of Independence, British Captain Jacob Vaughan and Claire Monroe find themselves thrust together by chance and expediency.
Captain Vaughan comes to a stately North Carolina manor to catch a spy. Instead, he finds himself in bedlam: the head of the household is an old man ravaged by madness, the one sane male of the family is the very man he is hunting, and the household is overseen by his beguiling sister Claire.
Torn between duty, love, and allegiances, yearning desperately for peace, will Captain Vaughan and Claire Monroe forge a peace of their own against the vagaries of war and the betrayal of false friends?
Traitor's Legacy is available in audio at Audible and Amazon. Also available in kindle and print at Amazon, and in eBook from all online booksellers.
While written to stand alone, Traitor's Legacy is the sequel to award-winning historical romance novel Enemy of the King. Traitor's Curse is book 3 in The Traitor's Legacy Series.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

April Online #Herbal Lore Class–Beth Trissel

If you missed my other classes, or want to catch the updated version, I'm giving my Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs class in April for Charter Oak Romance Writers. Non-members are welcome to join in. Register at this link. Scroll down: http://charteroakromancewriters.com/on-line-classes-2018
(Dill and heirloom poppies from Monticello in our garden)
This workshop spans centuries of herbs and their lore from the ancients, through the British Isles, Colonial America, Native Americans, the Granny Women and the Mountain People of the Blue Ridge and Alleghenies (general Appalachia).

Mountains are all around us here in the Shenandoah Valley. This area is rich in history and plants, and people who went to great lengths to thwart witches. Seriously.

There's so much fascinating stuff to cover. Too much, so I encourage participants to download and save the files for later. I also welcome discussion and questions. It's more enjoyable with participation.

My aim is for this class to be fun, informative and useful. I often incorporate herbs into my writing and into my life. Some of the more archaic uses are frowned upon today, and/or illegal. I recommend avoiding those practices.
Class members will receive the eBook of my herbal, Plants for A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles (also available in print if anyone's interested).
This is my class outline, but I guarantee I will post even more than this. I have a wealth of information to share, and am accumulating more.



Week One:
Introduction to the workshop and meet & greet.


The wisdom of Native Americans. A focus on Native American herbs.
The Granny Women. A focus on the mountain people and old time cures, both herbal and some white magic.



Week Two:
Colonial American herbs (Part One)


Colonial American herbs (Part Two)




Week Three:
Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles


Other related posts on herbs in the British Isles, including the Druids.




Week Four:

‘What can kill can cure’ but definitely kill and watch out for werewolves (Poisonous herbs and those believed to have power against werewolves and vampires)


For protection from spells and enchantment, the sacred, healing herbs
Knock yourself out and Ward off the Plague: Dwale, an Old-English Antiseptic


The Vinegar of the Four Thieves
An opportunity for final sharing from participants. 







“As Rosemary is to the Spirit, so Lavender is to the Soul.”
– Anonymous


Here's the registration link again: http://charteroakromancewriters.com/on-line-classes-2018

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Chronicling Spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

I am a gardener, animal lover, author... Fortunately, I haven't had to choose a single focus and incorporate my loves into my writing. Among my greatest passions is the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in general, and our farm in particular. The meadows are covered in a wash of green and looking far more hopeful than the brown hue we've lived with since November A blanket of snow is pretty but we haven't had much snowfall this year. Thank heavens the rain has returned after months of drought.



Our drained and dug out farm pond is finally beginning to fill back up again. It was a dry crater all fall and winter like something on the moon. The barnyard geese were suspicious at first, but now go for swims. We are watching for the migrating waterfowl and birds who were once regular visitors here. Sadly, our place was off their radar last spring. Having an alive pond again is exciting. We're consulting experts about what to do regarding fish, and I'm toying with getting ducks. The original pond had filled with silt over the decades and had to be redone. It's located in a marshy spot in the meadow fed by wet water springs and is the head waters of Cooks Creek, which ultimately feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. Fencing keeps the cows out. We have planted some trees and shrubs around it and will plant more.



(Geese enjoying the new grass. Ruins of an old barn visible back behind our farm)

I'm in my 'giddy about the earth awakening mode', or was, until the wind storm hit. My spirits are a little battered, and the crocus are kind of sad after the roaring bluster. But I trust the blossoms will revive and new ones will open when this gale finishes with us and sweeps away. March really roared in this year. Inclement weather is a trial to gardeners everywhere. We hopeful souls go on. We must. I'm chronicling spring as it unfolds in my bit of earth.

Early crocus and snowdrops below.





I saved a lot of seeds last year, ordered many others, and started some early varieties of flowers, herbs, and vegetables in my little greenhouse. One late February day was so balmy, it felt like May. I planted my early salad greens in the garden during the warm spell. Then the lion returned, and the seeds will slumber until the warmth comes back.

"Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps;
Perennial pleasures plants, and wholesome harvest reaps."
~A. Bronson Alcott, "The Garden," Tablets, 1868


"It was such a pleasure to sink one's hands into the warm earth, to feel at one's fingertips the possibilities of the new season." ~Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

(Miniature iris return faithfully each year)

(Yellow crocus)

***For more on me follow my Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6/