Garden Mandalas

Garden Mandala No. 41 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #geranium #mallow #plum #locust #azalea #cross #square #quadrants

I’ve been making mandalas from flowers and leaves since February 23. It has become my meditation, my art project. It’s how I’m dealing with stress and anxiety. I am a huge fan of land art, ephemeral artworks made of natural, found materials and installed in natural spaces. This is my own little contribution to the art form. I love flowers and used to be a florist, so it seems to fit.

Garden Mandala No. 44 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #waldorfhome #ephemeral #roses #lavender

I am using primarily materials from my own garden and yard. Occasionally, when in a wild place or undeveloped lot, I will pick some wildflowers to use, but only if they are totally plentiful. I’ve made mandalas in my parents’ yard and in my in-laws’ yard, using their plants and flowers. I’m not buying cut flowers for this project, it’s just what I can glean.

Garden Mandala No. 38 Every day there's something new to use. #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenartflowers #square #cinquefoil #locust #lantana #roses #petals #leaves #catkins

It seems that every few days a new plant is blooming, making its flowers or pretty leaves available to my art. I don’t want to denude anything, of course—I grow my garden so that it’s beautiful and pleasant to be in—so I only take bits that are abundant. I carefully consider whether I can spare the flowers.

Garden Mandala No. 36 Office park landscaping and riverside wildflowers #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #star #starofdavid #thistle #wildflowers #waldorfhome #weeds

There’s a kind of sacred geometry to these, I think, as is so with all mandalas. I enjoy playing with forms. Each mandala has something wrong with it, a kind of wabi-sabi element. Somehow, this delights me. Even though I really do try to make them symmetrical and geometrical and “right.” Tiny pieces sometimes move out of place. Usually I don’t see their flaws until after I’ve taken the photo and walked away, or the wind has moved all the bits around and destroyed the pattern. Then I take a deep breath and decide to love the mandala anyway.

Garden Mandala No. 34 It's such a beautiful day! Happy Friday, friends! #spring #waldorfhome #mandala #gardening #flowers #leaves #landart #mallow #flowerstagram #azalea #periwinkle #oxialis #grass #japanesemaple #gardenart #ephemeral

Some mandalas are simple and some are complicated. I’m enjoying exploring shapes and textures, as well as colors and all their myriad combinations. Sometimes I use bare ground or my lawn as the background. Other times I’ll find a place under a tree where there’s bark or needles. I think the background contributes to the overall feeling of each mandala. So far, every one of them is unique in many ways.

Garden Mandala No. 30 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #triangle #flowerstagram #roses #calendula

The wind is my enemy when designing a piece. Various sun versus shadow conditions can also be tricky, I’ve learned. Time of day matters, too. If it’s too late in the evening, I find my photo isn’t as nice because of low light. If the day has bright, bright sun, I often can’t tell by looking at my viewfinder if my photo has captured it properly. After taking shots, I play with the brightness, saturation, shadows, and other elements of the photo to try to pull out the best qualities of each mandala. I’m no whiz at postproduction, but I get in there and mess about anyway.

Good morning! Garden Mandala No. 2

Even if I’m using many flowers of the same type, or many leaves from the same tree or bush, each one is different. I like that these same-element groups don’t always behave the same, or look quite the same, or have the same size, color, or texture, but when viewed as a whole, sort of cooperate and can be taken together.

I think most of all, what I like about making these is that they make me happy. They’re little earthy prayers of my own making, arising from my wild mind and creative soul though the work of my hands, arranging materials that delight me. They are quieting, when my mind is racing. My mandalas give me a moment to stop everything, take a few moments outside, and make something beautiful, even if it lasts only a little while.

Garden Mandala No. 43 Friday I'm in LOVE #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #locust #plum #daylily #heart #mandalaart #ephemeral

I also love that they make other people happy. So, dear friends, thank you for the encouragement and kind words. I think I’ll keep making my garden mandalas for a while longer.

First Class Trip

Off he goes!

My little son left this morning for his first overnight class trip! They’ll be camping at Full Belly Farm, and doing farming-type stuff, including packing up CSA boxes. Asher has a little nervous and very excited, and I know it’s going to be a wonderful trip. This weekend Ian got Asher a few items he needed, like a new water bottle. I finger-knitted a lanyard for his mini flashlight so he could hang it around his neck. He’s got warm clothes, layers, our ancient snow lion sleeping bag, and he’s packed up in Ian’s Europe backpack from 1993.

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Lucas did this trip in third grade too. Somehow, it helps little brothers to know big brothers have done the same things before them, and they had fun and everything turned out all right. Today in the car as we were driving to school, Lucas kindly said things like “Don’t worry. It’s gonna be great. You’ll be fine and you’ll have fun.” It seemed to help Asher relax a little. I can say all the same things, but somehow, it’s better coming from a big brother.

So proud of this boy!

Last night, Asher reminded me that Cindy was going to be there, and that I could call her if I wanted to talk with him. I think that was code for “I might need to talk with you, Mom.” I doubt he really will though. I mentioned this to Cindy, and I know I’ll get a text later on.

He’ll be in Farmer Steve’s group, and teachers know all about his asthma medicine (something we never had to do with Lucas), so it’s all good. Asher has plenty of camping experience under his belt.

I wrote this years ago about Lucas’s first overnight trip. All of this is still so completely true, and I wish Asher the best possible time!

“I love this Waldorf curriculum. I love that my son gets to spend a day and a night on a working farm that is using sustainable practices and raising sheep for wool. I love that he knows where his food comes from. I love that part of school for him is fresh air and sunshine, digging in the mud and planting seeds, and swimming in a pond. I love that his physical and spiritual development are carefully considered in addition to his academic aptitude and achievement; that the health and unity of the class as a whole is considered. I love that he is challenged with tasks that are a trifle scary and difficult, and supported while he faces his fears and overcomes obstacles. I feel he is being nourished every day by these qualities and so many more that I can’t even put into words.

“I’m just so full of gratitude, and hoping he has a wonderful time.”

 

Speaking of Lucas, big things are coming up for him, too! In two weeks he and his classmates will dance the maypole, and in May he’ll go on his eighth-grade trip for a week!

There are all kinds of letting-go opportunities around here. XO

 

Magical Spring

My forsythia

My eyes have been joyful lately, seeing beauty everywhere. This last month has been full of blossoms and blue skies, and I grabbed as many pretty shots as I could along the way. It’s not quite spring, technically, but there’s plenty of springtime magic to behold.

We four #family #waldorfhome #spring #winterturnstospring

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See the star?

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The early spring light is sometimes warm and buttery, sometimes watery and wan.

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Trees stretch their lacy blooms skyward.

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Winter has no power over me #sacramento #California #visitsacramento #winter #mardigras

Tiny lawn flowers seem to say, “Winter has no power over me!”

Sunny, 72 degrees #sacramento #visitsacramento #California

The almonds in particular have put on quite a show, and the quince is by far the sassiest of all.

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Demure snowdrops sway quietly on the edges, like girls at a cotillion.

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My favorites, perhaps, are the plumb blossoms. They arrive in a rush; one moment the tree is bare, the next it’s enveloped in a cloud of pink. They don’t stay long, just a brief spell. Then they float down to the ground, whole flowers intact, and the earth below is transformed into fairyland.

Time in My Garden

Rain. Blessed rain.

It rained last night! For a good long time.

I woke to a beautiful day of perfect temperature, and enjoyed a delicious soak in the hot tub while we watched the trees continue to drip.

Everything around me was so lovely. It got me to thinking about all the joy and travel, heartache and courage, striving and learning I see my friends and family doing all the time. My heart kind of burst with the beauty of it all in that perfect moment. Never fear, my thoughtful friends. There is so much juicy LIVING going on all around us. I am thick in it, reveling and diving deep, and so are you. I am inspired by you every day. Carry on with your boldness, your beautiful, wild selves. It will not only be all right, it is and will be glorious!

We spent some time doing fix-it things today. Ian fixed our leaky bathtub faucet, which is a huge weight off my shoulders. I’ve been putting buckets under the leak to save and use the water, but it was a major stress. I will now sleep better at night. He also installed a water-saving shower head in the boys’ bathroom. Voila! Good work.

The boys played almost all day with the neighborhood boys. They played D&D and basketball. And used a huge box of chalk and drew on most of my driveway.

Major chalk art is happening here!

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I got to spend some time in my garden, too. I planted some (old, old) seeds, just in case they’ll come up. (Love in a mist, scarlet morning glories, marigolds.) I planted some scarlet verbena and separated out some day lilies. (I just love it when my plants can be multiplied.) I amended the soil in the worst section of my yard, in the hopes that something can actually grow there someday. I trimmed tree branches a bit. And put two yellow bell peppers in our veg bed. I dug and moved soil from one section of my yard to another. I unearthed a whole mess of ants and their nursery. I’ve ruined my nails and got some sun on my face. And I’m not one bit sorry.

I have some spectacular irises blooming right now.

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This one’s called Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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And these poppies drive me mad, they’re so pretty. Tomorrow I’ll plant some nasturtium seeds and some others. My hubby loves nasturtiums.

I pulled out some mint that’s going crazy—like they say it does. The ground is soft from the rain, so pulling out mint was easy …

Then Ian made me a mojito and the most amazing shrimp jambalaya ever!

And now, I’m going to finish my wonderful day with some Deep Space Nine. Goodnight.

Earth Day 2015

Happy Earth Day.  May we all make the world a better place with our amazing cleverness, cooperation, and compassion. Sending love and blessings to all.

Happy Earth Day!

Our little patch of Earth is presently covered in flowers. All of my beautiful plants are laughing uproariously in color. It makes me happy.

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No filter Aurora, I think

California is experiencing a very serious drought. And I’m conflicted about having a garden at all. I’ve been building and growing and tending this little oasis of ours for 16 years now. I think often about taking out my lawn, but then I watch my children playing in our yard and feel so grateful that we have a place to play! I am withholding water from these plants. I’m taking Navy showers (brrr!) and saving every drop of rainwater I can capture whenever water does come from the sky.

I promise to bathe my children rarely. I promise to make them wear the same pajamas several nights in a row. I promise to save shower water. I promise to let the yellow mellow at night. I promise to eat less meat. I promise to plant only drought-tolerant plants. I promise I will only drink coffee and champagne from now on if I can keep my garden alive this summer!

Foxgloves are coming

So far, the yard is doing pretty well on water rations, but the temperatures are still cool.

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Last week Asher asked if we could make a cactus garden. I bought him three little cactuses and brought a few more from my kitchen window out so he could make this. He painted the vine wreath with green and red paint, and then we buried it into the little garden so it looks like an arch now.

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We also planted a tiny vegetable garden. I debated about this, but figured it was a good cause, especially since the drip watering system will be watering this box anyway. We planted 2 sungold tomatoes, 1 rainbow tomato (that might be the name), two types of cucumber (one is a lemon cucumber), 1 summer squash, 1 Japanese eggplant, 2 purple basil, 2 sweet basil. (We like to make pesto.)

Today, after school, I’m going to see if I can get the boys to plant some seeds with me and do some art for Earth Day.

And now poetry:

The Robin’s Song

God bless the field and bless the furrow,
Stream and branch and rabbit burrow,
Hill and stone and flower and tree,
From Bristol town to Wetherby –
Bless the sun and bless the sleet,
Bless the land and bless the street,
Bless the night and bless the day,
From Somerset and all the way
To the meadows of Cathay;
Bless the minnow, bless the whale,
Bless the rainbow and the hail,
Bless the nest and bless the leaf,
Bless the righteous and the thief,
Bless the wing and bless the fin,
Bless the air I travel in,
Bless the mill and bless the mouse,
Bless the miller’s bricken house,
Bless the earth and bless the sea,
God bless you and God bless me!
—Old English Rhyme

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Canticle to the Sun

Praised be God for brother Sun,
Who shines with splendid glow,
He brings the golden day to us,
Thy glory does he show!
Praised be God for sister Moon
And every twinkling star;
They shine in heaven most bright and clear,
All glorious they are.
Praised be God for brother Wind
That storms across the skies,
And then grows still, and silent moves
And sweetly sings and sighs.
Praised be God for Water pure,
Her usefulness we tell,
So humble, precious, clean and good,
She works for us so well.
Praised be God for brother Fire
Friendly and wild and tame,
Tender and warm, mighty and strong,
A flashing, flaring flame.
Praised be to God for mother Earth,
Who keeps us safe and well,
Whose mother heart all warm with love,
Dark in her depths doth dwell.
—St. Francis of Assisi

Here are a few links I’ve enjoyed this week, and thought you might like them too:

Plantable gift wrapping paper

Plantable paper earths with seeds

Crochet earth ball pattern. I wish I could make this but I can’t crochet!

Recycle your Crayola markers

Green gifts from National Resources Defense Council

Elemental play book

Finally, our Late Spring Festivals E-Book is on sale for 50% off at Little Acorn Learning. It’s only $12.50 until 4/24/15.

OK. This was a rambling post. It’s what I get for trying to cram weeks of living into one blog. So, back to the message:

Happy Earth Day to all beings near and far, finned and furry, scaly and feathered, mossy and green. May we humans all make the world a better place with our amazing cleverness, cooperation, and compassion. Sending love and blessings to all. ~~~~

Lilacs

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My plan for today was to take my family to Volcano to see the daffodils at Daffodil Hill, then have lunch somewhere quaint, drive through the countryside, and maybe visit Indian Grinding Rock. It’s a perfect day, cool with some cloud cover. The grass is green, the light’s pretty even—ideal for photos.

Instead, Asher’s sick. (I wish this child could catch a break!) Three of us are home; we let Lucas escape with his bestie. Ian is working. I will soon start working. We’re doing necessary things instead of what we wanted to do. It’s fine, really. There’s laundry and other chores …

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Still, I’m feeling a little glum while the scent of lilacs wafts through my window. Thank goodness for lilacs.

Imbolc in California

We made a quick little wool sheep today in honor of Imbolc. Happy Feast of St. Brigit/Candlemas! #waldorfhome #winter #festivals #holiday #home #homemade #handwork #needlefelting

Asher is home sick today, as he was all of last week. He was bored today, of course, so we brought out the wool to make a little sheep in honor of Imbolc. He didn’t want to play with wool, though. He just wanted to be bored.

Everywhere across the nation is buried under snowfall, it seems. But here we’re enjoying warmish days in the low 70s. It may sound lovely, and it is, but we really need more rain. We are hearing that some rain is coming later this week, and frankly I’m praying for a good long winter to ameliorate our drought.

Jonquil #winter #waldorfhome #gardening #spring #harbinger

These are just some of the beauties that have arrived lately, and I’m only showing you snowy white flowers today, in honor of this midwinter moment.

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I’m embarrassed to realized I haven’t posted here since the Solstice. I’ve been all blocked up with Christmas, unable to write all that I feel I should, and busy with other pressing things. Life is happening. It’s full of mild illnesses, birthday parties, work deadlines, family meals, our new business, basketball games, and other goodnesses. We are following our path, with a modicum of grace and plenty of stumbling. Life is good.

In past years I’ve written more about this pretty little holiday, which most Americans know only as Groundhog Day. For me it is about hearth and home and family, about leaning in and protecting each other, about sheltering and feeding our light so that it glows brightly, even through the storms.

Wool Painting for Imbolc: Last year, Asher got to do some needle-felting in honor of Brigid

Happy Imbolc: This post gives a fair amount of background on the holiday, and how it has many names.

Our Imbolc Celebration: This was a little family ritual we did when the children were smaller.

Imbolc, or Candlemas: Some thoughts about preparing for Candlemas.

Candlemas: We rolled candles this year and discussed how it was the midpoint of winter.

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My backyard is full of robins this afternoon. The tulips are coming up. My daffodils are blooming. I guess that’s Imbolc in California.

I’m wondering how others celebrate. I know Eileen and her girls made snow candles today, and that sounds fun. I might just stick a few Four O’Clocks seeds in the ground in a gesture of hope and investment in a bright, colorful spring. However you celebrate, I wish you warmth and fellowship, and a nurturing moment for all those you love.

Rainbow Garden

Last and best #summer #flowers #gardening #red #rose
My red-orange obsession--all blooming now. #spring #gardening #flowers #red
#orange blooms my July garden #summer #flowers #gardening
Summer yellows #summer #flowers #gardening #yellow
Just some of the greens #summer #gardening #colors #green
My blues,  blooming now #summer #flowers #gardening #blue
#summer #purple #flowers #gardening
Pink and peach #summer #flowers #gardening #peach #pink
I don't have a lot of white in my garden,  but this is what's happening now.  #summer #flowers #gardening #white

This is my garden in summer. These photos were all taken between the very end of May and July 7.

This is, of course, the very best of it. We are having a terrible drought in California, and I’ve been conserving water. I’ve not pictured my yellowed lawn or the roses with burnt petals. I’ve not pictured the patches of bare dirt or my lack of much-needed mulch (where does it go?).  I haven’t pictured how my hydrangeas have 90 percent fewer flowers than usual. Naturally, I don’t photograph the plants that perish. I kill things all the time.

This is the best that I can show in this hot time of year.

But I want to show it because I love it and because I have worked very hard over the last 11 years turning into this third-acre of weeds and potholes into my oasis, my home. This is my English garden, California-style, and infused with all the flare of a Brazilian Carnival that I can muster. This is what my dreams look like at night. A jungle of color. A rush of blossoms. A heaving of growth and urgency. A riot of shapes and textures.

I can’t explain why this garden is important to me, except to say, this is how I surround myself and my family with beauty.

With Silver Bells and Cockle Shells

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This is how my garden grows.

These little “postcards” from my garden were all shot within the last three or four days. I’ve been showing my garden in person to as many people as possible—to as many kind souls who will take a moment to look—but I also want to capture it here, to remind myself that I make my small square of the planet beautiful. It has come so far. This garden is a huge source of joy and relief in my life. It is source. It feeds me every bit as much as I feed it. More, really.

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Love my irises

Easter roses  #spring #easter #flowers #gardening #rose

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Iris #spring #flowers #gardening #iris #couleursdiris

#spring #flowers #gardening

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On alert

#nofilter #iris #flowers #spring #gardening

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I could tell a story about ever single plant pictured here, but I know that’s kind of ridiculous. Suffice it to say, I hope you have enjoyed this tiny tour of the late April highlights.

"Peace"

I leave you with this last photo of “peace.”

Spring Break

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We’ve just finished spring break. It’s been two weeks of lots of fun for the kiddos, starting with a glorious day at Point Reyes National Seashore. We have a tradition of ringing in the spring by going to the beach.

Magic games are on #11yearold #sixthgrade #play #7yearold #spring #son

Lots of Magic: The Gathering games were played. And even more card sorting and organizing and deck building.

#mamaandbaby #mamainthepicture #7yearold #firstgrade #son #play

We made some funny pictures.

Office

Mama worked a lot, but I got to work here for some of the time. My garden is beautiful right now and I’ve hosted two parties to make my friends see it.

These guys #spring #sacramentowaldorfschool

We saw these handsome fellas. They and their girls had the run of the school campus while the students were away.

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We watched Cosmos and snuggled.

Baseball practice during spring break #spring #sacramentowaldorfschool #sixthgrade #11yearold

Lucas had baseball practice on several perfect April days. And for five days he got to do an archery camp that he loved, with two hours of practice a day and games and fun contests.

These are just some highlights. I can’t seem to keep on track here at Love in the Suburbs lately. I’ll try to do better. Happy spring, and Happy Earth Day, everyone!

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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I'm Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2017 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    "Love doesn't just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new." —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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