leaves and hope

Transition and settling in (and resettling in) is a sub-theme in my life. Last year I wrote a series called Starting Again: Five Things To Do And One Don’t and I’ve often used this space to ponder what it is that transforms a place into, suddenly, Home. I’ve written about the impact of bubbles and the miracle of growing things. . . 

I celebrated Black Friday this year by turning 35 and thus establishing myself as middle-aged at last after years of practicing. My husband celebrated by giving me flowers–thousands and thousands of them.

Our new home had a huge square garage with a plastic roof when we first saw it. Walking into it the first time I realized it had doors leading from the house in at least two locations, and windows looking upon it from two others. It is like a blank concrete box with a brick floor in the midst of everything and the house sort of wraps around it.

But if we could clear it out and sweep off the paving stones and if we could take the plastic sheets off and open the roof and if we could grow vines over the metal bars where the roof was and if we could fill it with plants and if we could hang a hammock and lots of lanterns . . . this space could be incredibly, restfully beautiful.

But there was a lot of work to do just surviving and setting up these last months. So although we had the roof opened and I swept it out and hung empty jars with candles from the rafters with wire, I wasn’t able to start the garden.


Until now. For my birthday gift, Alex had a driver take us to a town high in the hills near our city that is known for selling plants and flowers. We wandered the greenhouses and the flower street and bargained and chatted with flower ladies and came home in a drivable jungle.


The beauty of these greenhouses, perched on terraces full of fantastic, colorful, aromatic living things of all types all growing together, was such as I will never forget. I’ll be returning often, soaking in the loveliness of this new land that we’re making our home.


We gathered hydrangeas, jasmine trees, bougainvillea, hibiscus, trumpet flowers, petunias, fuschias, roses, and orchids. We brought rosemary and passion fruit vines and a lime tree. Many of the plants are favorites of mine, many are colorful or fantastic or creative in different ways.


I was so happy.

I just wandered the terraces and exclaimed over the wondrous things and left Alex to do the bargaining for our treasures. In the end the car was full of amazing things for far less than the price of a date to the movies in the States.


We drove home with the scent of jasmine, covered with leaves and dirt and hope.

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17 Responses to leaves and hope

  1. Lana Teeters says:

    Can’t wait to see photos of it complete and growing! Well done you two!

  2. Laurie says:

    Happiest of birthday wishes, sweet friend! I could almost cry for joy with you (well, to be truthful, I did!) – what a precious gift – so full of hope and life and rest. Growing, tending, enjoying a garden – these do make us at home wherever we happen to be. There is a permanence to putting things into the ground and making the commitment to tending them. And green brings a soothing to the soul that cannot be explained by other things or colors or smells… there was a good reason God started us all in a garden. Enjoy it every day. Can’t wait to see all your efforts come to sweet fruition! 🙂

  3. Juli says:

    Happy birthday, Betsy! That sounds absolutely wonderful 🙂 I feel happy just reading about it 🙂 Love, Juli

  4. Charles McKinney says:

    Every part of God’s creation has its own beauty on display. You carry in your heart and mind the matchless beauty of SD, MN. MA. DE. and IL, along with that of jolly old England, while discovering his handiwork in the place where God has led you! May the “beauty of Jesus” and the fragrance of his presence in your lives be seen by those who make up your new world.

  5. Sue Hughes says:

    I spy with my little eye a mimosa tree! Looks like you’ll be having great fun with that trunkful!

    • betsy says:

      YES!! I wish you could see the gardening places here–a huge abundance of tropical plants–reminds me of your favorite place and mine–Longwood.

  6. Janet Schneider says:

    How glorious!! Can’t wait to see the garden-haven that you put together. What a fun project that will yield beauty and JOY!

  7. Katy Jack says:

    Dearest Betsie, I am so pleased that you are back and sending such encouraging missives to my inbox! I have missed hearing from you. Happy Birthday! What a beautiful birthday treat – I felt quite emotional reading this account and love to think of you creating a beautiful garden in your new home. xxx

  8. Donna Grubb says:

    What a wonderful letter from you dearest Betsy. Hoping I will be able to sign up for your blog. So many sweet words from you and friends.. We may have a warm Christmas here, David said it may be 67 Christmas day. It was 28 this morning. My foam flower is blooming and the bulbs are up. Flowers all year, what a joy for you, if the weeds are not too much. Think you often. Wish you a blessed Christmas. Our love to all.

  9. Lydia says:

    This is precious. I am so happy that you are finding ways to make your new house a home!

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