Book Review: Braiding Sweetgrass

This book was easily my favorite book all summer. It deserves all the hype and more. It should be required reading in high school.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants is a non-fiction series of short stories or vignettes told by Robin Wall-Kimmerer from her perspective as a professor of botany at SUNY and member of the Potawatomi tribe. She weaves (or braids…) these two perspectives together masterfully, creating a quite compelling book.

The main premise of the book is to dispel the notion that humans are inherently at odds with the land and natural world around us. I think most of us (or many Americans, at least) imagine “nature” as being completely separate from us. Nature is something we go to see on vacation. Nature needs to be protected from humans. Wherever there are humans, nature will surely be ruined.

Through her stories, Wall-Kimmerer paints a different picture, one of a beneficial, reciprocal relationship between humans and the land. Inspired by her Potawatomi ancestry and bolstered by her doctoral degree in plant ecology, she tells us how in many ways the earth needs humans just as much as the humans need the earth and how we can be better participants in this relationship.

Maybe it seems obvious when I summarize it, but she brings the reader to her conclusions in a such a unique and beautiful way. It gently but firmly opened my mind. I mean it when I say this book should be required reading. There aren’t many books that I will re-read, but this book is one of them.

A Pair of Pears

The pears are just starting to ripen on the tress. We have two pear trees that were planted by the home’s previous owners. I’m not totally sure, but I think these pears are the Comice variety.

According to, 84% of the U.S.’s pears are grown in Washington and Oregon. The main varieties grown in Oregon are d’Anjou, Comice, and Bartlett. Comice pears tend to ripen later than most other pears and, thus, these pears have been given the nickname, “The Christmas Pear.” Perhaps our heatwaves this summer sped the ripening process?

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Book Review: A Well-Gardened Mind

The next book on my Summer Reading Syllabus is The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature by Sue Stuart-Smith.

Part science writing, part journalistic anecdotes, in this book Sue Stuart-Smith demonstrates the myriad ways in which spending time in and working with nature (e.g. gardening) is good for the mind and soul. Stuart-Smith is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst by day and hobby-gardener by night.

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We Grew a Dahlia From Seed

We’ve had mediocre success saving dahlia tubers year to year, so last fall, my dad collected some seeds from a dahlia to see if we could try growing dahlias from seed.

I knew they wouldn’t produce the same exact flower as the plant the seeds came from, but I figured it would be even more fun this way – a surprise each time a flower bloomed.

This past week, we got our first dahlia bloom!

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Garden Log 2021: Week 17

See Week 16: here

Holy moly where has the summer gone. I’m already seeing leaves turning colors…fall is coming.

A few more zinnias are blooming
And many more tomatoes are on their way
The squash patch continues to look pathetic (why don’t I just pull it out?)
The fall crops, however, are doing well. two weeks post-planting. All survived the transplant stage. Whew!
And the four peas are slowly growing

Book Review: The Signature of All Things

Summer is almost over, and I still have five more books on my Summer Reading Syllabus to review (I’ve read all but one of the books, though).

The book I’m reviewing today is Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things. This was the only garden-themed fiction piece that was including in my summer reading. Garden-themed fiction is slim pickings.

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Foliage Friday: Japanese Anemone

Japanese anemone is not a new plant to me. I’m quite familiar with it, and it’s actually one of my favorite flowers (definitely Top 10).

So when I noticed these leaves popping up in some of the beds in the front yard, and I thought they looked awfully like Japanese Anemone leaves. But we’ve never had Japanese Anemone….I’m pretty sure I would have noticed….

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Sun Study Part 3: The Orchard

The third part of the yard in which I did a sun study was the part of the yard that I’m calling “The Orchard.”

The Orchard is the purple area.

It’s obviously not a real orchard, but most of our fruit trees are here: a couple apples, three plums, two pears, and some figs. Our recently planted hazelnuts are also in this area. There is also an old chicken coop, no longer in service (in the bottom right corner on the map above.

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