Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Sleepy Little Gentleman

I couldnt resist sharing this charming photo from IMGUR user, melime19.

Met this sleepy little gentleman on my walk home today.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sun Time


"Cat on a sundial.....surveyor of his kingdom."

Constance Ann McAlpin writes, "This is DottaOne or Dot for short. He turned 3 last spring. He is my very special gardening buddy"

We previously shared another photo of Dotta here and couldn't resist adding this one to our collection too!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Tommy Cat


Claudia Hoskyshared this photo: "The neighborhood grifter, Tommy George, crouches beneath the rosemary as he prepares to pounce on an unsuspecting garden hose."

"He is a former street-cat from the United Arab Emirates. He was rescued and “imported” by his owners, and after a slew of shots and spending some time in quarantine (apparently required for immigrant kitties), he now happily roams the Cathedral Heights/Glover Park neighborhoods of Washington, DC, and keeps our chipmunk population under control."

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Taffy's Toby


Taffy Turner of Silver Spring, MD, shared: "We got Toby (pictured here) and his brother Jasper from the Montgomery County Animal Shelter about 2 years ago. They were found together and were only adoptable together. We think they are about 3. Toby is very mischievous, always into things he shouldn't be. He likes to chew plastic, sit in open windows, harass his brother, and occasionally drink from the toilet. He gets up on Jim's very cluttered desk and stomps around on all the junk demanding attention. He's a very cute kitty."

Toby is a great garden companion as you can see by these photos. Taffy also has many other feline garden companions in art forms scattered around her garden. Here are a few examples.







Saturday, September 23, 2017

Coming Full Circle

Sally J .Smith of Greenspirit Arts (https://greenspiritarts.blogspot.comshared this post about her grief and renewal:

Earlier this year, in the first hints of a warming season but while snow was still on the ground, I was washing my breakfast dishes and looking out on the snowy landscape and deeply missing my snow-buddy Oliver (whose story we shared last week). I had read an advertisement a week or so earlier about a local fellow who was looking to find a home for a semi-feral cat named Hollis but my heart was still heavy and sore with the loss I was experiencing not having Oliver here in form, so I had closed myself off to the idea of welcoming a new cat into my home. As I stood, washing the teacup I can only say that the strangest feeling came over me, and I FELT Oliver running towards me. As part of me stood, transfixed at the sink, soapy teacup in hand, another part of me was in a warm and sunny space with my beloved friend running at full gallop towards me. I opened my arms to welcome him and he lept up to be held. His form was now much larger than he had been when he was in his body as a cat. My senses registered that he was now nearly 3 or 4 times larger and while it would be difficult to physically hold a creature as large as he was now (imagine a half-grown tiger leaping into your arms...could you hold it?) because we were both in non-physical forms, it was effortless to welcome him with a fully open heart. The sense of reunion was epic. My heart burst open with such love and gratitude to feel him once again. This was not a fantasy, it was a real encounter and I just went with it.

   We melted against one another and he let me know that he was fine, very happy and radiantly whole. I was in awe of his power and presence...and that we could even be sharing in this way, now nearly 6 months since I laid his body into the earth....yet here "HE" was...whoever he was for he was definitely no longer a cat...but yet he retained something of that form/essence perhaps just to allow me to recognize him during this visit. Eventually, the wave of reunion washed over me and tears of joy trickled down my physical and metaphorical cheeks. And I heard him speak, in English, very clearly... he said simply : "Go meet Hollis".  Gently and with a feeling of still smiling, our embrace began to melt and diffuse, like mist in the morning sun and soon I was back to the sink, soapy teacup still in hand.

  With an invitation/command like that, one cannot say "No". So I made the phone call and went to meet this "Hollis" cat. Supposedly he was shy and took slowly to people as his caretaker had warned me...but from the very beginning, Hollis made it very clear that he'd like me to be HIS person. He rolled and purred and made it absolutely obvious to both myself and his former caretaker that he wanted to come with me...even to the point of actually hopping into my car when I was getting ready to leave! (Something he apparently had never done before and has never done since). So the next day we made it official and he came home for a trial period. It was not an easy acclimation. In fact, there were several days when I thought it was NEVER going to work he was just too aggressive with my ancient kitty who cannot defend herself at all, and my other resident male kitty who was just getting used to being the new top cat now that Oliver was gone. It took several months, but finally we've all settled in to living well together.

  When the green of springtime finally came, I now knew what Oliver was up to....because Hollis is a fabulous garden kitty. He loves to supervise me whenever I'm working in the garden and he provides the companionship I was so desperately missing with Oliver's departure. I know it all sounds rather silly on one level, but on another it is quite real and wonderful. So Oliver sent me to meet Hollis and Hollis was very clear that he wanted to live here...and I've been blessed to have them both in my life. And the other kitties have adapted and now accept and enjoy a new sense of home together.

Here is Hollis in his new role as head supervisor at one of my spring photo shoots in the garden:



All of this is to say that things circle round....forms change and cycle...love remains. Some essential part of us appears to remain, and truth be told, appears to be even more powerful and radiant than what it was when contained in a form. I cannot explain this. I've even had visitations from my father that I cannot explain...one as recently as the solar eclipse of last month. These Mysteries exist for me, and for many others who have/share them. I accept them though I do not have an understanding of how it all works. I don't know how electricity works but I still accept that it is real and I certainly benefit from its powers - and pay a price if I do not respect it!

    So for those of us who have lost so much, or even for those of us who may be feeling overwhelmed by the sense of loss that is in our collective these days, my experience is this: nothing stays the same forever. Fulfillment will cycle thru to loss but loss will be transformed to fulfillment once more. The point seems to be to see beyond one or the other to gain a steady point that is beyond the tidal surges this world has to offer. Some may call this Faith or something in that vein... I think it is so very helpful to have something to tether ourselves to that is not so directly bound to this physical world so that when things get thin, here on the ground, we are not swept away in our sense of loss but can remain strong in our knowing that things do cycle. The earth will recover and rebuild her ecosystems and we all go on, one way or another....hopefully with the blessings of good companions, wherever we can find them.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Spirit in the Sky

Sally J .Smith of Greenspirit Arts (https://greenspiritarts.blogspot.comshared this post about her loss of a favorite gardening companion:

With heavy heart I write of the sudden illness and departure of my beloved feline companion, Oliver. He was one of those remarkable beings who come into our lives and give us the gift of their love and companionship that takes our own heart to a whole new level of awareness and consciousness. 

  He arrived mysteriously, walking out of the woods one day and approached me tentatively. He had been abandoned by his previous person because she had to move and could not take him with her. The landlord found him, locked in a room with an open bag of cat food and brought him to his farm which was about a mile and a half from here, as the crow flies, or in this case, as the cat walks.

  As soon as he arrived, he began asserting himself as the Alpha cat which was kind of amusing because he was not the oldest, nor the largest male here....he was just the one with the most attitude. He kept himself apart from the others in the tribe here and spent much of his time with me, which I enjoyed very much.

  When I made the move to working outdoors more, on my Faerie houses and Environmental sculptures in 2006, he was thrilled and right from the very first sculpture expeditions, he was my happy companion.

Of course we were just starting out together in the process so we were getting our bearings. He had this trick of waiting till I had my face in my camera so I couldn't see him and THEN he'd jump or wander into the frame just as I was about to shoot it. While this was endearing it was not helpful, especially when dealing with fragile items such as dandelion puffs, so we had to have a little talk and got our roles dialed in a bit better.
He listened very patiently while I let him know what was not allowed while I was shooting.

 He never quite fully believed me however and was always offing to help. There were times when he was happy to clean a site for me...

which I appreciated and thanked him for his efforts...but his idea of an ideal location (flat, sandy, warm and rollable) was not always what I thought would make for great backgrounds so we progressed in his job duties.

  During the winter months he often laid by my feet while I worked on building my faerie houses down in the studio. He loved it there and when I realized that the floor was a bit chilly, he got his own chair which he loved to curl up in, even when I was elsewhere. It was HIS chair and no one else dared used it.

  When spring came it would be time to take the houses out into the garden and set them up for glamour shots. First the houses needed to be inspected...

And then when a shoot was taking place he stepped in to help with a little art directing pointing out which way the doors should go or what flowers to use in the decorations...which was very helpful.

Spring would turn to summer and he'd go with me on foraging trips and was always happy to just doze in the sunshine while I worked on a piece or while I was gathering materials.

But if a twig snapped or a bird ventured near, he was all alert in an instant ready to engage with whatever was showing up in our space.
It's hard to tell which season he loved the most. Spring he adored, of course. He was never shy about water and sometimes I'd find him wading in puddles or at the edge of a pond well up to his elbows and hocks. Summer was for lazy naps and chasing mice and frogs whenever possible. Autumn was another favourite time because he loved the crisp air, the freedom from pesky mosquitoes and the beautiful sunsets which we'd watch together often from the bench overlooking the valley.

   But winter was also a time he relished.



 I've never known a cat to enjoy snow as much as he did. He'd plow into the new snowfalls, head down, front feet forward and let it spill over him as he pushed forward like a plow tilling a field. He just loved the winter and would be happy when I tossed him an icicle to play with.

He'd get all wound up the way cats do and he'd go a little crazy with his snowplay...just like a little kid.
But eventually we'd have to get back to work and he'd be ever so helpful with his critiques of my latest efforts....he was a very chatty cat and what I will miss most (besides his exceptionally affectionate purring cuddles) are all the verbal conversations we used to have. He literally would chat back and forth with me...but I never quite got the nuances of his comments, sadly.

This past spring and summer was a difficult time for us both. I was working on my book and not outdoors as much as we were used to being together. I knew he was unhappy with not having his play buddie to entertain andimpress. I was unhappy about not sharing high quality time with him, but writing the book just went far slower than it was supposed to and took longer than it should have. On the times when I did venture into the garden and he'd be waiting for me, I could see his disappointment with the situation.

But like so many busy people, I thought we still had lots of time ahead of us. I thought we'd get thru this and then there would be years more of adventures to share and journeys to take together...but sadly, he had a secret brewing in his liver and he didn't let me know about it until it was too late. I brought him in to the vet on the 24th and she let me know that it was probably not treatable. I was in total shock and despair...which is not a good place to be in if you need to act quickly and try other options. He still looked so good and despite a few changes which were completely reasonable to expect in an older cat, still seemed "himself"...and he enjoyed keeping track of what I was doing in the garden.
This image was taken last week-end, just 4 days after his diagnosis. We were on track for some intensive alternative therapy work and fabulous supplements and products were ordered to help fight his cancer. I was very hopeful. Animal communicators were very positive...it all seemed like we had every chance of at least extending his life a little bit, but alas, on Wednesday his condition changed, and by Thursday morning it was clear that his body was no longer able to support his big Spirit. He passed peacefully in my arms in the garden on a gorgeous late summer afternoon.

I cannot imagine life without him...and I know he will visit me in Spirit when he can...but the suddenness of this loss is very sharp right now and my grief is very deep. He brought such joy and delight with him when he walked out of the woods 14 years ago and I never took our time together for granted. I just wish I had not been so distracted this early summer with the book project. I might have seen the subtle clues that he was not well....but I can't linger too much on the "what ifs"...it is done. He has made his transition, and on a day of a powerful solar eclipse too so there is perfection in all of this, even if I can't see or accept it fully right now. For me, my heart is just hurting and I need to give the process full measure and the respect it deserves because grieving a loss well is how we get over/through it best.

   I love you Oliver, Blessed Be.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Fling Felines

Back in June, the Garden Bloggers Fling took place in the Washington, DC region.  Here are my photos of the cat-inspired art we saw on the Fling's tours of several private gardens.














Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Promiscuous Miss Kitty


Joe Luebke of Hyattsville, MD, and is Director of Horticulture and Grounds at the Washington National Cathedral posted this cat photo to his Facebook profile.

He writes, "Miss Kitty really shows up in the new foliage. She showed up at our house in Baltimore about 15 years ago, so skinny and terrified. That spring, we discovered a litter of kittens under our wood pile. We ended up keeping her thinking she'd be an outside cat. Our dog had recently died and we had dog doors, so yes, she figured out the doors and started coming in the house. So we are many years later with a cat we never intended to keep, but couldn't imagine not having now."

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Flitting with Meeko


Jeanette Price Zipf, the Education Registrar and Visitor Experience Coordinator at Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware, shared these adorable pictures.

She said, "This is our sweet boy, Meeko, in our backyard. While this isn't quite a formal garden bed, he still walks among the beauties - Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica), that is! Meeko is just over 10 years old. He and (we think) his brother, Shadow, were dumped in my sister's yard when they were very tiny kittens. My niece, Shelly, rescued them and kept them until they were weaned. Shadow came to live with us, and Meeko lived with Shelly. (Meeko was first named Bella because it was thought he was a girl.) Meeko was a wandering boy. Eventually he came to live with us and has been with us since August of 2010. EVERYONE loves Meeko. He is the friendliest cat. We live in a suburban development and he has friends on every street. One year at Halloween, three little girls came trick-or-treating as black and white cats and told us that they had dressed up like Meeko. He has also had his misfortune. In January of 2015, he was attacked in our front yard by a raccoon. That was the first time we needed to visit an animal hospital. He had a badly wounded back paw. Happily he recovered. His best quality - he follows his friends around like a puppy dog. He comes when called, mostly, and wants to be where ever we are. His worst quality is that he is the dumbest cat ever. He will sit in the middle of our street and expect cars to stop or go around him. Fortunately, so far, he is still alive. His story goes on. we love him dearly."

"Pictured below is our boy in a neighbor's flower pot. She was not totally amused but thank you, Amy, for a great picture!"


Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Fluff Factor


Janet Endsley, a Seminar & Judging Manager for the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, shared this wonderful photo.

She wrote,"I had planted this Nepeta (Catmint) only an hour before. This was our beloved Prince Kuddles, a Blue Mitted Ragdoll. We said farewell to him about 2 years ago at age 18. This photo was taken when he was around 12. We got him when our daughter was 5, and he was the perfect cat for a young child, so calm and mellow. Most nights he would spend on my lap as I read and watched TV. What I love is that when I brushed him (his fur was downy soft like rabbit fur) I saved the fur. I made some home-made bird nesting balls with his fur, some yarn and lichen, wrapping it in bird netting and putting it out by my feeders. Within a few months the balls were nearly empty, but most of the yarn and lichen were left. They had taken all his fur. It makes me happy knowing that he lives on providing a soft nest for baby birds. I have a blue garden by the front door in his honor. Of course, it includes Nepeta!"

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Mouse Stalker


Kirk Ryan Brown is the current President at GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators and is a popular garden speaker. He posted this photo on his Facebook page, which I asked to share.

Kirk wrote: "This is the front of house and very native garden of Rob Proctor and David Macke in Denver, CO. [Seen as part of the Perennial Plant Association recent annual meeting's private garden tours.] The back of house is a riotous mix of annuals and perennials. This is the cat that is the most social of their pet residents. Here, seen hunting for a mouse that was scurrying through the underbrush of the wild entrance. She is the social companion to a feral group of hidden felines."

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Smooth Like Jiffy


Connie Bowers of the Garden Makeover Company in Silver Spring, MD, shared this photo of her cat, Jiffy. She said:

"This catmint packs a punch! Nepeta x faassenii 'Junior Walker' may be a dwarf variety, but it is quite pungent.....just ask Jiffy, who is guarding it with his life, after 'partaking'. And I’d heard that while cats go crazy for catnip not so much for the catmint plant."

"My cat is a total cut-up in the garden, and is great fun to watch. I have a dog and cat, but to be honest, the cat is more interesting. Jiffy is a 14 year old DSH orange tabby, very large with an insatiable appetite. He’s now on a bit of a diet after gaining 3 more pounds per last week’s vet visit, now weighing in at 21#.  I just got in and caught him polishing off the remains of the dog’s breakfast. He’s also taken over a few of the dog’s (golden retriever mix — they’re the same color) large beds."

"I adopted Jiffy (previously named ‘Jeff’ in his former life) at age 9 months. We think he may have had feline herpes as a baby because he has a distinctive cross-eyed look with a clouded eye. Several months under a veterinary ophthalmologist's care many years ago care fixed his issues. His favorite pastime (alas) seems to be scouting around our yard for chipmunks and occasionally bringing one into the house to play (he never hurts them, but terrorizes me, as they are not easy to capture). He’ll spend hours staring at a spot where he has apparently seen one of them. We have a tall fence around the ¾ acre property, which is completely filled with trees and plants, so he has plenty to amuse himself. He just never figured out how to climb the fence to get out of the yard (though other cats have climbed in and caused some problems). Never a dull moment!"

Saturday, July 22, 2017

And the Oscar goes to...


Patrick Dolan of One Yard Revolution, has a video channel all about growing a lot of food on a little land using sustainable organic methods. Often in his videos, you will see his feline garden companion, Oscar, pop in for an unscripted cameo.

"Oscar is 8," Patrick told me. "We adopted him from my sister-in-law. He still acts like a kitten and loves to play, run, and climb in his garden. He also likes to play rough, but only with me (because I get a kick out of it). He's very gentle with everyone else."

As you can see by the photos below, Oscar has a wide range of expressions and quite a lot of gardening opinions.





If you'd like to see more of Oscar, he has his own Facebook album here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/oneyardrevolution/photos/?tab=album&album_id=881696275202773

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Summer Days in the Country

Carley relaxes in the shade.
During the recent Garden Conservancy Open Days in Frederick County, MD, I visited Surreybrooke Garden Center in Middletown, MD. Owner Nancy Walz lives on site and has a wonderful collection of both pet animals and animal statues sprinkled around the landscape.

Nancy said, "Carley is a 13-year-old girl and we got her along with her twin brother, Charles, from one of our customers who gave us the kittens when she was moving away. You can tell difference between the two as Carley is always a little unkempt and doesn't keep herself as neat as Charles."

Cali naps on a log cabin porch.
Wandering through the many garden rooms and buildings, I came across this sweet kitty napping on a porch. "Cali is a Calico girl cat who is about 15 now," Nancy said. "The grandkids named her. We got her from a farm down the road. We took 3 kittens at the time, but she is the only one left from that litter."
One of the many charming animal statues placed throughout the gardens.
Bandit competes for photo ops with the many gorgeous garden containers.

During my visit to Surreybrooke, I was petting Carley when Bandit came up behind me and pushed under my arm to get his fair share of attention. Nancy said, "He is a Dalmation-Beagle mix and is 12 years old this summer, but you wouldn't know it. He runs in the morning while I do my chores and has great energy for his age."