My Tea Garden

I am a tea drinker. Yes, coffee in the morning…but tea the rest of the day. Hot tea, even in summer. But I do love brewing tea and then pouring it over ice on especially hot days. All kinds of teas…dark and caffeinated to light herbal teas, green teas with a touch of lemon or ginger, peppermint…well, it’s all delicious!

Except for Lapsong Souchong…nope…don’t like that stuff…tastes like a mouthful of smoke. Blech.

But I digress…what I’m so crazy excited about is my newly established Back Deck Tea Garden! I’ve been dreaming of it for a while now, got a book about how to start one and what kinds of plants would yield what kinds of teas. Of course, doodling ideas in my sketchbook was a must to work out what I might like to start with, what I already have on hand, and how it might grow right there on my deck.

You see…I’m not very much of a gardener. Oh I have all kinds of grand visions of gardens and I can plant them in the ground. But then I say to the little plants “Grow and Flourish” and I walk away. If I don’t see them, I tend to forget they need watering and tending. Come mid-summer they are wilting and gasping for water. But if plants are on the deck, right where I can see them out my kitchen window, I tend to them much better.

So here’s my little Tea Garden in its infancy. Of course, I have flowers in and around the herbs. Some of the flowers, such as Bee Balm (which is actually Bergamot!) and Tufted Violets were listed in my Tea Book as lovely plants from which to harvest flowers and leaves for tea! Planted in and among the other flowers I have lavender, rosemary, peppermint, basil, another kind of mint, lemon balm and I hope to have some chamomile I’m trying to grow from seed. A good start I think!

I’m dreaming of sipping freshly made teas from my little garden all summer and then drying them for fall and winter tea. I’m also planning on lots of drawing and sketches from the flourishing plants!

Now to go water them and whisper to them to grow, grow, grow!

Taking Hold of A Line

Before Lent began, a dear friend and I decided to walk through Lent with a sketchbook in our hands. This isn’t radically different from my normal everyday practice, but I had been sporadic with sketching, especially as a long, rainy & cold winter had all but sapped the color from my eyes.

The benefit of seasons, both in nature and the church calendar, is that they afford us an opportunity for change. I know I was parched for the nourishment of my sketchbook, but I don’t think I realized just how much so. Committing to a daily drawing (or two:) in a sketchbook, actively seeking something of note either mundane or magical, sets in motion a rumbling akin to Springtime…a quiet steady blowing on near-to-dying embers.

At first, weeks ago, I drew from my imagination, interior conversations, fantastical landscapes filled with color which I long to walk in. I also drew happenings, actual walks around Salem Lake and elsewhere, silliness with my daughters, the college world that is in my home.

For the first couple of weeks it was enough to just make one drawing, or two each day. Now I am filling page after page and my head is filled with far more drawings I don’t have the time for each day but am planning to sketch them soon! Photos are good for this…snap a photo and draw later from that if I’m unable to draw from life.

I’ve certainly experienced this before, but it is a wonder and a delight to pick up my pen and feel the taking hold of a line. Then soon having that line wrap itself around me and pull me along showing me all the things, places, events I can draw in my sketchbook! Drawings beget drawings…always! Ahhh… (contented sigh😊)

I have realized in writing this post, that I have far more I want to share with you through the lens of my sketchbook. So I will do so in shorter posts in the upcoming days. There are too many sketches to cram into one blog post! And I’m hearing my sketchbook call out to me just now as the blooming pear trees in my neighborhood are bursting like popcorn in a kettle!

Must go draw…but I’ll be back to share the findings!💖

Poems

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”

-Khalil Gibran

I am finding this to be true. Each and every tree…no matter how trimmed, blighted, hacked off, or allowed to grow free…speaks in verse or rhyme a tale of life and love, beauty and grace.

Evening sky behind treeline…

The limbs are like pens, writing in the sky, waving words through line and shape. We are nearing the end of the season where I can see the tips of these pens. In a month or so, most of the trees will have blossomed and leaved, hiding the pens themselves, but showing off their colorful raiment, sharing a new stanza to their poetic life.

Neighborhood tree in Oil Pastel.

It has already begun here in the piedmont of North Carolina. Everyone is marveling (and perhaps a bit skeptical) over the early Spring activity. Daffodils, pear trees, forsythia and irises may all be blanketed in snow once or twice more before spring temperatures are here to stay. No one is complaining. Bring on the glorious display! My pen is ready to draw the transformation!

This week of tree drawings marks a shift not only in seasons, but also in sketchbooks. The last four days have been drawn in a slightly larger book which is probably intended more for writing than for drawing. There are tiny pale dots everywhere which I quite like along with the thick smooth paper. There are so many pages, I’m thinking it will last me a looooong time! We shall see!

Pear tree blooming in neighbor’s yard. Oil pastel with fat marker.

There is also a slight shift afoot in media choice. I have always been seasonally affected when it comes to what I choose to draw or paint with. The last two drawings in my sketchbook contain more oil pastel and hence more color on the page than in my previous sketchbook. I love it all! I welcome the shifts and try not to talk myself out of them. 😃

I was delighted to hear from several of you after my last post and that you are indeed receiving notifications now in your email boxes! Hoorah! I appreciate each and every one of you who takes the time to read these posts. My hope is always to bring you a spot of delight in your day and perhaps inspiration to draw or make something yourself!

Be on the lookout for tree poems! My eyes are peeled…💖

Gamut

In a week of drawing trees, one can run the gamut of emotions. From surprise in a Walmart parking lot to needing a hug, to laughing out loud, or standing in silent awe … trees evoke a plethora of thoughts and feelings.

I am not always able to capture the full range of this in any given drawing. But I try. It is in the trying that the real benefit lies. Attempting to draw lines that evoke something of what I felt in that moment allows me to dive into what I’m thinking and to sort through it on paper.

The sketch becomes a kind of visual language, often aided by actual words on the same pages as the drawings. I don’t always add writing to my sketchbook pages, but this particular cheap sketchbook begs for it and I love adding written thoughts to the drawings.

I will soon finish this sketchbook. In anticipation of this, I’ve already purchased another cheap book/journal which has, instead of pale lines, tiny dots. I have tried a sample page at the beginning of the book to see how my favorite sketching media hold up on this paper. I’m especially interested in whether my markers bleed through.

Paper is actually whiter than this!😃

Thankfully the thick paper passes the test and so I’ll be working slightly larger for the next batch of daily tree drawings and all the other random sketches I add in a day.

Perhaps a sketchbook flip-through will be in order when I’ve finished the current book. Fun, eh? But first, I would love to hear from you dear reader…

Last week it came to my attention that some folks who had subscribed to receive my blogs via email, were not actually getting them. I’m afraid this may have been happening for quite some time…months and perhaps even years. Would you be so kind as to try and respond with a comment just so I know that at least some of you are receiving the notification of a new blog post in your email box?

Apple tree in tapestry!

And on that note…in the event that you are just now receiving notice of my blog posts, do scroll back through them. I would like to blog more regularly and knowing that folks are actually receiving them, will help me tremendously!

I would also love to hear what creative work has you excited these days! I am spinning and weaving a bunch along with the daily tree drawings. But I am always dabbling in many other fun and enchanting mediums such as tapestry, crochet, gouache paint, hand stitching and more!

Truly running the gamut of all my favorite creative mediums!