Category Archives: Nature

Formal Garden of Versailles


Ordinarily I’m not a big fan of formal gardens. English country is more my style, and the more informal the better. However, I’ve always heard that the Palace of Versailles was where formal gardens reached their zenith, and having seen this one, I have to agree. I had already walked down lanes lined with boxwood clipped to towering perfection, gazed upon fountains of unbelievable size and grandeur, and strolled through impressive areas surrounded by statuary that were a living classroom in the art of impact through repetition. I thought I had seen the best that Versailles had to offer before I decided to explore one more path and gaze over one more terrace railing, just to see if there might be one more thing worth seeing. And there below me was a reward that took my breath away and left me staring in amazement. A picture can’t do it justice, but I took one anyway. I’m all about flowers, and there wasn’t a flower in sight, but it didn’t matter. It was beauty, symmetry, peace and poetry.

I still may not be a huge fan of formal gardens, but there is one that has my heart and always will. And I am infinitely glad I heard it whispering to me and sought it out.


Gardens of Notre Dame

notre dame
I recently spent a couple of weeks in Europe. I saw a lot of beautiful things, unbelievable architecture, ruins from ancient Rome, medieval cities with their walls still surrounding them, but amid it all, there were gardens. I went to Notre Dame in Paris, and most of my pictures were of the flowers surrounding it.

In fact, among the most impressive things I saw in Paris were the many, large elaborate gardens that were filled each day with the people of the city. Older couples sat quietly on benches. Mothers watched their children at the playgrounds. People relaxed around the fountains, lounging in chairs while birds swam and young boys sailed wooden boats. The surrounding trees were tall and lush, and the wide paths were lined with limestone pebbles. Whatever time of day we went, the clean, well-maintained parks were filled with citizens and tourists alike quietly enjoying themselves in the obviously much used and cherished gardens.

So, if you have a chance to visit Paris, be sure to take a stroll, find a garden, and relax awhile. Pull up a chair and nap by a fountain, or throw a few crumbs to the birds. If you’re patient, the sea gulls will catch bread crusts from your fingertips as they fly by.

flowers notre dame

nd flowers1


Winter through a window

Winter through a window

My room is simple. It has a desk, a small laptop, and a mid-century rocking chair with lots of room, a high back, and comfortable cushions. I can sit with my legs crossed yoga-style, put my keyboard on my lap, lean back and write, which is what I do, write, that is. Cozy mysteries specifically, set in Myrtle Grove, a rural town in the lake country of Oklahoma. So a cozy, peaceful setting that lets my mind flow freely is important. And that’s why the room itself isn’t so important. The two big windows on the outside walls, and the views outside the windows are what’s important.

The big cedar with a bed of hostas and coral bells at its base–the hummingbird feeder with the ruby throat who visits it–and the sweeping, terraced flower bed beyond are the views from the room that allow my heart and mind to soar. Imagination takes me through the windows and into the world beyond, and nature is my touchstone to the soul.  

Honor Heights Park in the Snow

These were taken on a winter walk in the park. The nandina, with their stark red berries hanging like tiny ruby grapes, and the tall holly tree decorated in red, were like jewels against the fresh snow. The purple tinting on the leaves of the nandina and azalea added even more color to a season most people think of as shades of gray and brown.

 Nandina berries

Nandina berries

Yaupon Holly

Yaupon Holly

But these trees and shrubs add much more than beauty to the winter landscape. They add shelter and food for the birds and small animals wintering over in a frequently harsh environment. Small insects survive amid the leaves and twigs that gather at the base of the plants, and even more birds and small animals survive on these insects. The berries of plants such as the holly, Yaupon, privet, and cedar are a vital food source for both seed and insect-eating birds, including the migratory cedar waxwing, one of nature’s most distinctive and elegant birds. Now is the time to pick and plant the things that will enliven your yard year round.