Moon and Violet

Life, love and loveliness


“Where you tend a rose, a thistle cannot grow.”

A few weeks ago, Bridget—smiling mischievously—announced her plans to whisk me away to a surprise location.

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She’d found a public rose garden within minutes of our house.

I think most people have some fondness for roses, but they’ve been significant to us since the beginning of our relationship. It was because of our shared love for an anime series about roses, Shoujo Kakumei Utena

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Anthy and Utena

…that Bridget felt courageous enough to send me the love letter that changed both of our lives.

 

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My Utena tattoo

Years later, I got a stained-glass rose inspired by Utena tattooed on my shoulder…

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The Little Prince’s rose

Along with the rose from The Little Prince, inked on my chest. As a kid, I identified with The Little Prince—maybe because I felt like I was from another planet!—and as an adult, I recognized Bridget as my version of the Prince’s rose, my symbol of love, of home.

And, of course, we have both loved the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale since we were little girls. Bridget wrote a novel based upon the story, and the musical version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is precious to us both.

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A pendant we sold on Etsy years ago, inspired by Beauty and the Beast.

Roses have so much meaning for us, so I was feeling amazed and emotional when I stepped into this beautiful and unexpected rose garden for the first time.

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Bridget had advised me to bring my camera, so I tried to capture the experience in photos as best as I could.

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We had missed the peak of the season, and though there were still thousands of roses, many of them were fading–or home to hungry beetles.

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But the beetles were beautiful, too.

030006008013012018019021022023026029028033034039046020There were other flowers besides roses in the garden.001048049050052053054And beneath the trees, we found a wishing well. ❤003

I am already looking forward to visiting the garden during early summer next year, when the buds are just beginning to wake up…

Of all of the roses, this was Bridget’s favorite:

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Mardi Gras

And this was mine:

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Paradise

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But I’m lucky enough to have married the prettiest rose in the whole world. ❤

~ Jenn

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June blooms…

Our garden has been understated this June, flowers-wise, but it is lush with greenery and fireflies and beautiful, messy, insatiable birds.

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And, of course, fairies.

Our earliest bloomers were vines of purple clematis, along with bright pink Knockout roses.

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I found some bitter nightshade twined with the clematis.

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We have a richness of lilies! To be honest, lilies have never been one of my favorites, but I’m learning to love them. At the very bottom of our garden is my own little “gothic” plot of purple, black, and white flowers, and I planted some “black” lilies there a couple of months ago. Here they are now:

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Deep purple-red rather than black, though they do look black from a distance.

More lilies…

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Our little vegetable patch is thriving. Soon we’re going to have dozens of tomatoes!

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The hostas are preparing to bloom.

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As are my moonflowers! I can’t wait to see their soft white glow. ❤

The most exciting garden moment for me this month was the day that my lavender rosebush opened its first bud. I never planted a rosebush before and wasn’t certain I would get any flowers, but then there they were–and they smell like pure rose perfume!

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We’ve been working hard over the past few weeks on landscaping our front yard–turning the lawn into a garden (no grass!) and will share pictures of that soon. We have planted hostas and lavender and astilbe, salvia and heuchera and peppermint. It’s so exciting, watching the space transform.

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View of the balcony.

All in all, June has been a stormy and stressful month–fraught with unexpected, unpleasant surprises (like a late-night animal attack on our dog Zelda that resulted in a trip to the emergency vet–she’s okay, luckily), but there were joys, too. Bridget just released a new novel! And Lion Hall is a constant haven. We couldn’t possibly love this house more.

We’re looking forward to experiencing all of what our city has to offer in July–which happens to be Bridget’s birthday month! ❤

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This is our kind of party!

~ Jenn


“All things seem possible in May.”

The rainy, cozy, flower-scented days of May are giving way to the hot, bright sunshine of summer. I’m sad to watch the bluebells fade but ecstatic every time a new peony unfurls its perfumey petals.

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but one of my favorite books of all time is The Secret Garden, and I’ve never felt more like Mary Lennox than lately, when I step into our garden and feel my frustrations and anxieties slough away.  It’s a kind of magic, and one that I’d never really experienced before.

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Bridget is the true gardener of our family, while I pore over botanical illustrations and flower language books and herbalist lore. My head is full of Latin names and plant mythology, and I feel endlessly curious about all of it. I’m hoping, in the months to come, to become more hands-on with the digging and planting and weeding and tending. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this excited about something–or this enchanted.

Below, a gallery of some new and old flower friends, along with a few captures of our beloved home. (Click for larger sizes/slideshow.)

~ Jenn

 

 


There are fairies at the bottom of our garden.

April rain has brought new–and unexpected–flowers to the gardens of Lion Hall.

Like this riot of buttercups!

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I’ve never seen buttercups growing in great big bushes like this! When I was a kid, I loved spotting the waxy little flowers in the lawn, but they grew barely one inch tall and were few and far between. Here we have hundreds on tall stalks, all around our pond.

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I know they’re typically considered to be weeds, but Bridget and I have too much fondness for them to consider pulling them out.

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The Buttercup Fairy by Cicely Mary Barker

Besides, they’re so pretty, especially next to these lavender bell-shaped flowers that have appeared overnight:

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They seem to be shooting up from a hosta-like plant, but the leaves don’t resemble hosta leaves–they’re thin and flattened. There are several of these plants throughout the backyard, and the tiny flowers, like dainty cups, are straight out of a fairy’s tea set!

 

Most of our early spring flowers have begun to fade. The daffodils are wide and ruffly, and the tulip petals are falling. When I checked on our Summer Snowflakes, I found a hungry little bee inside.

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We’ve planted five dwarf lilac shrubs–we really, really love lilacs!–and a few of them have already started to flower. Nothing suggests spring to me more than the scent of lilacs.021

One of our most exciting surprises: bleeding hearts!

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We bought some of our own bleeding hearts to plant, since Bridget loves them so much, and were then elated to find out that the previous owners had planted some, too! Dozens of little pink hearts, nestled in our upper garden.

On the subject of pink…

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I didn’t edit that photo at all. Or this one:

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A very large azalea shrub in our backyard has burst into hot-pink flame! The color is unreal… Even at night, it glows.

026 We’ve crossed our fingers and planted two rose bushes, one lavender and one pink. The pink ones are Knockout Roses, so hopefully they’ll thrive no matter what.

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Someday roses.

Precious little wild things:

Every day, I check on our peony buds… I can’t wait to see these flowers!

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Moving out of the backyard, there’s a lot of fairy activity to document on the balcony…

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Because she knows how much I love violets, Bridget dug some of the wild violets out of the front lawn (saving them from the mower) and replanted them for me!

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These flowers, called lemon slices, remind me of striped candy.

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Bridget and I have been building fairy gardens for years and are so happy to have so much space for displaying them. The ones below are only the beginning… *slightly sinister laugh*

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Rescued this bunny-and-kalanchoe from the after-Easter sale (eighty-eight cents!).

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The past couple of weeks have been hard for me, battling depression, but whenever I sit outside–watch the birds and squirrels, and smell the flowers–I feel so much better. I think this year–our first year living in “Penn’s Woods” together–will be a very healing, and outdoorsy, one for us!

(Here’s a fairy song to wing you away:)

~ Jenn

 


Where love grows free and wild.

Welcome to our garden! It brings us so much joy. One of my favorite books of all time is The Secret Garden, and now we have a secret garden of our very own, complete with walls and robins and that magical, anything-is-possible feeling. We are still planning and planting–Bridget has hundreds of seedlings bursting to life–and I can’t wait to see what our bit of earth becomes in the months–and years!–to come.

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Today we planted five lilac shrubs. Tomorrow, roses! And we clipped daffodils and hyacinths and apple blossoms for bouquets…

Moving indoors, here are some of the green folks who share our home:

We sat outside tonight and watched the white flickering shadows of the goldfish in our pond and the joyful fluttering bats in the sky. We’re looking forward to learning more about the woods and wilds of our area now that spring has arrived!

~ Jenn


“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” – Henri Matisse

The past several weeks have been all about flowers. ❤

After a shockingly mild winter (we moved to Pittsburgh from Buffalo, so we were expecting less snow, sure, but not seventy-degree weather in February!), our garden is waking up—and sprouting with surprises. The previous owners lovingly tended what is now our backyard, so we’re finding their flowers and plants peeking through the soil, along with the bulbs that we planted in the fall. Bridget is growing a big batch of seedlings beneath a grow light, and we have new lilac shrubs and peonies and so many other pretty things to plant. Honestly, our garden is our primary topic of conversation! We love every single bud and leaf that we spot outdoors–along with the many, many houseplants we’ve brought into our home.

I haven’t photographed our own plant friends yet, but I plan to soon. In the meantime, here are some pictures I took at Phipps Conservatory’s Enchanted Forest spring show, which Bridget and I experienced on Saturday. It was like stepping into a (sweetly scented) fairy tale.

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I’ve been going to Phipps ever since I was a little girl, and the place has always held a particular perfume in my memory… I assumed it was a combination of floral scents, but several years ago, I realized that it was just one scent in particular: hyacinths! They smell like heaven to me, and in the spring show, they are especially noticeable.

We have a lot of hyacinths in our own garden, but we’re hoping to find some of those peach-colored hyacinths from the show (called “Gipsy Queen”) for fall planting.

~ Jenn


Once Upon a December

Our first Yule at Lion Hall was everything we wanted it to be–sweet, cozy, and full of love.  This year has had its ups and downs…but it gave us our beautiful home, and some beloved new furry family members, so I will always remember it fondly for that. ❤

Here’s a photo collage of our holiday decorations and festivities (click for larger images).

I hope the coming year brings light to us all.

~ Jenn