Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Save a Living Piece of Art

If you’re a gardener, you know the work what goes into creating a garden: Planning, planting, pruning, replanting, and weeding. It’s a true labor of love.

But even if you’ve never picked up a trowel or planted a seed, you can see that a beautiful garden is a work of art.

So it’s hard to understand why anyone would choose to destroy a great work of art. Would anyone destroy Monet’s paintings? Or allow the Louvre be demolished?

Of course, not. But a beautiful public garden in Bastad, Sweden, called the Norrviken Garden, is under threat of total destruction. I visited this garden several years ago and found it to be one of the most beautiful gardens in Europe (I also saw my first banana slug there!). Built in the early 1900s, this public garden was chosen as the most beautiful park in Sweden in 2006 and the second most beautiful park in Europe.

But now this elegant, fully-grown, century-old garden is going to be destroyed to make way for a large hotel, roads, parking areas, and a number of residential buildings.

BUT THERE IS A CHANCE TO SAVE THIS GARDEN. The Norrviken Garden Society, a non-profit association, is working to save the garden. You can help too, by signing a petition to stop the destruction of this garden. I just signed it and it was really easy--you don't even have to know Swedish ;-)

To read more about the petition, click here.

This is what social media is all about: You can live on a farm in Iowa and help save a garden in Sweden. Let's do it!  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sky-High Garden

The High Line garden on Manhattan's West Side is an amazing example of the transformative power of gardening. An abandoned railway track, suspending above gritty city streets, was planned and planted to become a heavenly haven for flowers, grasses, birds, butterflies, and wandering admirers. I wrote an article about this sky-high garden in the September 2012 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, called "Garden in the Sky." Check it out on page 92!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Roving Donkeys and Book Reviews

Peso and Riley back at home

We were out of town last weekend when we got a text from our animal sitter Nancy. She was on her way to do chores at our place when she met our trio of donkeys on the road. Apparently Riley, Cisco, and Peso decided to explore the world when they observed a dip in the barbed wire over the stream (which has totally dried up). This offered them an escape route up a steep hill and onto the gravel road.

Donkeys aren't usually so spontaneous. 

But having successfully ditched the horses (who are too tall to limbo under the barbed wire), the three headed north. I'm not sure what the travel plans were, but luckily Nancy intercepted the donkeys and walked them home. 

Doug fixed the fence this morning. We think. But if you see a trio of miniature donkeys wandering by, send me a note.

Also, So Much Sky was reviewed in a couple of nice places in July.

Kirkus Reviews said the book was "well written" and that "there’s a lot to be enjoyed and a lot to be learned from Weir-Jimerson, a Master Gardener and apt tamer of land, child and beast." 

I'm sure my kids will love that assessment of my talents, although I did sort of feel like a lion tamer when the boys were toddlers... On the Kirkus site, you can now also purchase the book through independent book stores.
The Midwest Book Review's Small Press Book Watch said this: "Far from modern civilization, one can gain a different grasp on the world. "So Much Sky" is a collection of essays and memoir from Karen Weir-Jimerson as she reflects on her life on three acres in Iowa, living with her husband their wide array of animals and livestock. Writing on gardening, rural life, and perhaps just life in general, "So Much Sky" is a fine and much recommended pick for essay collections, highly recommended."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fresh Snips of Flavor

A quick-snip of lemon thyme
Sizzling summer heat poses no problem for my herbs. They love it. I have a bevy of tangled containers on my back patio filled with my favorites. I mad-dash from the back door, snip up a fistful of flavor, then whisk back into the cool kitchen to make dinner. What's my hasty harvest? Lemon thyme (lemony and thyme-y). Basil (of course!). And flat-leafed parsley. I learned about this underused herb from my friend Renee Shepherd (owner of Renee's Garden) when I interviewed her for a story for Better Homes and Gardens magazine. She uses the flavor-filled 'Gigante' Italian parsley leaves in salads. Just snips them in. I've been trying this too--just adding fresh herb leaves mixed up with my spinach and arugula. Just do a quick toss of olive oil, sweet balsamic vinegar, and grated fresh garlic to whip up an herby summer salad. Renee has been in the gardening biz for a long time (selling heirloom and gourmet seed varieties). And she's on top of all the cool new cooking trends. Check out the article in Better Homes and Gardens, the August 2011 issue, page 90. You'll find tips for freezing your herb harvest. Do it now. You'll thank yourself for your brilliant insight in January. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

So Much Sky: In the News!

Check out the June 2012 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine which features a little news nugget about So Much Sky. 

You can also WIN A FREE copy of the book at the blog Rural Living Today. Leave a post at the end of the blog by June 14th to enter the giveway.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Riot of Roses

'Seven Sisters' rose. She's been living at this farm longer than I have. And she is, undoubtedly, older than I am (but looking fresher than ever). This grande dame rose is the grandstand garden event in our garden in early June.
She used to scramble over the top of the LP tank, but we moved the tank and gave her something more elegant upon which to ramble.

An old garden fence (salvaged from a Midwestern cemetary) now gives her ample traveling space. And travel she did. She root-tipped herself from one end of the fence to the other. Sort of like a monorail of roses.

Ambitious and beautiful. Old farm roses. Gotta love them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Nosing through Lotus

I love to kayak. And while that may make me sound sort of sporty, I'll be the first to admit that I prefer calm leisurely water to running rapids: Lakes, slow-moving creeks, glassy bays are my speed. In a kayak you can be a nature voyeur. And sitting in a 12-foot kayak just inches above the water's surface there's lots to see from up close.

A couple months ago I visited Mobile, AL and had the opportunity to kayak in some amazing water. From 5 Rivers' Bartram Canoe and Kayak Landing we set out on an easy paddle. Still waters were dotted with the eyes and snouts of alligators (that took a little of the serenity out of the trip!) We paddled through a gnarled mass of lotus. It was simply surreal to nose the kayak through dinnerplate-size leaves and giant yellow flowers.

Bartrum Landing is named after the plant explorer and naturalist William Bartrum. I like to think that the flora I saw on my kayak voyage was what Bartrum found when he explored this area in the 18th century.

There's nothing like doing a little time travel in a kayak.

To read more about my kayak trip in Mobile Bay, pick up a copy of Country Gardens, Spring 2012. My "Slow Lane" column shares more highlights.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I'm going to Round Top, Texas!

I guess I should accentuate that statement with a "Yee Haw".

Through some sort of cruel trick of fate, I've never been to the giant extravaganza antiques sale in Round Top, Texas. But I'm fixing that life omission this spring.

The So Much Sky book tour is headed down I-35 from Iowa to Marburger Farm in Round Top. I'll be there from Thursday April, 3 through Saturday, April 5. Yep, and I'm driving down in a BIG vehicle so I can cart home something that I've fallen in love with. Hopefully it's furniture ;-)

I'm going with friends Sundie and Brad Ruppert who are regulars there. They are the masterminds behind the cool characters of Vintage Sculpture. I have a number of their pieces; my prize is the horse they made using real horsehair clipped from my ever-patient quarter horse Yukon.

Please join me at Marburger Farm near Tent G for my book signing times:

Thursday, April 3, 2012
10 to noon, 2-4 pm

Friday, April 4, 2012
10 to noon, 2-4 pm

Saturday, April 5, 2012
10 to noon

The rest of the time, I'll be shopping (and, no doubt, buying stuff too big to fit into my car...)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chickens in the Mail

Although it's still the end of January, I'm thinking forward to spring: seed starting and chicks! I'm eager to start lettuce greens. And we’ll be making our spring chick order from Murray McMurray Hatchery soon too. Then, we'll get the early morning phone call from our local Post Office that our box of chicks have arrived.

Chicks travel through the mail? Read more about that in my “Slow Lane” column in Country Gardens magazine; the Early Spring 2012 issue is on the newsstands now. Here’s an excerpt:

“A small box of live chicks is a funny sight. So we stare down at them for a long moment—taking in the strangeness of a world where chicks can be sent through the mail like birthday cards or electric bills—then close the box and drive home."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Signing At Beaverdale Books, Des Moines, IA

My next book signing of So Much Sky on February 4 from 2 to 3 at Beaverdale Books, a great little independent book store in Des Moines, IA.

It's being sponsored by Country Gardens magazine (thanks James, Heather, and Nick!!).

My last book signing was at Picket Fence Creamery where I was upstaged by a basket of Jack Russell puppies for sale. It's hard to compete with puppies. Darn hard.

So come to Beaverdale Books. But leave those puppies at home.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Iowa Public Radio: Talk of Iowa

Check it out! I'm going to be interviewed about my new book So Much Sky by Charity Nebbe on her cool talk show "Talk of Iowa" on Iowa Public Radio. I'm on Tuesday, January 17th from 10 to 11 am; a recorded version will be available for streaming or downloading if you miss it. ;-)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"Old Dog, New Tricks" Excerpt and Podcast

Our Border collie Rose was once the fastest thing on our farm. She herded sheep, cats, and anything else she could round up. Rose was all about control, speed, and eye.

And eye she had: One brown eye and one blue. This combo made her seem very intense. At least our sheep thought so.

Rose was simply a brilliant sheepherder. As her breed was created to do in the hilly Borders region of Scotland, Rose was eager and undaunted. She would run out to round up the ewes, her black and white body flashing a semaphore warning message. The sheep would catch one glimpse of her and panic, clump up, and run like one giant organism back into the barnyard. Rose followed close on their tails, urging them forward, steering them with precision in the direction she wanted.

Read the essay about Rose from So Much Sky or listen to the essay in a podcast. It's available to download for free from iTunes too.