Author Archives: Rhonda Nowak

Take a load off spent blooms

“Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me” ~ Robbie Robertson, “The Weight,” 1968 Now is the time that “gardening” feels suspiciously a lot like plain yard work. I spend my days dodging the sun’s intensity to water, weed and [...]

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Are you growing any “Liberty Tea” in your garden?

“Tea made from a plant or shrub (Ceanothus americanus) grown in Pearsontown about 20 miles from Portland, Maine, was served to a circle of ladies and gentlemen in Newbury Port, who pronounced it nearly, if not quite, its equal in flavor to genuine Bohea [one of three Chinese black teas tossed overboard later in 1773]. [...]

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Blowin’ in the hot wind

“A hot wind was blowing around my head, the strands of my hair lifting and swirling in it, like ink spilled in water.” – Margaret Atwood, “The Blind Assassin,” 2000 I love the way Atwood’s use of figurative language sounds on my tongue when I read it aloud, and the images it conjures up in my mind. On [...]

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Sea kale: A veggie made in the shade

“The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add an useful plant to its culture.” – Thomas Jefferson, ca. 1800 In Sunday’s column, I wrote about some vegetable plants that don’t mind a bit of shade, including: bush beans, beets, carrots, leafy greens, onions, peas, perennial herbs, potatoes and radishes. In addition, [...]

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Have a rosy summer!

Rose, thou flower of flowers, thou fragrant wonder, Who shall describe thee in thy ruddy prime, Thy perfect fullness in the summertime…? ~ Christina Rossetti, “The Rose,” 1904 Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) is one of the most recognized female poets of the Romantic, Pre-Raphaelite period. She often incorporated aspects of the natural world into her poetry, [...]

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Sneak preview photos of Soroptimist garden tour

The 15th Annual Garden Tour, hosted by Soroptimist International of North Valley, will take place this year from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 20.  The major fundraiser for the Soroptimist chapter features five very different and inspiring gardens in the Rogue Valley. This year’s tour includes four gardens in Medford and one in [...]

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Lilac’s contradictions

“[T]he lilacs nodded over the high wall as if they said, “We could tell fine secrets if we chose…” – Louisa May Alcott, “Under the Lilacs,” 1878 A decade after publishing her best-known novel, “Little Women” (1868), Louisa May Alcott wrote “Under the Lilacs,” a story about childhood friendships shaped and cemented as the children [...]

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‘Phun’ with Photinias (and how to rejuvenate and propagate)

Nature rarer uses yellow Than another hue; Saves she all of that for sunsets, – Prodigal of blue, Spending scarlet like a woman, Yellow she affords Only scantly and selectly, Like a lover’s words. ~ Emily Dickinson, “Poems of Emily Dickinson,”1890 I always think of this Emily Dickson poem during this time of year in [...]

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Time to rethink the hospitality of our lawns

“Anyone new to the experience of owning a lawn, as I am, soon figures out that there is more at stake here than a patch of grass. A lawn immediately establishes a certain relationship with one’s neighbors and, by extension, the larger American landscape. Mowing the lawn, I realized the first time I gazed into [...]

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Blooming heather: An important late winter/early spring plant for pollinators

The hall was cleared; the stranger’s bed Was there of mountain heather spread, Where oft a hundred guest had lain, And dreamed their forest sports again. But vainly did the heath flower shed Its moorland fragrance round his head. ~ Sir Walter Scott, “The Lady of the Lake,” 1810 My flowering purple heather (Erica carnea) [...]

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  • About the Authors

    Rhonda Nowak

    Rhonda Nowak is a Rogue Valley gardener, writer and teacher. With more than 25 years of gardening experience and a Ph.D. in literature and language arts education, she combines a love for plants, poetry, and prose in her Literary Gardener blog. ... Full Profile
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