Silver Tree of Christmases Past

Harold and Margaret 1922

My grandparents were born in 1896 and 1901. Their families immigrated to Detroit when they were teenagers. She had planned to become a nun, and he had graduated from Michigan State College (now MSU) in dairy science. Not a very avant-garde image. But it was the roaring twenties when they met, and things were about to [Read More...]

Christmas Houseplants: Practical Gardening Series

Image by author.

During the Christmas season poinsettias, Norfolk pines, Christmas cactus, cyclamen and rosemary are often purchased to decorate our homes or given as gifts.  Knowing how to care for these popular holiday plants can be a challenge. So for those of you with the not-so-green thumb, here are some basic care instructions. Poinsettia:  This is the [Read More...]

Symbolism of Christmas Evergreens

door wreaths

Its Christmas time and I love how the fragrance and beauty of evergreens adds to celebrating this holy season. Many of us add Christmas trees, wreaths or garlands to our homes. Collectively, evergreens for early Christians symbolized everlasting life because their boughs stay green all year. Two weeks ago at I wrote about the origin [Read More...]

@pontifex and Gardens

The New Evangelization, media promoting the Church, bishops and bloggers, Vatican web presence…a Papal Twitter account? My head is spinning and my grandmother is probably twirling in her grave. I am easily lost on this sea of invisible waves though I am not resistant to getting into the boat, even if I don’t know how [Read More...]

Gifts for the Gardener

GVP Amazon

I know…this is supposed to be about Christmas greens…next week, I promise. I’ve had several friends ask for another column about gifts for gardeners. So, by request…here are a few gift suggestions, products that I’ve found ease gardening tasks: I’m not sure there is a more practical tool than the bulb planter that attaches to [Read More...]

Adam, Eve and the Christmas Tree

This tree has its own familiar presence in our lives. In the tradition of the Eastern Church the feast day of Adam and Eve, whom they consider saints, is December 24 th.  It was on this date that a Paradise Tree was decorated with red apples or quince that represented the forbidden fruit…the rest of [Read More...]

Move Over Poinsettia, Rosemary’s Here!

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I’m on a mission to dethrone the poinsettia as the Christmas plant in Catholic homes and churches with the herb Rosemary officinalis. The poinsettia’s association with Christmas began in Mexico in the 1600s. A legend tells of a young girl, too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday, was told by an [Read More...]

A Decade of Thank You Notes

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Elizabeth asked…in a couple hundred words or less to tell of the cloud of witnesses by the “testimony of their lives and the sharing of their understanding” that have brought us to our faith today. Seriously!? In 200 words or less? Imagine if you will the seed pod of a milkweed. The pod contains hundreds of [Read More...]

Cleaning and Storing Gardening Tools: Practical Gardening Series

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From early November until Thanksgiving, I’m usually bundled up puttering in unheated garages or pole barns at the retreat center where I volunteer as a gardener. After planting the last of the bulbs I set aside time to get things in order for winter. The final step of shutting down the garden is the cleaning [Read More...]

Seasonal Changes

The black tree limbs are naked of leaves and their outline contrasts against the heavy gray skies. The gardens too are naked and the lawns have turned the dull green of an old wool shirt. Another seasonal change is moving through, and winter is coming. Growing up in the Midwest I learned early about seasons [Read More...]