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Personal renewal in summer's introspection

Well, it’s about time. My Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) finally got around to blooming.

Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)

They’ve been gorgeous around town for weeks, while mine is still a pathetic little stick with a paltry tribute to summer. It was in bad shape when I got it a few years ago at the end of the season. I thought I could revive it, but I haven’t yet found the secret. I’m sure it heard me grumbling, “Okay, I’ve just got to get another one.” In a panic, it pushed its little cells as hard as they would go. You can’t reject that kind of effort, so I’ll see what I can do for it.

I’ve heard from many gardeners that their summer bloomers haven’t performed as usual. Perhaps the severe freezes hindered their schedule. I still haven’t seen one flower on my healthy shrimp plants, and my plumbagos aren’t at typical magnificence.

Blue plumbago auriculata

For us, summer is the season when we most seek personal renewal. In the heat, our physical energy lags, so we go inside, both into our abodes and into our souls. We crave the garden of words for perspective and strength to tackle the coming year. During this introspective time, I found my strength through Susan Wittig Albert’s book, Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place.

Susan Wittig Albert Together Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place

For years, I’ve been a fan of her China Bayles series.

Susan Wittig Albert China Bayles Spanish Dagger

Along with the intelligent mystery puzzle, plant history and applications, and recipes, I can connect to China. She’s independent and cautious about getting too close. Susan captures the real life struggles that face us all, from details like the kitchen floor to working out relationships and making the next professional or personal step.

In Together, Alone, Susan’s brave enough to reveal her own heart and the struggles, from marriage to career (and the garden), that frame her choices and direction.

Although I’d never considered a silent retreat before, I’m exploring Lebh Shomea in Sarita, Texas to discover the peace and insight that she has found there. Like Susan in her first experience, I know I’d be a balking bag of worries about being so disconnected, fearing that the world would crash if I veered from my on-target responsibilities. Not sure if I’ll do it, but Susan’s honest revelation of her journey of renewal at Lebh Shomea is one we can all embrace, wherever we choose to do it.

Even if we journal, the hardest thing is to respect what our own words tell us. How do we read between our own lines to see our next destination? Through Together, Alone, Susan’s journey will assist you on yours.

Energetic Susan also launched a new series, The Darling Dahlias.

Susan Wittig Albert The Darling Dahlias

Set in 1930s Alabama, Susan adopts a completely different voice, with a cast of characters that you’ll recognize among our contemporaries. It’s a good “cozy” mystery with the benefit of what life was like in the economic downturn of the 30s.

Especially I like her subtle connections to modern life. Twitter: think party phone lines. Blogs: the young garden writer who discovers a wide audience beyond her local newspaper garden updates. Recycle/reuse: Makin Do: 10 Ways to Stretch Whatever We Have.

Platforms for communication will always change. But what remains the same is our concern for our plants, figuring out life choices, and how to divide that special iris to pass along to a new gardener. Until the heat abates, revel in your inner garden. As you well know, the outside one will demand all your attention soon.

Next week, CTG launches the fall season. We’re about to get introspective with the shovel! Until then, Linda

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