How My Garden Grows

It has been a most mild winter here in Portland this year, and signs of spring abound. From plum and magnolia trees in full bloom, to tiny buds appearing on maple and dogwood trees, it is my favorite season. As usual, I wander about like a toddler, enamored of every tiny sign of growth and every spot of color. Here is a glimpse in my garden, it is a joy to see it in spring for the first time. spring green growth photograph with spring typography quote

I find this quote so applicable to my energy in winter and spring. Do you?

A Secret Hideaway

pink rhododendron by a fence and sidewalk “Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world," he said wisely one day, "but people don't know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen. I am going to try and experiment.”

Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

I woke up this morning feeling achey, which is not uncommon for me sadly, but it is a discouraging way to start my day. One of my best forms of medicine is going on a short walk with my camera in search of the magic of the ordinary (my preferred phrase) or even in search of a trip down memory lane. The world shows up with this magic every day, like right around the corner from home next to a utility pole.Do you see? I am telling you with this photograph that nice things are going to happen.

That's worth at least 1,000 words.

Coral Charm Peony: A Color Study

Peony season has arrived. I purchased my first one as an early Mother's Day gift for myself. The astonishing transformation in color has been astonishing and delightful to observe. Photographs were taken on May 11th, May 13th and May 14th (from top to bottom). I never knew about peonies until I lived in Oregon, so my first year here I fell in love with their newness, my second year here I went to a peony farm and this year, I plan to study them in detail with my camera. I was asked recently what florals represent to me and my answer is that they represent triumph over adversity. They remind me of me in that way and that is why I am so drawn to observing them with my eyes and my camera. coral charm peony photograph by Jessica Nicholscoral charm peony photograph by Jessica Nicholscoral charm peony photograph by Jessica Nichols

Springtime with Jess: Golden Chain trees

Suddenly this week, I started noticing these dripping yellow trees blooming all around town. I don't recall noticing them any other year, but this year, I'm hyper aware of them. I love how they beckon to you, reaching out to say hello as you walk by on the sidewalk. So I did. I stopped and said hello. I looked up and up trying to see the sky through all the yellow. We met and chatted but didn't exchange names. Lo & behold, later that day on Instagram, I learned the name from a flower farmer that I follow. Introducing laburnum, aka golden chain. laburnum golden chain tree photograph

Springtime with Jess: White Rhododendrons

My husband had to work all weekend and then flew out at 6 a.m. for a two-day business trip; we hosted a sleepover playdate for the Noodle (and the term "sleepover" is always used loosely, am I right?); I tried a new-to-me exercise class on Saturday and can hardly walk; traffic was horrible on the way into school this morning. Ahh, Mondays. Gotta love 'em. I drove straight up into the hills after I made it to school and went on a photo walk hobble. I needed the breath of fresh air and now I want to pass it on to you. White Rhododendrons photo collage by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide PhotographyI truly felt like Alice in Wonderland standing under this giant white rhododendron with my camera, as if I swallowed the Drinking Potion which shrank me. I think I can even still faintly taste the "cherry tart, custard, pineapple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast." (Lewis Carroll)

Soft Sunlight

When the city of Portland is blooming the way it is right now, it’s visually overwhelming at times for me. I am hard wired to notice details anyway, and after a long winter, the abundance of colors and textures in spring is truly uplifting. I feel almost like a toddler as I move through my days: I am easily distracted and it takes me quite awhile to move from point A to point B. Every petal, every stem, every tiny bud demands my attention. I have been diligently watching the dogwood trees in my neighborhood, and my patience has been duly awarded! With my camera in hand, and my dog at my feet, I clicked away giddily. Dogwood blooms in soft light | photograph by Jessica Nichols

P.S. I'm sharing Portland during spring daily on Instagram with the hashtag #springtimewithjess.

Scene Around Home: Garden Roses

I am not a gifted gardener, and our rental home has a rather lush, old yard that we let grow wild and crazy. Living in the Pacific Northwest, it's not hard to do. Since we moved in almost two years ago, we have had a handful of volunteer trees pop up in various parts of the yard. Yes, trees. We have lilacs, blackberries, rhododendrons, ferns galore and of course, being Portland, there are roses. Two of the four roses are blooming now, here are quick iPhone snaps of the pastel pink and pale yellow roses from my garden.

pastel pink garden rose portland oregon by Jessica Nichols Sweet Eventide Photographypale yellow garden rose portland oregon by Jessica Nichols Sweet Eventide Photography

I don't know what variety these roses are being the accidental gardener that I am. Now, my square foot garden, aka my mini-urban farm, is not accidental. I have my strawberries in and plan to put in my kale and lettuce soon. Now you may think I'm a little behind planting lettuce in mid-May, but actually I am way ahead of schedule compared to last year when I planted everything in July.

If you know what my roses are, please tell me in the comments. I would also love to know what is growing in your garden and what if any veggies you are growing.

Dogwoods for Days

I've been listening to Hawaiian music on Pandora with my office windows open to a sunny, warm day and editing my dogwood photos that I took earlier this week. It's all rather blissful if I do say so. I have enough dogwood photos to last you for days. Are you ready?

Dogwood Tree Pink Flowers Portland Photograph by Jessica Nichols Sweet Eventide PhotographyDogwood Tree Pink Flowers Portland Photograph by Jessica Nichols Sweet Eventide PhotographyDogwood Tree Pink Flowers Portland Photograph by Jessica Nichols Sweet Eventide PhotographyDogwood Tree Pink Flowers Portland Photograph by Jessica Nichols Sweet Eventide PhotographyDogwood Tree Pink Flowers Portland Photograph by Jessica Nichols Sweet Eventide PhotographyDogwood Tree Pink Flowers Portland Photograph by Jessica Nichols Sweet Eventide PhotographyDogwood Tree Pink Flowers Portland Photograph by Jessica Nichols Sweet Eventide PhotographyDogwood Tree Pink Flowers Portland Photograph by Jessica Nichols Sweet Eventide PhotographyDogwood Tree Pink Flowers Portland Photograph by Jessica Nichols Sweet Eventide Photography

If you enjoyed these, please let me know in the comments and please feel free to pin them!

Have a beautiful weekend!

Spring in a Nutshell

This photo of bright yellow flowers bursting against a moody sky is spring in a nutshell, am I right? yellow flowers stormy dark sky

My weekend was busy! My husband's mother flew in from California for the start of a two-week visit, the Noodle had his first top-roping rock climbing competition and I worked hard creating a new product to offer soon. I placed my order with my vendor last night and I can't wait to receive it in 10 days, so I can photograph it and share it with you. There is a very personal story behind this idea and it's hopeful, encouraging and serene. Are you intrigued?

Just Because Balloons

Yesterday I surprised the Noodle after school with "just because" balloons. They got quite the reaction from classmates and parents, and later at the park from passersby.

just because balloons © Jessica Nichols

We had a picnic and played with our new giant soft frisbee and went creek walking.
It was a glorious afternoon and I wish you all just that kind of weekend!

Inspiration: Purl Bee

The sun came out here yesterday and right now there is a sweet little bird chirping outside my window. When I combine all of that with a cup of coffee and a few minutes on Pinterest, my day is off to a lovely start. I had to share these images on the Purl bee with you because they set my mind whirling & I have set up a little sewing area recently. Hmmm... ;)

photography © the Purl bee

Click here for more spring projects and you can see the bunny finger puppet kit post too.

Speaking of supercute, here is a darling photo of a little one with a big ol' camera and here is a precious real bunny. I won't post the photos here because despite some searching, I can't locate the original sources. It's too bad because they are amazing images & I hope you'll take a peek at them. 

A Light Exists in Spring

(photo taken yesterday at the Mission Playground & Pool, SF)

A light exists in spring
Not present on the year
At any other period.
When March is scarcely here

A color stands abroad
On solitary hills
That silence cannot overtake,
But human nature feels.

It waits upon the lawn;
It shows the furthest tree
Upon the furthest slope we know;
It almost speaks to me.

Then, as horizons step,
Or noons report away,
Without the formula of sound,
It passes, and we stay:

A quality of loss
Affecting our content,
As trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a sacrament.

Emily Dickinson

(Thanks Julie)

Through the Fire

I have made it through the fire...the fire of last week's 104.9 fever. Definitely stole a week of my life, this last sinus infection/cold/evil virus whatever it is.

But, I made it and was rewarded with a wonderful sunny day with Jaden yesterday. I got him some new spring clothes, and me a little spring dress. We got the car washed (ahhh) and went to Jack Fisher Park.

I really enjoy this park every time we go. It is a lot more manageable than Oak Meadow at Vasona. And yet we don't go there as much as we do the Curtner Park (officially called Lincoln Glen). So it's a nice change of pace.

Jaden is really maturing. I have a really, really good feeling about FOUR. I think it's going to be an amazing year with him. He came up to me yesterday and munched on a chip, then ran off. Then he ran right back and said, "Mama, I just want to let you know I'm going up that hill. But I'll be back!"

I was so amazed and proud of him. It is the first time he's done something like that -- you know, impulse control. I really praised him for that multiple times after and later at dinner in front of Jeff. It seems like a little thing but it is not. It was a huge developmental milestone in my eyes.

I love the noodle so much!