There are places I remember…

There are places I remember…

DSC00057One of them was a charming gem of a garden… located in an urban neighborhood, cleverly designed as a private escape with a stucco wall, softened by vines, providing a warm hug of privacy..

Gentle breezes, blowing table cloths – transporting me to a country hideaway.

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Secret nooks captured  views…

Bevelled opening in wall to frame the view.

The memory is so visceral.

Fall 2008 – My friend Beth and I sat in the Harmon driveway, greeting guests for the Garden Conservancy Open Days Tour – taking tickets, answering questions and simply enjoying the discoveries in this magical setting.  By the day’s end, I sat in every place provided for lingering – to capture a better understanding of the effortless design,  to breathe it all in – beauty and peace – to capture a memory.

Judy Harmon, ASLA (RIP) – a landscape architect,  had lovingly designed and planted this garden.  For Judy, it was her and husband Frank’s private space – integrating interiors with exterior living.   The swaths of plants on a tiny lot – sensitively complementing and enhancing the lines of husband Frank Harmon’s  (an amazing architect, teacher and green advocate) contemporary design for their modern home.

The Modern dwelling, provided an integrated backdrop – contemporary softened by visual living movement – of light and color and water.  Punctuated along paths by simple visual shapes for contemplation.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs were shocking at one time, yet with time, revered for his  ideas, scale and functionality.

Over time, his designs are now historic pillars of architecture.

New subdivisions of faux period bungalows today flourish and beckon to a safer time – before cul-de-sac s, and soccer moms, when kids walked to school and played in the streets… times when Moms’ spent more time in their homes that in their SUV’s waiting in lines for school or Chick fil-A orders!

I love contemporary design as well historic design.    There is is place in time for each.

With open minds,  a respect for the new and the old to live together – to balance each other.

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Every fall as Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks‘ – golden rod – bloom, catching and swaying in the breeze… I think of that glorious day in Judy’s Garden.   Old fashion golden rod  bred for a shorter explosive stature, cleverly punctuated – with the yellow of other flowers and furniture and  repetition of Yucca filamentosa ‘Bright Edge’  – grouped in clusters of fives giving structure and a modern edge.  Greens contrasting the strong Red of the contemporary dwelling… with exciting complementary scheme and the yellow marrying it all together in soft drifts of movement and color.

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It is brilliant, old and new,  yet fresh and fluid as the pressed linens in the breeze.

While asking Frank if it was OK to feature his charming watercolor painting of Elizabeth Lawrence border, (stop back tomorrow), I spoke of my sweet friend Judy, his wife and partner and her garden.

Frank wrote, ” The Garden looks as fresh and vibrant today as it did in 2008.”

He was touched and knew Judy would be smiling her sweet impish smile of approval… to be remembered and to once again be sharing her garden.

 

So grateful to be sharing this place I remember…

Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

Groundbreakers App Ties History and Beauty Together

This is an exhibition I hated to miss… Groundbreaking women in Landscape Design – an acceptable profession of the times.
Thanks to my sister… always fun to see things through her eyes… Enjoy! Jayme B.

Note: The App is worth the effort but will not work on I Pad Mini.. Still fun on the tiny screen.

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The New York Botanical Garden carved out an ambitious agenda in its Groundbreakers show – to tie the stories of six women of landscaping history, present a two-gallery recreation of an historic garden, pay tribute to the contributions of several landscapes within NYBG itself, create a poetry walk, and wrap it up with the history of early 20th-century photography and high-gloss publishing. They did it with GPS and an iPhone app, courtesy of Bloomberg.

Closing this weekend, Groundbreakers: Great American Gardens and the Women Who Designed Them is still worth downloading from iTunes, just to get a glimpse into the lives of six landscape-gardening pioneers, see their work, and understand the popularization of American gardening long before the dawn of HGTV or Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Here’s the link.

Photos of Ms. Johnston (left), lantern slides and projector, and Beals (right) on NYC street in 1902. Courtesy: NYBG Photos of Ms. Johnston (left), lantern slides and projector, and Beals (right) on NYC street in 1902. Courtesy:…

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Open Days Program—For the Love of Gardening

For the Love of  Gardening— The Thompson Garden by Kathleen Thompson.

The beauty of this suburban garden begins at street side where a path beckons you to enter and enjoy a preview of the abundant plantings that follow. The front garden is a delight of shrubs and perennials showcasing a spectacular thread-leaf Japanese maple. Upon entering the brick walkway at the arbor, you view a gently sloping garden with curved borders and pathways outlined with recycled concrete.  Beds, with ever-shrinking lawn areas, are richly planted with perennials featuring a mix of native and specialty plants including tropicals, all in perfect harmony in both shade and sun. A number of the plants are rare and unusual, collected and propagated at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum. A small pond can be found along the network of twisting trails that lead through the woods to a community lake. Each area of this garden will elicit a sense of serendipity and discovery of plants, woods, and water.

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Welcoming Vignettes – The Thompson Garden

Walt and I started designing this garden even before we designed and built the house over 25 years ago. Our style is Southern Informal, our goal was to design a garden utilizing the best characteristics of the slope of our land. Continue reading

Open Days Progam – Passion for Plants

Passionate about plants!

Passionate about plants!

This one-acre gem—of a passionate collector’s garden—was begun 22 years ago.

Beth & Juan are the ultimate volunteers… artists and entertainers… I am honored to have them as my friends!

They invite you to visit their Wake Forest Garden.

 

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Open Days Program – My Fairy Garden in the Woods

Beautiful mature specimens and paths that wind into secret views—a passion for collecting plantscreating layered textures with antiques. 

DSC02488A garden that will make you feel like a kid again—exploring a secret magical place.

Welcome to the charming collector’s garden of Garden of Jean and Wayne Mitchell. 

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YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED to: Open Days

Saturday May 17 and Sunday May 18, 2014

Wayne is an avid golfer and enjoys relaxing with his wife and their family in the garden.

Meet my friend Jean Mitchell, the most gracious hostess.  When not in her garden, Jean is a friendly welcoming facevolunteering at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center.

Gracious hostess Jean Mitchell

Gracious hostess Jean Mitchell.

Entwined Life:  What do you call your garden?

Jean Mitchell: Long ago, neighborhood children named my acre and a half woodland garden, “My Fairy Garden in the Woods.” 

 How long have you been gardening at this location?

 Since 1963.

 What to you consider your gardening Style?

 Informal Whimsical Woodland.

 What kind of conditions do you garden in?

 Rich woodland soil, but lots of roots and rocks. Very shady conditions. Hilly terrain.

 Do you have any challenges in your garden?

Shade and large trees which make it difficult to dig holes because of numerous roots and rocks. Rabbits, voles and deer like to eat foliage.

What is the first thing you added, removed or changed in this garden?

Azalea beds were the original theme to the garden. Many of the original azaleas still remain and are now over 50 years old. The biggest change that occurred in the garden was the removal of many trees that were felled during Hurricane Fran in September 1996. This allowed an abundance of sunlight in many of the garden areas for the first time in the garden’s history, and reinvigorated our interest in gardening.

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 Do you collect plants and if so what?

Yes! I’m so lucky to be able to get many of my plants at JC Raulston Arboretum where I have volunteered since 1996. Native plants that like shade are my favorites.

 What are favorite garden tools?

 I love the mattock and shovel for my planting and gardening, and the rake for the leaves.

 How much time do you spend working in your garden?

 A couple of hours almost every day.

 What is your mulch preference?

Ground up Autumn leaves.

 Anything new added to your garden?

 A Butterfly metal sculpture by Grace Cathey in Waynesville, NC.

What is your first memory in a garden?

 Helping my mother plant flowers.

What is it that got you started gardening?

Each of my sons were given an azalea bed that they tended.  Back then my passion was collecting antiques.

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 How many Gardens have you had?

 Two—one on Ann Street in Cary and our present garden which we have now had for over 50 years!

 Where do you go for inspiration?

The J.C. Raulston Arboretum

 Do you have a favorite Garden you’ve visited?

Chanticleer Gardens in Wayne, Pa  and

Butchart Gardens near Victoria, British Columbia

Do you have a favorite Garden Book?

I enjoy all garden books!

Who is your Horticultural Hero? Or Garden mentor?

I have many, including my dear friends Mitzi Hole & Suzanne Edney.

DSC02499Describe where you most often sit in your garden….

The blue bench on the backside of the house.

 If money were no object what would you add or do differently?

 Nothing! I’m happy and at peace with my garden the way it is.

 Do you have ‘garden wisdom’ to share? Or anything you’d like to say about your garden?

 My favorite expression is Dr. J.C. Raulston’s motto, “Plan and Plant for a better world.”

 Or anything you’d like to say about your garden?

My garden is my peace and passion; a place where I don’t think of anything but my immediate surroundings.

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Long ago, neighborhood children named my acre and a half woodland garden, “My Fairy Garden in the Woods.”  An antique wrought Iron gate welcomes as you enter into native Sassafras, Bower and Hydrangea lined paths leading to a 3-tiered water fountain. Further on a white Victorian style gazebo beckons to sit a spell and listen. A magnificent Climbing Hydrangea scrambles to the top of a huge Tulip Poplar.  Many collector shade plants line meandering paths that lead to a crooked Straight Creek.   A glade of native fringe trees winds to the side.   Many rare and unusual specimen trees, shrubs and perennials acquired from the J. C. Raulston Arboretum share beds with antiques cleverly placed along paths in this charming collector’s garden. 

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Come Celebrate with Jean and Wayne Mitchell!

Their Garden: My Fairy Garden In the Woods

 is featured in this year’s Open Days!

Save the Dates!
17 & 18 Cary, Raleigh Open Days

Cary, Wake Forest and Raleigh Open Days
Friday, May 16 | 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday, May 17 | 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, May 18 | 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Visit seven private gardens in Cary, Wake Forest, and Raleigh, , NC.

The JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina University in Raleigh will also be welcoming visitors.

Admission: $7 per garden
Discounted admission tickets (6 tickets for $35 general / $21 Garden Conservancy members) will be available in advance at the JC Raulston Arboretum (4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh). Admission to the Arboretum is free.

Open Days are self-guided and proceed rain or shine.
No reservations are required.

The Mark of Adventure…

These days when you purchase a home, the property more often than not, was likely clear cut when built. Perhaps even the topsoil was scraped and hauled away with the removal of Bushwhacked  or Bush-Hogged trees, stumps and shrubs. A mark of adventure for the machine operator. 

This trend developed in post war 1947 when the first planned community called Levittown emerged. The style emerged to level the playing field of  future residents, done for the convenience of the builders, not for the love of the land or to retain the sense of place.  Merely mass production of affordable housing a mark of adventure for future prosperous development.

Aerial view of Levittown, Pennsylvania, circa 1959

Aerial view of Levittown, Pennsylvania, circa 1959 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The country prospered and someone figured out that all the leftover bomb chemicals could be sold and used to “fertilize” the new suburban lawns.  Yes, this creative lifestyle morphed into a heavily marketed middle class status symbol – a small but “Great Lawn”! 

The Builder then contracts a landscaping crew to add back some landscaping to give it curb appeal… typically these are fast growing evergreens that give the builder some bang for the buck, for saleability, often with no regard for how large the tree or shrub will be in a few years… for the most part unsuspecting homeowners are left with an ongoing task of whacking these back, from blocking windows and doors. 

Oh but I digress from the real question on my mind:

Have you ever thought about where our garden plants come from? 

What is the Mark of Adventure?

To be continued… tomorrow part 2 of 4.

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

A Visit under the Oaks

At this time of year chores at Entwined Gardens include raking the leaves and acorns from under the Oaks.  It somehow seems like a never-ending task, but one that always elicits a mixed bag of frustration and wonder, as I visit under the Oaks.

The grove of Oak trees was on the property when my husband purchased this woodland paradise.   He hates the thought (and expense) of  thinning them.   So many hardwoods were cut adjacent to our property when the woods became a golf course community – habitat lost.

But their  limbs have begun to hang over our rooftop,  making the back deck and terrace a constant battleground… and a potential threat of roof damage in some crazy storm.

I know – first world thinking!

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The acorns under foot can be dangerous, the leaves slick…  and with a back that easily twists out of shape… I do get annoyed from the raking and sweeping.

It is not an easy task to establish new plants under the Oaks, as they provide a dense shady canopy for most of the year, so I often grouse (to myself) that I’d really like a more refined view from my dining room and kitchen…  more light would be nice.

Most recommended woodland plants I’ve tried have languished, as the roots of the Oaks are far-reaching – sucking  up any available moisture from the hard packed,  root bound clay soils.

Then  comes the fall when the thick drop of leaves builds up an anaerobic layer, smothering anything below.

To have any success,  I have learned to plant specimens in pots. Should they survive the deer, then  I create a modified raised bed – planting on top of the of the woodland floor adding good soil amendments  around the root ball and  spreading out the  hauled in soil around the plant – yet not too high to smother  the roots of the Oaks.  It’s a learning experience and indeed a delicate balance.

I grumble more as most of the acorns sprout with ease just laying on top of – well anything –  in the pots in the raised planting and across the woodland floor…  while nothing else grows with vigor under the thick woodland floor of  tannic acid…  each spring I have a sea of Oak seedlings.

Oh a good remainder  when raking – to limit the amount of Oak leaves added to the compost pile –  no more than twenty percent  because they take forever to break down and will create an acid, anaerobic mess.

While on the topic of tannic acid, (Plant Geek Alert!)  it  is also found in acorns… this is the true reason that squirrels and Jays hide the nuts… waiting for rain and melting snows to wash away the tannic acid  over time to make them palatable.  It is also nature’s way of distributing the nut seed with squirrels acting as dutiful gardeners planting them in new locations where often they forget to retrieve.

Or, is it Mr. Squirrelly shrewdly planting a tree for ensuring a future harvest?

The deer eat acorns and don’t seem to have a digestive problem.  Then again the deer seem to eat just about anything, except poison ivy or just plain ivy!   Dang!

The sprouted acorns cannot get raked,  so this becomes a zen like meditation of tugging them out one by one.  There  are hundreds each year! It always amazes me how quickly they can put out a tap-root of several inches long once they get growing as temperatures become mild in early spring.

Last year I had an indoor mini forest of Oaks growing in a large pot of Aspidistra – cast iron plant – which we bring in for the winter.  It was amazing that 15 or so acorns sprouted and developed leaves!  Note to self: to look for photo.

So in the midst of raking, hauling and grumbling,  I am reminded to pause, look up and ponder…

OakWonder… good for the back, good for the soul – the majestic Oak.

Today with milder temperatures  under a Carolina Blue sky,  I laid down in the leaves to take the photo, resting and hoping to capture some frolicking squirrels, as they perform aerial feats of delight, soaring from tree to tree, but no suck luck.

I am reminded that these giants are also woodland habitat to Woodpeckers, Jays and lodging for migrating flocks.

Squirrel NestMajestic crooks are protected nurseriesfor the baby squirrels called kittens.

Shelter also for butterflies and host plants for moths.

All in all – grateful for their beauty,  the  shade for our home.  The Oak flooring we walk on, and Oak furniture we use.  The delicious wine that is aged in Oak barrels…

Grateful for the Oak table our family gathers around.

Now back to work…

Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Thanks for taking the time to visit under the oaks…

Leave a comment on your what your favorite Oak …

Hunkering down for winter and Elephant trumpets…

The fall is upon us… the excitement of the NC State Fair, leaves blowing and swirling, critters foraging…   colors now yellow instead of the pervasive green.  Hits of pinks, reds and oranges – emerge across the horizon.

Over the last few days with temperatures dipping to 38 degree F.,  we are hunkering down for winter at Entwined Gardens.

The careful lists of selecting which tropicals to dig up, re-pot  and drag into shelter for the winter,  have been checked off the ‘To-Do” list.

The Korean Mums  by the white garden gate – lovely with their peach tinged petals are open for diners – the last of the visible pollinators.  I notice that these two insects  have the same  striped markings – the one on the upper right is quite a bit smaller, wings perpendicular rather than angling, as they feast on nectar.

  DaisiesDendranthema rubellum – Korean Mum

Walking the paths, I reflect on each plant as a quest or gift from a friend.  The Dendranthema –  a division from Gail Ingram – from the back of her pickup truck after a Master Gardener meeting in 2000,  a feeding frenzy of outstretched arms… hoping to feel the plant material fall into their fingers… What Joy!

Hence my Motto:

“It’s always a great day when you bring home a plant!”

Entwined Gardens has been the recipient of many such plant shares  and trades from amazing horticultural giants and mentors – I’ll refrain from much of the name dropping.

I’ve dug, dragged, dumpster dived (from the JC Raulston Arboretum ‘plants only’ dumpster),  put on waders bogged and slogged on a quest.     Shopped till I’ve dropped, then traveled hours with a with a coveted Acer palmatum ‘Okukuji nishiki’ – a lovely variagated Japanese Maple specimen  –  stuck between my knees on a road trip from Athens, Georgia to sweet home North Carolina!  Thanks goodness my friend Jean was driving!

Over the years, friend Mitzi has shown us how to pack in the plants on these expeditions.    And in the horticultural Mecca of the Triangle,  it is not uncommon to see all types of specimens in all shapes and sizes of vehicles being driven on highways and byways!

Nearby I reflect on a  stand of Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’  which will stay in the ground.  Although only known to be hardy zones 8-10,  it over wintered well in my Zone 7B garden last year.

To date,  in all my shameless, plant obsessive (OK, addicted) escapades – my 5’2″ frame was no match for the these elephants!

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I laugh every time I think of this Elephant Ear… a share from friend and divine garden writer Helen Yoest.

I arrived at Helen’s Haven with some thick gauge heavy-duty giant lawn bags.   Gratefully, Helen had already heave-hoed them out of the ground for sharing.  How sweet was that!

Elephant Ears like their large mammal name sakes,  must hold a heck of a lot of water which is the only logic I could give to their weight.  I struggled to lug their root balls into the bags.   I strained to budge them around the side of the house and down the garden path without trampling one of Helen’s borders.  I tried dragging, then pushing them in the heavy gauge plastic.  I think a stubborn Pachyderm would have been easier to coax than this Colocasia gigantea!

Laboriously breathing, I finally made it to the intersection of walkway and driveway…   I wondered if I could roll them down without damaging the magnificent leaves and roots, but decided against this option.  I walked around the house and couldn’t locate any thing with wheels.

Dazed, my short arms straining,  I took a breath pondering, “If only I had a real  elephant… an elephant could easily use its proboscis or trunk to transport these down the drive – easy peasy…  and most likely for a couple of bags of peanuts.  This would really give the neighbors something to talk about!”

Reality check… when did Helen’s driveway get so long and steep? Even going downhill it seemed like an abyss!

My desire for these plants once again snapped me back – pushing me forward like a goat in quicksand…   I was one with them,  I was not letting go –  and then it hit me like a ton of elephants, if I do get to the street, how will I ever hoist them up to the bed of the pick up?   I wanted to weep.

I felt like I was in an Abbott & Costello escapade, but I sure wished Abbott (my Hubby) was there as  I struggled comically down the driveway.  I would take a few steps,  teetering with the weight over head, stop and walk around this stubborn as a mule plant predicament – barely budging a few inches.

I thought for sure Helen would find me in heap at the end of the drive, trampled by an elephant stampede.

The neighbors would complain… about some horticultural circus act gone very wrong, peering out behind a jungle of designer draperies, but afraid to come outside of their climate controlled environs.

What seemed like hours later, I climbed into the truck bed, positioned myself on bended knees and prayed for strength… I wish I had thought to bring some rigging and a winch for the aerial act  that ensued!

Focus.  Rest.  Sip  some water.  Bend the knees. Pray to the Almighty Horticulture God and by some  miracle… it was in the truck for the transport home.  I have no earthly idea how these were hoisted or levitated from above or below or what kind of other worldly pact might have been made.

That night and the next morning, I ached everywhere… but the prize was mine!

There is nothing like a shared plant from a friend’s garden.    This gargantuan punctuation in the garden unlike any other.    In my mind I hear the sounds of  loud (click listen and hit back button to return)  Elephant trumpets which then elicits a break into an enormous ‘laugh out loud’ every time it comes into view.  OK sometimes I preform the elephant walk… a joy of living in the woods!

So once again I will leave it in the ground, keeping my fingers crossed that  it will be a star attraction, after the spring migration of warmth summons it forth.

A last peek behind its big top ears  finds a surprise – tree frog hunkering down against the incoming frigid air.

ThaiFrogDid you know: that the American green tree frog, Hyla cinerea

converts glycogen into glucose – acting like anti freeze – during cold months?

Listen to the (click listen and hit back button to return)  song of the tree frog.

A second, smaller clump of ‘Thai Giant’,  also dragged from Helen’s Haven,   spent the winter inside the barn last winter.   It emerged at a reasonable time last spring.  I  planted it out, but  it stopped growing at a mere 7 1/2 inches!   Although planted just feet from its giant friend, perhaps planted in an area where the light is being shaded, but definitely a freakish curiosity.

Tiny EarsI laugh at these tiny leaves…    “That’s IT???  That’s all I got for pulling my back muscles out?”

I am delighted none the less.

Thanks,  Helen for your amazing gift a giant plant, a story to tell, Elephant Trumpets in my ear and being a friend with Horticultural Benefits.

Helen’s new tome is available for preorder:   Plants With Benefits: An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & Veggies in Your Garden

Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

Seasonal Heritage, a Native Refuge – Roots that Fashion a Sanctuary for the Soul…

When I stopped by to see Nancy & John Brothers at their inner belt line Raleigh home, the third week in March, the garden was already coming alive.  I had never seen so many Trout Lilies cascading down a hillside, at one time. 

 Erythronium americanum - eastern North American dogtooth having solitary yellow flowers marked with brown or purple and spotted interiors  amberbell, trout lily, yellow adder's tongue dog's-tooth violet, dogtooth, dogtooth violet - perennial woodland spring-flowering plant; so many names so little time before it disappears. Only to await next years appearance.

Erythronium americanum – eastern North American dogtooth having solitary yellow flowers marked with brown or purple and spotted interiors amberbell, trout lily, yellow adder’s tongue dog’s-tooth violet, dogtooth, dogtooth violet – perennial woodland spring-flowering plant; so many names so little time before it disappears. Only to await next years appearance.Most likely won’t be in bloom this weekend, but as I reassured Nancy – time and spring marches on. 

Most likely  the trout lilies won’t be in bloom this weekend, but as I reassured Nancy – time and spring marches on.I could see the tapestry beginning to emerge – spring ephemeral pleasure – yes – it is fleeting… feeling sap of my spirit begin to run – I  thought,  “This indeed is a sanctuary for the soul!”

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