An example of my connected cranes with preserved botanics.

I am interested in “connections,” whether interpersonal or mechanical. Some of you may have seen my art works of connected cranes. In this style of origami, called Rokoan, paper is cut into a series of connecting squares. It was designed by Rokoan Gido (1761-1834), a Buddhist priest. A book titled Folding a Thousand Cranes is considered the oldest book on origami. Each model has a title and poem. Woodblock prints demonstrate the steps required. A second book, called Fundamental Cranes in the Cloud that featured 100 models of 500 connected cranes, has never been found. Do check your attics!

This type of folding requires patience, accuracy, and strong paper (as the tension between head, tail, and wings can be quite significant). There is fragility in the making, and one must be in the right frame of mind to maintain focus and care. The models are visually interesting, and I love their association with history. Names like Girl Planting Rice, Blue Ocean Wave, Lightening, and Eight Bridges add to their mystery and foster imagination.

For me, this type of folding is much like the connections we make in our lives and in our gardens. We invest our energies to create something beautiful, and along the way, we discover lifelong meaningful friendships.

This month I had the joy of visiting several gardeners. I take great pleasure in spending time with friends who share my passion for plants, and who generously open their hearts and garden for me to savor.

While walking around Kathleen Vetter’s and John Zurich’s garden, I witnessed their combined love in nurturing plants for the “eye,” for “food,” and for each other. We ate fresh early raspberries, the first for me this season. There is nothing quite like rekindling the memories of fresh-picked fruit in one’s mouth. As I don’t grow vegetables, I am always surprised at just how beautiful (and tasty) vegetable gardens can be.

But this visit was particularly interesting for another reason. Kathleen had several beautiful roses, some originating from other gardens in our town, as well as from Alstead, where she had lived previously. Together, we admired the roses from Frankie Tolman and the DeMartelli gardens. Their color, form, and fragrance were lovely and appealing in their own right. However, more meaningful for me were the rose’s connections to the people in Kathleen’s personal life. Our gardens are a mix of plants we purchase, and those that connect us to people whose memories and stories live on in our gardens. It was gratifying to see some of my plants woven into her garden beds.

I made a recent garden visit to Laurel McKenzie, a relationship begun while I was a member of the Monadnock Garden Club. She has interesting plants that are well cared for and always in perfect form. Laurel has created a beautiful “personal and botanic collector’s” garden in one. I know I will encounter great looking plants that I have never seen, or perhaps overlooked at a nursery, not realizing its full garden potential. Some of her very special plants are grown from seeds obtained from plant societies. Generosity of spirit and plant material is also guaranteed.

Whether one’s passion is gardening or something else, there is much joy in experiencing another person’s perspective. Sharing these pursuits provides opportunities that connect us in meaningful ways to our larger world. For inspiration, I have chosen some photographs from these recent garden visits.

Roses from Kathleen’s garden


More roses


English cottage rose.

Red poppies with a pretty silver leaved willow,  gift from Kris Fenderson’s garden.

Glaucidium, unusual plant from Laurel’s garden. Perfection!

Yellow trillium with variegated leaves from Laurel’s garden. I was with her when this beauty was purchased from the New England Wildflower Garden.

Frog in Laurel’s water feature…

Connected Cranes