Gardens of Hope by Catherine Lanigan & Rula Sinara


CATHERINE: For a lot of people, it seems, finding hope is pretty darn difficult this year and understandably there are a lot of viable reasons for it. Whether is 2020 autumn or any year, living here in the Midwest we get a lot of groaners. “Oh, no! It’s October. That means the snow and ice are coming. I hate the cold. I hate winter.” You know what I mean.

Call me Pollyanna---some say that’s my middle name, but October has always been one of my favorite months. The blazing colors in my seventy-year-old Maple trees and the fiery crimson of my Burning Bushes elicit smiles from daybreak to sunset. Besides getting the autumn fertilizer on the grass and stacking up three or more cords of firewood for the long winter, I peruse my John Scheeper’s flower bulb catalogues with a vengeance. My problem is cutting back on my “wants” and sticking to my “needs”. These lovelies pictured above are “Raspberry Sundae Bareroot Peonies. I planted them last spring but they may not bloom until 2021. Fingers crossed and hoping. (

By the end of October, I’ll be planting new bulbs that will bloom in the spring. All winter long, I dream of the first green shoots peaking up through the dark earth. My early blooming daffodils, hyacinths, Muscari, jonquils and Narcissi fill vases for my house and for friends.

I wish I had a bigger yard, configured in a way that I could have “rivers” of tulips and then irises coming in right behind the daffodils. I love gardens that perpetuate themselves, and don’t require too much gardening on my behalf. Too often, I have to choose between the garden and the writing and the writing wins out. However, there is the fact that I get some of my most creative ideas when I’m “diggin’ in the dirt”. Being in nature and blending with Mother Nature to enhance her glory is a true blessing to us.

About seven years ago, I experimented with Casa Blanca lily bulbs. I’ve always loved this flower, but I didn’t know if I’d kill the bulbs (which aren’t cheap) or if they’d gift me with their mega-fragrant, dramatic blooms. Each year, these bulbs have grown taller—now up to four feet high, requiring tomato cages to hold them up, and the number of blooms on a stalk have increased. 

One of the things about bulb planting here in Northwestern Indiana is that bulbs are excellent deer food. If the winter is intensely harsh and the deer can’t find food, they will trek off the golf course and head right for the feeding trough in my garden. It’s hard to catch them at it because they usually take a nightly meal. But this particular winter I caught them. 

This year I’m planting dozens and dozens of new bulbs to replace those that are no longer with me. My hope is that I will once again have a vibrant and beautiful spring garden.

I’ll bet you have all kinds of tales of animal scavengers on your gorgeous land, right, Rula? When it comes to serene landscapes, I think of you. 

RULA: You're flower pics are all gorgeous, Catherine! They really brighten a day. I love October and I just finished planting bulbs for this coming spring. I think it's going to be a long winter for all of us, so I figure having flowers popping up in March and April will be a much needed spot of joy. I even planted some bulbs over at my parent's place.

I already had some purple tulips out front and a few orangy/red ones in the back, but this year I shopped online for more. I bought Dutch Master daffodils, Red Impression and Queen of the Night tulips and some grape hyacinth. Part of the reason I had to shop for more is that, yes, I have many wild critters and the squirrels love to dig up those yummy bulbs. I dug much deeper this time. Obviously I can't take pics yet (the pics shown are from past years), but I added the the hyacinth and dark purple (almost black) Queen tulips to the front yard where my purple ones are and the red ones along with the daffodils are now in the back around the patio.

And these are tubers...not bulbs, but I always look forward to my bearded iris blooming.

So it may be October and the leaves are beginning to change color and fall, but I think it's symbolic that it's also the time of year where bulbs (and some seeds) can be planted for spring. As Catherine said...we're planting gardens of hope.

Be well,

Catherine & Rula

Second Chance Christmas 
(Turtleback Beach Book 3)
Coming Jan 2021

A beachside Christmas

Brings unexpected gifts!

A second chance. That’s what former navy SEAL Damon Woods asks for when Zuri Habib comes to Turtleback Beach with a nephew who looks just like him. After her sister’s death, Zuri believes Caden deserves to know his father—even if he did break her teenage heart. Can Damon and Zuri forgive each other and give a grieving boy the family he needs this Christmas?


Home for Christmas
(Shores of Indian Lake Book 12)
Nov 2019

Can a magical Christmas under glass…

…bring them back together for good?

Widowed dad Adam Masterson still doesn’t understand why Joy Boston left Indian Lake and broke his heart all those years ago. Now she’s returned to sell her grandfather’s beloved poinsettia greenhouse—and Joy and Adam’s connection is as strong as ever. But Joy has a life in New York. And Adam has only until Christmas to convince Joy that she belongs in Indian Lake—with him.


  1. I knew as soon as I spotted that opening photo that I was going to love this post, ladies! Yes, October has its own beauty and our zinnias are still blooming amidst the asters and other fall wildflowers here, but your photos of spring flowers really inspire hope for a better spring this year, as you say. And peonies are my favorite. I must check out some catalogues. :)

    1. Hi, Janice! I'm a crazy person for peonies and I'm running out of room where it's advantageous to plant them. My very first flowers in my first house over 50 years ago had huge peony gardens. They were pink and lush and so fragrant. I'll never forget waking up spring mornings to those peonies. Sadly, the zinnias here are spent along with just about everything else other than the mums in pots. THANK GOODNESS! I have to have flowers.

    2. I love zinnias. They're so reliable and butterflies love them too. There are some flowers that I can put inside, like orchids, but unfortunately they make me sneeze indoors, so I fill my garden up with them instead :).

  2. Lovely posts and photographs. I love this time of year--it's the best month for walking up here in Wisconsin. How thrilling to see your holiday book covers. Amazing to think how fast the year is going, even with all its special challenges. I guess that's an understatement. But we can count on flowers blooming and leaves turning!

    1. You are so right, Virginia! I love, love the autumn. Right now we are having "Indian Summer" it's going up to 71 tomorrow. Hallelujah.

    2. Fall is my favorite season and taking a walk while leaves are turning and the air is brisk soothes the soul :).

  3. There's nothing like an October sky and crips coolness it brings to North Mississippi. We've actually had a fall this year instead of going from summer straight to winter. lol

    1. You know, it's the same here. We actually had a summer with heat and not much rain and now a sunny glorious autumn. But they say the snow is coming before Halloween.

    2. I so agree about October! I love the weather and the scenery. It's my favorite month.

  4. All those flowers are beautiful, but those peonies! I'm swooning. I need to divide my bearded iris for next year and maybe plant a few daffodils while I'm at it, because you can't have too many. Thanks for sharing your lovely gardens!

    1. Aren't they like little wedding bouquets? I just love them. Like I said I need to build more gardens!!! Have a blessed evening.

    2. Aren't Catherine's peonies amazing? Beth, I have to divide my iris, too, but I've been busy. If I don't get around to it I'll definitely have to do it next year.

  5. Great. Pics and hopefulness In Bloom. In Alabama the deer love bulbs all year round. Forget about tulips. They will avoid daffodils, too oniony. One year they got into newly planted irises. They didn't like the bulbs but pulled up everyone is gotten from my sister in law just to demonstrate their displeasure. Here's to hope springing up in 2021!


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