News from a summer porch in New England..

A summer porch....Tahilla Farm

Hello! Hello! Hello!

Goodness, it has been so long, how are you?? I am imagining many of you checking in from your homes across the globe...summer, autumn and all the shades of seasons in between. We are technically a few weeks away from the start of summer ( 21 June) but it feels heavenly from where I am sitting today. When I last wrote I wondered if I would ever see color in the garden again. We have it in particular, in shades of peony. 

When we bought Tahilla Farm five years ago, we inherited what I am guessing is the pink 'Sarah Bernhard' peony below. We had to dig them up carefully with a small tractor, gently taking everything that was growing with them to ensure they would survive. This is the first year since we moved them that they have blossomed in abundance. 

We added the pink 'Madison' and white 'Festiva Maxima' in 2016 when we established the gardens. I always feel a bit guilty cutting flowers in the garden, not wanting to take away from our floral landscape. Not so this year, there are so many that I will hardly notice and the fragrance makes me want to skip out of bed at first light and run around the garden in my pajamas with glee. Thank goodness we live in the woods!

Paeonia lactiflora 'Madison'

 Paeonia lactiflora 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Paeonia lactiflora 'Festiva Maxima'

A construction symphony...
As I type, a symphony of hammers and buzz saws is echoing around the property. I can't say it is music to my ears but it is pretty darn close. Our carriage house construction is growing in leaps and bounds with enough of a structure for me to figure out what is what. When the crew heads out at the end of each day, I make my way up the ladder to the second floor and have a look around. 

A carriage house takes shape.

Sizing up the second floor.

South facing studio window view.

It is always interesting to see the reality alongside what you imagined from the architectural drawings. When we altered the plans to fit within our budget, we went from spacious to cozy. I think I am going to like cozy and I think our grandson and future grandchildren will like it too!

Aussie Cooper...
Speaking of grandchildren, we all flew to Australia in May to meet our little Aussie, Cooper, and absolutely adore the wee one. I am still working within the "no social media" guidelines (kind of)set by his parents... I just can't resist those little fingers!

Shhh..don't tell mum and dad

The Brown Paper Book Club...
All this traveling, gardening and construction has allowed quality time for reading. Don't ask me how, but it has! I think I have mastered the art of "armchair traveling"....and it has been wonderful! I am trying something new, rising early (before the first hammer swing at 7:00am) and taking one hour to sit quietly and read. No noise, no distractions...just me, a book and the occasional passing hummingbird. 

View from my armchair...

It also helps that we have a group of voracious readers in The Brown Paper Book Club who are always coming up with wonderful suggestions. I have to keep my fingers nimble and my ears alert for every passing page and word. I am balancing my reading through books, Audible and Kindle. Audible has been great for long car trips and chores around the house. I just pop on my iPhone, turn up the sound and slip it into by back pocket...easy! 

Looking back, I would say there is an undeniable theme to what I have been reading lately. The central characters are women standing strong and proud in the face of difficult life challenges, some unimaginable, one after the other. Not all stories have a happy ending but you know the choices they made were the right ones. I have read all of the following books recently and am currently in the midst of reading A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline, set in Maine. Two of the books, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland and Salvation Creek by Susan Duncan are based in Australia. Nora Webster by Colm Toibin  is set in Ireland and Alexandra Fuller's books Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood and Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness are memories of an African childhood in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia. I highly recommend them all!

If you are interested in learning more about the books and are looking for reading suggestions, you can find the full book list at Goodreads-Jeanne and the Brown Paper Book Club. You can also join The Brown Paper Book Club on Facebook.  I added a link to the tabs under my header above and to the sidebar. You can find it here. Hopefully, any one of these links will take you to a great book to read! 

Signing off wishing my eldest son, 
Patrick and dad to little "Coop" a Happy Birthday! 
And to Miss Claire who surprised me 
with these "after shots" yesterday
of her skydiving experience in Namibia...
you got me, 
heart attack diverted!

Miss Claire...taking to the Namibia sky.
Wishing you all much happiness from Tahilla Farm. 
Would love to hear what you are planting or reading these days, 
always up for suggestions! 
You can leave a comment or write to me

All the best,

Jeanne xx


  1. Happy Birthday to Patrick!
    The photo of Miss Claire on a Richter scale of Proud, she's doing a ten. Bravo!
    I use to think sky diving will cure my anxiety. Instead, the thought of it does count. Her photo lifts my spirits.
    Thank you!

  2. So glad to see beautiful peonies! We don't see a lot of them where I live because of the heat! And the book suggestions! Yay! I did love the two books by Alexandra Fuller! I will certainly jot down the titles of the other suggestions! Lately, I have loved Educated, The Great Alone, Varina, My Dear Hamilton, and I am currently reading Clementine.

  3. Hello Jeanne,
    Lovely to see Tahilla Farm in bloom and the construction of the coach house. How very exciting.
    Your peonies are gorgeous. Lovely seeing a little part of Cooper. What a darling. Clare is so cute with her temporary hand tattoo to you and her Dad. Ha ha.

    My garden is blooming beautifully in ireland and I have a love affair with David Austen roses. As you know these are old English very fragrant roses. I think Gertrude Jeckyl is my favourite perfume. James Galway is beautiful and Winchester Cathedral is slow. I have some giant white poppies blooming too.

    I have little time to read, as an art show is looming in the Fall. I love seeing all the suggestions in the Brown Paper Book Club listings. Great work

    Fondest wishes for a joyful summer

    Helen xx

  4. Too funny! I'm just like you in the pj department! I let the horses out, walk the dogs and check out the gardens all in my jammies and all before 7:30am. Love country living:)

  5. Delighted you are back! The peonies and that chubby finger made my day so much lovelier ❤️

  6. Jeanne, i hate to tell you this, but it appears that you are catching peony-itis - a very serious and incurable disease. By next year, you will have started adding more plants and experimenting with all the wonderful colors and scents you can have. You've started with three tried and true great bloomers, but let me push you to 'Coral Charm'... just a thought! And, thanks for sharing them. Here in Central Virginia, the peonies usually bloom for Mother's Day but were several weeks early, so are long gone, but not forgotten. Put your feet up and enjoy!

  7. I always love visiting Tahilla farm and it's always fun catching up on what you've been doing. Little Coop looks adorable. I have to agree with the 'no social media'policy. I tried to keep my son's picture off of the internet for as long as I could. Now he's 12 and if I share a photo and people like it he tells me that it makes him feel like he's famous :)


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