Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Plants Inspire-Turning Over a New Leaf

A bluestone patio leading to a step stone path through a garden

Hello fellow readers,  A New Year, just as birthdays, gifts the opportunity to start fresh—maybe to begin new things or improve upon others. A chance for turning over a new leaf, as they say. One new leaf I’d like to turn over is sharing more of how plants inspire our lives. Let’s begin with a beautiful story about a welcome home clematis.

The origin of turning over a new leaf

Did you know the well-known idiom stemmed from the 1600s when they called book pages leaves? It has nothing to do with leaves on a tree. Or maybe indirectly it does, as the paper comes from trees. :^)

I adore hearing about gardens and plants that make a difference in our lives. The same is true of nature stories. In August, I asked about favorite columns and lessons gained from nature or gardens as part of a birthday pulse check. Then came a beautiful note from a dear client.

a dark purple blooming clematis climbing on an obelisk

Pat’s “welcome home” clematis.

Plants Inspire our Lives

When they saw their property for the first time, it was late fall; the gardens were dormant. But on July 1st, when they closed on their house in Blairstown, “the most beautiful purple clematis welcomed us to our new home,” Pat writes. And each season, “the royal blooms served as a reminder that another year has passed in our little paradise.”

Sadly they had to dig up their adored plant as it was in the way of a planned renovation. They put it in a pot in the middle of their yard where it sat from Fall through Spring.

Pat’s story of her Welcome Home Clematis

“I had little hope she would survive,” Pat said. “When Mary designed our new gardens, we gave the Clematis a new lease in a prominent place beside the addition. And survive and thrive she did! The beauty and ornamentation remind me of the first day we met, and it says, you’re home!”

“I take so much joy from seeing the blooms every summer and reflecting on time passed and, with it, the changes in me and my garden.”

I’d guess Pat’s adopted royal purple Clematis to be a ‘Jackmanii’—a cherished variety imported from England in the mid-1800s. From June into September, she’s a prolific bloomer in zones 4 to 10.

a step stone path of square stones leading to a stone patio

Garden Design by Mary Stone, Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting.

“Clematis has the clever ability…”

Clematis like cool feet, so we transplanted her amongst other plants in the new garden. Each year she grows beyond the obelisk, finding its way on neighboring plants, embracing them with a cloud of glory.

Then came the most captivating part of the story when Pat writes: “Clematis has the clever ability to send their tendrils around a trellis and around other foliage which reminds me of all the people past and present who have wrapped themselves around me. It fills me with gratitude and love.”

So beautiful, Pat.

I’d love to hear from you, kind readers, about treasured plants, gardens, or nature stories. You can reach me at or by leaving a reply below.

Wishing you Joy is the beauty surrounding you and a Happy New Year of growth.

Garden Dilemmas? (and your favorite Podcast App.)

Pat’s story debuts the “new leaf” of the Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries Podcast (shorter episodes and now weekly :^). 

More about Clematis Jackmanii and the idiom Turning over a New Leaf.


Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary
  1. Mary Cafarelli Reply

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful story!

    • Mary Stone Reply

      Thanks for reading Pat’s story, Mary. I adore hearing about plants that inspire us. There are many lessons in those leaves :^)

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