SAVANNAH SIGHTS

When we moved to Savannah last year – one year to the day! – I expected to downsize our belongings and upsize the laid-back posture of our lives.  But getting to know this town has taken every bit of energy we can muster.  There is SO MUCH to do!   People to meet, places to explore, even finding the quiet moments has taken planning and  discipline to make it happen.

Of late there have been house and garden tours.  Does everyone  have a free-standing tub?  How much tile am I willing to tear up to make room for this sublime bathing experience?IMG_4331

How about adding a resident swan to the pool?  I love house tours!

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Dinners, parties, art exhibits (who knew that Winston Churchill’s paintings were so darn impressive!), bike rides, luncheons….. We gave a party earlier this month, called PWP.  A Party with a Purpose.  I love this idea.  We raised money for the American Cancer Society.  The Chairmen of the committee decided to go with the Cinco de Mayo theme.  Fun and festive.  I laughed and said, “but my house is more English tea party!” IMG_4375 No matter, it was great fun.  Just hang some Mexican flags, lanterns, put out the maracas and get your local florist to give your table some JAZZ!  The Blooming Idiot in Savannah, found some great, colorful flowers to make the table say MEXICO! IMG_4383 It took some bright flowers to take your eye away from 18th century painting and panettiere!  I hope it worked.  We were happy to welcome our neighbors to our down sized home for margaritas and Mexican food while raising funds and awareness.

Many activities that we have been involved with are drawing to a close as Summer begins early in Savannah.  I hope to have more unscheduled hours to follow the light with my camera, listen to some birdsong, play in the garden.  How about….read a book!  Are you planning your Summer yet?

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Time In Taos

It was time to visit Taos, but there was not enough time in Taos.  This was a short introductory visit, and though we’ve been to Santa Fe, N.M. we were not prepared for how much more we would love Taos, N.M..OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The skies were majestic and the mountains monumental.  Even the drive toward our son and his finance’s home grabbed the heart.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was ready to send for my dogs, throw away all cellular devices and unwind for a long, long time.IMG_4237

I recommend El Monte Sagrado if you want an upscale hotel with all the amenities, but there are many other ways to see Taos and feel the place without all the perks and the cost.

El Monte Sagrado

El Monte Sagrado

VRBO seems to be a good place to start.

Before I could catch my breath – literally!, we were back in Savannah,IMG_4265

where life could not be more different.  As high and dry as Taos is, Savannah is low and wet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEach has it’s charm, but one has my son, his fiancé and their dogs, and that makes all the difference.  We plan to return in Summer and I hope to share more when there is more time to get to know Taos.

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Canna Have Another?

My last post recommends the THINK, SIP, SEARCH method for adding plants to your garden.  I didn’t think I would test myself so soon.  I thought about some plants that I might need before I went to the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens Plant Sale today.  I did!  I even had a SIP at the nearby Dunkin’ Donuts.  This is, by the way, a spot to rival Starbucks.  Let’s face it, if you just want a good cup of coffee, go to DD and don’t forgo your next meal, because the prices at Starbucks are unreasonable and who has time to get a Starbuck’s degree to figure out what you really want to order and drink.  Just want something to sip that tastes good, thank you!

So, tell me, why did I lose all control when I saw this?IMG_3937

Did I need another canna?  Maybe not, but imagine how Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ will look with some of my other tropical plants!  Canna_BengalTiger_1188

And who could pass up a ginger lily named ‘Disney’?  Not me!IMG_3938

 

A walk around the grounds at Coastal Georgia Botanical is a treat for the imagination.  A work in progress, I believe, there is so much more ahead for this wonderful space.  After years  (decades) of visits to New York Botanical Garden, I could be a bit jaded, but I find the adventure that lies ahead for this Coastal garden could be equal to the refinement and sophistication of New York.  IMG_3943

The Rose garden (above) beckons – a few roses are beginning to bloom!  The Iris garden is a work in progress.IMG_0148

This will be worth a return visit very soon, as the few early iris promise good things! IMG_0169 IMG_0139 So, after my visit to Coastal Georgia Botanic Gardens and my purchases today, I will amend by saying

THINK, SIP, SEARCH, and be CHARITABLE at all Plant Sales!  And if you can’t make all your plant purchases at charitable events, then I wish you luck in trying to restrain yourself as all the great plants begin to arrive in the nurseries!IMG_3907

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SAVANNAH OPENED HER DOORS

Last week end Savannah opened her doors for the 80th Annual Savannah Tour of Homes & Gardens.  Besides offering 4 days of walking tours (each day in a different section of Savannah), there were great programs and events that you could attend.  We chose to tour the Northeast Historic Landmark District.  IMG_3797Our tickets allowed us to see several homes during a 3 hour period.  Unfortunately for us, the grey skies opened when a thunderstorm rolled through.  My daughter and I (well actually just “I”) got a little testy; it is not fun to stand in a down pour waiting to get inside a house.  But let me tell you, this group has had 80 years to polish their hospitality, and all of the workers did their best to make us feel at home, and got us in as quickly as possible.  If you didn’t make it this year, try next year (www.savannahtourofhomes.org)

My favorite home on the tour  located on East Oglethorpe was traditional and beautifully appointed with well-loved and cared for family antiques.  This Greek Revival townhouse was the childhood home of Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Conrad Aiken.  The house has been seen in the pages of Veranda magazine, but there is nothing like experiencing the space yourself.

Another interesting home, built in 1867 and located on East Liberty Street had wonderful antiques and a traditional style,  with an enviable view of another important landmark, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

East Liberty Street

East Liberty Street

It is still  early Spring in Savannah but the outdoor spaces were already green and so lovely.  Both traditional and modern designs were show cased.  IMG_3804

IMG_3815When I start touring gardens, my mind begins to work overtime, trying to envision new things to try in my own garden.

The plantings in the pocket gardens of Savannah tend to be more formal IMG_3810than the planting here on Skidaway Island, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbut I just can’t give up some of the formal touches I have always loved – like topiaries.  Eugenia is now in both of my urns at the front walk.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI forgot that I had already ordered two azalea topiaries from Garden Club! IMG_3871 I have one place they could go, but I’d have to dig out all the new daffodils first!  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat am I going to do with the azaleas?   Some things never change….like my impulsive buying of plants!   When Spring rushes upon us, it is easy to lose our heads and buy everything we see without regard to where it will fit into our gardens.  I know some of you, dear readers, struggle with this too!  Do you have any plans to be more studied and systematic about how you purchase plants this year?

My plan is to spend more hours in reflection and thoughtful contemplation, with a good cup of tea in hand, and fewer hours scurrying around to all of the nurseries in search of the next great plant!  tumblr_mvscp5B9gw1r8zf24o1_1280 Think first, while sipping, THEN search for just the right plant!  Think, sip, search…

As my son has sometimes questioned, “How’s that working for you?”  I’ll let you know….

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A Southern Dance With Daffodils

“For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”

William Wordsworth

Daffodil 'Souther Gritty Mix'

Daffodil ‘Souther Gritty Mix’

Those words from William Wordsworth are familiar to many and probably oft remembered most when Spring is around the corner, and we wish for the Earth to come back to life!  Though the Adonis, the snow drops, hellebores and earliest Spring ephemerals usually beat the daffodils into bloom, it is the blooming of daffodils that assure  us that Spring has arrived.  Here in Savannah,  the daffodils I planted last Fall began blooming weeks ago!  They are still blooming since I planted a mix called ‘Southern Gritty Blend.”  My next door neighbor smiled when she saw me planting bulbs, and remarked, “I love your optimism.”    She most likely referred to the deer and the extreme heat of Summer which are deterrents to a lot of bulb planting, but the daffodils are immune to deer and this blend promises to withstand the Summer heat.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It is just a year ago that dear husband and I drove from Connecticut to Georgia to find a new home.  So I can safely say that you can garden year round on the Georgia coast.   We have been enjoying lettuce from our plot at Skidaway Farms from May to March, and  I have just planted ‘Flashy Trout Back’ and ‘Pirat’ lettuce, so yes, you can garden year round in Georgia.  I have also just planted ‘Hon Tsai Tai’, similar to broccoli rabe from the flowering brassica family.  You see it here with the lovely red stems, elongated leaves and as it grows it produces delicate yellow flowers that are deliciously edible! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our little plot is just about planted out, with garlic, green onions, radishes, lettuce, beets and a couple of herbs.  Where to put the tomatoes and the dahlias?  You guessed it!  We had to rent another plot!  I am going to try the dahlias for a second year in Georgia.  They were a dismal failure last year, but I didn’t start early enough.  I am checking the average soil temperature and it is already predicted to be about 58 for late March.  That is warm enough for a dahlia tuber.  They like 60, but come on, dahlias!  Let’s get started!  What are you starting in your garden or under grow lights?

 

P.S.  My posts are a bit further apart these days, as I am writing a gardening column for a local magazine, but I do not plan to abandon Weed Street blog!  The Georgia gardening adventures continue!  And  I am planning trips to Taos, New Mexico and to Longwood Gardens, so stay tuned!

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Cup and Saucer to the moon

Yes, it is cold all over the South today, and coastal Georgia has not been spared.  But the Atlantic Ocean 5 miles from our home will moderate the temperatures and we will not see snow or ice like our Northern neighbors are fearing.  Still, the sunless and cold day keeps me inside, which is just fine because it is time to transplant the basil and nasturtium seedlings to a larger space.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe arugula did not germinate well.  Any secrets, readers, to growing arugula that you would like to pass my way?

My experiment begins today.  Cup and Saucer vine (Cobaea scandens)cup_and_saucer_vine_425

was a favorite of mine while I gardened in the Northeast, but it takes FOREVER to grow, and if you got it to bloom at all, it wasn’t until late September or October, and the frosts quickly brought it all down.  The fleeting joy of observing this vine produce the very big blousy cuplike blooms with lovely light scent was too great to discourage me, and so I grew it for many years.  If the vine reached 5 – 6 feet that was a success.  HOWEVER, in Zone 9, I potentially have a monster on my hands!  The seed pack OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsays this half hearty perennial in this Zone could reach 70 feet.  Grow me to the moon!!!!  Do I believe this will happen?  No, but I have to try!

 

The funny flat seeds need to be scarified or soaked in water overnight. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA A person like me who cringes to trim her dogs’ nails, IMG_5219certainly could not be trusted with a tiny fragile seed, so the soaking method works just fine.  The seeds must be planted upright, not flat.   I planted them just so, in an organic seed starting mix.  Wish me luck!

 

Now, for my tip of the day.  I know, I do not share tips every day but this one is worth MANY days’ worth of tips!  Do you have trouble with ink or pencil staying legible throughout the season?  Do you come upon a lovely plant you started from seed, look around for the label, only to find that by August the sun has faded or the rain has washed away your careful labeling?  Sharpies were better than some, but the BEST,  I have found is this Deco Color pen.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can find it in your local art store.  If you keep the top on tight, they last forever, and can even stay outdoors in a covered area on your garden bench through Winter (oops!)  Trust me, if you want to be able to read your label at the end of the season – this is the pen for you.  Because I love dahlias and showed them – this was imperative in October when the shows demand you correctly label your dahlia.  The labels shown above with the nasturtiums are not Deco Color.  Why?  Because if germination is poor, or is a complete failure, I don’t want to waste a perfectly good label with PERMANENT ink.  So, if the plant goes on into the garden, I write over with the Deco Color paint!

Corkscrew vine

Corkscrew vine

Call me thrifty!

 

Hope you are enjoying some garden time inside; maybe you are also starting seeds in anticipation of a new growing season right around the corner!

 

P.S.  As for the cup and saucer vine, all bets are off if the deer like this.  I battled deer appetites for many years in the North, but so many gardeners I’ve met on Skidaway Island continually harp about the deer and claim they can’t grow plants because of them.  I don’t buy that, because I always found a way to grow lilies, roses, hosta – their favorites – with the use of repellants.  So, let’s see if I can battle their Southern cousins as successfully.

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SKIPPING AROUND SKIDAWAY

I was not literally skipping around Skidaway Island this afternoon, but surely children were skipping under the warm, sunny skies.  The adults were running, walking, biking, kayaking -soaking in the glorious day.

The daffodils DSC_4184I planted are beginning to bloom.  I wasn’t sure that daffodils would like Georgia’s summer heat, so I bought a blend – Southern Gritty.    Birds are moving through the area and new feathered friends are stopping by the bird feeder.  Great excitement here on Skidaway Island over the owlets that have hatched.  The owl Mama has successfully hatched two eggs in an abandoned eagle’s nest.  You can see the progress 24/7 via video cam.  Go to www.landingsbirdcam.com.  Thousands of viewers are enjoying this close up look!  Back to my skip about…. here are

DSC_4200some familiar sights on the water along my walk…

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Georgia, I am becoming really fond of you!

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Contemplation and Camellias

2015 is here; the old calendar is down and the new one is hung so we begin anew!  The camellias are in full bloom as if to welcome the new year!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA One big difference between living in CT and living in GA is the longer days in Georgia.  The sun set at 5:34 p.m. today but that doesn’t mean it gets pitch dark!  We still have civil twilight until 6:01, which means riding your bike or walking your dog can still be done safely.  Nautical twilight lasts until 6:31!  A longer day, means more time to play.   I don’t have the hibernating tendencies here in Georgia that manifested in Connecticut, but still, I feel the need to take a little break from Jayne On Weed Street. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I am working on garden plans for the coming year, so please don’t take me off your list of blogs to visit – I will return soon!  While I am taking my blogging break, I will be observing my camellias

Camellia Sasanqua 'Leslie Ann'

Camellia Sasanqua ‘Leslie Ann’

which are happily blooming and contemplating my additions and changes for the garden. The Lizard Hotel is filling up!  How many more do you think can take up residence here?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Pinteresting Christmas and Cavaliers

Did Facebook presume to show you on your timeline what your year has been?  Did you get an album created by FACEBOOK of your 2014??IMG_3025I enjoy sharing photos and newsworthy items with friends and family on Facebook, but I was taken back when I realized that I am sharing all of that with the computer mind at Facebook.  Presumably, a real human mind thought that Facebook users would appreciate this album showing up on their timeline?  When you think about it, every day we show our face to the world and people make what they will of us.  Why, then, do I care that I’ve shown my life to FACEBOOK and it has made what it will of me?  This is a question I need to ponder.

And how about Pinterest?  Riding in the car or faced with watching one of dear husband’s movie picks for the evening, I will sometimes pull out the I Pad or phone and see what Pinterest thinks I would be interested in as I randomly click through photos.  I pin other’s photos and they pin mine.  Is this something to be of concern?  Will Pinterest begin to form an opinion of me based on my interests, or …..even, photos of my Christmas mantel?IMG_3021 Is this any different from showing your face to the world, each time you go to your favorite dress shop, make up counter, interior design shop, antique store?  Do you like it when the sales associate greets you by name and shows you something she thinks you will like based on your prior purchases?

I have truly enjoyed clicking through photos on Pinterest to see what Christmas looks like from other points of view.  It is pinteresting!  Creating and maintaining a blog is in some ways the same; we bloggers show a side of ourselves to the world as we write about ourselves, our activities, our interests, our dilemmas and concerns.  We even show our beloved pets!  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat we need to be mindful of is the way in which all of this DATA is used.  There is no such thing as anonymous!

I wish you all a very Pinteresting Christmas!  But let’s put down our devices and really enjoy showing our true faces to our friends and family!!  We can save our worries about social media and all of this Big Brother stuff for 2015!   Merry Christmas!

 

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CHRISTMAS TIME

Sometimes we get so caught up in the crazy rush of the holiday season, that we lose sense of time.  Adults feel there aren’t enough minutes to the day; children feel that Christmas day will never arrive. The expectation of Christmas morning is overwhelming.  It is Christmas time.  IMG_2917 Last week, I took a step back in time when I volunteered at a historic home, the Reinhard House, built in 1840 and one of only two pre- Civil War  farm houses surviving in Savannah.  Now owned and maintained by the Savannah Area Council of Garden Clubs, the home and garden are open to visitors.    This  fireplace reminds you of the many hours spent tending the fires for cooking and heating water.  I wrote about visiting the garden behind this house in a July post to this blog, when it was over 100 degrees!  The air was cooler on this December morning, but  the roses are still blooming. (In December!)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This friendly feline is still greeting visitors in the garden. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The quiet in the garden was welcome and I was grateful for the undisturbed time.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nature was showing her Winter colors. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpeaking of Nature, I joined a boat trip through the Savannah Wildlife Refuge on the Savannah River yesterday.  It began as a very cold gray morning, IMG_2939but ended on a sunny note.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  What a wonderful way to escape the usual madness of the holidays!  With the rise and fall of the tides,  Nature reminds us of her power.  There is no way to rush or slow the tides.  She needs no twinkling lights or grand design schemes to make the season bright.  The countdown to Christmas is a stopwatch we set ourselves;  be assured that out in the marshes of coastal Georgia, there is no such measure.

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