Spring So Far

This year I have experienced two Springs! Spring came to Georgia a bit late this year, and I was down with a respiratory illness so I almost missed it! I knew I would be heading North to judge Horticulture at a flower show in CT, so I reviewed and prepped for that from my bedside, while watching Springtime in Georgia from my window. We have had a very cool Spring in Savannah and it has been a delight!

Salvia

In Connecticut the cool translated to downright cold but daffodils don’t mind and there were many to review. The Greenwich Daffodil Society has an annual flower show so I am glad the exhibitors at this show saved some great specimens to bring to this show.

Cut stems at flower show

The NOGS secret garden tour in downtown Savannah had occurred before this show, so I was in full Horticulture mode, and was prepared to see Spring happen again!

Pineapple Guava

I knew not to expect to see a pineapple guava, as I did in Savannah. In recalling past Mays of gardening in CT, I felt sure I would see the flowering branches, and was delighted there were so many after the many rainy days they experienced.

“Persephone”, Garden Club of Darien flower show

Now I am back in Savannah where the roses are blooming and the long hot days of summer are still ahead. I am enjoying the garden in the South like never before. The humidity and heat will come, but for now, the enjoyment of this pristine place we call home is full and welcomed.

View from Delegal
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Monet to Matisse

Three years ago Telfair Museum brought a wonderful exhibit of American Impressionism to Savannah, “Monet and American Impressionism.” It was hugely popular which may be why another exhibit of Impressionist art has been brought to the Telfair’s Jepsen Center, “Monet to Matisse.”

Claude Monet

Originating from the Dixson Gallery & Garden, it is a small show (spoken by someone who cut her art teeth at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MOMA) but includes artists you may not get to see too often.

For my garden friends who are acquainted with Fantin-Latour’s botanicals which were very successful, if commercial, works in his time, this painting may not be what you expect. Most Impressionist artists enjoyed working en plein air, but Fantin-Latour was not known to set up the easel outdoors. His study of flowers did not include a curiosity of how they grew or moved in the garden, perhaps?

Henri Fantin-Latour

Marc Chagall is another favorite. I spent more time with this painting than I did on my previous two visits. It is curious how one day a painting may not reach out to you, and on another day, it speaks loudly.

The Jepsen Museum is a setting unlike other Museums I have visited. Each time I visit, the architecture shows me something new. Today’s view from inside toward the old Trinity Methodist Church with the Savannah Bridge beyond stopped me in my tracks.

View from Jepsen Museum


Still time to see this exhibit if you are in the Savannah/Hilton Head area!

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Bonaventure Beckons

We have been experiencing some very gray, drab days in Savannah. Better than snow, but I am longing for some color. Since it is camellia season, I had the idea to go look at camellias! I recalled that when looking at azaleas in Bonaventure Cemetary in Spring, I saw camellias and wondered what they would look like in season.

Bonaventure Cemetary

I was disappointed. It seems that there has been a lot replacement, with many young camellias newly planted and few older specimens to view. I have been recovering from a respiratory virus so I did not care to spend long hours walking the paths, to find the old specimens, so I took my favorite route.

Gracie at Bonaventure Cemetary

Of course I had to visit Gracie, who is one of the popular sites to visit for a tourist. So much so, that they have placed a trash receptacle for those morons who dont know better than to throw their garbage on the ground in a graveyard. Heathons! If you don’t know her story, it is simply told on an adjacent stone.

Gracie at Bonaventure

The mature live oaks are so striking, even on a cloudy day. The sun shone through a few times, and I captured a few photos of the pretty camellia blossoms. I have planted mostly red, white and deep rose in my garden, but if I still had a big property, I would find a place for pink.

When I suggest a visit to Bonaventure Cemetary with my guests, I usually get the raised eyebrow! Not surprising, but there is a haunting beauty to be found here, and maybe in years ahead, even more beautiful Camellias in Winter!

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Cavaliers Greet the New Year!

Our darling Cavaliers are a ray of sunshine on a gray and gloomy morning in Savannah. There is much to recommend living in Coastal Georgia, unless you have a string of cold and gloomy days. But my little spaniels remind me that there is much joy to be found indoors on such days.

“May we sit here?”

You may want to get caught up on laundry, but they beg to play ball. So you stop and toss the ball and revel in the simple joy of watching the satisfaction of a job retrieving well done.

I just wrote a new article for my gardening column in a local publication, recommending looking for color in your Winter garden. I explored our Island on a gray chill day, and I did find a few colorful spots. I would like to see more. Especially during the camellia season!

Snapdragons in January

Camellia hedge


Even downtown on some of the pretty streets in Savannah, there are spots of color that brighten a gloomy day.

Jones Street



While I write this post, I am looking out my study window to a hanging basket of bright yellow pansies with a background of spikey foxtail ferns. Just the sight to brighten a day! Here is wishing for many sunny days in 2019, and happiness even on the gray days!

Fetching is so tiring, let’s take a nap!
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Bridges to New Places

I can’t resist taking pictures crossing a bridge. Smart phones make that so easy.  I usually feel contemplative about the crossing.  Crossing from one place to another by rising higher and higher and further until the descent to the new place becomes inevitable.  The ups and downs in life, getting from one place to another.  

 This year as I reflect on a loss and honor a memory of one whose life’s tale is now over, by chance I found this meaningful Robert Louis Stevenson verse:

“I read, dear friend, in your dear face

Your life’s tale told with perfect grace;

The river of your life, I trace

Up the sun-chequered, devious bed

To the far-distant fountain-head.

Not one quick beat of your warm heart,

Nor thought that came to you apart,

Pleasure nor pity, love not pain

Nor sorrow, has gone by in vain;

But as some lone, wood-wandering child

Brings home with him at evening mild

The thorns and flowers of all the wild,

From your whole life, O fair and true

Your flowers and thorns you bring with you!

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Giving Thanks for Time

Giving thanks for time is a play with words that suits me this year.  This month I gave thanks for the time I have been able to spend with my Mother.  She turned 90 this month and that momentous occasion gave me pause.  I reviewed old photos and scanned them to make her a Photo Book.  Ageless beauty was the theme.  I could have spent a year planning and executing this book, but as it goes with me, it was last minute and came together as TIME would allow.

Mom and sister with first born son

For once I put aside garden topics, and yet, gardens and my Mother are intertwined.  Both of my grandfathers were great gardeners, as was my father, but as far as I know, my Mother was the first to make gardening her passion on the women’s side of our families.  Her knowledge and style have fueled much of my own passion.

Mom with her grandson

This month I wrote my garden column on tea olives.  Osmanthus fragrans is a versatile shrub or tree and has much to recommend it.  While it is a simple plant, it’s scent is powerful.  It’s hardiness in my Southern zone is stalwart.  A freeze of a few nights will not take it down.  You can prune it and try to shape it to your desire, but it will send out lovely reddish leaves just the way it likes.  It is mighty and green all year round, and when it sends forth its small flowers you cannot escape its presence.  A lot like Mom.  I Love you Mother, and always will!  Happy birthday!

Osmanthus fragrans or sweet tea olive
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Time for Tarragon

 

In the heat of a Savannah morning, we pushed ourselves to put the farm plot to bed.  The first plot is nicely covered in black plastic, save for some herbs at the end of the bed.   We finished covering the second bed…..almost, but for half with some cosmos, marigold and dahlias which were hosting various bees this morning.    I came home with bunches of herbs and thoughts of chicken with tarragon for dinner.

Mexican Tarragon

I looked through cook books but found nothing that appealed.  On-line the NYT had a Thomas Keller recipe but even though it was something he would cook at home, it was still too many steps for my Sunday dinner.  But I loved the idea of rubbing the chicken with sweet paprika and Madras curry powder, so I combined two recipes.

Starting with the rub first, letting it sit in the refrigerator for an hour.  Pour a combination of butter, Dijon mustard, white wine, lemon juice and THE TARRAGON, freshly picked, over the chicken breasts.Then place the chicken, covered, in a baking pan at 350. Bake for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake until cooked through and no longer pink at the thickest part.  Voila!  A great day in the farm and fun cooking.

I must write this down in the garden journal…..pick the tarragon when the ginger lilies begin to bloom!

 

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Atlantic in the Starlight District

Hello and happy summer days!  I recently took time away from the garden, and most especially the dahlias (greedy plants), to have a hair cut downtown.  Because of a nasty thunderstorm that cropped up, as they do along the coast of Georgia in the heat of the summer, I asked dear husband to drive me downtown.  I am terrible at navigating, and knowing that flooding occurs during some of these flash flood storms, I decided I would let strong and handsome partner lead the way.   Sweet hairdresser overbooked herself, and after an hour and a half of waiting I angrily said, “BYE BYE”. Or in Southern, BUYEEEEE.

If your partner was kept waiting in the car that long, when you promised a half hour wait, would you have a quick plan to diffuse the situation?  Mine involved food.  Opening the car door, I chirped, “let’s go have an early dinner at Atlantic, my treat!”

This is such a fun restaurant!  I thought it was named Atlantic as it huddles mere miles from the Atlantic Ocean.  Not so.  It takes its name from the Atlantic Service Station, a former 1930s incarnation!   It is known as a neighborhood eatery!

Approaching from the parking lot, we were immediately cheered despite the clouds, by the sight of Chef cooking to order outdoors.  Known for their wine tastings, we immediately said YES to a Spanish sparkling wine.

The menu lends itself to sharing, though I didn’t ask dear husband to share his lobster roll. Because of the rain threatening, we did not sit outside,

but I am looking forward to a return visit to try it out.  We loved the friendly atmosphere; everyone was having a good time!  This was just the ticket to take my fuming away, relax, and enjoy the sultry summer night in Savannah.

Now on to those greedy dahlias.

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Summer Anniversaries

June brings summer weddings, and when all goes well year after year, it brings anniversary celebrations.  I feel blessed to have made it to this one , happily, and look forward to more.  To celebrate we took a boat ride with friends  to Wassaw Island, a barrier Island that protects Skidaway Island.  Wassaw is a wildlife refuge that is even quieter than Cumberland Island or Sapelo Island, two sea islands to the South.

We left the marina with bright blue skies but when we arrived on shore, we looked behind us and saw some mean weather approaching from Savannah.  But we walked the beach, drank some peach sangria and headed home before dusk, and managed to avoid the dark skies approaching.

We continued the celebration the next day by checking into the President’s Quarters, a B & B or Inn, if you will, in the heart of the historic district of Savannah.  Adjacent to Oglethorpe Square and the Owens-Thomas House, it is a convenient spot for an overnight.  Walking distance to newly opened HUSK, made this the ideal spot to spend an evening.  We had a warm welcome, drinks and hors doevres were served for visitors and after we had enjoyed some small talk with fellow visitors, we walked over to Husk.  This is the new Savannah.  If you go, be sure to start out on the second floor at the bar – wow!  Then be escorted to your table and get a very personal introduction to Sean Brock’s philosophy of food and cooking in the South.  The menu changes.  The carnivores had steak tartare, and reported that the pork dish was sublime.  Swordfish can be badly cooked, and I always hold my breath that it is not tough or stringy.  This was the very best!  The surprise of the night – fried chicken skins!  Hey, this is Southern cooking!  I can’t wait to go back again!

Once home again, we drove straight to the Farm because we knew the cherry tomatoes were ripening faster than we could pick them.  Five paperbags full  were delivered to friends, and we have been eating them every way you can imagine.  The eggplant, peppers and basil are ready – it is summer!  The edible flowers that I grew from seed (Siskyou Seed) make wonderful bouquets and perk up a salad or tray of appetizers.  ANd how do I know it is June in Georgia?  – the first DAHLIA bloomed.  It is not a show stopper….the first one to bloom never is, but it paves the way for the many that are to come.  This is really such a wonderful time to be in the garden.  The heat index makes it difficult to work mid day, but the mornings and late afternoons bring so much joy!  Happy gardening!

PS  There are some interesting buildings, of the historic mansion type, for sale in downtown Savannah, but I would miss the garden.

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Charleston with my Chums

The heat has started to settle in Savannah, so we decided to make a trip for an activity that is guaranteed air conditioned….shopping.  There is so much to love about Savannah, but the shopping experience is not one of the top ten reasons to visit.  They are working on it, but not there yet, and so off we travelled with threatening skies to Charleston!

SKidaway Island

Sister cities and only two hours apart.  The South Carolina low country looks just like ours.  But their King Street shopping has it all over Broughton St.  Not to say that Broughton Street has not been revitalized!  It has, but it is still not up to Charleston standards.  I love shoes, and there were many options.  I love to visit galleries, but I only found one, open by appointment.  Okay, maybe Savannah takes the nod on that score?

Jewelry?  Check.Clothing? Check.  Handbags? Check.  

We had lunch at Toast.  I remember the best grilled cheese and tomato sandwich, ever.  But it is no longer on the menu…a disappointment.  But it was still an easy luncheonette experience and a cool way for us to revive before we hit the streets again.  More shopping…yes, shopped until we dropped, and still didn’t get to either end of King Street!  We didn’t even have time to stop at Trader Joes.  WHy oh why, Mr. Trader Joe, wont you open in Savannah?  No time to stop at Costco, even though we were prepared with iced Yeti coolers!  We headed South for Savannah, our new hometown.  But isn’t it just like Charleston to show us their colorful side by way of a turquoise house as we left her pretty streets?

The chums decided that the next time we crave a shop til we drop day, we will invite the spouses and stay overnight.  Maybe drinks on a roof top?

And then a Southern dinner and a welcoming hotel room?  We have stayed at the Mills House and the Planters Inn, but next visit it may be the Wentworth Mansion…heard they would truly fit the bill for this group.  Any other recommendations from my readers?

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