May slips away

There was a time, I tried not to post too often in fear of boring the few readers I had managed to attract.  Now, as we’ve settled into Savannah, the time slips away and I fear my blog will disappear.

Time is needed for the garden bursting with herbs to pick and peppers and tomatoes ripening.  Zinnias brighten the farm plot and need to be picked.

Tybee Island

The warm Spring makes a beach day irresistible.   So little time for blogging when the regular column demands to be written.  More time is needed to hone the photography, but the time slips away, like the line of marsh grass to the sea.

 

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Searching in Savannah

Aren’t we always searching for something?   And when our search intensifies, it may mean we are testing and honing our creativity.  The arrival of  house guests  made me search out our adopted city of Savannah for new things to do and try.

Prepping the house was first.  Having fresh flowers around the house always puts me in a good mood, and hopefully that trickles to the guests too!  I am not a flower arranger, but I did my best with some  curly willow branches and fresh flowers from Fresh Market.  Of all the places to get orchids and cut flowers, Fresh Market wins hands down.  Their fresh flowers last a week or more!

I was asked to put together some flowers for a neighbor’s big surprise birthday party.  Again, I am a grower, not an arranger, but sunflowers just smile at you from a vase and hopefully mask my lacking talent.  I think this needs more depth below the sunflower.  My problem is knowing where to place the flowers and when to stop!

I made an itinerary and placed it on each guests’ bed.  I created only a sunny day version.  Thinking ahead and planning for rain is a jinx.  It worked!  The weather here in Savannah has been glorious. A trip to Bonaventure Cemetery is a must.  In this case, one of the guests had ancestors to visit in the historical section.  The sculptural headstones are just so interesting.  We missed the azaleas, which bloomed 4 weeks early this year!   There was a brief interlude with tornado warnings, thunderstorms and lots of lightning – but it is Savannah after all!

Food is central to any visit to Savannah.  We dined at Vic’s On The River, The Olde Pink House and Goosefeathers.  Elizabeth’s on 37th was a night to remember.  Not only did we bask in the great service and the best food in Savannah, but we had the rumbling of close thunder and the flash of lightning safely outside the gorgeous home for effect.  This is like dining in someone’s home, rather than a restaurant.  It is a unique experience, but don’t tell too many people because no one wants it to be OVERUN with tourists who might not appreciate the subtleties of the experience.  May I say, that it is the closest I will ever get to the Dali Llama.  I will leave it to the reading sleuths of this blog to visit there one day and figure out what that means!

 

To center ourselves after the whirlwind of activity, we made a trip to the Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge.  A peaceful paradise for birders and those of us who love to observe and walk through wide open spaces.  Thousands of acres with trails making access easy.  Thankfully, these spaces along Georgia’s coast are being preserved and can be appreciated.

Inside the small visitors center we found some interesting artifacts.  China, perhaps used at one of the plantations?

My guest brought me  a Pat Conroy book, published posthumously, A Low Country Heart. 

Somehow Pat Conroy deepens my feelings for this place we now call home.

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WAXING CAMELLIAS

If you are a regular reader, you know that camellias have consumed me.   They have a long bloom period; you can have different varieties blooming from Thanksgiving until Spring is fading.  The blooms do not last long when you cut them and bring them inside.  But cut them, you will.  What a pleasure to gaze on the curling and furling petals which surround the stamens that stand at attention with a determined upright stance and at times they appear to take on a life of their own.  So I just learned how to preserve that moment when one bloom is at the height of its beauty.  WAX IT!

 

A well-known and excellent grower in our area came to show us just how its done.  We were thrilled with the results and the process was great fun!  THERE WAS SOME WINE INVOLVED,  but truly the fun was all in the doing.

 

Each blossom was frozen in its most natural state.

The process can be a bit messy.  We had the station for waxing set up in a garage with tables covered in paper.

The first few were a process in learning, good technique comes with practice.  If you do not swirl just so, and pull the bloom up and drip properly, you might get little blobs of wax forming.

If there is any browning or fading of the petal, the wax is hot and so will make that spot even browner.  But somehow the beauty is still striking.

 

The waxed camellias can last anywhere from one day to 3 weeks.  Mine did not last very long, but I placed them in a silver basket and marveled at their frozen moment of loveliness!

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A Word About Camellias

img_9177A Southern garden should always include at least one camellia.  Or maybe a dozen.  With their long bloom time and delightful presence through the Winter, this small tree or shrub brings such a burst of energy during an otherwise quiet period.

We drove to Fort Valley GA, Massee Lane Gardens, and the home of the American Camellia Society.  img_9126Expecting  only to see some variations of camellias, we were wildly enthusiastic at all that we were to find.  The intoxicating scent of the tea olives as we strolled along the brick pathways added to the magic of the camellias, fully in bloom and in their glory.  10 acres of camellias with other plants of interest!  A recent storm had brought down a tree, but miraculously, it missed every single camellia!   We couldn’t believe the variety; I started to think of places where I could squeeze in more in our garden.  We drove home though peach and pecan orchards and felt as though this was one of our most special days in Georgia.  Three years ago with deep snow covering the ground of our CT garden, who would think we and our pups would spend a February day like this!

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Tiny Treasures to Behold

Today I organized a trip off Island and into Savannah to see a small exhibit of beading by the artists in the Coastal Beading Society.  This group of artists are inspiring in their artfulness and their patience.  Imagine the hours it took to make these creations.

This ensemble just made me happy!  Imagine how it would look on your atypical little black dress!

For the more tailored look, this necklace with its cool symmetry would kick up any traditional outfit.

How about a summer evening in a flirty dress with this piece?  To me, it is wearable art!

I can imagine trying my hand (pun intended) on a bracelet like this.  The flat weave of beads imitation the scarf, truly appealed to me.

I was charmed by this collection, but the techniques used are well beyond my skill set.

I really want to try some of these flat woven bracelets.

Maybe, the sculptural types can be learned after mastering the simple woven ones?

Most of the jewelry was for sale and the prices so reasonable when you consider the time and creativity.

There are so many things I want to accomplish in 2017.  Do I dare add learning a new beading technique to the list?  It is so far from my other objectives, and yet I think there might be a soothing peacefulness to working with these tiny treasures.

 

After the exhibit, we wandered up to The Gryphon Tea Room on Bull Street.  A repurposed pharmacy from 1900 is the perfect place to meet with friends for a splendid pot of tea and delicious sandwich or soup and salad!

 

Happy New Year with hopes for an adventuresome year ahead.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR

Hello dear friends in the garden,

Yes, I feel I live in paradise, even after Hurricane Hermine and Hurricane Matthew!  But I bet I am not the only person who is entering 2017 with some trepidation.  I also have some disgust for the way that so many people,  show their disregard for other persons’ choices, views and stances.  I do not care what side you take, there is never an excuse for anything but civil discourse.  And stop pointing the finger at the other side, no matter which side that is.  Point it at yourself in the mirror.  If you can’t take that first step toward understanding and healing and changing, do not expect anyone else to do the same.  We are all in this together.

 

So, what to do about it?  Get in the garden!  Let’s not lose our connection with Nature and let’s not stop enjoying her wisdom and the peace we can find through her!  For those who are religious, look for God there.  For those that find their spiritual selves within, or nowhere at all,  come outside and find some new voices in the garden.

 

You know I am a Hudson River Valley lady, born and bred, but 3 years in the South, and I am positively thrilled to be able to get out in the garden every single day!   Snow?  What is that?   Look what is blooming in Savannah right now. Thunbergia Hibiscus Did I mention I am crazy for camellias?   Camellia

Happy New Year all!  Let’s be positive and let’s work to have our best voices heard.  And always keep our hearts and minds open in the Garden!

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Fall to Christmas

Thanksgiving for the Southern Coastal gardener means your Fall vegetables are in full swing.  Annuals holding over from the Summer are petering out, but your Thunbergia grandiflora vine is just beginning to echo the sky.  What a color!  Not your traditional color of the season.  Autumn generally means oranges, reds, yellows and finally brown, but this winner stands out in the autumn garden.  I wonder how it would look growing behind a stand of plumbago?

In the Northern garden, the asters are probably fading, and the last rose of the year may be holding on til the next frost or cold night.  But in a protected Southern garden, many annuals keep on.  The pansy is coming into its own.  The foliage of the ginger lilies  streaks against the sky and sheltering palms.

The drama of the palms in the extremes of light are captivating.

As the calendar moves toward December, the season of the CAMELLIA comes to a crescendo.  A hedge of pink  Camellia japonica began blooming weeks ago.  A small red camellia near the house has already finished.  I have changed out two containers of summer annuals with a filler of dusty miller, pansies, no spiller, but a THRILLER….drum roll…Camellia sassanqua “yuletide’.

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'

Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

The woman at the nursery recommended that I get them in the ground ASAP.  I have no intention of doing so.  I plan to keep them in large pots, a happy pair .  I will dig them in the ground after Christmas….maybe.  I like to do things my own way…sometimes perilous in the natural world.

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Post Hurricane Ponderings

Hurricane Matthew savagely struck  Savannah causing havoc and hardship.  My fears of returning to a home half underwater with alligators basking on the front porch were unfounded.

The mounds of trees, limbs, branches and debris are removed methodically and slowly.  The natural beauty of Skidaway Island remains.

The herons, egrets and migrating birds carry on as before.  The lagoons with their turtles and fish absorb and cleanse.

 

Parties and events, some that had been cancelled, begin anew.

Through the hurricane, some things were lost. Trees, roofs and landscapes.  But some things were found.  While rummaging in the attic space, a favorite Chinese rose mandarin warming plate was found.  I thought it was lost in the move.

I had been sad to lose it; loss comes in waves.  This was just a part of a wave, but now it is found.  A warming dish, whose beauty is apparent and whose function has passed.  We now have warming ovens…. and no cooks in the basement needing to keep the food warm before service to the dining room upstairs.  Times change and our time is what we make of it.  Hurricanes happen, and we heal.  Politics divides us and causes anger,  but only to the point that we civilized people allow.  After the hurricane, we move forward waiting for the beauty to reveal itself.

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Hurricane Matthew

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This is the scene everywhere you look on Skidaway Island after hell poured down from Hurricane Matthew.  Trees uprooted or snapped and toppled on homes and over streets.

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With nearly a thousand people reported dead in Haiti, from this hurricane, the fact that not one life was lost on this Island is a miracle.  A mandatory evacuation may have saved lives, and certainly  everyone made preparations in earnest and took every precaution possible.img_8255My heart goes out to the families who came back to find their homes damaged, and without power for days.  People are coming together and slowly this Island will repair and revive.  It will take time.  At the end of the day, Mother Nature wins every battle she forges, but she also gives back in equal measure.

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American Moderns and the West

Trading the sultry summer of coastal Georgia for  cool and clear Taos days was exhilarating. The art scene in Santa Fe and Taos was energetic and just as exhilarating as the change of climate!  I’ve been back for awhile, but before summer disappears, I will make a note about the summer trip to Taos.

We toured the “Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company, American Moderns and the West” exhibit at the Harwood Museum of Art.  Called the “new woman” of her time (1879-1962), Mabel was born in Buffalo NY during the Gilded age.  The story of her life, moving from Buffalo to Florence, Italy, to Greenwich Village, NY to Taos NM was on display along with the artists of the day.  She was a collector of creative types, attracting important artists and writers of her time to Taos.  DH Lawrence, Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keefe, Marsden Hartley and many others came to visit her in Taos and influenced a new modernism in the Southwest.

Last year we toured the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos.  Millicent was another strong woman who brought to light the culture of this region.  The myth of the cowboy and the Southwest is fascinating but I am glad that two important women are credited with bringing the lively art scene to the attention of the world.  One thing I will never forget is how amazing it was to bring my Mother to this part of the country, this late in her life.  She had never thought she would ever see such sights.

On a day trip to Santa Fe to visit galleries and shops, I had an amazing experience as I happened on a painting by Jerry Johnson.  Literally it took my breath away.  Well, yes, at the high altitudes of 7000 ft above sea level, your breathlessness is a fact until you get acclimated.  I bought a lottery ticket and hoped for the best.  Needless to say, I did not bring that painting back home with me…

But I will remember where the gallery in Taos is located which also had some Johnson paintings!  Who could miss their turquoise door?  And speaking of turquoise, I also wanted to bring some serious turquoise home, but that didn’t happen either.  What I did bring home ….. the sounds, smells and sights of that small town high in the moutain valley…. never to be lost.

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