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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Tornadoes and Trees

When Hurricane Hermine decided to make landfall in Florida on the Western side, we knew Coastal Georgia would see some of her aftermath.  As a friend called her, Her Meany,  was not nice to spin-off a tornado from her wake, because it touched down on Skidaway Island.  There was miraculously no loss of life but trees came down, homes were smashed and weeks later we are still waiting for the County to clear all the debris piled high at almost every curbside.  Two doors away from me, a tree fell on my neighbors’ home.

Fortunately most neighbors keep their cars in the garage, but you can see what a disaster it could have been if they had not prepared.

 

After a couple of days of hauling tree limbs and debris from our yard, I was back to the happier chores of gardening.  One of the dahlias bloomed, as if to say it will all be fine.  This dahlia Dahlia 'American Dream'‘American Dream’ is a much deeper pink than I expected, and very different from any other photos you will see on the web.  I can only chalk it up to the intense sun and heat it receives and the bloom booster I have been feeding it to get it to bloom!  Jeez, it is September and I’ve been waiting since July to see some bloom from this particular plant!  Dahlias and the deep South are a challenge that continues, at least in my garden!

I have been volunteering at the Sparrow Field to help maintain their pollinator garden.  This is the time of year that the butterflies arrive, if you’re lucky, and I’ve enjoyed participating in a project to help them along.  

At my own back door this week, look who stopped by!img_0533

The luna moth!  This is a very poor photo, but I did not want to flash camera  light at this lovely creature.  When it opens its wings, those two eyes really give you a stare – apparently it warns predators to stay away!

This is a very busy time of the year as neighbors return home from their summer places or journeys, and as birds migrate through, along with butterflies and the like,  I have to remind myself to make time for the bike ridesA and the glorious sunsets just a walk or bike ride away!

View from Moon RIver

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Sea Island, Georgia

One of my readers wanted to know what is happening on my blog break.

Well, there were big birthdays to celebrate and we chose The Cloisters for the perfect setting!

Need I say more?

Now I will go back to my blog break!  Filling my new birthday basket with a picnic and sailing off on my bike!  See you later!

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TIME OUT AFTER TAOS

Every blogger needs a break!  After a long drive cross country to Taos NM and back, I am ready for my break!

I leave you with some sights from our trip, and promise to be back when the cooling winds of seasonal change blow through!

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Low Country Heat

We are back in our Low Country home as the summer really turns hot hot hot..  After nearly two weeks away, some of that on the road, I was worried about the state I would find our small property in as the summer heat and harsh sun is a big factor.

Without human intervention, the eugenia topiaries baked and died.  DSC_4818But there were some nice surprises.  Look who is about to bloom for the first time!  DSC_4821 Even in the early morning, the sun that makes it’s way through the sheltering trees is strong.  DSC_4843

Not all blossoms can take it when the water supply dwindles.

This year I planted the tomatoes  early, and the crop was abundant because the sun was strong and there was some good rain.  It is just about the end of the tomatoes; once the temperature rises above 85, the tomato plant won’t set bud.

Sometimes we interfere with Nature too much.  She makes a beautiful landscape on her own.

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Hope you are having a happily hot, hot summer!

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No No Nantucket, it’s Newport this year!

Do you ever use the expression, “No, no Nanette!”?  This post title is my take on that famous show.  I have never seen it played on stage but I love the whole concept, that stylish era, and who couldn’t love a play once called, “The happiest show in town”?

Usually this week past in June, I am happily on Nantucket, but this year I was asked to judge Horticulture at the Newport Flower Show.  Nantucket is a very happy place and always has been for my family, but this year – all the happy was in Newport!

Newport R.I.

Newport R.I.

In the play, there are hints of scandal, misunderstandings and in the end, a wonderful resolution.  At Newport, the horticulture judges come in to judge all the magnificent and wonderful specimens that represent SO much hard work and creativity, BEFORE the opening of the show.  Scandal and intrigue escaped my attention, but I did enjoy the construction and staging of a blissful and beautiful flower show!  And when the curtain went down on the show, I think you could safely say that Newport’s flower show week-end was the happiest place in town!

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If you read my last post, you were introduced to Rosa ‘Polaris’.  I was in New Canaan CT last week and made a visit to the most enchanting garden I have ever been privileged to weed and water with my Garden Club pals.

Waveny Walled Garden New Canaan CT

Waveny Walled Garden
New Canaan CT

Enter at the gate, and follow the Rosa ‘Knock Out Red’.  When I planned with three other talented gardeners to rejuvenate this garden over 10 years ago, my choice for the border was this red rose.  At the time, it was fairly new on the market.  Now you see it everywhere.  I still love the choice as it is dependable, ever blooming and does not require all the BAD chemicals that some roses demand. And finally,  I was able to get a photograph of the one and only…..Polaris.

Rosa 'Polaris'

Rosa ‘Polaris’

Is she the most beautiful rugosa?    This blossom would have made a lovely entry at the Newport Flower Show…maybe just remove a few damaged petals….the Horticulture Judge would never know….

Happy Summer!

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Every Garden, dear friend, a rose

If you have planted and tended or restored more than one garden in your life, is there a plant that appears in all?

In Russell Page’s “The Education of a Gardener”, he writes

The rugosa rose, “Blanc Double de Coubert” goes into every garden I make and very frequently  into the flower border.”

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A lovely rose, but not Blanche!

My oldest and dearest friend, who left this Earth 2 1/2 years ago, unexpectedly, loved roses.  She grew this rose and referred to her as Blanche!  Blanc Double de Coubert is a mouthful.  When I first met dear friend, she wasn’t yet the great gardener she would become.  Her main achievement initially was morning glories.  Roses that eventually tumbled over her stone walls, up trellis and through borders became one of her favorite flowers.  We propagated a very special rose, “Polaris” and it grew with abandon in her yard.  It is not seen in the markets, but a few years ago I spotted it at NYBG.

I do not have any roses in my Savannah garden.  Maybe someday I will plant one, and I hope I can locate a Blanche.  If not for this garden, maybe another.  I feel  that dear friend could be  among the clouds in a bower of white roses.  Or perhaps she is in a garden admiring a well grown Blanc Double de Coubert.  Page says,

The flowers are chalk-white, their petals silky and almost transparent and they have the delicious pungently sweet scent of their kind.

With or without a white rose growing in my garden, dear friend, your memory is with me there like a delicious and sweet  white rose named Blanche.

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