Newport Flower Show, First Class!

Summer has arrived, and nowhere heralds the fact better and with more time tested class and splendor than Newport.   I’ve just had the pleasure of staying in this seaside village at the Ivy Lodge. This shingled residence from days past puts you in the middle of historic Newport with all the updates you would want to make your stay pleasurable.   Breakfast in the original formal dining room was an offering of fresh fruit and their famous homemade granola along with freshly baked pecan waffles!  The proprietor checked in with us for assurance that we were comfortable, and the chef inquired as to any culinary restrictions.  First class!  Our room was small but romantic and with the windows thrown open to enjoy the sea breezes, we were in heaven. The wide wrap around porches made for delicious reading nooks atop comfortable brown wicker seating!

The purpose of my visit was to Judge Horticulture for the Newport Flower show.  This year, entitled Fete des Fleurs:Paintings and Parterres, visitors were transported to France, home to artists and gardeners of renowned artistry.  Held at one of the most popular Newport mansions,  Rosecliff, which recalls the Grand Trianon of Versailles, this flower show is a must for all serious garden lovers.

Before the judging and the opening of the show, we strolled through the town. The shopkeepers had a competition for the best window display heralding the Flower show.  My daughter worked with CK Bradley during her post college years, and we were overjoyed to see Camilla’s shop festooned with a  blue ribbon!  I am not sure who the judges were for that competition, but I would agree, CK Bradley showed great style and was a clear blue ribbon winner!  

The Horticulture judges were aware that Newport had witnessed a foggy, rainy Spring, but the horticultural offerings were superb, the exhibits exhilarating, and the overall tone of the show one of the best in memory.  I was not able to tour all of the excellent vendors but as they unpacked their wares and offerings to gardeners, I realized I could go home with something from every booth, if my purse allowed!  Just a few sights….

The Judges worked hard to examine the plants and exhibits, with an eye to excellence, and to giving the appropriate and well earned awards.  At the end of the day, we freshened up and made our way down Bellevue Avenue to the Marble House

for a private dinner on the back terrace overlooking the water.  A fete without compare!

The visit to Newport wouldn’t be complete without a dinner and drinks at Castle Hill Inn.  We enjoyed drinks on the lawn overlooking the water until a dark cloud chased us inside. Not to worry, the storm clouds passed and we enjoyed the most sensational sunset while enjoying a superb meal.  I will say it again, first class!

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The dahlias are beginning to bloom, and the zinnias accompany.

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Doorways to my heart

Coming upon an interesting way to link to other bloggers THROUGH doorways!

Bloggers, you may wish to join!   Thursday Doors for April 27, 2017.

Taos is a doorway to my heart!

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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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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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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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