Saturday, September 13, 2014

Southern for Ten Days

Summer vacation is officially over and school started 2 weeks ago; thus my vacation is also over. Looking forward to next June already. After spending 10 days in boiling Georgia temperatures, the same greeted me on my return to Philly. On our family road trip to Georgia I pondered in my mind, what is the southern experience?  What would it be like to live here? Visiting Georgia was sad without my mom being there. The house is there but she is not. When we arrived, we pulled up into the drive way of my Aunt and Uncle's house. We were warmly greeted. I walked across to mom's house and walked around the house in amazement. She didn't open the door. I was horrified. This is why I didn't want to visit this summer. When we finished our visit we went to moms. Everything was just as she left it. Everything is a reflection of her. I walked around touching items, memories of things she had touched. Sitting where she used to sit. Preparing breakfast as she had done. I some how found comfort in this. My sister and I debated who was going to sleep in her bed. I gave in. 

Back to the southern experience. As always, I am soothed by my first glance of tall pines flashing by the car window. I'm not sure in which state I first noticed pine trees. I think Virginia.They may not be native to southern states but in the north, fields of pines aren't a common sight in the city maybe in suburban areas and the mountains. A favorite of mine but maybe not for others is, stopping at rest areas and purchasing news papers, and looking at how food items change. Pork rinds, boiled peanuts, and a assorted variety of distinctly southern products greet you. South of the Boarder is famous for trinkets and fireworks. As a child it was the high point of my vacation to stop there and buy trinkets. Now, the high point is the restroom.

Fields of crops, tobacco, corn, soybeans, and cotton, still awaiting harvest line the interstate. I'm still amazed that cotton comes from a plant. It's fluffy white heads lined fields. Once picked by people, now harvested by machines. The red clay of Georgia. Moss flowing from generation old trees, houses with tin roofs. Old plantations and estates surrounded by gates with winding road that lead to their entrance. The vibe is just different. More relaxed, quiet, some how gentler. A different type of lifestyle. Could this be for me? This is the state from which came my mother, grandmother, great grandmother, grandfather, great great grandmother and many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Many still live in Georgia. I had visions of living here this time last year. What a difference a year can make. So much has changed in my life since last August. Reading books on grief talked about how family dynamics can change with a death. This is so correct. Yes, I'm rambling. That's okay. That's the joy of writing. It's your own expression. Some enjoy it, some may not. Of course I can't go to Georgia and not buy plants and bulbs. It's bulb planting time. I will always talk about my mother, until we meet again. It's her image I see when I look in the mirror, her voice I hear in mine when I speak. She is one of the last thoughts I think of at night before sweet sleep. I think, if she knew what the small plants look like I took from her kitchen window, what would she say? They look awful at my house. I laugh because she knows how plants can be and that some die and some thrive. She knows I love plants and flowers, a gift form her.

After we raked this and more for hours the man who takes care of the yard came and in a matter of minutes was done. We picked pine cones and twigs that could have been picked up with his equipment. It was good exercise for us. I forgot to bring back my pine cones with the exception of three I put in my handbag. They will be there when I go back.
Magnolia already bloomed.
Mom's not hear to tend to her plants and it shows. Broke my heart.

The fruit from the palm tree. I'm told that people make jelly with them. The squirrels love them.
I can never take enough pictures of nature, the sky, trees, and of course plants and flowers.

Roots of the live oak. Normally covered in tree fern. It's still there but dry from little rain.

Even with all the heat the moss and tradescantia are doing well. My mother started the tradescantia on the oak.

Mums for the yard that will hopefully naturalize and come back each year. 
Japanese Pencil Holly. So much more inexpensive than at home.
Russian Sage
Jasmine is larger this year.
Blue hydrangea already bloomed. Would have loved to see them when they first bloom pale blue.
Sago Palm
The fig tree is unbelievably larger than last summer.
Mom's lemon tree that had never yielded fruit did this summer. The lime/tangerine tree had fruit also.
I forgot to take the bulbs from these.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What Have I Been Up To?

I haven't posted in a while. Not really because I haven't wanted to but just didn't make time. I've taken plenty of pictures that I will post some day soon. Just a few for today. Back to work after all summer off. Summers not working always make me dream of retirement and how wonderful it must be to just be... The annual family trip to Georgia was in August. Three words to describe it, hot, hot, hot. Miss my mother. Soon to be 4 months since she passed. It seems much longer. Of course I was thrilled and horrified last week to see pansies at the garden center. It was in the 90's all last week. Too early for me to buy them it's been too warm. Today temps have cooled down at least until Thursday when the heat is expected to return. Can't fool the plants though. Leaves in Philly have been falling for weeks. I was shocked to see leaves on trees already starting to turn and pile up on sidewalks and in the street. I thought it was my imagination. Can't remember trees turning or loosing their leaves this early before.With lots of cool days this summer it should make for a beautiful autumn show this fall. Can't wait to see. I also resisted buying mums. They have been in stores since July. I associate mums with fall, late September, October, and November.

Some surprises met me in the back yard. My chard plants had regrown a new crop of chard. I have some bell peppers and the small heads of garlic that I cast aside laughing at their size have all grown tops again. Last August my mom sent home 4 fig tree seedlings home with me and they appeared to die during our brutal winter last year. Guess what? I didn't throw them out and among the weeds in the pot with the old now sticks, it looks like a new fig tree. Now what do I do to save it till spring? I am excited like it's a gift from mom since she grew the seedlings herself. The elephant ears were so large and heavy some leaves are now laying on the ground. The overgrown fern knows fall is in 2 weeks and parts of her have started to turn brown. Talk about seeds from the Norway Maples hanging over the yard, so, so many. There were a lot of seeds last year also. Hope this doesn't indicate the same type of winter although from what I've read of the weather predicted for the Northeast, it's supposed to be below average cold and above average snow.

In Georgia I bought my first bulbs and last week at Home Depot I bought paper whites and tulips. Couldn't resist. My aunt introduced my sister and I to her friend and neighbor Liz. She lives across the street from my mom's and aunt's house. Her yard has always been beautiful. I will tell you more about our visit when I write my post's on Georgia. There is so much work to do in my yard I don't know where to start. I'll clean it up this year and not wait till spring. The plants out front also know fall is in the air. They peaked in August and now have started to drop leaves. They put on such a show this summer I hate to remove them for pansies and mums. None of the canna bloomed in the small boarder or sidewalk planters. 

I need to take cuttings of the coleus I'd like to over winter and some other annuals. Better do it soon. This time of year is just as fun as spring. Seed catalogues, trying to maintain cuttings, seed starting, house plants and more house plants, bulb forcing, amaryllis, ordering seeds, and seedlings for next season, should I go on? I forgot to update on my clivia plant that lost it's roots or had no roots when I removed it from the soil after blooming. I posted that I replanted her for the second time and I think it was successful. I see some white roots near the top of the soil but won't tug at it to see yet. Maybe it will live to bloom again. I haven't heard from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society about the gardening contest yet. I hope I won a ribbon. The award ceremony is on the 20th. Maybe I will call to ask when winners will be announced. Still working on a summer project to finish painting my porch. I have 4 sets of windows to paint. Takes time. I hope I can motivate myself now that I'm back to work. If not, in the spring with the porch floor.

Last fall's garlic. What do I do with it?
Bell Peppers
Fig seedling on the right after a whole year.

Fern starting to die.
My one geranium seedling. Didn't reach mature size or bloom. Chocolate mint coleus under the elephant ear leaf covering it is huge.
Lets not talk about the window box. My dwarf arborvite have died! All that money. Do I try again. They were supposed to be for evergreen color, not this year. What a waste of money.

Chocolate mint coleus showed out this year.
In need of water but the lime one is tired.

I tried 2 cutting of this not successful yet but plenty more to try from.

Nothing like heuchera.
My begonia seedling did beautifully. Hate to see it die but everything can't be over wintered inside.

Want to over winter the coleus seedling I grew. She is a slow grower but the color is beautiful.
I had 3 hyacinth vine seed pods. I dropped the seeds in the soi of the other 2 for next year. This pod needs to fill out.
Tulips. The colors are beautiful.
Time to buy paper whites people. Every year I hear shoppers asking too late, "where are the paper whites"? Buy early. I want a different variety though. Maybe some from mail order.
I always wanted to try these but they are so high in catalogs for even one. I thought this was a very good price but I hope they do well for this price. From Lowe's in Georgia.
Tulip bulbs are nice size, firm, and healthy.
Fritillaria bulbs 
I never have a Boston fern survive this long. It's not as lush as some but successful for me. If it survives it will be hung in my bedroom window where there is lots of sun even in winter. It will hang over the heater though. I hope this will not mean death for it.
From Georgia 1 year ago. She survived! Back to my bedroom soon for the winter. My type of plant. Doesn't require much care, just a little water every now and then.