Sunday, December 28, 2008


Both of my grandmothers were huge fans of Camellias. Regrettably, the huge pink camellia that once belonged to my father’s mother at the house they currently live in is no longer alive. My mother told me that Mama Parkee was continuously rooting pieces of that bush for people. A ten gallon aquarium use to sit on top of the television when she was alive. Momma said she would walk outside, break off a limb, toss it in the aquarium as she walked by and it would root every single time. I wish I had a piece of that old bush, but it’s too late now.

Some of you have heard me tell this story before, but I’m going to repeat it since it’s blooming now. My grandmother on my mother’s side passed away about six years ago. Her estate was liquidated and the house was sold. My grandmother loved her flowers and she loved to work in the yard. Before the house was sold I went down there to see if there were any small plants I wanted to dig up to place in my own garden. Right before she passed my grandmother had rooted a piece of one of her Camellias. It was barely six inches tall and if I remember right, may have had a total of five leaves on it. I dug it up and brought it home to plant in my garden. Year after year I watched it inch up in height. After about the third year, it began to get buds but they would never open and they always fell off the bush. I now know that is the nature of Camellias, the first three or four years after they are rooted they don’t usually have the strength to support blooms so they never open and simply fall off. Last year for the first time, it finally rewarded me with blooms and this year it has started again. It’s about 3 feet tall and wide now. Here is a picture of one of the blooms, but I have no idea what kind it is.

Grandmothers Camellia

Judy, my garden buddy next door has Camellias planted in her yard too. Following in my grandmother’s footsteps I’ve decided to attempt to root a piece of Judy’s camellia. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. If I’m successful in my attempt, we will be adding this unknown beauty to our garden somewhere. Although I was just a small boy when Parkee’s Camellia was alive, I’m pretty certain it was the same one, so I’m really hoping I can do this.

Judy's Pink

Monday, December 15, 2008

In the Spirit

I was having the most awful time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. Finally, last Friday it hit me as hard as if I had been run over by a herd of reindeer and I found it in the strangest of places. I was walking around taking pictures of the blooms for the last post and there they were... the Nandina berries. I’m not certain why they put me in the mood, but a warm feeling just poured right over me and I was finally ready to decorate. Maybe it was the combination of green and red.


The minute Jamie walked thru the door that evening I told him of my plans for us to get started the next morning. Up into the attic I went to start dragging down the Christmas boxes. My goodness what a mess, there was all kinds of trash and stuff spread over every thing up there from replacing the roof this past February. Poor Jamie was showered with crud from every box I handed him. Before long the boxes were down and the Decorations were going up. I realize this isn’t a very garden like post, but we would like to welcome you into our home and share some of our decorations with you. Will you join us? Good! Grab your hot chocolate and get comfy.


Jamie and I have a “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” in the truest sense. I have no idea why I love this ratty old tree so much. Every year when we put it up it drops more needles than a real one would. When I was a little boy we always cut a fresh wild cedar tree two weeks before Christmas. I guess when I was about ten years old Momma and Daddy got our first artificial tree. It was a second hand one that came from elderly cousins of my father. They purchased it some time in the early 50’s. About three years ago Momma decided to toss and it and I rescued it from a trip to the local landfill. Every year Jamie and I giggle as we put it up; it really is very pitiful as far as standards go for artificial trees these days. It’s not that we couldn’t buy a new one, we just happen to like this one.


To work we go. Jamie always puts the lights on the tree because I have no patience for it. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to hang lights on a tree that only has 36 limbs and a top piece? Most especially when you like as many as we do, not to mention the holes have been so worn over the years the limbs hang from the tree like a loose tooth. We stick a gold ball here, a glass ornament there…


… a sparklie chandelier crystal here, here and here. These were a very special gift from two wonderful gardening friends that lost their home in Katrina. These crystals were one of the few things they salvaged from the rubble of what was once their dream home.


This is my most special ornament of all. This little snowman is the first Christmas gift I received from Jamie.


I try to buy Jamie a dove every year for Christmas. Last year I broke one, its okay, turns out it was a glass robin anyway, not a dove. So this year I owe him two!

Gold Dove


When all is said and done, our Charlie Brown Christmas tree becomes a beautiful shimmering masterpiece covered in hundreds of crystal and gold ornaments. This picture really does not do it justice. The large tree use to be put up in the piano room and wasn’t immediately visible when you enter the house. Once a friend of ours was commenting on a smaller tree that I put up, since it was the only visible tree he assumed it was THE tree. Upon turning to look behind him he saw the Charlie Brown tree and actually gasped in surprise. Everyone that enters the house always seems to be mesmerized by it once they see it. Even I have a hard time turning away from it, it’s like a seven foot diamond.


This smaller tree is decorated in a similar way, but not in such a grand manner.


We put a little garland above the door to the room where the piano is and also across the piano itself.


This is one of the reindeer we have, it’s also glass and gold, albeit frosted glass. There are several other reindeer through out the house. All of them are abstract in nature. You can also see part of my doorknob collection to the left. Why do I collect old doorknobs? I have no idea. Aunt Clara use to do it on ‘Bewitched’ and I always liked the idea of it. Remember her?


This is one of my feeble attempts at a little Christmassy arrangement. I thought it turned out pretty good.


I tried it again here with these old ornaments. This is all that’s left of my mother's original Christmas ornaments from 1954. The little tin star is over 50 years old and was the topper for our Christmas tree for more years than I’ve been alive. I rescued it from a tattered old box about two years ago. It’s amazing that a little piece of tin could hold so many memories and be so valuable to me. Isn’t it funny how our ideas of what is valuable changes as we get older.


I hope this finds you with your heart filled with Christmas spirit. It only comes once a year, grab your special someone and make it a memorable one. What brought you the Christmas spirit this year? Share it with all of us.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Should I Tell Them?

We have had several weeks down into the 20’s and they shouldn’t be blooming right now. How is it, do you think, that something so fragile can have such a will to survive? This basket has been totally neglected for a couple of months now, yet these Petunias continue to give us blooms.


The Brazilian Bog Sage, while unable to produce but a few tiny specks of blue, still refuses to give up as well.

Brazilian Bog Sage

I despise the winter. Some years it’s a very difficult time for me. Where other people feel the friskiness in the cool air and find joy in the changing leaf colors, I’m not always able to see and feel the same thing. On those years I only feel temperatures that make me cold to the bone and no matter how hard I try, I can't get warm. I look around and I see my favorite colors disappear and everything turns shades of brown and gray and I become very tired. I withdraw and want to stay in the warmth and seclusion of my home. To help me on these rare seasons I fill my home with tons of objects that sparkle and shine to remind me of the summer sun that I love so much.


The garden seems to sense my reluctance to turn loose of summer this year. It’s trying very hard to still give me glimpses of color and to remind me of what will return this summer and replace all that is gone now. Just look at this Sky Vine still giving me a show of purple. The crispy brown vines of the one planted on the fence have been removed for over a week now.

Sky Vine

Even being protected from the frost by the eaves of the house the temperatures alone should have destroyed the vines. Yet, it still has more buds waiting to open.

Sky Vine2

This Daisy Mum is a volunteer. It wasn’t even planted, but it refuses to go away. She is totally unaware the temperatures have been as low as 22 degrees.

Unknown Chirssy

Clarence hangs on for dear life with its frost bitten, wilted bloom. There are still three more getting ready to open.

Cold Clarence

The Climbing Aster and Rosemary are still blooming.

Climbing Aster


Even the Azaleas refuse to stop providing me with that beautiful pink I love so much and have so little of in our garden. Walking around I suddenly realized that everything needs a period of resting, plants, animals and even humans. After all we are mammals are we not? And, a large majority of mammals spend their cold periods resting and sleeping, it is the nature of things. Maybe on those falls when we don’t feel as well as others it’s not really a seasonal disorder as so many doctors are quick to label it. Maybe it’s our bodies telling us, you have been way too busy these past few months. It’s time to return to the inward nature that you once knew and use this period to rest. All that being said, I made the decision to “Tell Them”. I explained that it was very important that they rest right now, because I was expecting a huge show of flowers the coming spring and summer, and it would use a lot of energy. I would be just fine and don’t worry about me.


The next morning a rather amazing thing happened. We had a very large frost, but no larger than the ones we have had several times a week for the past three weeks. I walked around the yard to check on them and they have all gone to sleep now, with the understanding of course that the Camellias will still be keeping an eye on me from time to time. Something else wonderful happened that day, but, that’s a whole nuther’ entry. I am happy.


Until spring, I shall live in a home filled with brilliant sparkles and hundreds of colored rainbows.