Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Happy New Year 2017–Looking Back and Looking Forward



Until yesterday, when I posted my first post of this year, I had not blogged since June, 2016!  Some of you missed me, thank you very much.  It’s been an interesting six months, good and bad as real life always is.  This is my family’s story, part of it for 2016.

The less than good events were of course, my continuing battle with heart disease, and angina, which only creates problems if I walk too far, more than  20 to 35 feet, or stand more than a few minutes, or get too cold, or too hot!  

Health issues continued to try to bring us down, but didn’t succeed!  My husband of 45 years, Max had cancer last year.  He had surgery and treatments, and appears to be cancer free.  We are keeping an eye on his numbers of course, but so far it’s been great!  Max, who is never sick, but our strength and rock, also had bronchitis which would not stop!  We all had viruses as well, so we kind of quarantined ourselves for a couple of weeks, with coughing and hacking being the ultimate sound in our house!  LOL

 Our adult  daughter, one of them,  hurt her back and has been unable to return to work for over a year! Treatment after treatment, doctor after doctor, she had to give up her apartment and move home–then there were the medical bills. Thank God for Obamacare!  Oh, you say Republicans are going to get rid of it? You say they won the elections?  How did I miss that? Not!

Even in my family of origin–normally healthy people were sick last year! Seriously ill. My sister had quintuple bypass and an ablation for afib.  The ablation failed and in a month they did a cardioversion!  Vasculitis set in, so forth and so on!  She continues to improve, but what a battle!  One brother fights severe diabetes, and another had cancer surgery also!  It’s true what they say…



So you can see that health concerns overshadowed our lives this past year.

Good news buoyed us however, our faith sustained us and fun and adventures brought joy!  Max is much better, I am stable, and our daughter is improving, slowly but surely!  So why did I not blog for six months?

I kept thinking I would.  But besides health issues, I got into helping people find their birth parents and their true heritage, genealogy!  It was so rewarding, and so much fun, I felt like a detective!  Amazingly, and as we all know, the universe works in strange ways. Most of the people I had the joy of being involved with were people who matched my own dna on ancestry!  I’ve written about a case or two before actually, but in the last six months, the numbers of folks topped fifteen that I was involved in searching for roots with! I can hardly wait to tell you about some of them, some successful, some not, some still in progress. However, all were successful in one way, I met a new cousin!   I met generally  3rd, 4th, even 6th cousins who had been adopted, and were kin to me!  Amazing adventures!

Of course my other special hobbies, of my 3 g’s, besides genealogy, are grandchildren and gardening. They each brought us so very much joy this year, that we can still smile,laugh,and enjoy life…and maybe even blog a little.  

Fully present in the moment, children help you focus on joy! Fully beautiful at the moment, flowers do also.  And don’t forget Elvis, it’s his birthday!

 Lift your head, look around, breathe, smile, life is worth living. Wishing you all the best, and looking forward to the journey. 

Personal photo collection, grandchildren enjoying first snow of 2017

Personal photo collection, grandchildren enjoying first snow of 2017


Personal photo collection, lillies in our garden


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Life and Joy


blog post on loving life media

Helen with grandchildren Liam 7, and Katy 3, being silly.

I love life! I am at such an interesting stage in my life right now, (retired, disabled, too dependant for my liking) that it’s fun to stand back and analyze a bit. As a teen and young adult college student I was busy achieving and playing…like most of us at that age. Fun was my middle name.

Then I married and became a responsible adult with children of my own and a profession. I taught community seminars on parenting for heaven’s sake, who does that who actually has children! LOL I lived in fear of my children throwing a temper tantrum at the grocery store! LOL  Not my kids, they were perfect! LOL My husband and I were active in church, PTA, Band Boosters…Scouts…you name it, we did it! LOL We lived through, and lived with dying parents, such a sad time for all of us.

Then we lived through Max and I turning 50 and falling apart, so young! His open heart surgery was a fix and he has remained the rock and engine of our family with his mechanical heart valve!  Mine however, was experimental because I couldn’t be fixed, and yet, although predicted to die in five years, here I am 17 years later–looking forward to more! Everyday, I am thankful that I married Max who cares for me and opens my world. Our kids are grown and add joy to our lives in different ways.

Cakes by Annie, EasterAnnie learned well from her Dad all about baking…but she went further as kids are wont to do…and is an amateur pastry chef now.

Ali, our musician, is a mother of three kids from 17 months to 7! Can you say BUSY?!  Ali at 40th birthday party with Welcome to the Zoo sign!

Balloon fest 2015, Ali, Liam , Katy, and Evie, with friend Michael enjoy experience of being in the basketAli and family with Pooh at Disney Wd may 2015, cropped

Still, with life and sickness…comes hobbies and interests that make our lives thrive. Max’s woodworking, my Red Hatters, genealogy and our gardening more often fill our days. Blog post loving life

But then there are the surprises…

Six weeks or so ago a good friend and I piled into her car and joined my sister on a garden tour in Virginia!  On this tour, I got to see the church my grandparents met in just after the Civil War! Can you believe it! Wheelchair dependant, there I was, having a fancy lunch at the premier Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia with my sister, friend, and reuniting with old highschool friends, an unexpected blessing. SAM_0464

Last week we were in the midst of a hot-air balloon festival! So beautiful, so majestic, so peaceful!Balloon Fest 2015, glow Balloon fest 2015, flag balloon in flight Balloon fest 2015, Katy in red hat and dress

Last night, I was at Falls Lake State Park here in Raleigh, NC with all of our immediate family and extended family from South Carolina. My grandkids, ages 7, 3, and 17 months, provide unbounded joy in their enthusiastic enjoyment of the moment!  Sticks become swords or magic wands, sand and water become a huge playground of exuberance! Showers of sand, splashes of water, running, jumping, tumbling…oh to be a child with this kind of freedom on a summer evening again!  Fireflies…lightening bugs…oh my gracious..they are magical for a child and adults!  Campfires, hamburgers and hot dogs, roasting marshmallows! We met other campers also, hiking/rolling trails, and just enjoying the weather….campers are generally friendly, helpful people with interesting lives of their own of course. How much fun to meet strangers who are living next door or across the way in that tent or RV.

Last week, my last beautiful Iris bloomed, this week the daylilies are opening their cheerful colors to our days! The morning glories are singing, and yesterday, my first magnolia blossom opened! Tonight it looks like I’ll get to watch the first moonflower of this season quiver its way open and perfume the night!

Life….it is….enjoy!  Thank you God.

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“D” is for Dirty Girls–Girls Who Like to Play in the Dirt–Some Call Us Gardeners


dirty girls, play in the dirt, gardenig


I’m not sure when my love of gardening hit. Was it watching my grandmother working in her garden which always seemed to be magically full of beautiful flowers? Was it winning an award for my “Silver Bells and Cockleshells” dish-garden at age 8? Maybe it seeped in as I helped carry Grandma’s 60 to 80 pots of flowers  out into the warm air every spring, and back into her bedroom in our house every Fall! Her walk-in closet became a miniature green house every winter!

Gateway to our back patio, wish the Lady Banks would bloom forever!

I remember playing in the sand box for hours with my brother and next door neighbor! That readily transferred over to the boxed garden where I was free to dig and plant!

Little makes me happier these days than crawling around in my garden and digging in the dirt. About the only thing that tops that, is when my grandkids, now 7, 3, and 1 come over and get dirty with me as we dig, plant, and water amid peals of laughter, which drift through the neighborhood.

And crawling is what I truly do. You see, due to my serious heart condition, I can’t walk far, certainly can’t lean over, or work at any physically demanding activity for a sustained amount of time without getting angina. I had pretty much given up my gardening days when we moved into a new house around my 55th birthday, now I’m 66. All around me were gardeners! Retirees, a lot of them, they made me yearn to get back out there! Right next door were Mr. and Mrs. Industrious Gardeners and outdoors lovers, aged in their eighties and nineties!  The man, 92, had some heart issues also, but it did not deter him!  I watched as he sat on the ground instead of bending over, and literally crawled around his garden!  “I’ll be darned!” I said to myself, if that 92 year-old man can do that, well so can I!”

I may have neglected to tell you, I use a power wheelchair when I go outside or away from home. It allows me the freedom to run around like I used to do before I got sick. I use mine at home like a four-wheeler, running all around the yard, pulling a wagon full of dirt, compost, flowers, and sometimes children!  What a sight I must be.  More than once, when a new neighbor moved onto the street, at some point they see me on the ground, the empty wheelchair sitting nearby, and come running over to help me get back up! They never dreamed I slid right out of that chair on purpose, and that I can climb right back in… albeit not very gracefully.   But it is FUN! It improves my quality of life, and brings me joy, what could be better than that.


Okay, as most of you know, I am writing these blog posts, A-Z as part of a challenge for a group I have joined called the “10 Minute Novelists”.  They are a talented group of fiction writers by whom I am very impressed. Many in the group are published authors who share their experience with the group.  As is very obvious, I have generally written nonfiction–genealogical  blog posts. I have written fiction before, in fact, as many of you know, I wrote a draft of my first novel  this past winter.  But I have  a lot to learn. In reading the posts of the other participants in this challenge, I realize that most of them are writing fiction–their blog posts are marvelous, mini novellas! Well, mini stories at least! So, I thought I’d rewrite the above blog post as a story, and let’s just see what it might sound like, LOL


Bearded Iris

Bearded Iris

The older woman who had recently moved into the neighborhood, was chatting with her neighbors outside as they went about their beloved gardening activities. They were weeding, transplanting, feeding, even picking pretty flowers to use in their home. Little did they know how envious she was that they were healthy enough to do what she could no longer do. Her two heart attacks had forced her to quit work and use a wheelchair. One neighbor, just her age, was president of the local garden club. The others were a husband and wife, ages 87 and 75 respectively. They were becoming friends quickly, so Julie felt comfortable  just “hanging out” while they worked. 

Julie watched, wide-eyed,  as Michael, who was 87, sat down on the ground and scooted or crawled over to where he wanted to go next. He thought she was thinking he was crazy lazy, so he explained that he had mild heart failure and a pace maker, and that leaning over to garden was too stressful for his heart. All the while, she was thinking “Wow! Wow, if this old man can do this, so can I!” She explained to the couple about her own heart troubles.

She was so excited to think gardening might be in her world again! She decided to try it. She made sure she had her cell phone with her to call for help if she needed it–her husband was still at work teaching.   Julie collected her trowel, gloves, and a basket, and parked her wheel chair near the end of a garden overrun with weeds.  She slid right out of her chair like it was a child’s sliding board.  Then she scooted/crawled right over to the edge of the flower bed.  She began to dig and pull weeds out, placing them in the basket. Before she knew it, she had crawled to the other end of the garden, about fifteen feet away, and had been working for an hour.  The basket was filled long ago, and all along the path, stood piles of discarded weeds! She was tired, but oh so happy! It had been so long since she’d had the chance to dig in the dirt! It was better than therapy!  (She had been a psychotherapist in her past life as a working professional.) However, now her chair was way down at the other end of the garden, and she was just too tired to crawl that far! Besides, she was filthy, what a sight she must make for her neighbors. Just as that thought occurred to her, Julie looked up and there was Paul from down the street.

“Hi there, Julie isn’t it? Are you okay? I saw your empty chair, and I was afraid you’d fallen! What can I do to help?”  He seemed very surprised to learn that she’d left her chair on purpose! But when she asked if he might be willing to drive the chair over closer to her, well– he seemed happy to try it out! “Cool, it’s kind of like driving a little car or something.” She encouraged him to take it for a spin around the yard, and he did!   Soon they were chatting like old friends. She didn’t even mind that he watched her pull herself up, none too gracefully, into her chair, where she landed with a thump! They were friends now, she felt his support and care, felt no judgement or pity–just friendship. What a wonderful day– her heart sang, and happiness bubbled up from her soul!



Do I dare ask what you think?  Will I ever make a fiction writer?  I’m not sure I know how not to “tell” the story, but to let the story unfold, or be “in” the story. Hints? Suggestions–short of hang it up or go back to school? LOL   We’ll see, maybe I was meant to be a non-fiction writer. 


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What’s Blooming in my Garden on my Birthday? March 15, 2013

     Spring is almost here! You can feel it in the air! I’ve actually been out digging in the dirt a couple of times now! I can hardly  wait to have a year full of flowers! Yesterday was my birthday and I enjoyed rolling around my yard in my wheelchair, taking pictures of the few things already in bloom! I could hardly wait to share them with you! 
      Look at this beautiful plum tree just blooming its little heart out! My college roommate, and close friend for over 40 years now, Carol gave this tree to me for my birthday two or three years ago–its still young, but so beautiful! 

Of course, who doesn’t love the look and smell of the spring blooming bulbs pushing up through the soil to cheer up our dreary landscapes! Even though I’ve planted about 75 daffodils along a bank bordering my front yard, I only have about ten to fifteen actually bloom in any one spring! I remember my grandmother who lived with us, had a huge garden of daffodils, so that we would have hundreds of flowers blooming in the spring! We were free to take bouquets to teachers and friends, which the little girl in me loved to do! Those memories, and the fact that daffodils always bloom around my birthday, make them one of my favorite flowers! 

On the left below, you’ll see a hedge of what looks like dead, brown branches. But in reality, its one of my favorite flowering shrubs, just beginning to awaken from its long winter sleep. If you look closely you’ll see a few little yellow flowers peeking out. In another couple weeks, these branches will be covered with yellow blooms! They make a spectacular sight, as blinding as sunshine bursting forth on a winter’s day! 

Can you smell these wild violets? They are one “weed” that I cultivate in my garden, because I love the smell and look of these dainty little purple flowers! 

Right at the edge of the woods part of our yard,  we’ve planted some Bridal’s Wreath! It’s also just beginning to show its beautiful colors! these branches will be covered with the white flowers in another week! I’ll try to remember to show them to you.

     Are you familiar with vinca? There is vinca major and vinca minor, and vinca variegata, all of which I have, and there are more variations I am sure. Periwinkle is the common name for this evergreen vinca vine, not to be confused with the vinca flower which I love to grow in the summertime! I love the fact that it is evergreen, and that it runs along the ground and makes a lovely ground cover. It can run everywhere however, so choose wisely where you want to plant it. Mine thrives in shade and sun, and wet and dry conditions here in North Carolina.  I’ve even used mine to cover a tree stump that I chose not to have removed. It looks quite lovely! I gave my next door neighbor some, and she has it shaped in a perfect circle around her mailbox! I am especially touched when I see my vinca blooming, as it was something I brought from home, my childhood home in Richmond, Virginia. So at 64, these plants have been with me all my life! They have beautiful little violet blue flowers im the Spring, and I just love them. 

        Here’s one more little thing poking its head up through the pine tags! Its my verbena, purple homestead,  just beginning to bloom! This is another great groundcover, that begins here in March, and will grow and bloom prolifically all summer long and into the Fall! 

     How delightful that the flowers are beginning to bloom! I’d love to see pictures of your own if you can post them along with your comment, I don’t know if that’s possible, some of you more tech savvy folks will have to let me know! Wishing you all blooming flowers and joy inyour own life! 


Carrying Plants Through the Winter in Water

Carrying Plants Through the Winter in Water

Yesterday, I talked about the elaborate preparations I made to carry plants through the winter inside my house when I was a young, energetic woman. Today, I’m going to admit to you that I either don’t carry plants through the winter in my house anymore, I just plant perennials, or I let the plants die a natural death outside and buy and plant new in the Spring.

 I have not been well as you know, and I just don’t have the energy to bring in and take care of plants all winter long! However, this year, I broke my own rules! I was feeling better as Fall began to bring cool weather, so I decided I had to try to save a couple of my beautiful annuals!  However, I also decided, that I’d only take cuttings of things that could root in, and survive in water! I’ve heard it’s not the best thing to do. They say plants rooted in water are never as strong as plants rooted in soil. But I know myself, I’m lazy, I’m tired. I’m not going to water my flowers regularly inside, so I need the built in insurance of having them already in water. So…how did they do? I figure they’ll be ready to plant outside in about a month, if the nighttime temperatures are regularly above 50 degrees. Remember, I’m in North Carolina, the sunny South! 

Sweet Potato Vine, Blackie, in a pot, Fall, 2012


Sweet Potato Vine, Blackie, rooted and
carried through the winter in water. 

 One of my favorite vines and fillers for container gardens are sweet potato vines. So, even though I’d planned to just let them go, as Fall got chillier and chillier, and the sweet potato vines held on, I just couldn’t stand to let that lusciousness die!  I love the burgundy colored, pointy leaved sweet potato vine, officially called “BlackieIpomoea batatas“.  So I cut about three vases full, and set them in windowsills for the long winter months! Don’t worry, I also love the looks of the chartreuse green “Margarita, Ipomoea batatas”.  They both thrive in full sun, even here in the hot, humid South! Furthermore, even though they are grown for their ornamental foliage, they also have lovely little lavender flowers that I personally love! So, I brought the lime green in also! 

Margarita Sweet Potato Vine
 after a long winter in water, March, 2013

However, you can
easily see that the
vines are struggling, 
getting paler and more dull by the day! “Come on  babies, just hang in there 4 more weeks! You can do it!”  (You do know you are
supposed to talk to your plants, right?)

Now, look at this beautiful 
pink mandevilla vine, growing on the railing of my wheelchair ramp last summer.
Now look closely at the picture of the four vases of plants on the tray on the left. See that leafless stalk sticking up back there in the back? Well, that’s all that’s left of the beautiful mandevilla vine! Think it will make it? Want to make me a bet as to whether or not it will grow again and flourish like this one last summer? We’ll see! I’ll let you know! 

Notice that there are four little plants in vases on the tray above. Two are sweet potato vines, one is the stalk of the mandevilla vine, now I’ve saved the best for last! The fourth 

Angel’s trumpet plant rooting
in water

plant, the one pictured on the right, was a cutting given to me by a good friend! It’s a very special plant that I am so excited to grow! It is an angel trumpet plant! It grows about five or six feet tall, is tropical, and is the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen! Hopefully, by the end of the summer, I’ll have a large enough plant to give cuttings away myself! One of the joys of gardening is having beautiful, growing things to share with your family and friends! Just look, look at this picture of a blooming, mature angel trumpet plant! Oh my gracious, I wish you could see it up close and personal. Come visit in late summer or early fall and I hope my plant will look like this! 

Angel’s Trumpet Plant
Angel’s Trumpet,pink

I have so many gardening posts I want to share with you! I want to show you all the trees and plants others have given to us, either as full grown plants right out of their own yards, or as cuttings for me to root. It’s absolutely amazing, and I recommend it highly as a feel good gesture on both sides! There are many other things as well, we will have fun together! 

Just a few more weeks until we can get out there and dig in the dirt! Alleluia!   Helen

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Gardening Interests, Habits, and Skills Change

Gardening Interests, Habits and Skills Change Over the Years
Yes, it’s March and Spring should only be a couple weeks away! I say should, because there’s a huge snow storm raging on the East Coast today, right next to us in Virginia they’re getting like five to ten or more inches of snow! That’s where all my family is, where I was born and raised, but here in North Carolina we’re only getting a few flurries!  Stuck inside, looking out, gardening is on my mind! Come on Spring!

When I was a young woman, before heart disease stole my breath and energy from me, when Fall came, I’d root any cuttings I wanted to take, repot things if necessary, bring them in and set my plants up in an ideal situation, as much as possible. I installed a huge tray of gravel, made of cookie sheets clipped together, like nine of them at least!  I’d set the flower pots on top of the gravel, voila, instant humidity for the winter house and great drainage for the plants! The cookie pans didn’t show by the way, and I put a thick piece of plastic under them to protect the tile floor from any leaks. Then my sweet husband installed grow lights for me, and even put them on a timer and a remote control! I fed or didn’t feed the plants based on the best research I could find. Pruned, rotated, did whatever my plants needed as I was a passionate gardener!  I used this set up for years, and felt so proud of myself! 

Of course, you know the story:  one child is born, second child born, parents get sick and need help, die, church involvement grows, kids grow, PTA and band boosters call!  We call it life. (I wouldn’t be so cavalier about the grief of my parents’ deaths, but it has been 33 years, and eventually you realize it’s part of life, but you miss them.) Plants, or our own interests, tend to take a back seat.

Suddenly, it seems, your kids are grown and independent; you retire, or have time to pursue you own passions again. Or in my case, you become disabled with a health condition, and after the initial shock and depression, you pick your head up and think, hmm…I can still do some of the things I love, with help! My help comes from my stellar husband Max, my daughters who are wonderful to me, and from friends and extended family whom I live and cherish for their support and help, although I hate needing it! See the wonderful wheelchair ramp Max built for me , and I use it everyday! Not being independent is a whole other post! However, as life changes, abilities change, and we have to adapt. The indoor garden was just too much to maintain and went by the wayside years ago! 

In 2003, we moved into the house where we live now, into a diverse neighborhood, diverse in ages, races, and faiths. I love it! Who can be bored with so many interesting people around! And lo and behold, there were gardeners here! Wow! Wise, experienced and skilled gardeners!  They lit a fire under me again!

 The most wonderful thing about the gardeners I found in my new neighborhood was that they shared! They shared their knowledge, “this is how you prune a cle-ma’-tis Helen”. They shared their plants, “here’s a cutting of a double red knock-out rose—take all you want!” They shared their philosophies, “gardening is a process…just let it unfold over the years…” Wow! I was in heaven! 

    I remember meeting a neighbor from a nearby street, one of my best friends now, but who, at the time, became named my “daylily buddy”! She had a yard full of the most gorgeous daylilies I had ever seen! She shared with me, and took me, wheelchair and all, to daylily shows and sales! Oh my gracious,  I fell in love with daylilies! Unfortunately, I was operating only on emotion… “oh, I love this color, oh look at these ruffles,  oh smell that fragrance!”  And I planted that way..with love and enthusiasm, not science or forethought! LOL  The bottom line is that I do not know the names of many of my daylilies, I just know I love them!  So, I am not the scientific gardener that I once was, oh I do a little research, but I am a happy gardener.  


Summer flowers still blooming in October

Look what’s still blooming in the Southern garden, where summer lasts a long time. Or, at least that’s usually what we’re saying about now, the end of September, beginning of October.

Single Pink Knockout Rose

But this year, we’ve actually had some nice fall weather in the last two weeks, with highs in the 70’s and lows in the 50’s.  I’m not complaining, I truly love this weather! It’s just that it seems unusual to me. Most Septembers are more about the heat than cool fall weather. Usually, we are still sweltering under 90-95 degree days with muggy nights in the 70’s. Nobody can yet imagine wearing a furry Halloween costume at that rate.(Excuse the tangent—been shopping costumes with grandchildren!)  It’s usually about the 3rd week in October before we get a cool down.  Well, this year has been different. Its been a cool down to fall-like weather since mid September! All that is to say, I wonder how these summer flowers are hanging on? With lows in the 50’s, almost 47, some nights, and highs barely out of the 60’s, Fall is here.Most annuals don’t like temperatures lower than 50 degrees, so I’m sure their days are limited.

Double Pink Coneflower, middle blooms pink as well
Double Pink Coneflower, before center “blooms”

Mandevilla Vine, pink

Impatiens, pink and white

Vinca, white and pink volunteers

Endless summer Hydrangea

Gardenia Shrubs, belonging to neighbor Laura, I am growing one from a cutting.

Sweet Potato vine, flowering

Sweet Potato Vine, Marguerita, chartreuse green

Knock Out Rose, double, grown from cutting from friend’s bush

Verbenia, Purple, “Homestead”, ground cover

Black-eyed Susan

I understand the mums, asters, liriope and sunflowers still blooming  along with the sedums, and the autumn clematis, obviously they ae fall flowers.  However the coneflowers, the mandevilla, impatiens, vinca, endless summer hydrangeas, gardenias, zinnias, sweet potato vines, knockout roses, verbena, and black eyed susans, …I would have thought they’d have gone dormant by now, or at least not be blooming! Not that I mean to be complaining, I love these beauties, and love that they are lasting longer than I expected! I am just observing their longevity, and enjoying the blessings they bring to my life. 

Daisy Mum, just beginning to bloom, October 1, 2012

Autumn asters


Sunflower belonging to my neighbor Dee
This was a volunteer, a gift from the birds?

Over the years, I have kept garden journals and scrapbooks. Why is it helpful to know what blooms when, and other facts about your flowers?  It can help you a lot– it helps you strategize for winter care, be prepared for Spring bloom, and to know when to divide, move, fertilize, or prune your plants.  We’ll explore all of these subjects at a later date. Right now, I’m watching what’s going dormant, what’s coming out, and deciding what I want and am energetic enough to bring inside in a pot or as cuttings to be rooted, and carried through the winter. The important thing is just to enjoy every  blossom while it lasts. Hope you have a great day today, maybe in your own garden! Helen


What’s still blooming on the first day in Fall?

What’s still blooming on the first day in Fall?

      It’s a beautiful Fall day, with a crystal clear blue sky above and green grass below!  The air is crisp and clean as only Fall can bring!  Sometimes, this time of year, I feel kind of sad as I walk though my garden, because all the pretty flowers are disappearing! I love to garden as much as anything! Digging in the dirt, even pulling weeds is the best therapy in the world as far as I’m concerned.  But a few days ago, on the very first day of Fall, 2012, I rolled around the garden in my power wheelchair, even my  neighbors’ gardens, and was surprised how much I found still blooming!  Since I am strictly an amateur gardener, and handicapped at that, my work is more love than skill. But I hope some of you will enjoy sharing these thoughts with me. I’m also sure you’ll hear more about the neighborhood as well, as many of us garden, and  boy, some have great gardens! 
       With this blog in mind,  I actually took my camera along  and  used it to share with you what I found!   Like this autumn aster, isn’t it      incredible! 

              The little purple flowers with yellow centers look just like the asters that grow in a mound, like mums.  However, these grow 5′ to 6′ tall! They’re perennial, and they spread, so you always have some to share!  I bought my first plant of these autumn asters from an award winning gardener who lives in Oxford, NC. She warned us that they could/would spread. They increase in a circular patch that gets bigger every year. This patch in my front garden is only about 3 years old, and it probably covers about a 5′ by 5′ area. It likes full sun, and average moisture. It blooms for 3 weeks or more.  As I sit here at the computer, this lavender cloud is right outside my window, what a lovely sight!
     Further out in my
front yard, are these darker lavender Mexican Petunias. These were a gift to me from my  neighbor Laura, who received them from another neighbor! These beauties actually bloom all summer and into the Fall. Actually, this picture is of Laura’s plants. Mine are tall, and bloom sporadically, but they are in too much shade. Laura’ face the East, Southeast, so get sun all day ! They are also where they get plenty of moisture., and they are beautiful! They’ve been blooming since May or June, and they are perennials!  I just love them.
   Moving around the side of the house, towards the back, is our huge canna lily garden! We do have some elsewhere as well, but here on our little 1/2 acre, is a twenty by ten foot garden of canna lilies! These red ones  are about six feet tall, similar to the asters!  They’ve been blooming all summer as well, since about June at least. The amount of light and moisture makes a lot of difference in the growth of cannas. Even though you see them along highways, they actually  do thrive better with moisture. I try to be sure mine get at least one inch of water per week.  However, even in drought, cannas do okay, and continue to bloom. They just grow taller and bloom more with adequate moisture. Canna’s also multiply and spread like wildfire! One canna in the Spring, will be surrounded by 5 in the Fall, and 10 when they return the following Spring! Therefore they are a great pass along plant as well. 
           Our whole neighborhood loves to share their plants, so you see canna lilies fairly often! We even have some growing on the north side of our house, and indeed,they are only half as tall, but just as lovely! In just a couple of weeks, when all the blooms are done, we will cut the cannas back to about 3 inches tall, cover them with mulch or pine tags, and let them sleep until Spring.  

       This delicate, frothy , sweet smelling vine covering my water barrel, and the banister of our deck, is a sweet autumn clematis, and one of my favorite things! There is no way you can continue frowning, or be sad, when you come in proximity to this joyful looking and smelling plant! It is a deciduous vine, , loses its leaves, and as a vine, covers anything it touches! But oh, come the end of August, early September, there is nothing more breathtaking here in North Carolina in my mind. It also gives me a good excuse to beg people to come over to visit–“come see, oh come see it and smell it! Its blooming! You’ve gotta come see!” LOL  anything to get the neighbors over!
    There were four or five or more other things actually still blooming, although the main flower season is undoubtedly coming to an end. But I think I’ll wait and have fun writing about some more, a second way to enjoy them, in the next blog post.  Hope you are having a great day and that maybe you are out in your own garden. Helen