Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.


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



Founding of our chapter of The Red Hat Society

         We’ve lived here for about 8 years now. I believe that during that time, 10 of us still live here who lived here when we moved in! That is actually very remarkable! Several of us women started a Red Hat Society chapter called the Royal Red Divas! The Red Hat Society is a national women’s group based on the idea of remembering/learning again to play and enjoy life after 50! We dress in red hats and purple outfits, and sometimes wear lots of bling or even boas! Younger women can and do belong and they are called pink hatters who wear lavender clothes until they reduate at age 50! Our group has been meeting monthly now for almost 8 years. Its how I got to know a lot of my neighbors, although not all our members are from this neighborhood by any means! But in thinking about the stability of our cul-de-sac, I realize that we had 5 Red Hat members who lived on the street behind us just 8 years ago, and now there are none from that street, one died and was buried in her Red Hat Regalia, as I want to be, and the other four all moved away! We miss them terribly.

         Our Royal Divas are meeting across the street this coming Monday night, and I am so excited about it! I miss this group of fun loving women when we are not together, and I flat out enjoy them when we are together…telling jokes, dancing, laughing, visiting, seeing shows, whatever we want to do! I haven’t told you I don’t think, but I am somewhat handicapped. I have a serious heart condition which keeps me from walking very far at all, so I use a wheelchair to go outside or to a store, etc. I will tell you more in another chapter, but I had gone backwards last January, and growing increasingly weaker and falling often, was no longer able to go into friends’ s homes or drive, or hardly even get my own shower and bath rituals! It was frightening and humbling even more than I had already experienced. But I have recovered some of my health lately, and last week my physical therapist took me over to my neighbor’s house and taught me how to climb the 5 steps up to her porch and get into her house! She and her husband were there cheering me on! Now you know why I am so excited to go to Red Hat on Monday. Its a major outing for me and I can hardly wait.

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Our Diverse Neighborhood Keeps Life Interesting

        I live on a cul-de-sac. Maybe that makes it easier for us to get together and talk to each other, I’m sure it does. We live in the suburbs of a moderate sized Southern city and are a diverse group including 16 houses that include blacks, whites, and Hispanics, retired seniors, middle aged, and very young- just starting out. There are  14 children aged  2  to 11, I believe, and yet several houses with only retired couples ,or young couples starting out without children. At least two houses have adult children living back at home after the recession cost them their jobs. Three have parents or grandparents living with them. We are Republicans and Democrats, we have professionals and blue collar workers, Christians and not,  but we don’t seem to be as polarized as our country right now before election time. We still seem to be able to enjoy each others’ company, cooperate, and do what’s best for our community, except for the one.

      Now don’t get me wrong, we let our views be known, and there are some heated debates, but perhaps because we are mostly concerned with who won the college football game (NCSU, Carolina, Maryland, or Duke, all are represented on our street! ),  who is celebrating a milestone, and/or who is grieving or sick– we still get along.  Well, its not utopia, we do have some problems…there’s a guy down the street who has convinced the homeowners association board that he just has friendly, not for money, poker games, when a lot of us know he plays for money, sells and serves dinner and drinks, twice a week, from 7pm to 2 or 3am.  He has a gun and knows how to use it, and generally makes his living on our little street whether we want him to or not and which is strictly against the HOA rules!  Thank heavens I don’t live right next door to him, and truly, I feel sorry for the ones who do, although they seem to be coping okay, one is having a hard time. Not being able to be comfortable in your own home for fear of your neighbor is very sad! 
      We actually have 4 of the 16 homes on our street that include an adult who majored in psychology on the college or graduate level, including one PhD.  Perhaps that’s why we get along? We always kid that we should have group therapy in the street. We practically do. On any given pretty day or evening you’ll find a bunch of us standing around out front on the street, well, me in the wheelchair, just chatting and sharing, and feeling like we belong. That’s such a good place to be. 

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The American Neighborhood Still Exists in 2012

The American Neighborhood Still Exists, 2012

As I gaze out my window, thinking how pretty it looks , but knowing how hot and humid it is, I’m enjoying just watching my neighbors working in their gardens and yards. I’ll change their names to protect the innocent, and the not so innocent!
There’s Darling, age 84, who can work rings around me! She is pruning her roses, and shrubs! Her lawn and garden always look immaculate, because she has never ending energy and drive and works hard at it! She also loves it, shares her plants and flowers willingly, and loves to laugh, flirt, and visit as she works.
Across the street, is our newest neighbor Dee, who travels for work up to 5 days a week, and yet can be seen planting, trimming, and weeding here on Saturday afternoon. Her husband and mine are cutting the grass! We had the most fun at Dee’s house one evening recently as she showed me a flower/weed that had popped up in her newly planted hostas. It looks like its going to bloom, and it looks like something I should know, but neither of us could identify it! So, we called our neighbor Laura who is the world’s best gardener and flower identifier, and it made me feel better that she didn’t know either! LOL Since I see Dee outside, I’m going to run over there and see if the flower has bloomed, to see if we know what it is now!
That’s the kind of thing that makes a community, sharing in your joys (Oh, come look at my gorgeous blooming autumn clematis!) and your conundrums, your emergencies and sorrows. We have done it all, and I thought I’d blog about it, and show that the American neighborhood still exists. Come join me and we’ll see where this leads.
Of course, there are a lot of other things that go on here other than gardening that bring joy, sorrow and closeness to our neighborhood. Much I don’t know for sure! But it never ceases to amaze me how caring most people are, and how helpful.