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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Just Five

Indie from Red House Garden recently blasted with me a bucket of blogger love, which includes the request to reveal something new about yourself. 

Something About Me You May Find Surprising:

I hate camping. Just the idea of sleeping on the ground in a tent makes my back hurt. My idea of camping includes a real mattress and indoor plumbing. Here are a few examples:

Yes, please!

Why, of course, I'll stay here!

However, I might be persuaded to change my mind.....

Quotes to Live By:

As a writer I love the combinations of brilliant words into something powerful and true but the quotes I refer to the most are my own.

"Life is short. Love big."

Death has come often to my family with few goodbyes or peaceful exits and the brutal murder of  a young cousin was life changing. When you're with someone who is amazing and makes you smile, reach out to them, hug them, express how you feel, and open your heart enough to let them know you mean every word. You may never get another chance.

"You can do this."

We are all capable of so much more than we realize. It's ok to be scared but it's not ok to just stop, too full of fear and self-doubt to move forward. Take a deep breath and believe in yourself, because you can do this! 

Which movie can you watch over and over?

I've lost track of how many times I've seen Bridget Jones Diary. I relate stunningly well to her willingness to say exactly what she feels and when I've had a rough day or just need to de-stress, Bridget and a glass of wine will always do the trick. Plus, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth are rather easy on the eyes. ;o) 

My favorite garden memory:

When my daughter was one she discovered that when squeezed, ripe cherry tomatoes would squirt from her fingers leaving a delightful mess. She grabbed as many tomatoes off the vine as she could reach and ran around the garden squealing and laughing, covered in soil and red pulp. She was oblivious to everything but the pure sensation of joy. It was a great reminder not to take my garden so seriously.

My daughter, age 1 in 1996

My favorite blog posts:

Two of my favorite posts are about two of my favorite guys: my son and James Bond. The James Bond Garden Tour is a piece of pure female fantasy while Growing a Man is about my son's decision to join the Army instead of attending college. While James Bond only exists within the pages of a novel or on a movie screen, as a combat medic my son is a true hero.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Kiss: Gardening with Gustav

Have you ever seen a piece of art and imagined it as a garden? I am not a horticulturalist, garden designer or landscape architect. My only design experience comes from moving seventeen times in thirty four years and always having to cram my stuff into a new house and find a way to make it look appealing. But I am an art lover.

My garden curves around an elliptical lawn.

I recently returned from a trip to Vienna, Austria and Budapest, Hungary where I was able to finally see in person the art that inspires my garden. When my husband was given an offer to stay in the apartment of work colleague in Vienna, we cashed in some frequent flyer miles, packed our bags and headed for Austria. Exhausted from a long flight but determined to stay awake to adjust to a different time zone, we dropped our bags off and hopped the tram to the Belvedere. 

Most of the trams were sleek and modern, but we ended up on an older one a few times. They were old fashioned and quaint but still in excellent condition.

Vienna is a very clean, orderly city with clocks everywhere. I don't think they run on Tammytime. Even the plants were expected to conform and behave.

The Belvedere Gallery is home to Gustav Klimt's iconic painting, The Kiss and was in the midst of an extended Klimt exhibit. Seeing amazing art can be a physical, visceral experience. A huge square painting, I love the richness of the decorative abstraction, the sunniness of the gold leaf, and the focus on the couple. Although art critics have implied that The Kiss is a prelude to a more passionate ending, I don't see it that way at all. To me, it is simply a tender, blissful moment between two people in love, which is more powerful and enduring than anything accomplished while naked.

Gustav Klimt was a rebellious painter, determined to do everything his way. The woman in the painting is rumored to be his best friend and lover, Emilie Floge, a wise woman who refused to marry him but endured his tendency to bed his models, fathering over 14 children.

I thought the windows peeking out from the roof 
on this house in Budapest looked like eyes.

While this may look like a set from a Disney movie, it's known as the Fisherman's Bastion and offers incredible views of Budapest.

Like the embrace in the painting, my garden is a hug, the edges pulling inward to envelop those in the center. It is a soft place, calm and cheerful. I have been told it isn't edgy enough, spiky enough, or tropical enough. But my garden is exactly enough of what I need. My garden is my art, a steady embrace that pulls me in and keeps me centered. It is the novel I will never write and the plants quirkier than any character I could imagine. It is the painting and sculpture I have no ability to create. It is my own kiss.

I thought the Japanese beetles would devour my roses while I was gone, but a few Abraham Darby roses bloomed unnoticed and I found this beauty in the garden waiting for me.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Little Bit of Magic

I want a magic wand. It doesn't have to be big or fancy just magical. I want to be able to zap my dry shade into something moist and rich.

But I don't think it's going to happen. Perhaps instead of moaning about what I don't have I need to find the beauty in what I do have.

Native ruellia humilis, also known as wild petunia, pops up all over my garden and is just as happy in bright, dry shade as it is in sun. 

Native monarda punctata is my new favorite plant. Even though the flowers are beige, which is weird and boring, the plant just glows in bright shade. Soaker hoses keep this bed from turning into the Sahara.

These flowers remind me of pineapples. The pollinators love them.

Calamintha, another lover of dry soil, grows at the front of the border.

Another southeastern native, scutellaria incana, commonly known as hoary skullcap, which sounds either very naughty or slightly deadly, thrives in dry shade as long as you provide extra water during dry spells. It's another dry shade plant that attracts pollinators.

The flowers look like funky hats.

Northern sea oats and coleus

Northern sea oats thrive in dry soils with bright shade, which describes about seventy five percent of my garden.

Variegated beautyberry, callicarpa 'Duet', keeps my shade garden from looking like a black hole. It's one of the few shrubs that grows well in dry shade. A container with a variegated pennisetum 'Fireworks' gives this spot some extra zing.

'Millenium' alliums love dry, bright partial shade. The pollinators have been nuts for them and they bloom for weeks. Perhaps I have more magic in my garden than I realize.