Gardens of Charleston

I didn’t know this first visit to Charleston would be our last trip for awhile. We took this trip in December 2019. It was a spectacular city I’ve always wanted to visit, and the gardens were incredible.

There were Holly Ferns, Cyrtomium falcatum growing from the brick walls everywhere. One can see why they are considered invasive. My husband Hal & I spent an entire day walking all around in the city. We left bustling downtown, walking along King Street full to the brim with commerce and shops. Then, onto the parks along the waterfronts. The Battery Park was interesting, but the gardens glimpsed through the gates along the way were magical. Seeing in person for the first time the places I had read about made me contemplate more deeply Charleston’s horrific past history as a location where a large number of human beings were bought and sold as slaves. I always am drawn to places with important historical significance, and hope to learn more about what really happened there, in order to try to create a better future together.

The College of Charleston was otherwordly, and there were Resurrection Ferns-according to my friend Issac, covering every tree branch and trunk on the live oaks. The pictures I took don’t do justice to the spectacular gardens there. They’ve had some time to grow.

There were huge spectacular Fatsias down by the waterfront at the Battery Park.

Thanks to Sheldon, at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, for identifying this plant for me as Cassia Augustifolia. They were draped languidly (even in December) over the walls of gated courtyards, and along the cobbled sidewalks and streets.

I’ve chosen the Magnolia as the transition plant between the city and country gardens further inland. The place we visited next was once again a place with a very horrible past, like many places in the South where African American human beings were enslaved laborers that were used to advance economically. Magnolia Gardens also known as Magnolia Plantation has become a tourist attraction, but it was once a place were slaves worked the land. Some of the Camellias here are over 200 years old and were actually planted by slaves. Those plants are what I came here to see, so to remember and never forget what was done here.

Magnolia draped in Spanish Moss-not moss at all!

Camellias at Magnolia Gardens

This is the last Romantic style garden in the US. Romantic means wild and free feeling, and seemingly untamed in this context. They have the largest collection of camellias in US.

Ashley River

This is my 100th post!

Atlanta Botanical Garden

The ‘Imaginary Worlds’ installation at The Atlanta Botanical Garden had just opened when my husband, mother-in-law, and I visited on May 5th, 2018.  Plants are used to comprise the outer ‘skins’ on the figures. The exhibit is very creative, structurally interesting, and particularly beautiful to me, due to my love of plants.

We first enjoyed an open sun garden bursting with Poppies & Daffodils, Irises, & so many kinds of beautiful blooms. There were chairs set up for a wedding, and a bride taking photos above the garden area. What a lovely & gorgeous place for a wedding! I have not yet identified all of the flowers I took photos of, but will in the future.

Poppies and Wow!

The company that created the ‘Mosaiculture’ exhibit for the Atlanta Botanical Garden is International Mosaiculture of Montreal.  There are some cool photos & video of their work on their website.

I was fascinated by this interesting new art form. I had not experienced plants this way before. This style of using various plants on the outside of a structure is very different than topiary, and added another layer to my enjoyment of plants as functional art.

In addition to the Mosaiculture installation, we also really were amazed by the Fuqua Orchid Center & the Conservatory. I could do any entire separate post on orchids, so I will just include some photos I took for now. The orchids were breathtaking.

I didn’t get a single photo of the edibles garden, unfortunately. I was so glad they included an edible garden, and I remember in particular the espaliered apple trees, the paw-paw tree, and the yellow blooming cabbages as standing out.

I think these tendrils are epiphyte roots, but not sure & will identify later. It was surreal to walk under the super long, thin strands that fell from very high up in the building.

The Oakleaf Hydrangeas were absolutely outstanding, and there was a strong smell of  Jasmine throughout much of garden. The Canopy Walk offered a unique perspective high up in the tree canopy, and the stroll was like a dream come true for a tree and forest lover like me. The entire afternoon was truly a delightful experience, and I can’t wait to return.

Georgia Trees & Shrubs – Pruning & Maintenance 2018

Crabapple –

My husband & I pruned heavily with the new polesaw, in Spring 2017. The Crabapple has filled out beautifully since the great pruning, and the smaller size and shaping fits the front of the house much better. 

I identified this crabapple tree as a Centurion variety. Thanks mostly to the Colorado State University Extension Crabapple Identification page & Southern Living. I also looked at pics online. I didn’t know there are so many different varieties.


Prune twice per year. First prune heavily in early Spring & then again in late Summer if necessary to shape prune. They smell so good, probably due to being related to honeysuckle. I love, love this shrub. Blooms from May til frost!

Dave’s Garden gives more details about this gorgeous plant.


Only bloom on Old Wood, so I usually prune lightly in the Spring before blooms emerge in May. I don’t have the heart to cut the beautiful, fragrant flowers while they are open. I prune after it blooms, if not before.


I pruned the huge gardenia last week finally -early May 2018. See pic below. No blooms yet, and lots of fill in growing to do this season. It will help stimulate new growth and make a healthier shrub in the future.

Zone 7b, Georgia, Gardenia
After the great pruning. Looks a little sparse, but will fill in.


I prune every few years as needed in the early Spring. I pruned heavily in early March of 2018, but it is still very big, and has crossing branches. This shrub needs a major cut back again either later this year or next spring, maybe both.

Loropetalum March 2018 Before pruning, currently blooming

This post by Walter Reeves on pruning Loropetalum makes me laugh about the “needs little pruning” statement. Mine always has a natural look, especially now immediately after pruning, but I would like a more rounded appearance eventually.

Tools used: Long Pole Saw, Long Handled Loppers, Hedge Trimmers, Greenworks Chainsaw- this is new, and awesome. Quiet & No Gas & Powerful.

2018 Delaware Valley White Azalea. Not a native azalea, but beautiful!

I didn’t prune this azalea this year, but included it because it was spectacular this Spring. I will posts pics and details soon about all the great Native Plants I have planted in my landscape the last few years, like the Native Azaleas & Oakleaf Hydrangea. I love the Georgia Native Plant Society’s website for information on Georgia Native Plants. Also Raised Beds, Seeds, and 2018 Garden post to follow soon!

In the Woods

fall leaves north east georgia
My backyard woods- Fall 2016

Henry David Thoreau

wrote the following in the “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For” section of Walden. The first time I read Walden, just a few years ago, I was surprised by the content. The text is full of deep philosophical wisdom, and actual practical gardening advice and data. This quote resonates powerfully with me. Thoreau’s reasons for gardening and writing seem similar to mine. He too sees how living closely with nature can allow people to experience life to the fullest.

” I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, …   “

Project Gutenberg is an incredible resource for free texts, and they have the full text of Walden.

I am including a link to one of my favorite pieces I’ve written which is titled

Growing an Essay

It is inspired by Thoreau and Walden, and is written as a New York Times Draft style essay.

Gibbs Gardens Daffodils

I waited for several years to visit Gibbs Gardens when the spring daffodils were blooming. March 26, 2016 was closer to the end of the season, but there were plentiful daffodils and other blooming plants to enjoy. Gibbs Gardens, located in Ball Ground, Georgia, has one of the largest daffodil gardens in the world.

gazebo & daffodils at gibbs gardens
Gibbs Gardens 

Daffodils appear on my blog often, and I’m excited to finally share the pics of the gardens. It softly rained from time to time that day. The white cherry blossoms and the Japanese garden were stunning. The stroll through the gardens and forest felt magical.

swath of daffodils on slope
unknown daffodil
plants from Gibbs Gardens
What is this plant? Some type of Euphorbia I think.
view from the top of the hill
side of pond Japanese Garden
Japanese Gardens – the largest in the Nation!cypress stairstep over pond
Snowy White Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Tree
View leaving the Japanese Garden

I’m currently digging & transplanting crowded daffodil bulbs in my yard,  spacing them out, & hoping they will bloom next spring. I have a post in the works about that process.

Franklinia Alatamaha

I spoke with Katy Ross, owner of Night Song Native Plant Nursery, about one of the rarest and most unusual plants in the world. I will discuss in subsequent posts the other plants I got at the “Spring Open House and Earth Day Celebration,” on April 23rd, 2016.


The first plant I will talk about is the Franklin Tree.” Already special for many historical reasons, I found a personal connection with this plant in my previous research and writing. That connection, as well as this plant’s interesting history, made it particularly noteworthy.

The photo below shows a recovering plant after it was eaten down to one, sad leaf by the plentiful deer population. I took the pic of this green anole pretending to be a stick, after moving it to the back porch from the front yard-where I intended to plant it. It grew a few more leaves trying to recover as this photo shows, but …


I will save more suspense and say that despite my best efforts, the Franklinia Alatamaha did not survive. This is the last photo of the very special, rare tree I was so excited about.

There is however, a lesson in this about nature and gardening. A lesson that teaches about disappointment and acceptance. A lesson about patience and trying again next year. A lesson about about why plants might go extinct in the wild. It seems that deer, or some other mystery critter, love to eat this plant. The other plants I got that day are thriving, and I will post about those next!

I spoke with owner Katy Ross, asking her to tell me about this plant. It drew my interest because the sign said “discovered by William Bartram.” I completed a project on William Bartram a few years ago, so I wanted to know about and purchase this plant.

Katy told me the plant was discovered by Bartram growing near the Alatamaha River in Georgia, and was also named after Ben Franklin. Her information lead me to do more research online.  I meant to ask her how she discovered the plant, but forgot in my excitement.

I did not talk to Katy about the importance of native plants that day. Later reading one of her brochures, I was lead to website. The “Why Natives” webpage contains important, valuable information on why using native plants is critical to ecosystem health.


I can’t wait to return to Night Song Native Plant Nursery for more interesting native plants.

Finally, check out my project on Bartram titled Finding Buffalo Creek. I was inspired by his explorations of Georgia, his ties to important historical events, and his descriptions and drawings of native plants.

Japanese Maple

Thoughtfully gifted from my father-in-law, at Christmas time a few years ago, this maple sizzles in the fall. This one soars to over 8 feet tall already, with more growing ahead.

Many varieties of Japenese Maple are found around the world.

This lovely tree thrives in USDA Zone 7b, in full sun facing southwest.


This one came from Gibbs Gardens-which is truly an incredible natural sanctuary located in Ball Ground, Georgia. There are over 220 acres of gardens! Prepare for your mind to be blown by the exquisiteness, which includes an authentic Japanese Garden.


Journal 5 Environ. Lit.


This Crabapple in the front yard is a fantastic tree.The gorgeous hot pink blooms only last for a few days. They have faded now. Their life was short and glorious. For those few days this tree is a maelstrom of bee and flying insect activity. Even I can smell the delightful sweet perfume of the blossoms that lures the pollinators in. The bugs swirl and zip around above my head and and I can hear their wings buzzing. This tree is humming. The flowers have done their work. The insects have visited, fulfilling their part in the cycle of making new crabapple trees. I tried to capture a picture of a single bee, wasp, or bug, but they move so quickly I wasn’t able to. I will just have to remember and wait for next years frenzy. Spring is happening all around now, making me reflect on the changing of seasons that the authors we’ve discussed in class experienced. I am wondering what Annie Dillard’s Virginia mountains are sprouting this time of year. I’ve been thinking about the migration of birds, as more have arrived in the neighborhood, making me think of Aldo Leopold’s geese. And because I’ve been thinking of trees, I am reminded of Janisse Ray’s writing, I wonder what the pine forests and the wiregrass meadows are growing this spring in some small South Georgia sanctuary of nature. I feel more connected to nature this spring and can’t wait to see what blooms tomorrow.


Thoughts of Fall

I went back to college last August, and my posting fell by the wayside. I did still take a lot of pictures, and grew some great veggies in my garden bed. I was looking back at the pics and thought this one was worth sharing. It reminds me of the lovely fall we had and helps anticipate the spring.


This gorgeous Japanese Maple was a gift from my father-in-law in 2012. It was the first tree my husband and I planted, and I was so happy to see it thriving this past fall. The striking red is like nothing else in the landscape, and therefore a treasure.

Southern Flowering Dogwood


I am blessed with many Dogwood Trees scattered throughout my woods. It’s hard to capture with the camera the delight of the white peeking through the bursting spring green. A baby pink one in the backyard bloomed beautifully, but no pink petals for two years now. These trees are a joy to behold in all seasons and their snowy white “petals” are amazing.

The UGA Extension offers a useful online publication about

Growing Dogwoods in Georgia.