Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: 4/25/12

The blemished ones made excellent plum jelly.

An early summer harvest from the plum trees surrounding my mother's house, with some fruits looking a little better than others.
Heard County, Georgia7 June 2010

Doc Speer's Place

Green paint on the outside brick wall of Doc Speer's Place, LaGrange, Georgia (14 April 2012)

Today's post is co-hosted by my other blog, WilliamsWrite. 

Like many small towns, LaGrange is full of interesting photo opportunities. The Hillside neighborhood, in the southwest part of town, is particularly interesting. Over the last decade, DASH for LaGrange has rehabilitated several dozen old "mill houses," saving them from destruction while revitalizing a shrinking community. Doc Speer's Place, the wall of which is pictured above, is among the buildings DASH has salvaged.

The green paint still clings to Doc's brick wall, decades after the last business vacated the premises. The floor and roof of the old store rotted and fell years ago; by the time DASH came along, six-inch-thick magnolia trees grew through the foundation and up the inside walls. But the basic structure was in decent shape, and it was a shame to tear down one of the last old-fashioned store buildings in LaGrange.

So the DASH team and community leaders decided to transform Doc Speer's Place into a sort of open-air meeting place. The vines still grow up the walls, along with privet hedge saplings nearly 20 feet high, but now they hang over picnic tables and chairs set about the 1,500 s.f. space. It's a strangely peaceful place to have a bake sale or street fair.

More photos of Doc Speer's to come, after I post final grades next week.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring has sprung...back to normal

Near freezing tonight? Weird for this year, but definitely more spring-like.
(From local forecast - 23 April 2012)

I probably shouldn't be surprised at anything the weather does, having seen so much strange weather over the last four decades. Nevertheless, it catches me every time. And like most human beings, I'll probably never learn to expect the unexpected when it comes to weather. Oh, well.

Spring 2012 has been early and mild, so a forecast low of 35 degrees tonight is pretty surprising. On my daily walk yesterday evening, I noticed a wild blackberry cane already weighed down with half-ripe berries. But I resisted the temptation to sample them. Wild berries provide food for birds and small animals, so I generally don't pick fruit from brambles I didn't plant myself. Since they're protected in a drainage ditch, they'll probably be protected from frost. Those in my yard, though, I'm not so sure about.

More interesting weather and fruit reports in a few days, after final grades are in.

Spring perfume on the porch

Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Madison' (Confederate jasmine) blooms on my porch - 13 April 2012

Today's post is jointly hosted on my other blog, WilliamsWrite.

It's semi-evergreen, makes a great groundcover for difficult-to-mow areas, offers hundreds of gorgeously-scented flowers every spring, and needs little care. Trachelospermum jasminoides may not be a real jasmine, but that's okay with me.

This cultivar's full name is Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Madison.' It's native to southeast Asia, but this variety (so the story goes) got its name when a botanist traveling with General Sherman's army discovered the plant growing beside one of Madison, Georgia's, famously beautiful old homes. 

Don't be afraid to prune T. jasminoides if it gets out of line. It's a woody vine and responds well to pruning. When it decided to grow into my native azaleas, I grabbed the gardening shears and gave it a nice trim. It didn't seem to notice, or care, and went right on growing.

A mulch around the roots does help in the heat of summer, though. You may want to give it a little extra moisture by way of a once-weekly soaker hose treatment when the weather is especially hot and dry. T. jasminoides grows best in Zones 8-10, so if your winter low temps regularly fall below 20 degrees, it probably won't do well. Here in LaGrange, Georgia, on the border between Zones 7-B and 8, I have to protect it from occasional cold snaps and ice storms. The fragrant spring blooms are well worth the trouble, though.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Every place is a sacred place

Beauty, calm, and peace.
(Near Blue Ridge, Georgia—19 May 2010)

Oak, hickory, dogwood, mountain laurel, sassafras, tulip poplar, elm, sweet gum, locustI wished I'd brought my tree book along on the hike. New fern fronds carpeted the forest floor with frothy green, but not so much so that I couldn't easily identify the poison ivy leaning out onto the trail. Leaves of three, stay away from me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: 4/18/12

He's gorgeous, and he knows it.

Leroy the rooster is loud and proud in my backyard chicken run.
LaGrange, Georgia20 June 2010

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sycamore lace

It's amazing what a change in perspective can do.

Here's looking up the trunk of a sycamore tree in my mother's yard on Easter Sunday afternoon. When I sat down on the earth beneath it and pointed the lens upward, I was amazed at how the leaves started to resemble fine green lace. The branches radiate outward at just the right angles for the photo (and photosynthesis). The trunk's randomly-peeling bark echoes the leaves ever so slightly.

Heard County, Georgia8 April 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Little Peach Tree That Could

Peach blossoms on the elderly tree in my mother's yard
Heard County, Georgia—4 March 2012

I like trees because they seem to be more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.
—Willa Cather

My great-grandfather planted this dwarf peach tree in the early 1940s. By the late 1950s, when my mother was old enough to remember the family's yearly trips South from Michigan, the tree was bearing heavily every year.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ummm...about that blackberry winter... forecast for LaGrange
(11 April 2012)
Okay. So I was wrongnot the first time that's happened, and it won't be the last. But I haven't had to wear a coat since March 10, so it seems a little weird. Back to normal April weather, and not a moment too soon!

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: 4/11/12

Like miniature cabbage roses, no?

Deep pink blossoms on my mother's crabapple tree
Heard County, Georgia11 April 2010

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fragments of days gone by

I'm 11 feet tall! Raaaawwwrrr! (6 April 2012)

I've talked before about what people did a century ago with their broken dishes. It's the darnedest thing, but I find dishware fragments nearly everywhere I go—including my own yard. Last weekend was no exception. Nearly every place is an archaeological dig, so to speak.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

The last daffodil of spring

Or so it would seem, anyway. Narcissus poeticus always blooms in very late spring, just when most of us have forgotten daffodils and moved on to the charms of irises and azaleas.

Poet's daffodil, narcissus poeticus, blooms in very late spring
(my yard, LaGrange, Georgia—27 March 2012)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Saturday Beauty: 4/7/12

The duck-billed platypus of the gardening world

The Oregon grape holly (Mahonia aquifolium) holds on to its gorgeous fall leaves and grape-like fruits until well into spring. This one stands about four feet tall in front of the Comfort Inn, in Warner Robins, Georgia.

As I checked out of the hotel and prepared to head home after my overnight business trip, I couldn't help snapping a photo of the matte bluish-gray "grapes"—they look as if they're covered in frost—and how they jump out against the warm reds, oranges, golds, and light greens of the foliage.

Warner Robins, Georgia—10 April 2010

Friday, April 6, 2012

As close as we'll get to "blackberry winter" this year

Downright chilly weather, once you get used to the high 80s in early April

A few minutes ago, I walked around the house closing all the windows that I've had open for going on three weeks. High temperatures have already climbed into the high 80s here in LaGrange in early April53 degrees feels kind of cold. And 43 tonight? Brrrr! Looks like a three-cat night. On the other hand, though, this is normal April weather for the Deep South. You know things are off kilter when normal feels like weird.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Earl Scruggs and Southern food tradition

Country music banjo legend Earl Scruggs passed away last week at age 88.

No, this isn't a music blog by any means (although I'm a country music researcher). But bless the Southern Foodways Allliance for reminding me of Scruggs' connection with traditional Southern foods—Flatt & Scruggs' rendition of the 1953 Martha White jingle. It's still in use today. 

Now you bake right (uh-huh) with Martha White (yes, ma'am)
Goodness gracious, good and light, Martha White
For the finest biscuits, cakes and pies,
Get Martha White self-rising flour
The one all purpose flour,
Martha White self-rising flour's
Got Hot Rize
Rest in peace, Earl.