Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Side-of-the-Road Beauty

This is a David Austin rose growing on the side of the road of the condos next to Pink Gardens. One of the nice "old ladies" that lived at the condos had a beautiful rose garden in front of her apartment but after she moved, the new tenant transplanted most of them to their present location, almost forgotten next to the parking lot. This one is doing just beautifully, though! David Austins are known for their inordinate amount of petals clustered tightly in the center and the most AMAZING aroma. They are the quintessential rose in every way. I kneel down and "take a whiff" every time I walk by. I've actually told some of the condo residents how wonderful they smell and some of them look at me like I have two or three heads! I just can't imagine being so busy with your life that you can't take time to smell the roses, LITERALLY!!!! : )
  • For more information on David Austin roses, click here.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The French Open and Mom

Me and Mom, 1957 or early '58.
Aw, I just turned to NBC to see the usual Sunday morning fare,  the Chris Matthews Show and then Meet the Press. It's early June though and thus the French Open was on instead.

Exactly fourteen years ago, a Sunday in early June 1999, I watched the same tennis tournament on TV with my Mom. She was an avid tennis fan, and her "boy" Andre Agassi was two sets down. You only need three sets out of five to win, so it wasn't looking good.

Mom was ill, quite ill. It had been a struggle to get her to the family room but she was insistent that she get out of bed and not watch TV in her room. We watched together. Agassi won the third set, so the Open continued. Agassi won the fourth set so it was tied! I don't think either of us really thought he'd do the Great Thing and win the Fifth and final set, too, coming all the way back from 0-2, but suddenly he did! I remember him kissing the clay court the second he won. My mom had tears in her eyes because her "adopted son" as she laughingly called Andre, had won. I had tears in my eyes because I also realized for the first time the Inevitable was upon us.

I helped my mom back to her room—she was smiling and laughing even as she had to increasingly lean on me, metaphorically and literally, her weakening body just not working for her anymore. That was the last Open she watched. It was the last time she watched anything from the family room. From that point on she didn't leave her room. I moved a recliner into her room and we watched TV together while she was awake. We listened to opera at 3am if she wished. I slept in that recliner most nights so she wouldn't be alone. Just ten days after Agassi's amazing comeback win she was gone, dying of an inoperable brain tumor and cancer which had spread throughout her body. In less than three months total, she was diagnosed in early March and died in mid-June of the same year, she had gone from delivering Meals-on-Wheels to senior citizens, to needing full-time nursing care at home for herself. She wished to die at home and I gave her that final wish, just as I had for my Dad thirteen years beforehand. Both of them died as peacefully as possible in their own room, in their own house, in their own time.

So the French Open is happening right now, 14 years later. Rafa is leading Ferrer in the second set, having won the first. He's not unstoppable like an oncoming freight train, but he's damn close. Like Life.

Ultimately we ARE stopped, we all are, but we celebrate the wins when we get them. We learn from our mistakes. We are capable of Comebacks. We do extraordinary things when called upon. We live Life until our very last breath.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Here They Come . . .

Lots of my early summer perennials are in bloom right now. I just marvel at the way perennials can last for years, and decades in many cases. They have their blooming season, and the trick to having a well-designed perennial garden is to have enough variety to have something in bloom all season. Above, my pale pink hybrid Iris. I bought the first pot of them several years ago, and thought I had lost them after I transplanted them. This year they surprised me by blooming again! This one stalk will have a total of seven flowers!

Pale lavender Iris. It is a silky, velvety pale blue with very large flowers.
 I have this variety in three different gardens.

This is a beautiful cultivated Honeysuckle. It's next to a house on my walk to town and I've admired it for years.

I call this Iris variety, Mahogany. It's a deep, deep purple that is almost black in low light and an incredible reddish purple in bright sunlight. The center is yellow, but you have to fold back the petals to see it.
Each flower is about six inches tall, and each stem has 5-6 flowers. 
More views of my pale pink Iris. Above, at dusk, it takes on a slightly deeper, almost purple tint.
While in bright sunlight, it becomes almost peach colored.
These blooms are almost EIGHT inches tall!
I have several clumps of Siberian Iris, above. They are easy to transplant, grow very quickly, and I just love them!
This is an Iris that is blooming in the condos I have to walk by to get to town. It's bright white with those incredible reddish-orange "beards" as those decorative pieces are known.
Also in the condos is this yellow and purple Iris. We used to have these in my family's gardens.
This is a summer phlox new to my gardens this year. Believe it or not, I found it in the wooded area of Pink Gardens' yard. They are cultivated but grow well in low-light situations like forests and often become "wild" in this area. They do well in sun, too, though, and I expect these to multiply over the years to come.
These phlox come in all sorts of colors, from bright white to hot pink, and these lavender ones are just a perfect color for this time of year.
This is a Tulip Maple tree. It's at the very beginning of the tiny private road I live on. We also had one in Leete's Island and I took it as very good Karma when I saw this one when I moved in. The flowers really do look like yellow and orange tulips.
One of my ferns is putting out yellowish golden spore stalks. Another variety I have has black spore stalks but they show up later in the season.
Another view of the Mahogany Iris, and you can just see the bright yellow sepals (I think they're sepals!) inside.
This is a very elegant Iris, yellow and white. The blooms are large and last a few days, longish for an Iris.
Solomon Seals are coming along nicely! They will eventually be around 4-feet long and gracefully arch back to the ground. The flowers, which are small, tight buds right now, can be seen along the bottom of the stalks. They will eventually be a creamy white bell-shaped bloom, almost like large Lily-of-the-Valleys. 
Solomon Seals are an old-time perennial. They are frequently found in ancient perennial gardens next to homes that have seen a few centuries. They aren't "showy" like so many "new" flowers, but they're elegant and I love them.