Blog, flowers

Carolina Bonsai Exposition

Yesterday we spent the day out and about enjoying our neck of the woods. The first stop was the North Carolina Arboretum.

This weekend is the North Carolina Bonsai Exposition. The weather was perfect, warm with cooling breezes. It really felt like fall. We had tickets for a lecture on “The Art of Bonsai Pottery,” featuring bonsai pottery artist Ron Lang. He has done some interesting sculpture and talked about his transition to making Bonsai pottery.

The art of Bonsai takes great patience, skill, and knowledge. It is a lifelong study for those dedicated to the art. Bonsai in its simplest definition is the art of growing miniature trees in shallow containers. The tree should mimic the shape of its larger counterpart. The selection of the appropriate pottery is an art unto itself. The pottery should be a complement to the tree but never take center stage.

There was also a display of Ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arranging) as well.

We had a few errands to run where I ran into an old friend at one of the big box stores. I took a moment for a selfie then moved on.

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From there we took a drive to Bullington Gardens although they were closed when we arrived. There were still some wonderful flowers to enjoy. I am thinking about taking a watercolor class there and just wanted to reacquaint myself with the route to get there.

Afterward hubby suggested we stop for Thai food. We have been wanting to try a particular Thai restaurant in Hendersonville so last night was the night. I think our server was new so the service was not great. I ordered my favorite dish, Panang Curry, but unfortunately, there were no red or green peppers nor were there any kaffir lime leaves – both flavors I feel are important to the dish. It was still tasty, but hubby was not as fond of the zucchini they used in place of the peppers as I was.

On the way home, the moon was large and hanging in the sky as if it had been purposely placed there to beckon our eyes toward the heavens. The moonlight shone in the bedroom windows most of the night until the much-needed rain started to roll in during the early morning hours.

It is still raining and we are thankful. It is good to see it raining again. We have almost had an inch of rain today. The sound of the rain makes it a perfect morning to linger over a cup of coffee and catch up on my reading.

Blog, music, nature, Plants

Back to the Routine

Day 253

Today was back to my routine. It is so easy to fall back into old habits and justify it all — tying it up in a beautiful little package. My determination eventually wins out. I want to stay on a healthy path.

It was a nice 69° F this morning with a light breeze. Perfect walking weather. I tried to do a mental walking meditation, but I found too many distractions walking with someone else. Walking meditation will wait until I strike out alone.

Summer is not my favorite season. I do love a good thunderstorm, but the last two weeks have been fairly dry. Most of the flowers have long ceased blooming, except for a few. Even the birds are less active in the heat of the day.

The garden is still flourishing, but we are watering it daily. I have a cucumber almost ready to pick. Lucky for me, hubby does not like cucumbers. Along with tomatoes, cucumber sandwiches are one of my favorite summer lunches.

 

Last night we stopped at a roadside farm stand and picked up the first South Carolina peaches of the year. They are not fully ripe, but in a few days, they will be ready to eat. Maybe I can add some sliced peaches to my morning cereal.

What I’m Pondering

I still find myself sometimes fighting things I really want to do. Why is that? I get so enthusiastic about things but as the day approaches, I find myself trying to talk myself out of the very thing I was pursuing. Fear of failure? Feeling undeserving? What the heck?

Definitely worth meditating about.

What Stuck With Me

On our artist studio tour this weekend, I discovered a piece of art inspired by by a song written by eden ahbez (all lower case) called “Nature Boy”. The story of abhe, as he was known to friends, and this song is a very in interesting read. The song was originally recorded by Nat King Cole.

When I came home, I looked the song up on YouTube, It has a haunting feel to it which sticks with me.

Over the years, it has been recorded by artists Natalie Cole, Michael Jackson, and David Bowie among others. I am no John Holton, but this song deserves a better tribute than I can give it.

That’s my Monday morning. I hope Monday is being kind to you.

Blog, flowers, gardening, gardens, Spring

Living In The Moment

Day 204

img_9647Yesterday was our warmest day of the year thus far. This morning the temps were a little cooler which made perfect walking weather.

The visual landscape around here is changing fast. Most of the azalea blooms are gone as well as the dogwood flowers and the native azaleas. We seem to have an abundance of rhododendron blooming this year. The irises continue to bloom but the spring flowering season is coming to a close. This morning I was greeted by a splendid white iris that had evidently bloomed. It was spectacular.

I love spring. It has to be my favorite season. I am always a little sad when the warm days and cool nights make way to hot days and equally hot nights. Right now we can still open the doors and windows, but with many more hot days, it will soon be time to close the house up and turn on the air conditioning.

We have a good start on our gardens. We have already had a salad out of our lettuce garden. It is so divine to have our own greens topped with the punch of flavor from fresh dill and cilantro. (Yes, I am one of those that love cilantro. Thankfully, so is hubby.)

I mentioned earlier that hubby raised our container garden. Last year we had so much rain and the ground was so saturated the garden could not drain. Our plants literally drowned.

Raising the garden was cumbersome. I told hubby I thought he over-engineered it which did not go over well. Sorry, but it was so heavy we almost could not turn it over. He basically attached legs of 4×4’s and put planks across the bottom, leaving spaces so the soil could drain. Then he covered it with landscape cloth to keep the dirt from falling through, then comes the soil and the mushroom compost then the planting. I asked him to keep the little ledge rather than even it up. Makes a good place to put pots and the watering can.

Friday we will go to the Asheville WNC Farmers Market for their annual Growing in the Mountains Plant Sale. This is where we usually find a nice array of native plants. We have a bad habit of buying more than we have room to plant, thus a lot of garden plants end up overflowing into individual pots.

Yesterday afternoon we went to help our friend unload his kiln after a 40+- hour soda ash firing. He is an amazing potter and the resulting work was beautiful. The community of artists in this area is inspiring.

Tonight we will go see our grandson at his final track meet of the season and next weekend we will drive to Charleston for our granddaughter’s piano recital.

It seems this retirement life is jam-packed full of things to do.

Blog, flowers, gardens, nature, Plants

How to Garden On a Rainy Day

Day 191

Today is overcast with intermittent rain. I love spring so much and love being outside and enjoying all the gifts of nature and working on our predominately natural landscape. The forecast for the weekend looks to be much of the same.

Last weekend we went up on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Southern Highland Craft Guild to see art demonstrations by metal and glass artists. It was an interesting day. As we were preparing to leave, I went into the gift shop to browse for t-shirts. What caught my eye, however, was a book: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains &Piedmont: a Naturalist‘s Guide to the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia by Timothy P. Spira. I thumbed through it and knew I needed to add it to my collection.

I have never met the author, but he is married to a relatively new friend of mine, Lisa, who authors the blog Natural Gardening. I have learned so much about the plants and trees native to this area through them. I am really enjoying trying to put my new knowledge to use.

Yesterday, I snapped some photos of new blooms which happens almost daily during this time of the year.

I also see non-native plants like this wisteria along the road where we walk each morning. Look at the size of the vines! The wisteria vines are completely taking over this native dogwood. You only need look around at the kudzu in this area to understand what non-native species can do to an environment.

So back to my original question. How do I garden on a rainy day? Well, I am making use of a wonderful book my sister-in-law gave us, The Naturalist’s Notebook, by Nathaniel T. Wheelwright & Bernd Heinrich, to document what is blooming and when. It is nice to know from year to year how things change.

(I am thinking about purchasing one of the new Polaroid instant cameras compatible with Zink instant peel and stick film so I can put photos directly into the book.)

Of course, as I am preparing to publish this blog, the sun is breaking through the clouds. I might get a little outdoor time today after all.

Blog, Cloudy, Home, memories, nature, Plants

Walking Familiar Territory

Day 160

This morning I went for a walk. It’s odd to be walking in a place where I lived for so long but now seems very unfamiliar. I have become accustomed to my mountain life and the sights and sounds that surround me. The first few minutes of my walk I felt unsafe. That was a new feeling for me because I’ve never felt unsafe walking by myself. After a few minutes I re-accustomed myself to my surroundings and I was OK.

I did a 2-mile walk on very flat land which is very strange compared to the hills and curves in my mountain community. I wrote once about fences in an earlier post, but here I was struck by the signs and fences to contain or keep out or to protect. The newer the community the higher and stronger the fences — brick walls and metal gates. I guess that’s what money buys.

img_8856-1I noticed the smell of pesticides and fertilizers along my walk throughout very well-crafted communities. It was a familiar smell but not something I smell often where I live. It’s very beautifully landscaped here but it’s not wild, it’s very controlled. The weeds are held back by chemicals and the flowers are all similar from yard to yard to yard. I’m not sure if they are all native or not but I’m sure some are.

I had forgotten how sandy the soil is here. Such a contrast to the red clay in North Carolina.

Some of the things I saw made me so happy to see again. They were very familiar to me from my life here. I’m a little bit late to see the yellow tab trees in full bloom. They’re a sight to see when their flowers fall — this beautiful tree sitting on a blanket of yellow flowers. One of my favorite trees from my time in Florida.

The squirrels are very different in behavior here. They aren’t so skittish of humans and will climb a tree but constantly check to see if you’re still there and if you are posing any type of threat.

I also enjoyed seeing the resurrection ferns. They look so dead when in need of moisture, but they look so alive just moments after receiving water.

I loved seeing all the crepe myrtles, but they are not blooming yet. Most of the crepe myrtles have been cut back by half. That’s normal here. I always preferred to let mine grow naturally. To each his own.

I only saw three fruit trees. One lemon, one orange, and one kumquat. I am sure this area at one time was covered in orchards. In Florida, most fruits are ripe in December or January timeframe so the fruit I saw on the trees was beginning to look old.

It is so warm and humid here. There is algae growing most anywhere protected by shade. The sidewalks, the telephone poles, and the sides and roofs of many houses are covered in algae. I remember once being written up by our home owners association because we had algae on the roof. We were required to pay someone to pressure wash our roof with bleach even though it drastically shortened the life of this shingles.

Much of Florida is much more rural than this. There is a beautiful wildness to see here. I recommend you seek it out if you have the opportunity to visit. The Spanish moss is not fiend removed from the trees, but in the wilder areas it is very prevalent.

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It was really a beautiful day. Cloudy and overcast with a cool breeze and the threat of rain. A perfect Florida day for me. I enjoyed walking in the cool breeze because in a few months that will be rare. I loved seeing the familiar things but it made me miss the wild area where I live now.

Other than my children and my granddaughter, Florida is now just a memory for me. As long as they are here, I will always return. And I will always have a fond remembrance of the many years I lived here and all the happy times I experienced. But we move on. Sometimes places don’t suit us anymore and we have to find where we fit. I think I found my place and I’m happy to be there. I only wish all the people I love were there too.