Gifts from the Universe –

There are fleeting moments in time that are gifts from the Universe.

Recently it was bundling up in the wee hours of the morning to watch the Geminids as they danced merrily across the winter sky….

Or to welcome in the New Year at the shoreline edge – and voila – the moon emerges from behind clouds – throwing a magical beam of hopeful light across the water; a pop of a champagne cork barely audible as the waves rhythmically crash on their voyage; then further down the shore – a fireworks array twinkling in the distance and delighted oohs, ahhs and laughter to remind us that we are not alone… a magical convergence of time & place locked into memory.

This brings to mind another occasion at water’s edge  – a sudden hoard of hairless polar bears running into the water, shrieking and squealing as they plunge in to the icy water – then disappear as quickly as they had emerged.  Perhaps the polar bears were just as surprised to see our curious encampment, which included Mongolian robes & hats (left over from a recent Genghis Khan film project) and a space ship floating above the campfire… well it was the Millennium after all!  Y2K and the world coming to a standstill!


We all have snippets of stories that remain in our brain database triggered by the unexpected delight, and titillated by the senses.

In the garden these happen often – unexpected encounters and amazing lessons of survival and hope.

Once while pruning in the JCRA Mixed Border, the Border Babes were mesmerized as we watched as hundreds of tiny Praying Mantis emerged from their protective egg case. With silk-like threads they performed an aerial show… a miniature Cirque du Soleil in the garden and we had front row seats!  I will always regret not having my camera for this show!

Just yesterday the Babes were enthralled as the earth started pushing up between flagstone in a path… a snout or a paw visible in the blink of an eye!


Returning home after the holiday interlude, it is always joyous see what surprises await in the garden.

As I opened the car door, a scent overpowered me.  I knew immediately the Prunus mume had begun its show.   The buds had held tight for weeks… and now the welcoming scent lured me down the garden path.

I grabbed the new 6’ long reach pruners my husband gave me for Christmas… all shiny & new and headed to basque in the heavenly scent.

Prunus cluster

Under lovely pink blossoms, I shivered with delight, engulfed in Prunus mume ‘Kobai’s’ sweet cinnamon scent.

Prunus mume or flowering Apricot or Plum – is a lovely tree, considered a small specimen tree topping out about 25’ tall.  It brightens the winter landscape and available in shades of white to deep pink almost red blossoms. Planted in full sun or part shade it is a welcome site in the winter garden.  ‘Kobai’ blooms from late December to March in our Entwined Garden.

Although first observed blooming in Japan, the flowering plum or apricot is native to China.  In the 1930’s, China designated it the national flower with the 5 petals representing the 5 blessings – wealth, health, virtue, old age, and natural death. Even more reason to plant one!

There are over 300 named cultivars according to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and a passion of the late Dr. J.C. Raulston.


Prunus mume blooming at JC Raulston Arboretum.

The dark ruby red leaves of another Chinese native forms a horizontal hedge line under the Prunus mume.  Several times a year it bursts forth with fireworks looking hot pink fringed blooms!  Ooh la la!

This was a well researched variety – Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum ‘Ruby’  the promise to be  a 5’ x 5’  hedge which I added to Entwined Garden in 2003.   It is the perfect foil for a formal garden room and before the landscapes terraces to the pond.   Perfect if plants could read their descriptions!  Regularly this hedge can spring out of hand shooting up to 8 – 10 feet if not kept in check.  Well it is a Loropetalum for goodness sake!

Trapped it it’s hypnotic spell, I clipped for three hours, pruning the Loropetalum hedge, shivering from the cold.   I had neglected to throw on a warm vest or jacket & hat, but was so possessed I was unable to pull myself away.   The new pruners were perfect. Easy to use – think of pruners on a stick with an easy to balance lightweight aluminum shaft and trigger grip for easy clipping – great to sight a lines.  If only I had thought to conjure up Pearl Fryer and give the hedge an artistic flair… but who knows that might come – stay tuned!

Entwined Gardens - Italian cypress flank the Loropetalum hedge under  fragrant Prunus mume show.

Entwined Gardens – Italian cypress flank the Loropetalum hedge under fragrant Prunus mume show.

As the light began to dim and Magic the dog – nudged me for dinner, I reluctantly stepped way from the hedge and snipped a few branches from ‘Kobai’ – knowing they would fill the house with the delicate scent of hope for what delights this New Year would bring!

Prunus branch

Close up of Prunus mume ‘Kobai’

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

When a Christmas tree is not a tree…

John's Tree

John Martin never ceases to amaze me…

On a recent trip to Cedar Creek Gallery – I enjoyed the beautiful exceptional American Craft.    As I wound my way through the gardens, galleries, past the amazing pottery, stained glass mirrors,  jewelry, blown glass bowls and ornaments;  the coolest purses ever… wood work, metal work… I entered the  back gallery and be still my heart!

I knew John had been busy again!   Creating a wonder of  botanical offerings from the Cedar Creek Garden!

The ‘tree’ base was an amazing piece of pottery by Richard Aerni.   It looked like a tree, but I knew it wasn’t any ordinary tree.   I looked to see if anyone else was around, then contorted myself on the floor to see what John had done.

There is bamboo, magnolia, wood shavings for baskets or caning as garland.   This takes pruning to a new level!  I was looking at a deconstructed, reconstructed work of art… an arrangement of giant proportions.   It is seamlessly done and as I worried I might be discovered Entwined in the tree,  I skillfully used my yoga training and untwisted myself, then stepped back and enjoyed the master’s vision.

Luckily I went to Cedar Creek’s website and they had documented  John’s work in progress!

Enjoy and be inspired!

Living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

Gifts for Gardeners

Several years ago I was having a conversation with an actress between takes.    She said she had an agreement with her husband regarding categories of gifts – they must be either – Shiny, furry or involve real estate.

No electrical cords allowed! Continue reading

Horticultural Test of Time for the Holidays

So the true test…

Could I remember how to successfully use an O’dapter,  a month later to create a botanical whimsy for the holidays?

See the results and “How To”… Continue reading

Get thee to the garden… and bring your pruners!

O.K.  I know it’s cold out there for most of you.   But now is the time to get thee to the garden and bring your pruners.

On your way to the mailbox or walking Fido, take a few snips – your neighbors won’t mind. Continue reading

Step away from the glitter….

Often there comes a time… when you just have to step away…

For the past 3 years every holiday we celebrated was in a nursing home;  many of our family traditions  had to be put aside.

Although wonderful to be spending it together, it was never private; visits seemed far too short or confined.

There is only so much decorating one can do in a shared room with limited space.

A wreath for Jayme's Mom!

But there was nothing like the smile on my Mom’s face when the new Seasonal wreath appeared for her door, or a tiny Christmas tree which I decorated in all of her favorite colors was revealed!

Color co-ordination - pleasing to Mom!

Color co-ordination – pleasing to Mom!

The tiny tree was a gift from my friend Barbara – who’s husband had died.  Barbara understands the kindness of little things to delight, and the space restraints in these times of transition.  Continue reading

Figs bursting with delight.

Bursting point… We all get to this point… when the blood starts to boil – the emotions swell – so full of stress our juices ready to burst like a fig after a fresh rain.  This morning I was so ready to burst that I called my sage friend  Helen Yoest – she reminded me that sometimes it is just better to “let it go”…

I took a deep breath and ventured outside to find solace in Entwined Gardens.

To my delight, I wasn’t the only one having a break & snack.

Sevensons against a
Carolina Blue Sky

The Heptacodium miconioides  (Sevenson Flower, Autumn Lilac) tree was a buzz with pollinators.  As I looked up at creamy white puffs against a Carolina Blue sky my angst began to vanish lost in a swirl of bees, wasps skippers & butterflies.  My thoughts turned to my delightful 2009 quest to find this tree – an Entwined Gardens expansion – to create a new border adding fall interest near our parking area.

Yes, a crazy Dr. Seuss – like plant that gets far too large for the chosen location.  But the fragrant creamy white flowers appearing August – September, turning into small rounded fruit with a cherry red to rose purple calyx  – ShaZaam! There’s no such thing as too Big as the sweet scent welcomes us home each day.  This small deciduous tree growing 10’ –12’ tall x 8’ – 10’ wide also valued for exfoliating bark in warm hues of light brown, does not disappoint, especially if you don’t mind unpredictable plants with fall winter interest! For those of you who cringe at the word ‘Prune’ – one can’t make a mistake on this wildly branching structure.   Within a year of planting this tree was a showstopper in my new themed border of plants for fall interest and ready for the 2010 Garden Conservancy Open Days Tour!

A lovely butterfly perched upon a Cana ‘Phaison’ or Tropicana Lily, caught my attention. I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo – then it was off in a wisp of a wing – up and circling overhead.

Table for Two –
Red Spotted Purples
dining on Celeste Fig

My mind clearly engaged as I watched the Zen motion as the butterfly fluttered up and around higher & higher then caught a glimpse of pink in an unexpected place.    One of the out of reach Celeste figs had burst open and the scent of soft flesh fills the air. Another Butterfly lands and enjoys the fleshy sweetness – talk about table with a view.

The usual suspects at the Fig Café – humans with morning coffee in hand, disrupting the quiet feast of squirrels & birds who quickly disappear, thinking of another way to enjoy these fruits, of course tasting for inspiration.  Wasps & butterflies throughout the midday, lingering like the folks at an Internet cafe; Possum and Raccoons – the nocturnal clientele leaving debris like twenty -somethings in a college town, so although unseen, we know they’ve been & enjoyed.

Who are these diners
at the Hibiscus Cafe?

Drawn further into the garden – some yet to be identified colorful visitors snacking on Hibiscus coccineus – Red Star Hibiscus pod.

Further down the path another snack has been consumed and another life form swells, 

slowing down progress, almost paralyzed to move forward.  I snap a few photos – in this the moment of truth.  By the time I can summon my husband and run back he has slithered into the safety of foliage.

I am reminded of the lesson to let it go.  Had I not taken a break, made room to breath, I’d have missed these whimsical delights, sweet smells and delicious figs.


Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative