Hunkering down for winter and Elephant trumpets…

The fall is upon us… the excitement of the NC State Fair, leaves blowing and swirling, critters foraging…   colors now yellow instead of the pervasive green.  Hits of pinks, reds and oranges – emerge across the horizon.

Over the last few days with temperatures dipping to 38 degree F.,  we are hunkering down for winter at Entwined Gardens.

The careful lists of selecting which tropicals to dig up, re-pot  and drag into shelter for the winter,  have been checked off the ‘To-Do” list.

The Korean Mums  by the white garden gate – lovely with their peach tinged petals are open for diners – the last of the visible pollinators.  I notice that these two insects  have the same  striped markings – the one on the upper right is quite a bit smaller, wings perpendicular rather than angling, as they feast on nectar.

  DaisiesDendranthema rubellum – Korean Mum

Walking the paths, I reflect on each plant as a quest or gift from a friend.  The Dendranthema –  a division from Gail Ingram – from the back of her pickup truck after a Master Gardener meeting in 2000,  a feeding frenzy of outstretched arms… hoping to feel the plant material fall into their fingers… What Joy!

Hence my Motto:

“It’s always a great day when you bring home a plant!”

Entwined Gardens has been the recipient of many such plant shares  and trades from amazing horticultural giants and mentors – I’ll refrain from much of the name dropping.

I’ve dug, dragged, dumpster dived (from the JC Raulston Arboretum ‘plants only’ dumpster),  put on waders bogged and slogged on a quest.     Shopped till I’ve dropped, then traveled hours with a with a coveted Acer palmatum ‘Okukuji nishiki’ – a lovely variagated Japanese Maple specimen  –  stuck between my knees on a road trip from Athens, Georgia to sweet home North Carolina!  Thanks goodness my friend Jean was driving!

Over the years, friend Mitzi has shown us how to pack in the plants on these expeditions.    And in the horticultural Mecca of the Triangle,  it is not uncommon to see all types of specimens in all shapes and sizes of vehicles being driven on highways and byways!

Nearby I reflect on a  stand of Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’  which will stay in the ground.  Although only known to be hardy zones 8-10,  it over wintered well in my Zone 7B garden last year.

To date,  in all my shameless, plant obsessive (OK, addicted) escapades – my 5’2″ frame was no match for the these elephants!

ThaiGiant

I laugh every time I think of this Elephant Ear… a share from friend and divine garden writer Helen Yoest.

I arrived at Helen’s Haven with some thick gauge heavy-duty giant lawn bags.   Gratefully, Helen had already heave-hoed them out of the ground for sharing.  How sweet was that!

Elephant Ears like their large mammal name sakes,  must hold a heck of a lot of water which is the only logic I could give to their weight.  I struggled to lug their root balls into the bags.   I strained to budge them around the side of the house and down the garden path without trampling one of Helen’s borders.  I tried dragging, then pushing them in the heavy gauge plastic.  I think a stubborn Pachyderm would have been easier to coax than this Colocasia gigantea!

Laboriously breathing, I finally made it to the intersection of walkway and driveway…   I wondered if I could roll them down without damaging the magnificent leaves and roots, but decided against this option.  I walked around the house and couldn’t locate any thing with wheels.

Dazed, my short arms straining,  I took a breath pondering, “If only I had a real  elephant… an elephant could easily use its proboscis or trunk to transport these down the drive – easy peasy…  and most likely for a couple of bags of peanuts.  This would really give the neighbors something to talk about!”

Reality check… when did Helen’s driveway get so long and steep? Even going downhill it seemed like an abyss!

My desire for these plants once again snapped me back – pushing me forward like a goat in quicksand…   I was one with them,  I was not letting go –  and then it hit me like a ton of elephants, if I do get to the street, how will I ever hoist them up to the bed of the pick up?   I wanted to weep.

I felt like I was in an Abbott & Costello escapade, but I sure wished Abbott (my Hubby) was there as  I struggled comically down the driveway.  I would take a few steps,  teetering with the weight over head, stop and walk around this stubborn as a mule plant predicament – barely budging a few inches.

I thought for sure Helen would find me in heap at the end of the drive, trampled by an elephant stampede.

The neighbors would complain… about some horticultural circus act gone very wrong, peering out behind a jungle of designer draperies, but afraid to come outside of their climate controlled environs.

What seemed like hours later, I climbed into the truck bed, positioned myself on bended knees and prayed for strength… I wish I had thought to bring some rigging and a winch for the aerial act  that ensued!

Focus.  Rest.  Sip  some water.  Bend the knees. Pray to the Almighty Horticulture God and by some  miracle… it was in the truck for the transport home.  I have no earthly idea how these were hoisted or levitated from above or below or what kind of other worldly pact might have been made.

That night and the next morning, I ached everywhere… but the prize was mine!

There is nothing like a shared plant from a friend’s garden.    This gargantuan punctuation in the garden unlike any other.    In my mind I hear the sounds of  loud (click listen and hit back button to return)  Elephant trumpets which then elicits a break into an enormous ‘laugh out loud’ every time it comes into view.  OK sometimes I preform the elephant walk… a joy of living in the woods!

So once again I will leave it in the ground, keeping my fingers crossed that  it will be a star attraction, after the spring migration of warmth summons it forth.

A last peek behind its big top ears  finds a surprise – tree frog hunkering down against the incoming frigid air.

ThaiFrogDid you know: that the American green tree frog, Hyla cinerea

converts glycogen into glucose – acting like anti freeze – during cold months?

Listen to the (click listen and hit back button to return)  song of the tree frog.

A second, smaller clump of ‘Thai Giant’,  also dragged from Helen’s Haven,   spent the winter inside the barn last winter.   It emerged at a reasonable time last spring.  I  planted it out, but  it stopped growing at a mere 7 1/2 inches!   Although planted just feet from its giant friend, perhaps planted in an area where the light is being shaded, but definitely a freakish curiosity.

Tiny EarsI laugh at these tiny leaves…    “That’s IT???  That’s all I got for pulling my back muscles out?”

I am delighted none the less.

Thanks,  Helen for your amazing gift a giant plant, a story to tell, Elephant Trumpets in my ear and being a friend with Horticultural Benefits.

Helen’s new tome is available for preorder:   Plants With Benefits: An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & Veggies in Your Garden

Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

Growing Pains

The clock ticks… hours pass.    The heart longs to be digging and pruning.  As the “to do” list grows.   Seasons change, nature takes it’s course indifferent to the task at hand.

There is dry stack to repair, the Wisteria to be whacked.  Fence to be strengthened and freshened… Microstegium controlled –  growing pains; mulch to be hauled – chores for the soul.

Longing for the bothersome muscle aches and the sweet smell of steamy leaf mulch.

Dear Trio

The mind wanders…  Do the containers need watering or have they been eaten by the deer twins, who by now have lost their camouflage?    As their spots fade… I notice a few more of my own on sun damaged arms…

As the salesman I so patiently waited for, now rushes over to the pert young girl twirling her hair who has just come in, idle chit chat that seems like an eternity.   I wonder, “Is this the camouflage, that now more frequently makes us invisible?”

I’ve been waiting  for some advice on new ear buds too… I also listen to Lady GAGA, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift (yes, I am musically broad minded) & “What does the Fox Say?” …  I must get back to the garden.

Colorful borders and bird songs are replaced by the dim light of LED’s and the distant beeping of monitors … I am focused on another garden – a garden of souls… waiting to be healed;  or  transformed – the hours turn into months.

Scabiosa

The beautiful miniature flower bouquet freshly harvested by my father, stems carefully wrapped in wet paper towel, bound with rubber bands in a plastic cup vase, knicked from the nurse’s medicine cart…

A daily offering to 62 years of love…

Narcissi

This simple daily kindness brings joy to those who have come to nurture, change dressings, or diapers; brush golden hair, offer swabs of lemony flavor or give soothing shots.  Each gives pause to admire, take a whiff of a sweet smell  and offer a kind word or  smile… A welcome distraction to brighten a day in the Hospice garden of angels.  Ah the language of flowers… finding a connection  of words to speak  when the reality seems unspeakable.

Butterfly

In a quiet moment… Mom’s eyes lids flutter open, like butterflies…  After days of transition… bright clear beautiful blue eyes sparkle as they emerge from their cocoon… straining to see something in the distance… an interlude to last a lifetime… Then with a flutter she was gone… metamorphosis.

Monarch

Weeks later, I was awakened by the the soft touch of butterfly kisses on my cheek… The  fluttering of a mother’s eyelashes on a sleeping child’s cheeks… It was our secret, from years gone bye.

I opened my eyes but she wasn’t there or was she?

Call it a sign, call it a beautiful dream – I am grateful.

It was the morning the fog lifted, growing pains began to recede and the overgrown soul of Entwined Gardens began to be restored.

Happy Birthday Mom.

Gardenia

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

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

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

Garden Tours – A private peek into Personal Paradise

Entwined Garden South view

It’s too darn HOT.

Two years ago, at this time, we were toiling through the southern summer to ready Entwined Gardens  for the September Raleigh Area Garden Conservancy ‘Open Days’ Tour  2010.

I think of the garden as a work in progress, so that year when folks asked, ”Are you ready for the ‘Open Days Tour’”,  my comment was, “Is anyone ever ready?”

Entwined Garden South view

Looking South @ Entwined Garden

There is no amount of primping, editing or fluffing to get ready.   There are the endless lists of projects one is motivated to have “ready for The Tour” – which is a wonderful motivator to bring the garden to a new level.  Inviting unknown visitors from a national tour  to a private peek into your personal paradise can be quite unnerving.

I had always planned in my mind that the last few weeks would be the time to make clever additions so that anywhere the eye travels would be perfection… “A fluffy, spiky & roundy” for pleasing balance, a nice piece of artwork for the eye to land, and great for photography.

Alas, a month before the tour, the domino effect of the economic crisis crashed down on the computer industry .  All around divisions of many – up to now successful companies jockeying for IPO’s – were suddenly wiped out, including one my husband worked for.  The dream of garden perfection… disappeared into a new reality as we tightened our belts for the long haul of uncertain economic times.

Enshalla – breathe, let it go, offer it up to a higher power… breathe again.

Ours was a fortunate reality…  I was lucky – to have so many wonderful friends lend a hand to help in a summer of intense heat & drought.

Mitzi's Banana

Mitzi’s Banana adds color and punctuation!heat  & drought.   !

Then it seemed like Miracles began happening…  My friend Mitzi who is an incredible plants woman would call & say, “ I just stopped by Campbell Road Nursery and they are giving plants away. The have huge tropicals – Bananas and Elephant ears are marked down to a Dollar each!”   The next morning the Garden of Eden arrived in the back of a Prius! We walked around and added appropriate interest & it worked!  I was grateful and wrote notes to the nurseries whose end of year sales had helped – the norm for them end of the year, but to me it was a lifesaver.    This was after all a fundraiser for the national Garden Conservancy and the JC Raulston Arboretum – and if folks were going to drive 45 minutes or more to visit, I did not want to disappoint!

Throughout the week leading up to the weekend tour, friends – The Border Babes – arrived to lend a hand, and deliver all kinds of enhancements and moral support and hugs… it was unbelievable.

Two days before the tour, another friend who was new to gardening, asked if she could come & learn.    I said “Sure!”   Diana saw some of the “art” I had collected from Home Goods as placeholders for the Dream Art.  Aware of my now fading dream, Diana said, “I have some things that might work.  I’ll be back in about an Hour…” She came back, another Prius – loaded with the most beautiful statues, from Artist Frances Alverino .

DSC06946

I was hoping to acquire an Alverino  as a gift for my Husband’s Sept. Birthday and to celebrate the Tour.   Diana had 6 of these sculptures for me to borrow.     Talk about letting go and the higher power provides!!!     Our garden was beyond what I dreamed for the Days of the Tour!

It is a delight that this year I can stay perched inside enjoying the gardens with the miracle of central air.   From the House, one cannot see any weeding to be done… not that there isn’t any mind you… just pure enjoyment of colors and textures.

Bear Hugs sweater

Sweet sweeter for a baby using Bear Hugs.

So will take advantage of the joys of cental air  and KNIT!

Yes, all a part of  our Entwined Life!

Found a delightful soft baby sweater, elegant soft and couldn’t resist it at one of the local yarn shops.  It comes with enough for an infant kimono sweater, includes instructions and 2 cute bear buttons.  How easy! I had enough yarn left to make a little hat too!

The Yarn is by Plymouth – Bear Hugs.

Buttons

Cute as a Button!

So I will relax with my yarn and my thoughts of my wonderful friends and their bear hugs of generosity and how being grateful does make a difference.

My thoughts are also with the generous hosts who are this year prepping their landscape art for this years’ tour… what a gift to be inspired by these great gardens large or small… each grateful for the friends that lend a hand, give a hug, each Gardener’s own vision of Paradise created.

Maynard Garden Pagoda

Maynard Garden Pagoda
This richly layered garden paradise’s pagoda beckons visitors to sit and contemplate the view at the Maynard Garden Open Days Tour 2012

Come join us in Raleigh September 15 & 16!

Garden Conservancy ‘Open Days’ Tour

Joy!

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative