Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Sub Title – the Price of Stubbornness?
Ever since I can remember, people have been warning me of the dire consequences of my actions. I listened to some of them, not to others, and went on my stubborn way, trying, as Frank Sinatra sang, to do it MY Way. Sometimes this was a good thing. Sometimes it was not. However, life is a learning experience and I do believe we will all learn our lessons eventually – in this life time or the next (or the next…) I have also learned not all bad things are all bad, not all good things are all good. If you really think about it, I mean REALLY think about it, you will see what I mean. But when people warn you that you are doing too much, you need to sit down, get someone else to do that, etc… well, my answer has always been to go until I drop. And so I have dropped.
As many of you know, I am very determined to take care of myself as much as possible. Not meaning to toot my own horn, but I spent most of my life taking care of someone else – or more than one someone else, seldom resenting what I felt I had to do, often neglecting myself in the process. I have this “duty” gene, I call it. Some folks have it – some do not. You know what and who I mean. Now, in my old age, the struggle is to take care of my own needs. Some days are better than others. This is a tough day to be me. If you looked at my previous post you might understand why I am not walking on my own today. Yep, my garden has done me in. I am back on the walker. But, that means I will have some extra time on the computer to get caught up with some neglected friends and to answer some questions I have had about some of the plants in my yard.

One nice thing about my little corner of the world here is, at least at this time of year, every window I look out of, I see beautiful flowers, the fruits of my efforts over the years. When I first moved out here, the yard was completely devoid of anything other than trees and weeds. The woods grew to within 20 feet of the house on the sides and the back yard extended about 50 feet from the house. This place was covered with mostly old growth pine trees – by old, a 50 year old pine tree is old here on the shore. There are stumps out back with a diameter of greater than 3 feet. The woods were impassable due to an amazing undergrowth of poison ivy, honeysuckle, Virginia creeper, and briars. I still have not found anyway to get rid of those damn briars. I slowly ate away at the vines with an old push mower and sheer determination.
If I were to “name” this place, as so many folks do, I think I would have to call it Serenity Acres, because even though it took a ton of work, it brought me a lot of serenity in the process. (Sometimes ya just gotta keep busy!)

As the years passed, I planted things which did well under the woodsy conditions, azaleas, camellias, digitalis, Lily of the Valley. Friends and loved ones gave me plants or bulbs for whatever occasion. Many of those friends are now gone. It’s like my yard is now one big memorial garden. I cannot look in any direction that I do not see a tree, camellia or something that did not come to me as a gift. I think about those people every time I open my eyes around here. Their love surrounds me in beauty. For the things I bought myself, I can usually remember who was with me and helped me make this selection or that.

About 8 or 10 years ago, pine bark beetle went thru here. My neighbor had a bunch of his trees cut down. After that, my trees started to snap off in a modest wind. My house was surrounded by trees, many of them within 20 feet of the building. I had to have them cut down. Have you ever seen what most lumber companies do when they timber your land off? They take the good tree trunks, leave the branches, and scrub, leave deep trenches and basically do not care what kind of a mess is left in their wake. They are lumbermen, not landscapers. With the pines gone, I had sunlight in places where the sun hadn’t been in 40 years. All kinds of new stuff came up to fill the emptiness – Devil’s Cane, poison sumac, gum trees, more poison ivy, poison oak, and some things I still can’t even name. With the pine trees here, I could cut my “grass” in 20 minutes with a push mower. The back yard was all pine needles, called “shatters” here on the Shore. It did not need cutting. Suddenly, I had an acre of weeds coming up in what should have been a yard.

Friends to the rescue! For my next birthday, I asked my friends for a gift – a tree or something they could just dig up in their yard – stick in a pot or plastic bag – forget the nursery stock – just something they would probably have pulled out as a weed anyway.
I tried to rescue the camellias I had planted when I moved in that the workers had run over, or flattened with fallen trees or heavy equipment. Some made it, some did not. I lost all my dogwood trees. They just ran over them. I brought plants down from our place in Pennsylvania. Some made it, some did not. Every year I tried to add to the landscape that a friend(?) had once called “bleak.” I can still hear her words. It is no longer BLEAK here!
For years now, I have had people pull in the yard to tell me how much they enjoy driving by, it cheers them up on their way to work or home after a hard day. I guess that makes it worth while. So on days like today when I can’t walk worth a damn, when the pain almost makes me scream (but that would scare the cats – can’t do that) I sit here and look out whatever window is handy and see reminders of my friends, past and present, and beauty that keeps my gratitude list going.
I took these pictures the other day… first, some of the iris…

a close up of the fringe tree, and yes, it is very fragrant, kind of like the honeysuckle… a new miniature rhododendron (no, supposedly it won’t get beyond 3 feet tall)… a wild rambling rose I found in the woods years ago, now on the corner of one of my little barns, also very fragrant, like roses USED to smell...… these peonies came from our house in Pennsylvania. My grandfather planted them up there in the 40s and my father brought a few down here around 20 years ago. This is a sweet potato I thought would look good when I get the other things planted around it… and you know I could not take any pictures without Punkin following me around yowling for attention. He sleeps in the garden under things where he is barely visible and then yowls as you pass by. Like a little motion detector with sound! See him in front of the Buddha?See that little orange area in the lower right corner? My Buddhas all sit on tree stumps, by the way. This was a pine about 20 feet from my kitchen. It is one of the 3 foot diameter pines.
Thanks for sharing my yard with me. Now if you would only pull a few of these weeds………

PS - the first eaglet has fledged!


ancient one said...

Your place is definitely un-bleak now... So very pretty.... the honey suckle is taking us over... and those briars.... Loved your irises...

Marla said...

Sounds like you have been working hard over the years. I have been pulling weeds out of my bed for weeks. My hands hurt so bad, I can't grasp anything.