my franklinia tree is blooming

From the Missouri Botanical Garden:

Franklinia alatamaha, commonly called Franklin tree, typically grows as a single-trunk tree with a rounded crown or as a multi-stemmed shrub. As a single trunk tree, it can grow to 20’ tall or more, but is more often seen growing much shorter. Camellia-like, cup-shaped, 5-petaled, sweetly-fragrant, white flowers (to 3” diameter) bloom in late summer to early fall. Each flower sports a boss of egg-yolk yellow center stamens. Narrow, oblong-obovate, glossy dark green leaves (to 5” long) turn quality shades of orange, red and purple in autumn. John Bartram was appointed Royal Botanist for North America by King George III in 1765. In that same year, John Bartram and his son William discovered franklinia growing in a 2-3 acre tract along the banks of the Altamaha River in southeastern Georgia. Franklinia has never been observed growing in any other place than along the Altamaha River. In a return trip in 1773, William Bartram collected seed from this site and brought it back to the Bartram’s garden in Philadelphia where the tree was successfully grown. This tree has been extinct in the wild since 1803. It has been perpetuated in cultivation (all plants derive from the seed collected by Bartram) not only because of its rarity but also because of its attractive flowers and foliage. The current genetic base of this plant is quite narrow in large part because all plants currently in existence in the world come from the materials collected by the Bartrams. Franklinia belongs to the tea family and is closely related to Stewartia and Gordonia (loblolly bay). It is not known why this tree disappeared in the wild. Land along the Altamaha River was cleared for cotton plantations leading to one theory that a cotton pathogen found in the soil (carried downstream through erosion) was the main cause of the extinction of the colony. Other extinction theories include decline from climate change, destruction by man, single colony of plants was not genetically diverse enough to withstand pathogens or changing conditions, or a local disaster (flood or fire).

Genus name honors Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American printer, scientist, philosopher and statesman.

Specific epithet name has an extra “a” in it (apparently because of an alternate spelling for the river when the tree was named).

I love Franklinia trees. My old neighbor Johnny had one…until a drunk driver drove up onto his lawn and front garden and bulldozed it down. His tree was about 12 feet tall and I remember at the time the insurance adjusters from both sides didn’t see it as a big deal.

To a plant lover, it was a big deal.

It was. Franklinia trees are notoriously hard to grow, so once you get one established you celebrate the lovely little tree discovered by John Bartram and named in dedication of Benjamin Franklin.

It’s root system makes it persnickety and this is a tree that hates being moved or transplanted. Which means when you find the perfect spot in your garden, it must stay there.

Where mine is planted I wasn’t sure how it would fare. This was a bed I reclaimed from the crazy forsythia that tried to swallow parts of our property whole for 50 years or better. Yes off on a tangent, but I hate forsythia with a burning passion. It should be labeled an invasive plant.

But I digress.

When I reclaimed this particular planting area and one immediately adjacent I started with digging out as much forsythia as possible. Then there was the soil to deal with. This area of my gardens has heavy clay content. So bags of sand, bags of grit, leaf mold, mushroom soil, dehydrated manure, green sand, gypsum.

And I am still adding amendments every year at this point and still digging out forsythia. This week alone when I was planting two Bayberry bushes in the right corner of this bed, I had to amend the soil again and I dug out more forsythia and two five to six foot sections of root that were as wide as my wrist!

Franklinia trees like well drained soil. As per Fine Gardening:

Grow in organically rich, moist but very well-drained soil of acidic to neutral pH, in full sun. Resents transplanting and should not be disturbed in the landscape.

My Franklinia tree seems to be growing well with red rhododendrons, hydrangeas, a pair of blueberry bushes and various herbs and perennials. This is it’s first year to bloom since I bought it at Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia. Could I have bought it elsewhere? Probably but it seemed fitting to literally buy it from the source.

My tree came from Bartram’s Garden spring plant sale. There is a fall plant sale at their upcoming honey festival September 8th from 10 am to 4 pm.

I had been watching my Franklinia tree bud for a couple of weeks and this morning I went to take a peek and the lovely soft white flowers are starting to open. My tree is small so I am so happy it is happy and blooming.

And that is the thing about gardening: how happy these small triumphs after lots of hard work make you feel.

Enjoy the day! It’s beautiful outside with a nice little breeze.

rose obelisks are in place!!

I love my David Austin English Roses. But even the ones which are NOT climbers are truly vigorous growers. The ones I chose ALL seem to have a very rangy growth habit.

I started out a few years ago with fleur de lis trellises from Achla Designs. They come in two sizes.

For a couple of years they worked nicely. But the roses outgrew them completely. And I do prune my roses.

So these trellises have been moved to assist other plants. They are brilliant to stake tomatoes with, especially if you grow tomatoes in large pots like I do. They give this tepee shape which beans and tomatoes like.

I hunted for obelisks for a while. Some seem quite flimsy and others overly expensive.

I settled on the Jardin Round Obelisks from Gardener’s Supply Company.

I assembled the first one during a heatwave. Big mistake. Mostly for me wrestling with a large rose bush in the heat.

You have to put it on a section at a time as it comes in pieces. But as is the case with trial and error, I learned after assembling the first one that I needed to basically tie up the rosebushes as much as possible with garden tape. (It’s made out of green vinyl, and I use it for things that I stake or need to have tied during the growing season.)

The first obelisk I put together still seems a little wobbly to me and I need a good soaking rain to push it down into the ground more.

But I have now assembled four of these obelisks and I did have to trim my roses back (and some canes broke too) to get them on but now they have more freedom growing through these and are less restricted as was the case with the trellises I was using.

I really like the uniformity they present in the garden and I think they add a nice element. They also are not going to drive me crazy having to look at them in the winter when nothing is growing.

I will be honest and say it took me 2 1/2 or 3 hours to assemble and place three of these yesterday. (and if you buy them make sure you are wearing gauntlet gloves when assembling them and wrestling with the rose bushes to place them!)

I also had another kind obelisk thing I tried that was shorter and more squat that also came from Gardener’s Supply that was an epic fail. It arrived defective and missing parts and it’s a little finial top didn’t even fit the thread it was assigned to. It’s called the Jardin Birdcage Support. Save your money and don’t order it. It’s cheaply made and went into the recycling.

Of course in the middle of all of this I discovered a rabbit’s nest under a shrub. I wasn’t looking for the nest they literally started screaming at me because I was too close to the nest. And yes baby bunnies sure can holler!

Gardening is always an adventure!

Now that the temperatures are becoming more temperate it’s time to get back to the business of weeding and cleaning up my flowerbeds. Because fall planting season is just around the corner.

Happy gardening!

trying my hand at rooting from cuttings

Have you been outside this morning? It’s so humid you can cut it with a knife.

I did a little bit of gardening early this morning and had the sprinkler set up for a while on newer beds I had planted, like the one where my Franklinia Tree is growing. My Franklinia Tree is getting ready to bloom for the first time so the bed around is getting extra special treatment.

I also took a bit of a wander because plants for fall planting are already here. I have to baby them through the next heat wave and then I will begin to plot their planting locations.

Also this morning I decided to try my hand at propagating cuttings. I chose hydrangeas.

I took two cuttings from my mystery blue lacecap that was an end of season $5 buy at a grocery store a few years ago. It never had a tag and I have never seen it since.

I also took two cuttings from my Korean Mountain Hydrangea. They came originally from Lazy S Farm in Virginia. The owners retired and the nursery was sadly closed down. I used to get the most wonderful plants from them. They also introduced me to Indian Pinks. Anyway, I have not been able to specifically find Korean Mountain Hydrangea anywhere since, so hopefully I can grow my own.

I had a lovely English clay pot that until this morning housed a basil plant until I chucked it. It had gotten pot bound and unlovely so into the brush pile it went. I have loads more basil so it was fine to sacrifice that particular plant.

I put half compost and half organic potting soil into the pot, roughed up the stems of the Hydrangea slightly and plunked them in.

I don’t know if they will take given we’re about to get another heatwave, but they’re in a shady spot on the porch and had a drink of water with seaweed extract in it. I am hoping for the best!

I still have a lot of gardening this season ahead of me. But the heatwave that’s creeping in means a time out. Then it will be time to first tackle weeding and deadheading.

Stay cool!

a sigh of relief from the frustrated gardener….

The hydrangeas just keep on going

When I woke up this morning I thought I was imagining things. The temperature read 62°F. I actually took my glasses off and washed them!

Yesterday I had reached the I-don’t-love -my garden-as-much stage of the summer. This summer has been a bumpy garden ride in spite of all of the lovely blooms. And a hell of a lot of work.

My one Japanese Maple continues to struggle with heat stress and the leaves on it when they went, shriveled up overnight. The tree is still alive but only time will tell if it lives.

Heat stressed Japanese Maple ☹️

I lost one yellow rhododendron to too much rain in the spring, and it’s mate is also suffering from heat stroke along with the maple.

Heat stressed yellow rhododendron ☹️

And no, the rhododendron has no disease this is all weather related. There was so much rain in the spring and then there was rain and heat and humidity and more unrelenting heat this summer. I had several rhododendrons show stress but they are all recovering. This one will not. So in the fall, when my next plants arrive something will replace it.

And then there is public enemy number 1. Mother F-ing spotted lanternfly. I really wish we could send whoever imported it in the first place thank you notes. Actually I’d like to send them the bill from my arborist is more like it.

I had my trees and things the lanternfly like treated in the spring. So we have had a lot of dead lanternflies which makes me happy. However essentially no one around us treated their trees for lanternflies. So now I’m seeing more lanternflies.

Public Enemy Number 1; Spotted Lanternfly

And people are all convinced that home remedies are going to rid us of this bug. OK hairspray doesn’t work. Vinegar doesn’t work is caustic so if you want to burn the eyes of your birds, hurt other wildlife and beneficial insects, and damage plants spray vinegar, don’t let me stop you. I love the people that don’t want to use chemicals on their property don’t get that these are also chemicals!

Preliminary testing and results from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture indicates that insecticides with the active ingredients dinotefuran, imidacloprid, carbaryl, and bifenthrin are effective at controlling the spotted lanternfly.

I treat my trees and shrubs and protect them anyway. It ended up that the 12 month Bayer brand systemic granular for trees and shrubs and the Bayer systemic for roses contain all or most of these chemicals. But my larger heritage trees and others I had to have treated professionally. I don’t like spraying so I chose injecting and drench.

But again, since everyone around me isn’t doing it, I have reduced the problem but not eliminated it. But that is like my frustration with people who do not develop plans that include routine tree maintenance with legitimate arborists. They don’t want to spend the money, and then when they have trees die they end up spending twice the money. But hey what do I know, right?

I discovered that this hideous spotted lanternfly likes rose bushes and my chili pepper plants and grapefruit tree. They also have been hanging around my beloved willow tree. As the chili peppers have matured they leave the plants alone.

The only thing short of squashing them other than chemicals professionally applied is I think there is something to be said about the nymphs dying from being sprayed with a spray bottle filled with seaweed extract and water. That is the only “home” remedy I have seen that has had any success. But the adult spotted lanternfly only seems to get stunned by being sprayed with seaweed extract so then I can stomp them to death. These bugs seem to hop more than they fly but they’re tough and you have to stomp hard to kill the adults. They’re disgusting. Someone at Mt.Cuba told another friend about the seaweed spray trick.

This morning’s cooler temperatures are a taste of what is to come. You can already tell the seasons are poised to change. How much change will occur I’m not sure. Because every year it now seems a little different because yes we are experiencing climate change.

My garden could use some cooler temperatures. And I really have to get to my weeding. It had been so hot and humid I could only do so much. And that is one reason why this is I don’t love my garden time of year. The height of summer heat can be a very frustrating gardening time.

But then I see things like the perfect red zinnia I finally was able to grow and I smile. I have decided not to deadhead all of my coneflowers or zinnias so I can get seeds. And I will share the seeds with my birds.

And knock on wood, so far so good with the tomatoes. The ones that look the best are the ones I am growing in pots.

When fall arrives, I have a long list of chores including wrestling with two of the larger rosebushes to get obelisks on them.

But for now I’m just going to look at my zinnias and hydrangeas. I also have some new rose blooms starting.

Thanks for stopping by.

august and garden chores

David Austin Rose “Mary Rose”

It’s August. August in the garden in general means early mornings, pace yourself, and you can only do so much.

As I get older I have a hard time with humidity. So until this morning I have not been out in the garden very much in the last week or so. The combination of hot and humid has left the garden somewhat bedraggled.

I got out there in the garden early this morning because I had to focus the sprinkler on specific planting beds – because if you don’t get up and do the sprinkler early it’s useless the water just evaporates as the heat of the day sets in.

I also had to check out a Japanese maple which is suffering from heat stress. I can only pray at this point that the plant will make it and it looks so awful because one day it was beautiful red and healthy and the next day the leaves started to look shriveled and shrunken

I had forgotten the Japanese maples in fact have a widespread but fairly shallow root system. I did have a Japanese maple do this decades ago and I thought it was a goner and cut it down and it sent up new shoots from the roots the following spring. So I am going to leave the tree be and see what happens next spring. Hopefully Mother Nature will be kind to me.

Today was also a day to deal with my roses. I love them and always have. Today was the last drench of systemic feed, systemic insecticide, and systemic disease control for the season. Depending on how things go it will also probably not be a bad idea for me to give them a drink with seaweed extract and a little Epsom salts and or pulverized banana peels in a week or so.

People like to get all uptight about chemicals. I am a cancer survivor I use them judiciously. Roses and other shrubs and trees need them once in a while especially now that we have to deal with the spotted lantern fly (which in nymph form does like roses.)

I use the Bayer 3 in 1 Rose and Flower Care on my roses. It contains the three chemicals that are found to kill spotted lantern fly after they ingest it.

Bayer does not compensate me in any way for mentioning this product. I mention it because I use it. In spring when the roses get their first dose I use the granular version. From June forward I use the drench. I will note that I do not really spray for bugs or disease since I use this product.

The seaweed-type fertilizer I use is Irish Organic Fertilizer. It has the sea weed but it also has goodness from Irish peat bogs. Humic Acid and Moor Water blended with organic seaweed. (Read more about it HERE.) I will also note I use this inside with houseplants as well all year round. Orchids in particular love it.

I was a test garden for this Irish Organic Fertilizer when it first was introduced here in the United States a couple of years ago, but I buy it all year round at this point. I buy it off of Amazon.

Back to my roses. All in all, in spite of the weather it has been a lovely year for roses. I have some I thought were dead that I basically put in little corners of my garden where I have plant infirmaries, and today I had to add a rose obelisk to one because it had recovered so nicely!

While I was out with my roses, I not only weeded around the base of all of them, but I did some deadheading and I also did some pruning to remove some canes that were causing issue with airflow in the middle of my rosebushes, and/or didn’t look so hot.

One problem I have a constant battle with in this garden are rose borers. And when I cut a cane I seal the top with one of two things: nail polish or wood glue. Yes nail polish.

David Austin Rose “Benjamin Britton”

My new roses that I planted this spring are all doing really well. The champion grower is the David Austin English Rose Benjamin Britton. It is a vigorous and gorgeous rose!

The rugosa roses I planted which were antique and old garden rugosas are coming along. The one I purchased from Antique Rose Emporium in Texas called Mary Manners is the most vigorous so far. It bloomed once in a couple of spots when it was tiny and now it has sent out a lot of growth and next year will be fabulous. It was a vigorous grower when I had it in my parents’ garden decades ago.

David Austin Rose “James L. Austin”

The other rugosas I planted at the rear of the berm bed that runs down the side of the driveway came from Heirloom Roses in Oregon. Blanc Double de Coubert (another vigorous grower that I had in my parents’ garden years and years ago) and Bayse’s Purple Rose are also growing really nicely and I can’t wait for next year!

I chose old rugosa roses because like most old and antique roses they are very disease-resistant and they are so thorny the deer don’t like them yet they are habitats as they grow for other animals like birds. The berm bed rugosa roses will eventually help me back the rear of the bed and next year I hope to add more old or antique roses at the back of that berm. I have my eye on Madame Hardy and Comte de Chambourd.

A white David Austin rose “Winchester Cathedral”

The found rose I planted from Antique Rose Emporium has also been terrific. I have been getting its name wrong all summer so I looked it up on their website. Caldwell Pink and I highly recommend it. It is an old rose and it has been blooming nonstop all summer. It gets these little button size carnation pink blooms that smell heavenly. It is called a found rose because they’re not really sure where it came from but it was found in a little town called Caldwell, Texas.

I should probably note that the roses I plant are not only bare root they are own root. I have mentioned this before because when you pay to buy own root roses they are not grown on root stock. They are grown and on their own root and might be smaller when they arrive but you will have in my opinion a much healthier vigorous plant as time goes on.

I will admit I kind of ignored my roses as it got really hot except for occasional deadheading. And they survived. They either got watered by torrential downpours or when I set the sprinkler. During the worst of the heat I gave everybody a little bit of Epsom salts. I do that about three times during the growing season but you have to be careful how much you use because you don’t want to upset the mineral balance in your soil.

A lot of people in the US when they plant roses plant them in sort of standalone beds. Often it’s only roses in a particular flower bed. I look at roses a little differently. I plant them in the English and Irish style. In other words, my roses are in among the rest of my plants.

My style of gardening is easiest described as cottage garden with shade and woodland garden beds. I definitely have a layered garden and it is also turning into a very nice four seasons garden.

My favorite kinds of gardens are the ones that hold your interest in the middle of winter just like they do in the middle of June. I don’t know if that makes sense to a lot of people but that’s what I like. I like having something to look at 12 months of the year.

Now that the last leg of summer has arrived I pretty much do maintenance until the fall. I have not religiously deadheaded things like coneflowers (echinaceas) and hostas and even bee balm (monarda). I have done some deadheading but a lot of it I have just let Mother Nature take her course.

As a lot of the hydrangea blooms fade and die I will trim them because that’s the way you keep the bushes in check. That little bit of deadheading you do really helps keep the size of hydrangeas to where you can deal with them. The one exception to that rule are my Oakleaf hydrangeas on the edge of the woods on the far side of the deck. I rarely prune those. I love their wild look on the edge of the woods.

I know a lot of people are feeling discouraged in their garden this time of year. August is tough. And what makes it more difficult is we are experiencing climate change. So the extremes have been really extreme the past couple of summers.

But don’t lose hope, Garden a little bit at a time and soon it will be September and the temperatures will get a little more even.

Thanks for stopping by!

David Austin Rose “England’s Rose”

what fun it was listening to annie guilfoyle at terrain!

IMG_6604Terrain is doing these gardening-centric events.  Yesterday at Terrain Devon Yard was “What Makes Your Garden Great with Annie Guilfoyle”.

Annie Guilfoyle is an amazing British horticulturist. An award-winning designer and an RHS Chelsea Flower Show medal winner. For 18 years she was the director of Garden Design at KLC School of Design at Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, where she was instrumental in establishing their highly acclaimed garden design courses.

IMG_6602Those who know me well know that I am a total garden geek especially when it comes to my British horticulturalists.   Like did you know Monty Don was rumored to have been at Chanticleer recently? How I would have loved to have even just watched him work!

My list of UK citizens I would love to listen to lecture on all things gardening are Monty Don, Adam Frost, Alan Titchmarsh, Joe Swift, Carol Klein, Helen Dillon, and Annie Guilfoyle.  Yesterday I got to listen to and meet Annie!!  I knew who she was because of her garden course at Chanticleer, which is as follows (and on my to do list except WOW it is really EXPENSIVE):

Course Description:

Learn about designing gardens with highly acclaimed British designer, Annie Guilfoyle. This carefully crafted course will guide you through each stage of the design process, beginning with the fundamentals of surveying and site analysis. Followed by essential techniques of how to initiate the design, where to find inspiration, and how to develop a creative concept into a stunning garden.

Together with the Chanticleer staff, Annie will focus on ways of achieving imaginative ideas for hardscaping, along with how to perfect dazzling planting combinations and realize innovative designs for original furniture and sculpture.

This course is ideally suited to students of garden and landscape design and people working in the garden industry, or for those who simply want to redesign their own garden capturing the essence of Chanticleer under Annie’s guidance. The course includes practical studio sessions, lectures and demonstrations, garden walks, and critical analysis. Annie will be including up-to-date information and inspiration about what is happening on the UK garden scene.

Price:

$675.00 – Price includes garden admission, breakfast and lunch each day, and an opening reception.

To be honest, I know how to make my garden come to life and evolve, but the ability to be able to learn from an expert like Annie would be priceless.  And it would give me a more formal background to what has been instinctive and trial and error in my garden through a lifetime of just loving to garden.

IMG_6614.JPGTerrain had these Coffee + Conversation garden talks, and launched an additional series of garden “guidance” with each conversation led by a horticulturalist. Each Garden Guide conversation they do will feature an esteemed speaker in the horticultural world who will give tips, tricks, and valuable plant knowledge across a variety of garden topics. Each session will focus on a new area of exploration. And did I mention to be able to hear Annie was only $5??? (And they are having an awesome one in Glen Mills in August but I digress.)

So I was like a kid waiting for Christmas yesterday and Annie did not disappoint.  I do not know what it is about British horticultural experts but they are so NICE and welcoming.  And they share their knowledge without artifice. It is so refreshing.

Annie opened with what she was about: Worked at Hampton Court for years. Did a garden at Chelsea while a student. Did a BBC show small town gardens. Wears several hats and is also a garden writer. Teaches garden courses and loves teaching.  She judges garden shows all over the world as well.

Other things she said which resonated with me include: You can’t be a garden designer without being a gardener first.  In that vein, her students were sent to work in nurseries and gardens to learn.

Annie said gardens are a sanctuary from what is going on in this world. How true is that? It’s like I say everything is better after I have been in the garden digging in the dirt. Annie also believes the arts and horticulture have a strong connection.

IMG_6626When it comes to garden design, Annie is old school. She feels you can’t design gardens without looking at the proportions. People should draw out a garden plan or build a little model- don’t use computer software. So I guess my caveman like plot plans over the years are a step in the right direction after all!! (Yes I have notebooks here and there with little rudimentary sketches.)

IMG_6617So how do you make a great garden?  What are your influences? Architecture? Other gardens? Other gardeners?  Look at the links between architecture and landscape design and remember art, architecture, and gardens are inextricably linked.  Remember that landscapes should influence you.

Like many of us not so expert gardeners, Annie Guilfoyle believes a garden can change how people behave, and how they view the world.  Gardens are happy places. Relaxing places. Contemplative places. Natural classrooms.

One thing that Annie remarked on was Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC. I have been there but literally not for decades. Harvard owns it apparently? I do not know that I realized that when I was more frequently in Washington DC many years ago but I was sad to learn last night that the gardens are in disrepair? They were so beautiful, how can that be? I mean come on it’s Harvard and they have the money, right?

Sigh. That’s the thing about gardens sometimes in the USA. They aren’t treasured enough.

I have a bucket list of garden things I want to do. Among them is hit the flower shows in England and tour great gardens and small gardens and wander through UK plant nurseries which apparently for the most part have show gardens so customers can see the plants in situ.

IMG_6646Annie explained she  doesn’t have a definitive style per se,  she designs for her clients’ sensibilities.  She also believes focal points are an important concept in garden design and they draw you in.

IMG_6632Annie also stressed it was important to celebrate all elements of the garden, even the functional bits like sheds. She apparently has a love affair going on with this enclosure for her trash cans!

Annie encouraged us to create a sense of journey in a garden. And if you aren’t designing your own garden by yourself make sure you take interest in it so the end result is your personal vision.

She gave us a list of things to follow:

  • Be original
  • Key design ingredients should include:
    Sanctuary
    Respite
    Simplicity
    Inviting
    Sustainability
    Structure
    Vertical and Horizontal gardening
    Focal Points
    Somewhere to sit
    Details.
  • Art in the garden is a wonderful thing.

Annie also suggested we do our garden homework- where will the plants go? Know the ideal environment for the plants you plant. And don’t forget the structure. Structure as in not just flowers, don’t forget  shrubs and trees and seasons. (You know how I have said the late garden writer and American horticulturalist Suzy Bales influenced my desire to have a garden for all seasons.

Her final advice? Don’t be afraid to be individual in your garden. And how true is that? You garden for yourself first.  Annie also reccomended a book on landscape design written by John Brookes called The Book of Garden Design. I picked up a copy of this inexpensively on Amazon.

I had the best time last night and my inner gardening geek was on overload.  And the space at Terrain was so lovely besides.  And the staff at Terrain are so welcoming. After the talk I got to meet Annie and some other gardeners and wander around Terrain outside.  They are so creative with their plantings especially containers that it is truly inspirational.

I look forward to more lectures in this series and I hope I get to listen to more talks by Annie Guilfoyle some day.  She is the kind of person you would want for a friend.

Thank you Terrain at Devon Yard for the opportunity you gave all of us!!

IMG_6643

 

 

types of butterflies

This will be a post that I am sure I will get criticism for. It’s a ramble. It’s more of a flowing stream of consciousness, and doesn’t really have purpose it’s just my thoughts jotted down. But I write when the spirit moves me, and sometimes the writing spirit sort of chooses me. So….here we go…..

I was out in the garden early this morning. The sounds of late summer have arrived. The hum of the cicada orchestra is the first sound. Followed by the Catbirds calling and Carolina Wrens scolding. A hummingbird darts around, completely unmoved by my presence. And hummingbirds they will bop you if you’re near their chosen food source. It’s actually pretty funny because you don’t expect a bird that small to be that aggressive.

As I look around, the butterflies dance. Monarchs and Swallowtails bobbing on and off the Joe Pye Weed, garden phlox, and swamp milkweed. To me, this is a slice of heaven. I’d rather be here than anyplace else.

There are of course other kinds of butterflies. Human ones. Social butterflies. They flit from party to party, wanting to belong. But that theory of belonging doesn’t just depend on attending a party and having a photo taken.

And maybe that is because the concept of what defines society has changed? Society used to have rules and lines one just did not cross. People you see today in “society photos” would not have even been invited to a lot of things even twenty years ago.

I put “society photos” in air quotes because essentially the era of the true society press has passed. When we had many newspapers once upon a time, we had many society editors. But they weren’t just taking photographs of people at the events they covered, they were telling you about the parties. Who was hosting them, why they were being hosted the charities involved, the decor, the food, the flowers.

That’s not what goes on today and of course when I look at social butterflies in current summer event photos I have to smile. That used to be there weren’t so many “events” in the summer because society went away in the summer. Much the way society escaped to Palm Beach or Palm Springs for a midwinter break. And you would look at the society photos from the away summer and mid winter black ties.

When I was in my 20s, a lot of summers some of my friends and I would go to Newport, Rhode Island here and there. For parties like Newport Night in White and the Gatsby Society. Here we went to summer parties at the Mann Music Center or proper garden parties here and there — some private, some to benefit a non-profit.

These parties were amazing. It wasn’t necessarily easy to find yourself on the invitation list, but if you did, these were parties that were so worth going to. We all dressed in appropriate summer black-tie or semi-formal attire. Dresses were pretty. It wasn’t about flashy or showing lots of skin or a designer label bag or how high were the heels you wore. It was civilized. They always had great music too. And if s party was casual, people still dressed well.

So now the idea of summer parties and gala events have changed. Just like the people who attend them. I look at the photos and wonder who are these people? Why do they matter? Or do they actually matter? And sometimes I look at the photos and see people who didn’t belong as hard as they pushed 30 years ago trying to reinvent themselves today. What will that gain them in the end?

Now I actually do know some who essentially chase their tails to go or get invited to these nouveau society events. What they don’t realize, of course, is when the novelty of their persona and/or use wears off, the gadflies will be onto the next new and amusing person. And it’s sad because some of these women will feel quite adrift when it’s over. That is one concept about society through the ages which has never changed. Maybe it’s human nature on some level? Maybe social Darwinism?

And it won’t last because this new idea of society today doesn’t have the cohesiveness of the past. In the past there was always at least a commonality of purpose. It was more than just buying a ticket to a party or finding someone to comp you.

Women served together on volunteer committees and they actually worked for the special events from beginning to end. Now most think it’s enough to just put their name on a committee list on an invitation or maybe give a mention on social media they are going. But they leave the actual work of the parties to paid staff. The parties aren’t as good and the event vibes are all different. More transient and temporary.

I think sometimes the true spirit of volunteerism is disappearing. And a lot of it isn’t just because the social norms of what is deemed acceptable behavior has changed. Sometimes it’s because the old guard who are left volunteering for certain events have turned into control freak old dragons. They literally chase away those who want to come up behind them and volunteer. They can’t let go.

I would rather be in my garden.

I know who my friends are, I appreciate them. But while I found the party scenes and gala and event scenes fun when I was younger, at this stage of my life I can take them or leave them. Maybe it’s because life priorities are different. Or maybe it’s because the “scene” as it were lost it’s luster.

I still like to dress up and put on lipstick, but I am picky at what I choose to go to. I look for things that are meaningful to me at this point in my life. And I want to go places where there are nice people. I am not jockeying for some imaginary social position. I also don’t need to. Sadly I have known people in who have chosen this insane need to belong over real friendships. That is their choice and perhaps they weren’t the people we really thought they were?

That is why I like being in my garden. My butterflies and flowers and birds are real. Just as my friends and family are. Society or what passes for it as a dim example today I will take a pass on.

Thanks for stopping by.