Thursday, September 15, 2011

Unphotographable, but not unforgettable


At last, a chance to go to the famed Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia.  I had always wanted to see the course and especially all the beautiful flowering trees and shrubs that lined the fairways of the Augusta National Golf Club.  My turn came four years ago when my friend Kathryn MacDougald's husband (Kathryn was an executive producer and creator of A Gardener's Diary on HGTV) gave me two tickets for Thursday's round.  I took my equally elated cousin Anne Williams.

Anne and I desperately wanted to look like we knew the ropes.  There's a certain protocol, and we were determined to act as if we were regulars and used to seeing famous golfers (this was before Tiger's troubles).  

The first thing we found out was no cameras allowed.  In fact, no purses or backpacks of any kind.  My heart sank at this, because I knew that beyond the entrance, I'd want to photograph all the pretty scenery and especially any of the famous azaleas and dogwoods.

The second thing we realized is that everyone was expected to purchase the egg salad and pimento cheese sandwiches on white bread that were offered for sale.  If you're in the Masters in-crowd, you know about this, especially the pimento cheese.  We didn't, but caught on fast.

So, we walked and watched and got glimpses of an unsmiling Tiger (my cousin knew almost all the players; I knew only two or three).  But what I did know was that there was a beautiful mature specimen of Chinese fringetree in full bloom, and I was powerless to take a picture of it.  It was one of the largest specimens I'd seen (although my neighbor down the street has some pretty big ones).

I grabbed the above photograph in Vince Dooley's (former University of Georgia football coach and athletic director turned avid plantsman) large garden in Athens, Georgia.  This was taken a few years ago, so I imagine the tree is about full size now (to 25 feet).  But you can get an idea of its beauty.

Here in Georgia, Chionanthus retusus blooms in April with pure white, fringe-like, fragrant panicles.  It's a tree anyone up to Zone 6 should seek out.  It's a thrill to see one - especially a large one - in full bloom. But, it's not much fun if you're not allowed to take a picture.