Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What to do with a big hosta?


Years ago, Margaret Moseley gave me a piece of her Hosta 'Sum and Substance', a large leaved, yellowish hosta.  Mine has survived a tattering by an April hailstorm (which also tore the leaves off all my trees, broke windows, two windshields and destroyed my slate roof) and being moved twice.

But now, there's a destructive force that I cannot seem to stop - the deer.  I start off the season doing pretty well.  I use Milorganite around it to ward them off.  That works for a while.  In other times I've used sprays and Irish Spring soap.  The Milorganite, a fertilizer produced from sludge from the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, works best.  But only for so long.

By the end of the season, I become lazy and don't remember to put out the granules.  Or, the deer have gotten used to the annoying smell and help themselves anyway.  I end up in the fall with a few ragged stalks.

I thought about moving the plant back up here to the house (it's at the cottage now).  But, the deer have already proved that they don't mind coming right up to the walls of my den.  They've eaten all the buds off my new climbing 'Iceberg' rose.  I had one bud left, and I was looking forward to seeing the bloom. But they came back and found it.  Oddly enough, they're not eating the 'Gruss an Aachen', well, not yet, at least.  All of the roses and the hosta have the Milorganite around them, so I guess I'll have to try something else.

The above 'Sum and Substance' is not at my house.  This is in Bill Hudgins' Atlanta garden.  I love the way he's positioned the plant against the urn and boxwood.  The composition really shows off the hosta's bold leaves.

I need to act quickly.  We have a couple of days before it rains again.  My friend who lives in the cottage says her dogs have eaten all the Milorganite I put out.  I have some Irish Spring I can take up there, but then what?  It's too sunny on my balcony for the plant, so that's out.  I'm afraid I don't have a lot of options unless I can rig up something that would keep the deer out.

This situation is particularly painful, because for several years I went to Bud Martin's hosta sale in Stockbridge.  He is a professional grower and sells to nurseries.  Every year for a week, though, he has a private sale with over 500 varieties, from tiny ones to the large leaved kinds.  My heart beats faster just thinking of all the healthy plants in every possible variegation or color (chartreuse, blue, etc.).  You want every one you see.

But I have to stay away until I get a plan or a deer fence.  His sale started last Friday and goes through May 4th, 9:30 to 5:00 each day.  The address is 5305 Alexander Lake Rd., Stockbridge, GA 30281 (Summer Lane is his private drive).  Even if you're not in the market for hosta, it's fun to go and see all the beautiful plants massed together. I hope someday to go again, once I've figured out how to protect my prized 'Sum and Substance'.


Friday, April 26, 2013

The fleur-de-lis - I need an iris allee in Georgia


On either side of the front stoop at the house at the farm (it is not a farmhouse, but a house on a farm), the giant bearded iris are beginning to bloom, and they are spectacular.  I don't know which is which, but at least a few of them were given to me by two local gardeners, Carl Lashmit and Vosco Angelov.  So far the colors are pure white and dark purple.  There's one blue and white bi-color;  maybe tomorrow I'll know what the other colors are.

In the garden of my dreams, I'm going to make an iris allee like the one you see above.  I assume that Claude Monet designed this.  There are several such paths at his garden at Giverny.  Since I have scarcely one flat space on this lot in Atlanta, I guess my iris allee is going to have to be on the farm.  Actually, though, if I could get a Bobcat over here again, I could probably figure out a sunny enough area to make a straight gravel path.  It's just that I'd like my area to look like the garden above, and I don't see that happening any time soon.  I can dream, though.

You can see the white lilac in bloom here in France.  Last week, I had a thrill when I went to the farm and saw that a friend who keeps a vegetable garden had planted a purple lilac.  I helped myself.  It's the first time in my life I have gone up to a lilac bush and cut flowers to bring home.  I put them in a tall mint-julep cup shaped silver vase, and they were so beautiful.  I know now how Northerners feel - to have that vase of lilacs was a thrill.

But, back to the irises.  Something just popped into my mind.  I do have a place already that could be turned into an iris path.  If I can scare up the cash to get a retaining wall built this winter, I could do something wonderful using iris up at the cottage.  I'm going to make this my goal.

And, I'm going to study this photograph.  I can't even come close to duplicating any such scene, but I could use this spectacular planting as an inspiration.  I need more flowers in my life, and I'm going to make this a priority this coming year.  I've learned from my 97-year-old friend, Margaret Moseley, that it's never too late to plant.  She's been saying all week that she's going to move a 15 foot tall viburnum (V. plicatum var. tomentosum 'Shasta') that I gave her years ago.  If she has the nerve to do that, I can surely figure out how to do one pathway.  In fact, if I would just get out there and get busy, I could be covered up with all kinds of flowers by this time next year.
 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Before I knew Robert Mallet, I knew of this garden


Long before I drove up to the estate of the Mallet family in 2006, I had known about this beautiful domain on the coast of Normandy.  Gardens of France, a book I purchased in 1983, contained photographs in both black and white and color and a write-up giving some of the history of how Guillaume Mallet, Robert Mallet's grandfather, had come to build a manor house and establish a botanical park overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

I'm not sure of the year, but Robert Mallet and his wife Corinne, the latter the author of two books I owned about hydrangeas, came to Atlanta to visit, among others, Penny McHenry, founder of the American Hydrangea Society.  Robert and Corinne wanted to travel to Alabama to see native oakleaf hydrangeas in the wild.  They also wanted to meet Eddie Aldridge, who, along with his father, was responsible for propagating and introducing 'Snowflake', a double form of Hydrangea quercifolia found in northern Alabama.  The only catch to this trip was that it was winter, and there was not so much as a bud or leaflet on any of the hydrangeas.

But that didn't matter to Robert and Corinne.  A group of us drove over to Birmingham, and the two seemed thrilled at getting to see the oakleaf hydrangeas in their native habitat.  At least they were able to see the beauty of the exfoliating bark.  They also visited places in Atlanta where the native Hydrangea arborescens existed in the wild.  At that time I had dozens of the plants on my property.  The arrival of deer around eight years ago in the City of Atlanta marked the end of every single wild arborscens that grew on the banks along my driveway, not to mention the H. arborescens 'Annabelle' specimens I'd planted.

But back to Robert Mallet.  He came to Atlanta last week to give two lectures, both of which I attended.  Robert's first lecture was mainly about the family garden, the Bois des Moutiers, and other gardens in France. In the second lecture to the American Hydrangea Society, he showed slides from the French National Collection of the genus Hydrangea that he and Corinne have planted near the Mallet family estate in Normandy.

I could hardly believe the recent photographs.  When we were there in 2006, there was just a field with some botanical weed cloth laid out in rows and circles.  A few short, leafless branches of hydrangeas and newly planted paulownia trees that were not even as thick as a broomstick were all there was to see.

That former blank field is now overflowing with hydrangeas of every color and form.  The paulownia trees look fully grown and provide shade for the macrophyllas and asperas.  There are wonderful paths dominated by the sun-loving paniculatas, some still with pure white blooms, others that had turned into striking pinks and reds.

But of all the wonderful specimens Robert showed us, I was most taken by a macrophylla called 'Cote d'Azur'.  It appeared to be a deep, almost navy blue - a small plant, maybe dwarf even.  From my scratchy notes taken in the dark, it looks like I wrote "all-time bloomer", maybe meaning that it is a repeat bloomer or constantly in bloom.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the introduction of 'Cote d'Azur' to America.  I'll do my best to find out more about the plant and when we can expect to have it for our gardens.

I almost forgot.  I took the above photograph on our trip in 2006.  It shows a side entrance to the front gardens of the Lutyens-designed manor house.  The white you see inside is Clematis montana var. alba.    In the terra cotta pots are Hydrangea macrophylla (another book I have shows them to have light pink blooms), and the left climber appears to be Schizophragma hydrangeoides.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Jim Scott revisited - over the top!


A couple of weeks ago, my friends from LaGrange, Georgia, invited me to visit a garden in Dadeville, Alabama.  They didn't know the owner's name, but said a horticulturist friend of theirs would drive us.

I arrived in LaGrange at 9 a.m., and we drove over to a nursery where their friend Helen works.  Before we piled in her car, I asked about the garden.  Helen said it was the most amazing place I would ever see, and the owner's name was Jim Scott.

I should have known.  If my friends had mentioned Lake Martin, that would have given it away.  And Helen is right.  It is an amazing place.

Years ago, I went to Alabama to scout gardens for HGTV's A Gardener's Diary.  When I drove down a steep dirt road and ended up in a parking area surrounded by electric blue hydrangeas, I had no clue of what was to come.  Jim met me at my car.  He is a fit, lean man who is a bundle of energy and personality.  What he's accomplished on several steep hillsides overlooking a cove in the lake boggles the mind.  I can't think of any garden anywhere that is this ambitious.

First of all, there are literally thousands of rocks and boulders and ballast stones and cut granite pavers and, as pictured above, long pieces of stone carved to make steps, set into the hillsides.  In fact, this is probably one of the biggest assemblages of rocks in the Southeast, and maybe beyond (I'm not counting Rock City or other natural occurring places).  What is fascinating is there wasn't one single stone on the place when Jim started.  Everything has been brought in.  At one point, he bought 85,000 cobblestones, if that gives you any idea.  He says he sold most of them, but I don't know.

Since I was last at Jim's garden (maybe four or five years ago), he has added an entire new section that dwarfs the original garden.  It takes you hours to go down each path (if you can manage to do such a thing - I think there are too many to tackle).  You hate to hurry, because you might miss a choice plant.  This new area, which must cover several acres, contains an astounding collection of trees, shrubs, roses, lilies, vines, perennial flowers, containers overflowing with flowers and foliage and bulbs popping up everywhere.

What was notable on the brilliant sunny day we were there were the Chinese fringe trees (Chionanthus retusus) in full bloom, next to pink-flowering Indian hawthorne trees (which I didn't even know existed; I thought they only came in shrub form).  At one juncture, the pure white frothy blooms of the fringe trees were intertwined with giant white snowballs of Viburnum macrocephalum.

In another new area, Jim had made a rectangular overlook with four stone benches and iron railings, so if you switched seats you could get a different view.  Each of these cantilevered benches was planted with yellow honeysuckle.

Along the paths were surprises, as well.  We saw a giant arisaema from Japan with the most stunning deep maroon Jack-in-the-pulpits unfurling beneath the leaves.

The area pictured above is new.  Up in the left hand corner you can catch a glimpse of the Chinese fringe tree next to the new red foliage of a Japanese maple.  At the very top of the steps to the left of the yellow Iris pseudacorus, is a stone arch that leads you to yet another wonderful area.

Jim has dreamed up the placement of every rock, every plant combination (he had four large weeping Japanese maples flanking walks in the recent addition), every sitting area (even one in a cave; another in a covered platform perched high above the cove with a lookout on top) with great imagination.  Just to walk through this new part (I'm not even going to talk about the huge new pavilion with bedrooms and giant covered porches and a crow's nest way up high) is taxing enough, simply because you are so overwhelmed and are so afraid you'll miss something wonderful.

When I was there years ago, I wondered how he could think this all up.  With the expansive new areas and plants and walkways and boulders and wonderful flowers and shrubs and trees, you marvel at how he's actually translated his ideas in such detail.  Jim has designed all the paths and nooks and crannies and figured out what size rocks to use and exactly where to place an urn and how to engineer all the various levels and an elaborate system of streams and waterfalls.

I don't see how there are enough hours in the day or the night to dream all this up, much less to carry out so many challenging projects.  One wonders, given his high level of energy, if he ever sleeps.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The thrill of the wild Easter lilies


Last Saturday was a beautiful day here in Georgia, and my friend Richard cranked up one of his vintage military jeeps, and we headed across the farm to our usual stops.

First, we checked a place along a former runway where there's a piece of plywood and an old table turned upside down.  Richard loves snakes, and we always go there first to check if there's a new resident. Last week, he found a three foot long female king snake.  On Saturday, he lifted the board, and a little lizard-like creature scurried away.  Then, he turned the table over.  Nothing.  I don't mind snakes, but I secretly breathed a sigh of relief.  It just didn't seem like a good day to be relocating the creatures (he takes them over to his building and lets them go).

Our next stop was a patch of bloodroot that I had found the week before.  The flowers had gone, but the leaves were there.  Next year, I'll remember to look earlier for the flowers.

We then crossed the shoals, and stopped the jeep and walked down the wide, flat rocks to where I discovered a native azalea (Rhododendron canescens) last year.  There were some thick buds, but no flowers yet.  I was dismayed to see that a huge bush had died.  It looked old and gnarled.  But then, as I glanced around, I saw plenty of new azaleas that should be flowering in the future.

After that, we headed for the crossvine.  Last year, it had blooms on April 2.  I couldn't see any flower buds yet.  It should bloom around the end of April, so we'll have to go back to see.

And finally, the prize.  Richard spied them before I did.  My heart leapt at seeing them glittering white in the sun - wild Easter lilies.  Two years ago when we were exploring, I found some foliage which I knew must belong to a bulb of some kind.  But it was later in the spring, so whatever it was had already flowered.

Last year, when we went back there, I was ecstatic to find several patches of atamasco lilies (Zephyranthes atamasco), a type of rain lily. Just last week, I had been there to find only two flowers, and I didn't see any buds.

But, they had sprung up en masse in a week's time - dozens of them in several areas around a granite outcropping.  The buds are pink, but open pure white.  The flowers are about 10 inches tall.

I wonder how long they've been there.  The week before, I had been weeding Mother's poppy bed when I found a pottery shard.  Richard and I had found a lot of pottery pieces and some arrowheads in another spot.  But the flower bed is probably 3/4 mile away from our original find.

Could those lilies have been there when the people who made the pottery lived on the land?  My parents bought the farm in 1957, and it had been in my friend Karen Villano's family for over a hundred years before that.  Did her ancestors know about the flowers?

I have long felt a connection to this beautiful land.  From the time I was 12 years old, I drove Daddy's jeep all over the 151 acres.  I saw it differently then, and I never thought about the fact that others had also been a part of this special place, with its streams and rolling pastures and deep woods.

So, when I stood there on Saturday and looked down at those pure white flowers, I felt a sort of reverence just knowing there are so many treasures left there by nature and by people who were a part of the land long before my time.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A passalong plant announces spring


During the 21 years I wrote a column for the Atlanta Journal & Constitution, I was always delighted when I was able to answer a question for a reader.  One in particular came in a letter that took forever to reach me (typical in the days of snail mail).  A woman who lived in rural north Georgia wanted to know about a plant she remembered from her mother's garden.

As I read her description, I felt really good about the answer.  It was a shrub, she thought, that threw up spikes of light pink, fluffy flowers, usually in March.  She had never seen the plant offered in any nurseries, and she hadn't seen it anywhere for decades.

I remember driving along a road in Marietta one spring years and years ago, when something caught my eye.  I couldn't stop because it was a busy road.  I saw spikes of pink flowers that went all the way up the stem.  I was convinced that I was seeing a perennial flower, a herbaceous one, rather than a woody shrub.  I drove on down the road and turned around, hoping to get a better view.  I didn't.  A car was bearing down on me, so I had to be content with another short glimpse.

I guess it was the next spring I was over in Athens, Georgia, scouting gardens for A Gardener's Diary on HGTV.  I had been sent to what the author of a book about old Southern gardens called a "vernacular" garden.  The owner had filled the small plot of land around her house by the railroad tracks with all sorts of flowers.  The first thing I saw was the plant with the pink, fluffy spikes.  Her mother had passed it down to her, she explained, and she had kept it going for decades.  It turned out to be flowering almond.  The gardener sent me home with a start, and every year, I've enjoyed seeing the pink flowers appear in March.  Last year, I moved it up to the little house, and it bloomed well this spring.

The above plant is the white version of flowering almond.  It flowers just after the pink form.  I did have the white almond at one point, but it was in the way of a new water line, and I think its roots were destroyed.  It was a passalong plant from the one you see above, planted 40 years ago by Margaret Moseley.

Back to the letter about the identity of the plant.  I was so pleased that I was able to call the woman and identify the plant for her.  I offered her a start, but she said she was about to move into a retirement home.  She had simply wanted to know what the plant was that she remembered from her childhood, a plant her mother had loved and said was a sign that spring had finally arrived.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Robert Mallet is coming from France


I am really looking forward to next week.  Robert Mallet, one of my favorite gardeners ever, is coming from France to speak to the American Hydrangea Society.  Our meetings are usually on Tuesday nights at Holy Spirit Church, but this is a special occasion, and the talk will be given at the Northwest Presbyterian Church at 4300 Northside Dr., Atlanta, Ga. 30327, on Thursday, April 18, with the gathering at 7 p.m. and the program beginning at 7:30 sharp.

In 2006, I took my two daughters to France.  We first visited Giverny, and then drove up to Robert's family estate on the coast in Haute-Normandie.  He and his wife Corinne had just started their hydrangea collection.  My goal is to return some summer soon and see all the hydrangeas in bloom.

But, we weren't disappointed when we were there.  The rhododendrons, many planted by Robert's grandfather, were in full bloom in the enormous woodland garden overlooking the Atlantic.  It was a thrill to see these venerable giants.  And, around the Lutyens designed house were wonderful, more formal gardens with unbelievable clipped hedges and long borders crowded with flowers.

We were there in May, so we caught white Clematis montana rambling across stone walls, and yellow Lady Banks roses cascading from trees.  It was breathtaking.

So, my ambition is to go back in summer to see the hydrangeas.  Here is an excerpt from the American Hydrangea Society's Web site, describing Robert Mallet:

"Robert Mallet is most definitely a Renaissance Man.  His many careers overlap and beautifully complement each other, morphing into one spectacular lifetime.  Robert grew up on a beautiful estate, Moutiers, in the Seine-Maritime region of France.  He started his advanced education in the U.S. at the Wharton School, where he received a Bachelor of Science in 1982.  Robert received an MBA degree from INSEAD in 1989.  He became the manager of the Parc des Moutiers, his family's estate, in 1968 and continued (with some interruption for his studies) until 1985.  He was one of the founding participants in the Courson Plant Show in 1982 and continued his plant show career throughout France.  Robert was the founder of the Association des Parcs Botaniques de France, as well as the Association des Parcs et Jardins de Haute-Normandie.  He currently is the director of the Shamrock Collection, the French National Hydrangea Collection, located on the property of his family's estate.  His latest book is Envisioning the Garden.

The Web site says to bring your friends, so I hope if you're in the area, you'll come to Robert's talk.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Carpe diem, especially where a garden is concerned


I have many flaws, but one of the worst is that I say "I should have" way too much.  Despite some progress in overcoming being seized with a lot of regret, I often find myself wishing I had done something I failed to do.

In the case of the garden pictured above, I can't help but be irritated that I didn't photograph the scenes the owner created and maintained over a number of years.  You could go there in early May, and roses, peonies, irises, clematis and deutzia, along with a variety of colorful lettuces and fresh herbs, filled borders on all sides of the house, set on a corner lot.  A spectacular heavy curtain of 'New Dawn' roses overhung the front of the house.  You would see cars come in and out of the subdivision and stop to look at the profusion of beauty.

In late June, an allee in back of the house was bordered with Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' and outlined with the large leaves of Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans'.  I did do a feature article for Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine, and at least I can look at the pictures to remember all the wonderful plant combinations (i.e., lime green barberry, light blue clematis and white philadelphus).  We also did an episode of A Gardener's Diary on Home & Garden Television on the garden.  In fact, that's the first time we ever had to cancel a day of shooting, due to rain and storms.

I haven't been to that part of Atlanta in at least a decade.  I think I heard the gardener moved years ago.  Her beds and borders were labor intensive, so I don't know if whoever bought her house kept up the garden.

So, here's my regret.  I did take a few slides the day of the shoot (above).  The garden was on many tours, and the owner was so generous that you could go there anytime and wander through.  Why I didn't capture more of the many vignettes within the garden, I don't know.  It was before the day of digital cameras, and slides took a lot of effort, it seemed.

Here's the lesson.  If you go on a garden tour or visit a garden, take more pictures than you think you'll ever want or need.  In the heyday of the above garden, there was no such thing as a blog.  I'd love to be able to share all the great ideas contained in this corner lot (I still remember the peach colored 'Abraham Darby' rose, next to 'Beverly Sills' iris, about the same color, and in the middle a dark maroon colored stand of copper fennel - stunning).  I'm sure I thought at the time that there would be many more opportunities for me to photograph this garden, but that didn't happen in this case.

So, here's some advice from the Queen of Regrets:  Make sure your camera battery is charged, and take every chance to seize the day while the garden is still there.  You just never know what the future holds, and the moment can be gone when you least expect it.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hoping for the return of a long lost iris


Week before last, I went over to my daughter's house to wait for a repairman to come.  While I was there, I took her dog for a walk around the block.  As we were passing by a house, I saw some white flag iris, those early ones that look like butterflies.  All of a sudden it dawned on me that I used to have them up at the little house.  But, they're not there anymore.  When and how did they disappear?

That's the thing about gardens.  Some things are there for a long, long time.  Others bloom for a couple of years, and then they don't show up the next.  Still other flowers are like a long, lost love.  You think you'll never see them again; in fact, you've all but forgotten about them, and out of the blue they show up when you least expect it (this is some wishful thinking!).

I can't even remember how I got those iris.  They must have come with some flowers that were given to me, a bonus, in other words.  They are the first iris to bloom.  I distinctly recall seeing a row of them next to the house of the late Lewis Shortt, who was a wonderful collector and gardener, especially of Georgia native plants.  His white flags were the prettiest I'd ever seen, and I meant to go back and get a start of them.

The ones I had (above) were, pretty, too, but did not glow like Lewis's.   If I analyze what must have happened, I realize they've been gone for quite a while.  A water line was put in where they were, and the site became part of the parking area.  I failed to save what was there, so the iris probably fell victim to a Bobcat.

But, who knows?  One day they might show up again, and I'll be delighted to see them.  These are passalong plants for the most part.  You'll see them blooming next to abandoned homesteads out in the country.  In those places, they've not been disturbed for decades.

I've had flowers come back after a long absence, most notably some sweet rocket and a verbascum that I was fond of.  But, I can find some white flags, and I won't have to wait for them to reappear on their own - unlike the long lost love who only existed in my imagination.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The roses are here


The roses I ordered for my new garden arches were to be shipped yesterday.  While I was sitting on the front stoop just now getting bad news about a 50-year-old septic tank, my UPS guy drove up.  At first I was disappointed.  It looked like my daughter had ordered more shoes (and she had).

But, I just went back in to look at the boxes, and the roses have arrived.  Not that this is making me feel any better about the expensive septic tank nightmare, but at least I'll have something to look forward to now besides next month's credit card bill.

One thing has changed from my original order.  The climber 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' was not available after all.  So, I'm taking a chance on, of all things, a hybrid tea rose called 'Amy Johnson'.  It's an Australian rose dating from 1931.  All the information I could find on it says that it is large, semi-double,  medium pink and is very fragrant.  Pat Henry, owner of RosesUnlimited, e-mailed to tell me about the Cl. Souvenir and said she liked 'Amy Johnson' very much.  Its drawback? Very thorny.

The rose should be far enough away from the gravel walk so that no one can brush up against the canes.  And, I hope I'm satisfied with the flower, because moving a thorny rose (I've still got scars from transplanting 'New Dawn') is not something I want to do again.

The above flower is not 'Amy'.  This is a rose (maybe a David Austin?) in Margaret Moseley's garden.   But, I'm hoping 'Amy Johnson' will be about the same color - dark enough to show against the stucco (although I'm going to espalier a Camellia sasanqua on the same wall a few feet away to add an evergreen companion), but still a nice, medium pink.

So, here I go to open the box.  The soil is ready, although I need to get a trellis to attach to the wall.  'Amy' will climb from 12-15 feet, so I'll need to figure out something pretty tall.  The other roses are all climbers, and the iron arches are set and ready for the plants.

One way to drown your septic tank sorrows, I guess, is to plant roses.  I can't think of anything else better to do.  I believe the roses arrived at just the right time.



Monday, April 1, 2013

The thrill of finding a flower in the wild


It was on April 1st of last year that I found this flower at the farm.  I had known it was there for a couple of years, because I had picked the fall foliage (a deep, rich burgundy) to go in a Thanksgiving arrangement for my house.

My friend Richard took me on a jeep ride (he is an expert on period military jeeps) to reach this particular spot.  We were actually looking for native azaleas and atamasco lilies, both of which were blooming.  It was a surprise then, to see the above Bignonia capreolata, or crossvine, with flowers on it already.  I had only wanted to see if there were buds.  It usually blooms from mid to late April.  To take a picture, I had to stand on the jeep and pull the vine down.  As far as I know, this is the only spot on the farm where it grows.

Next week, I'm hoping to visit the granite outcrop where the atamasco lilies are.  Richard and I did go there a couple of weeks ago.  They are rain lilies (Zephyranthes atamasco), so the foliage is in good supply this year due to all the late winter rains.  The native azaleas should be out soon if the weather warms up.  So far, I've only found the pink Rhododendron canescens at the farm.  Here, in Atlanta, I have an R. alabamense hanging on.  There used to be a few orange R. flammeum in the woods here, but they have gone away.

There's nothing more thrilling than finding a native wildflower you didn't know was there.  Year before last, I noticed something white hanging from a tree a few yards off the driveway.  At closer inspection, I saw it was a halesia.  I didn't see any flowers last year, but maybe the tree, which is in a good bit of shade, will have some of the pristine bells that hang from the branches.  I'm constantly looking around to see if there are more discoveries.  It's fun to see hostas break the ground or foxgloves cropping up everywhere, but nothing is as satisfying as seeing something that is indigenous to this region and that may have been here for a long, long time.