How Does Your Garden Grow?

garden_051615I enjoy the beauty and tranquility of public gardens, but I also like to dig in my own dirt. It’s a great stress reliever, enables one to stay active, and provides an outlet to use or improve upon creativity.

Last fall, I planted new bulbs in my garden to replace some older ones that had gradually petered out over the last nine years. I had a plan and I worked it—an equal balance of colors and types of flowers.

I waited expectantly. When spring came, chaos broke loose. The orange lilies I had planted on either side of my golden euonymus shrubs popped up near the flowerbed’s border in front of the shrubs. Not only that, the lilies quickly outgrew everything behind them in height.

Over the rainy winter, all my carefully scattered anemones must have washed to the right side of the bed, because they grew up in one massive (but pretty!) clump. The daffodils came up but never got heads; and of the four types of tulip bulbs that I planted, only two emerged and bloomed.

The entire landscape I had worked to develop looked anything but creative; and for a brief moment, I felt a wave of stress threatening to wash over me. Then I recalled one of my mother’s green thumb tricks: transplanting. She’d move flowers from the rock bed to the perennial garden to the stone planter out front until she found the perfect place for a particular plant to thrive.

Armed with a new plan, I set to work. I moved the orange lilies to the back yard, where they are now loaded with buds. I spread the anemones evenly across the front bed’s border–and they lived! I enjoyed those two lone tulips for their unique beauty, and I put a few annuals in for good measure.

Things are shaping up. The garden in filling out. Early bloomers have served their purpose and bowed out to the next wave of foliage. Have a look:

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This “ice cream” double tulip had it’s day in the sun. Because my space was limited, I planted three of these bulbs in a big pot on my front porch. Green leaves grew up from all three bulbs, but only one bloomed. (Here, I’m experimenting with night photography.)

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Anemones (or windflowers) are some of my favorites. For me, they keep blooming until the squelching heat of summer hits and persists–which won’t be long!

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Usually my anemones are red and purple, but this new batch of bulbs produced these pretty white ones as well.

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After the ice cream tulip (singular, sigh) faded, I planted some cascading vines, wave petunias and this pretty African daisy in the large planter on the porch. That’s probably a lot for this container to hold, but I like thick greenery and profuse color!

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Out back, I tried something that might be a bit unconventional. I put these tall perennials, called Speedwells, in a deck box that hangs from the railing and serves as a privacy screen. I wasn’t sure if they would like it there, but it’s three weeks and counting and all’s well. (Blue: “First Glory” Speedwell ; White: “First Lady” Speedwell)

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At a recent Triangle Gardeners Volunteer Recognition event hosted by Duke Gardens and attended by volunteers from four area gardens, I received as a parting gift this “Slim Jim” phlox pilosa, courtesy of Juniper Level Botanic Garden. It nicely compliments a white “Minnie Pearl” phlox that comes up faithfully and blooms from late April until early June in my front garden.

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During a recent visit to the North Carolina Botanical Garden, I purchased Piedmont Barbara’s Buttons (Marshallia obovata var. obovata) at the garden’s gift shop. This perennial, the 2009 NC Wildflower of the Year, is drought resistant and tough despite its delicate, lacy blooms.

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On Mother’s Day weekend, my seven-year-old nephew gave all the girls in the family two flowers apiece in celebration of Mother’s Day. (He didn’t mind in the least that I’m not a mother.) It was very touching, and I planted this pretty vinca with tender care in my front flower bed.

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The “heart” of a shasta daisy–the second flower that my nephew gave me. Very charming.

That’s a glimpse of my garden. But that’s not all! Soon to bloom are my “Maryland, My Maryland” black-eyed susan and my ever-reliable “Jeff Gordon” yellow lilies, the latter of which were given to me when the 24/48 shop at Hendrick Motorsports was re-landscaped about eleven years ago. There’s nothing like a flower with some history!

Then, of course, there are my blue stars that shine in June through September. And the pretty pink perennial my younger sister gave me when thinning her own garden a few years back. …Dividing and sharing perennials is another joy of gardening, something I watched my mother and our neighbor Francis do from time to time while I was growing up.

Well, you get the idea. (I could go on and on!) Do you have “green space” in which to tend a garden? If so, how does your garden grow?

Arts & Health

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ― Pablo Picasso

Throughout the Duke Medical Center in Durham, NC, artwork hangs on walls and in showcases overseen by Duke Arts & Health. One recent display in the Duke Clinics merges visual art with performance art and caught my eye.

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A trumpet lamp, a 12-button student accordion, a clarinet lamp, a toy piano, and an Oscar Schmidt autoharp on display in the Duke Clinics in Durham, NC. (I’ve walked by this display case dozens and dozens of times over the years and have never noticed it was even there. It was the clarinet lamp that drew me toward this latest exhibit. I played the woodwind from fourth grade through my first year of college, and will occasionally toot a rusty rendition of Karl L. King’s “Robinson’s Grand Entry” or John Philip Sousa’s “Hands Across the Sea” when the mood strikes.)

A few weeks later, I passed by the display again and noticed it had grown to include harmonicas, sheet music, and a German hunting horn. Intriguing!

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A Hohner “Super Chromonica” chromatic harmonica on display at Duke Medical Center (Durham, NC).

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A German Hunting Horn on display in the Duke Clinics showcase. (Durham, NC)

But that’s not all. A few weeks later still, I passed by and the display had changed again! This time it included several string instruments, not the least of which was a colorful ukulele.

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A couple of guitars, a violin/fiddle, and a ukulele are charming additions to a revolving display of musical instruments in the Duke Clinics (Durham, NC).

In addition to such visual arts displays, the Duke Arts & Health department hosts lunchtime concerts on the Trent Semans Plaza, as well as music throughout the medical units, in waiting areas, and at bedsides. (Much of this music is thanks to professional musicians in residence and volunteer Duke student musicians.)

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A musician plays the accordion in a busy thoroughfare near the cafeteria. — Duke University Hospital; Durham, NC

The exhibits and the concerts are free to the public. The enjoyment they bring is priceless.

Hello, World

I was out and about earlier today and stopped by one of my favorite places—Fearrington Village.

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The grounds at Fearrington Village (NC) are a nod to English gardens.

Situated on pasture land between Pittsboro and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Fearrington is designed to look and feel like an English village. Single family residences surround a “village center” that is comprised of a world-class Inn, two highly acclaimed restaurants (Fearrington House and The Granary), a coffee and wine shop (The Belted Goat), as well as a beauty salon, spa, bookstore, boutique, post office …and the list goes on.

Despite the numerous and, in some cases, luxurious amenities that Fearrington Village offers, there’s a down-to-earth, natural quality about the place, accomplished largely (in my humble opinion) by the various gardens, small ponds and walking paths.

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On the “square,” poppies (a personal favorite) make this wildflower garden “pop”. — Fearrington Village, NC

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One more poppy picture…I just can’t resist! –Fearrington Village, NC

Also resident to the village are Belted Galloway cows, Tennessee fainting goats, and donkeys. Today, when I entered the tranquil and slow-paced world of Fearrington Village, one of the donkeys was standing docilely in the pasture adjacent to The Granary. This is where I normally see the fainting goats (who were there today, also); but this was the first time I had ever seen a donkey there—in the past, I had only spotted a stout one standing under some trees along the edge of the pasture that runs alongside Route 15-501.

So, as you might imagine, I wanted to get a picture.

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I got my donkey picture, but it was hardly a “one and done” scene. Notice the fluffy mound at this jenny’s front hooves.

I went around the bend of the fencerow to get a better angle, and behold!

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It appears that the rather rotund donkey I had spotted several times standing there in the shade by 15-501 was now the proud mother of a new baby!

Round about the time of my discovery, a lady pulled up, jumped out of her SUV, and came hoofing it to the fence. Excitedly, she reported that the foal was only one day old! (Apparently, she lived around Fearrington, had checked in on the mother the night before, and had found her still pregnant.) The woman jumped back in to her vehicle, then off she went…perhaps to spread the good news that the world consisted of one more dear little donkey. (UPDATE: Since writing this post, I have learned that the baby—a girl—was born at 5:30AM, making her a mere six hours old in these photos!)

The colt began to stir, and I witnessed one of its first lessons in standing and walking.
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The mother gently nudged her new offspring to keep it on its feet and get it moving. — Fearrington Village, NC

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With each nudge, the foal became more sure on its feet. By the time I left, it was doing quite well! — Fearrington Village, NC

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Fearrington Village’s newest colt gets a nuzzle from its mama. – Pittsboro, NC

As I watched this interaction between mother and newborn, I pondered God’s great design. It was a creation moment—a commonplace scene of everyday life—that was fascinating and beautiful.

The Duty of a Nation, The Privilege of an Individual

“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God.” – President George Washington, 1789

May 7th, 2015, is the National Day of Prayer—an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May calling those of faith to pray for the American nation.

The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress and was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. On May 8, 1988, Ronald Reagan signed a law designating the first Thursday in May as the annual observance for the National Day of Prayer.

“If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we are a Nation gone under.” – President Ronald Reagan

What to Pray
The National Day of Prayer Task force, whose mission is to “mobilize prayer in America and to encourage personal repentance and righteousness in the culture,” suggests praying for government, military, media, business, education, church, and family.

Such a “call to prayer” has its basis in the Bible, in such places as 1 Timothy 2:1-4:

“I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (ESV)

The National Day of Prayer Task Force offers further suggestions for what to P.R.A.Y. by providing this acrostic:

PRAISE: Thank God for what He has already accomplished through Jesus.[1]

REPENT: Confess your sins. Repent personally and on behalf of our nation. The Lord is quick to forgive when we come humbly to Him.

ASK: Ask God to reveal truth, turn our hearts toward Him, and bring healing.

YIELD: Yield to the LORD and recognize that He has heard our prayers and will answer according to His will. He is ready to provide guidance and instruction.

It is a privilege, a comfort, and a joy to come before God in believing prayer.[2] May we be encouraged to do so today and every day.


[1] This can be summed up in John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (ESV)

[2] Hebrews 4:16Philippians 4:6