Monthly Archives: April 2014

Oh, It’s Iris Time Again

Just when I think March and early April are my favorite bloom times, along come the irises.  They are outdoing themselves this year.  One of the reasons I love these plants so much is the people associated with many of them.  Some came from Mama’s garden, some from gardening friends.  I wish I had labeled them all with the names of those who shared them with me.  But strolling amongst them recalls the warm feelings I get thinking about who each one reminds me of, or a special occasion when I received them.

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Along with the iris are the columbines, whose multiple blooms will continue to give me such pleasure for a few more weeks.

DSC_0190DSC_0203DSC_0204I love the native red columbines with the native red honeysuckle as a backdrop.  The hummers love it as much as I do.

I’ve finally achieved my goal of blooms every day of the year.  I hardly ever fail to stroll around the yard daily, just to see what’s new and blooming.  It’s a wonderful thing.


How You Spend Your Dash

I heard a sermon once in which the preacher said it doesn’t matter what year you are born, or what year you die.  What matters is what you do with the dash between those dates.  Many of us spend our dashes rushing around trying to find something to make us happy.  Others spend their dashes doing good things to make other people happy.

Yesterday, I saw a fine example of someone who has lived her dash well.  Dianne has devoted herself to her nursing profession for 42 years.  Now that she is sick and unable to work, her dash is paying off.

While most people are soon forgotten by coworkers, Dianne has one of the most caring, persistent bunch of coworkers and friends I’ve ever encountered.  When we got home from her doctor visit yesterday, one of her supervisors and her husband were in Dianne’s yard mowing, digging out monkey grass, and generally sprucing up the yard.  We pitched in to help and soon two more friends arrived, then a couple more.  For over three hours these women (and one husband) worked tirelessly in her yard, clearing out her wooded area, pulling privet, honeysuckle and blackberry briars.  They loaded it on a trailer to be hauled off.  They even climbed over in the trailer by ladder to pack it down so they could dump in more stuff.  The yard looks great, thanks to these wonderful ladies.  One even provided home made soup to feed the work crew.

I have to wonder how many people would appreciate my dash enough to devote so much care and concern on me.  Makes me stop and think that maybe I need to spend the rest of my dash being a better friend and family member.

I think of the many birthdays I forgot to send a card or a gift, how many times I didn’t call to check on a sick friend, the favors I promised but failed to follow through on, and the list goes on.  I can honestly say, that Dianne remembers those birthdays, calls on and helps her sick friends with rides to the doctor, gift baskets, books to read, and anything else she can to to make the time pass for them more pleasantly.  She is never stingy with her time, always willing to volunteer where needed, always available to take mama where she needs/wants to go.  She is overly generous with her money, always donating to a needy cause.

I guess she’s just about the best sister anyone could have, and I’ve only recently understood just how special she really is.

So from now own, I promise myself to be a better friend, family member, Christian, and person.

Please pray for Dianne and our entire family as she has her surgery on Monday.  I know there is much left for her to do, especially being an example of what we should all strive to be.

Easter at Granny’s House

We had a huge crowd at Mama’s house today for our annual Easter covered dish lunch and egg hunt.  I think each year we have to add more table space for food, as well as guests.  It’s so easy to forget how much family means to me, with all my busy-ness.  But I love to sit around talking to Mama’s brothers and sisters and swapping stories about her!  They have some real tales to tell.

DSC_0125Mama’s brother, Harvey, saying the blessing.  I enjoyed hearing his tales of his and Mama’s competition with their gardening.  He doesn’t believe in planting by the signs, but Mama sure does.  Don’t know which one has the better garden, although Mama has really cut the size of her garden, and is a little slower getting around these days.  But what can we expect of a soon-to-be 86 year old spring chicken.

We cooked coconut pies together on Friday.  As she finished making the custard filling for her coconut cream pie, she said we should stir in the coconut.  After she stirred a bit, she said, “That looks just right.  It’s lumpy, just like me!”  I told my Leslie about this and that I’m putting it in the cookbook.  Leslie wondered how anyone making the recipe who didn’t know Mama would know how lumpy she is, so how lumpy should the pie mix be?  Good question, but not my problem!

DSC_0128Mama’s sister, Ima and her husband, Bo.  She is such a neat person, a real go getter.

DSC_0108Her sister, Irene, checking out the Thomas the Train book Lucas got in his stocking.

DSC_0115Her sister, Pearl, holding Lizzie, our newest addition.  Lizzie’s grandmother was Pearl’s twin sister.  I know Myrl would have been totally wrapped up in this little girl.

The food- Oh, my goodness, we’ve got some super cooks in the family.  Brother Steve smoked pork to make barbecue, all the women made their special dressing, vegetables, fried chicken, sandwiches, salads, and desserts-cookies, cakes, trifle, pies, candy.  There was enough left over for everyone to take a plate home, with leftovers for Mama to feed ‘the boys’ next week.

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Everyone takes a seat and chows down.  There’s no shortage of food at the Gentry family reunions.

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And there’s always plenty of visiting and ‘catching up’ to be done.

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The best part of the day-except the food, the family fellowship and did I mention the food?It’s the Easter Egg Hunt.  We have two hiding fields-the front yard for the little ones and the orchard for the big kids.  With over 400 eggs to find, there’s plenty of fun to go around.

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I can’t imagine any family enjoying each other’s company any more than our family.  While it’s sad to think of those who are not there to share the day with us, there are the new faces we see who just joined us-through birth, marriage, dating, or just as friends who come for the fun of the day.  I love being part of such a wonderful group of people.



The Truth Comes Out

Okay, it’s time to admit I’m an addict.  I just can’t seem to get enough native plants in my yard!  Joining the Native Plant Society was the first step leading to my disease.  When I went on my first rescue, I was immediately hooked.  Just couldn’t get enough of those plants.  I wanted one of every kind I saw.  Field trips to the Alabama Botanical Gardens and The Pocket added to my woes.

Now, I hit every native plant sale I can find, dig up non natives and replace them with natives, and prowl my yard day and night looking for new blooms or a new plant poking its head up through the ground.

And even worse is plant envy.  When one of my native plant friends gets a new plant that I don’t have, I must admit that I covet their plants.

Here are some of the beautiful plants that are now beginning to bloom, as the earliest spring ephemerals begin to wane.

iredbudThe Native Redbud tree has been beautiful.  I dug this from the yard of the oldest living Master Gardener in Georgia after doing a garden program at his home near Macon.  Just a sweet Southern gentleman.  I always think of him when this tree is in bloom.

Southern Wood Violet

The little Southern Wood Violets are blooming  with great abandon.  Next year, I’ll have dozens of babies to pot up and share.

Woodland Phlox

The Woodland Phlox is just beautiful and has the added bonus of being resistant to the common mildew problem of cultivated phlox.

Native HoneysuckleuWhenever I hear the word ‘honeysuckle’ I always think of the yellow and white Japanese honeysuckle of my youth.  I remember us kids walking down the little dirt Saxon Rd. and plucking the blossoms.  We’d pinch the base off, pull out the tallest stamen and lick the sweet nectar from the flower.  Now I think not so kindly of the Japanese honeysuckle, as it seems determined to take over my woods.  Instead, I have planted this beautiful red native honeysuckle.  It is about 6 feet tall, completely covering the obelisk I put there to give it a structure to climb. and has a spread of at least 8 feet.  Right now it is covered with hundreds of buds which will begin to open in the next few days, showing off their bright yellow tips.  The hummers will be arriving shortly for dinner!

Native ColumbineNative Columbines can’t be beat for beauty, endurance and care free attitude.  The hummers love it, I love it, and everyone who comes over takes babies home if they want them.  They reseed easily, so I always have plenty to share.

Red ChokeberryOne of my most recent finds- a red chokeberry which has these lovely dainty flowers to be followed by bright red berries.


Merrybells.  What more to say.  They certainly make me feel merry, just seeing the blossoms dangle in the breeze.

Solomon's Seal

The tiny buds of the bell shaped flowers dangle from the stalks of the Solomon’s Seal plants.  The weather this winter and spring must have been the favorite of these plants, as I have dozens of them springing up all over the wooded areas of the yard.Trillium

One of the several varieties of trilliums in the yard.  This one is unusual in that it presents its flowers upwards, making them easy to spot.  Tirlliums have three leaves, three sepals and three flower petals, thus it’s name.

Athens Sweet Shrub

The Athens Sweet Shrub was developed at UGA’s horticulture school.  It is sweetly scented with a light spicy smell.


The Catesby Trillium dangles its blossoms underneath the leaves.  This one has a baby nearby from last year’s seed.

Pink Lady's Slipper

Everybody loves the pink Lady’s Slipper orchids.  This is one of two that I rescued from a gardeners pesticide applicator.  It is returning for the third year.  Conventional wisdom says they won’t survive beyond the third year in most transplant situations because of their need for certain microorganisms in the soil and the old pink straw.  I don’t have any pine trees, but I always scavenge pine straw from the woods nearby, or from neighbor’s yards when they rake off the old pine straw and dump it on the street so they can spend money on more pine straw.  Haven’t figured that one out yet1

DSC_1590These cute Dutchman’s Britches have bloomed for the first time in several years.  It got its name from the white flowers, which look like the pantlooms worn by Dutch sailors in the past.


The Serviceberry, the black Chokeberry, the Witch Hazel, Pecan tree, native azaleas, and Spicebushes  all went into the ground this weekend.  Next year, I’ll be prowling the yard every day in the spring, looking for the first signs of blooms.  It’s an addiction, but one I don’t ever want to be cured of!

A time to be thankful

After six harrowing months for Dianne, she finally has some good news.  Her tumors have shrunk to the point that they have been able to schedule her surgery.  It will be very extensive, with a long recuperation time.

We went to her surgeon’s office today.  This woman is amazing.  She is so focused, but at the same time so cognizant of Dianne’s needs for reassurance and some good news.  Today, she said that she thought the spleen was no longer going to need to be removed.  Her tumor that delayed the surgery for 8 weeks has shrunk, and the doctor said her organs seem to have more independent movement from the first exam.  When she had her exploratory surgery in Nov., her organs in her lower abdomen were all pretty much stuck to each other by tumors.  If the chemo has worked those tumors have shrunk enough to allow the freedom of movement Dr. Carroll noted today.  She said to expect a long hospital stay-probably 10 days or more (that’s Dianne’s guess.  The doctor wouldn’t give a number.)

And the crushing news of the day—she said Dianne probably wouldn’t get to work in her yard for several years due to the risk of picking up and infection or soil borne illness.  She had so looked forward to retiring so she could garden and do all the fun stuff.

But we left the doctor’s office today and went straight to Home Depot where we bought flowers to plant in her yard.

A few years ago, I did a backyard makeover while she was away on vacation as a surprise birthday gift.  She wants shrubbery in her front yard and an island of hydrangeas and hostas.  So while she is recuperating, that’s my goal.  She’ll be able to sit in her chair inside and see the flowers as they begin blooming.

We also went today to look for a new recliner and sofa for her den.  If she’s going to be stuck inside, we want it to be pretty!  We also drew off plans for a major remodel of her house, giving her a larger bedroom and a great bathroom/closet suite with a huge walk-in curbless shower, linen closet and a nice sized walk in closet.  We’ll begin on this when she is far enough along in her recuperation to put up with moving out for a few weeks and staying with someone else.  Mama says her, I say me!

Even if some or none of this comes about, I believe it’s that planning ahead and looking to a better future will serve her well in the coming months, and new furniture and flower beds will certainly lift her spirits.

I look forward to our girl trips together, even though they involve a doctor’s visit, and feel that our friendship and ‘sisterly love’ have benefited from this ordeal.  If there is any way to find something positive about her being so sick, I think that is the lesson learned.  We had let our girl trips lag, had become complacent in thinking there’s always another day to make that call, or visit, or road trip.  Now we savor the thoughts of having the opportunity to do those things together.  So, a word from someone who has learned the lesson-cherish those you love and never let the relationship fall to the wayside, whether it’s a family member or friend.