Thanksgiving Blessings

 

Celebrating a day of gratitude –  remembering all the bountiful blessings that another year has brought.

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“All of this reminds me that thanksgiving is a debt.  It is something we owe.  When we bring our thanks before God, we are recognizing Him as the source of every blessing, every protection, every heartbeat, every rescue from every trial-even when His chosen form of deliverance just means supplying us the perseverance we need to see it through.  We have no life, no hope, no health, no grace, no strength, no peace, no holiness, no anything apart from what He has given and continues to give us”.  Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth

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Thanksgiving blessings to you and your family!

 

 

 

Captivated by Camellias

Just south of Dothan near the Florida line in the hamlet of Madrid, is a camellia garden of heavenly proportions!  Linda and Bill Nichols have created this idyllic garden over the last couple of decades in the pine tree lined acres surrounding their lovely home. Bill, who is constantly amending and grafting specimens in their garden, is passionate about camellias and preserving their heritage.  With much help from Linda, who is also a seasoned gardener, they enjoy sharing their gorgeous blooms with friends and family.  From November to February each year, the couple enjoys traveling to Camellia shows in the Mobile area and Florida Panhandle.  Meticulously packing each individual bloom in polyester pillow batting after inserting them in individual water picks, they have the procurement and travel methodology down to a science to ensure that their prize winning blooms arrive unscathed.

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A couple of weeks ago, I was invited out to the Nichols’ home to help cut camellias for an arrangement my partner and I were doing for our business, Garden Gate.  The Nichols, always gracious and enthusiastic,  thought nothing of doning rain gear and umbrellas to help me cut 75 blooms or so.  In the process,  I learned their tips for preserving the blooms for traveling.

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A lovely cast aluminum vintage urn was perfect to display the grandeur of the camellias.

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An added bonus was having a few blooms to arrange on my dining room table in a silver pieces that belonged to my Mother.

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What could be more elegant to decorate a cake for a friend’s 60th birthday?! (The white camellias in the second photograph were from the garden of my friend, Ginger Pratt, and her bush is probably close to 60 years old.)

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Enjoy the seasonal blooms of the Camellia, a quintessential Southern garden staple.  Find a show in your area this winter or,  better yet, stop by your local garden center and plant a few bushes for your own enjoyment!

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Northeast MS Rose Society Celebrates Fall Garden Design

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Several weeks ago I was honored to present a floral design program to the the Northeast Mississippi Rose Society in Tupelo. What fun it was incorporating fall blooms in a wide array of colors from the gardens of society members and other area gardeners at North Mississippi Research and Extension Service, an affiliate of Mississippi State University.  Special thanks to Crofton Sloane, a horticulturist with the center as well as to Tracy Kramer, the society president, who made my experience so pleasurable!  Gorgeous varieties of Coleus in the front planters were overflowing with hues of red, russet, plum and green to welcome visitors to the center.

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Tracy Kramer prepared a lovely fall table with food contributed by her and other members.

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The members and their guests shared an abundance of their garden roses, hydrangea, wild flowers, Angelonia, Pinta, cosmos, zinnias, dahlias, coleus,  and Smilax along with many other garden treasures.  The members are all incredibly talented gardeners and floral designers who share a passion for growing roses!  Each year the society holds its annual rose show in May.  Lee Pryor Caldwell (shown below) shares cuttings from her garden.

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Rosarian Lavonne Glover contributed her prize winning roses along with Dahlias and other garden selections.

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I brought a display of some of my fall favorites grown in southeast Alabama : Sorghum, Aplin Farm sunflowers, Limelight hydrangea, assorted pumpkins, American Beautyberry, cotton, Golden rod, Eucalyptus, Carolina Sappire Cypress, and Nandina. A salvaged log from the demise of a friend’s River Burch tree was the focal point of one vignette! My sister contributed Leucothoe, Curly Willow, and holly from her Pontotoc garden.

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Members contributed containers which I chose randomly to do the arranging in.  Since there were so many incredible flowers, it was difficult to even choose which ones to use.  I believe I could have arranged all night even though I managed to do the arrangements below in the alloted two hour time frame for the meeting;  What a fabulous selection of different color and textures to use for composing these arrangements!

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Thanks to Tracy Kramer, the president of Northeast MS Rose society for all of her hard work in organizing the event and to my sister, Claire McGee, for being my assistant.  I want to also credit Crofton Sloan and the staff at North MS Research and Extension Service for their efforts in making the program a success.

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“Flowers possess many of the qualities our souls long for”.  Carolyne Roehm

Celebrating Fall

The spirit of the fall season is rejuvenating – from the arrival of cooler temperatures (Yes!  It has been in the 50’s in south Alabama!) to the backdrop of golden rod on a roadside to fields of yellow-green sorghum in the country side.  Fields doted with cotton and simple pleasures such as gathering acorns on a cool, brisk day help to inaugerate my favorite season of the year.  Wildflowers, Pyracantha, and Beautyberry in vibrant hues of yellow, green, blue, orange, and  purple create a masterpiece of color in God’s creation.

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The acres of sunflowers at Aplin Farms near here in Slocomb, Alabama, herald the arrival of fall each year.  I literally can’t wait for their appearance. Their sunny energy is contagious!  Here are a few photographs I have made in the last few weeks of this spectacular ode to fall.

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These gifts from the fall harvest bring timeless seasonal beauty into your home.

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The two rattan urns below were used by my Mother in the 60’s and 70’s, and are perfect for fall blooms.

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Hydrangeas, one of my garden favorites,  are perfect any time of the year to use in floral design.  I recently purchased some Little Limelights to enjoy now, and can’t wait to plant them next winter. They are a wonderful variation of the popular Limelight Hydrangea – same hardy flower but in a smaller package!

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“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

The Guilford Garden of Hartford, Alabama

Having first visited the Geneva county garden of Patricia and Buddy Guilford in May of 2008 when it was featured on the annual  garden tour, I quickly became enamoured with their pristine acres of roses, wild flowers, and other perennials and flowering scrubs.   Amid rolling miles of picturesque country roads about 20 miles southwest of Dothan lies the charming  community of Hartford – home to this garden gem.

Remarkably, the couple still maintains their illustrious garden without any supplemental help doing all the the required mowing, fertilizing, mulching, and pruning themselves. Buddy, who spent many years in fertilizer sales, has a wealth of expertise in the science of gardening.  A few weeks after the 2008  garden tour, my parents were in town to attend my youngest son’s high school graduation.  The couple very graciously allowed me to bring them by to tour their garden.  How exciting it was for my Mother to find gardeners who shared her passion for rose cultivation!!   In addition to designing and maintaining their own garden, the couple was instrumental in the planning of a gorgeous prayer garden at their church, First Baptist in Hartford.  They continue to dedicate countless hours and energy to preserving its beauty.  I revisited their garden back in the summer, and again, found it to be a garden journey of great beauty and renewal.

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Several years ago one of the Guilford’s granddaughters was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a rare genetic disorder that affects the pulmonary and digestive systems of some 30,000 children and adults in the U.S. as well as approximately 70,000 worldwide.  Although there is no cure for this chronic disease, survival rates and management of the disease have improved significantly over the past few decades. Possibly my favorite part of the Guilford garden is the breathtaking rose garden they planted as a loving tribute to her.  Significant is the fact that that they planted a total of sixty five roses.  “65 roses” is what children diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis call their condition since the term is much easier for them to pronounce.  The concept of “65 roses” has captured the hearts of all who have heard it since the rose is appropriately the symbol of love.

https://www.cff.org/

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Patricia and Buddy Guilford have truly created an everlasting garden legacy with their exuberant chorus of vibrant flowers and unique garden rooms . . .

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“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners ho make our souls blossom”.  Marcel Proust

Summer Floral Design

Look no further than your garden or a quick excursion to your favorite grocery or wholesale club’s floral department to create long-lasting arrangements to bring beauty to your home this summer.

My business partner, Vicki Harris, purchased these magnificent French tulips at Sam’s a few months ago for around $15.00.  She arranged them artfully in glass cylinders on a sideboard in her foyer.  What a simple, yet elegant statement!

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On quick run to Winn-Dixie, I perused the floral department as I usually do.  The porcelain-like blooms of these amazing peonies don’t need anything but a simple vase to showcase their splendor.

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Fresh magnolia and oak leaf hydrangea in a cream-colored urn created a simple white arrangement at a summer tea.

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And speaking of hydrangeas!  My favorite variety, Limelight, are still as gorgeous as ever,  and will bloom in our area until October.  I love to gather them just as the blooms dry a bit and turn to sage green.  Once they are to that point, they will continue to dry beautifully.  A bonus of procuring them at this stage is that they can be incorporated into arrangements all year long.  My friend, Christy Keyton, is so generous to let me cut her blooms as much as I’d like!

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Christy used Endless Summer hydrangeas from her garden in this stunning arrangement on her breakfast room table.

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Hydrangeas and zinnias pair beautifully together.  Joe Steever’s arranged these from his own lovely garden.

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Black-eyed Susans from the garden of Michelle Plagenhoef and Zinnias from the Garden of Debbie Hundley are the perfect addition to a hydrangea arrangement I did in my favorite McCarty pottery bowl.

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Use the blooms in your summer garden (or a friend’s) or pick up some flowers on your next trip to the grocery store to create summer beauty in your home.

” . . . it is good to live, and all the more good to live in a garden.”  Gertrude Jekyll, British garden designer

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Poplar Head Farmer’s Market – Local Farm to Table at Its Best

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Experience the bounty of fresh local produce each Saturday morning in downtown Dothan through the end of July at Poplar Head Farmer’s Market located in the Civic Center parking lot.  Area farmers bring their harvests of multi-colored vegetables and fruit from 8:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.  Sponsored by The Downtown Group, this popular open air market features specialty items such as honey, nuts, and even delicious fresh blueberry lemonade – the perfect antidote for a hot summer morning.

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Pottery and other crafts by local artisans are also featured each week.

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Bush Gardens, a popular vendor, has some of the loveliest daylilies in the area.

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Buy fresh.  Buy Local.  Hope to see you at Poplar Head Farmer’s Market soon!

A Retirement Worth Celebrating – The Educational Legacy of Karen May

A friend like Karen May comes along once in a lifetime. I am grieving her passing, but am thankful for the gift of her friendship. This post was done in May, 2014, shortly after Karen retired. Please pray for her sweet family.

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Karen May is one of those rare friends who comes along in a lifetime.  For over 20 years I have been nurtured by her friendship.    There are a multitude of words that describe Karen,  and her hundreds of friends, family members, and former students can certainly attest to that.  Empathetic, sacrificing, loving, selfless, faithful, unconditional acceptance, compassionate, unassuming, diligent – these are yet just a few qualities that characterize Karen.  For 38 years, she faithfully served as an elementary school librarian here in Dothan.  There were no discernable boundaries between her profession and her ministry.  She considered the pupils she taught each day like her own children.  When she saw a child in need, she responded with love and compassion immediately.  It was not unusual for her to teach two generations of a family.  A couple of weeks ago, friends, family, and educators gathered at The Depot to pay…

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Northeast Mississippi Rose Society’s 16th Annual Show Memorializes Joe Maddox

The Northeast Mississippi Rose Society paid homage to Joe Maddox, a Rosarian Exemplar, who passed away in 2014, at their recent 16th annual rose show held at Renasant Bank in Tupelo.  A guiding force in the success of the rose society for many years, Maddox’s presence was sorely missed by fellow rose society members as well as regular attendees of the event. Growing roses was not only a passion, but more of a way of life, for him as well as for his entire family.

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Tracy Kramer, rose society president, pointed out that the society’s members waited for the show with “great anticipation and as always a bit of trepidation, wondering whether there will be a late freeze and when our diverse group in a variety of locations will have show quality blooms”.  The show was indeed a  great success thanks to her leadership and nature’s bounty of blooms in categories such as hybrid tea, polyanthas, grandifloras, floribundas and antique roses.  The American Rose Society has added knockout roses to their rose selection publication, therefore, giving rose growers the option of entering less high maintenance roses in local shows.

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Conundrum

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Othello

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Paradise

Miniature entries are displayed below . . .

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Moonstone

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Tineke

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Love and Peace

Tiffany

Chicago Peace

An English box display of Gemini is shown below . . .

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Rose society members Kevin Ball and Tracy Kramer are pictured with Memphis area judges James Moser, Peggy Bingham, and Tammy Boswell

Tropical Sunset

Sexy Rexy

Julia Child

Memorial Day

Gift of Life

Olympiad

Queen Elizabeth

First Love

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Chestnut Rose

Cherry Parfait

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Graham Thomas

Chihuly

Shreveport – one of my Mother’s favorites

Always a popular category, the arrangements division was filled with gorgeous and artistic tablescapes . . .

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Lavonne Glover is shown below with her stunning arrangement which won “Princess of the Show”.IMG_0216

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“Queen of the Show” category was named in memory of my Mother, Maxine Patterson, who was an avid Rosarian and society member for many years prior to her death in 2010.

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Master Garden and Rosarian Tracy Kramer successfully transplanted some of my Mother’s rose bushes into her own garden in 2013.  Those roses, along with some of her illustrious blooms were lovingly arranged in a silver container that belongs to my Mother – another award winning entry! For more on Tracy’s garden go to this link:    https://beautifulgardener.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/a-mississippi-garden-that-has-come-full-circle/

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Emily Hall’s “About Face” was indeed worthy of “Best of Show- Dr. Walter and Tommie Boutland Award.  This award was especially meaningful to her since the 2015 show was held in her husband’s memory as well as the fact the she had never won a trophy category prior to this year’s event.

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Thanks to the Northeast Mississippi Rose Society for another successful show and for their passion for promoting and preserving the cultivation of roses . . .

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From Tornado to Tea Party Nothing Stops a Southern Gathering!

No natural disaster,  not even a destructive tornado that ravaged parts of Dothan’s garden district just days before, could thwart the weeks of planning that went into a book launch party for my friend, Celeste King Conner.  When this aspiring Southern author’s first book , Blabberings, was released, a celebration was in order.  Gracious hostess Olivia Crockett had no idea that this scene would ensue at her home as she and her husband were spending a “quiet” evening at home. The storm quickly did an insurmountable amount of damage within just seconds.  Fortunately, no injuries or fatalities ensued.

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Olivia Crockett had no thoughts that the book launch would not go on as planned. Donned in 60’s attire along with the other hostesses and honoree, Celeste, she graciously welcomed friends and family members to a Southern afternoon tea and book signing. Celeste’s sister, Starla, featured in many of the book’s anecdotes, was a special guest.

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A Southern inspired tea-table reminiscent of an afternoon fete in the 60’s was featured in the dining room.  Fresh magnolia, variagated Pittosporum, and Oak Leaf Hydrangea cut from friends’ gardens made a stunning centerpiece.

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Just prior to the book launch event, Celeste made her debut on a local television station…

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Much of Blabberings centers around life in our small southern town of Dothan during the 60’s – the dynamics of growing up in a family of three sisters (which I totally love!) and the interplay of her extended family.  Humorous stories of her own three children are also included.  You will laugh and cry and maybe even find something familiar from your own upbringing between the lines.

Pictured below are Celeste (the youngest) along with older sister Starla and middle sister Angie.

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You will want to order your own copy available at Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Blabberings-Celeste-King-Conner/dp/1495144046/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1432667330&sr=1-1&keywords=blabberings

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“The Pretty Girls were forever changed by the storm.  Not damaged, they were made better.  The storm created stronger, yet gentler women who appreciated new days and each other and the laughter of their children,  They were less likely to be tripped up by the trivial, since they knew what a true storm looked like.  The children were better, too, for having survived the storm.  They seemed kinder and less selfish”.   Blabberings by Celeste King Conner

Celebrating the debut of my new favorite Southern author, Celeste King Conner!

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