Looking back at this blog over the years, you might not know a pandemic swept the world in 2020. This blog doesn’t reflect the life altering event of which no one is immune. Before summer slides by, as three seasons before have done….let me tell you what the quarantine and isolation have been like for a gardener on Skidaway Island.
Actually, we have been among the fortunate ones. So far only 100 or so cases have been reported on our little Island of about 14,000, and for the first few months we didn’t hear of any but two. My Photos file is filled with the usual groups of sunsets, flowers, plants and landscapes. Despite Covid 19, the natural world started to come to life in March, even as the humans retreated and stayed at home. Guess what, the natural world doesn’t need humans!
The stark contrast to pandemic life on Skidaway Island, came when we ventured forth to New York City in July. On the island of Manhattan, humans are needed. Except for a few pockets of green and a good sized pocket called Central Park, the concrete, stone and steel world would take a long time to revert back to a natural place. We parked by our first home together, a condo on the Upper East side. When the street tree died right in front of our ground floor garden apartment, I spent a lot of time getting the City to replace it. I must be old, because that tree has grown so tall!
The only thing similar about our first home and our current home, is a leaning tree and the iron fencing.
Downtown areas in New York were just opening up at the start of July, but the Upper East side was eerily quiet. The boarded up store fronts were so depressing but by now, I hope things are getting back to normal, whatever that will be….
On the street where you live, anyone can tell who the gardeners are among the residents. They will have a killer container, one that wasn’t purchased at the local box store, leading to the front door. Or if it is mass produced, that container will be filled with an array of beautifully assembled plants. And if the plants are not an unusual assortment, but maybe just red geraniums, then they are always perfectly groomed, no dead leaves, and predictably blooming with gusto and always the most vibrant you have seen.
On my street, you can find me year round. Not just one container, but 93 (no, not all at the front door.) This month, look for me where the Crinum asiaticum (giant crinum lily) is blooming at the mail box!
What do you think about drive by garden hopping? I am bereft that there are no organized garden tours in 2020. I have a need to stroll some gardens! Here I am, so close to NYBG, and they are closed! It is sad!
Is it wrong to snap photos of gardens and beautiful yards from the street? After all, you can look at any property in the world, almost, from Street View or from the air, on Google maps.
I am sure you aren’t allowed to sell or make money on those photos taken of private property. But I feel sure that any gardener or proud property owner would be flattered that you thought they were worthy to share on your blog.
Driving around the Old Greenwich area, near where I am staying, has been a delight! The hydrangea are spectacular this year! Yesterday, this homeowner (below) got my blue ribbon. The abundance of plant material! Some I did not recognize….stump the horticulture judge! Can you name every plant? What do you think of the living fence being grown? I would like to try that! Do you think those posts are set in cement? I really need a garden partner on these drive bys! I have so much garden conversation bottled up! What about you?
With the Covid virus raging in the world, I thank God for Nature’s offering. There is so much calm to be found in the garden…a natural relief from stress. There is evidence all around us that people are spending more time outdoors in their gardens and allowing themselves to breath deeply….and let the worry over the virus blow away with the soft breeze. It is a way to take care of your emotional health until we get this behind us. Take care!
Hey y’all in the North! Bet your veggies are just taking hold, and the bugs and diseases are about to creep in! Here on coastal Georgia, we are already harvesting! Already dealt with caterpillars and worms and whitefly! Captain Jacks dead bug spray was my organic go to, along with trusty Neem Oil. Before any critter can even think about taking a bite, here is what I brought home yesterday for a little window ripening time. Yum!
It is so easy to get lost in the tumble of days produced when a Pandemic seizes the world. Saturday? Thursday? The usual timetable gets thrown aside and the rhythms of your life are upended. The day ends, you watch the glow of sun recede and you’re embarrassed that you have little to show in terms of productivity.
But then #something very ordinary happens, and you remember what it is like to have a method and a madness to your day. Our garage door broke, irretrievably broken, the steel facing of the door ripped away as the bolts no longer held…what a mess.
So now, you are pressed into action. make the calls, get the estimates, examine the options!
Taking breaks from the garden play and chores, we hopped aboard the golf cart to see what our neighbors had chosen for garage doors.
Apparently a broken garage door requires an essential service, so we now have been stirred from our stupor of days. Try not to lose your way forward. We will don our masks, and stand at a distance, and try to get this done. Slowly, ever so slowly, the world will try to defeat this virus and get back to some sense of normalcy. We can hope we have all learned something…how to be quiet, how to be still, and yet we will continue to have to deal with broken doors….
Weather permitting, we try to walk at least once a day, and that does not include the short walks with the dogs. We are fortunate to live in a beautiful place.
There are walking paths along both the Eastern and Western Marsh. Our walk along the Western Marsh was lovely, quiet and breezy, with warm sunshine. With a view like that, creating a garden is almost superfluous.
The architecture on this Island is regulated, but there are still many different styles to be seen. There aren’t many blue homes, but this one was handsome.
We passed along the side of a tabby house, that we had viewed when we were searching for a home here. Glad we didn’t choose it because a new home was built on the side, and seems to block the former view of a particularly appealing lagoon.
Fountains and water features are often part of Island gardens here. On this particular walk, I discovered a fountain I had not seen before.
This is a very difficult time to be living through, and I know so many people are suffering without being able to see and be with their families and friends. A simple walk does a lot to clear the mind, though it doesn’t change the reality. Another thing I look forward to, is a visit by the fox family in my back yard. The two kits have been coming out in the evenings. I am insisting they keep a wide social distance from my two beloved dogs! So far, we are coexisting nicely.
In the midst of a world wide pandemic, we get back to basics. Forgoing pre-made meals and restaurant food, we head to the kitchen pantry. We think about the food pyramid and plan meals accordingly.
The pantry holds many food groups, but not the most important …fresh fruits and vegetables. Fortunately, gardening in Coastal Georgia, the fresh greens are still producing.
Pesto, made from last summer’s basil bounty, was pulled from the freezer for a favorite ravioli dish. Is anyone else baking bread? This one is from The Craftsman’s Cook Book. My first job out of college was with the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York. The crafts movement was at its peak, and young people were toting peace, love, and back to the basics. Here we are again, and this bread fits my mood.
If I am not isolated in our home, you will find me exploring the yard. Spring has arrived, oblivious to Covid19. There is much beauty to be found. Just remember to keep washing your hands, stay close to the natural world but far from humans…at least 6 feet apart.
You know the Christmas crunch has arrived when the Christmas shelves are empty and your stove and ovens are running full tilt. Savannah must be one of the most decorated cities in the universe at Christmas! Do the shelves in your local hobby shop empty out like this two weeks before Christmas?
You might have to quit decorating and start the holiday baking. Each year, I start the hunt for the beef suet that is a necessity to the making of my Grandmother’s Plum Pudding. The local Kroger butcher tried to sell me fatback. Oh heavens! Does no one else in all of Savannah know how to make a proper Christmas pudding? The only place in Savannah selling it this year was the Ogeechee Meat Market. So, for my Grandma, descended from the Bell family of Scottish origin, this steamed pudding was a staple in the Christmas repertoire. My Mother kept her Mother-in-law’s recipe safely guarded, and I feel I must safe guard it too. Not sure if my daughter will ever feel the need to make it. Thus far she has not explored her culinary side. But mixing up the bread crumbs, suet fat, dried fruits and jelly is a tradition I enjoy.
Turning the pudding out on a plate, wrapped in muslin, after 4 hours of steaming is so satisfying!
Some camellias will capture your attention more than others. And some perform so well that they become your favorite child.
This year Camellia ‘Mine-no-yuki’ is on its way to becoming the favorite of ’19-20.
This lovely white sasanqua was grown from layering. She is still growing in a pot and after 3 years, may be ready to go in the ground but I think I will wait until Spring. The Mother plant has not one bloom this year! What a disappointment! But her offspring is a delight this Autumn! In Jennifer Trehane’s book, “Camellias”, this Camellia is described well. “It evokes the purity of the first snowfall of winter.” I am happy to enjoy the first snowfall this way…a benefit of living in Georgia where the snow flurries are very rare! “A jumble of Snow White petals” is a perfect way to describe this jolly bloom.
November needs sunshine! But it is in short supply. Savannah is known for its shaded paths and streets, the mighty live oaks draped with Spanish moss casting sun beams in many directions. But when the cloud cover grows thick and the temperatures sink, the magic disappears. Even the happy blooms of a stalwart camellia don’t lift the mood.
Our average temperature in November should be in the 60s which allows for some days in the 80s, but I for one do not want that allowance to mean we must endure the 40s.
We almost dipped to freezing two nights ago. I almost had to purchase a cover for the garden in previous years. Will this be the year?
The way I go on, you’d hardly imagine I was born and raised in the Hudson Valley and have spent most of my life in the Northeast! I know snow
But I hope we don’t see another cold winter like the one a couple years past! The rule about no Christmas until after Thanksgiving may have to be disregarded this year! Give me sparkle with outdoor parties on the marsh and blooming camellias!