8 Tips for Creating Memory Gardens…

006CD037-D4B8-4F22-84E0-D092A1D064D4I didn’t set out with Memory Gardens in mind… though the idea began to form when my grandmother shared some Hosta and Spiderwort, then an old gardener sent Daffodil bulbs and another shared Bearded Irises. My father in law, sent a few Redbud saplings from the family farm and my mother showed up one day with a sapling called Glory Bower, which blooms in the dead of summer when nothing else will. The Glory Bower is in bloom near one of our daughter’s birthday and always reminds me of her, beautiful and generous. Each year it seemed, I had memories of my family and others who had generously shared plants. Here’s a closeup of Spiderwort-C85AFD07-43D8-4885-BDF0-61350C33BC6F

Tip #1 Memory Gardens can be scattered throughout the landscape or in a designated place. I do both.

I had an idea of purchasing a tree or a shrub on special occasions or in memory of a loved one…So, a memory garden was forming as I was learning about where, what and when to plant. On several occasions I gave a living plant instead of sending flowers and often bought one to be planted here at the cottage. Without really planning a Memory Garden, my garden was making memories for me.E2A910D2-F038-42C2-830C-21D87D3833BF

Tip #2 Think perennials. Memory Gardens aren’t just about trees and shrubs- Herbs, like Rosemary- for Remembrance, Lavendar for Love and Devotion,Sage for Long Life and Wisdom- are great memorable additions. The bearded irises weren’t given to me by my grandmother yet, she loved them, so they remind me of her, always. Bulbs, Ferns, Hosta, Shasta Daisies are wonderful and can be planted in the garden, near a loved one’s birth date. Perennials as bereavement plants which die down but return year after year are a hopeful reminder of the resurrection.

E5345747-53BA-4FBC-ACD5-07CE39E9AA4CWhen we re-did the front yard- a parking area in front of a picket fence changed things.  A family member gave me two heirloom roses- New Dawn, they are the ones at the end of the fence. Every year, I’m reminded of her beauty, her thoughtfulness and her kindness. The pale pink roses still grow proudly at each end of the picket fence, And they bloom close to her birthday! A tiny gardenia shrub was bought on sale… it reminded me of a dear friend, who had loved a fragrance with a distinct gardenia note, the shrub is now so big- it has to be cut back!  I planted a hedge of holly, that was perfect behind a garden bench given to me by my sister, it reminds me of her everyday.   On and on it seemed, I was given plants or buying plants that evoked memories.  The garden began to mature… What I found as the years went by… is that Light changes everything.82EF6299-6536-4585-89C5-B974EEE7B2D6

Tip #3 Even if you have established a specific area as a Memory Garden- be prepared to divide, move or even replace plants. When this occurs, I try to use memory plants in another more appropriate site, especially with adequate light.

1040EFD8-827B-426C-AFEA-DDB9B4429969Trees grow. Sun loving plants find themselves in the shade. Trees fall. Shade loving plants shrivel in the sunlight. Trees even age and die. The soil is disturbed or other trees crowd them out. And, these elements affect our yard to this day. So! It became important to me to establish areas where my memory plants had the best chance of survival. And some memory plants need dividing.  I didn’t want to lose the old heirloom plants, so I divided them and spread them throughout the garden areas; still purchasing memory plants along the way.

Tip #4 Memory Plants are all occasion! Births, Milestones such as graduations, Weddings, Anniversaries, in addition to the Loss of a Loved One, are the perfect opportunity for memory plants. The main criteria is choosing a plant which evokes a memory of the occasion and the loved one.

CA33CF63-8BCA-4BE3-989D-E998FD69019BLittle Gem Magnolias were planted in memory of my Aunt Iva and my precious grandmother, Mimi. Yet the occasion when the magnolias were purchased commemorates our daughter’s wedding. They were used as a large display in urns at her wedding reception.  I like to call these Little Gems- my ‘Steel Magnolias’; which Mimi and Aunt Iva certainly were, as were other southern ladies for whom I purchased the same small magnolias.  Those magnolia trees and a few camellias I had purchased evoked to wonderful memories throughout our garden, not to mention the beautiful large blooms!

Tip #5 For very special occasions you may choose to plant a specimen tree or large shrub. Be sure to site the tree for its own specific needs for soil and light.

10FF4451-1BCD-467B-A5AF-7B652D5ED689If you’re getting the idea that my memory plants were placed at whim, you wouldn’t be far from the truth, I planted for the conditions the plants and trees required. A freeform Memory Garden was more like it… until 2006.My mother in law died. I was devastated. I worked furiously in the garden in the days following her death. Being on my knees, seemed the right place to be; brought to my knees by this blow of her death- I could be alone, I could dig, yank weeds, weep over the least tiny bloom- gardening helped. Have you ever felt like that? Immersing yourself in a hobby or physical tasks that free the mind? Gardening was therapy for me. Shortly after her death, to honor her , we were given a piece of statuary, an angel.

10A4D15A-1A5D-453F-96FF-7F7D6AC6325B It seemed too large to put on prominent display in the front of our house…. as I continued to work out my grief- a spot toward the back of our yard, kept catching my eye… it was a clump of dogwoods, they were in bud.  It seemed to be the perfect spot! So, that’s where she is…my angel and my first attempt at a specific Memory Garden. At the base of the angel, were planted miniature daffodil bulbs from a funeral basket of spring flowers my sister gave our family. They have multiplied over the last decade. In the Spring since the Angel was placed, it still surprises me-  if anyone glances this way, passing the cottage- down the side yard toward the dogwoods… there is an Angel. The spot for her Memory Garden was somehow, by some miracle- chosen for me, not the other way around. We have since lost some dogwoods, planted some roses and crepe myrtles. 4AB961E2-804F-48FC-AAAE-DCFCB15FF953

Tip # 6 Be careful buying statuary. Use it sparingly. Place it appropriately, so that it’s shape and size work with your garden. Sometimes your site will tell you where it needs to be placed!

B2760811-B63E-4AED-BF05-FB6A0C0567C1So! I have continued my practice of buying memory plants. In 2017, I planted a camellia for my friend, Denis who died that spring.(photo above) I planted ten azaleas when my mother died, also in the Spring of 2017. Five azaleas for her grandchildren and five for her great grandchildren- she adored them all! Those were interspersed in the existing garden. Still. She has her own specific Memory Garden.F2F581E9-7D70-4B27-8336-7A6B4D6BDD6F

Friends and family bought hydrangeas for my mother as well, she loved hydrangeas and I do too! They are in shades of pink, white, green and blue that can only be called ‘hydrangea blue’. I planted them in groups by color, not mixing them so it’s more pleasing to the eye. There were a good many, so- for my mother… there is a hydrangea garden along a side yard and around the back deck- areas which  were never intended as a memory garden. Yet it seemed to chosen for me. I plan to add and add to it until the hydrangeas say- ‘No more, please’.  Memory Gardening has been a source of great joy to me.  I tend to name the plants- Denis, the Camellia delighted me, when she was full of blooms this year!2F91DB41-12F4-4A73-AA67-A60391CE5160

Tip #7 Add to your memories all at once or, perhaps a better plan is to gradually add to it, as I am doing with the hydrangeas and camellias.

C72C813D-0039-4267-BD1D-FEA018DD4E86Last fall, my beloved Walter, a Himalayan cat who had graced us with his presence at this cottage, died. I had to do something for Walter, I was almost inconsolable.  My sister had given me a statuary cat, more than a decade ago, it had never found a permanent site. At age 17, I suppose, Walter had lived a long life- I never imagined the grief I would experience when he died. So, I created a very small Memory Garden for him… under one of the azaleas planted for my mother, the statuary cat was placed, with an engraved stone which epitomized Walter…it says, ‘Do no great things, only small things with great love.’ Rose petals fall on this small piece of statuary, it isn’t visible from the street, but I see him every day as I go to my car. Somehow it comforts me.  I have recently planted a few scraggly violas near him hoping they will re-seed. There are lamb’s ears nearby too. Each one seems to be a bit of those small things only a family pet is able to bring to a household.

B4A154E7-B044-424C-8ABD-14285FFE8CA7Now, I’ve gone all sad sack on you and I don’t want you think Memory Gardens are just for bereavement- they aren’t! Plant memories for any occasion- name them or not, but as you plant- you are putting down roots, you are making a garden, you are making your home, your neighborhood, your world a more beautiful place!

Tip # 8 Don’t be afraid to ask for advice! Your local garden shop is a wealth of information. Ask them to suggest plants to use, what the plant will require, and how large it will get. You may need to have specimen plants installed, sometimes a garden center will be able to suggest a service. Ask for help- your plants willlove you for it!

Like I said, I didn’t set out to create a Memory Garden… now, that I have, the memories make me a better gardener. When a baby is born or a beloved friend passes on… I hope you will visit your garden center and pick out a special plant. And if the notion strikes or if there is a space in your garden, perhaps you will plant it and start a Memory Garden of your own… now, if you excuse me, I need to go outside and plant a Leyland Cypress named Wayne…

Love y’all, Camellia

* All photographs are obviously mine. The quote near the statuary cat is attributed to Mother Teresa. My husband’s dear friend, Wayne died right before Christmas, an evergreen was given to the family and the Leyland Cypress is to be planted here at Camellia’s Cottage.

Southern Magnolia…

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It’s a fact- the closer you live to a Southern Magnolia the better your life will be…Tall, stately and oh so beautiful, she wears flamboyant flowers and her signature citrus scent. Magnolia’s green satin leaves are lined with brown linen that sets off creamy white flowers, red berries, then rustic cone shaped seed pods. Magnolia does enjoy her seasonal wardrobe. A true Southern lady, Magnolia tends to prefer the lower and coastal landscape and seems particularly happy in a mixed crowd-

  •  Silly Longleaf and Loblolly Pines,
  • Moody Live Oaks with long gray beards
  •  She happily waves to Nutty Hickories, Walnuts and Pecans-
  • And don’t get me started on Shy Dogwoods, Sour Persimmons and Crabapples…
  • Not to mention the clinging Muscadines and those crazy Redbuds!

Magnolia Grandiflora may be her given name, but just call her ‘Mag-knowl-ya’. Like so many Southern Ladies she knows how to age gracefully– and stands peaceful and serene regardless of winds or high water; and like a true Southern Lady seems to have a high tolerance for shock.  AE535DE0-98A6-4415-80D7-F7DB05F9076D

Magnolia makes her home from the Low Country of Virginia and the Carolinas all the way down and across the South right over to Texas, where she quietly makes her majestic presence known. Give Magnolia a Decent Footing, she’ll spread thick sprawling roots- bringing Beauty to her surroundings all year round. Magnolia is the epitome of Southern Hospitality offering red berries to winter songbirds and her shiny leaves beautify every special occasion. From the cradle to the grave, Magnolia seems partial to the Holidays. Rich in symbolism, the Southern Magnolia represents

  • Beauty
  • Strength
  • Faithfulness
  • Grace
  • Dignity and
  • Hospitality

This year, a Magnolia Wreath seemed perfect for the front door, since we have three native Southern Magnolias and two hybrids called Little Gems, their dwarf cousins growing on the property. We made a full and simple wreath of Southern Magnolia Leaves to welcome Thanksgiving at the cottage. Beautiful. Simple and Traditional for large or small homes. Here’s how we did it-

  • Start with a Strong and Decent Base.
  • Cover with Natural Moss for the big leaves to cling to.
  • Mingle old, new and browned leaves in an orderly Dignified way.1E452A26-746E-496F-8A42-14FF71185D81
  • Generously cover the base.
  • Welcome the Little Gems in a Hospitable way.
  • Securely attach large wreath to front door.A90922D5-FCDD-437B-A560-067EC16073BA

Our Evergreen Southern Magnolia Wreath will carry herself in Dignity, Speak Kindly, look Beautiful and Age Gracefully, I promise!

Love y’all, Camellia

  • *all photographs are obviously mine
  • *Spanish Moss is covering a large grapevine wreath
  • *No wiring was required since the wreath is on a covered porch, she held up beautifully so far!

Bundle Up!

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Bundle up! Cool Autumn days are here- warm sweaters, cozy blankets and oh yes! Let the Festivities Begin! …Was that a groan? So much to do- so little time… Ask me if  I’m a  natural born multitasker?

‘Well Darlin’ I fried two chickens at once, four frying pans- too much work and the grease splatters weren’t worth it.’

The Southern drawl isn’t equipped to use the word multitask effectively, on the other hand- Bundle brings forth fond images: Bundles of Joy wrapped in Receiving Blankets, a Bundle of Clean Clothes right off the clothesline, Bacon wrapped Green Bean Bundles for Sunday Supper, a Bundle of Kindling or a mother’s voice…‘Bundle up now, you’ll catch a chill.’   When Holiday tasks are bundled up, it’s a joy not a chore…

Here at Camellia’s Cottage,  for Fall and Winter Holidays, we try to think like party planners, which elevates the preparations to something joyful. A color scheme, a menu, a theme… Then there’s  three things we bundled up to kick off the Season-

  1. The Family Christmas Vacation was booked and bundled back in July
  2. The Permanent Lists have been updated- Guest Lists, Traditional Food Lists,  Gift Lists and Mailing Lists
  3. Packaging, Stationary supplies and Ribbon orders were placed early… Yes, you read that right! My favorite Holiday Bundles are Paper Goods and Supplies!  

I know from experience that Setting the Scene for the Holidays begins with finding a common thread that runs all through the Season this is a sure fire formula for Holidays Bundled with Joy.

We use a neutral color palette for Camellia’s Cottage- White, Gray and Black. Natural Sisal Rugs, Cool Marble and Warm Barn Board are accents throughout. Whatever the season, Green is the common thread, the ultimate neutral in nature- think Pumpkin Patches, Sultry Magnolia Leaves and Soft Southern Pine. On my Supply List-  Each year, I add a new shade of Green Satin Ribbon; for holiday magic -a new shade of Red too, since both work all year. I add Cello Bags in several sizes; White, Clear Cellophane and Natural Wrap are also used year round. Wonderful mail order sources bring ribbon and supplies right to the Cottage Door! Nice Stationary is the epitome of Southern Grace and Good Manners!  There’s nothing like putting pen to paper for handwritten notes, though we’re finding new and beautiful ways to express our holiday wishes!

This season, Camellia’s Cottage is excited to be working in cooperation with Paperless Post®- the premiere retailer of online stationary… including the Southern Must Have- Thank You Notes! Why, Paperless Post has designs by world famous designers- Oscar de la Renta, Kate Spade and Jonathon Adler- talk about an all star line up! All of our stationary needs are bundled up in one place!

Paperless Post® includes options to download my own designs, photographs and to personalize the wording. There are options to order Paper Designs, too.  I found an array of ideas for Fall and Winter Holidays. I won’t get stuck with unused cards, with Paperless Post® – order a few or a whole slew.

For an Annual Eggnog Party, not held at the Cottage-the hostesses are updating the festivities using online Save the Date and Invitations- here’s what we’ve done so far:

  • The theme is Traditional
  • The favors have been chosen (a Famous Eggnog Recipe tied to Cellophane packages of Shortbread),
  • The program is being planned (Christmas Carols, an Inspirational Reading and more!)
  • Holiday food will be divided up among the hostesses (I’ll make Mimi’s Pimento Cheese, I’m told the Dessert Table will be loaded!) and-
  •  Our Local Animal Shelter is the charity we’ll support.
  • Tartan Plaid will be just right for our theme, the common thread that pulls it all together. Think donations in a big basket lined with a cozy plaid blanket, beribboned Scottish Shortbread favors, who knows? We might even see a Kilt or two- doubtful! But we can always scheme!

With the help of Paperless Post, we’re working up a Traditional Tartan Plaid by Oscar de la Renta. His square design for personalized Save the Date – To notify out of town guests . The Plaid Rectangular Online invitations to the Heads of each Clan will say- ‘Join us for an Evening of Comfort and Joy’ . Check out how Paperless Post works- it’s fast, fun and bundled up! Paperless Post®  has an online RSVP tool which tracks and stores responses ‘Let us know how many in your Clan will be there’ Online Cards are convenient, save time, money and best of all- Oscar de la Renta’s Plaid Holiday Design will make our annual event extra special!


The most difficult Holiday Tasks are easier when they’re Bundled Up! Here’s some tips:

  • Don’t go it alone- Online resources abound- Paperless Post® is a delight- easy to use, with helpful cheery staff-  I can highly recommend them for making Holidays easier. All of the Holiday Stationary for Camellia’s Cottage has been bundled up with a few joyful clicks and downloads. A very high stress chore was easy as pie and best of all? Checked off the To Do List!
  •  If you’re hosting a Holiday Party, enlist the help of others– divide and conquer! Decide early who’ll bring side dishes and desserts, who’ll polish the silver, who’ll participate in the festivities and who will track the RSVP list!
  • Double up-  Pick out a cookie dough that can be made in several flavors or shapes, store in the freezer until ready to use. I chose Shortbread-plain, pecan and orange. Shortbread actually improves after it’s baked! Most cookie dough can be held in the freezer for two months, it’s as easy to make four batches as it is for one- well, almost.5E8CB7C2-F0FE-4D66-9D41-B4B6A62C6C0A
  • Fall Outdoor Clean Up? Make it do double duty- I’ve  bundled up sticks for Firestarters and Kindling. In dry storage, the bundles will be mossed up and beribboned, with instructions to toss a few sticks on outdoor fire pits or indoor fireplaces! Hint: Men love to get kindling!
  • Bundle in bulk! When I’m grocery shopping, I add a few holiday necessities to my buggy each trip, this spreads out the cost of Holiday Cooking and Baking. Make sure you have parchment paper, foil and freezer bags too.
  • Do double duty in the kitchen– While the Sausage is frying and the Biscuits are baking- take another package of sausage, grated cheese and a bit of self rising flour- stir into a mix, chill- scooped into little balls, frozen on trays, then bagged with directions for baking on the freezer bag. You’re ready with pickup food any time!08D7A535-9828-40D4-87C6-A36AE3A887D9
  • On a nippy night, while a big pot of Vegetable Soup is bubbling on the stove, instead of one pan of Cornbread- make two! One to enjoy hot from the oven and one for the freezer, to be used for Thanksgiving’s Cornbread Dressing! Repeat.
  • Layer it on!-  Cozy Throws for sofas and chairs are an invitation to bundle up. Tie Ribbon on everyday Throw Pillows like Holiday Packages, remove after the Holidays for easy clean up. Simple and beautiful.
  • This year, when I made my Fall Wreath- I covered a plain grapevine wreath with gray and eerie Spanish Moss and Dried Hydrangeas, creepy faux bugs and little peeping eyes were added for Halloween! Quickly removed, a ring of Shiny Magnolia Leaves- curled to show their brown undersides, will be layered right on top for an elegant beribboned Thanksgiving Wreath; then embellished more for the Christmas Holidays! Talk about bundled for joy! That’s triple duty for very little effort- just layering on as the season progresses keeps life beautifully simple.
  • Bundled up Gifts-Bundle Candles, especially white  tapers- tie with pretty satin ribbon- great gifts for inevitable power outages or candlelit dinners. Rolled Cloth Napkins look especially nice tied with Ribbon. A plain Linen Hand Towel embellished with old lace- bundled up with a pretty soap, an easy and nice hostess gift! I must admit, my Holiday Labor of Love is making Pecan encrusted Toffee and Sugary Puff Pastry Palmiers.  Packaged in cellophane bags and tied with pretty ribbon- who can resist?

Everyone is busy, avoid Holidays fraught with multitasking nightmares…Bundle up! Begin now. Find ways to incorporate Holiday preparations into daily living. Don’t go it alone. Partner up, like we did, with Paperless Post® Enjoy the ease of online invitations and the process of themed Party Planning. Find a common thread, like pretty Ribbon or Tartan Plaid for Holiday décor. Now, about those gifts…I’m looking at personalized Thank You notes! No self respecting Southern Lady would be caught dead without them!

Love y’all, Camellia

A huge Thank You! to Paperless Post® for your cooperation and help. *Images for Cards and Invitations were used with permission from Paperless Post®

* All other photographs are obviously mine, as well as the images of my own personal designs- the pumpkins and purses can be downloaded to online form with Paperless Post!

Fall Forage…

It’s early Fall, when mornings are cooler, days are slowly but surely getting shorter and evening deep blue skies are a bit darker hue. Armed with clippers, I went out to see what I could see, a Fall Forage that inspired me to bring a bit of early autumn indoors to enjoy…IMG_0182

I found bright purple Beauty Berries, almost fluorescent in color, the Glory Bower’s pale blossoms are now magenta and dark blue berries…a few Figs still left unripe, leaves still crisp and green…plump and orange-y Rose Hips…IMG_0196

Lichen laden branches pale and ghostly alongside unripe celadon Nandina berries… Clipping and cutting, my bag was getting full and interesting…A papery hydrangea nodding her summer head.IMG_3484

Frilly ferns and fronds under leaves just thinking about changing to Fall colors. Chive seed heads bright and white cheerfully stood alongside unforgettable spidery blooms from a fall bulb I can’t recall! Lavender and pale blue wild blooms growing near thick leaved sedum- always my Autumn Joy…IMG_0189

When I spread out the morning’s bounty from my early Fall Forage… I lined them up like the scouts they were- to let me take their beauty shots. They behaved so nicely… I couldn’t stand to let them go to waste and wilt. What would my Fall Forage look like in a bouquet… IMG_3495

Then a fleeting thought. What if I could somehow take a photograph that resembled an old oil painting…You know the ones with black backgrounds.

I think they call them Old Masters. IMG_0199

A happy coincidence I will admit, a quick and blurry picture, with not a single brush stroke except from the Master Gardener Himself and random clippings from an early morning Fall Forage.

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine- Oh my, on days like this! *Plants are not listed in order.

Stormy Weather…

IMG_3212‘…when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us go to the other side of the sea.’ And leaving the throng, they took Him with them, just as He was, in the boat- and other boats were with Him. And a furious storm of wind ( of hurricane proportions) arose, the waves kept beating into the boat, so that it was already becoming filled. But He was in the stern of the boat asleep on a leather cushion; and they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Master, do You not care that we are perishing?’ And He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Hush now! Be still!’ and the wind ceased, (that is, sank to rest as if exhausted by its beating) and there was immediately a great calm- a perfect peacefulness…’ Mark 4:35-41 KJV Amplified VersionIMG_3209

Please notice first- ‘other boats were with them’. When a storm comes- you will not be alone. Others are affected by the same storm; others will suffer and others injured by strong winds- and there are others who will be blessed by what He does during that storm – even though they are not ‘in the same boat’ with Jesus; the storms we endure affect others, right? …

The part of the Amplified passage which I love best- is how the ‘rebuked’ storm reacted to Jesus. ‘And the wind ceased- sank to rest, as if exhausted by its beating and there was a great calm- a perfect peacefulness’.

If you have ever been through a hurricane or a tornado or any ‘Act of God’ afterwards there is a great calm; an almost perfect peacefulness. As the damage is assessed… The weather may be peaceful, yet the path of destruction is astounding…IMG_3223

The cleanup work is ahead; the wreckage yields it’s own suffering. Keep in mind that though the Galilean storm stopped raging- the disciples had to bale the water out of the boat. Storms have aftermaths.  Excerpt from ‘Four Days- the Lazarus Principle’

As Hurricane Irma continues her destructive path, a devastating earthquake has damaged an area outside of Mexico City and cleanup efforts continue from Hurricane Harvey- we would remember those affected by these Acts of God- situations beyond human control, as the insurance folks call them- we know these are Natural Disasters of Epic Proportions. It is always appropriate to remember that God does care about us all.  May we each do what we can to ease the suffering aftermath these folks now face, here and around the globe.

Love y’all, Camellia

* These beautiful photographs were taken by Jeremy Miniard. Find more of his wonderful work at jeremy-miniard.fineartamerica.com  Four Days- the Lazarus Principle written by Brenda Wyatt can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and other fine booksellers. More information about this book may be found on our ‘About Us’ page.

Barns of Alabama…

SONY DSCI always feel that Barns are like ladies- Caretakers of Domestication…

Some are Well Maintained-

Or Run down and Lonesome…

Some are Stunning Beauties,

Some are Serene- barn jeremy 28

Some are Falling Apart-

Some are Showing Signs of Wear and Tear, Some have Weathered Storms, a Tornado or Two…

Others are  Aging Gracefully, Silvered and Gray….

barn jeremy 8When I see a Barn…  If she’d tell me her Life Story-SONY DSC

I’d listen all day.

Love y’all, Camellia

*It’s always a good time for a Road Trip along the countryside, away from the hustle and bustle of life…SONY DSC

I hope you enjoy these outstanding photographs from Jeremy Miniard’s Backroads of Alabama…the beautiful Barns of Alabama. Photographs are the sole property of Jeremy – find him at www.jeremy.miniard.fineartsamerica.com

 

Glorious Clouds…

‘…Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God. Do you know how the clouds are balanced and poised in the heavens, the wonderful works of Him Who is perfect knowledge?’  ‘The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The sky proclaims His Handiwork.’

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Clouds- Glorious Clouds are Earth’s Icing on the Cake, Heavenly Meringues, Floating Islands- Angelic Desserts- Glorious Gifts from God which make us pause, cause us to marvel and contemplate what lies ahead. If such beauty exists here, what glories must lie beyond?  When we raise our earthbound eyes heavenward, Glorious Clouds lift our spirits and nourish our souls beyond the bounds of Earth.

‘In All Things of Nature- There is Something of the Marvelous’

This beautiful photograph of Glorious Clouds was taken from his boat, by our friend, Dow Hill, at sunrise on Lake Guntersville, Alabama. What a dramatic wondrous show of God’s Handiwork! If you find yourself Sailin’ Troubled Waters or Traipsin’ through the Glen of Gloom- Lift up your eyes and contemplate the Handiwork of God…Have a blessed Lord’s Day.

Love y’all, Camellia

* Scripture from Job 37: 14, 16 (Amplified Bible) and Psalm 19: 1 (NIV) ‘In all of Nature…’ quote is credited to Aristotle, Greek Philosopher

Summer Whites…

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White flowers in the Southern June Garden joyously light up dim evenings and illuminate gray dawns with gladness-

Humble or magnificent, with pure fragrant ease… Summer White Flowers grace our lives effortlessly and without anxiety…IMG_2930

‘Consider the flowers of the field and learn thoroughly how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin…Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all of his magnificence, excellence, dignity and grace was not arrayed like one of these…Matthew 6:28-29IMG_2886

Wish y’all could smell the magnolias, gardenias and honeysuckle blooming right now! If I could- this would be scratch and sniff- it’s unbelievably sweet! Oh the precious sight of  Hydrangeas,

tiny Arugula blossoms and Clover,

silvery white Lamb’s EarsIMG_2982 and more…IMG_2975Our very own Summer Whites! They don’t seem to have a care in the world, a profound Lesson of Blissful Being instead of Fretful Doing! Have a wonderful day!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine!

Porch Sittin’…

IMG_2313It’s Porch Sittin’ Time in the South… Actually we can Porch Sit all year round but it’s especially nice when the weather gets warm.  Some of my fondest memories revolve around porch sitting. Front Porches are mostly for company, greeting friends in the neighborhood, folks dropping by to say hello and sit for awhile. Front Porches were the original Neighborhood Watch. I recall a man who sat on his front porch rocker with a shotgun across his lap- when asked why- he said-

‘It ain’t loaded. But before the creek dried up and houses were built all around here- Daddy did it. He would shoot water moccasins or cotton mouth snakes right before we had a Baptism in the creek. I guess I’m just carrying on the tradition, though it does cut down on visitors don’t it?.’

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Really? Stranger things have happened. Neighbors watched out for one another from their front porches, they knew what was strange or dangerous and the quacks or quirks. The five year old Al Capone who held up his grimy hand to stop cars and then motion them on after giving them a piece of his mind and banging the side of the offending car. Or,  when an otherwise perfect lady was laying in the road with bacon draped across her body. No one thought that was especially alarming- ‘Don’t worry about ‘er, every time that dog of hers gets out, she lays in the road- dog loves bacon.’ Talk of the weather resumed.IMG_2912

Porch Sittin’ is so fine, especially if there are Rocking Chairs… sip some sweet tea, have a heart to heart or don’t talk at all… it’s relaxing, eases stress. Of course you can tell the mood of folks by the pace at which they rock, fast talking Door to Door Salesmen rock quick, Book Readers rock even and steady, Tall Tale Tellers lean back- stretch their arms above their heads as others pause, then rock forward to hear better, Weeping Mourners stop and start, dab their eyes then slow rock awhile to regain their composure. One especially sweet memory is of a family circled up, holding hands and praying and there are those who form a Step Sing for the sole purpose of clapping and singing- long and loud to everyone’s delight.  The neighbors are encouraged to join in.

IMG_2907Front Porches used to be the entrance to budding Romances.

  • A Young Man was required to come up on the front porch,
  •  Speak to folks, knock on the door,
  • Endure a firm handshake and eagle eye from the daddy
  • Then wait for his charming date;
  • When he brought her home in the soft dark evening,
  • The young man might attempt to steal a good night kiss-
  • That is, unless her daddy started flicking the porch light on and off-
  • One young man was so startled he fell off into the bushes-
  • It’s a real mood killer.
  • Sadly for the young lady, she rarely gets asked for a second date, unless the young man is intrigued by it all or-
  •  Has a sister who gets the same treatment.

IMG_2908Front Porches in the South are notorious for Haint Blue ceilings and ghost stories. Haint Blue is an actual color that is said to keep the haints, wasps and yellow jackets away. Haints and Ghost Stories abound- there’s always an adult who’s willing to sneak around the house and jump out of the bushes at just the right time, invoking more havoc and squealing than a real Haint could ever do – unless it’s the town’s Peeping Tom who could run down an alley like lightnin’, talk about squealing ….

IMG_2904Porch Swings are pure pleasure for relaxing- I recall stopping by a house one Sunday afternoon,  an elderly man was dressed for company- he was outfitted in a suit and tie reading Herbert W. Armstrong’s Plain Truth magazine, getting his perspective on world affairs. There’s nothing like a Front Porch to contemplate life, to form opinions and to think. I love to see a porch full of family and friends, some in rockers, some on the porch swing, some leaned against the railing or with a leg thrown over the rail, talking and laughing and usually eating peach cobbler or a dish of homemade ice cream; children ripping and running in the yard to shouts from grownups saying,

  • ‘Y’all get out of the road!’
  • ‘Stay out of the flower beds!’
  • ‘Stop fussin’ and fighting’ or
  • ‘Settle down, you’re hollerin’ loud enough wake the dead!’

One of my favorite memories is when my little girls would wake up from a nap, freshly bathed and dressed waiting for their daddy to get home, we would get up in the porch swing and sing. Their legs weren’t long enough to start the swinging so I would start us off, remind them to push their legs forward and then back to keep us going. Favorite swingin’ songs were ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ and ‘Rock My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham’. Nothin’ like it.  And nothing like a gentle breeze, the soft sway, the groan and creak of a porch swing to rock a fussy baby to sleep.

IMG_2229Back Porches were the work horses, never as spruced up and nice as front porches. It’s where muddy shoes are kicked off or brooms, mops and gardening supplies are kept. Bushels of peas, okra and corn would be shelled, shucked or cut, to the rhythm of a cushioned metal glider. Big Enameled Dishpans or Galvanized Tubs held in laps waiting for the bounty; a broom at the ready to clear off the hulls and husks. A basket of line dried clothes, diapers or sheets stood waiting to be folded on the back porch, always near the Clothes Line. The song for Back Porch Sittin’ was ‘Bringing in the Sheaves’ which I always thought meant ‘Bringing in the Sheets’. A play pen might be set up for small children to take a nap while getting some fresh air and a bit of sunshine. Neighbors might hook up several extension cords- drag their black and white TV and antennas out to the Back Porch- someone would man the broom to swat the Mimosa Tree so the Katydids would hush; otherwise Elvis, Patsy Cline or the Beatles couldn’t be heard  on the Arthur Godfrey, Grand Ol’ Opry or the Ed Sullivan Show. Back Porches are perfect for cranking homemade ice cream, eating boiled or parched peanuts, getting a haircut or watching the kids play in the hosepipe.

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Ah, let’s not forget the joys of Screened Porches, a big wicker sofa piled with cushions and pillows maybe even a quilt is an invitation for reading or taking a nap; or my favorite- Night Watches with the heavy scented glow of magnolias and gardenias-

Listening to rustling bushes, hoot owls or the soulful night song of mockingbirds and whipperwills, trains running through or Storm Watching….I recall being held tight on a screen porch during a thunder storm- scared to death-

  • ‘Calm down, chil’- A storm is just God’s Way of Talking’
  • ‘Talking to who?’
  • ‘Either folks like us or the Devil- so settle down and let’s listen close’…
  • Mostly God was talking to the Devil.

Carports, Decks and Patios just don’t have the same feel as Porches. Some affectionately call Screen Porches- Sleeping Porches when they stretch the length of the second story of the house and are lined up with mismatched cots or narrow beds.  The night air starts out sticky and then turns so cool, with whispers of ‘Are y’all alright? We’re alright.’ before you doze off…that kind of sleep is tranquilizing.  IMG_1439

Folks don’t Porch Sit as much as they used to before central air conditioning. When long, low nice brick homes were built after the second World War even until now, whole subdivisions omit the front porch. The odd house with a front porch tends to be the most inviting home of the bunch. I hope these porches are actually used and enjoyed- not just for the styled look found on magazine covers. With the sad omission of the Front Porch on Modern Houses, folks began to get more isolated; they stayed to themselves. That’s a shame. Community and neighborhoods suffer. Porch Sittin’ is perfect in the South almost year round- bundled up in a quilt with steaming coffee in early evening or  sipping lemonade in the lazy days of summer; playing Old Maid, Go Fishing, Shoots and Ladders, Checkers or Yahtzee. You might even find a bit of romance, rekindle an old friendship or confirm your patriotism while Porch Sittin’ .

IMG_2230Vow to find a true blue Southern Porch this summer! Now, you know I’m gonna say this-  like all Southern tales this one is part myth, part truth and part outright lies- names have been omitted to protect the innocent. The whole truth is- Porch Sittin’ seriously needs to make a comeback!

Love y’all, Camellia

*Most of the beautiful photographs of Old Porches of Alabama, including Haint Blue and the featured photograph- Porch Swing belong to Jeremy Miniard- www. Jeremy.miniard.fineartamerica.com to whom we are deeply indebted for his generosity in sharing his work. Other less spectacular photographs like the one below, the gardenias, magnolias, screened porches and rocking chairs belong to the Community of Camellia’s Cottage. IMG_2909