Sunday, July 3, 2011

Flowers, Gardens and the 4th of July

Many of my blogging friends have beautiful gardens and show them with pride on their blogs. One of them, Friko of the blog Friko’s World, has a garden that is so lovely that visitors come to see it – it is an enchanting place. We do not have a “garden” as such. We have an acre + of land (4,050 square metres or 0.405 hectare +.) It is covered with Georgia pines on top of red clay and hard rocks; most of it is left “au naturel.” Several years ago we had 24 pine trees cut but it just made a dent in the landscape. In summer we live in a green oasis. Below is what I see from the window in front of my computer – the photo was taken through the window and screen so it is not too sharp.

Click on picture to enlarge and click again to enlarge it even more

From another window I see the overgrown fig tree.

One of the sassafras trees has grown to our bedroom window (2nd floor.) We have many little sassafras trees growing all over the front and back yard.

The leaves of the sassafras tree are unusual in that they have three distinct patterns: an unlobed oval, bilobed (mitten shaped) and trilobed (three pronged) leaves. These three leaves have been placed on the back of my car for this picture.

I read that you can dry and ground the sassafras leaves to make filé powder which is used in cooking gumbo. I’ll have to try that someday. The U.S. Food Administration has sent warnings against the consumption of sassafras bark which is used in making sassafras tea (cancer link.) Here's an interesting historical tidbit – for a brief period in the 17th century sassafras was the second largest export from America (after tobacco.) Sir Walter Raleigh exported it the first time in 1602. We have many other native trees. Below are some pictures I took looking from one side of the yard to the other.

My husband has planted some annuals flowers in pots so we can gaze through our kitchen window and see a bit of color.

Some of the planters of annuals and herbs are placed on the back patio where the sun comes in the afternoons.

Here is a closer look at the flowers.

In the spring we have wild roses and, of course, all the blossoms on the wild blackberry bushes.

Our reliable pink McCartney roses try to grow in semi-shade.

Our house plants are pleased to be outside and give us some flowers, too, including the Christmas cactus.

So it is not a garden but mostly a wooden area or a mini-rain forest, with flower pots

and wild flowers

where critters are welcome, large – I tried to catch the squirrel drinking out of the bird bath and raiding our bird feeder, but he is quick

or tiny – can you see it?

or feathered

and hopefully they are all friendly.

Do you know what type of snake this is? It was very long, more than 6 feet. I could not catch its head, it quickly moved under the house… But I could see the head of this little bird that had been caught inside the bird feeder.

It is a good thing we saw it because it was very warm, over 90 degrees (33 C.) My husband took it out of the birdfeeder – it was just a tiny baby bird – a black-capped chickadee (mésange à tête noire ?) Then it flew away hurriedly.

In front of the house my husband has been nurturing some lovely coleus (Solenostemon) and caladiums (family of Araceae.)

Our fig tree is heavily covered with fruits this year. As usual it gives us 3 or 4 extra large figs, the size of pears, in mid June, then all the rest of the figs will ripen a month or more later.

Birds love the tray I placed on the ground. It is the bottom tray for a large pot, about 13 inches in diameter. The birds love to take a drink or a bath in it. The pictures with the birds were taken through my window screen.

We drove to the Marietta Square to find more flowers. We parked near the railroad track as a train was approaching. I caught it as well as a flowering Crape myrtle tree.

We found some planters with colorful flowers as well as many flags for the upcoming 4th of July holiday.

It was 2:45 pm - we were thirsty and ready for lunch. Turning the corner we saw our favorite spot – the Australian Bakery.

Don't forget to click on collage to enlarge, then on each picture

There were many flags in there too.

This is the 4th of July week-end. Tomorrow morning, in my cool den, I’ll watch on our television one of the main events of the year for Atlanta – the Peachtree Road Race. It is a festive celebration, early in the morning, with thousands of participants including international ones. It is a 6.2 mile race (9.98 kms) through Atlanta with fast and slow runners, young and old starting at 7:45 am. It also includes a wheelchair race which starts at 6:45 am. At the end of the race the 60,000 professional and amateur runners will receive the traditional Peachtree Road Race tee-shirt if they complete the race. Last year, 2010, the winner was Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia with a time of 27.56 minutes and the female winner was Lineth Chepkurui of Kenya with a time of 30.51 minutes. There is a purse for the finalists.

photos courtesy Peachtree Road Race org.

And as they say here “Y’all have a Happy 4th of July.”


Kay Dennison said...

Happy 4th to you, too!!! I love your flowers!!!

Pondside said...

Our gardens share many features - the trees and the dark shade they give. It must be a relief in your hot summers. Happy Fourth to you and yours!

Jojo said...

You have a beautiful and very interesting yard. The snake looks like a rat snake. Hope you have a wonderful holiday. P.S. I love sassafras tea!!

Geo. said...

Hello! 1st-time visitor to your blog. Was looking up Colette for a quote to use in my blog,"Trainride Of The Enigmas" and searched "La Vagabonde" which led here. Interconnections. Anyway, my compliments on your excellent pictures and commentary --and I believe the snake you want identified is a Pine Snake, not venomous, fairly common in your part of the country.

English Rider said...

Your pictures were as good as any parade!

Jinksy said...

Luck you to have your own forest...

Vicki Lane said...

A house amid the pines sounds charming! And, from your pictures, you are not without flowers.

I think your snake is a Pine Snake ...

Happy 4th!

Frances said...

Happy Fourth of July back to you! Shall we reconvene in a little while to share Bastille Day wishes?

I love this tour of your particular garden. I did not know about the three different leaves shared by the sassafrass tree. Thank you for the botany lesson!

Glad that I do not have to meet up with that pine snake....


Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

Your yard and gardens are so lovely and I would love to lounge and take it all in. Well, all except for Mr. Snake, but perhaps he would stay hidden. I can tell that you have a yard for all seasons with color and vistas year round.

You can tell that the birds are quite happy to visit as well!


Ann said...

such a wondrous place to live!!! Love the Georgia red clay and pine trees!!
your photos remind me of my aunts home..not as many trees..but close!!
such beautiful flowers! thank you for showing these lovely photos!!! This is why the south never left my Mother's heart..even after 60+ years away!!!

DJan said...

I like your natural garden. And it is very beautiful without being completely manicured. I also have squirrels and lots of birds, but very few flowers, since I'm on the second floor of an apartment building, but all my downstairs neighbors have wonderful ones for me to look at! Happy Fourth to you, VB!

wenn said...

i love gardens full of flowers!

Val said...

your garden looks very enticing - i would love to explore those forests. I like the natural look - we have it too - but it is nice to have some splashes of colour here and there too. How interesting that tree is with the three different leaves. thanks for another fascinating post!

Elisabeth said...

Funny to see the australian flag in the midst of all the 4 July cheer. Your garden is wonderful, so green.

Sarah Jo said...

Flowers & gardening is a work we can enjoy with that, When I used to visit my mother, one of the first things I liked to do was to go out and walk through her blooming flower garden....

Diane said...

Your photos are beautiful, so colourful, you have obviously had a lot more rain than we have! Happy 4th of July. Diane

Friko said...

Yes, I agree, your garden is very different from mine but attractive and interesting in its own way.

To water all those pots must be quite a job too. Who goes out with the watering cans in the morning?

I hope you are having a happy Fourth of July in the shade. (My flowers wouldn't survive your temperatures)

This is Belgium said...

A very happy one to you too Vagabonde !! I helped the US Embassy in Brussels today with a project, Serve the City and put a picture of it on my blog today.
Will be picturing you knitting blankets every time the tour is on TV in the coming weeks !

Ginnie said...

What you failed to mention, Vagabonde, is that you make incredible jam from those figs!!!! I can attest to that.

Back in Atlanta again, and just home this morning from the family cottage in Michigan, I have been in awe of the Crape myrtle trees...just like when we moved here in 1987. I never see them anywhere else. Such a delight. Your yard reminds me of the one we had in Cumming for 13 years. Nothing like property with woods like that! You and your husband do a great job of cultivating your own 'garden.' I love what you do!

And yes, I'll be calling you later before I leave on Thursday, when things settle down!

Darlene said...

Your post is always a feast for the eyes. Your flower photos are beautiful and I would like to know what the lavender flower is. It is just lovely.

Some people have lovely potted flowers here, but on the whole, it's too hot to grow anything that isn't tropical. Even those are not hardy as they require humidity that is lacking here.

claude said...

Bonjour Vagabonde.
Ben, je ne sais pas ce qui se passe, mais je ne peux toujours pas voir la traduction en français.
J'ai cru comprendre que tu présentais ton jardin et les animaux qui s'y trouve, bien, je suppose, même le serpent.
Une année, ici, on a trouvé une aspic.
Tu a de belles fleurs et plantes.
Ici, j'ai encore des petits bébés oiseaus, very tiny.
Le temps de regarder ton blog et d'acire mon com, la traduction n'est toujours pas affichée.
J'aime beaucoup ta dernière image. Je suis sûre que le juillet c'est bien passé.
Je disais à Thérèse de Chandler que j'aimais regarder le film sur la guerre d'indépendance, "Révolution" avec Al Pacino, j'adore ce film.

Pat said...

Wow! That's a humdinger of a post. Something for everyone. Thank you
I love lots of greenery - it soaks up all the carbon dioxide and has a tranquilising effect. I do envy your fig tree.
Hope the fourth was a joyful day.

Grizz………… said...

Your snake is almost certainly a black rat snake—a very beneficial snake to have around. Black rats are harmless (unless you're a mouse) and quite docile, often captured and kept as pets. If, say, a local park district or outdoor center has a snake they take around to schools and such for kids to handle, it's usually a black rat. They get quite large, upwards of 10 feet, and are arguably the longest snake in North America.

Sally Wessely said...

I really enjoyed looking at all of your lovely photos. You really do have a lot of trees. I envy your shade!

Unknown said...

Thank you Vagabonde. You have a lovely garden, although given its size I should probably call it an estate. We have a pocket handkerchief of a garden, but last year I managed to make space to plant a fig tree (a brown Turkey fig). It came through the winter with flying colours and now has several (potential) figs. Fingers crossed.
Regards, Mike and Ann.

Unknown said...

Great flowers and nature pictures.

Elaine said...

Thank you for the lovely tour of your yard. I like the natural state you've left it in, and enjoyed your lovely container garden.

DB said...

It's very lush and beautiful where you live. I can't make anything grow, so i don't try. I'm envious. Thank you for all the great pitures.


Wanda..... said...

Your yard of trees is lovely. I have plenty of sassafras trees and black rat snakes, but I wish I had your beautiful fig tree!

Kay said...

What a gorgeous post. Your flowers are amazing. A snake? Yikes!!!

lorilaire said...

Cela fait plaisir de voir dans quel univers tu vis, ton jardin n'est pas commun, mais ne manque pas de charme !

Shammickite said...

I have never eaten a fig picked fresh from a fig tree. And Ginnie says you can make jam from those figs, I wonder what it tastes like? I'll have to try it one day. My cousin in England has a fig tree but I have no idea if it ever grows any figs!
Your trees are lovely. I miss my big back yard and all the trees, but I don't miss all the hard work to keep it looking nice and tidy. My yard is so much smaller an my current house, and very few trees.
I am so glad that you enjoyed your July 4 celebrations.

Vagabonde said...

Kay Dennison, Pondside, Jojo, English Rider, Jinksy, Frances, Genie – Paris and Beyond, Ann, DJan, Wenn, Val, Elizabeth, Food Fun and Life in the Charente, Friko, This is Belgium, Ginnie, Darlene, Pat, Grizz, Retired English Teacher, Mike and Ann, Tim, Elaine, DB, Wanda, Kay and Shammickite – Thank you all for stopping by. Thanks to those who gave me the name of the snake and Grizz who told me that it is harmless. I am a bit behind in going to your blogs and reading your posts but I’ll come soon and read them all.

Geo, Sarah Jo – Welcome to my blog. It is nice to read your comments. I hope you will come back when you have some time.

Claude, Lorilaire, merci pour vos gentils commentaires. Je suis un peu bousculée en ce moment, mais je viendrai visiter vos blogs bientôt.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I think it is AMAZING, the amount of Beautiful flowers you and your husband have managed to cultivate---under very restricted conditions....You both really DO have, The Green Thumb....! And your 'rain forest' is soo very beautiful, too....But, the lack of sun certainly has given you both a great challange---Which you both met with more than flying colors! GORGEOUS. HORGEOUS, GORGEOUS, my dear....!

Love seeing the Australian Pie! YUMMMM!

Miss_Yves said...

En France, on appelle "jardin à l'Anglaise" les jardons "naturels"
le vôtre est une vraie forêt vierge!
Ne comptez pas sur moi pour nommer le serpent: j'ai horreur de cela!

Jeanie said...

Oh, I'm so very glad your husband saved that wee bird from either dying of the heat or the snake! He's terribly sweet (both the bird and your husband!)

What a wonderful collection of photos -- I love how it tells the story of your land. There is great majesty and beauty in trees. And I do love your color, but the power of the trees is very strong. What a haven you have -- it must be hard to leave!

Ruth said...

Your yard looks like the places I saw around Atlanta when Ginnie lived there, those deeply wooded lots. Very nice. You need the shade around your house with all that heat. It's also hard to keep plants alive in pots, so your husband must be consistent attending to them.

I am quite surprised about the sassafras exports! I had never heard it. Thank you for how you share interesting information. I've learned a lot from you.

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