A Graduation Feast

This past weekend many in our family gathered to celebrate my granddaughter Kate’s graduation from The University of South Carolina. After four years of dedicated work, she finished with wonderful grades, a host of friends, and one proud grandfather.

My son-in-law prepared one of his most famous meals to honor Kate: a traditional southern shrimp boil.

We’re talking about gigantic shrimp, sausage, corn-on-the-cob, and potatoes, topped with his favorite spices and tons of lemon juice, freshly squeezed by the entire party.

I am so proud of the mature and caring young woman Kate has become. Graduation days like we just experienced are what makes being a grandfather such a blessing.

Here’s to Kate!

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Things I See Around Town: A Tulip Viewing Party

My friend Noell plants hundreds of tulips each year, and she and Jim invite friends each spring for a viewing. Yesterday a cool, cloudy morning changed into a warm sunny afternoon, and Noell and Jim welcomed us into one of the most beautiful gardens in Charlotte.

The colors of the tulips were enchanting:

Some were quite exotic:

There were other spring flowers making their presence felt:

Noell and Jim have several beautiful ponds, around which are lovely plantings. There are also denizens of the deep to capture your attention:

What can be more fun for kids on a spring afternoon than a water feature, rocks on which to climb, and whoops of joy on a warm afternoon?

I am grateful to Noell and Jim for sharing their garden with us. Spring is surely here.

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It Bolted

The lovely ‘Miz America’ mustard I posted several weeks ago continues to thrive on my screened porch. It survived a tough winter and, as the weather warms, it is coming to new life.

But what is this strange growth coming from the top of the plant? Am I growing a mustard tree? Of course not, and strange it is not. It is just what these plants do. It is putting up flower buds that will ripen into seeds that will ensure this mustard plant continues.

It’s called bolting.

I guess that means, alas, that I will have to visit a few garden centers to look for summer replacements.

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Things I See Around Town: More Spring Color

The passage of time can be marked by the recurrence of colors in spring. The daffodils and forsythia are joined now by swaths of white cherry and pink crabapple blossoms. Some of my timely favorites are the pastel pinks of:

spring blooming magnolias:

and redbuds:

To add to my excitement, I just saw my first dogwood about ready to open.

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Things I See Around Town: Treegator®

There is a new home building project underway next to our church. As the builders have put in landscaping, I noticed several Treegator® irrigation bags installed around newly planted trees. I see them in lots of places around town.

I used Treegator® bags to water new trees in my gardens for over fifteen years and was quite pleased with them. A single bag, holding up to 15 gallons, can drip water around a trunk up to four inches in diameter. Zipping two bags together doubles the capability. I could dissolve fertilizer in the bag, saving time and effort to perform both tasks together. I varied the amount of water depending on the needs of the specific tree. Treegator® was a valuable tool in my gardening arsenal.

Experts recommend this kind of supplemental irrigation for newly planted trees. Many say to continue for two to three years until they are sufficiently established.

CAUTION: Several years ago I left a Treegator® around a thriving ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’) over the winter. Chalk it up to laziness, inattention, or forgetfulness. Whatever the cause, I noticed in spring that there were no buds appearing when they should have. I finally removed the Treegator® and discovered the area around the trunk was alive with various hungry critters. The trunk was girdled. I had created a cozy winter home for those critters, and my beautiful ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud was dead. It was NOT the fault of the Treegator®. The fault, dear Brutus, was mine.

LESSON LEARNED: When you finish the drip, remove the Treegator® to another tree or the shed.

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Spring Signs

Here it is Valentines’ Day in mid-February and we continue to see these wonderful signs that spring is indeed coming to North Carolina.

Are these not cherry trees that have been in bloom for several weeks?

Happy Valentine’s Day to all. May you be with the love of your life.

 

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Pass the Mustard

Popular winter annuals in our area over recent years include leafy veggies, especially colorful ornamental cabbages and kales. Last fall I “discovered” a new winter veggie that caught my eye for its fabulous deep purple foliage. I had to try it.

Let me introduce you to “Miz America” mustard.

Two of these have been in pots on my porch the entire winter. They have lived through freezing temperatures, ice storms, and heavy winds and continue to thrive, showing little damage.

I don’t know if they will continue to look so well when summer comes, but I will keep them on the porch long enough to see if heat causes them to fade.

I will certainly look for them next fall.

“Miz America” mustard is a winner.

 

 

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