Category Archives: Backyards

To Love Beauty is to See Light, by Beverly Hick Burch

“To love beauty is to see light.” ~ Victor Hugo ~

Clematis A

They (just who is they anyway?) say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I think anyone would be hard press to find this gorgeous blossom anything less than beautiful.

I was really excited to see my Arctic Queen Clematis bloom for the first time this year. There were three big glorious blossoms about the same time. I had nursed it along in the nursery pot until we could get it in the ground last year. I’m hoping this lovely vine is just getting a jump start for the season and I’ll be seeing more of these blooms throughout the summer since the clematis is known for a long flowering season.

I love the large, double white blossoms of the Arctic Queen. They remind me of the dahlias my sweet next door neighbor, Herman Lovelady use to grow. Mr. Lovelady and his wife Lola were like a surrogate grandparents. I really mourned their passing and miss them to this day. They added beauty and love to my life for many years.

I discovered a long time ago I am sensitive to the aesthetics around me. That could be why I was a horticulture student…I love the beauty found around us in Nature. It could also explain why I was, and still am a little OCD (disability is a really good cure for OCD!). There is nothing as demoralizing as a dump! But, again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and one man’s beauty may be another man’s eye sore. Not too long ago I was struck by the beauty of the architecture of some old European buildings and antiques. The beauty of certain pieces music can bring me to tears.

Whatever our personal standard of beauty is, I think there is beauty we can all agree upon…laughter of a child, love we receive from those we hold dear, heroism, Nature, kindness, a moonlit night…

We may hear a lot of bad news and it’s easy to be discouraged by that news and the cruelty we see in others, but, we don’t have to look far to find a single beautiful thing.

The other day, I only had to look as far as my backyard. And, to see that beauty and appreciate it and love it, well, it is like seeing light…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Artic Queen Clematis, Backyards, Flowers, Horticulture, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Vines

Earth Laughs in Flowers, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“Earth laughs in flowers.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

blooming vinca

We’ve just passed the Easter season. I hope everyone had a blessed holiday and spent it in a treasured way…making memories.

Everyone has traditions. They vary from season to season, holiday to holiday, ethnic background to ethnic background and family to family.

I always like to recall the traditions of Christmas because it amazes me the varying traditions around the world. Of particular interest to me are the different foods of Christmas because I also write about and blog about food.

Here in the South the standard fare is turkey and/or ham, sweet potatoes and pecan pie. Then, the menu varies from there, BUT there is a variety of different menus even here in the South. In the Northeastern US it’s not uncommon to find someone’s momma’s lasagna recipe at the Christmas table and in the Southwest Tall & Handsome assures me Posole will be found on most holiday tables.

Easter traditions are much the same.

When my son was young, every year it was this momma’s goal to have the best Easter basket waiting on Easter morning. Then, of course there were always dyed eggs and the obligatory egg hunt (weather permitting of course, then if need be it moved indoors). For us, it also included Sunday morning worship service and gathering at the table making memories with the extended family.

It also usually signaled the official “I-can-take-a-deep-breath-and-smell-spring-in-the-air” time. Spring really was out of the starting gate come Easter.

And, that also meant the regrowth and budding of Nature. That glorious time of the year when everything awakens, puts on its best and presents a real Technicolor show to thrill our senses.

I absolutely love it!

Our spring the year has been, for lack of a better word retarded. No, I’m not being pejorative, but what I’m saying is that it has been slow and delayed in developing. Two weeks ago it appeared we were on the backstretch of winter headed for the sure thing…Spring was here!

But, then IT happened. The mother of all severe thunderstorms. I have lived through several tornadoes and even so, I have never seen anything like what hit us on the 18th. We were without power for almost 30 hours.

It was during that time as we stumbled through the house with flashlights and candles, I broke my big toe with a huge Maglite flashlight and the batteries on all our devices began to run down that I looked at T & H and said, “You know, electricity was a mighty and wonderful invention.”

We finally scavenged around, found the Uno cards and spent quite a bit of time playing Uno by candlelight…

After that the weather turned bitterly cold again. We even had a few snow flurries…yes, in March in the Deep South.

So, I was very concerned that all my freshly budding beauties that had awakened prior to the storm would be destroyed…my mint, my oregano and my lovelies with their gorgeous blooms.

Well, yesterday when we left to take the short drive to my folks’ house to break bread for Easter and make wonderful memories to recall in years to come, imagine my delight to see a kaleidoscope of color every where! Purple, pink, white…you pick the color. The air had that freshness to it, too.

Yes, Earth was laughing with flowers…everywhere and telling Old Man Winter, “so long, pal”…at least for a season…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Backyards, Birmingham AL, Easter, Flowers, Holidays, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Spring, Springville AL

Son of Prince, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Camoflauge

Impatients are one of my favorite annuals to grow and photograph. And, sometimes when you’re snapping a picture you have the opportunity to capture the unexpected.

That was true the day I took this picture.

We had a refreshing rain and I was hoping to catch the effects of the rain on the garden. When I came to the Impatients I discovered someone else was enjoying the after effects of the spring rain.

Once upon a time my mom had a little frog that came to visit her in her garden on a routine basis when she was going through a particularly rough time. She named him Prince.

I like to think this little fellow was Son of Prince…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Backyards, Frogs, Gardening, Impatients, Photography, Picture of the Day

Momma’s Day Lily Seen Through Daddy’s Lens, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Day Lilly of 06 06 2012

I’m a few minutes late, but in honor of Father’s Day I wanted to post a picture of one of Momma’s day lilies…

Huh, I know you’re asking? In honor of Father’s Day?

YepSmile 

As I explained a couple of weeks ago Mom’s been under the weather and in the hospital so Daddy and I have been doing “garden” duty for Momma.

Keep in mind Daddy was a mechanical engineer/project manager who retired and became a pastor, then retired again and now does freelance engineering from his home office so this gardening thing hasn’t always been at the top of his list. He’s like the Engergizer bunny despite having bypass surgery, a pacemaker, knee surgery…oh, and like his oldest daughter (yours truly) he’s a cancer survivor. (I’m not going to tell his age, because like me he’s very young for his age Winking smile)

We grow us mountain folk tough and resilient in East Tennessee, back where we come from…

So, now Daddy is also doing some Ansel Adams tinkering around the place  and cooking…and as I took a stroll around the yard with him today I could tell he was enjoying the finer details of the green and growing…it’s kinda like engineering from the dirt up, just with different dynamics…

I think they call that being a Renaissance Man…

A few days ago when Daddy was out in the yard, he took some pictures of Mom’s day lilies and he captured this gorgeous blossom at its peak. It’s just too pretty not to share

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy…I love you…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

 

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Filed under Alabama, Backyards, Daddy, Day Lilies, Father's Day, Fathers, Flowers, Horticulture, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants

A What?! Yes, a Balloon Plant, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Balloon Flower

Blue is one of my favorite colors and it just so happens to also be one of T & H’s favorite colors, too. We’re simpatico like that Smile.

It’s not always easy finding a blue flower for the garden and try finding a blue flower that just might draw hummingbirds or butterflies. Well, several years ago I happened upon a little perennial that seemed to cover all those bases. It is called a Balloon Plant.

I know you’re asking how can this lovely blue blossom that’s shaped more like a five point star be called a Balloon Plant. Well, simple…

Balloon plant and how it gets its name

You see before the bloom opens up the bud looks like a little hot air balloon!

This little plant is hardy and survives quite well with little attention. Case in point…I have several that survived the reign of terror of James the Terrible, tenant horriblus that occupied our home for six years while we were out of state. The pictures above were taken of such hardy little survivors!

Another plus to this wonderful little flower is a long blooming season from early summer to late summer and a prolific reseeding ability. I’ve already started spreading the love in places in the backyard.

Wonder how many of these I need in the yard to float the whole thing away on a wonderful Cloud Nine…?

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Gerber Daisy, by Beverly Hicks Burch

gerber daisy

While my little Momma has been sick and in the hospital Daddy and I have had tending and watering duty for Mom’s various green thumb projects. She’s been sick for some time now, so there’s not quite as many as there normally would be. Tall & Handsome and I made sure she had a few herbs for the deck nearest to the upstairs kitchen. So, we brought her mint and basil.

Daddy has shuttled back and forth from the house and hospital until Mom could come home.

The Gerber Daisy was looking sort of puny with a lot of dead leaves, but I promised Daddy if we kept it watered it would perk up. Sure enough in a few days there were new green leaves and beautiful, happy, bright red blossoms.

They were also shouting, “Shoot me! I’m beautiful!”

So, I obliged…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Alabama, Backyards, Daddy, Family, Flowers, Gerber Daisy, Horticulture, Momma, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants, Tall & Handsome

Waiting for Results, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Waiting for Results

A couple of years ago Tall & Handsome and I tried our hand for the first time at container gardening. I saw him enjoy a new hobby and it was good for me to do something I had loved for so long.

I had majored in horticulture at a local community college years ago. But, even before that I had enjoyed getting my hands dirty so to speak. I think it’s genetic because there seems to be a green thumb that has been passed down generation to generation on my Mom’s side of the family. I do have to give my Daddy’s side some credit, too, because I remember Papaw growing a garden.

My PaGee (Mom’s daddy) grew ornamentals…salvia and marigolds first come to mind and the biggest juiciest tomatoes this side of Eden. I remember Papaw (Daddy’s dad) grew a garden…potatoes, corn…that kind of thing. I remember him letting me pick cotton and peanuts. Now that was a big thing for a girl raised in the suburbs.

So, there just wasn’t a chance that somewhere down the line I would not grow something, right? It was bound to happen…

For years I did “garden”. I even had an honest to goodness vegetable garden a few times. But, I loved landscaping my homes. Finding and using obscure plants most people didn’t use, know about or would never think the use.

Unfortunately as my health started to decline my ability to garden decreased accordingly. Fortunately I have a guy that says, “Honey, you be the brains and I’ll be the muscle.” And, fortunately I can container garden! It’s kind of the best of both worlds. Container gardening is also a great way to garden if you have a limited amount of space.

This year we’re growing tomatoes, jalapenos, pablano peppers (they make wonderful Chile Rellanos), bell pepper, cilantro, cinnamon basil, sweet basil, lemon balm, mint, lavender, rosemary, Greek oregano and for ornamentals geraniums, Impatients and coreopsis. We also planted a Japanese maple. T & H planted some of these in the ground and I have a clematis waiting to go in the ground.

We started compost last year and we were excited to be able to use that in our plantings to enrich to soil. He planted some of our plants in the ground but the majority are in pots.

So, now we wait for results…yummy tomatoes and luscious peppers. The good news is we can already go out and snip herbs when we need them. The mint is wonderful in baby English Peas and Mojitos if you are so inclined. The basil, well what isn’t it good in?

So, hurray for having your container gardens and eating fresh produce, too!

Our first Early Girl Tomato

Our first Early Girl Tomato

Roma and Husky Red

Husky Red Tomato (cherry tomato) and Roma Tomato

tomato blossoms

First Parker’s Whopper Tomato Blossoms

cilantro and oregano

Greek Oregano and Cilantro

Cinnamon basil so fragrant

Fragrant Cinnamon Basil

 

Hardy lemon balm

Hardy Lemon Balm – this is perennial and very fragrant. Lemon balm is in the mint family

my precious mint

My wonderful Mint. I have two patches of mint. The one in this pot and we’ve planted one in the ground hoping it returns next year much like the Lemon Balm does.

 

countdown to jalapeno

It won’t be long before we have our first Jalapenos

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Backyards, Container Gardening, DIY, Gardening, Herbs, Jalpenos, Peppers, Photography, Tall & Handsome, Tomatoes, Vegetables

Backyard Trillium, by Beverly Hicks Burch

backyard trillium

Spring ushered in very early this morning, so it’s official! Spring has sprung!

Now, that doesn’t mean we can’t have anymore cold weather. Nineteen years ago, right before spring ushered in we had the infamous Blizzard of `93. Yes, it was an honest to goodness blizzard in the Deep South. I had 24” of snow in my backyard. There were people without power for weeks.

We’ve also had snow as late as April. One year I had an apple tree in bloom when a surprise snow storm blew in and dumped a few inches on an unsuspecting population. The snow on the blossom laden apple tree was too much and it uprooted the tree.

It’s not cold like that now. As a matter of fact it’s been warm…very warm…warmer than it should be. It was 86 yesterday. That’s a little disconcerting because overly warm weather in the spring can result in bad storms later on.

March, April and early May is considered our top severe weather season. Last April 27 is a sobering example of what can happen this time of the year, but as Jan. 23 of this year pointed out, tornadoes and severe weather is not limited to this season only. In Jan. the place of my childhood was in essence wiped off the map.

But, looking forward and to celebrate spring, I thought I’d shared today’s picture of the day. I love for spring to roll around because I know it will bring the trilliums to my backyard. That is one of the bonuses of living on a mountain top. I’m not totally sure, but I think this might be a trillium reliquum which is found only in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina and is considered an endangered species. I plan on taking care of these babies as long as I can…which means leaving them alone and just letting them grow wild…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Backyards, Central Alabama, Enviroment, Horticulture, Mountains, Photography, Picture of the Day, South, Spring

Take this, Punxsutawney!, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Well, ole Punxsutawney Phil has promised six more weeks of winter. Now, I don’t know about you folk up North, but down here in the South, we’ve had an extremely mild winter especially when you compare it to last year’s winter when we actually had a white Christmas. (Hence the devastating storms last week due to this year’s freaky weather.)

I do think things may be about to change. Evidently our friends up in the really frozen North – Alaska – have been sitting through some pretty cold stuff…like –50 F. They were hoping it warms up to about –10 or –15F. That must be downright balmy after 50 below! Now, you know that stuff has to go somewhere, and when it does, it usually moves to the lower 48…

uOh, joy…

So, to prepare for what may come and to give us a bright spot to look forward to, I give you today’s picture of the day…

Hang in there!

More Signs of Spring 2

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Backyards, Flowers, Gardening, Horticulture, Photography, Picture of the Day, Punxsutawney Phil, Winter, Winter Weather

Little Hummer, by Beverly Hicks Burch

The Shot I Waited For All Afternoon

For years I’ve had a fascination with the fowl of the air. Watching, listening and feeding our little feathered  friends can be quite interesting.

For instance, take this little fellow, or I should say gal, above…the Ruby Throated Hummingbird. I just love putting out my hummingbird feeders every year and I try to put out more than one. And it’s really time to start getting those feeders ready.

Of course, the male is the one with the bright red throat. The little females, as seen above is more demure.

These little critters flit around at what seems to be the speed of light. As a result, they are hard to capture in picture. I waited a really long time to catch this shot…

Hummingbirds are really territorial and will carry out little mini warfare type dogfights at the feeders as they jockey for a landing spot for feeding.

But, the most fascinating experience is to have one fly right up to your face, pause and hover there and just stare at you…almost like trying to communicate with you telepathically. If you sit quietly and still they will hoover there just inches from your face and you can hear and feel the faint flutter of their little wings.

Absolutely amazing…

By the way, Tall & Handsome has taken up this pastime with me…and why would that surprise me…he is a natural animal lover…

© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

 

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Filed under Backyards, Bird Feeders, Birds, Hummingbirds, Photography, Picture of the Day, Tall & Handsome