Category Archives: Plants

You Can Sit on a Mountain More Comfortably than on a Tack, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“Sometimes the littlest things in life are the hardest to take.  You can sit on a mountain more comfortably than on a tack.” ~ Unknown ~

Horton Mill Bridge flower

There is an old adage about “thriving where you’re planted”. I think that pearl of wisdom is based on Psalm 1:3 that says: “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (NKJV)

Last April Tall & Handsome and I took a drive up to Horton Mill Bridge near Oneonta, Alabama. It was a glorious spring day and there was new life sprouting every where.

Once there, I happened to sit on a stone wall that looked like it had been standing there for a while keeping watch over the old covered bridge.  As T & H wandered down the embankment and explored a little I had planted myself on the old stone wall.

By happenstance I looked down along the wall and I saw a remarkable thing – call it a weed, call it a wildflower, but whatever you call it, there was new life thriving where it had been planted – in the mortar and crevice between the stones of that old wall.

Not only was this green wonder surviving in the most unlikely of places, but it seemed to be thriving, blooming forth tiny delicate purple flowers.

That unlikely little plant gave me a lesson in life. So many times we are planted in places we dread and even hate. We beg and bargain to be moved from these areas we consider wastelands.

We may be surviving, but are we thriving? There is a big difference.

We can survive like this little plant, which granted may not have deep roots and a long life span, but we can also thrive, blooming if you will, even if it’s the tiniest, most delicate of blossom.

I promise, it is sure to touch someone…

I have been planted many places that weren’t exactly “prime real estate”. I was dropped into non-smoking lung cancer twice, autoimmune disorders, a stalker and the end of a long time marriage brought on when the ex decided he wanted to marry his co-worker girlfriend.

During many of those times, I didn’t even feel like my roots were as deep as the little life on the stone wall. Surely, they were too shallow and would not tether me to this earth. Forget about having roots planted like the mighty oak. Sometimes my roots felt like they were buried in quicksand and I was sinking fast.

But, one day I came to a decision. Wallowing in my misery was not thriving – it wasn’t even a life. I made the decision to move on and plant my roots where they could latch on to something worthwhile – starting with a decision to thrive as best I could and not just survive.

I decided it was definitely more comfortable to sit on the mountain than sit on a tack.

And, when  I did I began to blossom again, with things I had long put away out of “duty” or because I thought they didn’t really matter in the grander scheme of things. But, they did, my muse told me it mattered.

My mused, by the way is my Tall & Handsome…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

 

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Filed under Alabama, Life, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants, Quote of the Day, Tall & Handsome

Growth, Renewal and Transformation, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“Nature often holds up a mirror so we can see more clearly the ongoing processes of growth, renewal and transformation in our lives.” ~ Unknown ~

oak leaf hydrangea B 2013

At first glance the picture above may not look like much. It may even look a little odd or foreign…kind of a “what is it?”.

But, in actuality, like a black swan, it is a thing of unexpected beauty. And, at the heart of that beauty is transformation…

How many time have you wished or wanted to transform or change yourself? We are a society of self-help junkies. Be it beauty, brains, weight, health, hobby, finances or whatever, you are just about guaranteed to find a book, website or guru that will help you take information and transform it into the goal of your dreams.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. When is improvement bad, right? Only when we try to fix what’s not broken…a hard lesson to learn…

There have been many transformations in my life. In who I am, what I like, what I feel or what I enjoy. I believe that is called growth… Some days, I wish I could just transform into someone totally different…or even transform “away”…as in disappear. I’m sure you’ve had those days, too. Some transformations have been difficult, some have been smooth, others enlightening, some sad, but all learning experiences and in the end worthwhile.

I love this time of the year because my beautiful little mountain is replete with wonderful Southern native oakleaf hydrangeas. When the flower heads first take shape on the shrub, they don’t look like much. In fact they may look a little odd and peculiar.  But, once the blooming starts, that flower head is transformed into a beautiful, snowy natural work of art. It is the natural progression and growth of the plant…

And, life is much like the oakleaf hydrangea…for without transformations in our lives, there would be no growth, no renewal, and certainly no hidden beauty found…

Oakleaf Hydrangea 6-4-2013 B

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Horticulture, Oak Leaf Hydrangea, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants, Quote of the Day, Transformation

Without the Rain, There Would Be No Rainbows, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbows.” ~ G. K. Chesterton ~

Formosa HD

southern indica ‘Formosa’

This past weekend we had rain. No, really…it rained. Sunday in particular.

Most people bemoan rain, but I adore a good rainy day. My Aunt LaRue was like that, too. She hated living in Florida, the state of perpetual heat and sunshine. She longed for the mountains of East Tennessee with cloudy, rainy days.

I mean, think about it. How often have you said, “Oh, it’s such a lovely searing hot and humid day. I think I’ll cozy up with a cup of hot tea and a good book.”?

Well, I’ve said that…let me count…a total of…never, no never! But, give me a goody rainy day and boy can I put me some chapters away.

I also don’t like to take the rain for granted. Some parts of the world live in constant drought conditions, and even here in the US different parts of the country go through cycles when we have drought conditions.

I can remember a few in my lifetime. Lake levels get low; water rationing kicks in, lawns start to dry up and everything is covered in a dusty coat of ick.

But, if the rain falls when it’s suppose to, then the aquifers are replenished and it makes the summer season a lot more tolerable.

Then, of course, there’s the rainbows. I don’t think I every saw as many rainbows as I did when I was in Hawaii. It was almost mandatory to see twin rainbows. This past Sunday we were graced with rainbows galore here in Alabama. Many were over churches which made some pretty spectacular pictures.

But, in the spring my personal favorite rainbow is the annual blooming of the azaleas.

I just couldn’t help but share one more picture of my azaleas I took after the rain on Sunday. I took the pictures on Monday morning and was amazed at the raindrops still being held captive on the azalea blossoms.

It reminded me of what Chesterton had said. Without the rain, I would not have my personal wonderful rainbow…my azaleas…funny how nature works out that way…in a cycle…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Aunt LaRue, Azaleas, G. K. Chesterton Quotes, Horticulture, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants, Quote of the Day, Rain, southern indica 'Formosa'

Ageratum, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Blue Flower B

Blue Flower C

I love blue flowers, but they are not the most abundant flower to find in the grander scheme of gardening.

Years ago when I established some landscape design for my home I did quite a bit of research. I used my background as a horticulture student to do my digging and lead me where I wanted to go.

I was gardening for some definite purposes:

That was the foundation for my design and purpose and because of my health I usually have to depend on others to implement my plans. Tall & Handsome’s saying is, “Honey, you be the brains and I’ll be the brawn.”

Well, before we moved out of state for T & H’s work, the yard had a very good head start on a good landscape design. And, of course, I’ve shared the horrors of Big Jim the Terrible Tenant who had a six year reign of terror at the house.

To say the yard was grossly neglected is an understatement. At one time we counted almost 10 to 12 random vehicles parked in the yard Sanford and Son style…and this is not the type of neighborhood you do that in.

But, even in the “ashes” of ruin you can find surprises and renewal. Today’s pictures are an example of that. When we moved in 2004, these delicate little blue blossoms were not growing anywhere in my yard. Now? Well, there is an abundant little colony raising their cheerful little heads in the front and they have made their way into some of my pots.

Ageratum are generally considered annuals but a few are perennials. They tend to reseed themselves very well, profusely in fact, so you might have some to spread around and even share. In some places they can become invasive and may be considered a weed. I like to think of them as a wildflower. They are native to Central and South America and Mexico, but there are four that are native to the US.

They are known by the common names flossflower, bluemink, blueweed and Mexican paintbrush. They tolerate sun to part sun. Some of the more domesticated varieties may only grow to about 6 – 8 inches, the others vary in height from 12 inches up to 30 inches.

You can see by my photos that the two I have are very different. One looks more delicate, a lighter powdery blue with only green foliage. The other one is a deeper, purpley-red color. The stems and leaves have a red vein running through them and the flowers themselves seems surrounded by red calyx.

I’m just delighted that out of ashes of destruction something that appears so delicate rose like a Phoenix to surprise me with the unexpected.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~ Lao Tzu ~

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Filed under Ageratum, Alabama, Blueweed, Flossflower, Flowers, Gardening, Horticulture, Mexican Paintbrush, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants, Tall & Handsome

Natchez White, by Beverly Hicks Burch

White crepe myrtle b

You would never know it by looking at this delicate blossom cluster, but this Natchez White crepe myrtle is a fairly large tree.

I was amazed when I saw them when Tall & Handsome and I moved back to Alabama and took back possession of our home from the tenant, Big Jim the Terrible who had wrecked havoc both inside and out while he rented from us (another story all together).

Two things amazed me. One, the crepe myrtles survived and two they had grown! A lot! I don’t recall them even being waist high when I left back in 2004. Now, I would estimate they’re a good 15 feet tall.

Crepe myrtles make excellent landscape trees and will bloom most of the summer. They are also drought and heat tolerant once established. My white crepe myrtles bloomed abundantly last year but, have been a little more sparse with blooms this year.

One reason I especially enjoy my white crepe myrtle is towards the end of summer when the blossoms begin to fade the the petals start to slowly flutter to the ground. It looks like little snowflake are falling to the ground and it has such a peaceful effect.

About this time of the year is when I begin to notice the leaves taking on the slightest tinge of color. I know it won’t be too long before the leaves will be red and yellow.

Crepe myrtles bloom in a wide range of colors from white to lilac.

Traditionally crepe myrtles had powdery mildew problem (a fungus problem) and if you purchase some of the older cultivars you will still run into that problem. It’s more unsightly than it is dangerous or harmful and can usually be taken care of with a fungicide or if your problem is caused by pests a soapy insecticide will work. I try to remain as chemical free as possible so I try to purchase cultivars that are pest free and disease resistant.

A good rule of thumb in picking your crepe myrtles is to purchase cultivars with Native American names…like my Natchez White.

Another great bonus with crepe myrtles is their exfoliating bark that gives the tree interest in the off season like winter.

As you can see, there are so many reason why I love these little big trees…

Crepe Myrtle exfloilating bark

Crepe Myrtle exfloilating bark B

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Crepe Myrtles, Horticulture, Landscaping, Lawns & Yards, Natchez White crepe myrtle, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants

Once Last Glimpse, by Beverly Hicks Burch

honeysuckle A

Today Tall & Handsome worked on an all day Saturday project…hanging the porch swing for the front porch. It had been setting in our storage room for about two years waiting patiently for its coming out party.

Well, today was the day…

Most of the day was overcast and at times stormy. Big thunder and really big lightning and pouring rain. The day didn’t start that way, but it ended that way. As a result the temps stayed in the 80s and judging from the long range forecast it appears they are going to stay there and our nights are cooling off and will be in the 60s. It’s a really great time to break in our new porch swing!

Also, it means at least two other things. One college football is around the corner and that’s really big in the South. And, the other thing is fall is definitely on the way with seasonal weather, colors and falling leaves.

It also means we’ll say goodbye until next spring to the fragrant and beloved (by some) vine in the picture of the day. I have a love/hate relationship with honeysuckle. There is nothing as headily sweet and fragrant as honeysuckle in the spring and early summer. But, wild honeysuckle is also crazily invasive and once it invades your spot it is murder to remove. My once lovely beds were invaded by honeysuckle under the reign of Big Jim the tenant from Hades…and as a result our battle continues…

…and the love/hate relationship cycles on until next season…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Front Porches, Honeysuckle, Horticulture, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants, Tall & Handsome

Pink Oleander, by Beverly Hicks Burch

pink olender B

I love Oleander, although it is poisonous if ingested. So, I certainly don’t plan on creating a meal using oleander. It’s purely a feast for the eyes.

This lovely pink oleander is found growing on Tybee Island, GA.

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

 

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Filed under Flowers, Georgia, Horticulture, Oleander, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants, Tybee Island GA

Firecracker Red, by Beverly Hicks Burch

mom's geranium c

Mom's geranium b

I could think of nothing better to start the holiday off than my Mom’s firecracker red geraniums. They are exceptional this year and just the right color for the 4th of July.

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under "4th of July", Alabama, Flowers, geraniums, Holidays, Horticulture, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants

Keepers of the Garden, by Beverly Hicks Burch

First, let me begin this by saying, “I am NOT a hoarder!”

But, I do have little eclectic collections of things I like to gather. Lately it’s been items to add whimsy and fun to the garden, decks and outdoors.

The first one is dedicated to someone I call my littlest angel. This young man (Tyler Clark) use to come with his Momma to my house when we had big quilting get togethers. The group surprised me with an angel quilt one Christmas (angels are another collectible of mine) and Tyler’s momma had made a block for him and incorporated it into the quilt.

Tyler just graduated from high school and is bound for the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa this fall. RTR!! (For all you non-Alabama folk, that’s Roll Tide Roll!!) So, Tyler will understand the significance of this garden keeper Smile I’m proud of you Tyler!!

Keeper of the Impatients

Keeper of the Impatients

As for the selection of my next keeper, it’s quite obvious, a Miniature Schnauzer to represent our wonderful little boy and resident rascal, Watson the Wonderkin.

Keeper of the Tomatoes

Keeper of the Tomatoes

I certainly prefer these guys to scarecrows any day! And, hand to God…all the other tomatoes not being minded by this little fellow have been nibbled on by some interloper! My yard may soon look like that ancient Chinese tomb they dug up a few years ago that was full of clay Chinese warriors.

If it worked for them, it’s gotta work for me…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Elephants, Flowers, Gardening, Keepers of the Garden, Miniature Schnauzer, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants, Tomatoes, Tyler Clark, University of Alabama, Watson

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