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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Linger Long, Talk Much, Laugh A Lot

A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.
~Isadora James

Franklin, Tennessee is a wonderful little town made up in part of winding roads and magnificent countryside views. Besides Marmee's farmhouse and gardens there are a few other sites to see in the area. The day my sister and I planned to tour Cheekwood Botanical Gardens in Nashville, she started out the drive on the Natchez Trace Parkway. We agreed right away the colors were more vivid in the trees along that roadside than even just beyond it for some unknown reason. We even saw deer grazing along the edge of the brush.

To tell the truth, we weren't sure what to anticipate in the way of flowers at the gardens since we were visiting on the heels of two (or three?) nights of below freezing temps. (Does anyone know what kind of salvia that is above--- I must see if it will grow here??).

It was important for us to know how the cold affected this public place dependent on the show of flowers, so the first grounds keeper we saw we had to ask. "Did you cover all the perennials these cold nights?" The answer was surprisingly, "no."
There was little evidence of damage. Some edges of leaves and blooms were burned by the cold and some coneflowers and zinnias were naturally spent. But for the most part, it is worth noting, the gardens were more like Florida-sized plantings than I expected... perennials billowing four and five feet tall was not what I anticipated.

We laughed at ourselves as we sauntered through the beautiful and peaceful settings with our cameras clicking away like mad. It was so nice to share our mutual interest in gardening, design and color. We were spending rare time together and determined we would take our time noticing all the elements.
Some flowers I didn't recognize like these delicate looking but obviously hardy Glossy Abelia. A perfect blend of softly colored petals and bright green leaves on long woody stems.

But then there was the familiar Mexican Bush Sage planted in more than one setting. I'm not sure what the beauties are towering over it but I definitely think they make a perfect combination. And the stunning grasses blooming everywhere had me mesmerized.

Water features throughout the gardens make for peaceful sounds, refreshing sitting areas ...

...and interesting architecture.

The extra large sizes and heights of the perennials was such a surprise to me. Then again, they do have grounds keepers to tend to every little thing. Wouldn't that be nice in our own gardens?
And this must be that stunning yellow salvia Gail asked me about a few weeks ago. She wondered if I grow this in my Florida garden. I admit I had never seen it for sale nor heard of it down here. Note to self: Looking for this next spring.

Resting from walking the gardens Marmee finds respite under the rounded pergola.

Another surprise for me was that there was an abundance of butterflies... everywhere. I took so many photos of them it was easier to show them in a slideshow.

If you know the identity of any of them (Update: thank you, Frances, for the help in comments) that I got wrong or that I left off... please help. I like to know I just couldn't ID some of them... I rarely can get the sulphurs sorted out. And the little blue fuzzy guy? Anyone?

The days following the gardens were chocked full of girly, fun stuff. We made every minute count with long lunches and trips to family members, driving to Franklin and Leiper's Fork popping in and out of very quaint and fun shops.

There aren't any mountains in this part of Tennessee. But for this Florida girl from the flatlands the very hilly countryside and the abundance of curving roads made me feel like I'd taken a trip to the north.

Deep into the horizon in any direction lay fields of golden stalks. We think it is soy beans. The frosty nights must have tinged their edges to the uniform beautiful golden-brown for they were breathtaking.

Early Saturday started out as one more brisk and chilly morning. I was particularly enthusiastic to join my sister's family on their weekly trip to the local Farmer's Market. She had talked so many times with great fondness about the fresh produce for sale by local vendors. So we bundled up and strolled through the market picking out very fresh and beautiful vegetables and fruits.
Yummy stuff.

We even managed to cook together a couple of times combining our love for good food.

We won't wait too long to spend this kind of time together again. As we grow older it is more and more important to realize the things most valuable in life and cherish them deeply. Relationships are of those precious treasures we realize mustn't be taken for granted. What many of you may not know is that in the past there were many years when Marmee and I let the distance and our child-raising, and just ordinary life get in the way of connecting.

Thankfully, we haven't waited too late to make determined commitments in our souls not to let that continue. Thank you, Marmee, for a most memorable and very fun few days in the beautiful state of Tennesee.

I would like more sisters, that the taking out of one, might not leave such stillness.
~Emily Dickinson


  1. What joy! I've always wanted a sister.

    Thanks for sharing such a lovely trip with us, Meems.

  2. Thanks for taking me along, just beautiful. I think that salvia is pineapple sage, if so I can send you some. It doesn't disappoint. Butterflies and hummingbirds cannot get enough of it. I posted a hummer om mine yesterday!!

  3. Beautiful photos, and I thank you for the trip, too.

    You have your priorities straight -- cherished feelings about family and creating memories.


  4. Sisters are the best. It looks like you had such a grand time. Beautiful scenery. I love that creek. What a wonderful water feature it is. So natural.

  5. Beautiful Meems. Sisters are such a gift. What a wonderful trip.

  6. Meems, You have showcased my part of Tennessee so beautifully. I wish I had been with you and marmee at Cheekwood! I am so glad you got to see the salvia. That beautiful flower would look wonderful in your garden!

    Sisters are a gift...that you and marmee are dear friends and share so many values and interests is wonderful! I have three sisters; each is precious to me. We all garden.

    Thank you for a lovely post and the link! I know you will locate that salvia!


  7. How beautiful, Meems. Tennessee is one of my favorite states because of it's beautiful landscapes. How I miss the hills and valleys!

    I'm glad that you had time to spend with your sisterand discover the true meaning of the precious things in life.

  8. What a wonderful trip you had!

    I usually plant an annual red salvia in my garden to attract the hummingbirds. The one I plant is called scarlet sage or Texas sage. In the spring I sprinkle the seeds in the ground and they grow like crazy!

  9. Oh Meems, it all looks so beautiful! I'm so glad you had time with family.

  10. What a wonderful day you had and how lucky you are to have such a lovely sister. I am an only child and always wished for a sister when I was young. It's great you got to spend the day together in such beautiful surroundings.

  11. Patricia, A sister is a gift of most certain value. Marmee and I have been close and then not so close over the years. I suppose I have taken the gift of her for granted as we were both raising our families and living in different states. We have made up for the times of separation lately. It is a good thing.

    Darla, You are welcome and I'm happy you came along. I'll be over to checkout the pineapple sage. I have several types of salvia but not that one. They are hardy plants in our zone, too.

    Cameron, In these times of uncertainty our cherished relationships mean even more don't they?

    Lisa, The wonderful thing about visiting a botanical garden is that it has all the elements every garden wants and maybe doesn't have yet. Water is so refreshing, cleansing, inspiring... I still dream of the perfect water feature for Hoe and Shovel.

  12. Linda, Thanks. I know you cherish your sisters as well. Marmee and I are dedicated to keeping the connection alive. Thanks for joining us on our journey.

    Gail, I wish I would have known the exact plans for Cheekwood - it might have worked out better than what we originally planned. Sigh. AND to know you live so close causes an extra little pang of disappointment. You must meet Marmee anyway... she has a little something for you. :-)

    What a blessing you have THREE sisters and you all garden. The gift of gardening is something in the blood isn't it?

    I'm honored you like my view of your part of the country. That's a hard thing to do sometimes. Through the eyes of this visitor I can see why my sister calls it her home now.

    Carolyn Gail, The hills and valleys are endless in Franklin. The people are friendly, too. All the outlying areas of Nashville are reminders of the beauty that is small town America.

    Robin, The trip was perfect timing for the weather and for the seasonal leaves... two things that make me sing for joy. I still have red salvia blooming and the butterflies are still visiting. Red is a sure attractor!

  13. Dani, Gee, thanks for coming along. My trip was a welcome get away in the midst of a busy season.

    Nancy, We did have a marvelous visit together. Marmee was a generous and welcoming hostess. Our time together was everything I hoped it would be.

  14. all i can say is let's do it again with a little more down time, right? i have actually been looking at airfares, maybe it's just a pipedream but you never know.
    meems, you have captured my town in such a wonderful way it makes me love it even more. i really love seeing what you saw through your eyes.
    thank you for sharing it in such a kind and beautiful way. i love your wording.
    seeing the gardens has given me so much inspiration for next spring. i think your suggestion of focusing on one area at a time is great advice. the front gated area is where i am going to start.
    i also loved the quotes you included. i am so glad we had our time together.

  15. You and your sister are so lucky to have each other - and to share the same interest. I envie you!

  16. Hello Meems - sounds like you two had a great trip. What a beautiful place to visit. I often wish there were gardens to tour where I live. Maybe when I grow up I'll buy some land and make one :)

  17. Hi Meems, lots to comment on, but first the red flower yellow leaf plant is a golden pineapple sage, my son in Asheville had the same plant. The butterfly is painted lady and the larger great spangled fritillary, I think. Now, you and your sister are so lucky and you are so smart to make the most of your lives by spending as much time together as possible. I can imagine you clicking away and talking and laughing while a cheekwood. Those are some magnificent gardens. They must have very rich soil for the plants to look like that. Sigh. I longed for a sister, but have found sisterhood in friends and family that I made myself. ;->

  18. Marmee, airfares eh? Sounds like a plan. It is so interesting to see our own familiar area through someone else's perspective isn't it? Cameras are a miracle invention, too.
    It is always a good idea to look around at gardens in our own zone... gives us lots of variety for design ideas. I've got grand imaginations for your front gardens... there is going to be lots of new beauty next spring! Better get busy tilling. :-)

    Katarina, Even though our personalities are very different from the other it is really great to have many of the same interests. As we grow older we have found better ways to share them.

  19. Amy, Oh my, you've already had snow. You are in for a long winter I suppose. When you grow up... you're the funny one! I guess you have to travel a bit south to visit gardens? Are there conservatories maybe near you?

    Frances, Thank you for the help on the ID's. I had one of those marked as a painted lady and now I can't remember what threw me off. I'll go back to see if I can correct it. The gardens at Cheekwood were still very lush so I think you are right - you could see some of the newly planted annuals in very rich dark soil. They have made use of amendments to the usual clay ground.

    Sisterhood is a close substitute (for a sister)that all women need in order to fulfill the gaps in our emotional make-up. Somehow we thrive from very close relationships. It is a good thing.

    Thanks for joining me on my trip to your beautiful state.

  20. Loved your post! I spent last week with five of my six sisters in the mountains in North Carolina. We laughed until we cried. (One sister told me she laughed so long her jaws ached . . .) As a bonus we went to The Biltmore and loved, loved, LOVED their greenhouses.

  21. Tennessee is such a beautiful state with those winding roads & gorgeous foliage. How wonderful that you got to spend some quality time with your sister. I always wanted a sister growing up. ;)

  22. Think the salvia is Salvia elegans 'Golden Delicious'. Your pics make me want to do a road trip north!

  23. I enjoyed this post so much Meems! It really is beautiful where Marmee lives. You guys obviously had such a great time! My sister and I have just gotten closer in the last 2-3 years. She doesn't really know it but I would consider her my closest friend. Thanks for sharing this wonderful "sister" post. It made me appreciate mine so much!

  24. Mary Beth, I am in awe of the fact you have six sisters and you were able to get 5 of them together for a sisterhood trip. That must have been some kind of fun! I can only imagine the laughter.

    Raquel, Funny how we want things that some of us are guilty of taking for granted. We're working at not taking our gift for granted and have grown very appreciative of the treasure our relationship is.

    Compost: I'm ready for another, too. This is the time of year for great weather and great scenery. I'll check out the salvia... thanks.

    Susie: Glad to hear you and your sister have also gotten close recently. We did have a great time together and only wish we would have had a little more. Tennessee is just gorgeous country!

  25. Meems, first of all what a beautiful post! I loved all the photos of the still gorgeous plants. Looked almost like mid-summer. It is wonderful to have someone to share a passion with and when it it your sister it is even better. So glad you are making the effort to say close now. You will always be glad of the time you spend together.

    Your little blue fuzzy guy is a 'Checkered Skipper'. "The Checkered Skipper can be found in a variety of open habitats....most of the U.S. and southern Canada. Adults take nectar from many flowers including clovers, asters and knapweed".

  26. Like the leisurely winding road, your post meandered through some beautiful places, and lovely thoughts.
    The small stream, with moss covered rocks and small plantings at the botanical gardens is very beautiful.

  27. Cheekwoods is a beautiful botanical garden. I love seeing various places via the Internet. and like Frances, I longed for a sister too but have three brothers instead. I love them but it's not the same. Good thing for friends! and wonderful for you to spend time together.

  28. What beaurtiful flowering plants...the purple plant is amazing, as is the ywellow salivia you mentioned. Thanks for sharing such a great trip!

  29. Such a nice day at Cheekwood and well laid out in your post. Glad you enjoyed your visit Meems.

  30. beckie: Thank you SO much for the help with the checkered skipper. Marmee and I are finding it a very important priority to be sure not to lose our kind of newly renewed connection.

    northern shade: That stream flowed under a little bridge too ... it was one of my favorite spots in all the gardens... and you know how certain things grow so much better close to the water.

    Kathleen: I bet those brothers took very good care of the only girl in the family. There's something to be said for that, too. lol

    Phillip: I'm with you ... those purple plants were lush and full. There were so many great combinations I just couldn't include all my photos.

    Tina: Thanks so much. Your beautiful state should make you proud... it cooperated most generously for my few days there.

  31. Flowing water is a great compliment: and for its sound like you say.

  32. Thanks for sharing all the photos and things you said about you and your sister. My sister is single and 8 years younger than I am. We live in the same town and rarely see each other unless there is a holiday or she wants my husband to work on her computer. I've given up on inviting her over outside of holidays, because she is always too busy. Maybe there is still hope for us to start spending more time with each other.

  33. Robert: I can sit and just "watch" water of any kind for the longest time. It is soothing, refreshing, inspiring, and peaceful. The sounds of water are just one more gift from God. But then, you know all that better than any of us. :-)

    Sue: Yes, I believe there is still hope. Our lives take on many different (speaking of) seasons. When Marmee and I were first raising our young children we were very close. As life got more hectic when they became teenagers and adults (and she moved to TN) things changed a bit. We have come full circle and now make the effort to stay connected no matter what.

    You and your sister are traveling two different journeys for the time being. At some point she will probably realize the gift of having you right there so close and perhaps slow down enough to appreciate it. I hope so. It will add great value to both of your lives when she realizes it is not to be taken for granted. Thank you for your comment.

  34. What a beautiful post. :) Thanks for sharing!

  35. What a beautiful post, Meems. And the quote below, loved it!

  36. The variety of butterflies is amazing. So glad you were able to photograph so many. I'm still learning about butterflies so I'm afraid I can't help you much on the identification.


Have a blessed day,

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