April 9, 2008

Flowers

I just adore spring, with all of the flowering trees we have in Baltimore! I have a Bradford Pear tree in front of my house, which delights me all year round. The tree is in blossom now and in the mornings, the flowers and new leaves cast the most gorgeous light into my bedroom. In the summer, it shades the front of my house and keeps it cooler. In the winter, it is bare, so lets all of the lovely sun into my house to warm it.
I have a huge old gardenia plant, which is a cutting from one my mother has had for more than 40 years. Last year, as my father was dying, the old plant was also dying. It was just too much to bear. My mother put the plant out back, and hacked it back to its trunk. Amazingly, it's sprang back to life and is blooming again, as is mine. I keep it in my room during the winter, so it gets lots of sunlight. I was sleeping the other night and woke up with a start from the heady scent of gardenia! It has at least 20 more buds on it, so I will be having sweet dreams for weeks to come.
I was reading New York Social Diary today and they mentioned the Annual Flowers and Design benefit dinner hosted by the The Horticultural Society of New York, honouring Charlotte Moss. Some of the floral designers in NYC did the centerpieces and they're spectacular. Here are two views of my favourite table by Van Vliet & Trap.
I think that the yellow chairs are just perfect, don't you?
At Evergreen House last week the big saucer magnolias were out. These are not the glossy-leafed evergreen ones, but a different variety, Magnolia soulangiana. Their egg-shaped blossoms only have five or so petals, but they're a beautiful pale pink. Evergreen has several trees espaliered against a brick wall, which I'd never seen before. Unfortunately, we had a little frost as the trees were budding, so all of the blossoms had some brown on them.

22 comments:

  1. I'm going to take a deep breath and write this. I wanted to cry when I read your piece. My mother was a masterful gardener. She started me at a very young age in my learning curve. She loved her gardenia plant. It came inside every cool spell and went into her beautiful garden in the warmer months. It thrived. Gardenias are dicey plants. To have one thrives means you have a good touch.

    She had two Bradford Pears in her front yard. She loved them. I would stand under them and get covered in white drifting blossom. I remember her last spring alive, seeing her under them, tidying her yard and wondering...how much longer do we have?

    When my mother died. When Mom died..Dad lost his mind and went off the deep end. I don't want to write what he did, but it destroyed my family. That year after her death? He sold our family home, and as horrible as it was, and how it was done, that last day of ownership, when I went through one last time taking pictures, it was in the garden where I really felt my mother's spirit.

    With Dad acting so poorly, everything falling apart...lightning hit the Bradford, split it and killed it. I couldn't help but think it was my mother's response to what was going on. I know it was her doing. I will always believe that.

    I drove by the house the other day. The new owners never have pruned a shrub...shrubs I could prune in my sleep. It breaks my heart. My father's green velvet lawn is in disarray... and the Bradford pears that would be in their glory right now? They are gone and my family is dead.

    There. The truth. Out.

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  2. I am going agaga over the yellow table and all of the colorful flowers!! Just wonderful.

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  3. WC... thank you so much for taking the time to tell your story. I am honoured that you chose to share it with us.

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  4. You're right -what beautiful flowers! I love LOVE the Gardenia!!! I wish I had enough sunlight in my apartment to have one but I only face east -so beautiful. Those colorful flowers on the table are so beautiful -i think keeping them in simple bunches like that provides the most PUNCH!

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  5. What a great new header incorperating flowers! Enjoyed this post so much. Just thinking of the scent of gardenias makes me smile. A gardenia plant needs to be in our future garden.

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  6. Oh, I wore a gardenia to my junior prom ~ they are my favorite. And hopelessly old-fashioned. Those tulips trees were so fabulous!!! I think I took more shots of those than I did of the house! Cheers.

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  7. Sorry for the downer, Miz. D. The flowers are lovely. As for the table designs, I think overall designers are going for bolder color combinations this year, including table layouts. Quite striking after the years of neutralities. I also recently saw chartreuse paired with cherry red and orange mated with ivories and yellows (for a wedding). Still not sure about orange with a wedding...despite orange blossom (which is white.)

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  8. WC is right, having a gardenia plant that thrives does take a special touch, and how wonderful you have a gardenia plant that large and that full of buds.

    I'm reveling in the spring-flowerdness of Baltimore and today's almost balmy weather. Love it!

    Love your new header too.

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  9. Gardenias are my favorite flowers and my favorite scent. Unfortunately, I've never had any luck with having one thrive in a pot. Whenever I brought it inside, it always died. Guess there wasn't enough sunlight.

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  10. Sweet story. I understand completely. When my father died, I wanted him to "live on" in special things, too. I think we humans are programmed that way. I'm so happy for your gardenia.

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  11. To Washington Cube: What a moving story. I think when mothers die first, they take the spirit and glue of the family with them. It's sad to say, but usually true - men just can't hold a family together. Now if the father dies first, usually the family structure stays the same, the mother doesn't remarry, she stays in the house missing the dad, the kids still come home for Christmas, etc. What happened to you happened to me - my mother died when I was young and within a year, I had a new home, my beloved dog was gone (don't get me started on that -38 years later and I still can't bring that memory up), I had new sisters, a new mother, a new school, a new life. Thankfully - it worked out for us, but it could have been a disaster like yours was.

    thanks for sharing your beautiful bittersweet story! You should pass on the love of gardening your mother taught you to your own children or a niece or friend.
    Joni

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  12. Thanks, Joni... Your stepmother sounds like she's fantastic.

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  13. Fist visit, Gorgeous blog!
    Sandra Evertson

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  14. Fragrant gardenias grow well in south Florida. I love their leathery soft petals. I so miss my Bradford pear which shaded my front yard so well for years. It split in a bad storm and I had to have it removed. Amazingly, it took eight years to grow and was down in fifteen minutes. :(

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  15. Tea... Baltimore's full of Bradford Pear trees, but apparently, they are quite fragile and only last about 20 or so years. I think that they're planting zelcovia trees now, which don't blossom in the spring.

    I'd love to see gardenias growing in the "wild" of Florida!

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  16. lovely photos! here's to spring...cheers!

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  17. You need to turn your mattress. That sag makes your room melancholy.

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  18. I think the room looks bright and cheery! It's probably just the way the duvets are fluffed.

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  19. That table setting looks AMAZING!! I'm totally in awe.

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  20. Beautiful flowers! :-) Ahh and those yellow chairs! I particularly love the fabric on the back!

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