Life imitating art imitating life

In last week’s post, I mentioned a recent exhibit my mother and I went to at the North Carolina Museum of Art. The museum has an impressive permanent collection, and each spring, florists descend upon the galleries to interpret works of art using flowers.

Though the exhibit is an annual four-day event, this was the first time for both my mother and me to see it, and I’m so glad we braved the crowds. I only had my cell phone with me, but I thought you might enjoy seeing a few of my favorites from my phone’s camera.

Calla lilies and one of my favorite paintings in the museum

In some cases, as with the arrangement above, I could easily see the inspiration for the colors and shapes of the blooms the artist/florist chose.

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Savor the idylls of March

I’m guessing at least some of you have already heard today the favorite warning about this date: “Beware the Ides of March.”

The weather has been stunning this week, and it’s too beautiful outside to feel cautious today. So I wanted to give you another way to think of this date. Instead of bewaring (honest, it’s a real word), how about savoring instead?

May I suggest you begin by savoring these “Idylls of March” photos? For a variety of reasons, they bring me joy and delight. I hope they’ll do the same for you this day.

My favorite bloom right now

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ll know my deep and abiding love for dark red snapdragons. Unable to find all red snapdragons, I settled last year for a flat of various colors to add to the garden. This red one is one of two that has already bloomed, and its flourishing presence is my happiest garden sight right now.

This next photo shows my second favorite garden sprout, even though it doesn’t look very interesting right now. For those of you who grow these, you’ll know immediately what they are. Because they die back each winter, I always worry a bit until I see the new spring shoots—even here where winters are much milder.


Do you know what this is? (It’s one of my garden favorites.)

As my husband and I were talking of garden plans last night, this particular plant came up in our conversation. He said, “You mean the dead thing?” Out of town when I cut away last year’s dead stems and leaves, he didn’t know new shoots had sprouted. I planted it just last year and so won’t be surprised if it doesn’t bloom this year, but some day … some day it will be beautiful.

A plant that blooms without fail every spring is this Clivia. Because it’s one of the first spring plants to bloom, I always watch it eagerly to see when it will open.

Orange Clivia

The azaleas aren’t far behind. Given all the rain we’ve had, I can’t wait to see whether they bloom more profusely this season.

The start of the azaleas

The tulip magnolias are especially beautiful, despite windy days and flitting birds knocking off lots of petals.

Tulip magnolias in the early morning light

Beautiful under full sun or full clouds, these petals danced in the breeze as I photographed them.

Closer up

The flowers aren’t the only things of beauty in the garden. This Anna’s Hummingbird is a frequent visitor to my feeder.

The final photo delights me for a reason different than all the others. I’m not a fan of squirrels (aka tree rats), and they’ve raided several squares of seed from our feeder this winter. My husband solved the problem by moving the feeder, successfully confounding the squirrels for a couple of weeks now. I don’t even mind the blue jays that come now to the feeder. Seeing the squirrels try—and fail—to get to this feeder provides a good laugh.

A joyful heart is good medicine. —Proverbs 17:22

Thanks for savoring the Idylls of March along with me, friends!

Lost races

Late last year, hopped up on post-race endorphins, my husband and I registered for a half marathon at the end of August, a race that would be at the perfect point in my training for a December marathon. “It’ll be great!” we told each other.

My body wasn’t on board with the training schedule, though. Thanks to a nagging injury, I spent the last six weeks in a boot and am just now getting back on the road to recovery. I’ve lost a lot of strength and a lot of flexibility. And I’ve lost both the August half marathon and the December marathon.

My husband and I had been anticipating the weekend getaway, though, and cheering him on would be fun, if bittersweet. Our hotel was near the start/finish area of the race, and I decided to walk part of the course, scream like crazy when he ran by, and take photos along the way. It was a beautiful, chilly morning, and I enjoyed the slow walk.

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Along the course

A few tears threatened to fall, though, when I saw the pace group near where I should/would have been at that point in the race.

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In the gardens of my friends, final week

For he has sent to us in Babylon, saying, “The exile will be long; build houses and live in them and plant gardens and eat their produce.” —Jeremiah 29:28

We’ve reached the last day of August (can you believe it?), and we’ve come to the final virtual tour of my friends’ California gardens.

My husband and I feel very blessed to know the couple whose garden we’re touring today. We share much in common, and from the earliest days of getting to know us, they began sharing food with us. Fresh fish caught in the Pacific. Tamales at Christmas. Garden fruits and vegetables throughout the year. You get the idea. We’re blessed.

While our friends focus their efforts on vegetable gardening, they have lovely flowers, too:

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Beautiful pops of color for the back patio

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In the gardens of my friends, week 2

They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion,
And they will be radiant over the bounty of the Lord—
Over the grain and the new wine and the oil,
And over the young of the flock and the herd;
And their life will be like a watered garden,
And they will never languish again.
—Jeremiah 31:12

I hope you enjoyed last week’s stop on my friends’ garden tour. This week brings us to the garden of a friend who leads a group of us fearless writers. She often opens her home so we can gather and spend a few hours in quiet, companionable writing. Depending on where I sit to write, I often find myself gazing out into her yard, enjoying the abundant beauty there.

She also happens to share my love of nurseries, and she introduced me to one of my favorite nurseries one weekend as we strolled and chatted, laughed to see hummingbirds buzzing about, and tarried over favorite flowers to dream about and plan our own gardens.

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My friend’s favorite flower, the princess lily

As we walked through the rows and rows of flowers, we talked of flowers that grow well here and flowers that grow well in North Carolina. I’m always delighted to find reminders of home in friends’ gardens: Continue reading