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Posts Tagged ‘Spring’

Mima–my maternal grandmother–loved working in her yard.  In my mind’s eye I see her kneeling in front of her porch, setting out marigolds and impatiens in the rich black dirt she’d bought at Kmart.  Later she’d move to the bed by the street, where the peonies and iris grew.  She’d water them with the garden hose, and if a car sped by too quickly, it might get a wetting as well, along with a hollered, “Slow down!”

We had flowering shrubs at our house, but no garden.  So on early damp May mornings, we would leave home a bit early, and drive to Mima’s house.  She’d meet us in the front yard in her housecoat, scissors in hand, to cut irises which she wrapped in wet paper towels for freshness.  These were our “flowers of the fairest” for the May Procession at Saint Joseph School.

When I discovered that I was a gardener too, Mima was right there encouraging me, giving me bags of dirt or mulch out of the trunk of her car, bringing me flats of pansies to set out in the fall, watching my little kids so I could plant daffodil bulbs.

So even though my gardening style is very different from hers, wild rather than manicured and centered on perennials instead of annuals, I often think of Mima (who died nine years ago) when I am in my garden.  I feel close to her then because it is a passion that we shared, and if such things are genetic, then my love of gardening is an inheritance from her.

It was around 20 years ago that Mima decided to move to a retirement community.  Eventually my mother moved into her house.  She kept the flowerbeds weeded and the yard mowed, but gardening is not her passion, and irises have to be dug up and divided every three to five years.  Mima’s irises haven’t bloomed in 15 years or more.

When my mother decided to move, it was Mima’s flowers I thought of most.  What would happen to her flowerbeds? Too many times I’ve seen new owners dig up and destroy treasured plantings without a second thought, intent on making the yard their own.  So when the house was sold, I went by with my trowel and dug up several irises, some peonies, and a small nandina sprout for good measure.  I put them in my own garden and hoped for the best.

The first spring came and went without a bloom.  I didn’t expect anything out of the peonies–which normally take a few years to establish–but I was disappointed in the irises.  Someone told me I had likely planted them too deeply.  I resigned myself to having to transplant them at a later time, and this year I was pleased to see that they had multiplied by a factor of three or more.  At least they were healthy, even if they didn’t bloom.

Then, the miracle.  I saw flower stalks and buds, almost overnight!  And yesterday morning when I went outside this was the first thing I saw:

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It would pretty much be impossible for me to exaggerate the extent of my excitement at this discovery.  Besides making it immediately Facebook official, I’ve made every member of the family come out to admire it and to share in my joy.   This morning a second one burst into bloom and there are many more to come, as you can see here:

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Perhaps next May there will be a sequel involving peonies.  For now I am thrilled that this bit of Mima’s garden lives on in mine.

 

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Okay, y’all, I know it isn’t Spring anymore.  And I’ve been terrible about showing you new places to walk in Knoxville lately, for one thing because I haven’t been doing as much walking this year, and for another, I’m behind in my blogging.  Way behind.

But y’all don’t want to wait for next year to see these pretty pictures.  Nor do you want to wait that long to go walking at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, a lesser known treasure that more people should be taking advantage of.

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These gardens are over 200 years in the making, because the Howell family who originally owned this land operated it first as a an orchard and later as a nursery.  It was, in fact, the longest continuously run business in East Tennessee.  You should go read more about its fascinating history on the website above.  And you should appreciate how very, very fortunate we all are that its 40 some acres have been set aside for us to enjoy instead of being sold to developers.

There are several trails to walk on but you may not get a lot of exercise unless you walk it all twice, because I guarantee the first time you are going to be stopping a lot to look at things, smell them, and take pictures of them.

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The gardens are enhanced and complemented by beautiful stonework.

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These gardens are not just beautiful, they are also useful:  they are providing a venue for teaching children about gardening and for growing food for people in the community.

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In addition to flowering bushes, trees, and perennials, the gardens showcase fabulous views.

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But more than anything else it’s about the plants.  So many plants.  The awesome thing about the KBGA is that it should present a feast for the eyes in every season, and the feast will be different.  Here is a taste of springtime for you:

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Now that I’ve virtually revisited the gardens, I’m excited to see what grows there in the summer time!  If I do, I will come back and let you know.

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For the past several years, starting on the first day of Spring I’ve posted a quotation about the season as my Facebook status.  I love Spring so much that I needed to celebrate!  My friends seemed to approve, which encouraged me because who doesn’t like “likes” on Facebook?

This year I decided to go one better.  Having recently learned how to make quote pictures (with various easy-peasy websites), I’ve been illustrating the quotation of the day.  I post just the words on my personal page, and the pictures on my blog page.

Because I want to be able to pin them as well, I’m collecting them all here.  I took all the pictures myself, but I can’t take credit for the words!  I hope you enjoy them.
And he departed from our sight that we

Spring 2015, Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum.

April hath put a spirit of youth in

Spring 2015, Pellissippi State Community College campus.

But from this earth, this grave, this

Spring 2015, Stoney Point Baptist Church Cemetery in Hardin Valley.

First a howling blizzard woke us,Then

Spring 2015, first crocus in my front yard.

Our Lord has written the promise of the

Spring 2015, Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum.

Spring 1Spring 2010, front yard of our former home.

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Spring 2014, on the Pellissippi Greenway.

Spring has returned. The Earth is like a

Spring 2014, Anchor Park, Farragut.

spring-shows-what-god-can-do-with-a-drab

Spring 2010, front yard of our former home.

springtime 3Just before Spring 2015, my garden.

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Spring 2010, the front yard of our former home.
Ye sleeping buds, breakOpen your green

Spring 2015, Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum.

The sun has come out... and the air isSpring 2015, Pellissippi State Community College Campus.


The day the Lord created hope was

Spring 2015, Seven Islands State Birding Park.

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Spring 2010, in the woods behind our former home.

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Spring 2010, Chilhowee Park.

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Spring 2014, along the Pellissippi Greenway.

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Spring 2013, Papermill Greenway.

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Spring 2010, front yard of our former home.

That God once loved a garden we learn in

Spring 2015, Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum.Every spring is the only spring — aSpring 2015, Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum.

Every April, God rewrites the Book of

Spring 2015, Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum.

Earth trembles with ecstasy, her flowers

Spring 2015, my front yard.

Crocus fires are kindling one by one . . . - Christina Rossetti

March 2016, my front yard.

and-the-spring-arose-on-the-garden-fairlike-the-spirit-of-love-felt-everywhere

Spring 2016, Sequoyah Hills Greenway.

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Spring 2016, Forks of the River Trails.

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Mother’s Day 2014, Melton Hill Park.

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Spring 2016, my garden.

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Spring 2016, Forks of the River Trails.

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Spring 2016, my garden.

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Spring 2016, my garden.

Creative K Kids
Creative K Kids

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This week was Spring Break, and on Tuesday Lorelei and I went on an adventure with some friends, visiting Seven Islands Birding Park for the first time (but I am sure not the last).  It was a beautiful almost-Spring day, perfect for taking pictures.  We saw a Cooper’s Hawk, so the park lived up to its name!  We will be going back to explore and to hike more, and I will share more pictures in a future post.

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Let me start by saying that I love love love the smell of honeysuckle.  That’s probably not an earth-shattering revelation because who doesn’t?  But when I had to answer all those email questionnaires that want to know what’s on your mouse pad and whether you like chocolate or vanilla better, honeysuckle was what I always named as my favorite smell.

This love has roots in my childhood, when we had a fence in our side yard that was covered with honeysuckle and wild roses this time of year.  I remember my mother teaching me how to suck out the nectar, and when I was little I probably was more excited about that than smelling it!  My mother also had honeysuckle perfume–just a very simple roll-on variety from Avon, I think–that I would just love to have if I could ever find something similar.  We all loved honeysuckle so much that we even named our collie Honeysuckle!

After Emily was born, for many years our summer visit to Baltimore was timed for Memorial Day weekend.  When we’d get back home, it was usually late at night, and the first thing we would notice upon getting out of the car was the strong scent of honeysuckle in the air.  So not only is it just an awesome smell, it also holds nostalgic associations of childhood and homecoming for me.

In these parts, May is prime time for honeysuckle, at least for the wild (some would say invasive) and strongly scented variety I’m talking about here.  And all of this has been a lead into a very brief Walking in Knoxville post because I don’t want anyone who loves honeysuckle to miss the chance to take this particular walk before it’s too late to experience the intoxicating scent.

I mentioned Grigsby Chapel Greenway briefly in my most recent greenway post.  It comprises 2.25 miles or so of asphalt trails interspersed with walks through several neighborhoods on their sidewalks.  If you do the whole thing, you’ll get to see many beautiful houses and gardens along the whole route.  But if you don’t have time to do that, or don’t want to walk that far, at least do this:  Park your car at St. John Neumann Church and walk the portion of the greenway that connects it to the next neighborhood.  The smell will probably hit you before you even reach the trail.  The air is positively redolent with it.  (And yes, I know that’s an overused phrase, but it’s really the only way to say it.) You will be walking through what amounts to almost a tunnel of honeysuckle.

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After that, there is just honeysuckle EVERYWHERE.  Back in the woods, next to the trail, bushes of it, vines of it well up into the trees.

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Seriously, go there as soon as you can.  Early morning and twilight will afford the strongest smell experience, plus it won’t be as hot.  And if you do go, let me know!

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Every morning, when I get home from driving William to school, I get out of my car, start, walking toward the house, and then stop and stand staring like an idiot at my garden.  My neighbors probably think I’m crazy (actually, they already have plenty of other reasons to think that).

What am I doing?  Well, to be honest, I’m admiring it, because it’s pretty and I’m just a little proud of what I’ve accomplished in just one year.  But more than that, I’m analyzing it, thinking about what needs to be moved around, what I’ll add later in the season or next year, what’s too tall, what was a bad idea.

If I were a methodical gardener I would have made a plan before I started.  I didn’t.  In late winter I downloaded some kind of planning grid thingie and got bored after a few minutes.  If I were a methodical gardener, I would have properly amended my soil.  I didn’t.  Instead, I dig out lumps of clay and rock, throw in a handful of potting soil, and hope for the best.  Sometimes I don’t even bother with the potting soil.  The rocks should help with drainage, right?  If I were a methodical gardener, I would have investigated how big the plants would get before I planted them.  I would have put little tags next to them to say what they are.  I might even have kept a garden journal.  Instead, I’m like: “This is the pink-blue-purple side of the garden, so let’s put any pink, purple, or blue things we like over here wherever we can find room for them!”  People ask the name of a particular plant and I say, “It might be salvia.  Or maybe sage.  Who knows?”  I can look on google images if I ever really need to know, right?

What kind of gardener am I?  A lazy gardener, clearly, which is why I plant mostly perennials.  Some day my work will be done, right?  And a lucky one, judging by my lack of effort and the passable results.

The photos below are from what we call the “hot” garden, where I attempt to plant only things that are orange, yellow, and white.  There are also red roses here (about which more further down) but I don’t want any more red things.  Why the color scheme?  Because the first summer we were here, the nice gardening lady across the street gave me a bunch of lily bulbs and some other perennial thing, which I just haphazardly stuck over here because I had no plan whatsoever and they turned out to be yellow.  So.

 

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The lilies aren’t blooming yet but you can see where they are in the picture below.  Those other yellow things, which are really tall, will be right behind them, unless the shade from the roses kills them.

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Let’s talk about the roses, shall we?  If you know anything at all about roses, then you can see that’s a climbing rose.  If you know anything about gardens, you’ll know that only an idiot would put a climbing rose in the middle of a flower bed.  I am happy to say I was not that idiot.  But I also don’t know much about roses, so I didn’t know that this was going to happen when I let it (it being basically a couple of thorny twigs when I started this) stay there.  It’s outgrown the trellis I put in place last year–in fact it is pulling the trellis out of the ground and leaning forward.  It stubbornly refuses to get blackspot like every other rose I’ve ever grown and instead is vigorous and healthy and growing like kudzu.  I want to get an arbor thing to cross the walkway in front of it, and maybe also attach a trellis to the porch overhang behind it.  But do you know how much arbors cost, y’all?

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Below we have the mailbox garden.  Gotta have one of those, don’t we?  The daylilies were already there–Stella D’Oro, I believe (see, I do know something!).  There is also one lone gigantic lily that looks kind of stupid there all by itself, but I can’t kill healthy plants, so it will stay.  The red plant is a mandevilla which my neighbor gave me for my birthday.  The pot said it was good to plant by your mailbox and who am I to argue?  You might also notice a variety of herbs in this picture.  Yes, this is my herb garden and we used the herbs to cook all through the winter even.  The basil dried right there on the stalk.  More laziness that paid off!

 

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This side has mint.  All varieties of mint.  And yes, I am aware of what mint does, and it’s already doing it, but I don’t really care because it smells good.

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Now here’s the “cool” side of the garden and I’m probably going to post too many pictures because this is my favorite part and I just can’t leave any of them out!

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Please excuse the long grass at the edges because 1) My lawn mower is (still) broken and 2) I’m not finished yet.  There won’t ever be a clearly defined border at the edge because the eventual plan is for this side to take over the whole front yard, doing away with its crappy veneer of grass over clay a couple of feet every year, depending on my time, energy, and financial situation.

 

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My garden doesn’t look like the other gardens in this neighborhood.  That’s what John said, and I consider that a compliment, because who really needs another boring suburban garden, all symmetrical and defined by clumps of liriope with measured distances between them?  We are going for the wild look here.

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If you want to read more of my gardening posts, visit these links:

In the Garden

In the Garden II

 

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So, a few weeks ago I was telling y’all that I once had planned to write a blog called “Walking in Knoxville,” and that I planned to incorporate that idea into this blog, because eclectic.  I had really meant to chronicle each or my walks separately, but I’ve been walking so much (about which more later) that I had to choose between walking and writing.

What I have therefore decided to do instead is to share pictures and descriptions of several walks at once.  Knoxville readers may learn about some new places to visit.  The rest of you can enjoy the view (and see why Knoxville is such an awesome place to live!).

I want to keep walking regularly and I don’t want to get bored, so Emily and I have been walking somewhere different every time we go.  Since we live in Northwest Knox County, that’s mostly been in West Knoxville, just because it takes too much time to drive elsewhere on a weekday. (Yes, it seems ridiculous to me also that we drive somewhere to walk.  But walking up and down this street and around a couple of cul de sacs is not going to keep me motivated.)

The first five pictures below were taken at The Cove at Concord Park.  It’s pretty there, nice for picnicking, and not bad for walking if you don’t mind retracing your steps (the loop isn’t very long).

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Emily looks out over the water

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Staircase to nowhere – I haven’t researched this place but obviously it was once privately owned

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Snowballs in full bloom

Another day we were aiming for the Parkside Greenway and ended up more or less accidentally walking on the Grigsby Chapel Greenway in Farragut instead.  What a nice surprise!  It’s paved; some of it is wooded; and all of it is beautiful.  It runs through neighborhoods of fancy apartments, upscale condos, and fine homes, many with gardens right by the trail.  One part of it is specifically set aside to showcase native trees.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures that day, though, because I was worn out!  Because we got on this trail by accident we did not know that it was over two miles long, and it’s not a loop.  We didn’t make it quite to the end due to fear of storms.  We are going to park at St. John Neumann (below) one day next week and finish it up.  That was another special feature of this trail–it goes right past a prayer path/garden which was a nice detour for us.
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If you are a Knoxvillian who enjoys walking at all, you won’t need me to tell you about the park pictured below.  Lakeshore Park may be the most popular place in Knoxville, with its 2.5 mile (I think) paved loop trail that offers river views on one side and children playing baseball on the other.  If you aren’t from Knoxville you might be interested to know that this park is on the former grounds of an insane asylum, and most of its buildings remain (it having been still in use as a psychiatric inpatient facility until very recently).

I’m not as fond of this walk as so many others seem to be because it has killer hills.  Also I’m just tired of it.  But it’s a reliable option for people who are not so easily bored.

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Much prettier but not as practical for serious fitness buffs is Melton Hill Park, which I had visited earlier on that same day. (Yes, I did walk about four miles that day!) Well, to be fair, the paved loop isn’t very interesting, but there are two miles or so of trails through the woods.  We only attempted a bit of that, and will return when hills and climbing seem less daunting (actually, that’s already getting better!).

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Overlooking the Clinch River

 

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Redbuds by the river

 

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Start of one of the wooded trails

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Wildflowers

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Another visitor to the park

 

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On another day, we hit the tried and true Third Creek Trail, known to those of us growing up in the 70s as “The Bike Trail.”  Yes, it was the one and only back in the day, and is still both immensely popular and one of the best, winding along Third Creek through forests of hardwood and bamboo, connecting Bearden to Tyson Park and connecting with the Neyland Greenway to make a path for walking all the way to downtown and the river.

We parked at the Bearden end of the trail, which is accessible in several locations, and since we didn’t have time to do the whole thing, took the spur up to Kingston Pike and walked back along the road, getting a nicer view of the churches and fine homes that line it than is available while whizzing by at 40 miles an hour.

I’ll no doubt revisit this old favorite many times this summer and perhaps post more pictures since I didn’t take too many that day.  One thing I especially love is that there are blocks places naming the people who granted the land for each section of the trail, giving a little glimpse into Knoxville history as you walk along.

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A bird nesting in a pavilion at one of the trailheads

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Old school playground behind one of the churches–just see all that fun and dangerous stuff outlawed elsewhere!

This next set of pictures were taken at the Turkey Creek Greenway, not to be confused with the one that goes through the Turkey Creek wetland and then runs behind the shopping center next to the Interstate.  This is the one that begins at Anchor Park, a much-enjoyed favorite of ours when the big kids were toddlers–and then crosses Turkey Creek Road to access the neighborhoods on the other side.

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A heron takes flight

 

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Crabapple blossoms

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Glimpse of an old barn

I mentioned the Cove at Concord Park up above, and we’ve also tried the trails at the main part of Concord Park on the other side of Northshore.  There’s nothing paved there, and you have to watch out for bikers, and then there are those pesky hills.  There are several trails to try so we will probably give it another visit when we are in better shape.

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View of the golf course and water near the end of the trail

Finally, we took a quick trip to the other Turkey Creek Greenway, the Knoxville one.  This is a paved trail that runs through a wetland and then along the side of the Interstate.  Talk about extremes.  For you non-Knoxvillians, the greenway is a concession granted by the developers who turned most of the wetland into an upscale shopping/entertainment destination several years back.

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Lately we’ve been walking in South Knoxville and I look forward to sharing those adventures with you too.  Where do you like to walk?  Tell me in the comments!

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