Archives for March 2014

Hellebores: They Can Stay a Little Longer


None of my lenten roses are special cultivars. They’re just seedlings of half a dozen plants I bought years ago. Over time, they’ve cross-pollinated and spread all over the garden. They’ve loved the rich soil here and have become so plentiful they’re verging on being intrusive and unwelcome. Last fall, I decided to select the white ones and those that were extraordinary or bright-hued, then give the rest away.

After the rough winter we’ve had, with camellia buds and other flowers stunted, I’m wavering on my plan. Hellebores are one of the few things in bloom now. From a distance, they play a subdued, but welcome, role in the landscape.

Up close, the flowers of lenten rose are anything but low-key. Variations in color and reproductive parts make me marvel at nature’s complexity. Still…. I need to make room for other things. Maybe things that won’t deposit hundreds of seedlings on the paths leading through the woods.



Hinoki falsecyress: It’s cold out here. Let me in!

One evening recently, I was startled to see the Hinoki falsecypress pressing its branches against the window, as if to say, Let me in please! Maybe it was how the light reflected on the panes, but the tree seemed to have moved closer to the house since I looked out earlier that day.

Now, the snow is gone and the falsecypress appears to have resumed its place against the stone wall behind.

Have patience, little tree. Soon spring will be here and the birds will build nests in your soft, sheltering branches. They’re already scouting for just the right spot.

On Turkeys (and Blogging)


Wild turkeys on a late, Carolina morning

Mom looked out the window last week and saw a flock of wild turkeys picking at the dormant grass in the front yard. The birds were oblivious to the humans standing behind the glass just a few feet away. By the time we’d stopped fiddling with cameras and technical mishaps (dead batteries,etc.), the flock had proceeded to the end of the driveway, just beyond the rough-scaled ‘Heritage’ river birch on their left.

The birds headed across the road to the field (it becomes full of Queen Anne’s lace and sweet peas in summer), then veered toward a dilapidated old barn with a metal roof that threatens to fly off into the sky every time the wind blows hard. As a child, I helped the neighbor boys set up a general store in that little barn. We had old glass bottles, clunky tin cans, and small boxes with lettering muted by dampness from the building’s dirt floor.  I always wanted to be the shopkeeper. The boys bought some of my make-believe groceries and goods to humor me.

*       *       *       *       *

I’ve been a bit of a turkey with my blogging recently — wandering, picking at things, keeping my head low to the ground. Blogging requires commitment and time, and the ante gets upped pretty often, I think. An example is how many photos to provide for a posting. When I write about gardening, I feel compelled to include a lot of images, following the trend.  But it takes a lot of time to sort, re-size, and prepare photos for the web, then write a story, and do the behind-the-scenes work that makes the blog come together technically. Then, every few weeks a new app or social media platform surfaces, compelling bloggers to join in order to be relevant, or searchable, or whatever. So far, I’ve resisted, though I admire those who use those resources well.

For now, I need to be relevant to the social circle that’s in the flesh, needs my help, and doesn’t care if I’m search-engine optimized. In other words, blogging needs to take a back seat to parental and other responsibilities in the coming months.

When Meander Mountain first started, my goal was to have a very simple blog. For each posting, I wanted to show one or two photos that were nature-or-garden-related or that illustrated something  compelling or offbeat about traveling or life in Southern Appalachia (mostly east Tennessee and western North Carolina).  I want to re-commit to that approach, and also post more frequently — just without too many shoulds in my brain.

Too, I want to reach out more, to readers/other bloggers, who have made the past three M. Mountain years so enjoyable and worthwhile. For you, and for those who have made it to the end of this epistle, I am grateful. I look forward to staying in touch!

Cheers — to blogging and to wild turkeys,