Monday, January 24, 2011

Red Brick and Windows


Taken in downtown Columbia SC on Main between Lady and Washington.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Red and Yellow Black and White ( and all combinations thereof!)

On Saturday I did something I had not done in a long time - I went to the mall, as in Four Seasons Town Center, Greensboro. Madeline and I were hanging out and she suggested it. I have to admit that it was kind of fun.

I was surprised at how crowded it was. We had to park way away from the entrance. And it was indeed very full of people. There seemed to be a lot of big post-holiday sales going on, but I then don't really know if that's why it was so crowded.

Madeline disappeared into several stores and I spent a fair bit of time hanging out by the interior railing on the second of the three floors just watching people. I have to say it was an oddly interesting and positive experience. Abd that's coming from a guy who pretty much hates malls.

Both interesting, pleasing and somewhat encouraging was the amazing diversity of the people. I didn't do any counting but the crowd appeared about equal parts White/Caucasian, Hispanic, and African American, with a significant number of Asian - mostly East Asian but lots of folks from the Indian Subcontinent. Some of the "Asian" people looked like maybe they were indigenous people of Central or South America. I guess that is a kind of Asian. Anyway, it was quite the potpourri!

There were very few groups of wandering young males of any color. It appears that the mall staff is working hard to make the place safer and less threatening to its visitors. That is fine by me.

There were all sorts of mixes of family groups - couples, large families, older parents with children and grandchildren, one parent with child, etc. There were lots and lots of kids of all sizes and skin colors - well, actually there were lots of adults of all sizes and skin colors too! There were also many racially mixed couples - pretty much every sort one could think of. People seemed kind of happy and chill and totally unbothered by all the folks of other ethnicities.

I kept thinking of all the stories of how so many of these people from so many places on earth got here. And to think of where we have come in the last four or five decades! I mean, I did not pick up on the slightest tension in the crowd - everyone really seemed so chill and at ease. Wow have we come a long way!

If this is where our nation is heading it is certainly alright with me! There was something in that crowd that seemed to me so quintessentially American it just made me feel good, good about being at the mall that day, and good about our nation.

Thinking (again) of Snow

Zermatt - So Much for Seeing the Matterhorn - March 1978

Zermatt - So Much for Seeing the Matterhorn - March 1978

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Professor Sargent

Professor Sargent Camellia II

Red Professor Sargent Camellias were in full bloom yesterday, January 5, in Columbia, in the Forest Lake area were I was working. This is not a noteworthy photograph. I took it mostly for getting the gist. The particular flower is not as deep red as the variety tends to be, is a tad cold-burnt, and has a glare off the petals from the direct sun.

Professor Sargent is a wonderful old heirloom Camellia variety - kind of peony-like, and perfect as a cut flower.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

January Gardening

I know that January doesn't seem like such a great time to attend to gardening needs, but there really are a lot of things that can be done in January that will both make a difference in the upcoming gardening season and make your garden more attractive right away.

Lest we gardeners feel like we're doing all the work, well...a whole-lot-of work is already being done by plants and bacteria and fungi. Spring gardening can be a lot more productive when we help natural processes along in the Winter and make things ready for a burst of life in the Spring. Better not to have the excitement of Spring ruined by fast growing Wisteria and other vines.

Here are some good things to do in January...

Apply mulch - Mulch regulates soil temperature and moisture and does a great job suppressing weeds. It is often best to apply mulch right on top of leaves and straw since they then provide superb nutrients for your beds.

Get rid of unwanted vines and trees - English Ivy competes with your shrubs for water and food and is easy to remove in the Winter making way for proper bed maintenance in the Spring. Although Wisteria is not an evergreen, it does not hide itself very well. It is is actually easier to track down and get rid of Wisteria's underground runners (and root hubs) in the Winter when access in and out of beds is easier. Green Smilax shoots are easier to see in the winter, and the tubers can removed just as well in January as in July. The bark of Honeysuckle vine is also easier to see in Winter. It can usually be yanked right out of the ground. These three vines are so aggressive that they swarm your other plants in early Spring faster than you can shake a stick. May as well get rid of them now.

Winter is also a good time to remove some of the more common pesky large shrubs and trees such as Cherry Laurel, Ligustrum, Hackberry, Oak, and so forth. Oak saplings normally keep their leaves in the Winter and they just stick right out against the brown background.

Transplant - January is a good time to transplant shrubs and small trees.

Plant - January is a great time to plant a tree!

Clean up - One good thing about winter is that it is easier to see those piles of bricks and concrete or rocks in the back of a bed, old rotted landscaping timbers, or vines wrapped all over a fence or tree trunk. May as well get rid of that stuff while you're noticing it!

Prune and Clip - Obviously January is not the time to prune most flowering plants (best to wait until after they bloom), but it can be a great time to prune tree limbs that are hanging over your shrubs. Plants need fresh air and light.

Winter can also be a good time for neatening up non flowering hedges.

Trim - January is a good time to trim back monkey grass, get rid of the dying stalks and leaves of last year's daylilies, cut back Ginger lilies fallen all over each other, remove old Lantana stems and so forth.

I of course am available for these and other garden tasks. PLEASE feel free to forward this link along to anyone that you think could use my services - Columbia, Greensboro, and other select towns in the Carolinas.



Saturday, January 01, 2011

Madeline and Boots

Boots and Madeline