Friday, December 29, 2017

December Sights

It's bitter cold here in Robin's Nest, as is much of the rest of the country. Nothing much is happening out in the garden right now, trust me. But I did capture a few of the last fall highlights out there. These same sights are almost a month gone now.

But that doesn't mean December is drab and boring. Instead of garden flowers, we have holiday decorations to enjoy. I don't actually decorate the outdoors for Christmas especially. Instead I put up winter decorations that will stay up till spring. It's nothing elaborate, just some winter greens in the planters.

Nothing fancy is also the theme for my indoors decorations. Normally we aren't even home for Christmas, so we keep it light and easy. Sometimes we don't even put up a tree, but this year we added a small, real tree.

To fulfill my desire for fancy decorations, I go to public spaces to see them. I let them do all the work, and I do all the enjoying. I checked out a shopping center...

the Franklin Park Conservatory...

and even my church!

Who needs fancy decorations at home when you can just enjoy them elsewhere? Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season, whether home or away!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Fading Fall in November

Oh autumn, please don't go! I must admit, you stayed for an extra long visit this year. But it's never quite enough. Now November is nearly gone, and so are you. It sure was beautiful while you stuck around.

Early in the month, I still had flowers to enjoy. It wasn't very warm, but many of my flowers didn't care. They enjoyed the cool weather, and put out fresh blooms. There were even a few butterflies hanging around!

But then the hard frosts arrived. The flowers weren't impressed, but the foliage began to put on a show.

Soon, it got colder still. The trees were mostly bare. Finally there was only these last few flowers.

At the end of it all, I know the pear tree will finally put on a last hurrah. Then I know you're really gone. We had an extra nice visit this year, didn't we? I'll miss you till next year! Tell your brother Winter to be gentle on us this year, would you please?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Sumac and Sassafras

Autumn! Now there’s a season to be loved. Many people declare autumn to be their favorite season, and you could certainly put me in that camp. But this year, it’s practically making me giddy. And I’m not exactly sure why. I just know that I have to be a part of it. I need to see the colors, and decorate for it, and burn pumpkin candles, and just generally enjoy this beautiful season.  I’m determined to grab every minute of fall before it fades away.

I find that autumn makes me restless. I have to go out and explore Mother Nature to fully enjoy it all. It might start with a walk at one of my favorite Metroparks, Blacklick Woods. If I go early enough in the season, I know I’ll see monarchs nectaring there before heading south to Mexico.

Then I may need to see the autumn displays at Franklin Park Conservatory.

And for sure there will be several trips to Chestnut Ridge. If the colors aren’t at peak on the sweetgum trees there, I’ll have to come back again later. Because I just have to see their crazy kaleidoscope display. As you can see, they weren’t quite ready this day. I’ll return again soon.

If I’m really lucky, I’ll be able to include a journey “home” in the fall. Home to me is a small beachy town on the shores of Lake Michigan called St. Joseph. This year, I was that lucky, and I managed to hit peak color season in southwest Michigan.

In my memories of autumn there back in the day, every fall was drenched in red, yellow, orange, purple, and green. You know how your remembrances can play tricks on you, and exaggerate the reality? Well, my memories didn’t lie to me this time. It was every bit as magical as I remembered.

One of my stops in the area always has to be Fernwood Botanical Gardens. I've never met a botanical garden that I didn't love, but this one is particularly special to me because my grandmother loved it so, along with my mother. Now it's special because I always share it with a dear friend. We find "our" pair of Adirondack chairs, and sit there sharing our lives with each other. Silly me, why didn't I photograph the chairs themselves? Next time.

But it’s always the sumac and sassafras I remember most. These two plants provide a large part of the color show that I love so much. It’s how I know that I’m home. I’m sure they grow in Ohio too, but not so profusely. Once I see the sumac growing enmasse along the highway, I sigh deeply. Have you ever pulled a sassafras leaf from the tree, and chewed the stem? It tastes a bit like root beer. My mother taught me this as a little girl.

If you’re really lucky, you can go home again.