Thursday, May 15, 2008

From the Journal...February 28 2007

Spring is in the air! The temperature is already 70 and its only 10 a.m. – this has been a long winter. I guess I have to admit that the longer I’m in Florida, the longer it's winter seems. We who live here are so used to bright sunshine that the lack of it is depressing for us, making the cold seem colder than it really is I guess. And, I also know that this house makes it harder to weather the dreary winter days because it’s such an old house with all the drafts that come with that status. I live in sweats and socks – me, who never wears closed toes shoes unless I have absolutely no other choice, have to have something on my feet in this house to keep warm. So, I say, come on spring!

I am itching to get out and start the spring pruning, but its too early with too much chance of a later frost so I have to turn my head from the hydrangeas and the hibiscus that have turned brown. I check every morning to see if they are beginning to green again at their bottoms…..the daylilies are blooming and are beautiful, while the snowbells and camellias are finishing their season. I can move those snowbells soon along with a few other winter bulbs that I don’t know the names of.

Those winter bulbs are part of the charm of this old house…..Mr. B. was the gardener according to Mr. and Mrs. S.. Unable to work his fields in the winter, the old farmer turned to flower gardening. The amaryllis (which are also starting to bloom), the snowbells and as I said, the other unknowns, were all planted by him. Mrs. S. talks of years where the ditches surrounding this yard were full of winter blooms, especially the amaryllis.

After his death, his son and his widow let the flowering plantings go; due to health and a lack of interest I believe. R., a landscaper by trade, was like the literal cobbler whose children had no shoes and although I believe they tried to bring back the bulbs, his family didn’t make it a priority (understandable when you realize they could see the stars through the roof of this house when they moved in~).
I love this property! David and I still drive around looking at the old houses in this area and although they may yet own their farmland, or like this one, stand on barely an acre of their original 40 acres, none have the charm and beauty of this "cut-out". I remember that when Cindy T. first saw the house, in the dead of winter, she said that it looked like a postcard, unreal in its beauty. Although the busyness of that time and the charm of the house itself had somewhat blinded me to the merits of the yard, other than the bright red blooms of the camellias in contrast to the surrounding brown of winter, I can totally agree with her after living here for three years.

That first year, I was enamored of the fields that surround us – the beauty of flowering potato plants, the awe of being flown over by crop dusters and witnessing their aerobatics, later the lovely and natural privacy of a seven foot cover crop and the sighting of bulbs that were revealing themselves for the first time in years, gave me a microscopic view of the yard. I think it wasn’t until the second year, when all was somewhat familiar to my eyes that I began to look at it in its totality and realize its unusual beauty.

We were also so deep in the process of making the house “ours” that there wasn’t much time for seeing the yard for its own charms. I remember that I would spend a few days in the house painting and mudding and caulking, and then a day or two reclaiming the neglected gardens. The trees had not been pruned in years, the azalea bushes and camellias had small trees growing up and into them, the bulbs were choked by weeds and wild fern and what may be wild jasmine. The neglect of the yard caused tunnel vision for a time, I saw mostly what needed to be done, not yet the beauty of what was and what had been. But now, with the gardens reclaimed, the ditches cleaned twice a year, we are seeing the traces of what it must have looked like under the care and love of a real gardener…..thank you Mr. B. for the beauty I am surrounded by!

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