Sunday, October 20, 2013

Stepped out back and what did I see?

At least once every Florida gardener has wished for this – a reprieve from gardening for the entire hot summer. Five months off from deadheading, weeding, feeding, tending, culling, digging…and sweating. Five months of letting the garden do its own thing. Five months of only observing. In my case glimpsing was more like it…from a distance, in the dark, never stopping let alone bending over and touching. Five months of being incapable of caring how it looked for fear of that proverbial straw on the camel’s back. Five months ago yesterday I got that reprieve. Five months ago my mad dash down the rabbit hole began, and the garden was left to fend for itself alone. Five months that now feel blurred in my memory even though a week ago they were precisely and seemingly indelibly etched there. Can this mean that the memories of hemorrhagic stroke, emergency rooms, ICUs, urinary tract infections, sepsis, altered mental status, meds and more meds, dysphagia, G-tubes, Parkinson’s, EMTs, rehabs, hospitals, et al, will be supplanted by weeds and roses and hydrangeas? May I say that I hope so?

For almost two weeks now DH and I have been back in our home, and though not without new fears and concerns, we are settling into a routine. We’re nothing if not adaptable. Maybe that explains the extra room in my brain now for non-medical stuff, for grabbing my phone (not my DSLR – no room for that yet) and tiptoeing into the no-man’s-land that is my back garden to snap some quick pics; extra room for withstanding the fear of stepping through knee-high weeds in the paths (fear takes up lots of space!), room for feeling the elation of plants that survived and for accepting the loss of others that didn't. A spacious mind is a luxurious, peace-inducing thing. Mine had closed in on me as if someone had attached the vacuum hose to it, leaving me with this teensy space only big enough to hold DH. We’ve all heard of coping mechanisms. Well, I’m living proof that they work. They are those survival skills I didn’t know I had that my heavenly Designer had built into me, the ones that prevent you from dissolving into a puddle on the floor.

At this point I’d like to write a paragraph expounding on how all that’s behind me now, over and done, but I’ve learned that life’s not like that. I guess you could say I’m gun-shy, and why the heck not? Nothing is like it was – except for the love; everything is different – except for his heart (and His heart); we’ll never do the same stuff – except for the laughing and the loving; and there’s this new specter of an expiration date stamped on every day, though less noticeable than not long ago. More unsettling is that I’m different…deep inside where everything used to be pat and forever settled. Plain and simple, I got shook, and I don’t like it. I don’t like distrusting my God. I don’t like flinching as though I’m about to be back-handed…again. I don’t like it, and I pray He’ll fix me... soon.

Now it's Sunday morning and look what the Lord has done. He's touched my heart with His gentle love and broken the bitterness and melted the ice. Thank you, Lord. This song found me on Facebook.
Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

~ Laura Story Music, "Blessings"
Rom.Sherry at Busch Gardens 1978 (2)

I stepped out into my derelict garden today and Hydrangea macrophylla 'Shooting Star' brightened the day.
I love the color of Hydrangea macrophylla 'Endless Summer'. I'd love to have more, but they've been hard to find for me.
'Shooting Star' has become really large at the end of her second season. I could stand a few more of these, too. This bloom cluster is about ten inches across.
There aren't many flowers in the garden (note to all rose gardeners: not deadheading greatly reduces bloom - like by 90%!), but 'Polonaise' has several buds and a fading flower. Not too shabby.

A no-name rose on Fortuniana that may be 'Intrigue', a supposedly very weak rose (at least around here). She's puny for sure, but she survived a tough first year!
Clematis 'Jackmanii' - not the monster I've read about but not the dog in Florida that I've read about either. His purple perked me up.
Clematis 'Purpurea Plena Elegans' growing on the tripod of 'Nur Mahal'. Didn't look close enough to see how she made out.
The gravel's full of weeds and 'Periwinkle' volunteers.
Apparently, the rest of creation is free of this weed that I noticed today has tiny purple flowers on it, because I can't find it in any Google images. Thankfully, it pulls up pretty easily, and I'll be able to see gravel one day. Notice I didn't say soon.
It is about to overtake 'Mrs. B. R. Cant' between the trees, and I thought sure it had smothered 'Jude the Obscure' that I'd just transplanted days before the stroke. You can see 'Polonaise' at lower left corner. In the purple pot 'Marchessa Bocella' is lookin' quite decent even without a dripper in its pot.
Here's THE WEED. Anyone have an ID? Leaves are about 3" long. I'm just a little curious.
My sweet neighbor's Jasmine is doing wonderfully, isn't it? I usually chop it on my side. The trellis is meant for 'Hyde Hall' and 'St. Swithun', neither have grown much in 5 months but they're not dead either. To the right under that flopped gladiolus and some equally flopped salvia farinacea I found 'Sweet Jessica' that I had just planted.
I couldn't believe it! 'Sweet Jessica' lives!!
Armadillos. At least I didn't have to fight with THEM all summer.
(Left to right) 'Quietness', 'Hot Cocoa' and 'Stephen's Big Purple' - still are the weeds.
THE WEED has taken up residence on the structure of 'Leonie Lamesch'. Didn't look for life in there.
Armadillos have set up housekeeping AGAIN under my bedroom. Back in the early days of my reprieve I could hear - and feel - them banging around under the concrete slab. The azalea is suffering from their digging.
Not much gravel visible, is there? Walking through that stuff gives me the willies.
There really is a 6' wide gravel path to the shed here. And NO, I didn't venture down it.
My pot ghetto is buried in the weeds. Extra pots knocked over. All in all 'Reve d'Or' is quite embarrassed.
'General Gallieni' looking none the worse for wear, waiting patiently for deadheading.
Ha! 'Graham Thomas' is alive!! And bigger than he was!
Miracles DO happen! A slip of a hydrangea plant survived in the pot ghetto (one didn't) along with a couple of roses. Without irrigation, I might add. Five months with only nature's irrigation. Thanks, Lord.
With sadness I tell you that 'Mrs. Henry Morse' did not make it with only rain. She's the offspring of my beloved 'Madame Abel Chatenay' and had arrived from Rogue Valley Roses not long before the stroke. I will definitely try to get her again.
Amazingly, three roses that I had rooted from cuttings from last October's MCRS meeting are still living. I think one is 'Pope John Paul II'. Not sure who the others are.
And look at this little miracle. A clematis from Brushwood Nursery still in its 5" pot.
Another pleasant surprise. Healthy green leaves and a flower bud on 'Moondance', one of last winter's bargains on Dr Huey rootstock.
'Gold Medal' (another Dr Huey bargain) on the left and 'Alexander Hill Gray' on the right, looking much healthier than when I saw him last after struggling through a transplant. It occurs to me that this is a horrible photo but an accurate depiction.
Here's 'Vanity'. I'm really quite glad I missed the summer for this one. Hybrid Musks are enigmas to me. 'Vanity' is all gangly - typical - and I fear I would have been tempted to do something stupid with - or TO him in his first season.
Carol's gift of 'Pat Austin' did not make it without additional irrigation. I always meant to put a micro-head in her pot and had just figured out where to connect it. Now it's too late. She was puny for me but was finally getting stiffer. I loved her orange globular flowers.
Another path overrun with THE WEED and 'Periwinkle' volunteers which by the way hate extra water.
The same weedy path leading from the patio to 'Shooting Star' hydrangea on the left out of frame next to 'Duchesse d'Auerstadt and clematis on the arbor, looking toward 'Gold Medal', 'Alexander Hill Gray', 'Moondance' and 'General Gallieni'. 'Nur Mahal' and Clematis 'Purpurea Plena Elegans' are on the rebar teepee at top right (the rose is not looking too good from here but then it never did, being a Hybrid Musk).
'Shooting Star' flopping on the path along with 'Periwinkle' and THE WEED.
Where's my gray gravel? In the far purple pot 'Rose de Rescht' is still alive, I think. I did always have a little trouble determining evidence of life in that rose.
'Red Drift' on the left may have some life in him behind all those weeds, but I think 'Sweet Chariot' in the orange pot does not.
These faded blooms must be from 'Bonica'. I can't see the actual plant.

Looking to the left from the patio 'Polonaise' is blooming. THE WEED is rampaging. A canna lily from several years ago has sprung to life right where 'Fourth of July' was trying to get started up the arbor. And a marauding vine from the neighbor's yard along with a weed vine have usurped the arbor. We'll see what spring brings for 'Mrs. B. R. Cant' who you can't see between the trees.
Hopefully, everyone likes old photos because I’m about to impose on you all. In December my cutie and I will celebrate 36 years of marriage, so I feel like strolling down Memory Lane. Try counting the decades by the style of my eyeglasses and the absence thereof in favor of contacts in the pre-arthritis years.

Tom.Sherry.1978 Our Wedding Portrait  
Tom.Sherry at SMU Blvd (3)
Tom.Sherry.LA (2)
Tom.Sherry.golfingTom.Sherry.W Wedding     

Sherry_TomTom.Sherry c.2000
He’s such a sweetie-pie!! Today and forever.

Happy autumn gardening to you all!


  1. Oh dear Sherry ~ It is so good to read a post from you. I hope the worst is behind you and your dear husband and that he steadily grows stronger now that he is home.

    May you both feel God's love, peace and healing flowing through and surrounding you.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  2. Benghal dayflower? I have a similar weed, but it must be a different variety as I am in Nebraska. Hope all continues to become better for you and your husband.

  3. Sherry good to see you back...if not back to normal, at least back to where you can even spare a moment for a garden. Your priorities (DH-1, Sherry-2,and garden-3) are in proper order and we'll be glad to hear from you when you can.

  4. Prayers and hugs to you and your DH.
    Gardens can be healing things.I know.I lost my YadBoy this past summer,and my garden helped me thru the worst of it.
    I have the same weed and it is a bear to get a control of.Still working on it.

  5. Glad to see you back, Sherry! You have been in my thoughts. I am glad to hear your DH is back home and I hope he continues to gain strength. Your trip down memory lane was fun to see. You will be amazed how fast the garden can be whipped back into shape - I know, I was away from my garden for almost a year once (pre-blogging days). I am loving your shooting star! And I hope you figure out what The Weed is! I agree with Mel4Cy that it is some kind of dayflower. They are terrible - you must dig out the bulb, too, and they are very opportunistic!

  6. Must be nice being able to garden year round! Ha, here in IL, it's about time to put that stuff away for the season! Glad you're back & your pictures looked great. If you're ever looking for an lawn irrigation system installation, let us know!

  7. I'm happy to see you back Sherry and glad to see that better times are within sight. God bless you and your husband. God is the only thing that will get you through horrible situations.

    Your garden looks pretty good to me. Your hydrangeas look better than mine :) The weather is finally getting nice here in Florida, so if decide you need some garden therapy you should be able to tend the garden without passing out from the heat.

  8. That weed is always in my yard. Be careful, it'll take over. Luckily, it isn't that hard to pull. If you miss any of it, it will come back!
    St. Pete

  9. Thank you for sharing the pictures of you and your hubby! You have both aged well!

  10. I'm so happy to see your post! Your garden is still beautiful...just like humans....I think they can be adaptable and glad life is trying to get to a level of least that is my hope for you....

  11. So glad to see you're back and I do hope that better days lie ahead for you and your DH. Life does have a way of throwing us some unexpected curve balls. The garden will be a healing respite. Loved seeing your photos.

  12. I believe your Weed Friend may be the beautiful but obnoxiously invasive Asiatic Dayflower (or Blue Dayflower), Commelina communis. Do not be lulled into the siren's call of his true blue flower; pull it out as soon as you see it sprout before it blooms. Doing so, will minimize its growth and spread. Fortunately it has shallow roots, so a quick tug will remove it.

  13. Wow, can't believe these garden photos, colorful and myriads of pretty floral plants. They can add a nice touch of winning colors for eyes to enjoy.

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  15. I hope you and your husband are doing well....stopped by to say hello..

  16. Sherry, what a wonderful treat to see a new blog post from you. I remember reading your earlier blogs at a time when I was trying to understand growing roses in Central Florida. Your knowledge has been of such great value to Jan and I. Our garden has grown nicely since you were here last November, you might see yourself in this You Tube video from then.
    As I scroll down the many photos of your garden, several things come to mind. The first is a garden that has been extremely well behaved while on its own. The second is a devoted couple that have evolved and adapted. Some times detours are thrown before us, our adaption to them defines who we are.
    Congratulations on your up coming 36th anniversary,

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