Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Tables

I wish you could have been at the Master Gardeners' holiday party last night.  We had great food, great fellowship, and a great table decoration competition.  It's so much fun to get to socialize with the spouses of our members, too.  Several people were shocked to learn that my dear husband actually exists!

Here are a couple of photos of the tables that Julie sent me.  Neither of these was a winner, can you imagine?

Here's hoping that we all have joyful holidays, safe travels, and time for family and friends.  I'm going to take off from posting until after the new year, so see you then!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lifelong Learning at Meeman

Dorothy C. King Hall - the Meeman Center's home

Because it's not all about gardening (gasp!), I want to tell you about a wonderful community of learners in Memphis.  The Meeman Center for Lifelong Learning, across from the Rhodes College campus on University, is one of those places that quickly becomes a second home for anyone interested in continuing their education.

The classes are small and participation is encouraged, but not required.  The format for most of the classes is this:  three to eight weekly sessions, from 5:30 to 7:30 with a break (and wonderful refreshments provided by the Meeman.)  An instructor from the Rhodes academic staff leads each class, so you get the advantage of some of the best minds in their fields.

The courses are varied, as you would expect from a liberal arts university, so there's sure to be something that will pique your interest.  Most of us Meemanites have the difficult problem of narrowing our choices!  After all, there are only so many days in the week!

The Spring 2013 course schedule is online now.  You can also request a free catalog at this link. Take a minute and peruse the classes and consider joining one.  I guarantee you'll be so glad you did.

Here are some of the classes I'm interested in this semester:

Lore of Literature
Constitutional Controversies
As You Like It
Hilary Mantel
Anna Karenina
Search for Values

So many good opportunities, so little time!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Quilt Squares

I promised to post pictures of the quilt squares that my neighbors in North Carolina have made and put on their houses.  But when I went back through my photos, I discovered that they were not good enough to give you a good picture (as it were.)  We're going there for Christmas, so I'll take some better  photos and post them later.

Are you familiar with quilt squares?  They're large paintings of quilt motifs that appear on barns in rural areas of the country.  North Carolina has several quilt trails and it's fun to drive through the countryside and locate them.  Middle Tennessee has one, as does the Upper Cumberland and East Tennessee.  Arkansas has a different version, with full size quilts photographically applied to vinyl and mounted on the sides of buildings.  I couldn't find one in West Tennessee - what's up with that?

I made a quilt square for my house there.  You can read about it here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

It hasn't been such a good week.  I have a bad cold, I had to miss a party I was really looking forward to, and the Christmas cards I ordered have gone into deliveryland limbo.  So forgive me for slacking off a little.  I hope to do better next week.

Here's a article from the great folks at America's Test Kitchen about using dried herbs.  Since fresh herbs from my new bed are still just a glimmer in my eye, this will help tide me over!

Monday, December 10, 2012


The Crossnore Labyrinth (source)

Did you read Felder Rushing's column on Friday?  I love labyrinths.  There's a large one in Crossnore, NC that I visited one day with a group of my Blowing Rock neighbors.  We made a day of the trip and viewed the Ben Long fresco, visited the gorgeous Presbyterian church, the weaving rooms at Crossnore, and the shops there.  We had lunch and we walked the labyrinth on the grounds of the Crossnore School.  (This is a wonderful residential school for children in need - read about it here.)  Our special purpose in walking the labyrinth was to hold up our friend, Debbie, who was undergoing treatment for breast cancer at the time.  The good news is that Debbie recovered and her health is fine.  Ironically, one of our group, Martha, died six months later from breast cancer that was diagnosed too late.

Martha was a great lady, a prolific and thoughtful reader, a fabulous gardener, art collector, and hostess.  I still miss her.  Remembering the wonderful day we had at Crossnore, I located a small clearing on my property and determined to make a labyrinth in her memory.

For Christmas that year I asked for a labyrinth design from The Labyrinth Company. (You can certainly lay one out by yourself; I just found this to be much easier, though more expensive.)  I chose the Mini ClassicalTM from their Garden TemplatesTM designs.

Mini Classical
I had a small area and, after some clearing, this one fit perfectly!  We leveled the area as best we could (lots of roots!) and spread a layer of builders sand.

Then we laid out the template.

Each of the sheets is marked with its position and the labyrinth lines are printed on.  You basically match up the lines and secure the sheets, which are landscape fabric, to the ground with u-shaped pins.
Then you start laying whatever border material you've chosen.  We decided on stacked stone.

This clearing is in the midst of pine trees and rhododendron, so I just went to Lowe's and bought several bales of pine straw for path cover.  Here are my handyman, Sherman, and his helper laying the straw.

And here it is, finished:

We had a dedication ceremony and invited our neighbors.  I had a sign made up for "Martha's Walk" and we took a few moments to remember and reminisce about her.

The labyrinth is at the back of our property and is used by our friends and neighbors for quiet meditation.  Sherman built some steps from the street on that side so that folks can come enjoy the quiet without walking through the backyard, which I felt might make some people uncomfortable.

Every time we're in Blowing Rock, I spend time in the labyrinth.  I especially like to be there early in the morning as the sun comes up.  It fills my heart.

I have to tell you a funny story about Sherman.  He has a gravelly voice and a slow, mountain drawl.  As we left the stone company after choosing the stone, he said (and I wish you could hear this), "Suzanne, you need to save your receipts so you can deduct this on your income taxes."  Ever being the CPA, I replied, "No, Sherman, this is a personal item.  I can't deduct it."  He thought for a minute, then said, "Then give them receipts to me - I'll use 'em!"

Where are your favorite labyrinths?  Let me know in the comments.  In my next post, I'll tell you about my neighborhood's quilt squares!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Garden Mums

I admit it:  every year I plant pretty mums in the fall and every year about this time I pull them up and pitch them in the trash.  But this year, I want to try to keep them.  What to do?

My research reveals that it seems pretty simple.  Just cut the plants to ground level and cover with a mulch of leaves until spring.  Lord knows I have enough leaves, except I think I'm going to use mulch for aesthetics.

The only thing is, I'm cautioned to plant "garden mums," not "pot mums."  Well, those labels are long gone!  So we'll just have to wait and see.

Have you done anything else?  Were you successful?

So this is funny.  While I was doing this cutting back, I saw this wonderful leaf.  Wow, I said, that's perfect.  So I snapped this photo.  Then I decided to take it inside and put it on my kitchen window and discovered - it's silk!  It must have fallen off of my fall door decoration!  No wonder it was perfect.