Tuesday, June 9, 2009

North Carolina Bloggers on My Mind

Well, I must say it is great to be home again but boy did we have fun! All of us-even the Jimster and Mr. Fix-it. Many of you have asked me to post some pictures of our blogging friend's gardens and I am here to comply-in a way. Yesterday I posted a picture of two special flowers, one from Cameron's garden, and one from Helen's garden. In today's post I will share the most special flowers in the gardens-Cameron and Helen themselves! (Plus one picture of each garden)

First of all let me say that our visit to see Cameron and Helen was pretty short notice. I found out the day prior to our departure that Mr. Fix-it's car interests would take us close to the Raleigh area; which was close to both Cameron and Helen. I quickly emailed both of them and asked if we could meet somewhere, maybe even the JC Raulston Arboretum. They both were most excited and invited us to their homes! Hey, I'd much rather see their gardens than the arboretum any day but don't you tell anyone that okay? Mum's the word! We did not have time to visit any other North Carolina bloggers, perhaps next time.

It takes a special person to trust a complete stranger enough to invite them and their family to their homes. I am always heartened when folks do this for me and my family. I guess we are not complete strangers since we talk on the blogs, but you know what I mean. Meeting other bloggers might not be for everyone, but given a chance and an opportunity I have no qualms with at least asking to meet someone, and I have been very blessed to have positive responses from all the bloggers I've contacted. I've taken to putting asterisks next to the names of bloggers I've met so I can keep track. Ha! No, I don't really need to do that, but now you know why you have an asterisk next to your name if you've ever wondered. I got this trick from Annie in Austin. So, on to the visits!
We'll start with Cameron because her home was the first stop on our travels to the Raleigh area in North Carolina. First of all, I love the name Cameron and had really gotten used to calling her Cameron. She has posted about her name before and most folks know it is Freda. Do you know how it is pronounced? I didn't but do now. It is pronounced Fred-a. As in Fred with an a on the end. A very nice name. I remember another name I did not how to pronounce and it was Faire Garden. I always had thought it was pronounced Fair-ee Garden, but found out that no, it is pronounced Fair Garden. A common mistake I think and one easily made on blogs. Another reason to meet the real person if you ask me.

We had excellent directions to Cameron's home, but I tell you as soon as we rounded the corner of the road no directions were needed as I had seen Cameron's home situated in its lovely cottage garden many times on her blog, Defining Your Home and Garden. I knew right away we had arrived. Mr. Fix-it was still busy checking the street address though. Just like a man!

I took several photos. I was most impressed by the crytomeria (I hope that is what it is as I always get confused on the crytomerias and chaemocyparis) gracing the garden, as well as all the butterflies and bees, but truly loved the textures, all the plants, and how they flowed together in a liquid manner. Here is one photo I took from the garden. It shows the crytomeria, along with creeping Jenny, cotoneaster, and what I think is calla lilies? (Help Cameron) This picture was taken by the waterfall; which is the beginning of the long stream Cameron has in her garden. It had a lovely sound!When we arrived we were greeted by Cameron, Charm (her beautiful and ever so sweet greyhound) and Cameron's husband. They were a delightful family and great hosts. We had such a good time! And yes, her garden is everything and more that you see on her wonderful blog. It was alive with bees, butterflies and all sorts of wildlife. It was truly an awesome sight. The trickle of the stream in the background added to the ambiance and really made us feel like we were in a wildlife refuge. It was most wonderful and well designed. We all loved it and so enjoyed our visit we may have to make another one! Are you listening Cameron? The problem with garden visits, is you only get a snapshot in time. I suspect Cameron's garden is abuzz with life all year and it would be great to see it again. Thank you so much from our family to you, your husband and sweet Charm for hosting us!
Helen is the second blogger on our visit. She lived a bit further away and more in town. Helen and I have been talking for quite a while and in fact, she is the one who encouraged me (with a slight kick in the you know what) to hang out my shingle and get busy as a garden coach. I will forever be grateful to her as it is a perfect match for me. I think Mr. Fix-it is quite happy too that someone got me motivated to get out and work. He is a bit puzzled as to why anyone would pay for gardening help. We are both garden coaches, me a fledgling one that has emailed Helen too many times to count asking her all sorts of things most professionals don't talk about, and she an experienced one who is active at the JC Raulston Arboretum. She has always been supportive and helpful and really a blessing. If you need a mentor in gardening, she is the go to gal.

Helen has already posted about visit our visit, so go see her here
and say hello if you've not already. Her garden was truly a wonder. Anyone who hires Helen gets their money's worth. Like with Cameron's home, I needed no street numbers to recognize the house and garden. We were warmly greeted by Helen and her three wonderful children. They were just too cute! Jimmy surely thought the oldest daughter was most cute too.
Helen showed us around her garden and Mr. Fix-it followed along in tow. He usually does not do this but was most interested to hear about the plants. I was a bit shocked but enjoyed him coming along. The first plant that caught my eye was a huge (like 20 foot tall) windmill palm. I could not believe it! It was sited on the south side of her home along a chimney and was ever so cool. I failed to snap a picture of it. (You never really know how folks feel about others taking pictures so I waited to ask her and then forgot to go back. Thank goodness Helen sent me a photo!) This palm was simply spectacular. It fit in well with the Southern Magnolia sited close by. I loved it. The garden had so many rooms, styles, and love that you could see the hard work in every nook and cranny. I was truly amazed. Helen also had many specimen plants. She is modest with her plants too but let me tell you, she has many rare and awesome plants in her garden that are very happy with her tender loving care. Thanks so much for having us over Helen and tell those kids they were awesome!

Let me close with saying that I was so truly honored to get personal private tours of these two most special bloggers' gardens. Both of their gardens amazed me, not so much for the designs and plants, but for the gardeners themselves. Anyone who has a garden knows they are not easy to take care of, but it is something we do because we love the work and the feeling of nurturing a garden. It is so clearly evident how much these two gardeners loved their gardens and poured their hearts out into them that I was touched.

The first picture is of myself and Cameron. We are sitting on her front steps so as to not show my big hips. The second picture is of Helen and I. We should've been seated there as well so she does not look like two feet taller than me! I really did look for a step stool but there wasn't one to be found.

Okay, now on the the plant identification. Did you guess them? Was it fun or hard? I must know so give me some constructive feedback. I thought this would be a good way to share Cameron's and Helen's gardens with you and I hope they don't mind.

Here are the answers:

Cameron's Plant (the first one): Common Name: Sweet Bay Magnolia, Latin Name: Magnolia virginiana.

Helen's Plant (the second one): Common Name: Bears Breeches; Latin Name: Acanthus spinosa. (This particular beauty is named 'Summer Beauty' and is a cross between spinosa and mollis. I accepted either name for the Latin name.)

The two recipients of marker stones are: Drumroll please..........

Sweetbay and Janet at Queen of Seaford. Congrats to you both!

Only two other folks emailed me with guesses on the plants. They are Karen at Greenwalks, and Barry. Thanks! It occurred to me that maybe the plants were too hard, or that folks were afraid to email me because I might send unwanted emails. I totally understand this, but let me assure you, I don't earn money from my blog (probably dumb), and I'm not selling anything so don't worry about soliciting emails from me-ever. I'll be giving away more marker stones most likely in September at our two year Blogiversary so there will be another chance to have your very own.

in the garden....

P.S. The daylily pictured above is growing in Helen's garden. It was the biggest daylily I'd ever seen. Helen said it opened just for me-I'd like to think so.


  1. Tina,

    My husband, Charm and I were delighted to have you and your family visit with us. If only we'd had more time to chat! I'm glad my husband was home so that he and yours had a good time talking. Charm thought Jimmy was just THE BEST guest -- she is an attention hound! :-)


  2. A wonderful post! So nice to meet other bloggers.
    Bear britches! I'll have to add that to the list!
    Any advice on gourds, mine will be in the soil 3 weeks on sunday, no show yet, all 17 seeds. Take awhile?

  3. Cameron, I agree on the chatting time. Time on visits passes SO quickly. A weird thing. If you guys ever come this way do come and visit us all as we'd love to have you. Thanks so much for inviting us!

    Dawn, Your gourd seed are goners, replant them right away. They should not take that long to come up. Maybe birds ate them. I just went thru the same with sunflower seeds. Grrrr! Plant lots-about 3 each hole and then thin. Not too late I think. Next year maybe start inside since you have the spot now. Bears breeches is cool indeed. And we had the best time visiting!

  4. Should I of soaked them? The back of the packet said to soak for 24 hours, maybe the rotted. Do you do this with yours? I don't want to repeat the same mistake.

  5. I've never soaked mine before but gourds do need heat to germinate. The soil was probably too cold. Try starting them on your deck in the sun where you can watch them and if possible, put some bottom heat to them. Even on the top of the fridge is good. Have you planted cukes? I've not planted mine yet, but gourds should grow like the cukes.

  6. What a wonderful post! How nice that you got to meet them! I'm sure their gardens are fabulous. I'm always just a little intimidated when people see ours. I know we work very hard in our garden, but good gracious, some of these gardens are living masterpieces. I had no idea what the plants were in your challenge, I learned something. :-)

  7. Tina, that was most enjoyable. People develop wonderful friendships thru blogging. We find we all have so much in common. It's really too bad about the distance that separates most of us.

  8. Great post! I loved the peak into their gardens. It's wonderful that you can recognize someone's just from the unique landscaping! Hope you had a lovely vacation!

  9. I think it's great that you got to visit other bloggers like that. Sounds as tho their gardens were ever so lovely.
    I've heard of the 2 plants but had never seen the second one in bloom. I suspected the first one was some kind of magnolia. We have the Bay here that looks like a magnolia. I believe they do grow wild.

  10. Hey Tina,
    I enjoyed your visit very much. It is always educational to see one's garden through others eyes. You got me looking at things I've taken for granted or never really stopped to see. The daylily is a good case in point. I measured it - a whopping 9 inch spread - or 40% bigger than the mondo photo you have!

    As kicking in the you know what goes, you also listened to me as well and hopefully this year I will have my book, Gardening With Confidence, written. We all need encouragement; that's where our trusty friends come in. Thanks! H.

  11. You luck gardener! Both gardeners sound like the gracious folks I thought they would be...I totally agree with Marnie, we have made good friendships and it's too bad we all live so far apart. We need a southeaster garden bloggers meet up! gail

  12. Sounds like a good time was had by all, I am green with envy of all the blogger meet-ups. It does sound like fun if you all lived nearer each other but then it would not be as special when you do have a meeting. I agree that bloggers are the best!!!

  13. How fun to meet both of them. It sounds like you had a great time. I hope you will make your way out here sometime, I want to meet you and have an asterisk by my name :)
    Congrats to you winners! I knew the Bears Breeches, but not the other one.

  14. Dear Tina, your posts about the visits are just the best in the world. Any blogger should be thrilled if they get the message from you that a visit might be planned. You are a brave explorer in the universe of blogging, meeting so many people, and not all at once like the flings, but in their gardens. How fitting that Sweetbay knew the Sweet Bay too!

  15. Oh what fun it is to meet other garden bloggers! And a bonus to meet them in their gardens! I know it is such a treat every time I go to Tina's garden as I spot something new and different with each visit. But the over all visit to the Gardener is the best treat of all! Am glad you all were able to meet up with a short notice...

    Ah, congrats to Sweetbay and Janet as the winners of the markers! Just as Lola, I was thinking that the first pic resembled a magnolia and now I know it was a magnolia just not the one I am use to seeing. What a fun contest...

  16. How nice you could meet up and get a personal tour Tina. Other gardeners are so nice and I love seeing a garden, no matter whose. If you're ever in Colorado, you're welcome to visit me!!!

  17. Jamie and Randy, Yes, you said it so well. The intimidation factor. That is why it is even more special when someone invites you to their garden. I could almost never imagine telling someone no to visiting my garden so I just assume everyone is the same way, but it is not so. And trust me, my garden is different so you'd think I'd be afraid to share it-but now. The love of the garden is the same no matter the garden style, type or plants. It is always always about the plants and the gardener and not the design, or look or style. At least in my humble opinion. I hope if I ever get there you'll let me visit your wonderful garden.

    Marnie, Yes, the distance is a shame. But you know this Internet is so great that it does in some small way bring us together. I enjoy it very much and getting to know all of you!

    Lzyjo, It was a fun vacation. Most relaxing. Thanks!

    Lola, It was most fun indeed. Yes, both plants are known but I had never seen them. The first one does grow wild! But still I haven't seen it:( It is lovely and the second one most neat for sure.

    Helen, Yes indeed! We do sometimes overlook our smallest things and it is so neat to see what means the most to other gardeners when they come to the garden. That daylily was amazing. I also liked the butter and eggs ones. I saw them all along the highway and I must say NC highways are most attractive. Way better than Tennessee's since there are not as many planted highways. Get to work now! I'm looking forward to a signed copy of the book!

    Gail, Yes indeed. A southeaster garden blogger meet up would be fun. Nothing big or spectacular. Helen and Cameron may both make it here. You'd love them! I know many would be interested. We might need to work on that! Nothing big mind you.

    Mom, Yes, bloggers are pretty special indeed! Gardeners all across the world are pretty great! We had a good time.

    Catherine, Oh yes! I will for sure be emailing you!

    Frances, And you are the first blogger I visited and met and who invited us to your wonderful garden. It was great fun for all of us. I still smile when I remember Jimmy's comment when he saw all the plants. I must say the onesies and twosies are pretty good but I'd have enjoyed Spring Fling very much too.

    Skeeter, It seems the contest was a bit hard. Well it was bound to be since these plants were even unfamiliar to me. I thought it would be a nice way to share the gardens with you all. Look for the sweet bay. A native tree that does self seed. I believe it is evergreen too. Not as flashy as Southern Magnolia. The leaves a bit duller and grayer and the flowers smaller. But ever so lovely. The bears breeches is a neat plant too. And speaking of visits, how is your banana? I have tons here and they are growing by the inch as we speak.

  18. Yes, my cukes are in, and coming up, everything is coming up except the lettuce, spinach and the last round of beans, we finished these on Sunday. No gourds thou, I picked up another packet, I think your right, too cold. :?(
    Lots of rain today.

  19. Oh, and you'll excuse my French, poopers! I've been working on an email, but I only knew the second plant. Missed the part about the deadline... oh well! Am glad to know the first is a magnolia.

  20. Tina, what an amazingly wonderful post! Always love to read all about your meetings with garden bloggers...so engrossing that I didn't want it to end!! From your descriptions I can imagine how lovely the gardens must be!

  21. Great post Tina, I too, always enjoy reading when you meet someone and post about it. It just sounds so exciting to be able to meet all of these people and sneak a peek at their gardens!
    I'm hoping to drive up north to one of the SAGBUTT meetings in Seattle since they have them during the day. Of course I won't get to see their gardens but meeting and visiting with them should be a real treat!

  22. As I have said before, meeting other bloggers is a lot of fun. I envy you getting to meet two! Thanks so much in advance for the maker stone. I may save it for our new place...keep it clean until then--or not, either way it is coming with us.
    Think we Southern bloggers should find a place to get together-- sort of like Linda and the SAGBUTT group (though I think we need a name that is more flattering! ;-) Sorry SAGBUTTers.)

  23. Hi Tina~
    What a treat this trip must have been for you! Both gardens sound incredible! I just looked at all of the asterisks on your blog list, how fortunate for you to have met so many fellow bloggers. I have met one blogger in person, in my tent at a local craft show, it really was delightful.

  24. Hi Tina, I'm so glad you enjoyed your visits to Helen & Cameron's gardens. That's nice that you were able to see them on such short notice. I was going to email you the answers but decided I already had one of your handmade markers. :)

  25. Sounds like you had a great visit. It is so nice that you got to meet them in person.

    Always Growing

  26. Looks like you had a great visit, Tina! Seeing these two gardens must have been quite a treat.

    I realized when I saw your new posting today that I completely forgot about researching those two plants! Oh well, I probably wouldn't have figured out what they were anyway. Congrats to Sweet Bay and Janet--I know they will enjoy their new garden markers.

  27. How nice that you were able to visit your garden blogging friends!

  28. That was so hospitable of the bloggers to have you over. Sounds like a lovely visit. Of course, after reading your blog, I doubt either of them would have considered you a stranger!

  29. Sounds you had wonderful visits with Cameron and Helen. How nice! Thank you so much for the marker.

  30. Nice to meet you, Cameron and Helen. I must go check out your blogs, now! It must be great to see gardens in person that you'd previously admired only "virtually"! The bloggers themselves, too.

  31. Tina, no banana tree. Sigh, I think the soggy ground rotted the young root ball. On a happy note the other banana we had, did well over winter in a pot in the sunroom so it has now been planted in the yard in a new planter that I will post about this weekend. Good thing I did not pot your banana in the house or I would have been infested with roly poly bugs. LOL… Save me another baby as I do want to try this again.

  32. Tina,
    Should you ever find yourself in Central Alabama you are always welcome to visit our garden. :-)--Randy

  33. What a wonderful post, Tina! I think it's funny that you could find the locations even without the map, just by remembering what they look like from the blogs. Who needs a GPS device or Mapquest with a memory and attention to detail like you have?

  34. North Carolina seems to have the ideal climate for gardening. The gardeners there seem to be able to grow a bit of everything.
    What a treat to get to see in person gardens you've come to know through blogs.

  35. Thanks everyone for your nice comments. Blogging is a really wonderful way to meet other like minded folks and I do enjoy it all! It may not be for everyone though so keep that in mind.

    All marker stones are made. Don't worry folks, I'll do it again in September if you did not get one this time around.

  36. I loved hearing about your visit. All the bloggers I've met here in the UK seem like old friends - I guess because we have so much in common. If any of you Tennessee folks are ever passing through London, just let me know!