Azalea Earth Day

Today is Earth Day. Why isn’t every day Earth Day? It should be and maybe already is for some. Ewa from Poland wrote in her blog, Ewa In The Garden, about ecology issues in her post
We Are Drowning-Gardeners Unite . She then went on to post about
how her garden gets greener every year. In keeping with her theme, and because it is Earth Day, we will do some musings about this idea. But to spice things up a bit, there will be some (surprise!) Azalea photos to keep the gentle readers from losing focus. Not that any readers would do that, but we needed an excuse to show how the azaleas are coming along. Above, Rhododenron ‘Arneson’s Gem’.

This is our first harvest from the season of food.
Click here to read about our decision to grow more edibles in the garden this year. We feel that growing your own food is a good way to help the environment and benefit your palate at the same time. No insect poisons are used here on any plantings, food or ornamental. Black Kow brand composted cow manure in a bag was added to our chocolate cake soil in the new veggie area for some additional nutrients.
Yolanda Elizabet of Bliss showed us how to make a
radish sandwich in her post about food from her garden. We only had a salad with our lettuce, spinach, radishes and chives, but it was mighty tasty.

While you gaze at a close up of R. ‘Cannon’s Double Yellow’, I will tell you of the tale of my letter to the editor of our local newspaper several years ago. We had moved to Texas from Tennessee then and liked to keep up with the news of our former town by reading the paper online, especially the editorial page. Astonishingly, on Earth Day of that year, the editor wrote his piece about how Earth Day was a bunch of hooey. I am paraphrasing here. As sometimes happens, that lit my fuse, and I composed a serious word lashing on the subject ending with a big “Shame on you”. I knew the editor personally, and was aghast that he had taken that stand. The letter was published, but I never knew if there was any feedback from the general readership. But my opinion was expressed anyway.

We have only a very tiny bit of lawn, the rest of the property is garden. I had to buy a new electric lawnmower this year to replace the little electric model that we had used for more than ten years. You can read about that
here. Having less lawn is a good way to help the environment and yourself. Having less lawn or none means less work mowing, if that is all you do to your lawn, or less adding of fertilizer and other products to make it grow faster so you will have to mow more often, and allows for more space for gardens.

While watching a show on HGTV recently, they were ‘going green’ in the home. Mentioned as ways to turn your home into that color were things that our family has always done, they just didn’t have that title. Using every bit of every thing, not wasting electricity or anything else was considered being thrifty, not green. Same idea, different moniker. They even mentioned having furniture passed down from older generations as recycling. This sort of talk presented as new ideas seems somewhat too trendy for this to be taken seriously. Is that wrong?
Above is R. ‘Golden Lights’. I don’t remember it being so pink last year, but this is an enchanting color. Maybe it will fade to a more golden yellow. Or not.

A close up shot of an evergreen azalea, R. ‘Pride of Mobile’. If any of you know how people from Tennessee feel about their University of Tennessee football program, you will be surprised that a bush named for a town in Alabama, their arch rival in all things sporting, could be found growing in a garden here. The truth is that the two shrubs we have of this variety were purchased in Texas and brought to this house to be planted before it became Faire Garden and was still known as the TWC soccer party house. These azaleas are examples of the offspring Semi School of Gardening; Do nothing whatsoever to tend any plant, occasionally be sick on it, throw beer on it and lay on it if you are unable to stand, and the plant will not only live well, but prosper.

In this full frontal shot you can see that the lower branches never developed on this shrub planted near the pond, so we have pruned the top to keep it small enough to not stress the trunk with excess weight. It looks like a prize azalea standard, very expensive in the marketplace. So chic!

The pink dogwoods are still showing color, click on the photos for a better look, although the leaves are starting to develop and will push the flower petals off the stems soon. The ajuga lining the stairway to the top is still flowering blue and the pink dianthus is just beginning to open. When I think of Earth Day, this is the vision that comes to mind. A riot of plantings, a bit overgrown, but offering something in all seasons with a little pruning and weeding when time permits to keep it on an even keel. This statement may lack the zeal normally associated with Earth Day reportings. That is the idea.

Gardeners love the earth. It gives them strength and happiness to be stewards of the soil. We are preaching to the choir here on this topic. But is preaching to anyone really necessary or beneficial? Does it change behaviours that might not be in everyone’s best interests? We do not know the answer to that question.
Shown above, yellow creeping jenny, euphorbia dulcis ‘chameleon’ and ajuga.

Here is the reason we need to be careful with the earth. Time does not begin and end with our own existence. There are others to think of. This little guy , two year old offspring of offspring Semi, mentioned above for her famous gardening school of thought, enjoys gardening. He likes to water and dig and plant. The seedlings that he grew himself are carefully tended by him. He is shown here looking at the pond. The under seven set are hypnotized by the pond, the fish, the rocks around the pond and the water spouting from the concrete frog’s mouth. He is going to get a closer look.

With cheerios at his side, he could sit in this uncomfortable looking position all day, comtemplating life on our home planet, Earth.


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38 Responses to Azalea Earth Day

  1. Ewa says:

    Frances, what a lovely post about keeping ‘green’. It was true pleasure to read it. I love your way of pruning azalea and the ajuga effect on the stairs 🙂 Thank you for linking.
    I don’t know why we have Earth Day on 27th 🙂 puzzle to solve 🙂

  2. patientgardener says:

    I really enjoyed reading your post and looking at your pics. I totally agree that some of the ‘new’ ideas for being green are things that thrifty people have done for years. I think there is definately a bit of a green bandwagon here in the UK and I think some people just see it as a way of making money – which is sad.
    I havent picked up on Earth Day before – is this a US thing or have I just had my head in the ground!

  3. Diana says:

    Frances – your azaleas are lovely, as is your whole garden. And your little buddy gardener is delightful. You are so right, we do it for ourselves, but ultimately, we are doing it for them. I think another part of going green is the “greening” of our children and grandchildren, so that they understand the importance of taking care of the earth. Happy Earth Day.

  4. ourfriendben says:

    Fabulous post, Frances! (And fabulous azaleas, too.) Hats off to you for doing the right thing and speaking up about it! As for that HGTV show, gack. What do they mean, inheriting your family’s heirloom furniture is “recycling”?!! How about, it’s a visual reminder of precious family stories and history? It’s a physical connection to loved ones known and unknown, a gift from the past to be held for the future? Sigh. Raised by wolves, I tell you.

  5. Christopher C. NC says:

    Frances your garden has so much in common with the resident gardeners place here on the mountain, plant wise. We are just about two weeks behind you in succession and a bit less organized.

    Being kind to the earth or being green really is as simple as you say. It isn’t about us now so much. It is about those who will follow.

  6. Dee/reddirtramblings says:

    Happy Earth Day, Frances.~~Dee

  7. Frances, says:

    Ewa, it was my pleasure to link to your wonderful posts. I thought Earth Day was world wide, I saw it on Yolanda’s header as the same date as ours.

    Patient Gardener, Thanks, I agree, my parents and grandparents suffered through the great depression and WWII rationing and were very conscious of waste. I thought Earth Day was worldwide, but really don’t know.

    Diana, thanks. You have hit upon the important lesson of Earth Day, teaching our kids to recycle and think about the consequences of what we do. I can remember when people would throw their trash out the window of a moving car and think nothing of it, before littering was a ‘crime’. Education is the key.

    Elly, thanks. Raised by wolves, that’s a great term. HA

    Christopher, Thanks for stopping by. From your posts, I think Bulbarella and I could be great friends, one of the reasons for the name change request. ;->

  8. Nancy J. Bond says:

    Every shot in this post is exquisite! I adore azaleas, as I do rhododendrons, and yours are stunning. But my favorite shot of all is your grandson, looking as if he’s contemplating life in front of your water feature. That is, indeed, what Earth Day is all about and our greatest reason for celebrating. We must be good stewards of this planet for those who follow behind. Happy Earth Day!

  9. Phillip says:

    Both the narrative and the photographs are wonderful! The azaleas are simply stunning. About mowing – I’ve eliminated 80% of the initial lawn that was once on my property (well, it used to be ALL lawn until I arrived on the scene) but just yesterday I had to mow and was griping because the muffler fell off my mower and the sound is deafening and as soon as I got started, I ran out of gas. So I’m thinking – should I dispense with the power mower altogether and buy one of those reel mowers? I’m still mulling over this.

  10. Frances, says:

    Dee, thanks and same back to you.

    Nancy J., thanks so much. We are always delighted when the little ones come visitand want the world to be a better place for them all.

    Phillip, thanks. I have a reel mower and had been using it until the grass was growing too thickly for me to be able to push fast enought to cut well. The new electric model is great and better than my older one, quieter and bigger wheels mean ease of pushing. The mower never runs out of gas, only I do sometimes.

  11. Dave says:

    Frances your garden should be on a local garden tour if it isn’t already. The rocks with the Japanese maple in the background and the steps look great! It looks like your little guy there really enjoys the garden. I know my daughter loves the outdoors. We’re going to keep it that way!

  12. Gail says:


    Lovely post/photos Frances…and Semi’s offspring is adorable. Happy Earth Day; your gentle reminder to be a good stewart is much appreciated.


  13. Pam/Digging says:

    What a sweet little boy. You’ve certainly created a paradise for him to explore in your own back yard. Your garden looks lovely. Happy Earth Day!

  14. Frances, says:

    Dave, thanks but having people in the garden is an accident waiting to happen. The terrain is rugged and the steps are steep. Imagining a lady in heels trying to even walk on the stepping stones without tripping is an insurance agent’s nightmare. I do like to show it to friends and family though.

    Gail, Thanks, he is a doll.

    Pam, thanks, same to you.

  15. brokenbeat says:

    little nephew sitting (can that position be called sitting?) by the pond with his cheerios immediately shed twenty years off my life, returned me to kingsport where it was i sitting in front of the pond contemplating life assisted by cinnamon toast crunch. i’ve elsewhere said it, but i plan to emulate the vibe of that picture forever. with the help of semi’s school and faire garden he will be a zen master by the age of five. much love, mom.

    p.s. next time you’re at the pond with ltb i suggest you play this song.

  16. Benjamin Vogt says:

    Your grandson sits how I do in the garden weeding! What a wonderful moment to exist in–cheerios, fish, water, nature. Someone to learn from, for sure.

  17. Frances, says:

    Brokenbeat, the little ones have a lot to teach us about quiet comptemplation. He sat there for a very long time, we had to drag him away and he threw a fit about leaving the pond. He does have quite the vibe, immersing himself in whatever he is doing. Like you. The song you linked was very pond like, thanks. We prefer to hear the sound of the water and the birds however.

    Benjamin, I am amazed that you can sit like that. In the photo it looks as though his feet have been unattached at the ankle and are just resting on the bench. It may be the size of the shoes that gives that impression. Or is it something about the elasticity of your tendons? When I weed, it is in a kneeling position, very stiff and sore upon arising.

  18. rusty in miami says:

    Excellent post Frances and good for you on writing to the editor. We need to educate our fellow citizens about the importance of taking care of our earth home

  19. Gina says:

    frances – that Arneson’s Gem is just wonderful and I’ve been trying to find it online ever since I saw this post. I NEED THAT PLANT! I loved this post and the pictures are fabulous. ps did i ever tell you we have the same last name?

  20. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    Happy Earth Day, Frances! It’s like Rusty said, it’s educating, not preaching that’s needed. Hopefully if people understand, then they will act accordingly.

  21. Brenda Kula says:

    Creeping Jenny! That’s what that plant is I’ve been trying to think of the name of for at least a week! I posted about a photo of it last week and couldn’t think of the name for it. Lovely photos. Especially of the child and the pond. Yes, I one day hope to have my entire yard be gardens, as two sides already are. We do need to preach to the choir, I think, to keep everyone on their toes!

  22. GardenJoy4Me says:

    Frances .. wonderful post ! I have Golden Lights Azalea as well but yours looks much grander some how !
    PS .. the ajuga lined with the steps is a beauty !

  23. Frances, says:

    Rusty, thanks. I don’t know how much good my letter did, but hopefully it got the editor’s attention anyway.

    Gina, Try looking at at their decidous azaleas. They have a good selection and I have been happy with my orders from them. Do you mean ‘Garden’? ;->

    MMD, let us hope so. The media is making a big deal out of it today. When I went to the recycle place in town, they were giving out goody bags to everyone, another good idea.

    Brenda, HA, let’s keep the choir on tip toe. Creeping jenny is a lysimachia something aurea I think.

    Joy, thanks. That Golden Lights was new last year and stood up to that late freeze we had without damage. I highly recommend it to all. I don’t remember it being so pink though it may lighten. I have a white one that starts out pink then turns white.

  24. Rosebay says:

    Very much enjoyed looking at the azaleas. The Rhododendrons have started to bloom here in Salem, New Hamphire.

    Here is pictorial tour of the Rhododendrons that do well for us here.

    Click next for the next image.

  25. Crafty Gardener says:

    I enjoyed reading your post Frances. Faire Garden looks like a wonderful place to visit and I too would love to sit and contemplate things like the little one in the picture. I also agree that some of the things they “preach” at us to do to help the earth are things that many of us have always done. Yet sometimes it seems we are the ones that are always trying to do more and the ones the “preaching” is aimed at do very little.

  26. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Happy Earth Day Frances, I can’t imagine any gardener not supporting earth day. When you have children and grands to boot,well we all want the best for them too.

    Your harvest looks yummy. This is the perfect time of year to sit by the pool and contemplate life. Your little grand is so sweet. It is amazing how the little ones are so attracted to water and rocks in the garden.

  27. Frances, says:

    Crafty, thanks for stopping by. I would love to have you visit and sit by the pond. You are right about the preaching, maybe all the hoopla that was put forth by the media this year will help raise awareness to those who are not aware.

    Lisa, Thanks. It does seem like anyone who gardens would care about the earth. The water and rocks are magnets to the little ones most assuredly.

  28. Jan says:

    Lovely post and photos.

    Jan Always Growing

  29. Carolyn gail says:

    We don’t like Tennessee any better than you like Alabama, Frances 🙂 but I’m happy to see that the ‘ Pride of Mobile ‘ is brightening up your beautiful garden. After all, Mobile is home of the famous Azalea Trails “.

    Enjoyed your post on Earth Day and a tour of your beautiful Spring garden.

  30. Frances, says:

    Jan, welcome and thanks for visiting. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Carolyn Gail, HA, I am neutral in the football battles and don’t consider myself a Tennessean, I just happen to live here. Now Oklahoma, that’s another story. But Pride of Mobile has turned out to be a great Azalea, they should offer it for sale here because of that, maybe they think no one would buy it! Thanks, glad you enjoyed the tour.

  31. semi says:

    Happy Earth Day! The semi way will probably drive LTB nuts, so much like his GG. Hopefully the recycling and “green” efforts will live on through our little one. Your azaleas a beautiful and your garden is a work of art. love semi.

  32. joey says:

    A memorable post, Frances, with a great finale of what, besides Earth, we hold dear …

  33. Frances, says:

    Semi, thanks. You will have to remind ltb of the success rate of the semi school, even though it will go against his grain, as it does mine. love.

    Joey, thanks for the insightful comment.

  34. lisa says:

    Happy Earth Day! Great post, and your gardens are beautiful! (I could sit there and contemplate all day, too! 😉

  35. Frances, says:

    Lisa, return of Happy Earth Day wishes back at you! Thanks so much, the garden is meant to inspire quiet contemplation, when one is not weeding. Or while weeding, even.

  36. What a lovely post. What you say about the water and young children is so true.

    Hi Heirloom, thank you so much and welcome to the alternative universe at wordpress!


  37. hayefield says:

    Thanks for sharing this for the GGW Design Workshop, Frances. The last two photos are adorable! And your ideas are definitely important for all of us to consider, whether we have kids of our own or not.

    Hi Nan, my pleasure to join in. That post came to mind for your kids theme, although there are others. I hope to get a new one written also, if the weather will cooperate!

  38. Pingback: GBDW - Gardening with Kids Wrapup

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