Gail The Gift

The garden is ready. The garden is always ready for guests because it receives the labors of love from the head gardener daily without fail. There is still lots of color and a few blooms.  The tools are not laying about needing to be put away because the obsessive trait in my personality won’t allow for tools not to be out of the elements if not in the shed. Keeping the tools used most frequently, the favorite shovel, the Japanese hori knife, the felcos, the spade, among others under the garage deck all year because they are used constantly is the norm. Empty pots too are not left laying for the same reason.  Some might call it a disorder of some kind, but I prefer to think of it as an orderly mind, if only a little excessive. Prunings and weedings get put either in the compost bin or on the ground under the arbor that is being built up on the low end to make seating there more level instead of sitting at an angle like one is on an amusement ride that is trying to mess with our equilibrium. The house was another matter. I was cleaning like mad when my visitor to be wrote that she had let her house be seen *as is* when I stayed at her place. Hmmm, okay, no dusting at all, but maybe just a little pass through with the vacumn to control the sea of cat hair momentarily. We are ready and excited.Day one comes and goes with no photos. There is too much talking to do. There are a lot of topics to cover in just a couple of days so we had to work down the list quickly and with enthusiasm. The over three hour drive, family, houses, politics, health, gardens, the lovely copper spirals and yellow star grass she brought as gifts and the biggy, blogging, all had to be discussed at length. At great length, lots of length. There were some errands to be run after a quick garden tour. It is hard to do a quick tour here for the garden is diverse and laid out in a sprawling puzzle. On occasion first time visitors get lost trying to return for another look at the knot garden, or muhly, or ferngully, the pond or the veggie bed. And there was a nursery or two that needed to be visited. Taking Gail, of Clay And Limestone to my regular haunts was very satisfying. I wanted to show her off. Please meet my friend who knows plenty about plants and is extremely friendly and an expert at converstion. It is her vocation after all. She made me proud as we chatted with a couple of local nursery owners and even spread some wealth in our small town. We returned home and did some parallel blogging, me on the laptop and she on our pc.  The day flew by.  Dinner had been prepared the night before, chili, and we spent a quiet evening, except for the sound of our voices continuing nonstop, poor Financier trying to relax and watch a little television after a hard day crunching numbers.  The next day I awoke with a sore throat from overuse of vocal chords.  A little ibu and we were ready to go at it again.  Gail looked out the window from her spot at the pc, blogs get tended first thing in the morning you know, and said we must grab our cameras and capture that sunrise!  Pink in the sky is fleeting, by the time the cameras are switched on and we are finding the best spot for an unobstructed view it had faded considerably.  Her shot can be seen here. Turning around while standing in the same location, the pink was still hanging on over the roof of the house. Yes, it has been enhanced slightly a lot because I wanted mine to be shockingly pinker than hers. Admitting to that little bit of competitiveness makes it slightly less wrong, right? (Don Rickles get back in your cage!)Cameras in hand this time on the tour we went about with seriousness if not silence perusing the garden. One thing that has been noted when reading about the meeting up of bloggers not in public places but at the gardens of said persons, is what draws the eye of the guest. Watching someone taking a photo of your creation is a bit surreal. It is always you doing that crouching down and trying to focus, stop blowing wind!, is this a dream? Standing there with my camera, I might as well take a photo of the plant too, not just the photographer. The Crocus speciosus is still sending up new blooms, some are just barely out of the ground. It has been read that these bulbs will pull themselves downward if not lifted and replanted. This patch had been replanted because there have been some additions of heucheras and violas in this spot to continue interest during the cold months. The undisturbed crocus are barely poking up, some have yet to be seen. These are not the same as the saffron crocus we wrote about here. Those Crocus sativus are long finished blooming, only the foliage will remain until next summer’s dormant phase.Back inside the house for some light lunch and more dual blogging. We learned last year that it was necessary to have a wireless connection added when the blog was begun in December. A dedicated computer for the blog was a Christmas gift from the Financier, forever grateful, hon!, along with the wireless and ultra high speed connection. Before that, loading photos was a nightmare. Gail needs her own laptop so she can sit in the other lazyboy rather than the rattan chair with several cushions when she comes again. Our cats were smitten with Gail from the start. She spoke to them in those soothing tones she must use for her clients and the cats were mesmerized, even Hazel, who usually hides when people come. Kitty is the computer technician doing double duty watching the birds and squirrels out the window and adding the occasional letter on the keyboard with his swinging tail. Both of our pets felt comfortable immediately with Miss G. (Disclaimer: this is not my desk, not my area, I cannot be held responsible for this mess of chaos).We went out for some sight seeing, lunch and light shopping. The historic downtown which includes Tennessee Wesleyan College and the court house in the middle of the square, found us eating lunch at a favorite Cuban/Italian spot, Angela’s Cafe. We split the eggplant parmesan, thanks for lunch, Gail, and brought home some sauteed veggies to add to the orzo side dish made with the saffron we had collected from the Crocus sativus mentioned above. The whole harvest was used and it did not even make the food that yellow, although it did stain my fingers while crumbling it in to the pot. The lesson learned here was to not depend on twelve bulbs to give you enough saffron for even one meal. There were banana peppers from the garden added to this accompaniment to the chicken grilled by the Gardoctor.Reinvigorated we returned home for the serious business of digging the plants that needed to go home with Gail. The Muhlenbergia capillaris was the first item on the list. The color has faded considerably, transitioning from purple bruise to faded chintz. It is still an asset to the overall look of the garden though. The bed of it by the driveway had gotten extra water as the grass seed sown in the fall lawn rejuvenation had to be kept moist until germination. Whole plants dug now, not divided, should survive if replanted quickly and kept watered, we hope. If they fail to make it we will honor our plant guarantee.The sheffield pink mums, I know the name has changed, don’t care, were another must dig plant. You can read our post about them here. A great companion to the sheffies are the Salvia greggiis. Our new Salvia leucantha purchase was planted behind this grouping. The purple and white velvet blooms are just peeking up over the salmon flowers. It was just read that the semi tender salvias should not be planted in the fall in their marginal hardiness zones. Oops. Maybe some extra mulch will help them make it through the winter?Our happy smiles illustrate well the friendship that has developed all because of blogging. We met in Austin at the spring fling, Gail had just begun blogging and I am not even sure I had read many of her posts. We found ourselves standing next to each other that Friday night in Austin as we waited to be seated at the restaurant. We started talking to pass the time, and found that we both lived in Tennessee, we both were the only out of towners that had brought our non blogging spouses to this event, (still don’t know what the significance of that is, but there must be some) and amazingly Gail’s husband, Mr. I don’t garden or blog, attended the same high school as I did at the same time so very long ago in Tulsa, Oklahoma. That was fuel for conversation for our husbands, I had met the Financier while still living in Tulsa, since they had to spend some quality time together while the bloggers went to the bloggers only events. We have kept up with emails and telephone conversations, both of us are Verizon thank goodness, as our friendship developed and deepened. Gail is a gift to me, and all of us, delivered by blogging. My undying gratitude to the blogdom for her.
Added: Gail’s parallel post about her visit can be seen here.

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34 Responses to Gail The Gift

  1. vegplotting says:

    What a lovely weekend you both had Frances. And many thanks for letting us spend some time with you both.

    Blogging friendships are to be treasured.

    Hi VP, how true, blogging friendships are special and such a surprise. I never dreamed of meeting the human hand behind the words, but now find it one the of best things about blogging.

  2. linda says:

    Good morning Frances, thanks for sharing your visit with Gail – sounds like a wonderful time was enjoyed. It was fun seeing your garden through Gail’s eyes. Who’d have ever thought blogging would bring such wonderful friendships and opportunities to meet and see each other’s gardens in person!

    Hi Linda, thanks for visiting. The visit was pretty low key, no momentous events, but lots of plant inspecting, and just plain hanging out talking. Thanks to blogging we now have friends all over the world, what a delight. Can’t wait for Chicago!

  3. tina says:

    Oh, you two look so happy together. Isn’t blogging great? To be able to make new friends that will last forever? It was fate you two were standing near each other at Spring Fling. How lucky is that? And only you two brought your non-blogging spouses? What is up with that? Gail was the first blogger I met (after Skeeter), then you Frances. Both of you are great blogging pals to take a chance with people from the Internet and I treasure knowing you two. Both very friendly ladies! And an excellent post indeed. ttyl

    Hi Tina, thanks, I love the way that photo shows us so happy, taken by the Gardoctor. Your fearlessness in traveling to meet other bloggers is to be highly admired too. Shy by nature, blogging has made me a better person, opening that door of privacy to the outside world. Garden bloggers are the best, it has been said before and will be repeated many times.

  4. Joy says:

    Ok … we all know you guys were talking about “us” !!!! LOL .. the “other” bloggers .
    The pictures are cute and candid .. that is nice to see. No doubt throats were sore from so much talking .. I don’t think men ever suffer from that do they ? ..
    That very pink sky shot is amazing to see while Gail’s was more clear blue sky .. I love seeing the drama of the same sky yet so different.
    Cats (sorry dog people , no slight intended .. dogs are wonderful creatures too) but CATS and gardeners go together for some odd quirky reason .. so gardener cats “get it” about other gardeners visiting .. they are immediately accepted !
    Dual posts were perfect from this visit girls .. well done !

    Hi Joy, thanks, of course we talked about all the wonderful bloggers out there, including you!, and how much we love reading everyone’s posts and how hard it is to keep up now that there are so many, with more joining in the fun all the time! I cheated with the photo program to make my sky shot pinker, but owned up to it right up front, that makes it okay, right? I was surprised at how Hazel went right up to Gail and gave her a kiss, slightly jealous too. Our posts are so similar, we have a lot in common. ;->

  5. Cindy says:

    Frances – I so enjoyed your post and love all your pictures but the last one of you and Gail is the best! It’s amazing at the close friendships which blogging – especially garden blogging creates! They are gifts indeed.

    Hi Cindy, thanks for visiting too. Sometimes people really connect upon first meeting and that is what happened to Gail and me. E Harmony eat your heart out! LOL The last photo really shows our friendship well.

  6. Kim says:

    Frances, I almost felt like I was there with you both. It sounds like the visit was just wonderful, and I’m so glad you were able to spend time together. Reading your post, the thing that really struck me was your comment about someone else photographing your garden. You’re right! Usually we are the ones with the camera in the flowers’ faces. Thank you for a lovely telling of the visit.

    Hi Kim, thanks. We talked ourselves hoarse and loved every minute of it. The weather was warmer than it is now, we could walk around the garden comfortably. Seeing the photo of Gail taking a shot of the garden was startling, so that’s what I look like doing the exact same thing all the time. LOL

  7. Frances–I happened to read Gail’s post first. I must say you two are two peas in a pod! I so enjoyed the parallel views of the visit.

    As for your tender salvia leucantha — take a cutting or two to root and keep inside in case the mother plant doesn’t winter over. Don’t cut the mother plant back other than the few cuttings. You don’t want water seeping down into the stems.

    Thanks for sharing your adventure with us!

    Hi Cameron, thanks. I was struck by the similarity also, the fact the we took the same slant. Maybe we were sisters in a previous incarnation. LOL Thanks for the advice about the salvia. It looked so healthy at the nursery and I had planned on adding one next spring. It was an impulse buy that probably should have been resisted. I will not cut it back, I don’t cut anything back until late winter and the salvias after the weather has warmed. The dead stems do not bother me for I know they are protection of the crown. Good idea on the cuttings, although I have little success with that.

  8. Gail says:

    My dear friend Frances, You have recreated our visit and I am having a fantastically wonderful time with you all over again. Weren’t we lucky to have found ourselves standing next to one another at Spring Fling. The husbands were too adorable…why did they come? It must have been for some cosmic plan! Here we are months later good friends, visiting each other’s gardens, sharing good conversations, cracking jokes and laughing at ourselves, never at each other; well there is Don who occasionally pops up, but he is manageable! Thank you for a wonderful time, for lots of fun, good food, wonderful plants, garden advice and for putting my name in the title of your post. Gosh, I hope that doesn’t keep commenters away! I added our photo taken by your charming son to my post…and a link to this post! Gail

    Hi Gail, it was so fun reading your post and seeing how similar our takes on the visit were. The thing about our husbands is hilarious, why indeed! I think having your name on the post will attract people, not repel them. ;-> I will run over to see the photo now.

  9. What a great visit. I’m so glad you got to show Fairegarden to Gail. The crocus photo is extraordinary, and that Muhly Grass inspiring. Thanks for taking us along.

    Hi Dee, thanks. I know you know how it feels to have a garden blogger friend visit, from Pam’s visit to your place. It makes us proud to show off our gardens to someone who truly can appreciate our hard work.

  10. kate says:

    What a great visit you had with Gail. It was wonderful fun to read about it. You two definitely covered lots of ground – both in conversation and around your garden and your favourite haunts. Love the mums, the crocus and the muhly grass – best, though, is the photograph of the two of you!

    Hi Kate, thanks for stopping by. Glad you liked hearing about Gail’s visit and the shot of the two of us. The talking was non stop as we found in Austin at the Spring Fling. You should have heard the decibel level in the restaurant that first night, deafening! ;->

  11. Marnie says:

    Isn’t it remarkable that you had so much in common? I enjoyed reading both posts and seeing those love photos of the garden.

    Hi Marnie, thanks. The fates brought us together and we do have so much in common even though we have known each other only a few months. Glad you enjoyed our tales.

    Added: I believe the euonymous to be E. Europeana, It was given to me by neighbor Mickey as E. Americana, but after seeing Gail’s, we knew it was different from that.

  12. Racquel says:

    What a wonderful visit you had with Gail. It’s nice when you meet someone & you just click instantly. Your garden is looking pretty spectacular still Frances. I’m glad you shared your vist with all of us today. 🙂

    Hi Racquel, thanks. Click is a good description, thanks! ;-> Tonight might be our first frost, we shall see how it fares after that. At least the coleus can be replaced in the containers then. I have been wanting to plant something in them for the winter.

  13. Dave says:

    Cameron’s comment can’t describe you two any better “Peas in a pod!” You have so much in common with probably the most important thing is your sharing nature. I’m glad you two had fun! 🙂

    Hi Dave, thanks for visiting. The more Gail and I talked, the more coincidences we notice of commonality. Even looking through my idea books of magazine tear sheets, she had many of the same things saved too, even from years ago. We did have so much fun.

  14. Rose says:

    What a wonderful time the two of you must have had! It was so interesting to read the two accounts of your visit together and to also see your garden through Gail’s eyes.

    I feel a little better knowing your house might not be quite as orderly as your garden–I can’t seem to keep up with both:)

    Hi Rose, thanks so much, we did have a wonderful time together without the constraints of phone or computer typing. As for my housekeeping, it is a low priority. As we all know, there is only so much time and energy available and the garden, family and blogging take up so much of it. I try and keep it picked up but as far as cleaning goes, who cares? It will only get dusty again in minutes with the two cats about. I would like it to be spotless, but it ain’t! ;->

  15. Randy says:

    I so glad you had a good time, though I never doubted the two of you would. There are no better friends than gardening friends.

    Hi Randy, thanks so much. Gardening friends are wonderful and garden blogger friends are exceptional.

  16. Gail says:

    Frances, Will you let nature have her way with your garden or will you cover anything up? I will drape a few plants that I want to keep alive because the temps will be rebounding to the 60s….that may be my own personality quirk of seeing life as having flexible deadlines! Signing off, The other pea in the pod, Gail

    Hi Gail, for the most part nature is free to do her will on the garden. I put the flat of pansies and violas under a bench on the deck and some foxglove seedlings in a pot under there also. After this cold snap all will be planted either in the ground or in containers. I need to find something else for the containers besides the pansies, but time is running out. I put your yellow star grass in the greenhouse for the next couple of days. It will warm up again and can be safely planted then. I shall be pea F.

  17. Robin says:

    This is such a great post! I’ve enjoyed reading both your and Gail’s post about the fun visit you two had.

    Hi Robin, it is so nice to see you. Thanks, we are glad you enjoyed hearing about our get together, (notice I am now speaking for both of us ;->).

  18. Siria says:

    Hi Frances! I loved reading of your fun time together from both you and Gail’s perspective … pretty similar posts indeed! Your lovely garden continues to bring smiles to so many. Thank you for sharing! I wish you and Gail many years of a growing and wonderful friendship.

    Hi Siria, thanks, you are always so sweet, I appreciate that very much. It seems odd to begin a friendship later in life like this, but it is so gratifying to meet not only Gail, but so many others who share the passion of gardening and also writing about it. We will wait for you to feel comfortable enough to join us, we are patient.

  19. Shibaguyz says:

    Sounds like you all had a wonderful time. Isn’t it great to connect in our virtual community as well as in the “real world” community?

    Hi Guyz, we did and you are so right. We discovered when the bloggers got together in Austin at the spring fling how it didn’t matter who you were sitting next to, you could carry on like old friends sharing the passion of gardening and blogging.

  20. Pam/Digging says:

    Just wonderful, Frances. I enjoyed the blow-by-blow account of your weekend together, and the pics of Gail taking pictures of your garden show us the reality of another blogger’s visit. We must take photos! And then we must take photos of each other taking photos! 🙂

    I love that photo of the two of you, arm in arm, and I’m so glad Austin had some role in bringing two good friends together.

    Hi Pam, thanks. Austin and you played a giant role in our friendship, there are probably other bloggers who became friends during that blogfest besides us who owe your their gratitude. We are funny with our cameras, aren’t we? ;->

  21. Frances~
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful gift of friendship! It really is touching. Today your post made me feel peaceful and appreciative of the friendships in my life!
    Happy day~

    Oh Karrita that is so sweet, thank you for that. Friends are so important to us in every way. I am so happy to have connected with Gail, we are truly friends now in just a few short months.

  22. Gail says:

    Frances, There is a question about a planting at your garden! The beautiful fuschia colored bloom with the October Skies Aster? You can come over and answer the question if you have the time.

    I am wishing I had dug up the Lemon Grass and carted it to your garden! I know you would love to cook with it! It would be happy in your green house all winter! Gail

    Hi Gail, I have left an ID in a comment over there. The aster is A. frikartii ‘Monch’ and the fuchsia flower is Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’. Thanks for thinking of me with the lemon grass, but the greenhouse seems to be shrinking as that staghorn fern keeps getting bigger. Someday it may have to be left outside to suffer the fate of many of the orchids that failed to bloom. I just leave them outside to a certain death rather than throwing them directly in the compost. It is like letting leftovers rot in the fridge rather than throwing them out when no one will eat them. A lesson learned from the late great Erma Bombeck. ;->

  23. Frances, I am so happy that the two of you have become such good friends! You both are wonderfully talented gardeners with lots of space and lots of ideas! And now you can enjoy each other’s company! 🙂 Thank you for giving us your perspective on your time together!!

    Hi Shady, thanks. We do have lots in common, probably a reason we became such good friends, like a love of gardening, where we live and of course blogging. ;->

  24. Chloe.M says:


    A really lovely post on gardening and friendship. Abigail will be visiting shortly, we have already agreed to do a joint post on the visit. I can’t wait!

    Chloe M.

    Hi Chloe, thanks. How fun that will be to have your blogging partner visit. Having Gail here was everything I expected it to be and more. We could hardly keep quiet long enough to take some photos! LOL

  25. Jean says:

    Frances, what a great post. Isn’t it strange how some friendships were meant to be?

    Hi Jean, thanks so much. It does seem like the friendship Gail and I share was our destiny.

  26. layanee says:

    Oh Frances, I know what great fun you had with Gail and the conversations which are always interesting and span such a wide range of topics. She is the best! Your garden looks beautiful through the lens of her camera as well as through yours. Cherish the memories and know that there will be more to come!

    Hi Layanee, what nice words, thanks so much. Gail is a sweetheart.

  27. Victoria says:

    I love the picture of you and Gail – you look like you’re having such a great time. If I ever come back to Tennessee, I’m going to come and visit you too!

    Hi Victoria, thanks. We did have an enjoyable visit. It’s easy when you both love the saem things. You would be most welcome to come visit me. ;->

  28. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You are lucky ladies to have found one another.

    Hi Lisa, we are, aren’t we? Thanks for visiting too, you have been such a loyal reader since the beginning. That one year anniversary is creeping up and I have been thinking about the commentors and how those relationships have been built. Priceless.

  29. Gill says:

    I love your part of the world and you have a lovely garden.

    Gill in Canada

    Hi Gill, thanks and welcome. I enjoyed hearing about your day!

  30. Cindy says:

    I think the most wonderful thing about the Internet is the friendships that have begun from message boards, blogs, etc. I wish for you and Gail many years to explore your friendship. You’re off to an excellent start!

    Hi Cindy, thanks for those good wishes. I agree completely about friendships formed from blogging and was very happy to have met you also in Austin!

  31. Kathleen says:

    How interesting that you and Gail just met this year. I would never have guessed ~ it seems like a longer bond than that reading your posts about each other. Blogging is a great thing isn’t it, especially when it comes to connecting us with other passionate gardeners. Those are sometimes hard to find locally. Thanks so much for identifying the Persicaria for me (I asked the question on Gails blog and saw your answer there). I am going to look it up and if I can grow it in my zone, I’m ordering! 🙂

    Hi Kathleen, thanks so much. It does seem to us also that Gail and I have known each other much longer than we actually have. We just connected right away. You will love that persicaria, although I have not had it long or wintered it over. If it behaves like the other persicaria growing here, Red Dragon I think it is, it will be quite hardy. It has been a blooming machine.

  32. Why am I not surprised you talked yourself hoarse?

    Hi MMD, that is the kind of comment we would expect from you! LOL It’s why we love you. ;->

  33. What a great weekend you both had. Duel blogging, who knew? 😉 I remember being ever so slightly hoarse after meeting up with Shirl from Shirl’s Gardenwatch. It must be a blogger/gardener thing. BTW I had great fun seeing your lovely garden through Gail’s eyes.

    Hi YE, thanks,we really did. I thought of you and Shirl visiting that great garden together and how much talking must have gone on with that meet up. The dual blogging was one of the highlights. We could discuss blogs, bloggers, and their lovely comments as we typed. I enjoyed reading Gail’s insightful post about my garden too. I know that it looks different to others than it does to the gardener. I am much more critical. ;->

  34. Thought I left a comment on this sweet post 10 days ago, Frances – maybe it was sent by mental telepathy instead of on the internet!

    The amazing thing to me was to read that you and Gail met in line at the loud and crowded Matt’s El Rancho. By the time I’d sorted out who was who, you and Gail must have bonded pretty well – you sure did not look like you’d just met.
    It looks like an exchange of gifts to me ;-]

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Hi Annie, thanks, you are always welcome whether you comment or not. I often go back to see the reply to comments I thought I had left on blogs only to find no comment from me there. Was it a dream? Gail and I immediately hit it off. We just happened to finding ourselves standing at the entrace next to each other, she introduced herself and both of us being from TN with husbands in tow, no less, had a perfect jumping off point. It was so noisy we could barely hear our own voices. I like your idea, an exchange of gifts, so apt.

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