Muse Day-My Symphony

September 30, 2009 056 (2)
My Symphony*

September 30, 2009 054 (2)
To live content with small means.

September 30, 2009 047 (2)
To seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion.

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To be worthy not respectable,
and wealthy not rich.

September 30, 2009 046 (2)
To study hard, think quietly, talk gently,
act frankly, to listen to stars, birds, babes,
and sages with open heart, to bear all cheerfully,
do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never.

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In a word, to let the spiritual,
unbidden and unconscious,
grow up through the common.

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This is to be my symphony.

By William Ellery Channing

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The above images were taken while standing under the canopy of my dear neighbor Mickey’s Brugmansia ‘Charles Grimaldi’. It was like being under a magical umbrella of fragrance with the sun shining through the leaves and downward facing trumpets of golden yellow. I didn’t want to come out! Click here to read last year’s story about my sweet neighbors. There are three plants in this bed that remain in the ground all winter with a cage of chopped leaves for protection. This year they were late to regrow and he feared they had not survived. His dear wife of over fifty years, Mae, passed away this spring and his gardening efforts are not what they once were. But these brugs still radiate love and beauty in his amazing garden.

September 30, 2009 061 (2)
Mickey had generously cut some leaves from his banana tree for me to attempt leaf castings. They all broke while being unmolded, but this brug leaf was a success and was left on his back porch as a token of friendship.

Many thanks to Carolyn Gail of Sweet Home And Garden Chicago for hostessing the muse day on the first of each month. We are late, but hope she will allow us to join in this wonderful meme.


*This poem was clipped from a newspaper long ago and sits on a paper spindle, pierced through the center as inspiration. The words speak of a life well lived, a noble goal.

Added: Lotusleaf of Garden Tropics has kindly informed me that today is the birthday of Mahatma Ghandi. Very fitting poem to honor that great man. Thanks so much for that, Lotus. πŸ™‚

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40 Responses to Muse Day-My Symphony

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    A noble goal indeed. I wondered how those brugs got so big. They are gorgeous.

    Thanks Lisa. The soil at Mickey’s has been amended for many many years. At the bottom of his five lots are big bins made of concrete blocks, like you see at nurseries where dump trucks can dump loads of mushroom compost, wood chips and/ or cow manure, each it is own bin. The city sometimes will dump the wood chips from nearby utility pruning in his bin so as not to have to return to the city pile farther away. Amazing. His soil is the stuff they write books about.

  2. Frances, this is a symphony that I will take to heart.

    Hi Deborah, those are good words to live by, I thought, and cut out the poem from the newspaper long ago. It is yellowed with age, but since it is now on the blog I can revisit it when the need strikes. πŸ™‚

  3. Jenny B says:

    A very noble goal–one I hope to achieve someday–I am a work in progress. Love the poem, and the trumpets of gold are amazing. I can just imagine being under their canopy as they danced in the wind.

    Thanks Jenny. We are all works in progress, IMHO, anyway. That is the joy of being alive, striving to be better. Being under those giant flowers was like being transported to another world. The wind was blowing, the sun was shining, it was heavenly. πŸ™‚

  4. Lzyjo says:

    So, that is the Charles Grimaldi!! Beautiful brugmansias and an incredible garden too!

    Aren’t they something, Lzyjo? The pictures don’t being to capture the size and beauty of them. Especially in our zone 7a. A testament to a great gardener. πŸ™‚

  5. Words to live by, Frances. I have a quote that is on my blog that inspires me daily – “When the day is over and you have done your best, wait the results in peace.” It’s kind of my mantra. Thanks for sharing your’s.

    Oh that’s a wonderful quote, Heather, and the perfect mantra. Waiting is the key word, so hard to do sometimes.

  6. Dave says:

    The casting looks great and those Brugs look pretty cool too.

    Thanks Dave, you should see the brugs, so loaded with flowers this year.

  7. Janet says:

    Beautiful poem, ‘To seek elegance rather than luxury’ !! Wonderful. Great bloom to showcase this ‘Symphony’. Love the Brugmansia–what an amazingly large plant! I will have to go back and read the older post about it. Left in the ground mulched! That is amazing!! Apparently cold hardy with a little care. Love the color.

    Thanks Janet, these words really speak to my heart and help get me on the right track sometimes. Age helps too. Mickey used to bring these inside his unheated building when they were grown in pots but they got too big and too heavy so one year he planted them in the ground and did the wire cage and leaves routine. He took cuttings just in case, but every year they have come back to life. Last year was our coldest extended period and he was worried when they did not return at the usual time. They are blooming later too, but the extra rains we have had have produced abundant flowers.
    ps, I fixed your comment. Love that wordpress! πŸ™‚

    fixing the comment? You rock!
    Thanks, Janet

  8. tina says:

    They look just like mine and are a wonderful variety those brugs. Not this year. I have four HUGE ones I am giving away and wish I could get you one. It is pink. Not sure if you’d want it with such pretty ones next door. I’ll be making banana leaf castings soon. Last year I waited a bit too long and all the leaves were gone:( The brug leaf turned out great.

    Hi Tina, thanks. Mickey has offered me these many times, but they are just too large and tropical for my garden. I love seeing his growing so happily, as good as having them myself, even better for the enjoyment they give the whole town. People often drive by our street to see what is blooming in his wonderful garden. Mickey had pink ones but they did not prove hardy enough to leave outside here. He does have several white ones scattered about his property. Good luck with the banana leaves. I think they need some kind of armature, or make them out of straight concrete and thicker. πŸ™‚

  9. Jen says:

    Taking inspiration from that poem, I think I could be pretty satisfied just looking at that one plant today – it’s so gorgeous. (Actually, it’s a poem I need to read everyday.) And congratualtions on the Blotanical awards -all well deserved!!

    Thanks Jen. This is an amazing plant, all the more so since Mickey is pushing the zone limit with it. Thanks for the kind words, too, much appreciated. πŸ™‚

  10. lotusleaf says:

    The casting is lovely, with all the veins showing. The brugs are a lovely colour, Mine are pink. They are also blooming profusely now. The poem reminds me of Mahatma Gandhi, whose birthday it is today.

    Thanks for that info, Lotusleaf, I have added it and a link to your blog to this post. I love the flowers you chose to honor the Mahatma too, and did not know their meaning. Mickey had pink brugs at one time, but they did not survive being put into the ground over our winters, unfortunately.

  11. Gail says:

    Frances, The brugs are show stopping beautiful and illustrate perfectly the wise words of Mr Channing. They are just the sunny antidote to a rainy, cool day! Thank you for lifting my spirits. gail

    Thanks Gail. Glad to help you out. πŸ™‚

  12. nancybond says:

    Symphony…those beautiful trumpet flowers. One can almost imagine them being musical…
    mystical. The poem is a creed for life, for sure. Very nice!

    Thanks Nancy, it was wonderful under there, the perfume was not overpowering like it might have been either. Mickey was not outside so I just snuck under there and started clicking without inhibition. πŸ™‚

  13. linda says:

    Oh Frances, what a beautiful, inspiring poem! Thanks so much for sharing it.

    Mickey’s brugs are gorgeous. I can close my eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine their heavenly scent. What a perfect place for meditation on Mr. Channing’s wise words.

    Lovely post.

    Thanks, Linda. It was a magical spot on earth under those flowery parasols on a sunny day with a nice breeze. Ahhhh. πŸ™‚

  14. Urban Green says:

    Gorgeous flowers and a lovely poem! Am following you now. See you around, Frances.

    Thanks Urban Green and welcome. Glad you liked what you saw here. Do come again. πŸ™‚

  15. Beautiful images and sentiments.

    Thanks MMD.

  16. What a great muse. Really spot on.

    I grew a yellow brugmansia like that for a couple of years. It got to about 5 or 6 feet tall and flowered prolifically and smelt nice in the evening though a touch soporific by the front door on the patio.

    I finally succumbed to laziness and didn’t resurrect it for the 3rd year as the constant watering vigilance made me submit. I regret that now.

    Thanks Rob. That is the drawback of having it in a container, no matter how large the container is, especially if it is on a covered spot. In the ground, well drained, there is no extra watering, only the precautions for winter. These plants are the highlight of a very large and full garden, his pride and joy.

  17. Lovely Frances, as always. I don’t think I could say it better. You were lucky too to have Mickey as your neighbor. I miss my Wanda who was the first gardener I knew who was as crazy as I was about gardening.~~Dee

    Thanks Dee. I do miss Mae very much, and Mickey’s health is not that good. I miss having coffee with them every morning before we all began our gardening chores in the warm season. The only thing that you can count on is change.

  18. Susie says:

    Lovely thoughts & photos. I can’t believe they do that well in Tennessee with your cold winters!

    Thanks Susie. Mickey puts a three foot tall cage of reinforcing wire around each plant and fills it with leaves. It works!

  19. Chiot's Run says:

    That’s quite a lovely plant! My mom grows these as well, she moves them inside during the winter.

    Hi Chiot’s Run, thanks and welcome. Mickey did grow these in a container and took them into an unheated by frost proof building for winter until they got too large. It has been several years since he began leaving them in the ground and they get bigger each year with the roots undisturbed.

  20. Rose says:

    Such an inspiring poem, Frances! This one deserves to be framed and hung where it can be read frequently. (Although I tend to use refrigerator magnets.) Lovely photos; glad to see that Mickey’s garden continues on.

    Thanks Rose. There are a couple of things around the house displayed all the time to help keep me on track. This one strikes a good balance, I think. Mickey is not doing well, just keeping up with the mowing is difficult for him. He said he was going to let part of the lawn at the back go to meadow. That is good news all around.

  21. Lola says:

    Just the issue to raise one’s morale. Beautiful brugs. Mine has not flowered this yr. Maybe next.

    Thanks Lola, glad you liked them. Hope you have some of the beautiful blooms yourself next year. πŸ™‚

  22. wiseacre says:

    Oh man, I’d love those in my garden but I don’t think -30 F would suit them.

    Hi Wiseacre. You would have to bring them into a basement or someplace that remains above freezing. Mickey used to do that until it just got to be too much for him. We are all glad these will grow here in the ground. A treat for the neighborhood. πŸ™‚

  23. Sweet Bay says:

    Your neighbor’s brugs are magnificent! Your photos are gorgeous and beg to be painted, there is such a wonderful interplay of texture and light.

    Thanks Sweet Bay. These are the most imposting plants when in full bloom like this. The sun shining throught the trumpets and leaves created a hidden paradise underneath. And the fragrance…. indescribable! πŸ™‚

  24. teresa says:

    Just beautiful poem, plant, pictures and sentiment. You have hit a home run!

    Thanks Teresa. I love a sports metaphor! πŸ™‚

  25. What a great description of standing under the Brugmansia – ‘a magical umbrella of fragrance’.

    Thanks Happy. It was a wonderful experience. πŸ™‚

  26. gittan says:

    Beautiful poem and words that are so true. That’s some huge Brugmansias!

    Hi Gittan, thanks. You would have loved them, so large and translucent with the sun shining through. πŸ™‚

  27. Carol says:

    Frances, Such truth in simplicity… lovely words. Happy belated Birthday Gandhi! Your golden glowing photos are gorgeous and bring warmth into this New England cold wet day. I love Brugmansia … trumpets of the angels… I keep meaning to grow it in a container. What a gift to have such a neighbor. Carol

    Hi Carol, thanks. Glad to offer a bit of warmth to you. We love our neighbor and his garden is the reason we bought this property.

  28. carolyngail says:

    A wonderful selection for Muse Day, Frances. If we would all strive to live up to these words of inspiration it would be a much better world.

    Thanks for the meme of Muse Day, Carolyn Gail. I need to join in more often and pay better attention to the calender! Your Autumn Moon was wonderful, the tree and the poem. πŸ™‚

  29. Beautiful photos of a lovely plant and an inspirational poem. There are many forms or riches in the world and I think gardeners are blessed with the ability to take pleasures from seeing what is all around us.

    Thanks Joanne. You are so right, gardeners are the luckiest people in the world, to quote a phrase. πŸ™‚

  30. marmee says:

    love the words you chose to post with your elegant pictures. a goal more of us should have. congrats on all your awards from blotanical! i am very happy for you…it must feel very gratifying. happy autumn.

    Thanks Marmee. I am so proud of all the Tennessee bloggers! Happy fall to you and yours. A most glorious time of year here. πŸ™‚

  31. Jake says:

    Very pretty plant and your post reminds me again I need to do a concrete cast of an Elephant Ear leaf.


    Hi Jake, thanks. I did a small one of Black Magic one year that came out great. Those large veins make an outstanding casting.

  32. Sunita says:

    What a beautiful symphony all those trumpets must create! Why oh why don’t I have brugs in my garden? How stupid of me!
    That is such a lovely poem, Frances. I don’t think I’ve read it before. Thank you for introducing me to it.

    Thanks Sunita. You DO need some brugs in your lovely garden, but they don’t come in red, that I know of anyway. πŸ™‚

  33. Layanee says:

    First, congrats on all your awards! Second, beautiful muse. Love it.

    Thanks Layanee, and a big congrats to you as well. πŸ™‚

  34. joey says:

    A beautiful Muse Day post, Frances, perfect for welcoming October. Happy Autumn!

    Thanks Joey. I am looking forward to a nice cauliflower casserole! πŸ™‚

  35. rosey pollen says:

    Wonderful prose you chose to go along with these photos. I think everyone loves Autumn, and the cooler air and vivid colors. Thanks for sharing. I like the name of your gardens.

    Hi Rosey, thanks so much. I LOVE the name and sign for your own garden too. πŸ™‚

  36. Sue says:

    Wow, I wouldn’t want to come out of there, either! Thank you for telling us how many plants there are there, otherwise, I was going to ask. I grow white daturas, and they are pretty, but the brugs are more graceful. The muse gave food for thought, too. I was going to do one this time, but the day got away from me.

    Hi Sue, thanks. It was another world under those brugs, too cool! Sometimes the muse day sneaks by with me missing it after having meant to participate. It is okay to be late with these things, I have found. No points taken off. πŸ™‚

  37. Siria says:

    Hello Frances! Beautiful poem and I love those Angel Trumpet Trees. I used to have one, but it died and I really want to get another one. I didn’t realize you could grow them so far north.

    Oh yes…I forgot to CONGRATULATE you Frances on some very well deserved recognition!!! I wasn’t sure when they were posting the winners, but was so glad to see you were well recognized.

    I knew you would love the hummingbird photos. This is something I see you trying and succeeding in.

    Hi Siria, so nice to see you and thanks for having Christopher send the hummingbird story and pix! It was amazing and she looked so gentle holding the cup in her hands covered in the little birds. As for the brugs, they should not be wintering over here, but Mickey’s efforts and good well drained soil make it happen. Worth it, the neighbors all say! Thanks too for the kind words. I was very well recognized, an embarrassment of riches so to speak, for which I am ever so grateful. I combined your comments into one. πŸ™‚

  38. What an artistic post, with the close-up photos reminding me of maybe the love child of Georgia O’Keefe and Robert Maplethorpe.
    Congratulations on the well-deserved recognition from fellow bloggers. Now you KNOW we love you.

    You are too sweet, Ricki, thanks so much. The awards are very gratifying and I appreciate everyone who visits here, whether they can leave a comment or not. Sometimes there isn’t time or the inclination to leave a message, but I still appreciate anyone taking the time to read and/or look at the photos. Those brugs are the love child of somebody for sure! πŸ™‚

  39. And to read that his wife passed is so sad—I’m glad the plant came back for him. What a grand specimen. Very magical and your poem made it even more so.

    Thanks Anna. Mae’s passing has really taken away his joy of life, even though he had spent the last few years taking care of her. Loneliness is written all over his face, even with family close by and there several times a day. The brugs are simply incredible.

  40. Philip B. says:

    Dearest Frances,
    I do hope you read this e-mail to you. I have been away for some time, but when I had the opportunity to vote on Blotanical I always voted you number one, in every category.

    I admire all of your fine and artistic posts. All are very inspiring and moving, and of the best quality in writing and photography.
    I have not posted recently on my blog. But if I do, may I share it with you?
    I have been listening and observing these last few months, and just β€œliving” in my garden. I suppose that I am a β€œWinter” blogger on Blotanical; exploring ideas of the garden: our hopes, dreams and ideas for a new season.
    I have been away, Frances, but your blog has inspired me all through the spring and summer. Thank you,.
    With great friendship,
    (Philips garden blog) not posted yet, but I would love your thoughts!
    Smiles and warm regards

    Dear Philip, I am so glad so hear from you, and rest assured, I read every single message. Your votes are most appreciated. I would love to read anything you write, for you have a real way with words, my friend. πŸ™‚

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