By Bette Lee Crosby / September 22, 2012

Welcome to another Southern Sunday by Author Alle Wells…when it comes to all things Southern, Alle, a North Carolina gal knows what she is talking about and every week she takes us on a wonderful journey into her world…a world a little less harried, one with a lot more smiles and plenty of time to stop and smell the flowers. So sit back, get yourself a nice tall glass of lemonade or iced tea and read on…


My mother was a master gardener. When I was a small child, she’d guide me around the borders surrounding our first home, pointing, and naming each blooming beauty. As long as the weather permitted, she worked until dark-thirty every evening, designing beds, planting bulbs, and setting out her latest find. To Mom, gardening wasn’t work. Working the rich southern soil was her way of releasing tension after a long day in the office. She took great pride in transforming the outside of every house she owned, designing unique beds for each one.

When I decided to write this month’s Savoring Summer series, I searched the attic for the small box containing pictures of my mother’s gardens. In her absence, I’d forgotten how rare and magnificent her gardens were. Through the years, Mom went through phases of gardening. She pursued a passion for roses. She preserved perfect specimens of dark, red Abe Lincolns and pretty, peach Peace varieties in silica gel. I remember my mother’s love for daylilies and riding miles into the countryside to find the rarest hybrid blends of pinks, whites, and yellows. She honed her gardening skills over the years to the point that people came to visit just to admire her gardens. Her last home was a hundred-year-old two-story Tudor style. In the backyard she designed a small English garden just beyond a workshop where she made dried herb wreaths to sell.

Stepping into Mom’s English garden was like walking into a wonderland of fragrance. Stalks of sweet, purple lavender ran along the picket fence. Shades of vanilla, pink, and blue larkspur (pictured) swayed in the breeze and huge hydrangea bushes burst along the back border. This time of year, the garden was filled with bright yellow yarrow and sprinkled with colorful button safflowers. In addition to the backyard garden, she borrowed a field on a friend’s farm to plant rows of lacy Silver King (harvested Silver King, pictured) to use as a base for her wreaths.

Inside Mom’s house, bundles of flowers tied with tobacco string dried on wooden racks that ran along one wall of the wide downstairs hallway. My children always loved the way their grandmother’s house smelled, and so did I. Since Mom lived before the digital age of jpeg and pdf documents, I’ve taken the liberty of taking pictures of some of Mom’s snapshots, and added one of me with the measly arrangement I made from the hydrangeas in my own backyard. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this very special part of my southern past.

Thanks for joining me for another Southern Sunday.


About the author

Bette Lee Crosby

USA Today Bestselling and Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby's books are "Well-crafted storytelling populated by memorable characters caught up in equally memorable circumstances." - Midwest Book Review The Seattle Post Intelligencer says Crosby's writing is, "A quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life and madcap adventures." Samantha from Reader's Favorite raves, "Crosby writes the type of book you can't stop thinking about long after you put it down." "Storytelling is in my blood," Crosby laughingly admits, "My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write." It is the wit and wisdom of that Southern Mama Crosby brings to her works of fiction; the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away. Her work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. She has since gone on to win nineteen awards for her work; these include: TheRoyal Palm Literary Award, the FPA President's Book Award Gold Medal, Reader's Favorite Award Gold Medal, and the Reviewer's Choice Award.


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