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…
SOUTHERN SUNDAY by Alle Wells
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.