“HOW On Earth” – Published in Pink Magazine – January 2012

New Year’s Resolutions

“It’s not the destination, but the journey.”

Sydney Paige McCutcheon

It’s January, the time of year that our gardens are resting, preparing for the busy season that awaits. I always look forward to this time of year. There is a quietness and stillness that I find calming and grounding. The rush of the holiday season is over and a new year has begun. I relish this time while I can get caught up with unfinished tasks, reflect on the past year, and set goals for the future.  Last year I made several gardening intentions all with an enthusiasm and idyllic vision. My list included first-time visits to the Biltmore Estate, Middleton Place, the Atlanta Botanical Garden and new growers. I also wanted to add a compost bin and citrus plants to my vegetable garden. I envisioned creating an oasis in my home with indoor plants and a wall fountain. Lastly, I thought I would like to research and explore the subject of bulbs for Southern Gardens.

The fun and enlightening part about documenting one’s dreams is to see how far you have come along your path. I have discovered however, that sometimes it is the detours that prove to be the most memorable and soul satisfying. I still have yet to see the Biltmore or Middleton Place, but I did make it to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens which I wrote about in the July issue. I did not visit any new growers even though several attempts for these “field trips” were made. I did however go to the Tropical Plant Trade show in Fort Lauderdale where I fell in love with Bromeliads. Some of these gems are hardy here and make fabulous, low maintenance container plants. My attempts at my indoor Garden of Eden have resulted in one dead philodendron, a thriving ZZ plant, and a bloomless orchid. Not exactly the greenhouse look I had pictured. I have searched several times for that elusive wall fountain with no luck, however in the process of my search, I came up with another idea for a simple water container garden. My thought is to place Papyrus in a tall planter, add a pump, underwater lighting, and position at my front door. I did add the Mandarin Orange along with a Persimmon tree to my vegetable garden and enjoyed the fruits last fall. I am sorry to say that I still have no compost bin and I did not do any research on bulbs.

At first when I reviewed all of my intentions for last year, I felt rather unaccomplished. It seemed that most of what I had planned, I had not done. I then looked deeper into the reasons why I had chosen what I wanted to do. My desire to see new gardens really comes from a passion of both traveling and discovering new plants. My attempts at my interior plantscaping are really a craving to be enveloped in a calm and tropical paradise. Research on bulbs comes from my forever quest and love of knowledge. Anything related to my vegetable garden stems from my hunger to connect to nature by delighting all of my senses. Upon closer inspection, I had actually achieved exactly what I had wanted…really wanted. This past year, I saw the most amazing garden I have ever witnessed in my life. I went Scuba diving for the first time this past Thanksgiving, and there, forty feet beneath the surface off the coast of West Caicos, were coral gardens. There is approximately 465 square miles of Coral reef located here. Some 60 species of coral live in the waters off the Turks & Caicos. Hard coral varieties include staghorn, elkhorn, pillar, star, and brain. Sea fans, sea whips, and sea plumes number among the soft varieties. The colors were incredibly vivid, with every Crayola color imaginable. I was mesmerized watching thousands of tropical fish swim in and around them, much like bees on hyssop. I envisioned big barrel sponges as planters and was fascinated by the vast array of textures. I truly was in heaven, surrounded by living beauty, and encased in a silence I have never heard. Being a part of this amazing underworld filled me with childlike awe and was the most captivating experience in my life. This is water gardening at its best!

So you may ask, what are my intentions for this year? Traveling, visiting new gardens, learning about plants, and connecting to nature are tops on my list.

Published in Pink Magazine