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Was it worth it?

To celebrate my friend Janet's recent birthday, a few of us had lunch today at the Garden Cafe at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. I planned to wander around afterwards, taking photos for my blog. I was sure there would be many great photo opportunities, even in early February. The camellias would be blooming! I am running out of subjects in my own garden. There are only so many interesting ways to photograph bare limbs and dried leaves.

It rained.

Although I had hoped the weather would clear and I could get some good photographs, the rain was still coming down when our luncheon ended. It wasn't too bad, however, and Janet and I walked to the conservatory after the others had departed. She was carrying a bulky box with a birthday present in it, her purse, an umbrella, and some small plants inside plastic bags. I was carrying my purse, my camera, and an umbrella.

"I only want to get a few shots of the camellias. That's all," I said.

We admired the tropical plants in the main conservatory as we headed for the camellia house. I paused briefly to take photos of some of them.

A large pot of colorful crotons, codiaeum variegatum, was near the entrance of the conservatory.

We admired the powder puff plant, calliandra haematocephale, a vine that is native to Brazil and other parts of South America. It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

The largest herb in the world grows in the conservatory of the BBG. What is that? The banana tree! The bananas are used to feed animals at the nearby Birmingham zoo.

At last we opened the door to the camellia house. My own camellias are not quite blooming yet, but in the heated camellia house many were in full bloom and their wonderful colors greeted us.

As beautiful as the greenhouse camellias were, what I really wanted to see was the camellia walk outside.

"Just a few shots, " I promised Janet as we headed out into the rain.

The camellias were lovely, and I took some photographs from the shelter of my umbrella.

I spied an arch.

"Oh, how pretty," I cried. "Lets go up there!"

The view from the arch was the most beautiful we had seen so far. "Just a couple more," I told Janet.

I composed a photo in the view finder, then depressed the button to take the shot. Nothing happened! My camera batteries had chosen that moment to die. I bemoaned the lost photos, but I am sure Janet was secretly rejoicing. We were both wet as we started back.

We came to a large puddle, and the only way around it was by walking along a ledge. We balanced ourselves like a couple of schoolgirls. The maneuver took grace and agility, of which neither of us had much. We clutched our belongings and hoped for the best.

We made it!

We were well on the way to our cars when disaster struck. Somehow the lid to Janet's birthday box popped open, and her new terra cotta candle holders threatened to fall out. I grabbed them to prevent that from happening, and a million white styrofoam packing peanuts spilled out and started bouncing and blowing in the breeze. Janet handed me her stuff and began chasing the peanuts. Meanwhile, the handle of my umbrella came off, and my umbrella tilted and threatened to poke me in the eye as I stood with purse and camera and birthday box and little plants in plastic sacks. 

And the rain kept coming down.

We were laughing or crying, I'm not sure which, when a young man named Jeff Colvin came to our rescue. He scooped handfuls of packing peanuts and returned them to the birthday box and helped us rearrange ourselves. He then carried the birthday box all the way to Janet's car. He was so kind and helpful I think the whole world should know.

I plan to return to BBG on a better day. Today was only a tiny taste of what this sixty-six acre botanical garden offers. Was it worth it?

I think so, if not for the photographs, then for the chance to meet a nice man like Jeff Colvin.


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Reader Comments (16)

I enjoyed that visit with you Deb. Beautiful photos ... I especially love the camellias outside. How sweet to have someone come to your rescue that way! ;>)

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

It is always nice to meet a nice young man,lol.
Camellias, how beautiful, why, oh, why are the not hardy here, boo...
I think that I shall have to build a camellia conservatory.

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah at Kilbourne Grove

I'm sorry to hear your trip was hampered by all the rain. I love the BBG. When I lived in B'ham, I used to go there often.

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPhillip

Loved this adventure! Now I'm sorry I didn't look harder at the half price camellias on Wednesday, telling myself that I had enough camellias. I see now that I have 'way too few. I can line the driveway with them and keep some in pots to bloom inside under glass in the winter....

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNell Jean

Murphy's law- anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Sounds like Mr. Murphy was also at the gardens with ya'll. Dispite the adversity you managed to deliver some outstanding photographs. I like the Camellias. Wish I could grow them here. Nice job !

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersanddune

Such a beautiful treat it is to visit your blog!
Sorry to hear of your troubles and your camera battery dying- I'm like you -- I can't stop taking photos when I visit gardens -- drives my companions crazy.
Even so you capture some great shots.-- you made me smile!!
The powder-puff vine so reminds me of Dr. Suess!!!!!

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

I want to go there for my birthday.....:^) What a beautiful place to visit. I love the photo with the moss around the bottom of the large, old tree.

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNoelle (azplantlady)

I enjoyed this stroll through the gardens...and your tales of woe...not for what you had to go through, but because of the fun of it all & the great memories that come with times that go awry! After your weather clears and your camera is re-charged, you'll have to go back and get more camelias! They are gorgeous blooms.

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJan (ThanksFor2Day)

That ended up being quite the adventure. Your pictures were worth it for sure and luckily nothing broke. Batteries always seem to die at just the wrong time!

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

I have to admit that it would have been funny to see you with packing peanuts flyng all around on a rainy day! I've never seen camellias, but I enjoy seeing them on southern garden blogs. Are they scented? They remind me so much of roses.

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobinL

That gave me a chuckle. You never know when your bad luck turns into your good luck. Sounds like a wonderful guy and you may have never known had you not had the disasters all at once. I am glad you didn't poke your eye out with your umbrella. Thanks for the laugh and thanks for the lovely pictures to brighten our very dull atmosphere around here.

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa

Hi Deb~~ It kind of restores your faith in humanity, doesn't it? I've done this, "just one more" routine with: hubby, kids, friends, garden curators and nursery staff. Sometimes we just can't help ourselves. Nice photos. I

February 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

You are so lucky to have such beautiful garden nearby. And what a story! I also didn't know - to laugh or to cry imagine you standing there in the rain...

February 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTatyana

Great posting - and a most amusing scene you've built up of what happened after your visiit although I'm sure at the time it probably wasn't funny! The Camelias are beautiful - if you like these - you should consider a visit to some of the beautiful gardens down in Cornwall... they really are worth the trip! Enjoy your weekend - MIranda

February 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiranda Bell

Dear Deborah, Such a disaster but such fun! I am so glad that you ventured out into the rain because had you not, then we all should have been denied your splendid pictures of the camellias in the woodland. They were, indeed, magical.

Thank you so much for commenting on my latest posting to which I have left a reply.

February 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEdith Hope

Debs I really enjoyed seeing these pictures - wasn't that croton lovely - I am not used to seeing that one so big and as for those camelias they were spectacular. Mine is looking sad here with foliage a blacky green colour but I think it will bloom.......... late April time unlike yours.

February 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

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