rose hips, among other things

It was another fabulous fall day here in Alabama. I went out to tackle my overgrown, half dead wildflower garden. It is a forty foot long, steeply sloped area, and so far it has not lived up to my vision. I planted the hillside with easy care, self seeding plants with the philosophy the fittest will survive and I won't have to do much work. Hmmm - I'm beginning to wish I had planted junipers or pine trees. The problem is that the ones that are surviving are lanky and weedy looking. Asters and cosmos are everywhere, and they grow straggly and so tall they hide other nice plants, like the butterfly bush. I know it's a matter of them being in the wrong place. Come early spring, I am going to give thought to rearranging things. The fact is, even natural areas need guidance from the gardener.

After an hour of working in the wildflowers, I was ready to grab my camera and go looking for prettier things to see. I like to look close, to really see a garden, and a camera brings focus on details that are easily missed when just passing by.

I planted a Penelope rose this year. It has creamy blossoms and a nice smell. And rose hips, I discovered today. Most of the flowers are gone, but the rose hips will stay to add color to the bare stems.

Rose hips are edible, and quite tasty when fully ripe, but I have to give a warning about them. I once plopped a plump, red rose hip in my mouth. I had bitten the thing and half swallowed it when I realized the taste was all wrong. I spit it out and discovered it was full of tiny, living ants. I couldn't get all of them out of my mouth and ended up ingesting a number of them. Actually, ants are also edible. I have heard that some cultures consider them a delicacy. Truly, they weren't terrible. They had a peppery flavor, and I have eaten worse. 

Here are some photos from this afternoon. I hope they will inspire you to stop and look close next time you are in the garden.Berry beautiful - these burford holly berries are just beginning to turn. By Christmas they will be bright red and ready for decking the halls.The holly tea olive "Goshiki" has variegated leaves.This gorgeous Japanese maple, 'Shishigashira', has green lacy leaves that turn red-orange in the fall.The "alien" rose. The lighting was bad and this is what happened when I tried to fix it in the computer.

Here are the Penelope rose hips, of which I did not eat any today.


Young Lovers at Aldridge Gardens

Lou and I went for an afternoon stroll at Aldridge Gardens in Hoover today. This thirty acre botanical garden is right off busy Lorna Road and near the Galleria mall and other large shopping areas, but you would never know it, once inside the gates. It is a wonderful retreat. A large lake has a wooded path around it, and there are many planting areas with flowers and shrubs that bloom at different times of the year. Today mums and pansies, camellias and a sprinkling of other plants were blooming, but the main attractions were the fall foliage and the serenity of the lake.

It is a romantic place. There are seating areas scattered along the trail around the lake, and we always see young lovers there. Today a man and woman were cuddled up together on a bench at one of the lake's loveliest overlooks. I was irritated at first, because I had planned to take a photo from that spot; but of course, I wouldn't interrupt their privacy.

I did glance at them as we passed. And smiled. The "young lovers" looked to be in their seventies, at least.

Well, Lou and I have been married for thirty four years, and we still feel like young lovers, too. (Sometimes) 

Here are a few of the photos of Aldridge Gardens I took today, dedicated to all young lovers, no matter how old you are.

The bald cypress drops its needles every fall. It's tree roots form knobby knees in the water at its base.

This is a view of the lake from the wooded trail.Look close. Can you see the turtles?These grasses are called Pennisetum alopecaroides 'Cassian'.The grasses along the shore shimmer in the afternoon sun.

the serene waters of the lake at Aldridge Gardensanother beautiful lake view

Don't forget to look down. This tapetry of leaves was at my feet. The green leaves are sassafras.Fallen leaves make a beautiful, if temporary, art work.