What’s it all About Alfie?

What’s it all About Alfie?


“What’s it all About Alfie, is it just for the moment we live?”  Old song, good question. I know I haven’t posted for a while. I needed some time to really grieve my losses, to accept them and then move my collective memories to their places in my heart. It hasn’t been easy. One never gets over grief, one simply moves through it, taking the heartbreak and turning it into lessons akin to wisdom. For me the gardens are usually a place where I go and while toiling, work through challenges, problems, questions, and where I also happily expend creative energy. I cannot tell you how many rooms I have designed in my mind, how many garden ideas have flowed. Many of these have come full circle to actual fruition. Some dilemmas remain just that, and perhaps in a quiet moment over a cup of tea or a glass of wine and chocolate (chocolate can help a lot!), out of the blue a solution pops into my mind. Early on this spring, because of record rains and crazy weather melding into the issues surrounding grief, I decided not to plant many of the oversized pots that are placed around the many pocket gardens. When there was no break in the weather, I also determined that trying to plant annuals in the ground would be a waste. Unusual, because the gardens have always been a go to place for contemplation and quiet thoughts, but the weather seemed to pound my spirit flat. The continental U.S. had its hottest May and the third-hottest June, and for us constant rain as well. It ended up being a good choice. I lost some perennials to the constantly saturated soil. Yet others thrived in it, and new shrubs we planted just a bit more than a year ago thrived. Seeds dropped to the ground from spent flowers and missed by the birds over the winter managed to germinate and grow because of the constant rain. Seeds brought to me by the wind or with the help of animals flourished, as if nature was offering some healing grace. The ebb and flow in a garden reminds one of the cycles all life moves through. July and August brought even more rain and heat, but between the clouds opening up, I felt a pull back into the gardens, serendipity at work, as I began to notice the flowers growing and blooming where I had done no planting, so I continued to pull the remaining oak seedlings, and the weeds that seem to grow no matter the weather, while grateful for the flowers blooming that I had nothing to do with.


I also used the time away to do some writing for a couple of books, and I look forward to getting them finished. In a brief break in the weather we also cleaned and re-stained the deck, but the weather never allowed for utilizing it. All the other major home maintenance is waiting for cooler, cooperative weather and time that will let us complete them.
I also did begin writing many posts, and the list is long- from gardening to design of interiors to homes to color and much more. I still have much to share. To those of you new here, welcome!
Today I thought I would share some photos of my gardens. They aren’t as full and colorful as usual, but not bad for the kind of weather we have experienced. And believe it or not, every last one of the thousands of oak seedlings are gone from every garden space. No mean feat either. As I said at each successful tug and removal of a tap root….take that you darn ole acorn, or “yeah, I win”. Heh, you have to take the wins where you can get them!

With all the rain, the early flush of roses and perennials was impressive. Later, the blooms became waterlogged and that ended that.

The grass stayed green all summer, and I watered hostess and hydrangeas just a couple of times the entire summer. Most summers all the gardens are watered just about daily.

One of our resident garden turtles. When I am out and about I have to be so careful not to step on him, or mow him!

The hosts did nicely this year early on, then gave up the ghost.

Fungi, mushrooms all flourished, and created their own kind of beauty. This one was about 10 inches in diameter.

the Rhododendrons bloomed profusely and the blooms lasted longer than usual because of so much rain. Feast or famine I guess.

I cut this hydrangea back severely this spring. Good thing, with all the moisture it flourished. Can you believe the height?

This lion planter has special meaning to me and it did get planted. Several years ago I planted a boxwood in it, but the severe cold this winter killed it. Down a ways is a photo of what I planted instead.

I always plop a Kimberly fern in a pot near the front door. Perfect location and they just grow and grow.

The side yard. Usually the grass goes dormant in the heat of late July and August, but like last year it stayed green spring all the way into late autumn.

We replaced the boards 2 years ago and stained them last summer after the wood was dry enough to stain. Then you repeat the following year with 2 coats. We were quite fortunate that the weather cooperated in a window between rain and pollen everywhere, where we could complete the task and have time for the oil stain to dry properly. Nice to see all the water bead up on the boards, although we haven’t been able to enjoy it once this summer!

Usually I add water to the fountain every few days. Didn’t’t have to do it once this year!!!

Mosses thrived on the rocks and also on the shady “lawn” area in the back of the house. That particular area is now mostly lime green moss, soft, luxurious and fine by me.

The is a seed pod from purple variety of clematis.

KBJ took this photo with his drone for me. I am slowly transitioning to mostly green and white gardens. I am using this and other photos to help me plan the gradual changeover. Gardens are forever evolving, and this comes from accepting that certain plants and flowers just do not do as well on this land as I might wish. As well, maturing trees change the environment such that sunny areas change to shade, etc.

The shrub roses in the island garden did well first flush, like the ones in front of the house, but not much sunshine and they quit. Pretty while it lasted.

The hosts here did nicely, but the daylillies did not. The barberry needs sun to stay red, and as you can see, all green.

Darn deer ate most of the buds off the oak leaf hydrangeas and the little limelights. Left the daylilies alone though. Go figure.

Potted hydrangea. love the color.

We made some structural changes around the garden house, including adding the arbor. Will share that in another post.

Another drone photo. The two trees in the box towards the bottom are a smaller variety of Crepe Myrtle. They didn’t bloom as well this year.

The garden area straight ahead has been changed since I took this photo. We made it into a memory garden, replacing perennials that died over the winter, adding the large rocks, as well as some new miniature butterfly bushes, and grasses. We will have to wait and see how they do next spring as grasses do not like to be overly watered.


This grew at the base of a tree stump that has an empty pot sitting on it. Rather large, about 12 in. by 12 in. The colors matured to include a bit of blue and purple.

This is the lion planter I referred to some photos above where the boxwood died. Planted with tuberous begonias, coleus and sweet potato vine. It had thrived, and still continues to do so.

I took the time to move the empty pots around, and next year will plant them again.


On Saturday I first heard about Hurricane Florence. It has rained so much this summer that I just assumed it would continue so I paid little notice to weather reports. Well, that changed. We are in a direct hit line so preparations have begun. KBJ went and got a second generator to power the water pump as we most likely will loose power. Gathering important papers, and protecting items inside and outside the house. For our area the biggest threat at this time is flooding, as they predict a foot of rain to add to already saturated ground. Trees coming down will be a concern and as most of you know, I live in the woods with huge oak trees. All we can do is prepare and deal with it. I hope all of you in effected areas will take warnings seriously and prepare. I have dear friends with ocean properties and I am so praying that their homes can make it through without loss. If any of you, my dear followers, are also in the risk zone, please take care and stay safe.

Thanks, and so glad you stopped by.  laters, charisse


  1. I’ve missed you here, but understand the time you needed. I will be thinking of you over these next several days.

  2. So happy to hear from u. You are an inspiration to me. Gardens are beautiful. Judy

  3. Your gardens are magnificent! So good to hear from you.💕

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