Five Lessons From A Garden Bloom Where You Are Planted

One of my Mama’s favorite lines to live by!
Planting a garden with school children in Rio de Janeiro, 2015.


When is the last time you meandered through your garden on a sunny early evening with a glass of wine, or on a chilly spring morning with a steaming mug of coffee.

A garden is both a healer and a teacher. Don't be afraid to dig in and see the great benefits. Anonymous

Perhaps you do not have a garden where you live. In that case, consider taking advantage of a local garden in your community: Gibbs Gardens, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Barnsley Gardens, and Smith-Gilbert Gardens, are just a few we can find near our Marietta, Georgia home.

We can learn so much from hanging out in a garden, whether we yield beautiful flowering plants, fruits, or vegetables.

Our friend, Greg Fritz is in his Tennessee garden every day!
This bright azalea boasts of blooms and buds on the same branch!

Walking quietly, slowly through a garden area will remind us that life is all about change. Change can happen quickly or slowly.

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. Audrey Hepburn

The buds on a branch compared with a full bloom on the same branch echoes the truth that progress is impossible without change. Just look at these three pictures of dogwood blooms in three different stages! Did you know? There is a longtime legend about this tree. Click here to remind yourself of The  Legend of the Dogwood Tree. The dogwood goes through dramatic changes throughout a year’s time…first white, then pale pink, before the leaves turn a crimson red in autumn.

IMG_9749 IMG_9750


Lagerstroemia indica (crape myrtle, crepe myrtle)
Lagerstroemia indica (crape myrtle, crepe myrtle) in full bloom…
New, early growth on our crepe myrtle.
New, early growth on our crepe myrtle.

One of my Mama’s favorite parts of spring were the many bright purple wisteria vines skirting the roads and highways. I had to stop and take some pictures of this one down the street from us, right outside the entrance of Signal Hill Subdivision. As I walked up to it and took in its sweet fragrance, childhood memories came flooding back…of wisteria, the circular azalea garden in our front yard, and countless dandelions that we laughingly blew into each other’s faces.

IMG_9764 IMG_9765 IMG_9766 IMG_9768

Although my friends, Brenda, Kelly, and Ellen are amazing gardeners, I am not very good at gardening. (I forget to water my pots and the plants don’t like that very much, lol.)

Where flowers bloom, so does hope. Lady Bird Johnson (1912-2007)

Though my sis, Laura Lea and I were raised under the same roof, I did not receive the same green thumb she did as her indoor plants are varied and numerous. I started my very first herb garden in 2013, and then changes happened with my Daddy’s passing on November 11th of that same year. With two weddings in 2014 within eleven weeks of each other, my interest in a herb garden waned and remained dry through 2015 as we cared for Donny’s Dad. THIS spring, I am determined to revive my herb garden and have gotten started with a few purchases of basil, sage and dill. Now if I can just be sure my herbs get plenty of water during what is sure to be another hot summer in Georgia!

I look forward to watching my herbs grow and using them in our cooking!

Five of the many lessons we can learn by hanging out in a garden are:

(1) Some things just can’t be rushed. They are worth the wait. Have patience.

The Fritz Family will soon be serving red leaf lettuce and kale at their table!
Greg’s daughter, Heather made this sign for her dad.

Miraculously, these scrawny, wormlike creations will soon look like this second picture.

IMG_9779(2) You have to be willing to do the dirty, hard jobs (weeding, digging, spreading manure) in order to yield the wonderful results.

Our friend, Paul Read works hard in their amazing garden.

(3) A garden reminds us to make plans, to have vision and grow big dreams.

Signal Hill entrance is beautiful!

(4) A garden reminds us to be grateful, to have daily gratitude for nature and for life which are miracles and they are free!

This knockout rose bud will soon be a bright red, blooming all summer long!

(5) It is hard to garden alone, and it is impossible to do life alone, as well. It takes community to thrive!

Community is illustrated at Taylor Read’s shelter dedication on 10/3/15.


This bright forsythia welcomes guests to The Street Home! We love having this family as our neighbors and long-time friends.

A garden is both a healer and a teacher.

What are some other

lessons you and I

can learn from a garden?

*Click here to listen to a hymn about a garden and penned in 1912.IMG_9781

Coach Vince Dooley: A Garden For All Seasons

Sandy and Joan…friends since 1990.

This past Monday, my friend, Sandy and I went on quite an adventure.  We traveled to Athens, Georgia, joining a group of friends from the Marietta area and had the opportunity to tour Coach Vince Dooley’s beautiful and lush gardens just minutes from the University of Georgia campus. [pullquote]Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Helen Keller[/pullquote] While this was my first time to visit the gardens, many of my friends who had been before said this was a “must see”. Now that I have been, I agree. Following our garden tour, we visited Jane, the proprietor of plainjane designs, treated Laura, a UGa collegiate to lunch at Last Resort Grill, and enjoyed a Chick-fil-a icedream cone with my sister, Kathy, on our drive back home. [pullquote]I am an inspiration for anyone who wants to be a gardener late in life, or anyone who would like to write a book late in life. If I can do it, anyone can do it. This is my “golf”, my get-away.” Coach Vince Dooley[/pullquote] Just 83 years young, as of September 4, 2015, Coach Dooley is one of the most humble, down-to-earth, congenial folks you will ever meet. He loves gardening and talking to others who love it, too. In the past two decades, Coach has truly designed a garden for all seasons.


Did you know? Coach Vince Dooley  was the head football coach at the University of Georgia for 25 years (1964-1988) and its athletic director from 1979 to 2004.  With Coach Dooley at the helm, the Bulldogs won six Southeastern Conference titles and one National Championship (1980). He received numerous awards, including being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994. From 1964-1980, Dooley was notably assisted by his defensive coördinator, Erskine (Erk) Russell. Coach Russell was the one who coined the team name:  Junkyard Dawgs. [pullquote]If we score, we may win. If they never score, we’ll never lose.” Coach Erk Russell[/pullquote] Did you know? My long-time friend, Jan, mentioned in my August post entitled Are You An 
Egg, A Carrot, Or A Coffee Bean, will become Grandmama to another Erk, as her daughter, Kathrine, who is married to Coach Erk Russell’s grandson, will be having a newborn son this Friday, 10/2/15.

A graduate of Auburn University (War Eagle!), Dooley later served as an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps.  IMG_5942Curiosity and a desire to learn spurred Coach Dooley to take a horticulture course at nearby UGa. One class led to another and Dooley had been bitten by the “gardening bug”. [pullquote]I like to start most of my plants indoors, get to know them, before turning them out to be planted in the gardens.” Coach Vince Dooley[/pullquote] Groups like ours are the fortunate beneficiaries of his love of gardening. Following 20 years of gardening, Dooley decided to write a book about it and was joined by impressionistic artist, Steve Penley in the beautiful coffee table book entitled: Vince Dooley’s Garden: The Horticulture Journey of A Football Coach, with paintings by, Steve Penley. Coach Dooley was assisted by his daughter, Deanna, as he autographed copies of this special book for our group.

IMG_5968 IMG_5966

Joan, Melissa, and Ansley at The Dooley Home
Coach Dooley’s friend, Steve Penley painted this of their home and gardens.
The Dooley Residence with a Cascading Falls Tree in the foreground on the left.
Jane Bennett…the next time you are in Athens, visit plainjane designs!

All in all, it was a special day touring the gardens of Coach Vince Dooley.IMG_5954 IMG_5964 IMG_5929IMG_5973

A quick hug and a visit with my sis, Kathy!
Always reaching out to help others, Coach Dooley signs autographs at a MUST Ministries Fundraiser on April 25, 2015.

If, like Coach Vince Dooley, we are able to live into our eighth decade, what hobbies might we want to develop?  Let’s take a little time to sit quietly, exploring and discovering what we are curious and passionate about.

IMG_5959 IMG_5946 IMG_5952