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Three score and ten or more

Saturday, March 18, 2006


The last pear bloom

The dying ornamental peach

Pruned grapvines on the arch

Pink Rose Camelias

The last pear blossom
Chinese "gooseberries" with my sculpture studio in the background.
Azaleas beginning to bloom

Camellia buds in March

This has been a really strange winter here in South Georgia. It has been much warmer than usual and the flowers and plants have reacted in strange ways. My camellias usually blossom between Thanksgiving and Christmas, often, if not usually, staying in bloom until well after the azaleas bloom in early March. This year, they didn’t even bud until Christmas and the blooms did not begin until late January and early February. It is now March sixteenth and azaleas are barely beginning to bloom as are the dogwood trees.

My poor peaches are just blooming, but I doubt that the fruit will set on them since there were very few nights during the winter when the temperatures reached below freezing. (peaches usually require at least thirty “chill” nights during dormancy) and my favorite peach tree, an ornamental which usually is a mass of deep red flame by now only has blooms on three small limbs. It appears to have died over the winter. (I wonder if trees die of old age? I transplanted that tree from our previous residence in 1974.) I already miss it.

That said, I doubt that there is a more glorious place to live in the spring. The dogwoods are white or pink in solid bloom. My pear trees are just setting fruit after having imitated giant snowballs for two weeks (Now the petals on the ground make a blanket of white.) One pear tree especially is attacked by a flock of migrating birds (I am told that they are waxwings) on almost the same day every year, and the birds eat all the petals off that tree (never damaging the fruit). My grapevines (pruned almost to the bone every winter) are showing tiny buds that will become a tangle of impenetrable foliage by next month that, by August, will hide vast quantities of Muscatines in black, yellow, and red. The azaleas, welcomed by the still blooming camellias are becoming virtual walls of red, pink, and white. The dormant lawns are spitting up small clusters of dandelions and wild turnip while, hanging over the patio, the Chinese gooseberrys (that never have fruit, they are actually a form of rhododendron ) are bursting with clumps of small white blossoms and the holly bush still is covered with red berries. All of these are presided over by an enormous magnolia which, having gone through a blooming cycle already, is dropping a carpet of enormous boat-like leaves under which are hiding tiny gnoles (a lizard resembling, in miniature, the gecko who sells insurance on TV) waiting for the unwary fly, mosquito or scuttling earth bound insect to come within range. The pine trees are just beginning to pollinate, and within a week every car will have a deep yellow coating, and each rain storm will be followed by yellow rivers down the storm gutters.

My pride of feral cats hunches on top of the lawn furniture looking wistfully at the birds around the bird feeder that is hung out of their reach, but pouncing on the unwary robin coming to scratch for worms, or squirrel that is just coming out of the nest to survey the tulip beds for tasty bulbs. (or meowing impatiently for me to put some cat kibble in the frisbee on the patio, for which they will then scramble unless I attempt to pet one or scratch its ears. That one will hiss and spit, notifying me emphatically that I am allowed to feed but not to touch.)

Living in South Georgia from the beginning of March to the end of May is a joy that will be paid for by living with scorching heat and swarms of gnats and mosquitoes, relieved only by the occasional afternoon thundershower which, in providing momentary coolness spreads pools of water for the new birth of more gnats and mosquitoes. It is a high price to pay, indeed, but right now, it is worth it.


At 6:44 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6:47 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I was surprised to hear about your camelias blooming in the fall through winter. I guess our flowers have different schedules because of the west coast only having rain in winter and dry summers.

On the west coast, camelias are the first flowers of the year (spring starts in Jan) and are already fading by May. Now the azaleas and rhodies are starting to bloom. This is called the "Rhododendron Coast" and I'll post some pics once they're in full bloom by April/May.

My mouth is watering thinking of those Georgia peaches. California produces more peaches than Georgia but they are tasteless. Sorry to hear about the death of your ornamental peach. Did it produce fruit? Yes, trees die of old age. Each type has a set life-span.

If your pear trees are already setting fruit, then we definitely have different schedules. Ours are only now blooming as are the cherries and plums but not the apples. Our lawns of course are lush in winter and go brown in summer.

I really did seriously consider south Georgia/north Florida/St Augustine before I moved here because it is so similar to where I was born but I can't handle humidity anymore after 26 years in California.

Anyway, I'll cut this short otherwise it'll be as long as your most enjoyable post. I also read the post below. Memory sure is a strange thing.

At 5:40 AM, Blogger Fish said...

Good pictures. Georgia is some little bit south of here so our redbuds are just starting to show color, the dogwoods look like they are thinking about it. The woods still looks like winter until you look closely at the haze of green showing on every branch as leaves start their first appearances. We do have a lot of yellow forsythia and some sort of white blossomed ornamental trees around the countyside, and grass greening up. Recent walks in the woods finds little plants poking up all over the place. I've always loved the woods in it's various stages of spring, and am reaquainting myself with it after 23 years in the southwest deserts.

At 8:46 AM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I see you got some pics uploaded. I still can't. And now I see what you call Chinese "gooseberries" - Pieris japonica which are as point out a member of the rhododendron family. This area is full of them - one of the first to bloom each year.

At 6:31 AM, Blogger Ed Abbey said...

I heard the peach is now the state fruit of Alabama who claims they are sweeter than the Georgian variety. Are the "peach" wars about ready to begin?

We can get a few peach trees to grow up here in Iowa and survive the winter but their life spans are not very long. Very few last longer than a decade.

At 9:13 AM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

How pretty. Thanks for sharing! I love camelias but they're hard to find down here. Would you take another picture as they bloom? I'd really enjoy that.

I wish we could grow peaches down here, too. There's nothing like a ripe peach. I mean NOTHING like one. We get peach substitutes down here, at best. Of course we DO have citrus, strawberries and blueberries. But I long for a Georgia peach.

At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Kathleen said...

You are just far enough north to have the best of both worlds. Pears and peaches! Yum.

At 8:49 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Kathleen, my pears are not like most pears up north. I have two kinds: pineapple and orient. They are both hard pears. The pineapple cans beautifully but turns a little pink when canned. The orient is large and almost round, bigger than most grapefruit.
It too is hard, but filled with amazing juice. Bite into a ripe orient and your chest will be likely soaked from dripping juice. A most unusualy combination of crunchy and super sweet. I dry most of the pineapples to use as snacks etc., or make pies- - yummy. (occasionally I sell them to Brasswells, a canning company that makes gourmet products). The orients I eat, make into a kind of Waldorf salad, or juice in my Juiceman juicer (see the nice commercial on TV) I will have gallons of juice in the fridge, and serve them till they begin to carbonate (read ferment). Then my friends come and steal them.

At 4:50 PM, Anonymous Kathleen said...

If I were closer, I'd steal them too!

I really miss the varity of fruit we grew when I was growing up in California. All fruit from strawberrys to plums. I will be thinking of you when you at harvest time as you and your wife are tasked with the canning, drying and eating.


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