I don’t know any of the names of these flowers….but who cares! They’re all beautiful.
These are just a few of the pictures I took today at the Asheville Botanical Garden, which was wild and beautiful….and at the NC Arboretum, which was very manicured but still beautiful. I’ll show more flowers in the next post.
Tomorrow we finally get on the Blue Ridge Parkway! Haven’t been there in at least 10 years.
Well, among the hundreds of reasons to travel, is the sense of something new and different. I copied the last paragraph from Facebook but the images below are mine. Two days into our most recent adventure and this is what I’ve got:
And that is why we continue to travel. Tomorrow the outdoor adventure begins!
We decided to come back a different way, heading inland instead of hugging the coast. We spent one night at Lake Marion, SC KOA and the next night near Rocky Mount North Carolina.
Lake Marion KOA was quiet and peaceful and pretty. The Rocky Mount KOA was also quiet and peaceful but very plain and isolated. We went into the town of Rocky Mount expecting to find some thing historical or interesting. Unfortunately, all we found was a lot of broken down houses and sad looking people. It was the most poverty either of us have seen in a very long time. And it kind of took the wind out of our sales for a few hours.
I didn’t take any pictures in Rocky Mount simply because it didn’t feel appropriate. But a couple hours later, we drove up into our driveway and this is what we saw
And because you can never have enough plants or flowers, the next day we went to our favorite nursery and got a few more.
Now it’s time to go back to work! Spring time is the best time in my opinion to travel. But the garden always calls me home.
We saved these last few moments at the beach for our final evening since we wanted to avoid crowds and the heat of the day. Well, there weren’t many humans out because it was pretty windy, and cloudy, and cold. And a storm was coming. But we dragged our chairs down there anyway for one more dose of ocean air and rhythmic waves. We sat for a few minutes by the water and I gathered a few more shells that I don’t need, until the clouds started seriously coming our way.
Oh well. It will still be here next year right?
This is another long one, but it was a long and eventful day.
Magnolia Gardens is the oldest public garden in the country. It is still owned and run by the same family who made their fortune growing rice in the 1600’s. Rice was the biggest cash crop before cotton in the south and it was the Barbados slaves who brought with them the knowledge of how to grow it in the muddy swamps of the Lowcountry. It made European immigrants rich while breaking the backs of slaves.
Originally, (1676) Mr. Drayton had 2,000 acres of land that was given to him as a wedding gift by his father. (What a wedding gift, huh?) The Draytons previously lived in Barbados and brought their slaves with them to the wide open state of South Carolina. Most of the rest we already know. Same old story, right? Anyway, when the Civil War came around, the nouveau-riche good old boys down south invested in confederate bonds, supporting the army and trying desperately to hang on to their pleasant lifestyle. When they lost the war, they also lost most, if not all of their investment money and land, and their giant houses were burned and looted. So, many of these plantation owners went from rich and genteel, to poor and barely scraping by.
So Mr. D. decided to open up what was left of the beautiful gardens (less than 500 acres) to the public and charge them for it. “People would pay a pretty penny to ride on a ferry from Charleston over here just to see the gardens,” according to the tour guide. And, other than the ferry ride, that’s the way it’s been for the last 400 years.
Today, Magnolia Gardens is worth the fees and the mosquitoes and humidity, and all the walking. The staff are friendly and obviously love what they do, and the whole place is user-friendly. Our tour guide focused on the wildlife–alligators, deer, herons, egrets, owls, snakes and squirrels, and threw in some history now and then. There was a small zoo, which I will get to in a minute, but the place is so natural and open and wild. And something is always blooming there. We saw lots of irises and snapdragons and a few calla lilies as well as red amaryllises growing naturally out of the ground. Azaleas were either just finishing their bloom or getting ready.
There is a “main house” but it was under construction and probably looked like a lot of other fancy southern aristocrats’ homes that we’ve seen more times than necessary. Then there was the pretty white bridge where everyone who wants a selfie goes to pose. Nice bridge. Sorry, no selfie. Just a few older women trying to figure out how to take a selfie.
So we rode on this wagon/train thingy with a very enthusiastic guide who knew a lot of trivia about this or that animal. For example, did you know that turtles can breathe out of their butts? Well, it’s true. She explained it but I was busy taking pictures and didn’t listen. Something about a different form of hibernation where their metabolism slows down and the only air they need comes in and out of their rear ends. (see reconnectwithnature.org for more details if you’re interested.) A few minutes later I did hear her say that red tail hawks can catch mice so easily because they see in infrared and mice “relieve themselves” (pee) while running from place to place. Messy little creatures, huh? So, their urine creates a fluorescent trail which the birds follow and grab a quick meal. There was a lot of potty talk.
Moving on….Here are a few little scenes from the nature trail:
Our guide was such a good teacher and obviously loved her job. She was full of little known facts so it was hard to keep up with her. Then, as she was telling the story of how some slaves “just stayed on the land because they had nowhere else to go,” we were turning the corner in front of the slave/sharecroppers’ quarters, and suddenly the back end of our little wagon slipped off the road into a groove that you might call a small ditch. No one fell out or got hurt but it was tense for a minute or two. Sam and I were sitting on the off-the-road side in the back, about to be slapped in the face by a magnolia branch so I stood up and started waving my hands at her. She was chattering away….in her element…..
People started yelling, “Hey! We’re off the road back here. Hey! You need to stop!” And finally a guy behind us gave one of those sharp, shrill, fingers in the mouth whistle. That got her attention. She stopped and, with great concern, made sure everyone was ok, then decided this was a problem for someone with mechanical skills and gathered us all up to wait by a tree for the rescue train. (Note to self: I want to learn how to whistle like that, just in case I need to in the future.)
While we were waiting, I took these pictures:
In the end, for me it was all about the flowers and trees and animals, so that little “hitch” in the process quickly faded in to the background.
OK. Less history and drama, more pretty and cute.
How do I choose from the 100 or so photos of this gorgeous plantation? Here are just a few.
Then there was the zoo: Deer and a goat and a pig and a couple of noisy peacocks wandered around waiting for people to give them the treats that the place provided for a couple quarters. And chickens, several bossy chickens wandered around claiming territory, then moving on. In the fenced areas were turtles and owls and a white squirrel and snakes and a sleeping alligator. Lots of snakes, which I chose not to photograph.
So, bottom line, if you’ve gotten this far, Magnolia Gardens is a great place to visit, especially in April. Bring your camera or a smart phone, a good pair of walking shoes and an open mind. There is beauty here, attempting to make amends for the past.
Now, on to the next stop, then home! With all these images and memories I’m sure I’ll feel saturated for a while.
We only had one night in Wilmington, so I didn’t take any pictures on this trip. (I did borrow some from Google though.) I was expecting more of the same hurricane destruction as we saw in New Bern. But, this was a different story.
Wilmington and New Bern are both situated near rivers that empty into the Atlantic Ocean, so we assumed there would have been equal amounts of damage from Florence. The hurricane sat over the NC coast for several days in September of 2018 and caused $22 billion in damage, mostly due to storm surge.
As compared to New Bern, there was a lot more recovery going on in Wilmington. Power trucks, cranes, landscapers, painters, huge three story homes wrapped in black plastic while the workers transformed what was underneath. Wilmington has a nice waterfront with lots of shops, benches, gardens and piers….
We got there on what was a beautiful day. After some unseasonably cold weather, it was so nice to see the sun and be in a place that seemed on the upswing. We drove through the downtown area and knew immediately that we wanted to come back when we could spend more time. It was like a tease through the windows: nice neighborhoods, well-established gardens, people sauntering from place to place.
“We could live here,” both of us said at the same time. “Except for the hurricanes,” we hurried to add, again at the same time. It’s good to know the person you are spending your life with!
Then there was “the key issue.”
When we were getting ready to leave the next day I realized that I could not find my keys! I can count the times I’ve lost keys on three fingers, so this was deeply disturbing to me. When it is time for us to leave a campground, it is my job to drive the car up behind the RV so we can “hook it up.” Well, that was when I realized that I did not have my keys. I looked everywhere, three or four times, almost cried because “I never lose my keys!” The last place I remembered holding them in my hands was in New Bern. There was a heaviness and a sadness over me like a dark cloud, taking away all the sweetness of the day before in beautiful Wilmington….
I admitted to Sam that I felt humiliated, embarrassed and angry with myself. Of course, he said that was ok. Everyone makes mistakes. I know that, but it was nice to hear him say it. Finally I let it go, sort of. Every now and then I went back to some of the same spots I had already checked. No keys. By the time we got to the next campground we decided it was a good time for a shower.
So, I’m in this clean but very tight shower stall, looking into my bathroom bag for my shampoo, and guess what? Right there on the bottom of the bag, underneath my pretty pink glasses case, were my keys. Just sitting there, like that was where they belonged. I might have cursed at them for a second and then gave my forehead a light thump.
Truly letting it go now I got my shower and all was well in the world again. I no longer felt like I was having premature senility, or just plain clumsiness.
Life sure does give us plenty to work with, huh?
What a perfect day for the beach. Isle of Palms, SC.
The KOA we stayed at in North Charleston was kind of old and worn out, and it was pretty far from all the fun stuff in Charleston proper. But these flowers made all the difference.
Sometimes beauty is right in front of your face. I admired these flowers individually every morning on my way to the shower. I even deadheaded a few as a sign of respect for my gardening friends. Today, as we were packing up to leave, I decided to take another walk around. I’m so glad I did!