Spring Fashion Preview

It’s early days here in the South, as far as spring weather goes. We endured a blustery rainy March and early April which  has just now given way to a few golden temperate days. I have risked exposing myself to a mushroom cloud of pollen lately  JUST so I can get a first hand look at what well-dressed flowers will be wearing this season. A magpie will do anything for fashion!

Keep in mind that most  flowers haven’t even made their appearances; this is just a preview of the early comers. I have assured all the seeds, tubers, bulbs, and seedlings on my property that this is NOT the final word. They’re a competitive bunch. As the season progresses I will be documenting ALL the fashion exploits in my back yard. Magpies don’t discriminate!

Without further ado, here are the early spring beauties. Ahem. In no particular order. Feel free to have some refreshments while you watch!DSC_0460 This little lady, a member of the groundcover family, strikes a casual pose against what is for her, a brick wall. She is dressed in a carefree frock of lavender, white, and goldenrod, with handbag to match. She is younger than many of her fellow flowers, and prefers to run in a pack. This is a rare individual shot.DSC_0476 Our next model is Scarlet Dahlia. She personifies simple, classic design with her red pleated ruff and brilliant yellow center. Her timeless look will always be in style.  Scarlet leads a busy life, organizing teas, showers and the like for ladies of a certain social stature. And I’m sure she doesn’t have to do her own ironing. DSC_0477

Some were surprised to see Miss Mary Gold in our fashion lineup. In the South she is thought of as a workhorse, protecting tomato plants from pests, rather than performing the role of  fashion maven. I am pleased she had enough self esteem to put herself forward. Her brilliant orange and yellow ruffles are elegant. She reminds us that her species is used as a wedding decoration in India.DSC_0492

This frail  lady, a Japanese Snowball, is another surprise in today’s event. She was seriously ill last summer and almost lost her life. Her branches were ravaged by a vicious outbreak of some sort of gross insect. Her condition was critical. I don’t mean to gossip but  she had to have entire branches amputated. She looks delicate in this creamy white, but don’t underestimate her; she’s a fighter!DSC_0472 I must say that purple and gold combinations are all the rage this year! Here is Miss Spiderwort, arrayed in periwinkle and gold. The deep green stems and leaves show off her complexion perfectly. Miss Spiderwort works at her posture constantly, as the gold filaments she wears are quite heavy. She enjoys tennis and other sports during the day, but by dusk she has withdrawn into herself, to rest until morning.DSC_0443 A relative latecomer to this revue is Miss Pink Dahlia. She is the niece of Miss Scarlet Dahlia, who is kind enough to have her visit each summer. I don’t know the specifics, but I heard Miss Pink has a difficult home situation. In fact she arrived this year a little worse for wear. Miss Scarlet intimated that Miss Pink would perk right up after some brush up etiquette lessons. But for now she is a vision in variegated shades of pink.DSC_0448May I introduce Miss Woodland Violet? She is the first true shade lover to appear in flower this year. Her hourglass figure is set off by a dainty lavender shade. She is a tidy little thing. Even her accompanying leaves are arranged impeccably. She runs a tight ship.DSC_0442 I am not going to tolerate any negative talk about our last model. Some of the girls have actually called her “trash” and “a possible weed.” I admit I do not know her provenance, but I can see she has worked her heart out for today’s revue. She is dressed in a jaunty orange and yellow print, with an oversized yellow button at the right hand side. The large, even clunky accessory  adds whimsy to the ensemble. Miss No Name certainly has an eye for fashion.

And there they are, ladies and gentlemen! Can we have a round of applause for these fashion forward ladies? I hope we’ll get to interview each one  personally  this season.  For now  though, we admire their bold fashion sense. You’re going to see their signature looks copied over and over this season.  Just remember: you saw it on MIndful Magpie first!

Fall: A Quiet Welcome

Shhh! The weather has ears! Pass it on! Don’t let your neighbors, after a day of vigorous gardening  exult about the glorious moderate temperatures we are having here in the South. Stop your spouse before he can say out loud how invigorated he feels after washing the cars in the perky  sunshine. Write in your journal; don’t talk  about the delicate breezes you felt this morning on the patio, or  that you could sit on the patio at all.  Because we all know that speaking in superlative terms about the glorious fall weather causes the crisp, clean air to devolve into a sticky miasma, the carefree butterflies to be replaced with menacing mosquitoes, and the rays of the sun to turn from a soft blanket into a relentless roasting ember.

After a lifetime in the South, I know to take advantage of the brief  weather respites, quickly and quietly. Excruciating  heat is always right around the corner, and it is not too  late for us to have more of it. This past Saturday morning, finding myself with no other pressing duties, I slipped out of the house with my camera, walking very softly, in shoes that covered my toes instead of flip flops.

The mission was to enjoy oops, observe how my plants were faring thus far in October. Would I find that my plants had  survived the summer making the best of things  with their heads facing down for protection from the sun? Had some been able to revive themselves after a recent rain? Had others, largely untended by me, given up the struggle? Which of my so enthusiastically placed plants would live to brave another summer? Here are the results!

First I contemplated the gourd vines. After some weeks of thinking I was watering them for no purpose, baby gourds  have  appeared! I don’t think they will grow to cover the pergola this year as originally planned.

But that’s alright with me. I think the pergola is lovely all by itself.

These asters are making a late appearance. The Four O’Clocks are going strong. These came up from seed.There is still lots  of trusty Century Vine.

I’ll be expecting more peppers and okra. I’ve had some lovely eggplants too but I didn’t see any new blossoms on them. These cosmos of course are not ready to give up the ghost. I planted these from seed and they grew six feet tall even after I trimmed them back several times.The sweet potato vine is vigorous, and adding nice color and texture to the pool deck.There is no shortage of lantana blooms. I think the plant  is trying extra hard to be pleasing, as it barely escaped being uprooted  and sent , like an unruly child, to North Carolina this summer.But fig season is certainly over. The changing leaves will not be far behind.

As long as everyone knows I am whispering to avoid an adverse change in weather  I will confess that I never feel so alive as I do in the fall. The very air with its nippy breezes suggests change and excitement. The swirling gold and orange leaves glow with brilliance. The mornings may be cool,  but when the sun comes up we will be bathed in warmth that is just the right temperature. For the moment my garden is enjoying all of this right along with me. I hope you enjoy it as well!