COVID-19 can’t stop members of Unit One Garden Club from caring and sharing, and they are doing it all by email. The conversation began when President Sharlene Greene sent out photos of her running bamboo in various stages of development.
Then came a picture of a turtle shell found in a gully behind her house. One member named the turtle, Gully. Jill Criscuoli advised that when a turtle is crossing a road, it should be picked up and taken across the road so a car doesn’t hit it. But there was a caveat — the turtle should be taken in the direction it was heading. Otherwise it will turn around and head back across the road.
Next, Unit One member Charlotte Cabri sent a photo of a green maple leaf accented with pink galls. She wrote, “This lovely pink polka-dotted maple leaf surprised me on a morning walk. It is made by a maple bladder gall mite, which is not a good thing, but I am trying to preserve the leaf by pressing it in a book. Hope I don’t create a monster. Weren’t pink and green considered preppie colors at one time?”
Of course, a member wrote back that the galled leaf looked like the COVID-19 virus while another said pink and green were her sorority colors.
Then Charlotte shared the following tribute on scents of the season.
“It all began with the witch hazel in late winter followed by the delicious Daphne. Then there was my lilac bush and right now the fragrance of my Granddaddy Whiskers is filling the air. A walker in my neighborhood stopped from 10 feet away to thank me for letting him pick some Rosemary. My lemon balm is back in bloom, and I love picking leaves from the basil plants I set out.
“The roses are beginning to emit their fragrance, and it won’t be long before I can walk around my “estate”, really just a modest yard though I am not sure what an immodest yard is. Anyway, the scent of gardenias and magnolias will soon fill the air. I will be on the lookout for someone’s mimosa tree as that takes me back to my childhood in Alabama where we had a mimosa as large as a pecan tree. It was big enough for us to climb up 10 feet and we loved to tickle our faces with the mimosa blossoms.
“Then there’s the honeysuckle and also the privet hedge, whose scent rivals that of the honeysuckle. And how lovely is the loquat tree when its fragrance fills the air. Don’t forget that wonderful scent after an ice storm breaks the limbs of our pine trees.
“My daughter told me I should not omit the plants that smell awful, like the Bradford pear and the stinkhorn, which is pictured here growing in decayed leaves at the edge of my otherwise fragrant yard. “
The reflection on scents stirred fond memories of gardens from childhood.
Rebecca Harmon wrote, “I used to climb a wonderful mimosa tree with a friend … we’d sit up there for hours and just talk … also, then we’d ‘pat’ the leaves on our hand until they ‘went to sleep’……such simple entertainment! Looking forward to Cape Jasmine (my mother’s term for Gardenia) season. Probably my favorite bloom and scent. Enjoy this gorgeous weather! “
Anne Flint shared the following reminiscence. “Our street was lined with very tall trees. I remember playing hide-and-seek in the streets until it was too dark to see. Parents sat on the porch and visited. There were more than a dozen kids to play games with and we did that all summer long. Two doors away lived another girl who was much older than I. She was the one who organized the games and I always felt privileged to be with her. I remember eating many slices of toast with cinnamon sugar at her house one Saturday morning. I had never done that before and it tasted like heaven to me.”
Shirley Pate, who grew up in Atlanta, offered this mimosa memory. “Oh mimosa trees! We used to climb a huge one every summer during my childhood. It had an opossum family living in it that we always loved to visit when the babies were born. Momma surprisingly did not mind.”
Ann Arnold sent this email. “I love all these stories of the plants and animals associated with “growing up”. Mimosa is a favorite of mine. We lost them a number of years ago to a disease that killed them all, but they came back, thank God.
“And the possums, how exciting. We had baby rabbits in a huge hill in our yard. They were tiny pink creatures when first born.
“ I climbed a Chinaberry tree. My sister, two years younger than I, loved the purple flowers that we could use in our playhouse, and the green seeds were good on our table as peas but the ripened seeds were yucky!”
Ann Arnold closed with the following, “Dear friends, stay well until we meet again. My love to each of you.”
Unit One President Sharlene Greene kept the conversation going with this note. “My most vivid memory is about a rose bush. I was five and had the measles…so I was supposed to be taking a nap … But, OH NO … not me. (even then)
It was in the summer and my bedroom window was open. I pushed the screen out of the window, next to my bed, crawled over the sill and jumped. Luckily my bedroom was on the first floor; unluckily, there was a very thorny rose bush right below my window. I landed tush first and got stuck in the bush.
“Determined not to ask for help (even then) I managed to get out of the bush…minus part of my PJs. Then, I had to walk around to the front door and KNOCK. Needless to say my mother was a little surprised to see me minus some of my pj’s and my tush full of thorns. Not a happy camper was my mom!!!”
Unit One even had an email mystery as President Green challenged members to identify a mark on her elbow as shown in a photo. And so the round of humor began.
Glenda Horton attributed it to a mark left from a racket wielded by an irate tennis player. Another wondered if Sharlene was sunbathing and rolled over on her silver cigarette lighter that had been heated by the sun. Ah yes, cigarettes and sunbathing are a thing of the past for garden clubbers, but they live in memory.
Eventually Marg Gunderson and Ann Arnold suggested it was a caterpillar sting. They were right, and the members were treated to Sharlene’s photo of an Eastern Tent Caterpillar. She advised that tent caterpillars have hairs/spines on their bodies capable of causing irritations to predators.
They are not poisonous to humans, but she noted that it took three days for the pain to subside and seven weeks for the marks on her arm to disappear completely.
Jenny Wallace joined the discussion with a video of the King snake she has welcomed to her garden, a garden that reveals the work she has been doing in her raised beds during the pandemic.
And so goes the conversation. Unit One members may be sheltering in place, but that doesn’t stop them from sharing news of their gardens or memories of gardens past.