A garden as autobiography.

 

Beautiful gardens aren’t just about the flowers. Last month’s Friends of the Library Garden Tour was memorable for more than just the plantings. Yes, the flowers were lush, the colors, vivid, but it was the settings and the expanses, that captured my husband and me.

We drove along roads we hadn’t traveled before to visit seven gardens scattered across the county.

It would be hard to pick favorites, but the 1800s farmhouse lorded over by huge sycamores was special. A swooping green swathe to one side led to a gazebo perched atop a spring. The tiny stream, crisscrossed by little foot bridges, caught my fancy. Old-log guest houses nestled around the original house like chicks to a mother hen. A cellist and a violinist kept time with the breezes.

Oh, and the rope swing, did I mention the rope swing hanging high from the tallest sycamore? I wanted try it, but when I attempted to lower myself onto the wooden seat, my knees wouldn’t cooperate. Its height was set for little children. Just as well, I might have launched myself into the next county if I’d been able to soar as high as it could go.

Another garden’s entrance was framed by an old catalpa tree. Set against a hillside, the back of the original farmhouse was ringed by brilliant day lilies as colorful as ladies’ hats at an English wedding. Conifers, hardwoods, and shrubs intermingled perfectly. Interesting rocks and glittering crystals lay amongst the plantings — jewels on grandmother’s Sunday dress. Best of all was an old log cabin set into the scape. The vast field up and away to the right and back of the house hinted at more joy beyond.

A third garden, edged by a stream, had a decidedly fairytale look. Large trees hovered and whimsical touches all ’round made me wonder if three bears or maybe seven little people lived there. The large koi pond was punctuated with stepping stones and bright orange table and chairs. The owners accessorize their garden with “hand-me-downs, found objects, and thrift store purchases.”

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This trio of pictures, taken at my favorite garden, exemplify my blog’s name: Wherever you go…there you are.

Each of the gardens on the tour had their own special magic, memories brought home to caption my photos from that “once upon a time” day.

 

Click on photos to enlarge them; use arrows to scroll through each grouping.

Not all angels are angelic.

“Don’t ask, won’t tell” is the credo of morel mushroom hunters. They guard the secret of their patches the way the NSA is supposed to guard our national secrets.

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Morel reclining. Northwood Lifestyle

When I was little, my dad took me morel hunting in the spring, always with his caution never to tell anyone where we went. As if I, at eight or so, could’ve directed anyone to the woods where morel colonies hid under May apple leaves, or to the stretch along the train tracks where they flourished in the cinders beside the rails. We filled pillowcases with them and took them home for supper. Mom dusted them with seasoned flour and fried them in butter. Best meals ever, better even than a meal of fresh strawberries over warm biscuits with lots of cream and sugar.

My friend Joanne and I recently had an overnight getaway at a lovely place not far away on a river in the mountains — the name and GPS coordinates will not be revealed. We were clued in that there were giant mushrooms to see. I was to take my camera.

Six days of heavy rain had turned the place brilliant emerald and, as we arrived, the sun broke through like a searchlight from Heaven. The moss-carpeted ground sparkled with moisture, trees dripped, the river rushed, and there in the clearing, lit by a sunbeam, was the biggest darn mushroom either of us had ever seen.

After we carried our things into the little house that resembled something Goldilocks might have stumbled upon, and after coffee and several hours of chat, we headed outside on a ‘shroom search. Except for two enormous ones, I didn’t spot any. Joanne was a star. Everywhere she looked she found one, each different, all beautiful, some so tiny I couldn’t hold still enough to focus on them. (That’s my excuse anyway.)

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There weren’t any morels, but they are springtime ‘shrooms. Even if we’d found some, I wouldn’t have trusted myself to cook them. Without even knowing about the bounty that awaited in the woods, I had fixed a mushroom crust quiche the previous day for Jo and I to eat that evening. Later, a Google search showed me that our giant mushrooms were among the deadliest in the world: Destroying Angel, Amanita bisporigera.

The Amanita mushroom genus contains some of the deadliest mushrooms in the world.
Certain species of Amanita contain amanitin, a lethal toxin that kills by shutting down the liver and kidneys…
Amanitas usually start appearing during the second half of the season, in summer and fall.
Look for them in woodlands on the ground. In many places they are quite common.

No “destroying angels in my quiche, thank goodness!

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Store-bought is safe.