We’ve been nominated for an award!!!

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‘We’ve been nominated for a Liebster award! Can you believe it Walter? I hate to disturb your nap, but Camellia’s Cottage has been nominated for an award!’~ Walter is looking at me like I’m crazy but Allie Mac, Brenda and I are excited around here! I mean, an award? y’all…really?photo Let me tell you what it is…The Liebster Award is given to new bloggers by another blogger. A big southern ‘Thank you darlin ‘- goes to an amazing blogger -Agatha Chocolats ! I think I’ve gained weight just looking at her blog with all of that chocolate! You have to go see what that little Southern girl is up to! To thank her properly here is a thank you note especially for you, Agatha- imageI like Agatha’s blog because of the images she uses- some are even short video clips, the 13 recipes she does once a week, the unusual combination of mystery and chocolate is intriguing and the playful, tasteful way she produces her blog. Currently it has to be my favorite! She has inspired me to be a better blogger.

Agatha had some questions for me when she nominated Camellia’s Cottage-

  • What would be the motto of your blog? Agatha, I would have to say, ‘Our Sweet Home in Alabama ‘.
  • What is your favorite childhood book? Hands down, it’s ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ – I love the question in it- ‘How do you know you’re ‘real’? And the reply, ‘You know you’re ‘real’ when your eyes fall out, your fur gets loved off and you are very shabby ‘ – by that definition, I am well on my way to- ‘becoming real’!
  • What is the best pairing for chocolate? It took one second to answer that one! Coffee!
  • What forms of social media do you like best when connecting with your readers outside of your blog? I’m old timey here, I would love to chat with them by phone or at an old fashioned ‘tea’ .
  • If you could invite 3 people (living, dead, fictional…anybody!) who would you invite? Well, darlin’ I would have to have 2 parties or one ‘dinner in the ground’! If I could have them back for just one meal, I would choose my grandmother, my husband’s grandmother and my precious mother in law for the first party. For the second party I would invite the ever inspirational Jesus Christ, who attended and even served some of the most miraculous meals ever! Then, C. S. Lewis,  one of the most scholarly and prolific authors ever! And of course, Thomas Jefferson- whose wide range of interests never fails to amaze me!
  • What would you serve? Agatha, I would want the ladies to cook for me! My grandmother’s turkey and dressing, my mother in law’s famous fresh coconut cake and my husband’s grandmother made delicious ‘southern baked-with-brown-sugar acorn squash’! For the men I would serve Parisienne Chicken, steamed broccoli, Sweet Orange Rolls, and a Mandarin Orange/toasted almond salad.
  • What are your 5 best qualities? Well now, that’s a hard one- I suppose (1)my sense of humor, (2)my love of place, (3)I hope I am creatively inspirational, (4)my concern for victims of poverty and domestic violence and the welfare of children; and (5)I would never want anyone to leave here- hungry or empty handed.
  •  What is the best thing covered in chocolate? Agatha! I hate being pinned down but I would have to say-  my homemade English Toffee!
  • What is your passion? My threefold passion is a love of learning, reading and writing, all of which come together at Camellia’s Cottage.
  • If you had 3 wishes what would they be?  Bless your heart, who wouldn’t want 3 wishes? (1)I wish Alabama could be experienced, not by the headlines, but by her natural beauty, a place where talent and  technology rub shoulders with farmers, football players, fashion designers and fishermen, where world renowned chefs and home cooks learn from each other; where goodness and greatness show their generosity regularly and where writers and publishers, art and industry exist on a level barely acknowledged; where kind gentle folk work hard, love their families and appreciate what true southern hospitality really is.(2) I wish I could read at least 100 books in 2016- I’ve read almost 50- so I’m making a good start, and finally, (3) I wish folks would choose watching, listening and reading things that aren’t loud and cynical ( where are Huntley/Brinkley?) but factual news which would inform and fill us up with hope and goodwill- I think those things should start with me and hopefully Camellia’s Cottage will do that.

Finally, Agatha Chocolats asked, which is the my most favorite published blog post? No contest! It was the least ‘liked’ or noticed on Camellia’s Cottage- called ‘ Lookin’ for Fame?’ Posted on March 23, 2016, about the amazing music, talent and recording genuises in the ‘Shoals’ of Northeast Alabama -I hope it will inspire you to at least see the ‘Muscle Shoals’ documentary! here’s a link- https://camelliascottage/2016/3/23/look-in-for-fame And we hope to do a part 2 to go with it, because world famous fashion designers, Billy Reid and Alabama Chanin are doing amazing work up that way too!

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There is more to accepting this award, including my personal nominees for the Liebster Award, which I will do in my next post…

In the meantime go take an indulgent visit to- Agatha Chocolats @ https://agathachocolats.com !   Love y’all, Camellia

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A time to plant…

imageGarden centers are blooming up a storm with bedding plants, herbs and vegetables…Now is the time to start planting, but not before you take a little time to think about what needs to go where, I am a big believer in getting the planting spaces ready whether in established beds or breaking new ground. Garden chores are never done, so decide what you want to focus on first. For me, it has to be the front yard; it’s where I usually park, it’s what I see when I go get the mail, it’s what I see when I come home. This year, we have had to install a new front door (more in another post on that!) and we also had to repair the screened porch in the back, not finished yet! Most  of the work is now going on out back, So you know it would have to be the front yard again this year. Here is my checklist for getting started.

  • Prune the dead branches and shrubs, this includes shrub roses and overgrown or overcrowded perennial plants.
  • Weed the established beds.
  • Find the blank spots. Buy pine straw for these areas, to hold down the weeds and hold moisture once the plants are in place.
  • Make note of what is growing well and where; what the current major color scheme is and if it needs tweaking.
  • Be aware of where the sun is at morning, midday and late afternoon.
  • Keep in mind the style and color of your home when buying plants.

This is all before the first bedding plants are even purchased. I had one area where creeping jenny and irises are just getting a foothold. I wanted these perennial plants to have room to spread, so that is where annuals needed to go. I made an odd choice as you can see- that’s right, I planted purple cabbage. It was cheap, colorful and will get big and then be gone! Small vegetable plants are generally cheaper than annual flowers. I like to plant begonias that mimic the colors of my knockout roses. But there are at least two spots that are too shady for the begonias to really make a good show, so I purchased a couple of six packs of annual impatiens in the same color family as the begonias and the roses.image

  • When buying bedding plants don’t just think ‘bloom’ think ‘foliage’- often the colored foliage will outlast the blooms. Purple cabbage- real or ornamental, opal basil and coleus are just a few.
  • Don’t buy spindly overgrown plants, you will have to cut them back to get a new flush of bloom which may not be as vigorous as buying very small younger plants. ( I made an exception to this rule, I bought a six pack of violas because I had a small spot for them and because they re-seed. Also at the end of the season I sometimes buy ‘spent’ plants if they are perennial or re-seed and if they are bargain plants.)
  • Don’t buy plants that are dried out, bedding plants need lots of water until they are well established.
  • When buying herbs, the rule of thumb is that most perennial herbs do not prefer good soil and do not need as much water as other plants, basil and mint are two exceptions to this rule. I love to plant rosemary in drier areas of my garden, it can get very large.
  • Some shrubs and fruit bearing plants can be planted now, azaleas and blueberries are good examples of this- both grow in my front garden.
  • There are so many tips and tricks this time of year, but one of my favorites is that a western exposure needs ‘hot’ plants- plants that can take heat and strong sunlight and that have strong color.
  • If something doesn’t work where it is, don’t be afraid to move the plant to a different spot next year, I give a plant 3 chances- after that? I have to assume I can’t grow it. If something you love grows prolifically? Plant it over and over again! I have masses of spiderwort, hosta, hydrangeas, azaleas and roses.

I love pale pink roses and camellias. I planted pale pink flowers in my front western exposure yard- and they just faded in the strong light. Now, I have a red camellia and the hot pink knock out roses, a mix of hot pinks in begonias and impatiens- when combined with greens, blues and dark purple, the result pleases me in that lighting. I planted my love of pale pink around back where the eastern sun is a perfect place for them to shine.

There are so many good garden books out there to help you make a good plan, one of my favorite garden authorities is P. Allen Smith- his book, ‘Garden Home’ is one of my favorites. I have more favorites listed at the end of the end of this post. Most of all  have fun with your garden, don’t try to make it look like a public park. Strive to make it a reflection of your own personality.

I’d love to hear your favorite tips and tricks -seasoned gardeners, first time gardeners, garden writers or bloggers- new and old, let’s hear from you-it’s time to plant!

Love y’all, Camellia

P. Allen Smith http://amzn.to/1rcQdZB

The Grumpy Gardener http://amzn.to/22JwKLl

Martha Stewart Gardening  http://amzn.to/1SoT62e

Rosemary Verey http://amzn.to/1rcR4tf