Tuesday, March 10, 2020


Yesterday was a nice day weather wise, and so I worked in my garden. It needs a lot of clean up at this time of the year. We had a relatively warm and wet winter and many plants are blooming out early. I had planned to post pictures of my garden for my usual Friday garden walk this week, but I think we need a break right now rather than a few days from now. It seems as if all of us are suffering from high anxiety.

The world seems to be in a near panic over the coronavirus. China is in crisis. The whole country of Italy is in lock down. The virus is spreading rapidly in America. Alabama has had no case of it yet, but it is only a matter of time. Two students at Jacksonville State University, who live in Georgia, tested positive. They were workers at a hospital in Georgia where an infected patient was housed. They are under self-quarantine and it is not known if they have infected anyone else.

The president of the United States is incompetent and, as everything else, is treating this problem as a public relations issue rather than a health crisis. With Trump, everything has to be about him. Fortunately, there are outstanding health care professionals who are dealing with the matter on the national scene. The president needs to shut up and get out of the way to allow the actual geniuses, as Dr. Anthony Fauci, to do their critically needed work.

The stock market has gone into wild fluctuations. Yesterday the DOW dropped 2,000 points, the worst fall in 12 years. This morning it up a few hundred points. The markets are out of control because of the economic chaos around fears of a pandemic. Who knows what they will do next. The stock market hates uncertainty.

Even our churches are in chaos. Should we close down the churches? Should we stop communion? Should we share the common cup? Should we shake hands at passing the peace? Should we touch anyone at all? The news reported that Christ Church in D.C. shut down when the rector tested positive. What are we going to do when our own local rector tests positive? (Love and care for him or her, I hope.)

Meetings, gatherings, concerts, sports events etc. are being cancelled or postponed all over the globe as people have cleaned out shelves of hand-sanitizer and toilet paper. Just try to find a face mask. It is already a panic in ways.

So, to get a brief respite from the craziness of life all around us, let's stroll through my garden.

My garden is in what I call its Second Phase of the growing season. The First Phase is in late winter when the bulbs predominate and some of the early spireas bloom out. Camellias are the great stars of the garden all through the winter, some blooming in early spring. Now, the bulbs, as daffodils, and most of the camellias have played out. 

Many gardeners consider common Carolina jasmine to be a weed and pull it up wherever they find it. Not I. Its bright yellow flowers and aroma in late winter/early spring herald a new year, a new season. It is best to put this on a support, as the trellis here that forms the entrance to a walk path. I have to fight this vine to keep it under control, but it is worth it for the beauty it offers at this time of the year.

Forsythia is one of the best shrubs for the south. It puts out tiny yellow flowers, similar to jasmine, in late winter-early spring before it leafs out. These are along a walk path. They have passed their flowering prime which was a couple of weeks ago. If you live in the south and have room for one shrub, it should be camellia. The second one should be forsythia.

This dwarf peach tree is beginning to bloom. My guess is the vast peach orchards from Alabama to South Carolina are in full bloom. Let's hope we do not have another killing freeze before spring.

This gold dust (Aucuba) is about to be devoured by this "Spring Bouquet" spirea. I should cut back the spirea but I hate too. Its aroma is similar to tea olive, but much stronger. This particular spirea is an excellent garden shrub and is underused in the south.

The commonly-called "Japanese Magnolia" tree is ubiquitous across the south, and for good reason. In February, before it leafs out, it is covered by upright tulip-like pinkish/purple flowers. This particular one is a slightly later bloomer called "Stella Jane." Each bloom is a beauty in and of itself, purplish on the outside and white on the inside.

I suggest we all take a deep breath and relax a moment. We are indeed facing a possible pandemic. It it happens, it happens. The virus will do its own thing. There are common sense ways to respond but they are not panic and hysteria. That will make matters worse. Let's all follow the guidelines issued by the public health professionals in charge, such as those of the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Disease Control.

Meanwhile, remember that in the big picture life goes on orderly and if you need a reminder of that go out into a garden, or yard, and enjoy the glory of God's creation in this early spring. It will help reduce you level of anxiety.