Atlanta's beguiling fall has me in her grip...

After three months in sunny California, I am here in flouncy Atlanta for a short period, to do some work, to pack up my remaining things, and to see dear Atlanta friends.  I say flouncy in reference to the ubiquitous chrysanthemums spilling into long driveways, the newly planted pansies and cabbages fronting rotund Boxwods, the frilly Sasanquas nodding their heads with the weight of their crammed petals, and the drying panicles of the Oak Leaf Hydrangeas, visible around every corner.  These familiar attractions are being eclipsed by the fiery hues of the sugar maples, the Black Tupelo, and towering oak trees, highlighted by the golden frippery of Beeches and Ginkos.  I have missed the South, and I have missed my friends.  I am savoring the honesty in its autumnal gardens--when peonies can't lie about the upcoming heat and when we know that it's a worthwhile risk to plant some delicate poppies on a warm day, even if they do melt during the wet winter.

Nostalgia took root as I drove down I-75 from Kentucky, the amber light playing on the roadside seed-heads of asters, bronzy sumac, and determined Cercis seedlings in the Limestone chapparal.  The nostalgia grew and flowered when I saw that the frost hadn't yet leavened the daisies dancing in the outcroppings on Arabia mountain. Gardening, though plant-centric and often its most satisfying when solitaire, is still a social endeavor at core.  We save seed from our castor bean vine and next year it's scrambling on our neighbor's picket.  We divide our grandmother's irises and take them as a housewarming to a new neighbor.  We pass off some of our mustard greens to an old friend, and share the best recipe we have found for them.  We discuss the merits of adding lime to our soil; we mull over the options to address our muddy slope.  We meet up to tour and ogle the best in public and private gardens.  We are motley participants in a secret love affair, and this shared affinity unites the most unlikely of companions.  It's more than mutually finding peace in our natural surroundings--it's the shared love for cultivating a plot and making it into something with promise and charm.  The bug that makes us chase the fleeting perfection of fetching anemones flanking the screen door.  I have been especially reminded of and grateful for these such connections during my Atlanta sojurn.  We carried a busty bouquet to our friends at HomeGrown, where we savored their freshly caught trout and seasonal greens.  We celebrated place and time with an apple cake and a sipping cider around a blazing campfire on a hidden treasure of a farm.   Today I walked through a senescing Druid Hills garden, noting the berries on the Viburnum setigera, the ground littered with golden leaves and Pineapple Guavas, and the way Rosa 'Climbing Pinkie' has scrambled on up the arbor during its fall flush, as we hoped it would do.   How lucky I am to have these abundant treasures to carry with me back to California.

 Please excuse these phone photos--I haven't been strapped with my camera at all times here.

The best meal in town: Blue Collar Lunch at HomeGrown


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