May 09, 2012

A fork in the road

When you live in a place for more than two decades, you come to know it by heart. Its destinations, traditions, and history carve patterns on your memory.


The turn of a road…


The spot where a tornado cut through a field back in 1992…


The country cemetery…


The ribbon wave of a road…


The view of the lake…


All of these paths are on the route to one of my favorite garden nurseries, Kopke’s Fruit of the Bloom.


I don’t remember the first year I visited Kopke’s, but I do remember being there when my son was a toddler. And now he will graduate from college in less than two weeks.

It was an interesting dynamic for me during my most recent trip over this familiar path, which leads from town through the countryside, to my destination about 10 miles from my house. It has become an annual trek, something I look forward to the other 11 months of the year.


It’s really about the journey as much as it is about the destination. And this time, memories of a little boy fascinated by farm animals combined with the anticipation of new adventures.

I had planned to select new plants for my potted annuals. But there was a strong pull from familiar plants that have never let me down. I ended up going with the tried and true—Impatiens, Coleus, Fuchsia. But I chose new colors and varieties...and a Caladium and a couple of perennials...and some vegetable plants...


I had planned to travel the same familiar route home. But I broke with tradition and took an alternate path back, over roads I hadn’t traveled before.



It seems like a simple thing, but there was something significant about it all.

What about you? Do you fall into patterns with favorite garden nurseries and plant suppliers? With favorite plants? Are you successful striking out in new directions? Do you find yourself compromising—combining some of the old with some of the new?

22 comments:

  1. Beautiful scenery, thank you for taking me with you, I really enjoyed it. I also make regular trips to the nursery but my road is suburban, full of cars, shopping malls and traffic lights, not at all peaceful and meandering like yours...

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    1. Thanks, Masha. My snap-and-shoot photos on a gray day don't really do it justice, but it is a pretty nice place to be. Lots of rolling hills and gentle farms. There are other garden nurseries around here that I like, too, but I always make at least one trip to Kopke's, partly because of the memories and scenery.

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  2. I love this post! This is the longest I've lived in one place (11 years) so I'm starting to feel those things for the first time. You sure live in a beautiful place. I am jealous of the single lane roads & beautiful countryside. Everything is four lanes here & traffic moves at a pace you don't dare sight-see while driving.
    p.s. tried & true is always good ~ at least you can expect good results

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    1. Thanks, Kathleen! Some of the other garden nurseries take me through the city--that's part of the reason I like Kopke's. It's such a calm, zen experience driving there, especially on a beautiful day in May.

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  3. Love all the shots of the roads and countryside! I too visit a handful of nurseries. I have come to know the owners and their passion for their trade. I try to take alternate routes when running routine errands to change things up a bit. Looks like you got some great plants to add to your garden!

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    1. You are inspiring me to try some new plants! I already have several in mind. So I will add those to the list for my next trip. :) And, I love to take alternate paths! I'm trying to do that more and more as the years go on!

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  4. I've heard that when you get older you get set in your ways. I'm finding that I want to try the new and different. I'm growing ornamentals, natives, berries, herbs, and vegetables. Natives are my passion right now because I have so much to learn and I find them so interesting. I'm feeling the need to move but I may have to settle for a vacation or two until the time is right. I haven't found my forever home yet but I'm looking. Thanks for the great post.

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    1. Me, too, Mary! I think now that the kids are grown, I feel like I have more time and inclination to explore. I'm with you on the natives, too, except for my flowering annuals. I am having trouble, though, with pulling out non-natives that were here when I moved in. And I do include some bedding plants that are non-natives if I can keep them under control.

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  5. Such a lovely photo essay, Beth. I have similar feelings, since we've lived in this area a long time. I have trouble giving specific directions to people, other than "turn at Fippens' horse farm" and "go past Patterson Cemetery":) I have my favorite garden centers and nurseries I visit every year, but I try to visit some place new every year as well. I'm going to be gone for a week, so I've been holding off buying annuals until I return, and it's killing me:)

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    1. Thank you, Rose. Oh, that would be hard to hold off on the annuals! Have a good, safe trip. We'll catch up with you when you get back.

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  6. I love seeing those roads. I have lived all my life within this five mile radius...well, except college days. It is a comfort one cannot explain. Yes, I do take new paths now and then and I am always delighted by something along the way.

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    1. Yes, I agree, it's hard to describe. The place really becomes a part of who you are. And some people would probably find it weird that I have a twinge of joy traveling a simple section of road. But it's the memories that go along with it that mean so much. :)

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  7. Well I love to be a rebel! If I'm told orange is THE color you can bet I'll choose pink :)As a designer I need to be able to work to other peoples aesthetic. That often means challenges but can also be quite liberating

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    1. I like that idea of being a rebel!! I can't say I'm a rebel in my garden (although maybe in some other areas of life). ;-) But I do like to sneak a few new plants in here and there. I'll let you know about those in a future post. Thanks for the encouragement, Karen!

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  8. What a lovely post Beth...yes I can fall into habits but they will not sustain me for long...I must break free of them eventually...I do have a fav nursery near our current house...but I actually walk around and see what flowers call to me and then I pick those...some are new and some tried and true for containers...

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    1. Thank you, Donna! Sounds like you are a bit more adventurous in your garden than I am. You are a good friend to have around! It's funny--I see new plant combinations at the garden nurseries and think about trying them, but then I'm hesitant to spend $$ on plants I'm not sure will work out. So I slip a few new ones in here and there.

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  9. I really love the theme of this post. :o) Because the learning curve of gardening can be expensive, I combine plants that are tough and time-tested with new plants. I've recently added ornamental grasses to the garden, which is a group I've avoided since they all seemed to grow so big. I also branched out into succulents, although that branch is still very tiny! As for nurseries, I'll try any of them as long as they seem reputable and have good stock. I tried a new online nursery this spring, Hornbakers, and was thrilled with the results.

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    1. I think that's how I am, too, for the most part. I tend to stick with reliable plants, but I like to try a few new ones each year, too. I've always wanted to try ornamental grasses--but most of them prefer sun, which is in short supply in my garden. I'll have to check into Hornbakers!

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  10. A great idea for a post. I have been thinking more about familiar landscapes recently, now that it looks like I'll be leaving them behind at the end of June (moving 30 miles away). I am particularly sad about leaving my favorite woods and creeks, not to mention the garden. Still, the idea of creating a new garden is exciting. Such a tension always been the comfort of the old and the lure of the new.

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    1. Wow, that will be difficult. Your current location is so peaceful and beautiful! But you will have fun with your new plants and garden!

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  11. What a lovely post and a great idea! And I can see why you keep gravitating back to that Nursery. The route is beautiful, the plants are gorgeous! Lovely!!

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    1. Thanks, Christine! I need to get back there for some perennials...

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