From My Carolina Home

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March in the Garden

It is still looking more like spring than winter here, and amazingly the flowers are coming into bloom.  I am so afraid that our Blackberry Winter will nip all these flowers. Blackberry Winter is what we locals call a cold snap, and often a freeze, right when the blackberry bushes begin blooming – usually early April. Recently, I went to the Biltmore House, and showed some of the wonderful costumes in their Designed for Drama exhibit. While we were there, we did some walking around the gardens. Normally there would not be anything blooming in February, but due to the early warmth, lots of flowers are coming out too soon. All around are Bradford Pear trees and Golden Forsythia starting to put on a show. The cherry trees are starting to bloom with their delicate pink blossoms.

Biltmore Gardens Winter at From My Carolina Home

Little clumps of daffodils are popping up here and there.

Biltmore Gardens Winter at From My Carolina Home

Believe it or not, these are azaleas! They shouldn’t be in bloom for two more months.

Biltmore Gardens Winter at From My Carolina Home

This beauty is a variety of crocus dwarf iris?  There were several beds of these guys around Antler Village at the Biltmore Estate.

Biltmore Gardens Winter at From My Carolina Home

One thing I appreciate about winter is the architecture of the bare limbs of plants and trees. This gorgeous thing is a giant wisteria vine along an arbor leading into the Biltmore Gardens, likely close to 100 years old. It covers this arbor, and is stunning in spring.

Biltmore Gardens Winter at From My Carolina Home

This is a Japanese cutleaf maple, wonderful twisted trunk and branches, almost resembles a giant bonsai. In spring, this will be covered in red leaves.  There is such grace in this form.

Biltmore Gardens Winter at From My Carolina Home

Just down the path from the arbor is this spray of white flowers covering several bushes. I didn’t get the marker for what they are.  But I know they shouldn’t be blooming yet.

Biltmore Gardens Winter at From My Carolina Home

Back at home, the seedling are starting to put up small leaves. I need to replant some of them a bit deeper.

March Garden at From My Carolina Home

The best part of February was the progress on the amaryllis. The bud came out in mid-February, with 2 blooms. Previously the flower spike had four, so I need to repot it this year. It must need more nutrients than I can give it with just fertilizer, and needs new soil. Excruciatingly slow, it took four days to get partially open.

Amaryllis Bulb Year 4 at From My Carolina Home

Then one flower opened fully, beautiful dark red. The other followed a few days later.

Amaryllis Bulb Year 4 at From My Carolina Home

Both flowers fully opened, just lovely. I moved it out of the kitchen over to the pub table to protect it from damage.

Amaryllis Bulb Year 4 at From My Carolina Home

The bad news was there was going to be a major thunderstorm with possible hail on Wednesday night, then below freezing temperatures for three nights beginning Thursday night.  As I raced home from BOM club and errands on Wednesday trying to beat the rain, I found this when I got home.

Hyacinths 2

The hyacinth bulb I planted last year has come up and begun blooming. I knew the freeze would kill it, do I dug it up and put it in a pot in the Carolina room out back.  Then, looking at the flower beds truly for the first time in a few weeks, I was not pleased to see all this growth, in every bed! All three iris beds, the tulips, and the gladiolas are all coming up!


I needed to get them all covered before the rain hit, just in case there was hail. Plus, they need to be protected from the mid-20s overnight temperatures we will have for three nights. Racing against the oncoming storm, I managed to get them all covered with sheets or fabric, weighed down with lattice bits, extra pots and gutter remnants. The forecast for Saturday night is 24 degrees, a hard freeze.

Covered bulbs

As I went to the veranda for extra pots to use, I found the jump-ups were already in full swing, and blooming! So I picked up that pot and put it in the Carolina room too.

Jump ups on veranda

As I worked, I also saw that the bargain snapdragons that I got for less than a dollar made it through the winter and are growing.  They have doubled in size from the original plantings. They got covered too.


The planter box was covered as well with a piece of lattice and a drop cloth. I just hope that there isn’t a lot of wind, and that the covers all stay in place for the next couple of days.  There are daylilies and irises here.

Iris bed raised

I’ll have more gardening chores to do this month.  Transplanting the seedlings to set them lower in the dirt (which encourages stronger root growth according to my gardening book)  and thinning them out will best be done between the 5th and the 12th when the moon is waxing.  A PBS show on NC gardening has given me a couple of good ideas for new plants for the garden this year, so I will try to find these in my local garden centers – variegated weigela and red salvia.   I need to order my torenias too, the garden center grows them, and sets aside a flat for me each year.  Still keeping in mind that the last frost date for here is April 15, planting outside will have to wait in spite of this warm beginning.  I just hope that the freezing temperatures overnight and over the weekend don’t damage the local apple crop, or my bulbs.

Are you doing any garden chores or planning?  Or are you enjoying the last of summer in the southern hemisphere?



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February in the Garden

The moon is in the right phase for planting up to the 10th according to my Farmer’s Almanac, so I had to get a bit done over the weekend.  DH has set up a grow light for me in the basement, and donated some of his workbench space there so I can once again make an attempt to get some decent tomatoes, and a head start on the flowers for the veranda. Before we get started with digging in the dirt, here is the bud on the amaryllis. It continues to make slow progress towards a flower again this year.

Feb Garden 6

The African violets in the kitchen continue to do well in their new pots. See how tall the amaryllis is getting! This will be the fourth year it has bloomed.  I put a stake in the pot and loosely draped a selvedge around it to give it some support if it starts to lean.  Most years it stands just fine on its own. This way if it starts to fall over, it is protected from damage.

Feb Garden 7

This year I am starting some seeds in the pots I plan to keep them in, so no transplant shock. I found these two urn shaped pots at the thrift store.  I think they will look great on either side of the front door.  I plan to put johnny jump-ups in them.  They are only about 2 feet tall.

Feb thrifting in the garden 3

Warm days over the weekend made it nice to fill pots with soil outside.  Once again, I did coffee filters in the bottom.

Feb Garden 1

I plan a small herb garden in the ceramic pots, and I want to start those seeds now too.

Feb Garden 2

I had to dig out some trays to catch the water, and make sure I had enough of them.

Feb Garden 3

Then DH did pack-mule duty and helped to carry all of it down to the basement. I planted seeds in all of them. This year I hope I have solved my labeling issue, every year I seem to mess this up. This year I dug out some leftover plastic knives from my picnic supplies and wrote the plants on them with a sharpie pen. Let’s hope this time I’ll still be able to read them in two months.

Feb Garden 4

Last year I put some seeds out in the garden after the last frost for a hummingbird vine. The seeds were sent to me by long time reader, Mary. I do not know what happened to them, but I suspect that I forgot they were there and pulled them up as weeds. This year I put them in the large clay pot on the left, and Mary, I promise that I won’t pull them up as weeds this year. She also sent me some Meyer Lemon seeds, and I’ll try those a bit later in a larger pot.

Feb Garden 5

And lastly, I am still enjoying the gorgeous white roses DH brought me over a week ago. Aren’t they beautiful?!  They have such a lovely fragrance too.

Roses 1

Here are a couple of close shots, just perfect flowers.

Roses 2

Roses 3

I found this lovely white planter at the thrift store, but didn’t plant anything in it now. I want to put flowers in it and I ran out of seeds. But I’ll get some for planting later in the week.

Feb thrifting in the garden 1

Oh, and I found this garden themed goodie too. Not sure what I will do with it, the holes in the sides make it unsuitable for planting. It might end up on a table at some point.

Feb thrifting in the garden 2

If you have a spot for indoor above-ground crop seed starting, now is the time for February, up to the 10th when the moon reaches its fullest point.  Are you planning your garden or starting seeds now?



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January in the Garden

January means little to do in the garden outside, but there are plenty of things to do inside.  I am my annual mode of reading my new Farmer’s Almanac, perusing the seed catalogs, and scrounging for gardening magazines at the thrift stores and library magazine exchange.  I already repotted my orchid, and I have needed to repot the African violets for some time. I actually did repot them in larger pots some time ago, but never could find another tray to put them on for watering. So, I put them back in the smaller pots, just a bit deeper and left them for the last year. Now they really are getting so big that I need to do something.  They put on a huge growth spurt after being outside in the warm summer and fall months.  Even now, they are putting out little leaves and still going.

Repotting Violets

While I was out in the thrift stores, I looked for a larger tray that both could sit on, but didn’t find anything. When I came across these deep glass dishes, I figured they could just each have their own.  The moon is full right now, and the warm temperatures this past week made it a perfect time to do a bit of digging in the dirt. I found two pots in the garage, larger than their current pots, and should do nicely for some time to come.

Repotting Violets

You can see under this one how much it has grown, all that stem will produce roots if I plant it deeper than it was before.

Repotting Violets

I did my coffee filter trick in the bottom of the pots too, keeps the dirt in while allowing the water to drain out. I water violets from the bottom, but proper drainage is still important.

Repotting Violets

Back in the house with their new pots, joining the rest of my little indoor garden on the pie safe in the kitchen.

Repotting Violets

I am thrilled that the amaryllis is putting out leaves once again!  This will be the fourth year it has grown and I am of course hoping for a beautiful display of the deep red flowers. It started like this, just a peek of a leaf, making me smile.

Amaryllis 2017

Then a week later it had two leaves.  I gave it a diluted feeding hoping that it has all the nutrients it needs to bloom.

Amaryllis January

Now it has three leaves and the flower bud is showing! The growth is excruciatingly slow, it has taken three weeks to get to this point. But it has been worth the wait every year.

Amaryllis flower bud

We had more visitors in January too, these deer came by before the snow.

Deer visit 3

And a group of Northern Flickers made a stop.

Northern Flicker 2

Thought you’d like to see the dawn view of clouds coming in before the snow. This is the mountain view to the east.

January Dawn 1

And this was over the valley the same morning.

January Dawn 4

I found these interesting wood branches with lichen in the driveway. They fell out of one of the trees that line the paved area. I have to think of something neat to do with them.

Lichen 1

DH put up a grow light for me in the basement workshop, and donated a bit of his workbench space for my annual seed planting fever. He put the light on a timer so I won’t have to remember to turn it on and off, and put a grow bulb in it that glows pink. I am fairly confident that with adequate light, the seeds will do better this year. I am planning get some herbs started soon, and a few other veggies a bit later. I’ll show you that in February.

Just to let you know what will happen in the next few days, tomorrow will begin a neat blog hop which I hope you all will enjoy.  That post will remain the latest one for four days while I have oral surgery again, hopefully the last time.  The previous one really knocked me down for several days, so this hop comes at a good time.  You can come back each day to visit the links to the posts for that day, plus there will be a giveaway to keep the interest up.  I’ll be back on Friday with the giveaway winner.  I may not be answering comments for those days, depends on how many there are and how I feel.  I expect to be parked in front of Netflix for several days while DH makes me soup.  I’ll be looking at my seed catalogs too.

Are you gardening or thinking about your garden?


Orchids for Winter Beauty

Orchids are such beautiful flowers, so much variety in their colors and shape from simple to ruffled, single and double blooms, pure white to exotic two or more color varieties.  My gardening calendar recommends orchids for January blooms.  This must be a common idea because the local grocery store floral department has dozens of them in full bloom.  If you are an orchid fan, a visit to the Biltmore House gardens should include a walk through the Orchid greenhouse. This lovely ruffled, lavendar beauty was there on my last visit.  I am trying to learn the difference between a cattleya from a cymbidium, but no guarantees that I got all these right, LOL!!  I think this one is a cattleya variety.

Orchid Garden 2

I think the pretty pink striped orchid with the solid pink lip is a phalaenopsis variety.

Orchid Garden 1

This apricot orchid with stripes has an unusual shape to the lip and column.

Orchid Garden 3

The lady slipper appearance of this gorgeous green orchid with a striped green and white septal has to be a Paphiopedilum. (Say that three times real fast, LOL!)

Orchid Garden 4

I am guessing that this pink beauty is an Odontoglossum, going on the ruffled petals and septal, and the arrangement of the solid pink lip and golden color column.

Orchid Garden 5

About four years ago, I was given an orchid in full bloom. Those blooms lasted a good six weeks, then slowly died off. Since then it has sat with the same leaves, not really growing. This past summer when it was much warmer and more humid than usual, I put it outside for a bit, knowing these are mostly tropical plants. Well, that did something because the roots started growing, and it put out two new leaves. As I lifted out the liner to empty the excess water, I noticed that they were coming through the bottom. So, I thought I should repot it. After months of procrastination, I did get to it last week during one of the warmer days.

Orchid repotting 2

Of course, I knew nothing about repotting orchids, but a search on the internet and a bit of wisdom from the garden center provided guidance. I got some orchid potting mix at the garden center. They take a special growing medium of porous bark-like material that will absorb water.

Orchid repotting 1

Pour out the old mix and discard. The bits have nutrients so the plant can be fed as the roots attach, so you don’t want to reuse the old stuff.  I had to pick off a few remaining bits that the plant was attached to.

Orchid repotting 4

Trim the dead or damaged roots. One of the really long roots that was growing through the bottom of the pot had a damaged section at the top. It was so damaged, that I just cut it off.  I threw it out, and now am wondering if I should have kept it to propagate a new plant.  Ah well.

Orchid repotting 5

Here it looks like I might have been able to divide this plant into two plants. But since I have enough trouble with one plant, I left it alone.

Orchid repotting 6

I placed it in a new wider and larger plastic liner pot, with bottom of the leaves level with the top of the pot.

Orchid repotting 7

Fill in the spaces with more growing mix. Resist the urge to press it into place, this isn’t soil and will damage the plant.

Orchid repotting 9

Then, the liner is placed into a decorative pot I found at the thrift store last week. Perfect size!  I am fairly sure this one is a Phalaenopsis, due to the wide leaves with a crease in the middle.  If I remember right, it had a white flower with a pink lip.

Orchid repotting 8

I watered it well, allowing the excess to drain off, and placed it back into the decorative pot. I bought a little mister at the store to feed it with. The mister will not provide humidity, that will be from a tray of water set nearby, but it will be used once a week with a very weak solution of plant food. I’ll be interested to see if these little changes will result in blooms.  I’ve been keeping it in the bathroom where the overall humidity is higher than any other room in the house, but the light level is lower there due to the north facing window.  So, I am going to try it in the kitchen for a while.

Orchid repotting 10

I have more flowers to show you, as I tend to take pictures of beautiful flowers a lot.  Last year when we went to Wilmington, the hotel had orchids all over the place.

Orchids 4

Red spotted Phalaenopsis was growing near the door.

Orchids 5

This one had green petals and septal with a pink throat and lip, very unusual coloring!

Orchids 6

Peachy pink Phalaenopsis was blooming near the elevator.

Orchids 7

This yellow orchid with a white lip and deep pink throat had two blooms open, and more to come in buds.

Orchids 8

Our local Mountain State Fair garden competition has an orchid category.   There were not a lot of entries, and this one had a ribbon.  It really caught my eye, with its green and purple coloring.  I am thinking it has to be a hybrid of varieties.  Did you know that there are over 10,000 known hybrids of orchids?  I was surprised to learn that.

State Fair 2016 - Orchids green purple

This two tone purple one had a lot of blooms, gorgeous colors.

State Fair 2016 - Orchid purple

Here are a couple more photos from the Biltmore Gardens Orchid house.  These orchids in several colors and varieties were clustered together in a gorgeous display.

Orchid Garden 6

A yellow Phalaenopsis with a pink throat finishes our tour.

Orchid Garden 7

Originally, I planned to show all these orchids with a book review of a non-fiction book called The Orchid Thief.  It is the true story about a man who goes to great lengths to obtain rare orchids, and once prosecuted for theft of rare wild orchids from the Florida state swamps.  He is obsessed with a rare orchid Polyrrhiza lindenii or Ghost Orchid, which is a very unusual white orchid with lower petals that resemble legs.  The reviews are excellent, but I found the writing boring and kind of all over the place.  It does give an interesting glimpse of the mania of orchid collectors – called orchidelirium by the Victorians – and also the seedy underworld of orchid commerce.  The subject of orchids and the world of orchid collectors still interests me, so I’ll try other books on the subject before recommending one.

Update, just to be clear, none of these flowers belong to me – they are all pictures I took while at the Biltmore House in Asheville or the Hilton Hotel in Wilmington.  The only plant I have is the bedraggled one that I repotted, it isn’t flowering but I have hope.

Are you a fan of orchids?

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Late November Garden

Cold outside means the garden moves inside.  After leaving my violets out on the veranda all summer, they finally decided to bloom again! I had forgotten the color of the lovely purple and white variegated blooms.

Late November Garden at From My Carolina Home

I am thrilled, finally I think I have figured out what they really need to bloom. The other one is a velvety purple.

Flowers in Late November

My Thanksgiving Cactus bloomed for the holiday this year beautifully too. I love these unusual flowers.  This was a gift from a dear friend, and I am amazed that I have kept it alive and blooming every year for over 10 years now!

Late November Garden at From My Carolina Home

I learned that although I originally believed this to be a Christmas Cactus, it has the spiky leaves which makes it a Thanksgiving Cactus, blooming usually in November.

Late November Garden at From My Carolina Home

It has several flower colors all in the same pot, purple, pink, red, yellow and white.

Flowers in Late November

Flowers in Late November

On the veranda, in spite of the sub-freezing temperatures of the past few nights, the white begonias are still blooming like mad. All the pots are still going. I stopped watering them for about a week after DH turned off the water outside to prevent the pipes from freezing. Still, the little guys continued. Yesterday, I watered the ones still going with a pitcher.

Late November veranda 2

The red dianthus are still blooming too, they should have finished up a month ago.

Late November veranda 5

The chrysanthemums got a drink too.  Their colors are fading, and I should dry some of the flowers for use later.

Late November veranda 1

Late November veranda 4

Time for the pumpkin to go, I think. But, before we leave the Autumn season, here’s one more last look at sunlit autumn color.

Late November Garden at From My Carolina Home

These leaves are still hanging on, but coming down fast.

Late November Garden at From My Carolina Home

Lovely autumn color, finally here, and gone too soon.

Late November Garden at From My Carolina Home

I have been seeing the turkeys several times a day now. The two males have again separated from the flock, and forage on their own. I have been getting them used to seeing me, and just this past week began talking to them. They make the most wonderful little cluck-purring noise, like they are talking back, and they no longer run away when they see me. So, on Thanksgiving, I stepped slowly onto the veranda while they were visiting and gave them a piece of whole wheat bread, broken up into a few pieces. They were wary but they did eat it. One gave a nice display of his tail feathers, and puffed up, probably to signal that he was ready to do battle if necessary.

Late November Garden at From My Carolina Home

After a couple of mornings giving them a bite, not only are they not afraid of me anymore, but they come running when they see me! It is fun. I don’t plan to continue this long, as I don’t want to make them into pets. I certainly respect the fact that they are wild and should continue to be so.

Late November Garden at From My Carolina Home

But, for a day or two, I’ll feed the turkeys as well as the little birds.  I wonder if they might eat that pumpkin?  Today, and this week I’ll be packing up Thanksgiving and getting out Christmas.  I’ll be simmering a pot of turkey soup while watching football and piddling around collecting up the autumn decor. My MIL is coming in five days, and I want to get to Christmas decorating and setting a pretty table for her visit.  Plus, I have some blocks to do for Waltz!  So, I better get busy.

What’s going on around your home today?


Late September in the Garden

Fall colors are going to be late this year and likely not as pretty as in other years due to the dry weather, the need for rain, and warmth that is lasting too long.  We need a cold front, and some rain!!  I cannot find much in the way of color yet.  We should have some by now as our peak is usually the second week of October.  Some of the Bradford Pear trees have begun to change in town, but on our property not much is happening.  Well, except for the stupid locust trees that are raining brown leaves on the driveway.  Everything else is staying green for now.

Driveway leaves

Up on the veranda, the geranium decided to have one more burst of hot pink blooms. Not one of my fall colors, but it didn’t care about my color scheme or the harvest wreath hanging near the door.


In the large pot near the front door, a volunteer yellow double begonia came up totally unexpectedly. I planted these last year, but went with the white single begonia this year. It sure took its time, not flowering until now.

Double begonia

The white impatiens continue to bloom, amazing that they just don’t seem to want to quit. But I am sure that the warm weather is responsible.  All three pots under the little tile tables look like this one.


The watering can plants have struggled a little, never really taking off the way I had hoped. But this intrepid pink impatiens finally bloomed nicely.  All the lobelias are done and gone.

Pink impatien

The purple torenias in the hanging baskets are still blooming some, but are looking really ragged.  If it wasn’t for the hummingbird still visiting them I’d take them down.  She stopped by yesterday and hovered right in front of me as I was watering them. The yellow torenia is still going, but it is winding down too.

Yellow torenia September

The flowers themselves are also much paler in color, but still pretty. I would have cleaned them up a bit, but it is just still to warm for me.  Pulling weeds, cleaning up the grass in the beds, and deadheading the flowers is all on the list of things to do.  Maybe early next week when we are supposed to get a little cooler.

Torenia yellow

So, I looked around for some fall color, and all I can find is this little bit on a maple tree up the mountainside.

Late September Garden at From My Carolina Home

And just a little bit in this tree on the north side of the house.

Fall Leaves Sept 2016

The rest of the forest all around our home is still green to the west, …

September Forest 1

green to the east…

September Forest 3

and more green in the back.

September Forest 4

A few visitors came by, nine turkeys all hungry for the acorns falling all over.

Late September Garden at From My Carolina Home

I tried to get some pictures of them in the field but they ran off pretty fast.

Late September Garden at From My Carolina Home

There was some color in the sky one evening last week.

Late September Sunset 3

I hoped they were bringing rain, but alas, not to be.  Still the evenings are cool, and it is nice to sit on the veranda in the rocking chairs and watch the light play in the clouds with the setting sun.

Late September Sunset 1

In other news…

If you missed the giveaway yesterday for the book, click on Sewing Fiction Stories of Life to enter. That drawing will be Saturday so you still have time to comment.

And on the Bloggers Quilt Festival, nominations are open for Viewer’s Choice.  Nominations will be taken through the weekend, then voting on all the categories begins Monday.  Visit this link and nominate your three favorite quilts for Viewer’s Choice voting.  Click HERE.  Actual voting for quilts in the categories begins next week.

So what are you up to?  Gardening, sewing, reading?


Early September Garden and Oklawaha Greenway Walk

It has finally cooled down to a reasonable low 80s during the day, so DH and I can get back to doing some hiking.  This weekend, he wanted to explore the Oklawaha Greenway that runs through Hendersonville.  This isn’t hiking, just walking, but it was close and we could get some fresh air and exercise.  This greenway is a paved walking path that links several parks in our small town. It is so much green right now, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing it again later in autumn when the leaves start turning.

Oklawaha Greenway Walk

One part of the trail has a raised wooden bridge, over a swampy area.

Oklawaha Greenway Walk

Pretty little gardens appear here and there, but their blooming season is just about done.

Oklawaha Greenway Walk

I don’t know what these little wild orange flowers are, but they were in bloom everywhere!

Oklawaha Greenway Walk

Speaking of blooms, back home there are still wonderful torenias that the hummingbirds visit daily. The leaves on the torenias are losing their deep green color, signaling that their season is almost over. In the background, it looks like we are losing one of our beautiful evergreen pine trees that was hit by lightening earlier in the summer.

Early September Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

The yellow torenias are still going strong. They are a different variety, and seem to be a bit hardier. The hummingbirds will visit them too, but they seem to prefer the purple ones.

Early September Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

The geraniums are giving me one more burst of blooms.

Early September Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

The white impatiens got huge over the summer, and are still blooming like crazy too.

Early September Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

There are a few new blooms on the bargain snapdragons. I love it when I take something almost gone and bring it back with just a little water and care.

Early September Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

I have a few new blooms on the delphiniums (oops) dianthus too. I love the light and dark bands of color on these flowers.

Early September Garden ~ From My Carolina Home

There have been a couple of visitors in the garden recently too. I keep seeing these gorgeous black and blue butterflies. This one was resting on the veranda, and graciously agreed to have its picture taken, opening its wings to show its color.

Late August at From My Carolina Home

Then there was this little guy. He (she?) is a walking stick. I don’t see them often, and it is always fun when one stops by for a visit.

Late August at From My Carolina Home

Lastly, I wanted to share these photos with you. Sometimes the sunsets are quite spectacular from our veranda. These were taken in late August, and I just now have a spot to share them.

Late August at From My Carolina Home

They were taken about 10 minutes apart, and nicely show the progression of the sun and movement of the clouds.

Late August at From My Carolina Home

I wish I could get the camera to see both the beauty in the sky, and the green of the trees the way my eyes can.

Late August at From My Carolina Home

How is your garden doing?