Slice of Life Challenge – March 11 – What’s in a Name?

I was shopping in Senoia, Georgia (home of The Walking Dead) when I noticed all of the plants in one of the stores had names. I took photographs of the name tags and noticed a pattern – – they were all named for famous black women. I struck up a conversation with the owner behind the counter and learned that this shop was a local black-owned business. I enjoyed an added dimension of discovery as I thought of all the women who were being celebrated. It’s reassuring to see how far we have come as women over the past century, and I cheer minority women who have overcome obstacles and stayed the course all the way to success and smiles behind the counters of the businesses that they own today.

I’m taking this innovative idea of naming my fairy garden succulents, which will be the last picture in the lineup – with a fascinating history of the names that were selected for these tiny front porch gardens. First, here are 6 of the 17 pictures I took in the Greenhouse Mercantile, with links underneath to the women for whom each plant is named:

Harriet Tubman

Oprah Winfrey

Madam C.J. Walker

Condoleezza Rice

Coretta Scott King

Cicely Tyson

Earlier in the week, I shared my succulent garden and asked for help naming my new fairy gardens. Fellow blogger Fran Haley responded:

I would give one of these fairies a name from a baby’s gravestone I first saw when I was a child visiting my grandmother deep in the country (along the old dirt road, you know-). The name: Leafy Jean. I might name the other fairy Lacey Jane. 

I loved the unique sounds of these sweet names with matching long vowels. I named the fairies Leafy Jean and Lacey Jane.

I wondered if I could find out a little bit of information about Leafy Jean, and so I looked on the Findagrave website and found the photo of this headstone for this baby girl “Gone Home”:

I’m betting this is the grave that Fran saw when she was with her grandmother. It’s located in Beaufort County, North Carolina in the Mixon Cemetery. Leafy Jean Wilson was born on a Sunday – Christmas Eve in 1916, two years after the Christmas Truce called between German and British Soldiers during World War II, when they set aside their differences and came together to play a game of soccer, wish each other Merry Christmas in their native tongues, and sing Christmas carols. The Christmas Truce came five months after the war began……and little Leafy Jean was five months old when she died on a Friday – June 22. I wondered at first if Leafy referenced an olive branch, a symbol of peace and goodwill, but looked it up and found that Leafy means “Relief.” In Hebrew baby names, the meaning of Jean is “Gift from God.” It’s a name of French origin, meaning “God is Gracious.” Leafy Jean had a brother named Leon Russell Wilson, who died when he was 1, one day shy of a full month after his sister, and less than a year prior to the outbreak of the Spanish Flu that started in February 1918.

My heart ached for these parents and these precious children.

I knew what I had to do.

I ran upstairs to the toy chest and fished out a few miniature figures. I explained to Lacey Jane that she would be moving to a different container, so we packed her fairy wands, her wishing well, and her other belongings for a journey to a new magical land.

We had to make room for Leon Russell to remain near Leafy Jean.

Thank you, Fran, for the creative names for these gardens. I will think of you as I water them and care for them! I’ll give an update on how they’re thriving on a Slice of Life Tuesday sometime this summer! Perhaps by then I will learn more history about these babies who now have a special place in my heart – and on my porch.

Special thanks to Two Writing Teachers for giving writers voice and space

Slice of Life Challenge – March 9 – A Mini Fairy Garden

Sometimes on weekends, I like to travel one county west to the Pike Nursery in Peachtree City, Georgia just to see their lovely displays and let my mind feast on the presentation ideas. They don’t just toss merchandise on shelves and keep it organized and neat; they arrange it so folks can see the limitless possibilities in the artistry of design. They have stations where everything you need for a project is right there, ready to jump in your buggy if you’re not careful enough to deflect it.

That’s what almost happened to me when I saw these mesmerizing miniature glass terrarium containers suspended from a garden arbor. I wanted all of them and the arbor, too, plus the chains to hang them, and I wanted to move the whole setup into my kitchen and set it up to hang over the table so I could sit there eating a plate of grapes, admiring it.

Instead, I took a step back and reminded myself that I am a killer of plants. Succulents have a slightly better chance than others, and I have managed to keep a peace lily and a philodendron from perishing because my husband notices when it needs watering. But no one from Pike Nursery would be coming home with me to ensure these glass-encased ornamental plants thrived……which meant certain death for the plants.

I took a picture of the terrarium directions and wondered if these same instructions might work for two small succulent gardens to go on my front porch tables. It was worth a shot, so I decided to modify the idea to fit the need instead of installing a glass jungle over my table.

I toyed with the idea of building a couple of Mason jar terrariums again, but I’d tried these before, too, and failed. I couldn’t give up on trying to succeed ~ I just needed to find a foolproof beginner level container garden project.

A garden of succulents had the best shot of living. And I wanted to add some fairies to the mix. I followed the directions on the poster and collected the supplies I needed to create two plant pots for the two coffee tables on the front porch. I selected two containers and an assortment of plants. I also got some pebbles and some potting soil, along with a few fairy garden pieces.

I chose a mixture of colors in the plants – one little pop of color in a cactus, two vibrant green succulents, and two muted gray/green succulents.

I filled each of the containers about an inch full with pebbles from a rock bed in our front yard for drainage.

Then, I added potting soil and loosened the roots as I placed each plant in the container and covered it with soil. I also added a couple of plant food sticks to give them a wish and a hope.

I added some fairies and accessories, including more rocks, to each container.

Then I lightly watered the plants.

With any luck or magic fairy dust sprinkles, they will make it through summer. And I’m already thinking of names for them. I’m thinking Belle or Bella for the vibrant green Bellum Altair, since it sounds Tinkerbell – ish. What other magical fairy-sounding names would you suggest? I’ll share where I got the idea to name the plants and the names of the fairy garden plants in the next few days.

Special thanks to Two Writing Teachers for giving writers voice and space.

Slice of Life Challenge – March 2 – Pop-Up Fairy Gardens

I was listening to Jennifer Serravallo speak at a conference in Savannah, Georgia over the weekend when she asked us to turn and talk to our neighbor about something we’ve recently taken interest in or want to learn more about. My colleague didn’t have to think long.

“Building fairy gardens,” she said.

She and her five year old daughter recently started building one and are finding joy in spending time together designing and curating their garden while talking about fairies and other important matters of life.

“What a coincidence!” I shared. “My father was my guest blogger last month for a post on brownies. His writing inspired me to create pop-up fairy gardens in some areas of our county and invite people to add to the gardens. Do you think people would enjoy contributing to a fairy garden expansion, especially now that it’s practically spring?”

She did.

Jennifer Serravallo redirected us into the next segment of her presentation (which was ah-mayz-ing, by the way), but my colleague and I picked up our fairy garden conversation at the next break. Talking over the restroom stall doors, while washing our hands at the sink, and in the snack line to get one of those fudgy, nut-laced brownies and a cup of coffee, we chatted up the possibilities…..

I couldn’t stop imagining….what if we really did plant the seeds of fairy garden starter kits with a note inviting families to add to the fairy wonderland worlds?

On Wednesday morning, back home from our conference, I texted her: Want to go on a fairy garden dash at lunch?

Yes, she texted back.

We grabbed our protein bars and skipped the sandwiches, heading out instead to search for fairy houses, miniature chairs and benches, the tiniest wishing wells and birdbaths, and even itty-bitty garden paths leading to the fairy houses. We wrote invitations on laminated notecards and affixed them to metal proclamation frogs introducing the fairy gardens and welcoming the addition of more fairies and creative enchantments – and not missing the opportunity to suggest that families read more about fairies!

Fairy garden finds from our mad dash at lunchtime

And then……we waited for businesses to close and went on the fairy garden pop-up mission after obtaining permission from the managers of a few of our chosen establishments! We arranged the first three fairy gardens under the cover of semi-darkness outside two libraries and one local coffee shop.

Pop-up fairy garden outside the window of the children’s section of our county library

We can’t wait to see if the fairy gardens grow…..and if so, how they grow and change through the springtime. It is our hope that families wonder, create, admire, design, plan, talk, and spend time working together with others in our community having fun….that perhaps we, too, will bloom and grow.

Welcome, fairies!

Pop-up fairy garden in the outdoor seating area of our local coffee shop on the town square
Pop-up fairy garden outside the window of the children’s section of a library in one of our towns

A blog post by Leigh Ann Eck yesterday about looking for the unexpected inspired me to change the idea I had for today’s post – since the gardens are kind of….well, unexpected. Thanks, Leigh Ann!

Special thanks to Two Writing Teachers for giving writers space and voice!