Since childhood, I always have been fascinated with plants and blooms. With each passing season, my thumb has gradually become a little greener. To me, there is something exciting about watching something grow to produce beautiful blossoms.
My grandmother had a lot to do with the green coloring of my thumb. She had one herself, and unselfishly shared hers with me. During spring and summer, you would always find her outside tinkering with all of her flowers, plants, shrubs and trees. She taught me the art of “rooting” and how to care for and maintain all kinds of plants. I loved being outside with her.
Her porches were virtual greenhouses with terra cotta pots perfectly lined up. Each one overflowed with something green and blooming. We always started our annual planting assignments in the spring. For that reason, I always think of my grandmother at this special time of year.
Recently I had cause to doubt the magical powers of my green thumb. I planted a large amaryllis bulb to force during the cold winter months. I do this almost every year and I love to watch the dull, unattractive bulb produce large and colorful blossoms. This one produced healthy green leaves immediately, and you could almost see them grow half an inch every day.
A month turned into six weeks and my amaryllis bulb had the largest and most healthy foliage I have ever seen. I even had to stake the leaves up to keep them from falling over. But, there was no sign of a bud. Every other day as I watered it, I carefully peeked into the center of the plant in hopes of seeing the beginnings of a bloom, but it never came.
Luckily, springtime came — even though my amaryllis bloom did not. That’s what I love so much about spring. It softly nudges all plants and trees out of their long winter hibernation. From brown, bare branches, the breath of spring brings new growth. And from certain trees, blooms also come.
Right now, this process is happening everywhere you look in our town. So, I placed my potted, bloomless bulb outside to see if spring could work her magic on it! As my grandmother used to tell me, “Have patience! Time will tell!”
Our world-famous Cherry Blossom Festival is now in full swing. For the next week, we will celebrate their beauty in our area. Every year about this time, us locals get a little antsy, praying that the blooms will come on time. They most definitely have a mind of their own but, when they do, it’s a glorious sight!
Our city is not only blessed to have more cherry blossom trees than anywhere else, but also a colorful array of other trees that bloom. There is a dogwood tree I can see clearly from several windows in our house. That did not happen by accident. I planted it in that particular spot after much consideration. I wanted always to be able to enjoy it from both inside and outside of our home. You see, it’s a special dogwood tree.
Someone gave it to me when my daddy passed away almost 15 years ago. With it came a note that read, “I hope you enjoy watching this tree grow and bloom as much as your daddy did you!” And, I have! Season after season, it has grown. This year, it is a pretty good sized tree and filled to the brim with blooms. I never pass by it without thinking of Daddy and the person who gave me such a wonderful and lasting gift.
Spring officially arrived last week — almost simultaneously with the Cherry Blossom Festival. It is such a special gift to be surrounded by these trees every spring. We all need to get out and enjoy the beauty and gifts with which our city is so richly blessed.
Open your eyes, go outside and look around. The gift of springtime is there waiting for you. That’s exactly what my grandmother used to tell me. Who knows, maybe my amaryllis will bloom after all!
More with Mark
▪ The Cherry Blossom Festival is back and so is Mark! Join him as he coordinates and hosts the annual fashion show on March 30 at the Anderson Conference Center. Check out cherryblossom.com for details on this and all the festivities. Call 478-301-5470 for tickets.
▪ Visit Mark at his booth at the Mulberry Street Arts and Crafts Festival on April 1-2. He’ll have all his latest Cherry Blossom Festival merchandise and other goodies for sale. Stop by and say hello!
Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him at instagram.com/markcreates; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.