Goodbye to the “Big Oak”

Our “big oak” was a post oak that was about 150 years old. Macauley Properties wisely spared many trees in the neighborhood when our house was built in 1992. It was one of the trees that had sheltered the old home that had been on the property before the land was sold and developed into The Lakes of Enniskerry.

We have been keeping the tree maintained (pruning limbs, irrigating and fertilizing) for 28 years.  It has been under the care of a licensed arborist for ten years.

The tree declined with increasing age. Over the years the beautiful bend became very pronounced and three large decay areas in the trunk worsened.  With the loss of limbs, the old survivor began to appear rather sad. Even worse, it became a potential threat to our property.

Mary, our sons, and I came to the realization that the old friend and landmark in our neighborhood would have to be cut down.

Our HOA and the City of Milton arborist reviewed the permit requests and did inspections prior to approving the tree removal. We were very pleased that the city takes its tree protection very seriously.

The images below are of the tree and of the removal October 1, 2020.

Note the boot of the tree cutter in the lower left of the image for perspective.

Michael Green

0ctober 28, 2020

A Fragrant Delight: the Tea Olive

The tea olive is in a natural area of partial shade . It is near our Serenity Garden.
Tea olive shrubs grow well in zones 7-9.

Tea olive (Osmanthus fragrans) is a broadleaf evergreen that, true to its scientific name, produces tiny white blooms with an unmatched sweet citrusy fragrance.

The height of Osmanthus species can vary from 6 to 30 feet tall with a width similar in size to the height. The growth rate for tea olives is slow to moderate.

The tea olive is a deer resistant shrub and produces an oil that repels mosquitoes.

An added bonus: the honeybees from Will Green’s nearby beehive are enjoying it in great numbers.

The shrub pictured above grew over twenty years from a foot-high root transplant from the Canton, Georgia childhood home of Mary Donley Green.

Michael Green

October 9, 2020

Blackberry Lilies

Seasons Garden 2020

When I was an assistant principal at Parkview High School in Gwinnett County, a secretary named Jeanne Knox shared an interesting plant with me. I took the plant home to Lawrenceville, Georgia and transplanted it in our garden. That was thirty years ago. It made the move with us to Milton in 1992. The perennial has popped up just about everywhere in our gardens since then. I have never seen it in a plant nursery nor in any other gardens. It is the Blackberry Lily. Some of my readers may be familiar with it. Below are some images and further information.

Blackberry Lily blooming in the
Serenity Garden
Blackberry Lily Seed Pods
Seasons Garden
October 2020

Blackberry Lily Seed Pods
Serenity Garden October 2020

Iris domestica, known as Blackberry Lily or Leopard Lily is a perennial that is native to eastern Russia, China and Japan. The flower petals are speckled which has caused the plant to be known as Leopard Lily. The drying rhizomes are very similar in appearance to blackberries. The plant is hardy in zones 8-10 in the United States. The dried rhizome has long been used medicinally in Eastern Asia for a variety of ailments.

Michael Green

October 7, 2020

Red Banana

There are three stands of banana trees in the gardens. This stand has fruited first.

Red banana trees have flourished for years in our gardens. By the end of the growing season they are ten feet tall. Frost burns the leaves and the trees are cut down and composted. The trees return faithfully jn late spring and are a welcome food source for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Our neighbor Marta says that the red banana fruit is available in grocery stores in Puerto Rico. Having been used to store-bought bananas only, I have managed a small nibble which was pleasantly sweet. I survived that sample last year and may attempt more tasting with the new harvest.

The Seasons Garden has two healthy stands that provide a pleasing tropical look.

Michael Green August 9, 2020 (more…)

Staging Results

This is the CliffsNotes version of the results of “Michael’s Adventures with Multiple Myeloma.”

Multiple Myeloma is a blood cancer that affects the blood plasma and is incurable, but treatable with varying degrees of success.

August 2011 Diagnosed with MM

August 2011 Radiation Therapy

September 2011 Spinal Fusion

November 2011 Pulmonary Embolism

January 2012 Chemotherapy begins

April 2013 Stem Cell Transplant

The results of the seven year staging post-transplant were good. The bone marrow biopsy revealed less than 5% myeloma in the sample. My condition remains Very Good Partial Remission. My treatment is successful and will be modified in some ways. Oral at-home maintenance chemotherapy in low dosage will continue and not be changed. Multiple Myeloma blood chemistry labs will be every three months.

The results indicate success in treatment of the cancer as a chronic disease.

Thank you friends for your comments, prayers and continued encouragement.

Now I return my thoughts and plans to enjoying life, as usual. The family will be celebrating Father’s Day 2020 Sunday and I am looking forward to hearing giggles from granddaughter Charlotte Jayne Green.

Michael Green

June 18, 2020

Seasons Garden Late Spring 2020

Colorful blooms have filled the Seasons Garden. The gallery of images shows some of the vibrant display of perennials and other plants.

Evening Primrose or Eight o’ Clock blossoms unfurl visibly at dusk

Mary Donley Green shot this video in 2015. This predates the recent garden renovation. The eight o’ clocks are very reliable biennials that bloom every other year. The last gallery image shows the latest eight o’ clocks in the garden. Music: The Fray

Seven Year Staging

Being silly after a procedure, or amusing myself after a procedure in the time of a worldwide pandemic


May 18,2020 Bone Marrow Biopsy

I was at Emory University Hospital Winship Clinic Monday for the seven-year staging of my health status since the stem cell transplant. The staging examines the blood chemistry based on a bone marrow biopsy. I have one of these every Spring. As I am in very good partial remission from Multiple Myeloma, it is important to see how well the body continues to respond to the maintenance chemotherapy that I take.

The image is a selfie that captures the recovery period of this out-patient procedure. I was in a private room and not under the influence of heavy drugs. I promise. The nurse had administered lidocaine at the pelvic sample site. Some patients tolerate the extraction of the sample without anesthesia. I am fortunate to be one of those individuals. The image is of me, happy.

Bone marrow samples

I have been fascinated with dissection since a high school biology class where I enjoyed studying a fetal pig. The teacher must have inspired her group of students as I have never lost my curiosity about organisms and anatomy.

The medical staff and my oncology team are patient people, tolerating my questions and photography.

Samples of bone and marrow (shown above) are lab-tested and reviewed. The oncology team discusses the report with Mary and me June 16th.

May 19, 2020. Immunoglobulin infusion (IV-IG) at Emory Winship Johns Creek

I have been receiving six monthly immunoglobulin infusions for several years. The infusions help compromised immune systems, such as mine, weather the infections that are prevalent during the months of November through April. Obviously having the novel coronavirus pandemic affecting the world means that compromised immune systems need all the help they can get.

Michael Green

May 19, 2020

Seasons Garden

In the mid-nineties, Mary and I started a garden next to one side of the wraparound back porch. We knew that the area would be the way to enter the breakfast room and the main route to enter the backyard. Over time this area evolved into a four section garden that was crossed by two walking areas. After even more time it became an extension of the living area around the swimming pool we installed.

I should begin with some information about the place where we have lived since 1992. The house was built on a hill that had been part of the Walker farm. Our neighborhood, The Lakes of Enniskerry, started out as The Estates at Manigault in the early 1990s. The Walker Farm which was on Birmingham Highway and was halfway between Crabapple and Birmingham in North Fulton County was developed into seventy-two acre-plus lots. Our house was one of the first built and was located on the site of the Walker house which had burned at some point before the property was developed.

Our lot was graced with a lovely view of the small, and not so charming-sounding, Chicken Creek valley. Beyond that was a view of the Providence Road ridge line. We have cared for interesting trees that remained from the Walker farm. A gnarled Box Elder bent over an area of our gently curving driveway as it led up to our house. Our sons called it the Ghost Tree, but that is another story to write. Another tree was the huge foot and a half diameter wild cherry tree that had grown with a trunk that circled back upon itself. It housed a snake nest midway up its trunk, only discovered when the tree was dead and was being cut down. Old red cedars still grow on the property, as does a black walnut tree, the survivor of two which produced hard green balls that proved nearly impossible to yield nuts. A large forked poplar was home to the boys’ fort. We added Osage Orange tree seedlings that son Will brought home from a Bulloch Hall Heritage Summer Camp that he attended as a pre-teen. They are mature, enjoying good health and producing green, softball-sized inedible fruit in their transplanted location. Native Americans and pioneers valued them. More on that point later.

A bumper crop that pigs supposedly prefer not to eat. Mosquitoes are also repelled by the fruit.

Will Green gathered these Osage Oranges which are also called hedge apples. He displayed them in his living area in our terrace level.

Back to the garden by the porch…

We made it into a themed garden divided into quadrants and enclosed by a scalloped wood fence. There are two gates, one of which is double and covered by an arbor. Walkways cross a large brick paved center path that divides the space into four planting beds. Each quadrant contains a statue on a pedestal that depicts the seasons of the year. Two of the statues came from Frank and Louise Liddell’s cabin at Lake Lanier. How the set was completed is a story for another blog entry.

Spring

Summer

Fall

Winter

Gardens age and evolve, depending on the care and vision of the people who design, tend,and love them.

We originally conceived the Seasons Garden as a patterned Colonial Williamsburg garden. We used pea gravel paths, roses, an arbor, and perennial beds edged by boxwoods, and brick. The roses were hybrid teas of standard or tree form, and David Austin patented English selections. We began the garden with grand plans for rose cultivation. Those plans had to be adjusted as we learned hard lessons about rose sustainability. The clay soil and humidity in Zone 7a encouraged rose fungus, insects, and plant disease. Tulip bulbs that enticed us from glossy mail-order catalogs disintegrated in the red clay soil. Soil amendment and composting did not help them. Lesson: treat tulips as annuals in Georgia, if planted at all. Heritage flowering bulbs never disappoint and provide a living link to family history. Pea gravel scatters and annoys, though kids love it. As gardeners and visitors age, pea gravel presents hazards. Hard surfaces make the best walkways.

The garden fence and boxwoods enclose about one hundred square feet of space. The Seasons Garden contains a memorial to a pet cat. Chincheloise, or Eloise, was a shaded silver Persian that Mary and I adopted from the Atlanta Humane Society in 1977. She was a mature, long-haired Persian that was the “Pet of the Week” in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Eloise was a beauty that needed a caring home. She lived with us for ten years in Lawrenceville, Georgia. We brought her carved granite memorial to our home when we moved in 1992.

Gardens require makeovers sometimes. Our son, Evan Michael Green, took charge of the garden renovation. His brother, William Donley Green assisted with some of the labor, such as removal of ground cover that had become rampant. Evan dug, discarded, and transplanted a huge amount of plant material. My own physical ability to garden has become limited and Mary has taken on most of the maintenance of the garden.

Seasons Garden Renovation began in late winter 2019. Evan is a hard working and creative landscaper. He has renovated and replaced nearly all of our shrubs and gardens. Along the way, his brother Will and Will’s friend Robb have pitched in where needed. We have also relied upon Tad Carter of Rucker Landscape, Scottsdale Farms and Buck Jones Nursery for landscape needs.

The Seasons Garden was replanted with mostly transplants and a few new plants, some purchased and some relocated from my family home in Duluth. I am really happy to have daffodils from the Liddell home place. These heritage double-flowered daffodils are called ‘butter ‘n’ eggs’ and grew in the ornamental gardens of the old Liddell home place. That house was built around 1840 on Beaver Ruin Creek in Gwinnett County. The ‘butter ‘n’ eggs blooms are center top in the image below.

Walker Farm daffodils remain on our property and faithfully bloom every Spring.

Seasons Garden Renovation

Evan clearing overgrown plantings

April 2020

One year after Seasons Garden renovation

Seasons Garden Plant List

Camellia sasanqua

American Boxwood

Toothed Wood Fern

Carolina jessamine

Dwarf red banana

Wild ginger

Golden sedge grass

Sedum, ‘Autumn Joy’

Red monarda, “bee balm”

Creeping pink phlox

Assorted hostas, ‘blue cadet,’ ‘earth angel’

Heuchera ‘creme brûlée’

Strawberry begonia

Shasta daisies

Achillea, “yarrow” pink, yellow

Liatris

Dianthus barbatus, “Sweet William”

Assorted daylilies

Purple monarda, “bee balm”

Assorted bearded irises

Peonies

Cleome, “spider flower”

Evening primrose, “eight o’clock”

Iris domestica, “blackberry lily”

Stokesia, purple and white

Heritage daffodil, “butter ‘n’ eggs” daffodil

Grape hyacinth

A Final Word

As I end this blog entry, I was thinking about what a diversion this writing has been from thinking about COVID-19. I asked Mary, “What day of the pandemic is it?” Without missing a beat she said, “Nine hundred and fifty.” Commentators are stating that March 11, 2020 was the pivotal day when catastrophic world events became very real to Americans. A pandemic was changing our daily lives.