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.
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
One year after Seasons Garden renovation
￼Seasons Garden Plant List
Toothed Wood Fern
Dwarf red banana
Golden sedge grass
Sedum, ‘Autumn Joy’
Red monarda, “bee balm”
Creeping pink phlox
Assorted hostas, ‘blue cadet,’ ‘earth angel’
Heuchera ‘creme brûlée’
Achillea, “yarrow” pink, yellow
Dianthus barbatus, “Sweet William”
Purple monarda, “bee balm”
Assorted bearded irises
Cleome, “spider flower”
Evening primrose, “eight o’clock”
Iris domestica, “blackberry lily”
Stokesia, purple and white
Heritage daffodil, “butter ‘n’ eggs” daffodil
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.
In 1984, Mary Donley Green and I were thirty years old and were new parents. We were both school administrators, had a new home in Forest Hills subdivision in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and were enjoying our young married lives.
One of our favorite pastimes was watching VHS tapes of our favorite soap opera, “Days of Our Lives.” I enjoyed working out at the gym after school and coming home to Mary’s delicious meals. Mary was a creative cook and could dish up a tasty taco pizza or Quiche Lorraine. We would sit down to watch our recorded soap at TV trays.
We used to take a home delivery of The Atlanta Journal newspaper and a mail subscription of TV Guide Magazine. It would appear that one of us discovered that the new actress, Kristian Alfonso, who was cast as Hope Williams in DOOL was going to appear at the opening of a fitness center below Atlanta in Morrow, Georgia in a few days. We just had to go see her as she was so beautiful and was Alice Horton’s granddaughter and Doug and Addie Horton Williams’ daughter on the show. Besides, she was getting romantically involved with that close to being a “hood” Bo Brady! He was a biker, heaven forbid!
Although Mary had just given birth to our firstborn, Evan, we decided to drive down in the new Camaro Z28 CFI to see this new actress. An image of Miss Alfonso with MPG is attached to this article.
Kristian Alfonso was about eighteen years old in the picture and had just taken the part of Hope Williams after a professional figure skating career. She was vivacious, outgoing and charming, much as she appears on-screen to this day. She is still quite beautiful and continues to be an important part of the cast on “Days of Our Lives.”
“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”
Mary was very kind to photograph Kristian Alfonso and me.
Daniel Meredith Liddell and Nellie Mae Mills Liddell built a new brick ranch house a few feet away from the 1840 Liddell house in 1957. The old plantation plain home was demolished. The barn, smokehouse, car house, and well house survived beyond 1957. The demolition was of course, back before preservation efforts became a part of our lives. I was only four so I don’t remember much about the old plantation house. My uncle Frank Liddell is 94, recalls it vividly, and has drawn out floor plans for me.
Pictured are my grandparents, Daniel M. Liddell and Nellie Mills Liddell in front of their new house in 1958.
Pictured in the b/w image are Michael P. Green and Sandra Nell Seay (Henley) circa Easter 1957 in front of the old plantation plain 1840 Liddell House. Through the years it had acquired a screened porch on the front facade beside where the old Preacher’s Room for visiting circuit rider preachers had been built.
I posted this image with some others in a birthday remembrance of my mother, Charlotte Liddell Green, on Facebook four days ago. I thought that I should provide some details about this wonderful old image from 1935. It is a photograph of six of the eight children of Nellie Mae Mills Liddell and Daniel Meredith Liddell. My Uncle Frank is not pictured and he believes that he must have taken the photograph when he was about thirteen years old. The oldest son, D.L., was absent from the group image.
Pictured, starting on the left, is Louise (later Mrs. Ernest Welch) holding youngest brother, Harold. Standing is Charlotte (later Mrs. William P. Green) with Virginia (later Mrs. N.H. Russell). Showing a calf is Thomas. Kneeling is Ruth (later Mrs. Henry Seay).
The siblings are grouped in the flower and shrub garden at the front of the 1840 homeplace in the Pleasant Hill community. The house was located on the original land lot awarded to William Liddell in the 1818 Land Lottery which opened Gwinnett County to white ownership of the former Creek and Cherokee tribal land.
My cousin Nancy Liddell Simpson recently posted a 1950s picture of herself, Beverlynopporn Rungruang (Beverly Russell) and me having fun coloring after my birthday party on Facebook. Since that photograph was posted, some of the cousins have been remembering those wonderful days of our idyllic youth spent in Duluth when a multitude of cousins lived nearby.
Here is an old tale that can be dusted off. I was reminded of an incident of part humor-part silliness involving the love of my cousins. As an only child I looked forward to being dropped off for play days with my cousins. These visits were the closest opportunities for me to interact with relatives of my age that loved me.
It was particularly fun to be dropped off at the home of my Aunt Virginia Liddell Russell and my uncle NH Russell. My aunt was just Gin to me and everyone called my uncle simply, Russell. My mother, Charlotte Liddell Green, was the youngest sister of Gin. It was the greatest of days when I would be deposited in the dark of morning at Aunt Gin’s for a visit. This would sometimes happen in the summer when my mother was on her way to Atlanta for work. Gin would have me crawl in bed with one of the cousins and we would sleep late and rise ready for a scrumptious breakfast and a day of play with Beverly and siblings…there were six!
Normally, I stayed with my Granny Green, Mrs. C.T. (Eunice) Green, Sr. and my aunts that lived there, Mary Lou, Jackie, and June. These ladies were sweet, but were formidable and strict with the rules enforcement. Besides, they watched their “stories” on TV and required that I be quiet. Read: regular long pallet naps, lots of meals including beans and corn bread, enforced play time and switchings when needed. Worse, there were no Russell cousins with which to play.
It wasn’t long before I began to hatch a plan for getting to stay with my Russell cousins. I plotted a rebellion from Aunt June Green’s supervision (she was just a teenager) after Duluth First Baptist VBS let out one summer day. Some of the Russell siblings just happened to be attending Vacation Bible School, as was I. I plotted to go home with the Russells. When June, admirably practicing her child management skills (a teacher even then) would have none of my plan, I resorted to dirty pool. I pulled a brat attack, sat down in the middle of the street in front of the downtown church and, crying, would not budge.
Although she may have experienced equal parts exasperation, frustration, and down-right anger, June was quick- thinking. This diplomatic teenager called my mother at work and attained permission for me to go home with the Russell cousins. The approach turned out to be a win-win, but June knew that my mama and daddy would enact a steep price. My immediate future held a hickory switching. The outcome of the Vacation Bible School Rebellion effectively ended the possibility of further baby-sitting behavior problems. June loved telling the story of my rebellion which never failed to fill me with red-faced shame and later, laughter.
I would like to thank all of those individuals that have communicated their prayers and expressions of concern to me. It is very true that I have been blessed by God, and the power of positive thinking. There is no doubt in my mind that the power of collective prayer and the expressions of concern and hope create an energy that is an impalpable force that can be experienced and is effective. As I continue to live my life, I would like to ask that my friends, family and acquaintances continue to pray and express your hopes for me.
Battling multiple myeloma is a strange struggle. Often, there are few outward signs that a person is afflicted with this terminal disease. In my own situation, I have been fortunate to be able to walk, bend and move fairly well, given that the disease destroyed a vertebra and necessitated eleven levels of fusion in my spine and, consequently caused my heart to stop beating. Certainly, I am alive, feel very well, but am somewhat shorter than I used to be. I incline my head more than I used to do. Even so, I can walk several city blocks without a cane. I will win no foot races, but that is of no matter. I concentrate on maintaining good balance in my movements and am careful when people are moving around me. Motorcycle riding is fondly remembered and relegated to my past, but I can still drive my little red Corvette. The signs of the disease are few and I seem to manage them pretty well. But, as the cancer is carried in the blood, Multiple Myeloma is a stealthy disease and often presents tumors in soft tissue and in bones of the body.
As there is no cure today, remission of the disease is the goal of treatment. An individual may have many years of progression-free remission depending upon the type of myeloma and the success of treatment strategies. I have a type of multiple myeloma that is resistant to chemotherapy and which necessitated a stem cell transplant. Stem cell transplants are done after an individual’s bone marrow is clinically destroyed in order to eradicate as much of the cancer cells as possible. An individual’s previously harvested and stored stem cells are transplanted back into the body where they rapidly repopulate the bone marrow. My procedure was performed April 3, 2013 at Emory University. This was a new birthday for me, as my body was given what amounted to a good scrubbing and I received the gift of a new immune system. As cancer cells still linger in the system post-transplant, patients must undergo a maintenance regimen. That takes me up to the present day.
I am in my third two week cycle of Pomalyst, a newly released chemotherapy in the same family of thalidomide and Revlimid that has lowered the paraprotein level or m-spike in my blood. It also happens to cost $10,000 dollars for the twenty-one capsules in one of the cycles, a little tidbit that Mary served me yesterday at Winship. Mary is careful about what she shares with me from such publications as The Myeloma Beacon. She knows that I am like an individual with a substance abuse problem when it comes to researching and reading about the disease. It may sound paradoxical for a man who loves learning and writes a blog (sporadically), but I must steer clear of reading about the disease and reading about the experiences of those suffering from multiple myeloma. I tend to overdose on the topic and it does no good for my emotional well-being.
The paraprotein level or m-spike is the degree of cancer cells still in my body. Prior to my stem cell transplant, after over a year of conventional radiation therapy and cutting-edge chemotherapy, my paraprotein or m- spike level had smoldered and had not rapidly climbed, but it had resisted eradication. Before the transplant, my m-spike was at 6.0. As of October 1, 2013 it had fallen to 1.0. My oncologist in Alpharetta is a superb doctor and trained at Emory with my Winship oncologist. When a stem cell transplant was necessitated, my treatment was handed over to Emory to the training colleague. The two have worked in conjunction with one another. My oncologist at Emory’s Winship Clinic is heading my treatment at this point. He is at the top of his field and has international renown. He wants the level to be ZERO. As he has explained to me, there are two camps of oncologists in the treatment of Multiple Myeloma which amount to Hawks and Doves. World famous medical institutions align themselves with the philosophies of these two camps. Winship Clinic oncologists are the hawks. And for that, I am glad. I continue in maintenance with close monitoring and on a short leash with regard to whether a second or tandem stem cell transplant will be scheduled in the future. In an e-mail to me last night, my doctor said that he has taken the tandem stem cell transplant off the table at present. I hope that my paraprotein level will continue to move toward ZERO.
Although MM has no cure, remission can last for several years. Excellent medical care and the tremendous support of Mary Donley Green and our sons, Evan and Will Green, has helped my struggle with the disease become such an important life lesson for me. None of us can know the details of our future, whether we will have several years or few, but I know that I will endeavor to live life to the fullest of my abilities. Thank you for your support. Undergirded by my belief in a higher power in the universe, it strengthens me.
Michael P. Green
October 2, 2013
In 2009 the Carmel PTA marked my retirement as principal of Carmel Elementary School with a reception and unveiling of the oil portrait that hangs in the school. As the first principal of the new school that opened in 2000, I was honored that they wanted to commemorate me and sat for the portrait painted by Shane McDonald of Shane McDonald Studios in Marietta, Georgia. Because having a portrait painted is such a once-in-lifetime sort of thing, Mary and I decided to have him do a large version that hangs in our home. That was in 2009. I always intended to have Shane paint a companion portrait of Mary. The years rolled by and…no portrait of Mary. Life kind of got busy and interesting along the way.
The unfinished business of having Mary’s likeness painted nagged at me. After much cajoling, I finally convinced her to sit for Shane in the spring of 2013. I did not know until recently that Mary had fallen in love with the White House portrait of First Lady Grace Goodhue Coolidge. She had first seen the portrait at the age of eight when she visited the White House with her parents, Sara and Dave Donley in 1961. She remembers that she was struck with the beautiful white borzoi of the Coolidges that was posed in the portrait with the elegant Mrs. Coolidge. Mary agreed to sit for her portrait if Brody Green, our English Bulldog, would co-star in the portrait.
Four years later, the new portrait will be joining our household. Mary, Will and I enjoyed a visit to Shane McDonald’s studio to view the portrait, see framing ideas and give final approval. I think that it captures Mary and Brody beautifully. Shane has done a marvelous job with the portrait. We hope Brody approves.
I include below the 1924 portrait of Grace Goodhue Coolidge that Mary remembered from a day or two ago at the White House. It was painted by Howard Chandler Christy and includes Rob Roy, the Borzoi. I believe that it hangs in the Red Room. Mary and I checked it and reviewed it with Shane before they sat for him. I include a photograph of Shane McDonald signing Mary’s portrait in oil in his studio below. The portrait of me by Shane McDonald is below as well.
The following is transcribed from a Facebook Chat, August 4, 2013. Nancy Liddell Simpson and I are first cousins. Nancy sent me a chat message while I was enjoying a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast. Little did she know that she would inspire some blogging.
Nancy: Hey cuz!!! I think I am losing my mind…need your help! Was it the Mona Lisa or Whistler’s Mother that your parents took us to see in Atlanta (when we were children)? Please tell me that I didn’t dream this? LOL!!!!
Mike: Hey Nancy! Good morning! It was Whistler’s Mother at The High Museum.
Good memory…and glad you remembered it! No mind loss…LOL
Nancy: Thanks!!!!! It is something so significant that happened in my life…that’s why I wanted to get it right. I hate it when I doubt myself…so I ask questions. I remember standing there thinking how lucky I was to be seeing such a piece of history. I remember being in awe. Thanks Charlotte and Bill (Mike’s parents)!
Mike: I think about it, as well, Nancy. I don’t imagine that there were many of our friends and relatives that got to do that. Kind of unusual at that time… Didn’t MawMaw Liddell go on that trip, too?
Mike: “Whistler’s Mother” is the common name for the painting. The real name is Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 and it is part of the permanent collection at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, France. When Will was in Paris, I had hoped that he would get to that museum and see it, but he did not have enough time. If I remember correctly, it is huge! I don’t think that it tours very often, so we participated in a rare event. You are right, I really have to appreciate that my parents went the extra mile. I was blessed.
Nancy: I knew the Mona Lisa had another name; I was just about to Google Whistler’s Mother and see what it was and also where it was housed. Thanks!!! I do remember it being big…but I didn’t know if that was just because we were little and it just seemed that way. LOL!!! What a great thing to have done in our life! I have some culture and didn’t even know it!!! LOL!!!
Mike: I thought the same thing about being little myself, so I am going to Google it and check size. (Pause) It is 4’9″X5’4″
Mike: 😊 I really appreciate your bringing this up. Do you remember if MawMaw Liddell went with us?
Mike: BTW, I just had an idea to blog this and I wanted your permission to use our conversation and your picture to use. I will post in FB. OK?
Nancy: I would be honored!!!
Mike: It was the Fall of 1962. I think it has had two or three other US trips. It is called “an American icon” and the American “Mona Lisa.”
Nancy: I can’t remember MawMaw being with us…but that doesn’t mean anything…LOL!!! I don’t think I went to see “The Three Lives of Thomasina” at the Fox (I had asked if she went on a movie outing when we were children). Maybe it was Beverly’s (another cousin) turn to do something with you. LOL! Funny, I was just going to ask you if you knew what year!! Gonna check back with you when I get back from church. Have a great Sunday! Love you SOOOOOO MUCH!!
The Facebook chat ended at this point, but my research did not. The following is more information about Whistler and the art exhibition those several years ago.
Whistler was annoyed with critics who called his painting, a portrait. In his 1890 book The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, he wrote:
“Take the picture of my mother, exhibited at the Royal Academy as an ‘Arrangement in Grey and Black.’ Now that is what it is. To me it is interesting as a picture of my mother; but what can or ought the public do to care about the identity of the portrait.”
In 1934 the U.S. Post office issued a stamp engraved with a stylized image of “Whistler’s Mother,” accompanied by the slogan “In Memory and In Honor of the Mothers of America.”
An 8-ft statue based on the painting was erected in 1938 in Ashland, Pennsylvania honoring mothers. Images of the painting have appeared in advertisements. Images of the subject have been shown watching a television. One advertisement had a slogan, “Whistler’s Mother is Off Her Rocker.”
The painting is now displayed at The Musee’ d’Orsay in Paris.
106 Atlanta arts patrons died in an airplane crash at Orly Airport in Paris, France on June 3, 1962. They were on a trip sponsored by the High Museum of Art. 130 people were killed in that horrible crash. Many prominent Atlantans were killed. The Atlanta arts patrons had viewed “Whistler’s Mother” at the Louvre. The Louvre, as a gesture of good will to the people of Atlanta, sent “Whistler’s Mother” to Atlanta to be exhibited at the High Museum of Art that fall.
Mike Green and Nancy Liddell Simpson were two youngsters in the crowd that Fall of 1962.
August 4, 2013
Pictured below are photographs of Whistler’s painting and the U.S. stamp honoring mothers. Also pictured are my cousin Nancy and myself. The author trusts that the reader can discern which is which.
July 31, 2013
Mary and I met with my Winship Clinic Oncologist yesterday at Emory University. This appointment was a very important one in my treatment because it provided the opportunity for us to do some thinking and decision-making based on his evaluation of the data from my recent bone marrow biopsy and monthly blood analyses in the one hundred days since my stem cell transplant.
Major points discussed were: kidney and liver function in normal range, protein level in the blood (M spike) is now 1.19 which is down from 6 in January – this is a seventy-eight percent reduction in protein. Protein in the blood is a key tag in assessing cancer in the system. My doctor was looking for a ninety percent reduction from the transplant. The bone marrow data revealed that there was five percent myeloma in the sample as opposed to thirty percent myeloma in February 2013. Overall, my body’s response to the bone marrow transplant was good, but there is still some residual disease. This is common in successful transplants. Further action is often needed to achieve the goal of 100 percent remission.
Three options were presented for further treatment:
1. Initiate a maintenance regimen of Revlimid
2. Begin melphalan chemotherapy and undergo a tandem or second transplant – The data supports a second transplant – there are plenty of my harvested stem cells available in storage at Emory University Hospital. Tandem stem cell transplants are almost always done at the University of Arkansas Myeloma Institute and sometimes at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory.
3. Initiate a maintenance regimen of Pomalidomide, newer version of Revlimid, which is used for resistant cases of multiple myeloma.
We made the decision to start Pomalidomide therapy as soon as possible. My Winship Clinic oncologist will monitor my regular lab results closely. If he does not get the desired response within a month or two, he will proceed to perform a second stem cell transplant. I am guessing that this would be conducted in October. My doctor says that he will keep me on “a tight leash with this option.” The goal is CR – complete remission.
As is my habit, I offer a final word or two. First, I am indeed blessed that the results of the stem cell transplant conducted in April 2013 were successful and good. Second, I am glad that I have two excellent oncologists working together on the treatment of my multiple myeloma. One is my “home” oncologist in Alpharetta and the other is my Winship Clinic oncologist at Emory University Hospital. Interestingly, both are friends from their training days at Emory. They are gifted in their field and are keen on data. My Winship Clinic oncologist settles for nothing less than success and is driven by it as he maintains his reputation in the field on a national level. When he says CR, he means to have it, if he has the likelihood of achieving it. That appeals to me; that is the way that I measure my own success!
So, maintenance with “Pom” begins soon and close monitoring follows. If the data shows CR, then excellent and “Shout hallelujah! Praise God!” If not, then a stem cell transplant will be scheduled. As the data shows excellent results from a tandem transplant, then so be it. I know that a stem cell transplant is no “walk in the park,” but I can do it. I am thankful.
July 31 is the two year anniversary of my diagnosis of multiple myeloma.
July 31, 2013