… gracious, I’ll have the finest yard in Alabama. Those Bellingraths’ll look plain puny when I get started!
Said Miss Maudie to Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird (it’s the One Denver One Book book and while I don’t actually live in Denver, I like to pretend to be an urban hipster).
I loved this line, so much so that I read it to Peter when I got home. I got a Southern reference without having to google it! Go me. The Bellingraths were a prominent family in Mobile for many decades, including the time that To Kill a Mockingbird takes place.
Bellingrath Gardens and Home was the creation of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bellingrath. The Gardens first opened to the public in 1932 while a national garden club meeting was taking place in Mobile. Mr. Bellingrath placed an ad in the Mobile paper, announcing that anyone who would like to see the spring garden could do so free of charge. After an overwhelming response, the couple decided to keep the gardens open year-round, beginning in 1934.
We’ve visited Bellingrath Gardens a few times. It is so beautiful. Good for Miss Maudie thinking she could rival the local socialite!
For years I tried to have azaleas in my yard. Each year I dutifully purchased mountain azaleas, supposedly bred for this climate. They died. It is too cold or too dry or too sunny or some combination therein on the plains for azaleas to thrive. My mother-in-law has an abundance of azaleas in her yard in Alabama. She largely finds them a nuisance. They grow everywhere, even where you don’t want them – and once you have them somewhere, I hope you like them there. They’re like our Russian Sage. I guess we all covet what we cannot have. I cannot have a lush green, bloom-filled garden without an extensive irrigation system. And she cannot have Russian Sage or cactus.
I was reading in a coffee shop on Friday and was stopped on my way out by someone asking what I thought of the book, he had just finished it. I gushed about the imagery. Now that I’ve spent time in LA I can visual the live oaks (I was married under one), I know what a kudzu covered front porch looks like and I know what those summer days, where the air doesn’t move, feel like.
This afternoon I might should make myself some sweet tea, don a wide-brimmed hat and read.