Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Perry Plantation Vines

It’s obvious from the Vermilion Parish landscape that we are in the final days of summer. Golden rice fields are being harvested, wildflowers and annuals are drying up, and snake-like vines are covering any and every thing within their grasp.

My own garden is suffering now because of the intimidating heat, insects and weeds. The tomato and bell peppers stopped producing and have grown to the size of oak trees. Vines are smothering my palms and blue flocks.

But in a one-acre garden in Perry, Judy Choate has found peace with the vines. She allows them to flourish and decorate the other survivors of summer like brightly colored Christmas lights.

“I like my garden to be natural and wild,” says Choate. “I don’t plan anything.”

Cypress vines accessorize long thorny stems of roses, Wisteria weaves itself around a Holly tree, and Clematis and Confederate Jasmine create a wall on the back porch of a craft-style house.

“I love going outside every morning and seeing what’s new,” says Choate. “I call it, ‘surveying my plantation.’”

The Perry plantation is rectangular in shape. Its borders are lined with clusters of Crepe Myrtles and Mimosas, a fence covered in morning glory, and a Lantana and black-eye Susan flowerbed framing a wicker swing.

“I used to play in this yard when I was little because my grandmother lived right next door,” says Choate. “I sat in the swing before I ever dreamed of living here.”

The different flowerbeds spread throughout the property contain everything from Boston, Maidenhair and asparagus ferns to Zinnas, four’clocks and butterfly weeds to Mexican petunias, giant red salvia and razzle dazzle roses. Herbs like basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, chives, parsley and bay leaf grow in nooks and crannies around Choate’s home.

“My yard is always changing and different every year,” says Choate. “Most of it i from seeds or cuttings.”

According to Choate, the hardest part of gardening is cleaning out the beds every year to start over. Her favorite moments in her garden are created while sitting on her front porch.

“I didn’t have a front porch when I first bought the house,” says Choate. “After several years, I finally built one. It’s been a wonderful gift.”

When I visited Choate, she gave me a tour of the different flowerbeds. There were many plants I’d never seen before like hidden ginger, a ponytail palm and candelabra tree.

“These are Mrs. B.R. Can’t roses,” said Choate. “I planted these by this window to keep my kids from sneaking out the house at night.”

That was the funniest thing said on my interview and I couldn’t stop laughing. I was one of those kids who used his bedroom window as a front door. I am very thankful that my parents hadn’t thought to use rose bushes as a security measure.

“I don’t know if anyone got caught in the bushes sneaking out,” laughed Choate. “But I know somebody got caught in them trying to sneak in.”

Out of all the different vines Choate had growing throughout her garden, my favorite was purple morning glory climbing a pipe on the side of the house. The heart shaped leaves seemed to float in the air while the flowers smiled.

My afternoon at the Perry plantation taught me that even though my summer garden might look hopeless and unattractive, I should still try to get some pleasure out of its wildness. In a few months, most of the trees will be bare, and the weather will become cold. But thanks to a gardener with a good sense of humor, I’ll have the warmth of a memory about security roses and thick, hearty vines.

1 comment:

Miss Istanbul Tours said...

Hi Jacques! Thank you so much for this wonderful cameo of my mom and her beloved garden. If I had to use one word to describe this precious woman, it would be "passionate", especially when it comes to her "plantation" where I grew from a baby to an adult...with the scars from the rose bushes to show for it (hehehe, just kidding, it wasn't me!)The pictures are gorgeous and I treasure this article as a tribute to a true gardener and journal writer :) With love,
Susan Choate Barefield
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida