Homesick? Plant an Azalea

You never know what’s behind you…

Dear Reader:

The sun was out yesterday and the temps hovering near 70… a perfectly beautiful day! I walked around the yard assessing the state of the garden… pretty rough… it is definitely going to require some laborious weed pulling and lots of hacking away and cutting back dead stems …to let the colors of new life emerge.

I think I was so lost in thought over the amount of clean-up that lay ahead… that I backed up to the yellow bench and just plopped. Soon I realized that something kept sticking me in the back… thinking it was broken stems or sticks I turned around and to my delight saw only glorious azaleas nudging me as their stems were growing through the spaces in back of the bench.

I think God was telling me to quit whining and instead see what lay ahead of all the hard work… nature at its most beautiful-the very azaleas that make Summerville famous-make me love my hometown even more.

Strange that I associate azaleas with home because today the azalea symbolizes ” remembrance of home or the desire to return to it. ”

I started walking around checking out all the different color azaleas unfurling their blooms…in the front, side, and back yards. The word Azalea” comes from the Greek word ” dry.” This is is because azaleas grow better in dry, sandy, well-drained soil. And that is what Summerville has in ” abundance ” another symbol of the word ” azalea.”

Today advertising has jumped on the word ” Azalea” to promote Summerville housing, neighborhoods, subdivisions, apartments, festivals, Azalea Square with all its name-brand retail stores and restaurants. But to me the only real ” Azalea” place in town is Azalea Park. Breathtakingly beautiful in early spring… as I type the azaleas are popping open like popcorn in a skillet!

Another week like (the one forecast for this week) and the park will turn into a fairy land! Azaleas reflecting off ponds and white bridges showing visitors sixteen acres of water, sculptures and azaleas of every kind.

It took a far-sighted mayor, by the name of Grange Cuthbert, who took a leap of faith just as the Great Depression hit in 1929… to envision the park as an azalea filled site to attract visitors to Summerville to help boost its economy. Using WPA grant monies workers were paid 10 cents an hour to plant azaleas ( including his own son)

But this vision would never have come to pass without the help of nursery expert ( and philanthropist) George Segelken who provided 33,000 azaleas to the park. *** He also propagated the” Pride of Summerville ” ( A salmon pink shade azalea)

So until tomorrow… If you are feeling nostalgic and homesick, plant an azalea bush or send an azalea bouquet back home to one you miss… to one you love-tell them of your ” abundance” of love for them.

Today is my favorite day… Winnie the Pooh

Another ” God Wink” -a camellia fell off an overhanging branch and fell perfectly into the hanging ice plant-what are the chances of it happening? A fun delight on a Sunday afternoon!

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to Homesick? Plant an Azalea

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    Thank you for reminding me of the history behind Azalea Park…neat story…

    Like

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