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Smoky Mountain Spring: A Journey Through One Woman's Fairy Tale


2 months ago11 min read

It was so much easier to be diligent about making posts on here when the weather was yucky and cold!

Being a nature lover, the place that I live truly feels like a fairy tale. It's the crystal clear creek rushing between rocks that I can hear at all times; the plethora of colors, shapes and sizes in plants and trees that surround me; the constant changing of the guard at my bird feeders. It's magical here in these mountains, and my little bubble truly is heaven on earth.

I decided I should make a post about some of the beautiful things that I have seen in my yard during the past week. While these photos are not a comprehensive view of our little homestead, it's a nice sampler of what has my attention so focused that I am struggling to reach the keyboard!

I hope that you enjoy taking a moment to look through my eyes. I hope that as you take a moment to peruse this post, you also can feel the calm, the serenity, the satisfying gratitude of knowing that there is beauty and growth on this planet at every moment if we just choose to see it.


Let's start with some of the roses. Currently we have six different types of rose bushes planted in our yard. Two of the bushes are just about to bloom, so you will have to wait to see those. One of the rose varieties we have is a "wild" rose, you will see it a little farther down in the post. The bloom in the picture above is off of the bush pictured below. This rose bush started as a little clearance item at the hardware store in 2014. My partner and I had not been together long, but I knew he had an affinity for roses and a passion for tending them. I think I spent around $3 on it.

This rose bush is full of love! Some of you may recall my post last year about the healing altar I created for my dear friend when she was fighting for her life in a hospital in Barcelona, Spain. We used every single rose off the bush for that altar!

This year, I am hesitant to cut many off because I am enjoying the look of it so full, and now petals are just starting to litter the ground around it.


The next two photos are a rose bush that was here when we moved here in 2016. It is a very old bush, based on the base of it. Rabbit (my partner) has tended it lovingly every year, and this year it has the most blooms we have seen to date on it!



The yellow rose bush was a gift from Rabbit's parents. It is a knockout variety, which are pretty common in the US because they don't necessarily need much tending. While you can see what a deep yellow the bloom is, they quickly fade to an antique yellow and continue to get lighter as the blooms age.



I don't remember what the variety on this rose was, but I do remember I found it by the checkout at Aldi (grocery store) last year for $5-6 and decided the bundle of twigs should come home with me.


I really could go on for days about roses, but I want to show you some of the other beauties we have!!

I had fun trying to get the angle I wanted for a picture of the blackberry patch. There are SOOOOOO many flowers! It won't be long until we are picking ripe, juicy blackberries and staining our lips and fingers with the dark hue of a backyard summer treat.


There are a whole pile of buttercup flowers next to my schoolbus (our library), on the edge of the trail before the woods. I imagine being just a girl again as I walk past them, extending my fingertips down just to caress the tall, shining beauties!


Our canna lillies were a random find last year. On a windy mountain road just about a mile from here, we found a pile of canna that had been dug up and put out with the sign "FREE". Of course I stopped and collected some, and even went back a day later to grab more for a friend's garden.

They aren't blooming yet, but I just love how the leaves swirl up and up and up. They didn't bloom last year, but they lived til the fall, died back for the winter, and are coming in really happy this year. I expect this patch to grow and flourish over the coming years and eventually be a lush space overflowing with their graceful whirls!


There's something calming about the shy demeanor of an early pale white cayenne bloom in the garden...


...and exciting about the bright red color starting to show on the cherries!!!


I believe that the previous humans on this land planted the variety of cinquefoil we have. It's much larger than what I usually find on my walks in the woods. There's a dense patch of this every spring and summer down by my driveway. It makes for one of many extra smiles just on a walk to check the mail!


Ah, columbine! Your bloom is full of a myriad of feelings and directions! This domestic variety is a beautiful deep pink. Recently a friend found a purple, which I intend to get to complement the pink. The domestic ones are much larger than the natives, but we also have columbine here as an indigenous species. Perhaps one day I will find some of those where I can safely transplant them to my property for propogation...



I have virtually no knowledge on grass varieties. However, I am sometimes fascinated by them. My theory on this beauty, which is about 4+ feet tall, is that it is from the birdseed. The soft green of the blades and the solid texture of the seeds makes it very pleasing to the eye.



Ahhhhh, the irises! I am definitely grateful for all of the irises we inherited with this land. We have 5-6 different varieties that bloom throughout the spring. There are different colors, shapes and sizes. We intend on adding to the collection over time.

I never noticed until I took this photo that the iris pictured below has such straight tall petals in the center. We may have 7 varieties!


I am a novice when it comes to fern identification, which is something I intend on changing at some point. Like grasses, there are no shortage of varieties to learn, especially here in our temperate rainforest mountains.

Maidenhair ferns are my favorite to look at, so of course I do know the name of these! They are much more delicate in stature than many ferns. Many maidens have left their hair in my woods...


These little yellow marigolds give a nice burst of color to beds that are waiting for other plants to grow in. I usually grab a few annuals to pop in beds just for this purpose. Even on a gray day there is a bright burst of yellow seen on these mighty little plants.


We have finally made it to the "wild" roses at Fantastica. These multiflora roses are one of the best scented rose varieties ever. There are some serious drawbacks to them, though ~ they are an invasive vine species. We have been working each year to tame them back in areas where they have taken over, and work to find places we can leave them (within bounds). Their scent is so strong that this time of year the very air may smell like roses. They only bloom once each year, but when they do the small blooms blanket the hills and roadsides where they have been left unattended.


These mustard greens are some of our garden volunteers this year. Not only did we allow them to grow (and plant around them), we are also leaving many of them to go to seed so we can work on growing more of them again later!
Its kind of fun to go out to pick lettuce, and find these tiny petals scattered among the leaves !


Just a little corner of the radish patch.


This tiny flower is packed full of potential and excitement! It's the first open bloom I found on our wineberries. Wineberries are basically raspberries. There was a small patch of them when we came to Fantastica. Rabbit and @cassidydawn have been working together on them each spring and fall to help them grow and help us be able to get to the berries! It won't be long now...


This little light purple flower packs a very powerful medicine. Known as red clover, these flowers are an amazing blood purifier. I usually have at least a couple of quart jars stuffed full with dried blooms for my apothecary. Red clover is particularly helpful because you can give it to children, and you can use it for extended periods of time, which you cannot do with many other blood purifiers (such as goldenseal).


I remember first seeing red hot pokers in a friend's yard in Roanoke, Virginia many years ago. Their stately blooms are complex and sturdy, and always catch my eye. I was very pleased to discover that we have several of them here at Fantastica, and I enjoy them every spring.


The russian sage we planted last year has decided it's very happy with life here at our little homestead. I asked my 6 year old to count the flower stalks on this one plant the other day. He discovered there were 78 stalks, and each stalk has nearly that many flowers!


Our St. John's wort is going to be in full bloom soon. I couldn't resist sneaking a shot of these tight little buds into the post!


Stonecrop is a native here in East Tennessee. Many people like to grow it's relative, seedum. I am unsure if this stonecrop is native or originally planted, because what I see on my hikes always has white flowers. However, whether it was brought by a human or not I love that some of the rocks are covered in it down the drive.


Sugar snap peas make such beautiful blooms! Over the course of the bloom they have no less than three different color schemes, and in the end there will be delicious snap peas for salad!


Sweet spice is another native species here. I am not sure if it counts as a bush or a tree, because they are small. The flowers that appear each spring are absolutely beautiful, long lasting, and early on they definitely have a lovely smell!


I cannot remember the name of the bush that gets covered in these each spring! This is a late bloom, as the bush was in bloom over a month ago. Perhaps it was late so that I could share it with you!


My best friend crossed over when I was pregnant with Cassidy. Since she had a tradition of planting begonias every year, I have carried on Sundi Dawn's tradtion. There's something about the entire counter-culture that was built around the Grateful Dead; we are our own tribe, we all go Furthur...


As I was walkin' 'round Grosvenor Square
Not a chill to the winter but a nip to the air
From the other direction, she was calling my eye
It could be an illusion, but I might as well try, might as well try
She had rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes
And I knew without askin' she was into the blues
She wore scarlet begonias tucked into her curls
I knew right away she was not like other girls, other girls
In the heat of the evening when the dealing got rough
She was too pat to open and too cool to bluff
I picked up my matches and was closing the door
I had one of those flashes I'd been there before, been there before
Well, I ain't always right but I've never been wrong
Seldom turns out the way it does in a song
Once in a while you get shown the light
In the strangest of places if you look at it right
Ain't nothing wrong with the way she moves
Scarlet begonias or a touch of the blues
And there's nothing wrong with the look that's in her eyes
Had to learn the hard way to let her pass by, let her pass by
Wind in the willow's playin' "Tea For Two"
The sky was yellow and the sun was blue
Strangers stoppin' strangers just to shake their hand
Everybody's playing in the heart of gold band, heart of gold band

~"Scarlet Begonias" by the Grateful Dead~


Thanks for reading! May you find beauty in your own path ~ life is what we make of it!


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