Saturday, April 23, 2022

From South Korea to Japan. . . . . . . . .


Are you watching the stunning, atmospheric TV series Pachinko?
Have you read the book?

When I discovered Min Jin Lee's book a couple of years back, I
realized there was a Korean-Japanese history I had yet to learn about.
Her well-researched story is beautiful in a somewhat sad and
desolate way, and it is not an easy read. It follows a Korean
 family who escape death from starvation when Japan occupies
 Korea in 1910. They then migrate to make a life in Japan where they
 face prejudice and persecution, and the story of the family continues
through the early '90's.

The TV series is awesome but probably easier for those who first
read the book, as I did. Bob is enjoying it very much but finds it
somewhat difficult to follow the back and forth between the years the
 story covers with the mix of subtitles and dubbing.
Visually it is wonderful, some scenes breathtaking, and all the actors
 are beyond excellent.

Here is the official trailer - it is worth watching.

Watching Pachinko I fell in love with the traditional Korean women's clothes
 named hanbok. 
All those years of dressmaking and sifting through bolts of cloth, first as a
 child with my seamstress mother, later on my own, I noted the 
fabrics - which appeared to be soft almost gauze weight cotton - of the
 short jeogori jackets with fabric ties, chima wrap skirts, and the padded
 Po coats worn by the main character, Sunja. Being a commoner she wore
 mostly white and pale shades of pink, green and gray.

"Hanbok was worn daily up until just 100 years ago, it was originally designed to facilitate ease of movement. But now, it is only worn on festive occasions or special anniversaries. 

Women's traditional hanbok consist of jeogori, which is a type of jacket, and chima, which is a wrap around skirt that is usually worn with a petticoat underneath. There are also additional outer layers, such as the Po which is an outer coat, or robe, jokki which is a type of vest and magoja which is an outer jacket worn over jeogori for warmth and style.

The color of hanbok symbolized social position and marital status. Bright colors, for example, were generally worn by children and girls, and muted hues by middle aged men and women. Unmarried women often wore yellow jeogori and red chima while matrons wore green and red, and women with sons donned navy. The upper classes wore a variety of colors. Contrastingly, commoners were required to wear white, but dressed in shades of pale pink, light green, gray and charcoal on special occasions.

Also, the status and position can be identified by the material of the hanbok. The upper classes dressed in hanbok of closely woven ramie cloth or other high grade lightweight materials in warmer months and of plain and patterned silks throughout the remainder of the year. Commoners, in contrast, were restricted to cotton. Patterns were embroidered on hanbok to represent the wishes of the wearer. Peonies on a wedding dress, represented a wish for honor and wealth. Lotus flowers symbolized a hope for nobility, and bats and pomegranates showed the desire for children. Dragons, phoenixes, cranes and tigers were only for royalty and high-ranking officials."

My 'gauze' garments are mostly linen/cotton blend scarves and the
 linen kimono style jacket on the right.  
They somewhat nudged me into writing this post.
 I've been taking summer clothes out of storage ready for the hot days
ahead here in humid North Carolina. . . . . . . . and, hopefully, for my
 June trip home to England when lightweight scarves will help dress up
the limited wardrobe stuffed into that one suitcase!!!

Lovely Asian fabrics bring back my memories of traveling to that very
 interesting part of the world.  I've spent time in Japan, but sadly I've
 only been to South Korea briefly (a stopover from San Francisco) at
 Incheon International Airport in Seoul  - definitely one of the finest airports
 in the world, and on the best airline I've ever flown, South Korea's Asiana
There I boarded Thai Airways and flew on to Bangkok, Thailand, followed
later by a marvelous visit to Vietnam. . . . . a really amazing trip.

If you've spent time in South Korea I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

No snow here. . . . . .

. . . . . other than the falling petals of the 
Chinese Snowball bush.

So here's a little more info in case you have one, or are considering adding
 one to your garden. I have written about it before, however each year people
continue to request more info when they see the mass of blooms open in our
 back garden. 
Here in the USA this plant does best in zone 3-8 (we are in 7). 
Neither, snow - the real kind - ice, flooding, drought, high heat, and often
 very high summer humidity, have posed any problems.
It does sit in dappled sunshine which is apparently a good place to 
encourage growth and bloom.
If you live elsewhere you may need to check if you are in a good zone in
 your country for it to thrive.  

Took these photos this morning. Quite a chill in the air after a cold night, 
however the sun is bright and no wind disturbs the leaves in the tall oak
and hickory trees surrounding us.

I purchased this plant at the end of summer 2000. It was an 8 inch pot perched
 on a rickety sale table at a local DIY store. It looked like a dead stick but there
was a pretty tag on it - aren't they all - showing a beautiful shrub covered 
with hydrangea-looking white balls - so I bought it for a few dollars.
TLC, time, patience and good luck seem to have paid off.

I'm thinking my snowball bush has now just about reached its max growth
 measurements, 8-10 feet tall by 8-10 feet wide. After hours of heavy 
rain on Monday the branches, heavy with blooms, drooped almost to the
 ground and I've added pruning to the garden 'to do' list after the flowers
 are finished. 
Meanwhile, I'm snipping some the lower boughs and really enjoying 
them in the house, mixed in with some white azaleas.

Later today I plan a little garden work - I'm limited with my back issue
 so just little at a time - and today it will be planting the amaryllis bulbs
 back into the garden where they'll spend the summer months again. 
Some years they have bloomed outdoors, a wonderful sight, other years
 only green leaves. Whatever they enjoy doing during their summer,
 vacation they still bloom in the house again in late winter when I've
 shown them off to you. . . . . . probably boring you silly with so many
 "amaryllis photos!"

Here I'm sharing more detailed info from the professionals.
How can anyone not want one of these great plants in their garden.

An amazingly 'SHOWY' addition to any landscape; the Viburnum Macrocephalum, more commonly known as the 'Chinese Snowball Bush', is beautiful and easy-to-grow. The flowers emerge a striking lime-green in late spring and gradually turn to snowy-white in mid-May; they retain their green color for several weeks before turning to cream and then to white. 
At full maturity, the 'Flower-Balls' resemble brilliant white pom-pom's, reaching up to 8' wide. The 'Chinese Snowball Bush' will bloom in mid-spring for weeks on end.
The Viburnum Macrocephalum is a sterile plant (producing no fruit) so all of its energy goes into blooming and . . . Does it ever!!! A relative of the honeysuckle, the 8' flowering clusters are made up of an abundance of delicate 1' flowers. The clusters resemble the blooms of the Hydrangea plant. 
Best of all, this particular variety will provide a longer & more profuse BLOOMING SEASON than any other plant in its family. The foliage of the 'Chinese Snowball' is a brilliant dark green with 2'-4' leaves that have a 'saw-toothed' edge; they are stunning against the stark white of the flowering clusters.
The 'Chinese Snowball Bush' can be trimmed to any size or shape; it can be sculpted into shrubs, hedges, borders and trees. Cut it back after flowering and prepare for another round of blooming; this incredible plant blooms on both, old and new wood. 
The Viburnum Macrocephalum is an extremely hardy variety that is resistant to bacterial leaf spot and powdery mildew, unlike its' relatives. If you are looking for an incredible 'point-of-interest' for your landscape, you have found it in the 'Chinese Snowball Bush'.
  • Insect & Disease Resistant
  • Showy Clusters of 'Flower Balls' (up to 8' wide)
  • Repeat Bloomer
  • Carefree
  • Provides Bountiful Cut Flowers
  • Deer Resistant
  • Non-Invasive Root System
  • Heat & Drought Tolerant
  • Attracts Butterflies

How can one go wrong with this plant!

Happy gardening everyone.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

This week ahead -

Following the most beautiful warm and sunny day on Easter Sunday,
it rained heavily most of yesterday and was so chilly. We had errands to
run - garage for a car repair, airport run to pick up a friend, tailor shop to
 collect a few items requiring alterations, and a LIDL stop for fresh rustic 
baguette to accompany the roasted butternut squash soup I made
 early morning - warming soup for a cold, wet day. Perfect.

The birds are busy. 
More cardinals are visiting the front garden, relaxing
 in the the now leafed out trees, with many robins, sparrows, finches
 and mourning doves. The chickadees have nested in the tiny wooden
 box hanging in the fig tree. . . .mamma is sitting on eggs.

In the back garden the bluebirds are busy, along with doves, 
nuthatches, woodpeckers, towhees, blue jays and thrashers. 
One large lonely crow struts around the lawn or sits cawing in
 an oak tree, seemingly calling for a mate for the past few days.

Wherever we look there are busy squirrels, and just one rabbit has
 appeared so far!  A few butterflies have been seen on sunny days,
 a lovely sight!  A pair of carpenter bees are checking the wooden
 rails of the front porch, always a favorite place to burrow and nest.

In a day or so I'll be packing the Easter decor away - thankful there's not
 too much, like at Christmas!  All fit into just two large boxes, with lots of
 tissue paper wrapped around those precious rabbit ears!

Tulips are just about over in the gardens around here. 
Yesterday's heavy rain for hours cleared much of the pollen
 which is good, but did damage some delicate flowers.

Hope your week is a good one, and thanks so much for all the 
kind comments on my spring garden in the previous post. . . . . . . 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Easter.........Nature, Home & Garden


A special and beautiful time of year. . . . . . 
when nature and Easter merge with perfect timing
 and rhythm, sharing unbelievable beauty all around.

All my garden photos were taken yesterday in sunshine. 
Today, cloudy but still very warm and hazy due to
pollen.  We expect rain tomorrow - which hopefully
will cleanse the landscape and provide a
 perfect Easter day on Sunday.

Enjoy your weekend.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Happy Weekend ----------

  • Grass cut several times already
  • Arbor, fence and gate re-painted and new white lights installed for Summer evening twinkling
  • Azaleas blooming, bluebells 'ringing' all around the garden
  • Birdhouse "Spring cleaned"
  • Acer gorgeous after last year's professional pruning
  • Red maple brilliant red, will then turn green
  • Weeding, compost spreading, mulching being done this weekend
  • Two new Boston ferns purchased for the front porch - last year's Swedish Ivy overwintered in neighbor's sunroom and now hanging on porch

Despite the recent ups and downs of life we are managing to get
 back to things requiring attention here at the cottage.  
Our neighborhood is looking beautiful.

March was a particularly tough month for us. 
Bob's brief hospital stay after a B/P-heart scare.
 Making the change to a new way of eating/cooking without salt has
 been a challenge. He's doing fine - I'm tired of reading labels to
 determine sodium content. Bottom line - DON'T eat anything that
comes in a box, bag, jar or can!
My ongoing herniated disc problem and leg pain preventing long walks.
Daughter had, and still needs, ongoing assistance/transportation
(we're providing) following shoulder surgery.
There are other serious family member medical issues to deal with.  
A nearby neighbor's unexpected death at home knocked us for a loop
and took us to a funeral.
 An amazing family member's death across the pond saddened us. . .
 but he was almost one hundred and five years young!!!

We felt doomed in March.
Life became a daily effort, just facing each morning was exhausting
 and, as you know, I became absent from here for most of the month.
We too are 'feeling our ages' but hoping with the arrival of Spring, better
weather, and plans for a short trip for a change of scenery soon will give
 us a lift. Then with a long-awaited trip home to England all planned and
 hopefully taking place after so many cancellations during COVID. . . . we
 will be 'up and running', or at least walking, for the remainder of the year.

Meanwhile off to tackle some weeding after the heavy rains of 
Thursday. . . . . then afternoon tea on the front porch, and this evening
 lighting the last fire on the hearth until next Winter!

Doing just a little Easter decor - will share in the coming week.
Thanks so much for your concerns - we are good and hope you are.
Enjoy your weekend dear friends.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Days of Spring -

Today's flowers!

They're here. Those days we wait patiently for when the worst of
 winter blusters, blows, rains, freezes and snows become tiresome.  
When darkness cloaks the long cold nights endlessly, and the chill of
 early mornings makes one want to turn over and sleep a little longer.

But outside the windows there is change, especially in the trees.
 Bursting forth in bright green, still so new and full of promise. 
The pollen is beginning to smother every surface and cause allergy
 discomfort, annoying for some, me included, with hoarseness, 
sneezing and coughing.
 The change in the trees brighten the sky, my thoughts, the entire day. 
The azaleas are blooming now in all shades of pink, tucked underneath
 the white flowers opening on the dogwood boughs.
North Carolina has the most beautiful spring months.

Magical is the only word.

Friday, April 1, 2022

April has to be better................


I'm still swamped.  
I'm definitely under water.  
Thank goodness March has gone.
I hope to be back here soon.