The Garden Gate Columns
The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree

In the early 1930s, Lizzy Lacy wrote a weekly column for the Darling Dispatch. We are reprinting a selection of her columns here.

The Garden Gate
By Miss Elizabeth Lacy
Friday, May 16, 1930
(from The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree)

Last Sunday, the Darling Dahlias held our first meeting in our new club home at 302 Camellia Street, the former home of our club founder's Mrs. Dahlia Blackstone. We had refreshments and transacted club business, including a reduction in the dues to just fifteen cents a month, so if you've been wanting to join, now's your chance. Also, we unveiled our new sign, painted by Beulah Trivette, noted local artist and owner of Beulah's Beauty Bower. The sign will be installed under the cucumber tree in front of the house sometime soon. The garden will be open during the Darling Garden Tour in September, the dates to be announced. If you'd like to add your garden to the tour, please contact Mrs. Hetty Little, who is keeping a list.

Earlynne Biddle reports that the best thing that's happened in her garden this spring is the unexpected comeback of her Butter and Eggs, which disappeared quite a few years ago and she thought was gone forever. It isn't where she saw it last, but that's a daffodil for you. She says that she was so glad to see it again that she didn't ask where it had been all those years.

Another nice thing that happened this spring, according to Miss Dorothy Rogers, Darling's intrepid librarian, was an automobile trip to the family cemetery, over near Monroeville. (Ask her how many flat tires they had going there and back.) Miss Rogers came home with slips for a beautiful rose, which she says was growing up into a tree by the cemetery gate, almost twenty feet high. It was a single plant, but it was covered with blossoms in all different shades of pink, from carmine to mauve, different colors in a single cluster. She recognized it as "Seven Sisters," an old rose that is thought to have been brought from Japan to Europe in 1816. Miss Rogers, who likes to use the proper names for things, says that we should call this Rosa cathayensis platyphylla or R. multiflora grevillei. Verna Tidwell says that we'll take Miss Rogers' word for it.

While I'm mentioning blossoms in different colors, I should like to say that I have just received a rooted cutting of a beautiful old Southern garden plant called the Confederate rose. You won't likely find this hibiscus (that would be H. mutabilis, Miss Rogers) for sale, but if you're really lucky, someone may give you one. Here in south Alabama, the Confederate rose can grow into a small tree with several trunks, as much as ten feet tall. In late summer, you'll see clusters of round, fat flower buds on top of each stem, white as cotton. That's why it's sometimes called cotton rose. The flowers are single or double, about the size of a saucer. They're white when they open, then turn pink, then red, then a deep, blood red. Confederate ladies were said to have planted this hibiscus in honor of their brave soldiers. You can surely see why.

Mildred Kilgore led several of the Dahlias on a wildflower walk around Briar's Swamp a few weeks ago. They took their lunches and did not get lost. But they did see some beautiful spring woodland wildflowers, including Shooting star; wild Sweet William; Giant chickweed (sometimes called Dead man's bones); an unusual Fire pink, or catchfly; white Foamflower; and Trout lilies—just to name a few. Spring is wildflower time in Alabama!

The Dahlias are aiming to plant a bog garden in the wet area at the back of the Dahlia House garden. Some of the plants we are looking for include the wild blue flag, cardinal flower, great blue lobelia, false dragonhead, and golden-eyed grass. Miss Rogers will be glad to supply the Latin names (if you need them). If you've got any of these plants to share, stop by the library (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, noon to three p.m.) and let Miss Rogers know. She'll be glad to send somebody to dig them up. Dahlias: please contact Bessie Bloodworth and let her know when you're available for garden cleanup at the new clubhouse. That boggy area is going to be a challenge!

One last thing. These are tough times for everybody. The Dahlias are compiling a list of handy tips for what you can do to stretch what you have. We're calling it our "Makin' Do" list, and plan to publish it in a pamphlet. Your contributions are welcome. Just write them down and leave them for Elizabeth Lacy at the Dispatch office.

Darling Dahlias & the Cucumber Tree
July, 2010
    Darling Dahlias & the Naked Ladies
July, 2011
    Darling Dahlias & the Confederate Rose
September, 2012
    Darling Dahlias & the Texas Star
September, 2013
    Darling Dahlias & the Silver Dollar Bush
September, 2014
    Darling Dahlias & the Eleven O'Clock Lady
September, 2015
    Darling Dahlias & the Unlucky Clover
March, 2018
    Darling Dahlias & the Poinsettia Puzzle
October, 2018