Two times to visit Callaway Gardens is during the azalea season (be sure to visit the azalea bowl around the chapel) and during the Christmas season.
This year Mom & I decided to go to Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain Georgia for Christmas. I had to work Christmas Eve, so we left early Christmas morning in the first white Christmas we’ve had since the early 60’s (see my ‘How Santa got into our house without a chimney’ post on Christmas 2009 in the December archives). In the dark it looked like two inches had already fallen. I tried to take a picture but in the blowing snow my camera was focusing on the snowflakes instead of the scenery. Blackie looked like a ghost in the shot and Levi looked like a double dog. Half way to Leighton I stopped and put my truck in 4 wheel drive as the road was getting fairly slippery. We had snow until we topped the mountain at Cullman and the pine trees turned from white to green again. I stopped in Cullman to get gas and coffee, not necessarily in that order, and called one of my neighbors to wish them Merry Christmas. LaSonia fussed that she couldn’t believe that Mom and I took off in that kind of weather and asked if we were turning around and coming home.
After settling into our cottage and having a late lunch, we headed out for the gardens. First stop the butterfly house. No chance for getting quality butterfly pictures as they were hugging the outside and ceiling glass to keep warm. The walk from the butterfly house to the truck convinced us that we needed to be inside. The wind was biting and bone chilling, so back to the cottage to warm up a little before going on an open air trolley through five miles of lighted displays called the Fantasy in Lights. Armed with our long handles and pregnant duck coats as Mom calls the thick quilted coats you can only wear when the temps gets down in the teens, gloves, scarves and heavy socks we were ready for anything. Or so we thought. We had tickets to the six to seven PM time slot and the normal over flowing crowds were absent. About a fourth of the way through the ride we found out why as freezing rain started. It was too late to chicken out now. Half way around snow started and as we got into the last part a blowing blizzard started. By this time we started questioning our sanity. The next morning I exchanged our trolley tickets for the next two nights for drive through tickets.
Sunday morning we went to church followed by a visit to the Sibley Horticultural Center. I thought of something to help me remember the names of the plants, instead of writing the names down on something to be lost, I took the plant picture and then took a picture of the name tag. With digital camera’s you don’t have to worry about wasting film, you have memory. The center had a new amaryllis called ‘Red Pearl’ that was a beautiful dark beet red. We checked at the gift shop and this variety wasn’t available yet. Back to the butterfly house, this time the butterflies were highly active and fluttering around. We drove by the road to the Ida Carson chapel and Mr. Carson’s Vegetable garden where the PBS show is filmed. Too cold and windy to get out so off to downtown Pine Mountain to visit several of the antique stores looking for oil lamps for the cast iron wall hangers Julie’s husband had found in Ohio for me. I like the wall hangers as they are out of the way and decorative and functional in power outages and I think safer than candles. A check with the neighbors on the hooligans; they were sitting in the front yard in the snow looking down the road waiting for us to return.
Monday we were off to Warm Springs, site of President Roosevelt’s little White House and many unique stores. One disappointment about the historical park is the home is not open to visitors. From there we ventured out to find the oldest cover bridge in Georgia called the Red Oak Creek Covered bridge. When I inquired at the Warm Springs visitor center for directions, I was told about a neat antique store called High Cotton Antiques in Woodbury Georgia which was on the way. There I found a good deal on an oil lamp made to fix in one of my hangers and some lead glass crystal that matched some I have from my Grandmother. We were going to eat lunch at a neat restaurant called the Bulloch House and struck out there also as it was closed. One of the owners is in jail and the employees are trying to buy it from the bank and reopen it.
A quick check on the hooligans with Jessica, Blackie had gotten out chasing off a stray dog and wouldn’t let her touch her fence collar, so it was up early the next morning for breakfast at the Callaway Conference Center and the trip home. After I pulled in the garage Blackie was out on the road barking at me to let her back in.There’s no place like Home.
Oh, we got to watch the Wizard of Oz while we were there as well as my other favorite movie It’s a Wonderful Life.