down in the sandhills

4.8.24 ~ Sandhills Horticultural Gardens
Pinehurst, North Carolina

By coincidence, exactly six years ago on this day, my sister-in-law and I visited this lovely horticultural garden near her home. (spring blossoms) We had a great time exploring it again. It was quite different than my local botanical garden. There were lots of huge, vividly colored rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias, and very few identification signs.

We found these in the Hackley Woodland Garden:

a busy bee

We walked the boardwalk in the Desmond Native Wetland Trail, a little nature conservancy and bird sanctuary. It was filled with birdsong and lots of new greenery. Looking up for birds I spotted the only thing blooming in there, a wild azalea. So delicate and pretty:

wild azalea

The Margaret H. Ambrose Japanese Garden was calm and peaceful. We paused a lot, reflecting…

And we finally took a quick peek at the formal Sir Walter Raleigh Garden:

It’s interesting how each garden had a very different mood to it. There were ten other gardens there we didn’t have time to see. I think a lot about the differences between preserved natural land conservancies and cultivated gardens. Each have their value and place in the world.

In the afternoon the four of us took Dan & Fran’s dog Biscuit for a walk in their neighborhood and enjoyed watching the solar eclipse with our special eclipse glasses. They seemed pretty flimsy but worked very well. I had also obtained a special filter for the camera lens. Tim had to hold it in front of the lens while I tried to find the sun without getting it in my eyes. When I fiddled with the zoom it would get fuzzy and we didn’t have a lot of time to figure out what worked best! It was very awkward but we managed to get a few shots.

near the beginning

I almost forgot to check the ground for crescent shadows…

crescent shadows
at or near the 78% peak we got in our area

We went back to the house to enjoy a meal and then I took one last peek outside to see the last of the eclipse from the porch. The moon was near the top of the sun and some long leaf pine needles way up in the trees got into the picture, too.

near the end

Truly a day to remember!

24 thoughts on “down in the sandhills”

  1. A lovely day by the sounds of it. While I enjoy wild woodlands, a garden of well-tended, flowering shrubs is a pleasure as well. Azaleas are such graceful flowers.

    1. One of the bushes in front of our new home has started blooming and it’s an azalea! The flowering dogwood is getting green leaves but no white ‘flowers’ yet. Not sure what the wax myrtle will be doing…

  2. How I love all these gorgeous flowers (especially the azaleas!). A Japanese garden is such a restful place to visit. And I rather like those long-needled pines in your last photo — a solar eclipse is sooo interesting!

    1. Those azaleas and other shrubs were so huge! It was interesting how they had different “gardens” there while our local botanical garden is separated into “habitats.” I liked the long leaf pine effect on the eclipse, too!

  3. This was an amazing post Barbara and I went back and looked at your “Spring Blossoms” post from 2018 and the flowers there were equally as exquisite and I like the quotes as well. So much color in one place – the Hackley Woodland Gardens and all the flowers and I’m sure the bee does not know where to get busy first! I always say Fall is my favorite season, but when I see all these blooms, I might want to change my mind. Congratulations on seeing the eclipse – you were braver than me and I’m glad you got some photos as well as crescent shadows. You had a wonderful and memorable day.

    1. All that color was breathtaking and the photos couldn’t really capture all of it! I laughed when I saw all those quotes six years ago — I think I used up all my springtime quotes in one post. But once in a while I do find a new one. 😉 I think spring and autumn share favorite season status for me. For one thing, the light near the equinoxes if perfect for photographs, not too dim as it is in winter, and not so bright it washes everything out as in the summertime. Flimsy as those eclipse glasses appeared, they really did block out the light, making the sun look like a crescent moon at night.

      1. You sure captured all the beauty, not once, but twice in this magical place with so many types of gardens, also interesting. You do find the best quotes to pair with your pictures. Another fellow blogger, Rebecca, lives in Tennessee and she and her husband take walks in the country at a lake they visit for wildfowl and she always uses great quotes to fit her nature photos.

        I am already dreading this scorcher of a Summer and yes, the pictures are often so bright, you have shadows or yes, everything else dims in comparison. Now I wish I’d gone outside with the glasses instead of flat out saying they were flimsy and not using them. I could have taped them to my eyeglasses and gone out in the front yard. An amazing sight for sure Barbara!

        1. Thank you, Linda. It’s a fun challenge finding quotes — you should see all the little bookmarks marking special meaningful paragraphs in the books I read. And of course, The Poems of Emily Dickinson has the most of them! I enjoy the quotes Rebecca finds, too.

          It’s probably a good thing you didn’t tape the eclipse glasses to your glasses because they block out all the light. We walked around without the glasses on and noticed the weird shadows and odd lighting and every five minutes or so put the glasses on and looked up. The glasses made everything as black as night with only the sun visible. It was really remarkable.

          1. For years I did a “Thought for Today” when I still worked at the Firm, then another seven years after we left, until our computer system crashed in 2010, so I stopped after years of doing so. I was like you with the sticky notes and pieces of paper. I had a lot of perpetual calendars with quotes, quote books and I’d go through and write what quotes seemed good for special holidays. I collected quotation books over the years and still have them downstairs. I didn’t realize you followed Rebecca. You two are the only ones I see using quotes that perfectly fit the post.

            I see, I guess I should have researched a little more about wearing the eclipse glasses. That is amazing how they worked for you (and others). Did you hear or read that all the eclipse glasses are being collected at different collection points to be shipped to school children in other countries whose families cannot afford the glasses, so they can see future eclipses?

          2. It’s fun collecting quotes, isn’t it? I would have so much fun browsing through the quotation books you’ve stashed away. 🙂 I did hear about donating the eclipse glasses to kids in other countries. It’s a wonderful idea! Astronomers Without Borders say they collected millions of glasses from the 2017 eclipse. 300,000 of them were in acceptable condition and all of those have been distributed.

          3. I should gather them all up and make a post about them some time Barbara. I would have to remove the sticky notes out of some of them. I had most of the books here at the house and some at work, plus a few quote books I forgot about until my boss dropped off all my stuff when he cleared out my office before he moved to the new office. We always looked up quotes the old-fashioned way, not relying on the internet. I have a collection of quotes I have seen on Facebook and have saved – about 30-40 of them. One I will be using in this Sunday’s post about trees in conjunction with my post for the “Run for the Trees” 5K event.

          4. That’s a great idea for a post. It would be fun if you actually counted up the total number of quote books you’ve collected. 📚 Sometimes I see a quote I like online and it leads me to the book it came from and then I wind up reading the whole book. Looking forward to your tree post and quote.

          5. I can get lost on the internet with quotes and I wish I could remember the first home page I had when we first got the internet – it was great and had every subject imaginable for a quick read: quote of the day, day in history, word of the day – why can’t I remember the name of it. It was my home page for years.

            It would be a fun post – maybe when I have everything in order in the house, I can gather the books and make a post about it – you could do likewise since you enjoy quotes as well. I probably still have the sticky notes on them. 🙂

    1. Many thanks, Donna! The garden was a color extravaganza and the eclipse a celestial wonder. ☀️

  4. Azaleas are blooming in my garden now as well, Barbara! The flowers are all so beautiful, and I am guessing you are visiting your old “home”, but I need to catch up on your news (hopefully tomorrow!) We didn’t see the eclipse in Australia, so I am always happy to see photos. 🙂

    1. I was amazed to learn that there are over 10,000 different kinds of azalea plants! It’s always a treat to find a wild one in the woods, though. We were visiting my sister-in-law who lives an hour and a half south of us. She and Tim’s brother moved to North Carolina back in 2017. We see them more often now! 🙂

  5. So much pretty!! I just noticed dogwoods starting to bloom around here in the past couple days, so the azaleas should be along soon. I sat out watching the eclipse with those flimsy glasses too but didn’t manage any photos.

    1. Thank you, Karma! The dogwood blooms are fading down here but the dogwood tree in front of our house is just putting out leaves and hasn’t bloomed. I wonder if its too young yet. Enjoy your azaleas when they do come out!

  6. Your photos are spectacular, and you sure got in some good shots of the eclipse (nothing doing on regular cell phone cameras of course). We got 93% here in the Boston area and I was surprised how moved I was to watch the moon cast over the sun.

    1. Thank you, Pam. Our 78% was inspiring enough so I can imagine how moving 93% must have been! It was an afternoon walk to remember. Apparently solar eclipses happen often but most of them occur out over the ocean where we don’t get to see them.

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