January In My Garden

Nestled in the southeastern part of the United States is South Carolina, where I live. It is also the home of Clemson University, known not only for its football program, but also for its political influence. The daughter of SC statesman, John C. Calhoun, married Thomas Green CLEMSON. You guessed it, the same Clemson of Clemson U. He was influential in promoting the agricultural department at Clemson. Even today, Clemson is there with a ready hand to help her citizens with agricultural needs.

While my father always planted a garden consisting of many varieties of veggies and fruits, he never included ornamental plants, i.e. FLOWERS! I can see him now, standing in the middle of his freshly tilled garden, arms akimbo, with his seven little helpers––Yep, seven kids in my family! His job was to till the garden and make it ready for planting. The seven of us followed behind as he dropped two seeds (no more, no less) into each hole––each carefully spaced hole. I suppose I inherited only half of his green thumb since my interest in planting does not extend past flowers!

Portrait of my dad A.B.Platt

Portrait of my dad A.B.Platt

I on the other hand love to grow flowers and am out in my garden 12 months of the year. Camellias grow and bloom in South Carolina during the month of January. Sometimes winter's cold weather is not finished, causing the blooms to suffer frostbite . Fortunately ,cold air does not hurt the plant's foliage. The plants often grow to twelve to fifteen feet and each plant produces many, many lovely blooms in various shades of red, pink, lavender, white as well as variegated colors.

Every January, my small hometown, (Summerville) the local garden club held a competition for all camellia growers. The art students (in the only high school) might enter a poster competition advertising the event. Of course there were no computers or personal printers, so all the artwork was original (probably gauche) on poster board.

In January, camellias are also widely used for decorating, as most other flowers wait until the danger of frost has passed before poking out their little heads! Camellias’ stems are short, so these beautiful flowers are usually “floated” in Grandma’s elegant china platter and used as a centerpiece at the Southern dinner table.

There are so many reasons I love camellias but needless to say I was inspired by their beauty as well as my affection for them over the years to paint this painting as a part of my 12 months of flowers series.

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