Native Son: May 16, 2019

2:37am…and I sit down to write.  Funny thing about writing…and life, too…is that you’re never really sure where your story will end up.  Could be total disaster; could be the greatest thing ever.  Odds are it will simply fall somewhere in between.  But any way you look at it, you’ve got to begin…you’ve got to get busy.  As Andy figured out in Shawshank Redemption, “You’ve got to get busy living, or get busy dying.”

A Little Bit of Treasure

I was cleaning up around my writing desk this morning (it’s 3:23am), trying to figure out what to write this month, and a little USB drive fell onto the floor. I’m not even sure where it came from, but somehow I managed to knock it out of its hiding place. Either that, or it jumped…I don’t know. It’s a relatively old USB…not Ming Dynasty or anything, but it was dusty and had a little dog fur on it.

Turns out the thing is loaded with photos. Photos of beautiful gardens, past adventures…and, of course lots of flowers. So I figure the cosmos has provided me with some fodder for an article that was due two days ago. Shall we…?

I’ve always loved this photo of a partially-unfurled sunflower. Makes me wonder if she wasn’t just too shy to open all at once. All photos by Steven Chamblee.
After cutting curved tile for more than an hour, I sent this selfie to Neil. Neil showed it to his grandson, Joseph, who immediately asked, “Is it a Muppet?”
One of my favorite days ever…Chihuly exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum. Just as I got to the garden gate, it began to rain like crazy. Everyone poured out of the arboretum. I went in. Umbrella in one hand and camera in the other, I got a series of about 300 lovely photographs…overcast sky (no shadows or glare), absolutely no people in the background, and all the time in the world to bask in the glory of the glass.
Continued Below
Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland. Exquisitely-crafted mosaics, brilliant designs, incredible stone placement, and lush plantings. Tiāntáng on earth.
I found this tiny praying mantid on my shirt as I drove home one day. He seemed quite happy to pose for a photo atop my thumb.
The response to my letter to Queen Elizabeth. Same stationary design since at least the 1950’s. Now…who do I write next?
Kids and pumpkins…what a great combination!
Me and a group of friends dedicating a tree on 9-11-2011. I’ve planted a tree on 9-11 every year since 2002.
One of my favorite memories…the first time I saw Teosinte growing. Teosinte is a humble little grass native to Mexico…and the progenitor (ancestral origin) of corn. Those little red strings in the photo are essentially the “silk strands” of a tiny corn cob that will produce a few hard kernals smaller than a BB. From this tiny wonder came one of the world’s most important food and industrial crops.
My happy doggies!
Not sure this needs a caption, but…”I go through a lot of socks in the summer.”
A few years back I met Gene Joseph, owner of Living Stones Nursery in Tucson. Since he looked like a seasoned succulent collector, I asked him if he had known another seasoned succulent collector, David Grigsby, whom I had met in Vista, California back in the early 80’s. He did know Mr. Grigsby! I told Gene I had taken a photo of Mr. Grigsby in front of an astonishingly huge Aloe specimen at his California nursery. Gene laughed and told me that Mr. Grigsby ended up selling that huge Aloe tree to some wealthy Japanese businessmen who offered him an exorbitant amount of money for it. During the moving process, a small branch of that Aloe was broken off and discarded. Gene picked it up. That little branch is now the Aloe tree in the above photo.

Almost sixty years of wandering this world has taught me a few things, and one of which is that, most of the time, you will find what you seek.  Obviously, it helps to do a bit of research first to hedge your bet—it’s hard to catch a fish in the desert or snow ski in Florida— but in general, life serves up what you order.  So choose wisely…and get busy!

I need a road trip! Let me know if you’d like me to come and speak to your group sometime. I’m low maintenance, flexible, and you know I like to go just about anywhere. No city too big; no town to small. Just send me an e-mail at and we’ll work something out.

Come out and see me at Chandor Gardens! Located in the heart of Weatherford’s Historic District, Chandor Gardens is the perfect place to get away and enjoy the simple pleasures of life that can only be found in gardens. Call 817-613-1700 or visit for details.

Posted by Steven Chamblee
Back To Top