Archive for May 17th, 2011

Thanks to Keith and Pat for Sharing their Beautiful Collection of one of God’s many surprises: Epiphyllums, “Epies”

May 17th, 2011 Comments off

Breathtakingly beautiful.

I couldn’t find words to express the beauty I saw all around me.

Straight from the 'Master Artist's' brush. Gorgeous!

Left Speechless Over Epiphyllum

May 17th, 2011 Comments off

When I was invited to see Keith and Pat Ballard’s collection of Epiphyllum plants, I didn’t know what to expect. When I saw then I struggled to find words to describe my reaction to the explosion of color, the beauty that was stunning.

Pat’s grandmother introduced them to this jungle cactus and gave them their first cuttings.  Forty years later, they have a magnificent collection of over 500 plants in every color you could imagine, each named and labeled.

There is no way that pictures can do them justice.  You have to see them to really take in all they have to offer, but I want to share the pictures I took in the space I have.  You can look up Epiphyllum to learn more.

Jungle Plants Tended With Love

May 17th, 2011 Comments off
Pat and Keith’s patio area has become a nursery of 500 Epiphyllum plants in all stages of growth.   The plants all start as white but through the hybrid process become vibrant and brilliant in colors of all shades and imaginations.
The love affair with Epiphyllum  that started 40 years ago began with cuttings from Pat’s grandmother’s plant, sitting in the large pot.  From those cuttings more and more were added to the collection through the years.
Because Epiphyllums prefer filtered light, Pat sewed the overhead shade.  Keith repots about 50 pots a year and waters once a week. He carefully prunes and clips and cuts them to provide the ultimate health.  As he tosses the throwaways into the trash can, it too becomes a lovely assortment of color. Almost a shame to have to throw it away.
Each of the 500 plants must be named and labeled before sharing with the flower groups that also specialize in this amazingly beautiful jungle cactus.
Cuttings are sold for $5.00 with instructions on how to grow the plant.  A very small investment for what could become a love affair for you too.

Academic Turnaround: Congratulations Booker T. Washington High School, Memphis, TN

May 17th, 2011 Comments off

In The News:

Booker T. Washington was selected  as the only high school in the country that will receive a commencement speech from the president. Principal Alisha Kiner said she wants to thank Mr. Obama  for validating the work that the kids have done.

Established in 1873 as the Clay Street School, and the city’s first to educate blacks, Booker T. Washington owns a rich tradition. Graduates include former NAACP Executive Director Benjamin Hooks, evangelist/songwriter Lucie Campbell, and Willie Herenton, the first elected black mayor of Memphis.

The school struggled in the 1980s and 1990s, as the surrounding community fell on hard times because of crime, gangs and drugs. The school is in an area where the median annual income is less than $11,000 and the crime rate is the 14th-highest in the nation.

When  Ms. Kiner became principal  in 2005, disciplinary suspensions were high and the graduation rate had fallen to 53 percent. She began to hire teachers, coaches and administrators she knew and trusted.  Slowly she began building a family atmosphere.

A ninth-grade “academy” was established and core classes were split by gender. To reduce classroom distractions the boys were taught by men and the girls by  women.

Last year, when 20 percent of the students lost their homes after their public housing project was closed and demolished,  rather than transferring to schools closer to their new homes, most displaced students decided to return to Booker T. Washington.

The curriculum was expanded to include business education and computer technology.  Practical classes were also added.  Even the football players learned to sew and cook. By 2010, the school graduated 82 percent of its students. The school became a sanctuary where students left the worst parts of life at the front door.

“You cannot teach these kids unless you know where they’re coming from. No one here is just a teacher,” said English teacher Tara Harris-Davis.

During graduation rehearsal Ms. Kiner knew the names of seniors by memory and gave them fist bumps as they practiced coming up to the stage.

The students are proud, but they also understand what Obama’s speech will mean to their elders.

“When my grandmother found out that Obama was president, she cried a little bit,” said senior Dorcheryl Tate, 19. “She’s real excited by this. She’s going to see him. If I only had one ticket, she would go.”


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