We drove over to the Biltmore Estate again today to see the tulips. The day was overcast, but no problem. We go over a couple of times most months anyway and it was nice to get out and walk on the trails there.
We saw tulips. Lots and lots of tulips
And the azalea gardens were near peak. Only a bit of sun could have made them more beautiful
But I was drawn to a large shrub that grows wild all over the NC mountains and Piedmont. I haven't seen one for a while.
We had these shrubs growing in our woods when I was a child. My mother told me they were sweet bubbies. (OK, she actually called them sweet boobies.) She said that she and her six sisters would gather them in the summer and put them inside their bras to use as perfume, so apparently the legend of their use is actually true. (Vanilla was the winter perfume.)
Known as Carolina allspice, sweet shrub, sweet shade as well as sweet bubby bush, (and probably many other names) all parts of this plant are fragrant. The leaves, the flowers, and the stems. You can smell a sweet shrub bush from quite a distance when it is blooming. Seeing and smelling the plant made me think of my mother and our childhood summer activities when we played outdoors from morning until dinner and then went back out and played in the twilight. Games that are probably not known to today's children; "Ghosts in the graveyard," "Ain't no bears out tonight," "Kick the can," "Freeze tag," and so many more.
A word of caution about sweet shrub: don't be fooled by the name Carolina allspice. It is NOT the allspice used for flavoring; in fact many parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested.
My husband laughed that of all the wondrous flowers and trees at the Biltmore, I should have taken a picture of this rather plain looking shrub. Let him laugh. I plan to buy at least one for him to plant.