Growing up in Memphis I always appreciated the beauty of the Spring
when the Dogwood Trees and the Azaleas bloomed. Indeed, both
plants thrived on the Tech front campus. After moving to
Southern California in 1954, I missed the arrival of Spring when these
plants bloomed. Azaleas grew in California but they were quite
small and unimpressive. Dogwoods didn't grow here.
After graduation from Tech, I had always kept in touch with George
Piaggio (Tech Art Teacher). Some of you might remember that he
lived on a flower farm which was "way out in Raleigh". On the
farm I knew he grew Dogwoods and Azaleas. In 1957 when my mother
and Dad were flying out to California to visit, I asked Mr. Piaggio if
he could send a Dogwood cutting. He sent 4 small plants
with roots and I managed to get one to grow in a pot on my patio.
It thrived for over a year and then suddenly died. Keeping it
alive had become my crusade, but my guess is that it doesn't get cold
enough during our winters. I never tried to grow another one but
I never forgot my feelings for the Dogwoods around Memphis.
forward to 2000. Since moving to California, I had been "lost"
to my Tech Class of 1951. They found me in 2000 and invited me
to our 50th Reunion in 2001. At first I wasn't going but then I
decided to make the trip. That turned out to be one of the best
decisions of my life. I had such a great time visiting my old
friends from long ago, that I decided to return again in April the
During the 2002 visit, on the way from the airport to the motel
in Germantown, I kept seeing these beautiful blooming trees and huge
red-hued blooming shrubs. They were spectacular! Suddenly
it hit me! These were the plants I missed from my childhood, and
they were in
I took many excursions during this visit, to simply drive around
admire the landscaping. And there is no city in the world as
beautiful as Memphis in the Spring when the Dogwoods and Azaleas are
Since that original 2001 visit, I have returned to Memphis every
April - and plan to return again this April (2010).