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Brighten Your Corner Where You Are

Updated on July 24, 2012
The Vision -- Begonias and Geraniums and Friendship
The Vision -- Begonias and Geraniums and Friendship

My daughter forwarded a joke this morning about someone asking for a favor, to water their plants while they went on vacation for two weeks. It was cute in connection with the picture above. The picture can only bring a smile to your senses, when you see what a clever group of neighborly friends came up with -- to brighten the corner where they lived.

That lovely vision of beautiful and lasting cooperation, made me think about some things that many of us seem to be forgetting in these unsettled times -- our own forgotten corners -- in our minds, our homes, our gardens, and our neighborhoods. We could all use a little beautification and visual comfort as stress relievers.

A Hymn Etched Into The American Backstory

Back in 1874, a Methodist minister organized a Sunday School workshop of sorts on Lake Chautauqua, in New York. Whole families signed up to two week long camps that while they included Sunday school training sessions -- they also included recreation and entertainment. This became a hugely popular summer vacation option, and soon the concept spread to other parts of the country.

Performers, musicians, lecturers, and motivational speakers were added to the camps. Many of the headline participants traveled the country and had huge audiences. This was so well-liked that it grew to include Broadway stars, popular plays, and even included stars from the Metropolitan Opera.

In 1912, a woman named Ina Duley Ogdon, was invited to be one of the motivational speakers in the Chatutauqa Circuits (as they were called). This was a huge honor and she was very excited about the prospect of being able to inspire thousands of people. The night before she was to leave, her father was injured in a car accident and she had to cancel out on the lecture series. In the depths of her despair over postponing her dreams and distress over her father, she wrote a poem:

"Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do; Do not wait to shed your light afar; to the many duties ever near you now be true. Brighten the corner where you are."

Later, that poem was put to music written by Charles H. Gabriel, and caught the attention of Homer Rodeheaver (musical director for evangelist Billy Sunday). He in turn, made it the evangelistic campaigns ministry theme song for the next twenty-two years.

As the song became more commonly known, largely thanks to Hollywood, this old time hymnal song, Brighten The Corner Where You Are, has survived generations. Even in modern day American television and movies, new listeners are introduced to the song -- without knowing it's history. Some examples are:

  • Donna Reed Show
  • Beverly Hillbillies
  • Mr. Rogers Neighborhood
  • Sopranos (Season 7)
  • Meet Me In St. Louis (an example of one of many movies that this tune pops up in)

Perhaps one of the most interesting facts about Ida Duley Ogdon's poem, that became a song, is the fact is that her dream of speaking to thousands, in reality became a song that spoke to and inspired millions. Even Teddy Roosevelt, used it as one of his Presidential Campaign songs and it is well-known that it was President Ronald Reagan's favorite hymn. Some examples of those who thought to record it are:

  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Liliana Rose
  • Red Foley
  • Londonerry Choir
  • Metropolitan Boys Choir
  • Mills Brothers
  • Joan Crawford
  • Alice Faye
  • Tennessee Ernie Ford

One thing everyone should know about the author Ida Duley Ogdon -- She was from small town, Lamberville Michigan. In recent years, this town's people (population less than 10,000) have been trying to raise funds to restore and brighten the little corner of their world -- her old home -- to serve as a museum. Those kinds of community endeavors, sort of remind you of the women who banded together and brightened the corner of their own world in the first picture in this article. I wonder how many missed opportunities people in other communities are unaware of?

Help Save The Ina Duley Ogdon Home

Sense Is Our Helmet

Now, to my way of thinking Ina Duley Ogdon, had a lot of common sense. She knew that in the face of having to walk away from all that she had worked for -- that you had to take time for the real priorities in life (ie. what's best for your family), and make the world around you tolerable by adding a little sunshine to every day life.

I think that is as important a message as anyone of us could learn in the face of today's troubled world. One of the ways that you can relieve your own personal stresses, is to throw your creativity into making this world a brighter place -- even if it is only designing your own private place to contemplate the great opportunities that any problem in life brings you.

English poet, Edward Young (1681-1765) once penned:

"Sense is our helmet, wit is but the plume; The plume exposes, but the helmet saves. Sense is the diamond, weighty, solid, sound; If cut by wit, it casts a brighter beam, Yet, wit apart, is a diamond still."

Sometimes it all comes down to common sense, without that diamond in the rough in the first place, we becomes just educated fools. If you look around at the pages of history, one thing is very plain -- those whose who have sense and tact, are generally the ones who succeed in whatever endeavor they attempt. Even if they make a mistake, or an error in judgement or business, they will land on their feet -- try again, and eventually obtain their goal.

Those with common sense, often understand one key ingredient that insures success -- is knowing how to take advantage of situations that others are defeated by.

It isn't any wonder that people today are drowning in a sea of negativity and to my way of thinking a lot of them have forgotten their common sense. Now isn't the time for great despair, it's the time for reinventing themselves and brightening the corners where they live.

Ivy Geraniums
Ivy Geraniums


Geraniums are one of the most unique and versatile flowers to grow. It's especially intriguing that they come as perennials, but also have many annual varieties to choose from. The best things to know about when growing geraniums are:

  • Keep in mind that like with any other plant, the variety of species you select will largely determine your success. In other words, pay attention to what geraniums grow best in your individual climate.
  • Understand that there are many types of geraniums, a few examples are: 1) Zonal (have a specific dark pattern on their leaves; 2) Fancy Leafed geraniums; 3) Ivy geraniums (perfect for walls and container grown); 4) Martha Washington (aka Regal) which are very showy in flower; 5) Scented geraniums; and 6) Stellars (star shaped).
  • Many and most varieties of geraniums don't tolerate cold weather very well.
  • Geraniums love love love the sun!
  • Geraniums are thirsty plants and seldom can be over-watered.
  • Geraniums are heavy feeders, fertilize often.

Not to be forgotten, wild geraniums are a common woodland plant, flowering in early summer.

The stem is erect and from one to two feet high, with leaves that are rough and fiary. The leaves are five-parted, with the deviations lobed and cut."

The flowers are quite large, magenta or pale purple, and grow in clusters at the ends of the branches. The corolla is regular, with five petals. The calyx is hairy and have five sepals.

The beak-like appearance of the fruit, which splits at maturity so elastically as to discharge the seeds to some distance, gives the common name that geraniums were once known by (Cranesbill). Geraniums is the Greek word for "crane."

Cultivated geraniums are quite different. Herb Robert is another geranium very similar to the last, but is somewhat smaller. Its leaves are smaller and more deeply cleft, and the flowers are coarser in texture. The stem is usually stained with red, and both stem and leaves emit a strong odor when bruised.




Begonias and geraniums are similar in that neither do well over winter without help. I like to think about the fact that the plant world is still waiting for us to discover all the unknown varieties of begonias that are still emerging each year.

In the wild, some of them are very rare, delicate, and in danger of becoming extinct. In that same wild, some of them are exceptionally hearty, yet like all plants are endangered as man destroys their natural habitat.

If you love begonias and don't live in a warm climate, remember that they can always be grown as a house plant, quite successfully.


Not Your Grama's Begonias


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    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks Dolores Monet! Brightening up this world is something we should all consider.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      9 years ago from East Coast, United States

      What a beautiful hub! Creativity and gardening are good for the soul. You can not only brighten up your own world but but the views of passersby. You can lighten a stranger's spirit, a wonderful idea.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks ripplemaker! I feel the same way!

      Thanks cindyvine! The joke that came with the picture said the ladder is in the garage, but I suspect they have a pipe attachment extension to a hose to accomplish watering. Looking at the age of the women, it's either that or they have youngsters around to go up that ladder. I think it's very doable if you pick a low maintenance, hearty plant, and have the right weather most of the year.

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 

      9 years ago from Cape Town

      Do they supply ladders to water the topmost plants, or do I have to squirt the hose upwards? I'd love to have beautiful flowers like that, but mine always seem to bite the dust. I am good at growing veggies though!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      The title of your hub drew me here. There is something about brightening someone's life, a space, a heart, a corner that feels so wonderful! I love reading this hub and found myself inspired and feeling good! Have a blessed day brightening your corner and light... :-)

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks cgull8m! I thought the group effort was the most beautiful of all.

    • cgull8m profile image


      9 years ago from North Carolina

      I love the first photo how people working together bring nature into the living areas. Beautiful. Nature adds harmony to homes.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks Brian S!

      Thanks RGraf!

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Very inspiring piece! Thank you. I needed that today.

    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      9 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      There is no doubt that being in a beautiful environment can lift the soul and flowers certainly contribute to a beautiful environment.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks badcompany99! Our pristine gated community needs their own sorting.

      Thanks Useful Knowledge!

    • profile image

      Useful Knowledge 

      9 years ago

      Wonderful hub. I love the beautiful flowers. Thnak you for sharing.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks Nolimits Nana! I'd have to agree, Bob Ewing's hubs are one of the best too.

      Thanks ryanobie! Real life is in the small things.

      Thanks Aya! In the Southern Bible belt it's a common one for young kids to be taught in Sunday school but extends beyond to American roots.

      Ida Duley Ogdon's story, especially if you go back into the newspaper clippings on the Save Ina's home link is farily interesting.

      Thanks jill of alltrades! There are many ways to brighten the corners, not only where you live but globally thanks to the Internet.

      Thanks shamelabboush! Plants are the perfect stress relievers.

    • shamelabboush profile image


      9 years ago

      This hub is all brightened up bcz of the wonderful pictures here. Nothing like plants can be stress relievers. I wish I could fill up every inch in my house with many kinds of plants. Just the mere looking at them in the morning gives you hope.

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 

      9 years ago from Philippines

      Beautiful hub! And great reminder too! I love the first picture.

      You certainly brightened not just a corner but my day with this hub!

      All the best!

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      9 years ago from The Ozarks

      Jerilee, I enjoyed this cheerful hub. I like to have pretty things around but do not have time for gardening. Fortunately, we have lots of tall trees surrounding our house, and that gives a peaceful feeling, too.

      Ina Duley Ogden's poem set to music is one I had not heard before, and the story is worth thinking about.

    • ryanobie profile image


      9 years ago from Washington, DC

      Jeri, reading your hubs should have a warning. Now I'm off to Lowes to pick up, you guessed it, more flowers!

      Your hub is a nice reminder of how just adding one small thing can make the world more beautiful.

    • profile image

      Nolimits Nana 

      9 years ago

      Wow - loved that first photo. What an amazing place to relax. Just read Bob Ewing's hub "We Are All Gardeners" - two home runs. Thank you.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks Frieda Babbley! At least you are traveling on the right path.

      Thanks Nancy's Niche!

    • profile image

      Nancy's Niche 

      9 years ago

      Jerilee, wounderful hub and informational pieces...

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 

      9 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      Awesome article, and it relates to my life right now. I'm a big fan of visual comfort. So when I was looking around a couple of days ago, I realized my world needed some, like it used to, before I got caught up in this and that. For these last couple of days I've been visually brightening everything up and it's changed many a mood around here. And of course, by the time I'm done, I'll be able to spread some of that joy it brings even more. Thanks for writing this. Loved the pics and vids as well.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks Ginn Navarre! Mom, could it be that is why Den surrounds all of you with beautiful flowers? love you too

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 

      9 years ago

      When one surrounds them self with the beauty of flowers--their lives become beautiful in many ways. love ya

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks BkCreative!

      Thanks Triplet Mom!

      Thanks emohealer!

    • emohealer profile image

      Sioux Ramos 

      9 years ago from South Carolina

      Very nice, with multiple inspiring messages and beautiful photos.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 

      9 years ago from West Coast

      Wonderful hub!! Nothing like making your space that much more beautiful!!

    • BkCreative profile image


      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Lovely hub! And the first photo - wow! Imagine being asked to water the plants - so clever. I'll share this hub with friends. Amazing how flowers, shrubs, plants, etc. can may you so happy - even if it's just a photo.

      Thanks for this!


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