Friday, December 18, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - December '09

I almost didn't do a December Bloom Day post because I couldn't fit it in on the 15th, and then yesterday was much the same, but today I resolved to get it done!
Not that there's a lot to show, but I do have a few house plants blooming, and some of the overwintering plants are putting out blooms.

Abutilon Gold Dust is the star, with more than a dozen lovely orange flowers and loads of buds.

Outside on the front porch during the summer it produces sparse blooms, but overwintering in the house it really revs up production! Strange plant. But beautiful, so I happily forgive its idiosyncrasies.

Another orange bloomer is Columnea, sometimes called Goldfish Plant because the flowers resemble little goldfish. That's a pink Bacopa on the shelf below, which sowed itself in a last year's container and grew into a nice healthy little plant. I couldn't bear to throw it away in the fall so I potted it up and brought it inside. Bacopa is a half hardy annual here in the northeast. It'll be interesting to see what it does.

The overwintering wax begonias have a few blooms, but the Thanksgiving/Christmas cacti are both finished blooming, unfortunately. Posted by Picasa

I brought the pot of Anemone de caen into the house too because they were still popping out blooms.....and to my surprise are continuing to do so. I love these glorious blue flowers!

The Babywing begonia was disappointing this past summer after growing into such a beautiful plant last year. Begonias can be baffling. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, they just begin to whither and die off. I managed to save a couple of pieces of this one
and they rooted, so I didn't lose it entirely. Now I need to snip off another cutting, and keep doing that until I can hopefully make the plant fuller again. Does anyone have any tips on how to keep them healthy?

This is last year's Poinsettia!
It's just a small one that I kept on the covered side porch all summer and neglected badly. A few weeks ago I noticed red bracts on it, so I brought it inside and began treating it a little better (like watering it!). There are 2 more sets of bracts turning red now. I don't know if they'll get bigger, but I'm happy just to see them small. I didn't give the poor little plant any special treatment to make it turn (I think it's supposed to have at least 11 hours of darkness - or is it 14? - each day for a certain period of time) so this is a very pleasant surprise. I've named it The Little Poinsettia That Could!

In two of the upstairs bedrooms overwintering geraniums are happily blooming and there are also some under lights in the cellar. Posted by Picasa

Some of the containers are in the cellar as well. There were plants still blooming long into the fall and I didn't want to throw them on the compost heap, so I just left them in the garage and they kept right on blooming with very little light. With the onset of very cold weather we recently moved them to the cellar. This is a purple Osteospermum (African or Cape Daisy) and it's blooming its head off. The warmth of the cellar brought on a whole slew of new buds! I wonder how long it will last.

This is "Copper Purple" Osteo. It has few flowers but is still looking happy.

I usually put the vinca vines into the veggie garden to overwinter, but the ground was too wet with all the rain we had before Thanksgiving, and then the cold set in and I caught that nasty cold bug and couldn't get out there to do the job. This one is in the cellar but will eventually go outside (I hope). That purple spike is a cordyline I'm attempting to overwinter.

Outside in the garden there are no blooms, only ice and snow. Last Saturday, when the temperature warmed enough to loosen the ice in the birdbath, I dumped it out and it made a pretty ice sculpture in the snow with the embedded leaf. Posted by Picasa

The little Rock Garden #2 is wearing a blanket of snow and I need to get the de-icer out for the birdbath so that the birds will have some water available. Posted by Picasa

I hope you'll find the time to visit Carol of May Dreams Gardens to see what else is blooming in other parts of the world.
To those of you in warmer climes: Please soak up some of that warmth and color for those of us in the frozen north!
I hope you're all enjoying the pre-Christmas season and finding at least a little time to relax and remember the reason for the season.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Winter Creeps In

Subtitled: Conversation with a Recorded Voice

Yesterday, trying to place an order for Christmas, I had a “conversation” with a prerecorded voice. You know those voices you hear at the other end of the line telling you this call is very important to them, and it may be recorded for “whatever purposes”, blah, blah, blah?

It went like this, after the initial intro:

If you’d like to place an order, say, “order”.

If you’d like to speak to Customer Care, say, “Customer Care”.

I said, “Order”.

The Voice said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that, would you mind repeating it?”

Now this is funny!

My hearing is less than perfect (perhaps a slight understatement), and I’ve made that same request so many times to people at the other end of the line. Here, now, was an automated voice saying it to me!

I repeated, “Order”.

Posted by Picasa
I should note that my voice is very low at the moment because I’m still recovering from a humdinger of a cold, but I said the word loud and clear both times.

The Voice said, “I’m sorry, but I still didn’t catch that”.

OK. What next?

Before I could react The Voice continued, “Please stay on the line and Customer Care will be with you as soon as possible”.


The Voice: “We are experiencing longer waits than usual. Your call will be answered as soon as the next assistant in Customer Care is available. Your call is very important to us, etc., etc. ……..”

At this point I hung up and placed the order using my computer. No hard-of-hearing, non-human voices to contend with. Short and sweet.

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As you can see by the above photos, winter is creeping in.

The gardens are wearing a light covering of snow.
Jasmine and Hannah spend a lot of time sleeping on the back of the couch.
Molly sits among the plants and watches the birds, when she's not sleeping.
A red squirrel routes around in the snow under the birdfeeders. We see so few squirrels that we always consider it a treat when one shows up. Be careful out there, Squirrel!
Chickadees and other birds delight us with their boundless energy.
We feel like to snoozing away the days like Hannah and the rest of the crew, but there's much to be done in preparation for the Christmas celebration.

Hibernation will have to wait.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Garden Meditations
by Max Coots

Let us give thanks for a bounty of people.

For children who are our second planting, and though they
grow like weeds and the wind too soon blows them away, may
they forgive us our cultivation and fondly remember where
their roots are.

Let us give thanks:

For generous friends...with hearts...and smiles as bright as their blossoms;
For feisty friends, as tart as apples;
For continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers,
keep reminding us that we've had them;
For crotchety friends, sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;

For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and
as elegant as a row of corn, and the others, as plain as
potatoes and so good for you;
For funny friends, who are as silly as Brussels sprouts and
as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes;

And serious friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle
as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as
dill, as endless as zucchini and who, like parsnips, can be
counted on to see you through the winter;


For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time,

and young friends coming on as fast as radishes;
For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils and hold
us, despite our blights, wilts and witherings;
And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past
that have been harvested, but who fed us in their times that
we might have life thereafter.
For all these we give thanks.
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I'm thankful for all my dear blogging friends, and appreciate each and every comment you leave. Thanks so much for stopping by. I love hearing from you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photos are of my Zygo Cacti, aka Christmas or Thanksgiving Cactus.
Thanks to Susan of Patchwork Reflections for sending me this lovely poem.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - November '09

Our weekend was spent away, visiting our son and DIL to celebrate our oldest grandson's 8th birthday. It's hard to believe he's 8 years old already. Doesn't time fly by?
Consequently, my Bloom Day post is a day late (again).

Our yard and garden are strewn with fallen leaves and colored in greens and browns, but  a very close look reveals glimpses of color where a few hardy plants are still braving the elements. I'm happy to say that we've had some glorious Indian Summer-like days with mild temperatures and abundant sunshine. Not all, mind you, but a few lovely days in between the colder ones. This has encouraged me to get outside and plant Tulip and Hyacinth bulbs. I still have a few tulips left to plant, but it's a good feeling to almost have that job completed. One more to cross off the list!

This Clouded Sulphur butterfly flitted happily in the brilliant sunshine on a recent warm afternoon and found sustenance in the Verbena Homestead Purple, which blooms on in spite of the heavy frosts.

Anemone de caen (Dutch Windflower) is still opening blooms. Do you see the little honey bee on the leaf below the flowers?

He was warming up in the early morning sunshine.

The pink Abutilon is blooming profusely. I took it and the orange one outside to soak up some bright rays on one of the glorious days.

Georgous blooms, aren't they?

The Abutilon "Gold Dust" has grown very large this past summer. That's Molly supervising the photo shoot. Posted by Picasa

It's easy to see where the name comes from. Those variegated leaves are so pretty.

The "Anthony Waterer" Spirea in the Pink Garden still shows beautiful fall color, and Lamium blooms on at its feet. The Key Lime Pie Heuchera adds its lovely chartreuse to the mix.

The frosty mornings are still providing some good opportunities for close-ups.
Here's the Spirea.

Frosty Lamium

and a few last blooms on the Obedient plant (Physostegia Virginiana).

Euphorbia Posted by Picasa

"Cerise Queen" Achillea (Yarrow) is another plant that continues to produce blooms in the cold weather.

Lamium and Verbena Homestead Purple in the Rose/Clematis Garden.

White Alyssum blooms on amid the Verbena. Posted by Picasa

Several things are blooming indoors. Most of the Ivy Geraniums are still hanging on the covered side porch. This one is "Marimba". They'll be moved to the cool upstairs bedroom windows soon.

I'm loving these Angelwing Begonia blooms.

I'm pleased with the red Christmas Cactus which was purchased last year. The pretty flowers are  beginning to open, and there are lots of buds to look forward to. I fed it all summer.

A friend gave me cuttings of this white one. There's pink in the flowers as well when they open.

My dear hubby added lights to the plant shelves he built for me last winter. The Columnea (middle of top shelf) is producing a few bright orange blooms. Numerous overwintering Wax Begonias are blooming a little and one lovely purple African Violet (not shown).

Some of my containers are still housed in the garage, but sometimes I carry a few out to soak up the sun's warmth and light. I can't bear to throw away plants that are still blooming so nicely. Some of the plants will go into the cellar to overwinter. Hubby has lights and tables set up to accommodate these. Murphy (the self-appointed head barn cat) is the "cat of the moment" here.

The yellow Chrysanthemum is still blooming, although the blooms are beginning to fade. The buds were still closed when I bought it and I've never before had a potted Mum whose blooms lasted as well as this one.
Hannah was sniffing the blooms and I ran for the camera, but I missed the moment. She's a cat who loves to stop and smell the flowers. For those who have asked, yes, she and Molly are sisters and look so much alike that it's hard to tell them apart unless you know them well. But they are quite different in personality. Posted by Picasa

If you'd like to see what's  blooming around the world, stop by Carol's May Dreams Gardens, and join in with your own bloom post if you care to.

Happy November everyone!