Monday, November 30, 2009

Narcissus papyraceus

Regarding the word, Narcissus, **there are two derivations of the name. 1) A youth of Greek mythology called Narcissus, who, in at least one of many variations of the tale, became so obsessed with his own reflection that, as he kneeled and gazed into a pool of water, he fell into the water and drowned. In some variations, he died of starvation and thirst from sitting so long by the edge of the pool, gazing at his reflection. In both versions, the Narcissus plant first sprang from where he died. 2) The other derivation is that the plant is named after its narcotic properties (narkao, to numb in Greek).

(Not such a great photo... but you'll like the one below better!)
Narcissus papyraceus (from papyrus and aceus ; meaning paper like), commonly known as Paperwhite, is a perennial bulbous plant native to the Mediterranean region. The white flowers are borne in bunches and are strongly fragrant. It is frequently grown as a house plant, often forced to flower at Christmas.

Paperwhites are part of the Narcissus genus which is typically associated with daffodils.

**All the above information was borrowed from Wikipedia.

My parents treated me with this Paperwhite Narcissus for Thanksgiving.

It's very fragrant - as fragrant as it is beautiful.

As long as Mr. Shady stays out of the dining room, he'll be just fine. Otherwise he sneezes!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Amazed I Am!

I took these photos April 1, 2009. As they'd not yet seen the light of day, here they are. :-)

Amazed, I am!
Amazed, I be!

No one's as much amazed as me!

Kate, at High Altitude Gardening, has just paid me a very special compliment by way of the following award. I am (practically) speechless! ha. I am to pass along this award to 15 garden bloggers that I've just discovered.

Kate's blog is also one You should visit! :-) I enjoy visiting her, as she lives in Utah (quite an environmental contrast) and enjoys a number of diverse interests.

I'm going to presume this disallows me to award those garden bloggers I've followed over the past 1 1/2 years, but I am going to include a few that I've followed for a period of time, at least.
Scroll down to the bottom of this post to visit the gardeners I've chosen for this award.

We've just finished our Thanksgiving celebrations, but I've not finished with giving thanks. During most of the year, I try to remain mindful of my many blessings:
1) the blessing of being able to raise two children, and now the blessing of grandchildren;
2) the blessings of a home that offers warmth in the Winter, coolness in the Summer (love those trees!), and safety from the elements;
3) the blessings of having enough food to eat (that coupled with the knowledge that there are many that don't, leads to blessing #4);
4) the blessings of having some excess that I can share... perhaps it's in the form of money, food, service, time, or emotional or physical support...
5) the blessings of useful abilities;
6) the blessings of a wonderful family;
7) the blessings of friends;
8) the blessings of being able to expound here, as I would in a journal;
9) the blessings of the natural world, the plant and animal life;
10) the blessings of ... Oh, boy! There's so much more ...

The following lists the 15 Gardeners you might like to visit (please pardon me if you've already received this award, or usually choose not to accept awards... I want to give you the "shout out" and link, at least!)

1) Our Backyard Life - Chad and Brandy are always very good to post a Photo Friday, which is often whimsical and always interesting!
2) A Gardener in Progress - Catherine has such beautiful photos and interesting posts about life in the Pacific Northwest.
3) BG_Garden - Bren provides many interesting posts. Most recently, she's providing posts on a great theme: Holiday Green Tour '09. You'll enjoy these posts, too.
4) Randy and Meg's Garden Paradise - Randy and Meg have received this award nomination from someone else, but perhaps you might not have seen the recognition? Now you have! Go visit them - especially if you enjoy learning about and seeing wonderful close-up photographs of a variety of animals! My interests include dragonflies, butterflies, flowers... take a look at their label collection! :-)
5) Olson's TRADGARD/Garden in Sweden - Karin lives in Sweden. Would you like to view a variety of gardens and flowers in other countries? She gives us glimpses of gardens in her travels, as well as her own garden interests.
6) Garden Bytes from the Big Apple - Ellen and Ellen present gardening as you would find it in New York City. They have much to offer, as they are authors as well as gardeners in this interesting setting.
7) A Corner Garden - Sue is a gardener in Nebraska. NE shares Iowa's western border. Sue and I share Zone 5b gardening conditions. She endured some city enforced garden reconstruction this summer, but everything came out so well!
8) Garden Endeavors - Patsi is a fun gardener to visit. I've followed her for awhile, but I wanted to make sure you visit her, too!
9) Kasey's Korner - If you enjoy beautiful photographs, I would recommend visiting Kathleen. She's a generous gardener, interested in photographing the many birds that visit as well as her flowers.
10) Best in Bloom Today - For beautiful photos that look like a colorful collage (but aren't), visit Lynn in New Jersey!
11) Troutbirder - For interesting stories, comments, photographs, history and tours, visit Troutbirder. He and his wife live in Minnesota and you might just enjoy a visit here from time-to-time!
12) VW Garden - for a lovely treat, visit VW who gardens in Washington State. Lovely photos and thoughtful posts.
13) Prairie Rose's Garden - Rose describes herself as a beginning gardener. I believe you would enjoy visiting her. She's posting through the alphabet... something she's inspired me to think about doing.
14) Garden Faerie's Musings - Many of you might already know Monica. She lives and gardens in Michigan and has a wonderfully fun personality! If you haven't yet visited, hurry over.
15) Nutty Gnome - If you haven't visited this blog, you're in for a treat. Do you want to know what it takes to make a garden pond, a garden tea house, etc., etc.? Visit Nutty Gnome and her husband (Himself) as they garden in their UK garden!
16) Northern Shade - I've followed Northern Shade for awhile... I consider her my garden soul-mate as we have so much in common (shady gardens). However, she's way up north in Alberta, Canada...

Whew! I know I added an extra... and I could have continued. However, I want each of you that I've nominated for this award to accept the award... you may save and place it (if you like) on your blog. If you're inspired, you may do this same exercise: pass this award to 15 new blogging acquaintances you've made, admire, and would like to share with the rest of us! (You might want to let each of them know they've received this award!) If not, just accept the award. You deserve it! :-)

Perhaps you'll meet some new friends this way.
Have a great weekend!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Have You Tried Growing African Violets?

Do you have a moment?

Let's talk about African Violets.

Does hearing the words "African Violets" make your skin clammy? Your heart palpitate? Are you Nervous about whether you can grow these plants? Don't be.

Well, I'm not sure I can control or remedy all that, but I do have a few tips you might consider... especially if you've admired the flowers for their color variety or the shape and size of their delicate petals.

(My plant)

The Plant You Purchase: You'll find a great variety of plants in discount and grocery stores for a better price than you'd pay in a nursery. (I've purchased nearly all my plants this way.) The only thing I would recommend in this instance is to take a very good look at the leaves of the plant. Watch for little white webs and/or little bugs... If everything looks good, bring the plant home!

(Mom's plant)

Propagating Your Own Plant: Most African Violets can be propagated by leaf cuttings. First, fill a small, clean pot with the lightweight potting soil described below. Using a clean, sharp knife, cut the stem of a leaf close to the plant. Make a narrow hole in the soil, and place the leaf stem in this hole. Water the soil from below, in the pot tray and or outer pot (in the case of a two-part pot), and keep the soil lightly moist.

(My plant)

The Soil: The first thing you'll want to do is re-pot the plant when you get home. Be prepared with a special Violet mix. If this is not possible, purchase a soil-less mix and add perlite to a level of one- or two- parts to one part of the mix.

(Mom's plant)
Potting Your Plant: My experience is that my plants don't need to change pots very often. When you do, add a few stones to the bottom of the pot before adding your soil mix. You will want a nice deep water tray for your pot to sit in. You can put decorative stones in the tray for the pot to sit on.

(My plant)

Another alternative is the use of the two-part pots. A small, straight-sided pot nestles inside a larger, rounded pot. The outer pot holds the water. The bottom of the interior pot is unglazed, which allows moisture to past through the pot to the soil.

(Mom's plant)
Watering Your Plant: What I read is that most regular African Violets won't need a pot larger than one 4 inches in diameter. If my plants are in a regular pot with a tray, I add the water to the tray. Adding water to the two-part pot is obvious... ;-) In either instance, allow the soil to be dry for three or four days or so before again adding water. Violets don't like their roots to be soggy, so don't allow the plant roots to sit in soggy soil. (I guess I'm talking about a "light hand" with regard to watering this plant.)

I add a very weak solution of plant fertilizer with the water most of the time; especially if the plant is blooming.

(My plant)

Temperature, Light and Humidity: I've always heard that East and/or North Windows and temperatures between 60-65 degrees (at night) and 80 degrees (in the daytime) Fahrenheit are the most highly suited for African Violets. To convert temperatures from Fahrenheit to Celsius, Click Here.

However, I have my violets in a large West window. The light is filtered by a corrugated fabric shade.

I've just read (and experienced) that a plant that gets too much light grows the top leaves tightly together. If a plant doesn't get enough light, supposedly the leaves will lift up towards the light. You should experiment with location.

(Mom's plant)

If your home is dry, add pebbles to the watering tray to provide for humidity through evaporation.

Other Care Issues: African violets don't like a pot with mineral buildup on the top rim (and the bottom should be cleaned periodically, too). I've had the stems of outer leaves rot if they touch dirty pot rims. A quick, thorough wash of the rim might alleviate problems.

If you decide to use a used pot for your violet, wash and clean it well with hot water and maybe a bit of bleach.

An experiment I've been trying is adding decorative wooden fibers or spaghnum moss on the top of the soil, to keep the leaves away from the pot's rim.

(Mom's plant)

P.S. I'm not an expert, but these tips have served me well. My plants bloom fairly often. My mom's plants are always healthier and bloom better than mine. The main difference I've noticed is that her plants are in a sunroom porch with light from South, North and West windows. However, every window is covered by the corrugated fabric window shades.

Are you ready to go shopping? ;-)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Delights

On Thanksgiving Day we’re thankful for
Our blessings all year through,

For family we dearly love,

(my parents and siblings)
(Mr. Shady's Mom)
For good friends, old and new.

For sun to light and warm our days,
For stars that glow at night,
For trees of green and skies of blue,
And puffy clouds of white.

We’re grateful for our eyes that see
The beauty all around,
For arms to hug, and legs to walk,
And ears to hear each sound.

The list of all we’re grateful for
Would fill a great big book;

Our thankful hearts find new delights
Everywhere we look!

By Joanna Fuchs

And then again...

Thanksgiving Comes but Once a Year

Thanksgiving comes but once a year,

But when it comes it brings good cheer.

For in my storehouse on this day

Are piles of good things hid away.

Each day I've worked from early morn

To gather acorns, nuts, and corn,

Till now I've plenty and to spare

Without a worry or a care.

So light of heart the whole day long,
I'll sing a glad Thanksgiving song.

by Thornton Burgess

Happy Thanksgiving to YOU. May you be able to realize and enumerate the many blessings of this past year and those awaiting you as face each new day!

Let's celebrate this week and Thanksgiving day with family and/or friends. Perhaps you will be able to take a stroll outdoors to appreciate the diverse beauty. Perhaps you will have plenty to eat, enjoy the warmth and safety of a home and a good night's sleep. There is so much to celebrate. Much for which to be thankful. Praise God.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Visit to N's Garden - I have a question?

How dare Fall leave so abruptly!

These photos were taken October 6.
I was visiting a new friend who shares a lot of my same interests...
artwork, gardening, food... ;-)

This is "N" beside a zinnia!
Have you ever seen one grow this tall?

A view of their retaining wall.

This plant is a relative of the celery plant.
Do you know what it is??

Perhaps "N" will remember... check out
the straw-like stem! You can use it for a straw. :-)

Hey Frances! Look here... another hypertufa!
"N" attended our workshop this past Spring at my house. :-)

We need to get her set up with soil and plants...
perhaps Next Spring.

I'm going to schedule a post for Thanksgiving... otherwise, I won't be on-line until after my family goes home. At which point, I will be missing them sorely! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you're celebrating with family and/or friends and that you are able to enumerate many, many blessings for which you can be thankful! :-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Am I Thankful? You Betcha!

Thankful for this Messy Basement?


Let me explain. There was no hot water for my husband's shower Tuesday morning...

No Hot Water??

Uh, oh.

We raced to the basement... and yes, the water heater had "gone out."

Don't you think someone would invent a bell tone or buzzer that would sound before something like this happens?

At any rate, there was a little creek of water that had flowed from the water heater across the south part of the basement, under the walls and into the carpet areas.

It had soaked about 1/3 of this area when we found it. Mr. Shady began using his shop vac and I ran to the phone to call our wonderful plumber/friend. Then I began using my steamvac to draw out water.

In the meantime, our wonderful plumber/friend rode up on his white stead (pickup), surveyed the situation and left for his shop to get a new, energy-efficient model he had in stock. Before you could say "Jack Robinson" 50 times (lol) or so, he had returned and began removing the old and replacing with the new!

It took about 3 hours of vacuuming before I was unable to get any more water out of the carpet. Enter our new dehumidifier and a couple of fans...

By 10:00 P.M., I was able to run around downstairs in my stocking feet without picking up a hint of moisture. Hurrah!!

The Old

The New

The entire situation could have been So Much Worse. Given that thought... I am Very Thankful indeed! :-)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - late

Today's weather forecast predicted rain at 100%. You can see that it was accurate!

But indoors, that second Christmas Cactus was blooming...

Here's an overhead view of the backside of the plant.

Did You Know? - The Latin American rain forests are the home of what we call the Christmas Cactus. They are widely available in Brazil. The genus name of the Christmas Cactus is
Schlumberger, but there are several cultivars. For example the Christmas and Thanksgiving plants are actually different cultivars.

The quickest way to tell the difference between the two plants is by looking at the stems. Thanksgiving cacti have tooth-like notches and soft spines along the the edges of their stems. Christmas cacti have rounded notches on the margins.

My plants seem to be the Schlumbergera truncata (Thanksgiving Cactus) and not a Schlumbergera x buckleyi (Christmas Cactus). They are supposed to bloom around Thanksgiving, and they're being very good at it! :-)

You can propagate
holiday cacti quite easily by removing a single segment and planting it a quarter of its length deep in a pot filled with slightly sandy soil (it also helps to put some kind of rooting hormone on the base of the cutting). Place the pot in a well lit area (but not direct sunlight) and keep the soil moist. The cutting should begin showing signs of growth after two or three weeks.

Oh, oh! I forgot to ask my friend Joan the name of this begonia, today.
We found it last Summer on an excursion, and we each purchased one!

Here's the one flowering orchid...

And here's another with a new shoot... Yea!

Yep! Late again, but I really wanted to get this post finished before 24 hours had passed! ;-)
Happy Bloom Day - Late! If you haven't visited Carol at May Dreams Gardens, head over there (click on her name) to see who else has already posted!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Randy and Meg's Video

I just couldn't help myself! I visited Randy and Meg's Garden Paradise today... and found the Youtube video below. You will enjoy the video. I hope you don't mind my reaction, below! :-)

One little ladybug, looking for fun,
Decided the dragonflies needed a run!

She got their attention, I'd say, rather heartily
When on their heads, acorns dropped smart-ily.

Offering the challenge, she presented "raspberries,"
And led them a chase, more intensely than merry.

Her pursuers, outfoxed, they dropped here and there
While our little ladybug, it seemed, tired nare.

When at last one lone dragonfly had pursued her,
She dropped down to gather her breath.
Our little dragonfly lighted beside her,
And wondered, I'm certain, "What's next?"

All of a sudden, out of the blue,
a small band of ladybugs appeared, it is true.

The poor little dragonfly took off like a shot,
and the ladybugs chased him... and likely as not,

They'd gained a victory o'er that fly, But
A thousand more dragonflies just happened by...

You might wonder what, as this sonnet does end,
lesson those li'l red bugs might just rend?

Perhaps they would tell us,
"Hey! When you go out to play,
Don't tease the big fellows---
They might chase YOU away!"

PS There are quite a number of related little videos you may enjoy over there...
Thanks, Randy and Meg!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

This is not a post about Friday the 13th.
It's only about what I did that day!
I accompanied a group of young people (9th graders in our Church confirmation program) and our minister to Des Moines (Iowa's capital) to visit the state office building and a long-time ministry downtown.

This is the Bidwell-Riverside Center. It operates a preschool for neighborhood children, as well as a food and clothing distribution center. Correct me if I'm wrong, kids, but I believe he said the Bidwell Center itself has been in operation since 1893... with clothing and food available for area residents in need.

We're pretty close to the State Capital building. I really used my zoom to get this close-up!
We were outfitted with gloves, rakes and yard bags.
Our job was to clean up outdoors!

Here are two of our fellows on duty! :-)

Maybe I haven't been doing so much just lately in my yard,
but it felt sooooo good to be able to clean someone else's flower beds!

One of our fellows was grabbed by some "stick-tights!"

At least, I THINK that's what they were...

... but somehow they looked as though they could be ALIVE!

We did make it back in one piece. We actually had a great day! (At least I did. I'm glad they invited me to join them.)

Oh! P.S. This is what 1,500,000 Campbell's Soup labels can purchase!

A nice, silver vehicle.

Nothing at all "shady" here! Have a great weekend!