Welcome Spring

Edible Garden BeginsToday thin green spinach seedlings popped out of the seed starter soil, a perfect start to Spring. During our late winter snowfall last week,  I planted seeds for our summer kitchen garden.  I found this wire rack at the Goodwill and thought it perfect to hold our seedlings.  This year I plan to make our raised beds more visually appealing with a mix of flowers planted among vegetable plants.  I picked attractive vegetable plants including peppers, eggplants and spinach for our garden below the deck.  I will grow patio tomatoes in pots on the deck to keep them from getting unruly.  I learned my lesson from last year.  My son requested his favorite flower, Forget-Me-Not, so we started those from seed, too. My husband planted garlic last fall, and tall green stalks are appearing around the raised beds already.  They will be harvested in July, so I am hoping they will not detract from the plan to have a more beautiful garden that invites relaxation.  The snow in this photo has melted.  Spring is here bringing many garden dreams!

Lilac Wonder Tulip

lilac wonder2The Lilac Wonder tulips were in bloom for about two weeks in our garden plot.  They lasted long enough for a Mother’s Day appearance. These tulips remind me of a mom’s power. There is a bright ruffled circle formed from all the random yellow splotches on each pink petal. Order created from chaos.  God’s design. A peaceful home forms as a mom prays and loves each stress splotched life into the center of God’s grace.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Tulip tip: Do not cut the leaves, let them yellow. Yellow leaves on tulips are a sign that the bulbs have stored enough energy and are now ready to go dormant until next spring. If the leaves are cut off before they go yellow, the bulbs will not get enough energy and may not produce a large flower or survive a winter. 

Sunflowers

Sunflower
Sunflower

It is August and I am nostalgic for Giant sunflowers.  I miss growing them.  They are too big for our townhouse garden.    I remember when my 5 year old son planted sunflower seeds in our community garden.  In wonder he watched them grow fast  into hard thick stalks towering over him.   Bright and cheerful garden flags waving  and smiling over our garden.  How could a  simple seed grow so tall and produce hundreds more seeds inside the flower’s center?

My son inspired me to write this simple poem over 4 years ago when we played in our sunflower garden.

A Community Garden

A neighborhood of dirt plots,

Garden F-1 is our spot.

Open the gate, down first row,

Here’s the garden we did grow.

See my sunflowers standing tall,

an umbrella, a green wall.

Under giants I will run,

play hide and seek

with the sun.

Christmas Blooms

Our Amaryllis
Our Amaryllis

Our Amaryllis was in bloom all through December. One bulb purchased for 5 dollars at Walmart, produced six large red flowers that looked like trumpets announcing the good news of Christmas, “God is with us.” The Amaryllis is an excellent Christmas flower because it is glorious and does not have a strong odor like the Paperwhites. The Christmas cactus also produces beautiful odorless flowers during the holidays. Our Christmas cactus has faithfully produced delicate slender red flowers every year for almost 10 years!

We did not have a Poinsetta plant in our home this year, but I learned more about the history of this Christmas time flower from my son’s library book, Legend of the Poinsetta. It is a delightful Mexican legend of a little girl who offers weeds to the Christ Child as her gift for Christmas.  She presents her humble gift with a sincere heart and the weeds turn into hundreds of Poinsetta flowers all around the figure of baby Jesus in the Christmas procession.  My son’s brief review of the book, “You should read it if you like flowers.  My favorite part is when Lucida put down the weeds and flowers started appearing.”

What is your favorite Holiday flower?

Poppies

The Poppies are blooming  in our garden plot.  They seem to laugh and embrace the sun.  My son said, “they look like they are talking to the sun.”

They are hospitable to the bees, too. We are glad they are attracting pollinators to our garden plot!

Do you see the moving bee above the Poppy flower on the left?

Our Front Yard

The Spring blossoms are early this year.  Petals are sent into a flurry from a March breeze or a whack of my son’s walking stick.  Our front yard is already sprinkled with white petals from the  Bradford Pear tree blossoms.

The new bulbs we planted last fall are full bright flowers –  Iris Bucharia – 6″ tall yellow and white blooms hide inside spiked green fanning leaves; Tulip Monte Carlo – 6″ tall fluffy yellow double blooms float near the rocks along the sidewalk in front of the steps; and Trumpet Daffodils – 18″ tall ruffled yellow and white blooms wave next to the stairs.

Our dog, CJ, welcomes any new flowers because they may bring bees.  He has a passion for catching bees.   With cat-like reflexes and strong jaws, he will pounce and snap at flitting bees, totally focused.  Even the chance for a long awaited walk on the leash won’t break him away from his bee-catching obsession.  Flowers bring joy to us all!

Paperwhites

After Thanksgiving, I filled a ceramic bowl with rocks and three paperwhite flower bulbs.  Since rocks do not retain water like soil, the bulbs needed to be watered often. In about a week, green shoots pierced through the brown bulbs and grew straight up.  A week before Christmas, there were green buds atop tall green stalks.  As the buds opened, they looked like small unzipped purses filled with tissue.  By Christmas, small clusters of white flowers waved above the rocks and bulbs.
Their pleasant fragrance quickly turned pungent in our small kitchen.  The scent became less intense after I cut the flowers and placed them in a vase of water.  I plan to grow more flowering bulbs in rocks throughout the winter.

Bulbs – packed with potential, given a little warmth, water and time, their true beauty revealed.

May the New Year 2012, be filled with warmth, refreshment and all that inspires you to grow!

How to Make Hydrangea Wreaths

hydrangeawreath

Hydrangea blooms make lovely indoor wreaths that will last all year until the hydrangea bush blooms again next summer.

My mom, a floral designer, taught my son and me how to make dried hydrangea wreaths last weekend. It is not difficult.   My son will show you how it is done.

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Pick hydrangea when the blooms feel thick and “leathery” and the bloom color is muted (blue turns pale green and pink turns light violet).  Pick the full bloom at the main stalk.  Rinse and soak it in cold water for a few minutes, then place it in a towel and gently squeeze to remove excess moisture.

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Add a hook to the floral form.  Make the hook from a 10 to 12 inch long piece of floral wire that has been wrapped with floral tape.  Bend one end of the wire to make a loop and wrap the other end around the wreath.  Close each end with a twist.

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Place Spanish moss on the back of the wwreath to give it a finished appearance. Fresh or dried Spanish moss may be used. Gently pull apart the moss and secure it with floral pins on the inner and outer edges of the floral form.

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Loosely secure the Spanish moss, avoid placing it in clumps on the form.  The moss will gracefully hide the floral form.  Cover the entire back portion of the form.  After the back is covered, turn the wreath form over so the moss side is on the table.  The wreath is now ready for the hydrangea!

hydrangeawreath4 Before inserting hydrangea in the form, clip the full bloom ionto smaller pieces. Each cut bloom piece needs a pointy stem in order to stick into the floral form. Fill in the face of the form with bigger pieces and the outer portion of the form with smaller pieces.
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If the stem of the bloom is too soft and will not stick into the form then attach a floral wire to the stem.  First, twirl a bit of floral tape around the hydrangea stem then place the wire on the stem and continue to wrap the tape all the way to end of wire.  The wire slips easily into the form and holds the bloom securely in place.

hydrangeawreath2

My son’s wreath is almost finished. It took him about one hour and 6 to 8 full blooms of hydrangea to complete his wreath.

When you finish your wreath, hang it on the wall in a cool and dry place in your house, preferably out of direct sunlight. The wreath will dry in about 2 days. It is fragile, carry it carefully.

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TAH DAH!!  My son finished his wreath.

Wreath-making is a good practice in …

  • following instructions
  • valuing the beauty in God’s creation
  • creating something with own hands
  • persevering and finishing a project
  • being gentle and careful

Happy Wreath-Making!!

Unexpected Sunflowers

our compost bin

Our compost bin sprouted a short and compact sunflower plant with small (for a sunflower) bright blooms. Those blooms attract a diverse group of bugs to our garden. Unlike the tall sunflowers we usually grow, these sunflowers are at eye level.   We can see the bees, ants, beetles, stink bugs and assassin bugs inside each floret filled center.

Sunflowers are great in a vegetable garden because they attract beneficial bugs to the garden and divert pest bugs from vegetable crops.

Do you have any surprise plants growing out of your compost bin?

Sunflower and Gourd Seeds Planted

sunflower and gourd seeds planted

My son has his own garden bed in our community garden plot. For the last two years he has only planted Giant Sunflower seeds in his garden bed. This year he planted Bottle Gourd seeds along with a new variety of Sunflower seeds.  My son plans to make his own birdhouses and musical instruments from the gourds he grows (we will consult the Gourd Reserve when it comes time for harvesting and drying the gourds).   He planted Magic Roundabout Sunflower seeds,  a  hybrid sunflower that branches out and produces more than one flower per plant through summer into fall.   I plan to brighten our house with cut sunflowers this summer and fall!

Everything from our garden plot does not need to be edible to be useful!