"I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere beyond the morning." - J.B. Priestly

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The South is in Bloom

I took a spur-of-the-moment trip to Florida to visit my Mom and was captivated by all of the lovely
Beautiful bougainvillea home of little birds
Spring growth that I saw along the way and while there.  The trees are starting to bud here, but much further along the more I drove.  Once in Florida, I had to capture the beauty of this gorgeous bougainvillea growing next to the home that Mom rented.  The bush is full of little birds just twittering away every morning; they were probably talking about how lucky they were to have such a beautiful home!

New Guinea Impatiens growing as perennial

Also growing everywhere were huge mounds of New Guinea Impatiens, which we can only grow as annuals in Wisconsin but grow in Florida as perennials.  I was jealous!  It was also funny to see poinsettias growing along the side of the homes -- sometimes next to homes that were growing a lot of palm trees and cactus.  It seems that almost anything grows in that hot and often humid environment!

Wisteria blossoms

Beautiful patch of wisteria growing over everything in it's path!

The drive home was almost unsafe while going through Georgia and Tennessee as a result of the stunningly beautiful wisteria growing along the roads.  When I attended the Philadelphia Flower Show, one of the lectures that I attended cautioned the planting of wisteria because it can "come in through your windows and choke you in your bed."  As I saw the huge areas of wisteria growing wild over trees, bushes, light poles, etc., it was easy to see why the speaker had cautioned about making sure to keep it pruned or it would literally take over everything.  That said, though, I thought it was really beautiful and took lots of pictures!

I have no desire to be strangled in my bed, but would be truly delighted to have some portion of this beauty added to my butterfly garden where I planted a wisteria last year.  It's at the base of the arbor so it's feet will be shaded from the strong afternoon sun by my Joe Pye Weed, and I'm looking forward to it covering the arbor with the lovely purple blooms.

Pink flowering dogwood in Tennessee
I've planted a climbing rose bush on the other side of the arbor (which is really coming along already this Spring), and I'm looking forward to seeing the rose bush filling out the left side of the arbor (and along the wooden fence), and the wisteria climbing up and over the right side of the fence and complementing the purple of the Joe Pye Weed and the bright yellow black-eyed Susans.

The pink flowering dogwood was another beautiful spot of color along the sides of the road during this past trip.  We'll be driving back from Florida again mid-April and I'm really looking forward to seeing if things have changed or whether they'll still be as lovely as this past trip.


What an interesting winter we...didn't have!  Very little snow and only a few days of deep cold during the entire winter.  I was in Florida a couple of weeks ago to visit Mom (we went down together in mid-January and she stayed down there), and the weather was averaging high-60s here when I left!  It has gotten a bit colder lately (40s), but everything is turning green and the flowers are coming up a full six weeks earlier than last year.

I've begun the process of cleaning out the flower beds and the front has been re-mulched.  I'm a little nervous about uncovering everything too much in case we get one more big snow storm.  On the other hand, it's hard not to want to get everything going and, it's important to get the new mulch down before the weeds start!

My unemployment has continued all this time since leaving HNI -- that's about 1 1/2 years now!  I've gotten word that it may be discontinued the second week in April though and, if that's the case, I may also stop working at Kohl's.  Like the unemployment, it has also continued all this time even though I'm averaging maybe one or two nights per week (a bit more during the Holidays).  I don't want more hours than that -- I really only want the job so I can continue to collect the unemployment without having to do the search for employment each week.  [As I re-read that sentence it makes me wince a bit; sounds like I'm quite the parasite.  Not unlike mistletoe -- see photographs above that I took in Florida.  I love the look of mistletoe growing up in the trees.  It was my Dad who pointed it out to me the first time I was visiting with them during one of their trips to Florida.]  Anyway, if the unemployment comes to an end, I may stop the job at Kohl's.  I do ok with the work out on the floor, but I really struggle when I have to work the unloading of the truck.  Heaving boxes all night is more than my poor back can take any more!  I also hate to lose whole days to sleep when I could be out in my gardens!

Ian and Alex will be out of school next week for the Spring break and I'm hoping they can come over for some of the time on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Not sure what we'll do, but just being here and playing is always a good time.  Then, we're headed to Milwaukee on Thursday for Grandparent's Day with Jack and Anna at their school.  Jeff will leave me in Milwaukee because I'm flying to Florida on Friday with Steve and his family for a little time at Disney, and then I'll be going to Lakeland to help Mom close up the house she has been renting and we'll drive back to Wisconsin together.  All-in-all, a pretty busy non-winter!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Busy Gardening Month

This has been quite the busy month for gardening and love of plants.  In early March, Stacy and I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show -- a huge exhibition with speakers, people marketing products, and a free wine tasting!  I was able to log 3 educational hours for my Master Gardener qualification by attending 3 lectures, where I also took extensive notes for this summer!

Beautiful white orchids
Spring in the Midwest!
The show has a theme each year, and this year's theme was Hawaii.  I've never seen so many orchids and anthureums all in one place!

In addition to the Hawaii-based flowers, decorations, and exhibits, there were also huge plots of flowers, trees, and shrubs from the Midwest and it really makes me want to plant those forsythias this year so I can have the beautiful yellow blooms greeting me next Spring!

Another exhibit falls right in line with a trip that I've been wanting to take to Colonial Williamsburg.  It shows up in all of the travel magazines, but I've never moved it too near the top of the list -- but I will now.  There is a best seller book out right now about Colonial Williamsburg-style vegetable gardening -- and there was an entire garden planted and set up as an exhibit at the show.  The entire plot couldn't have been more than 30 feet square but was planted with tons of vegetables and herbs.

There was a picket fence around the plot and paths made from crushed shells.  The cages for the tomatoes were made from branches.  The whole thing was just really cool and I want to go to Colonial Williamsburg now to see the gardens there as they're being worked and see what other colonial style things take place.  It's not unlike New Salem when there are people there enacting life during Lincoln's time.

We bought some silicone beads in the vendors area.  They aren't much larger than the head of a pin when dry but, mixed with water, get large and beautiful and colorful and you can put them in a vase to hold cut flowers.  Or, as I've done, put them into a bowl with water and a plant.  The water is for the root system, obviously, and the beads hold in the moisture as well as keeping the plant upright.  I may get more of these!

I'm planning to plant mine with succulents.  Here's a display of tiered succulents that I'd love to be able to copy.  Mine will only have three layers, but I think I'll be able to match some of it.

At the end of the evening, we had dinner at The Melting Pot with Melinda Myers and had a really fun time.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Garden: We have lift off!

On Tuesday, February 28 I planted seeds for marigolds and sunflowers.  Today, Saturday March 3, I have seedlings coming up from almost all of the marigold pods, and the sunflowers are starting to sprout as well!  As this week progresses, we'll see how many of the 32 marigolds and 18 sunflowers seeds that I planted actually sprout.  I may move extra sprouts over to their own grow containers as I hate to kill them.  :(