Trying to like Winter

It’s hard for the FLOWER to stay inside.

I do not like the cold, but I will be forcing myself outside.

Today, I did the usual yard and woods tour with my camera.

I did find deer tracks,

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and two beautiful mushrooms,

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and many red berries on my Foster Holly,

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and the perfect spot to eat acorns (apparently).

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I also discovered some things missing

in the green patch.

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This did not upset me. I am happy to help my neighbors.

The eaten off stems made me smile.

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Somewhere in the woods, the owner of these tiny hooves has a full belly.

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FLOWER

Cover Your Ears

Well actually, by now it is really cover your tubers.

Elephant ear leaves got bitten off by the first freeze.

Now, it is time to protect the mama tuber and her baby sidekicks(pups).

I sometimes dig some up to store inside my workshop, but since it is all ready full I am risking losing some of my Colocasia collection.

I did bring in some baby Coffee Cup /Colocasia escuelenta shoots earlier.

I only have one bunch of Mojitos now, so I covered them really well.

Be sure to not only mulch around the stems, but also between the stems.

There have been years when I did not mulch at all.

What usually happens is the big mama turns to pink mush, but some of the deeper baby tubers survive. These take years to get as big as they were previously.

Don’t forget your bananas. They should be in a ring of mulch also.

Cover your ears. Here comes winter.

FLOWER

 

Cold and Restless

I have been out assessing my plants to see what preparations need to be done before the next blast of cold settles in.

But that is not where my mind was. My thoughts were on the changes coming.

Not in the weather, but in the course of my life.

I always thought that when you got to a point in your life when you were in the right place, doing the right thing,

that you would have peace.

I have been searching for this. I asked myself as I trudged up the hill,

“When will I feel at peace?”

As I finished my question, I looked down at my long-awaited, White by the Gate.

I felt peace for an instant. It was like an answer, but not the one I wanted.

Peace will never be a period, it will be moments of guidance

to let you know that whatever gave you that peace is right.

Restlessness is also a guide, to keep you moving and changing and trying.

Restlessness is the rod and peace is the green pastures.

I guess this FLOWER is not finished.  She has more to do.

My path has not been found yet.

I will keep searching.

I Love the Creep

I knew when I saw one, that I must have one clinging to my wall.

The high part of the carport wall has looked barren for years.

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Now it has a creeping fig/ Ficus pumila to add color and interest.

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I have not tried to guide or train this in any way.

It is interesting seeing how it hugs the cracks and flattens against the rough surface.

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I love that the new leaves have various colors.

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Some has slithered over the top.

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Where will it go now?

I love the creep!

FLOWER

Purge after Blooming

Just when you thought you could stash your spent Schlumbergeras in the basement,

you have one more assignment.  You need to purge the excess foliage.

This is NOT the same as taking cuttings to root new plants.

I covered this last winter in the post, https://floweralley.org/2016/12/30/in-with-the-new/

In that case, you twist off healthy pieces that are three or more links long.

Purging is when you read the plant’s foliage to guide you on what should be removed.

I look for the shriveled sections and cut them off.

These plants have a form of triage.

When a shoot has too many branches to be supported, one gets bypassed and begins to die.

Cutting off the shriveled parts accelerates this process.

I cut all these pieces off of this one cactus.

You cannot tell it has been purged,

except that it is less cluttered and healthier in appearance.

before purge
after purge
removed pieces

Do not bother trying to revive and root these pieces unless it is a very special specimen that you only have one of.

I have tried various techniques. None have worked well for me.

You will be rewarded next year by taking this step now.

It is also a good time to shape up those lopsided plants.

If you can’t stand to toss a healthy branch in the compost,

dip it in a rooting hormone

and push the piece down in the soil around the mama plant.

Hey. It’s winter, you’re stuck inside. It’s an excuse to play with your plants indoors.

FLOWER

 

Today’s Favorite Plant

This is a new spurge for me.

Euphorbia x martinii / Ascot Rainbow /Martin’s spurge

It is a dwarf evergreen that is drought tolerant and deer resistant.

Win, win, win.

It is toxic, so it will not be anywhere near the bunny yard.

It caught my eye due to its lovely variegated leaves and shape.

It definitely stands out among other plants.

Luckily, I planted it in a newly-created feature spot near the entrance.

Wow is it showing off now.   Yes, now, when everything else is wilting and brown.

The lovely leaves are blushing pink.

‘Ascot Rainbow’ Euphorbia x martinii

It is truly a bright spot.

I look forward to seeing its flowers in the spring, but I can’t imagine it being any prettier than it is right now.

FLOWER

 

 

The Parade of Characters

There are three parades each year that I try not to miss.

The Blowing Rock parade on Thanksgiving weekend is one of them.

I am always glad to see some of the same characters every year.

The leader is a lady clown on her three-wheeler with a basket and balloons.

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Among the old trucks is the “Mater” truck with a stained glass window and a swing for a seat.

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I always look forward to the woman pulling the tiny truck carrying a Christmas tree.

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There are also noisy groups of happy cloggers.

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and dance troupes.

IMG_5982 This year they were in Nutcracker costumes.IMG_5990

A Grinch or two shows up.

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Anyone can join in the parade.  Big or little.

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Two legs or four legs.

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We debated whether this was Scooby Doo or a Kangaroo?

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I see all this as an opportunity for anyone to stop traffic and strut their stuffing.

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It’s such a family friendly event.

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Santa brings up the rear riding in a bucket firetruck.

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I love this parade of characters.

FLOWER

 

 

Where do all the Bulbs Go?

I have planted hundreds of bulbs in my gardens.

Some stick around and multiply, others disappear.

Where do they go?

I mark them with swizzle sticks, so I won’t dig them up by accident or plop a plant on top of them.

So I know where they were planted.

I go back to that spot and there is nothing but soil.

Hmmmmm?

Did they rot or were they eaten?

We shall see.

I am planting two sets of crocus bulbs inside suet baskets.

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These are no longer needed here, because our raccoons love suet.

I learned this in the middle of an experiment to learn which suet was preferred by which birds.

The raccoons ripped the baskets out of the trees and carried them off to open them and eat the suet.

By the way, the raccoons liked the berry suet best. It always got torn down first.

I had three baskets last year. Two were found in isolated locations. One was never found.

I have put five bulbs in each of two suet baskets.

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I doubt my little friends can eat their way through these.

I will share the results in the spring.

Maybe I can close down the bulb buffet.

FLOWER

 

 

 

Have some Moments in your Holidays

While you are packing, cooking, driving, eating…

Be sure to include some moments.

Pause and take in the scene.

Look into faces, listen to voices, hug people, ask questions.

I call this the “pregnant pause.”

It will give birth to a treasured memory.

Stop, look and listen before some of these folks are gone.

Then you will have only photographs.

Enjoy all that food, but relish your time with family.

Happy Holidays

FLOWER