Schlumbergera Struggles

Many of my precious Thanksgiving cacti are struggling. Some plants are shriveled from lack of water, many are misshapen from not being turned regularly, a few are contorted from lack of pruning/purging, some are discolored from wrong minerals or wrong lighting. There are even a few which have no buds at this late date.

These are all signs of a bad mama. I have been ‘bad busy’ again. I also have too many green babies. I will be having a Plant Purge Party in the spring. I cannot keep up with the needs of so many plants. ‘Old Woman in a Shoe’ syndrome will not do!

I did go through most of the care steps as usual, but I have not been attentive. I treated them all the same, instead of noticing the needs of each. They should have been watered more frequently and thoroughly. I missed some feedings. Neglect is apparent to the trained eye. The blooms are still beautiful, but the plants have signs of struggling.

No worries. I have started a rehab program…for the plants. Each is getting time in the kitchen to be purged and watered. I know it is not the best time to do this, but we only have now. So I am doing it now. Better late than later.

All’s well that ends well!

Bad Mama FLOW

Cooking Up a Mess of Collards

My friend Joyce and I met for lunch at a charming restaurant in Statesville named Bristol. I ordered a side of collards. Then I ordered a second helping to share. The owner was nice enough to briefly outline her method of cooking collards.

This has lead to several experiments in my tiny kitchen. Each experiment has yielded better results than the last. I have tweaked the steps a bit each time. All versions were tasty, but this is the best so far. I told Joyce I would share the results on my blog

STEP ONE: Fry bacon in the big pot you plan to cook the collards in. (One pot is easier to clean than two.)

  • STEP TWO: Finely chop half an onion.
  • STEP THREE: Take out the bacon but leave in the grease. Let the grease cool. Saute’ the onion in the bacon grease.
  • STEP FOUR: Cut up washed collard leaves. I use scissors and remove the main stem/midrib of each leaf. (Compost these please.)
  • STEP FIVE: Cool the onions. Add some beef broth and cut collards into the pan. Use enough broth to halfway cover the collards.
  • STEP SIX: Slow cook on low. Periodically stir and smash the leaves down under the liquid.
  • STEP SEVEN: After a few hours, add teaspoons of cayenne pepper and tablespoons of molasses. Taste after two.
  • STEP EIGHT: Stir and simmer until leaves are limp and no longer bright green. Crumble the cooked bacon into the pot. Serve in bowls with the liquid. You will want to drink this pot-liquor. It is full of vitamins.

The secrets to the ‘Bristol’ recipe are the bacon grease, the cayenne pepper and the molasses. This combo made me lick my hot, slick lips in public. Good thing we were at an outside table.

This is southern comfort food folks. Enjoy!

FLOW

Peace from a Tree

My answers usually come from nature. People puzzle me. Nature nurtures me.

Last week the angst level was high with no peace in sight. I was afraid. My path was uncertain.

While the sane folks were cleaning out the lonely house, the crazy person took to the woods.

My camera leads me places I do not go ordinarily. That’s its magic.

I was wandering around with no purpose really. Taking photos of various finds.

The sane people came to check on me. We were together when we discovered the tree.

We three had not been in the woods together at the farm for decades.

There we were; the son, the daughter and me, standing around a big, old beech tree.

Looking at the initials of our four children. JA, AA, LB and AB.

They had been carved long ago by their grandfather. The one who left us.

My peace came from that tree. The angst drained out with my tears.

I have made peace with what was, what is and what will be.

All because of a tree and our Pawpaw thinking of our children as he wandered around in his woods years ago.

FLOW

Apples to AppleJack

Mr. Flower and I decided to take a trip up the mountains to buy apples this afternoon.

We traveled on one of Mr. Flower’s favorite curvy roads, Brushy Mountain Road.

We spotted a new sign along the way. It was for an apple distillery, Holman Distillery.

We pulled off the road and down a gravel drive to find a large barn-like building.

The establishment was run by a UNC graduate with a chemistry degree.

It would have been inexcusable to just leave after my taking a few photos.

We were obliged by Tarheel decorum to stay for a tasting.

It would have been rude to take up the man’s time without buying anything.

I should have taken notes on how he made his delicious grenadine. The secret was orange peels.

We did eventually make it up the mountain to get apples.

I love to find folks who follow their dreams, don’t you?

https://www.holmandistillery.com/

FLOW

By the Light of the Moon

I was fortunate to return to the little town of Belmont for the last night of ‘Moonlight on Main.’

The entire park had been transformed by white and blue lights with the moon glowing in the background.

There was a stage set up for performances of various songs under the heading ‘Music of the Night.’

Folks were busy enjoying the twinkling park and glowing moon.

Families started to gather on the hill above the stage in anticipation of the performance.

It was a magical scene, lit by the light of the moon.

FLOW in the GLOW

Orchid Heaven

These beauties live in a glass pavilion at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.

Orchids were everywhere, in pots, on trees, on the walls, hanging around.

I wanted to post their names, but their identification is beyond my realm.

I have always been fascinated by orchids.

Their shapes, their colors, their pollinators.

One of my favorite books is The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean.

I understand why folks have obsessions about them.

These flowers seem other-worldly, angelic, heavenly…

Flower

To Bloom or Not to Bloom?

That is the question for Bromeliads.

Some have big, bold blooms.

Some have colorful bracts, sepals, or leaves instead. Their tiny blooms are inconspicuous.

Some have tanks full of water, while others depend on constant humidity.

Some are terrestrial.

Some are epiphytes.

They all belong to the pineapple family, but so does Spanish moss.

I am wondering about this family. There seems to be too much variety to be related.

Bromeliads have beauty in many forms.

FLOWER

Fall Deco

Fall has its own decor. It includes dried hay and corn stalks, yellow and orange mums, pumpkins and gourds.

It sounds so simple, but it takes skill to conjure up a seasonal mood from such simple ingredients.

I always applaud such skill. Let’s look at some lovely examples.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden entrance

This says it all. They know it’s fall.

This is a bounty of fall beauty. Eclectic excellence.

Symmetry and synergy!

Even the hay maze is dreamy.

The folks at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden know how to do fall.

Hooray Halloween!

Flow