Monday, February 20, 2017

Windy Days and Mondays

Another windy morning at the Garden Spot here in Northern Colorado. I just took a walk outside to get a few photos of this late February weather. We have had unseasonably warm temperatures with no moisture now for a month, so the fire danger on the grassy plains is high. Even on the outskirts of cities in the undeveloped grassy fields fires burn at random.  While California gets saturated, we are drying out. And that sums up February.

I am glad that so many you of enjoyed the violet post. I am glad to report that the newly transplanted violets thrive--so far. I do lack sufficient sunny spots to set them, but as the sun continues its journey toward the Spring Equinox, we will get more direct sunlight.

With a long list of things today, mundane stuff like fold laundry, clean out the refrigerator, make breakfast burritos for the the freezer, this will be a short post. I think I am way behind in visiting, but I 'll get around.

A spot of red in the garden is a welcome sight, especially when it is the rototiller, signaling that the gardening will soon begin. The Head Gardener got in the mood last week and tilled the garden beds. Next he will add the compost then the potatoes. The garlic was planted last fall, so when we get some moisture, it should sprout.

We wondered if we should even try potatoes this year since they were such a miserable flop last year, but the lady at the garden center assured us that every one else had poor yield too, always blaming it on the last year's wacky weather. Pop and Sundance, though the HG fed them, begged to go out in the hayfield. Once you understand the language of horses, you will get the idea that he is pointing in that direction. I turned and walked away telling not today, but caved to his soft nicker--you know the one, the mournful pleeeeease. Okay. You win, Sundance.

Here is the last doll dress finished. I had a really hard time with the collar on this one, so the finished dress does not have the collar. The dresses turned out pretty cute, I think. A lot of work.

Speaking of which, ladies, I do need to get busy.

Have a wonderful week.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Silent Companions

Years ago when I was a stay at home mom raising my little girls, I collected plants. I had all kinds of plants, but my favorites were the African violets. I got started growing violets because I remember my grandmother had one when I was just a little girl. She was quite the horticulturist and as I researched the history of the house plant I came to the conclusion that she must have had hers when they were a rather rare house plant.

Today they can be found in abundance in super markets and garden centers. I will buy them at the grocery store, but I especially enjoy buying fresh ones at the garden centers because they have a better plant variety. Lured by their beautiful and delicate flowers and their rich foliage, plants collectors find it hard to resist them.

Then the blooms fade and the plant goes to the trash. Not in this house.

In those early years I spent hours tending my violets, taking leaves and setting them in little cups of water to start new babies. I was encouraged by Zelma Gregory our high school librarian, whom I met when I took my first teaching job. She was the quintessential librarian-- the thin, gray haired lady,  slightly hunched who wore her hair in a bun on the back of her head, and you could tell that her hair was long by the size of the bun. Her glasses were those thin, round metal frames, obviously bifocals. I'd stop by her house when I wanted to add a violet to my collection because she was the only source at the time. There a wasn't surface in her house that wasn't covered with some sort of saintpaulia: the beds in her spare bedrooms, covered; the dining table in the front room, a sea of color; the kitchen counter filled with plastic pill cups, each with a leaf in water sprouting roots and tiny green leaves at the bottom of the shaft. She taught me all that I have come to know about these wonderful flowering house plants. I wanted to be her.

Yesterday I decided to transplant one plant, which gave way to a morning's worth of transplanting the violets.

My project simply was to save the life of this dear plant that I purchased months ago. I finally broke down and bought a suitable pot. Oh, the egg shells?  They are drying on this lid so that I can crush them and then add them to the coffee grounds that I am collecting in a popcorn tin to feed the roses when they wake up. They will be very hungry.

More on this plant later

You want your violets to be vibrant and happy like this one that I purchased at the garden center Saturday. I love the delicate white bloom with the green edging and the touch of lavender in the center. Mrs. Gregory's violets all had their common name like GiGi, or Coral Bell, but the commercially produced plants don't get personal names, I guess.

Inspired by this beauty, I decided to replant my current collection.

Violets will survive harsh conditions and a of neglect. They may look healthy, but they when they are unhappy they won't bloom.

Mine were sent to the basement to live during the holidays. They were next to a sunny window with morning sun, but they no doubt missed the hustle and bustle of the daily routine upstairs.

If you look closely at this one, you see two plants. Violets will propagate themselves by developing suckers. There are two plants in this pot. 

I used a sharp kabob skewer to separate the two plants. Ideally, suckers should be removed using a toothpick when they first appear as tiny leaves on the main stem of the plant just above the soil line.

Once the sucker has been separated from the main stem , I use a sharp knife to cut through the stem that is below the surface and the root system. 

You have to look closely to be able to distinguish a separate plant. They are easily separated and sometimes come with enough root to re pot.

This plant has multiple plants that can separated and replanted.

The plants look healthy, but too many are compacted in the pot. Will it bloom? Probably. Maybe?

Once out of the pot, you can really see the tangled mess.

Using the skewer, I begin to separate the plants

The new plants will range in size from this tiny one with an early any root system to fully rooted plants.  I will start a healthy root system my nurturing this  baby in a class of water.

So from one plant I have gained five new plants.

Now I need to go out to the barn to find my violet pots.

Come, let's take a walk. It is a beautiful February morning in Colorado. Warm. Sunny. 

The lawn is still brown. The Head Gardener wears a path to the barn to feed the horses and hens. 

The pond is a mess. We are entering the windy season and are leaves and depries will blow in. We will have a month of wind in March. The pond will need a good cleaning this year. We will drain it, re pot the water lilies, and do some other maintaining. I twill be hug job. The gold fish have come to the surface. Last year the green heron ate a few and traumatized the rest and we had a hard time coaxing them back to the surface. They must have short memories.

The Garden Spot lays fallow. The HG worked on the rototiller yesterday to get it ready for service in soon. We bought potatoes to plant mid March.

The hens are happy. I was amazed to see how much this gal has grown, the Blue Laced Red Wyandotte.

And the boys are out in the hay field enjoying the winter sun.

All is right with the world.

Here then is my pot stash. (Dare I call it that? I do live in Colorado)

I came in with a nice selection of clay pots and two ceramic pots that I have had for years.

They needed a good cleaning, so I first washed them in soapy water with a dash of bleach. Then I let them soak in hot water to get all of the bleach out.

Clean pots and nice new soil. Life is good for my quiet companions.

A fresh bag of potting soil.


Here they are nicely re potted and back in place at the west facing kitchen window. Violets love direct sunlight, especially north facing exposure with the light diffused through a sheer curtain. They cannot take direct sunlight through the window because the heat will burn the leaves. When the plant fails to bloom or re bloom or the blooms fade early, probably the plant needs more light. 

Nor do violets like too much water, too little water or watering from the top. They prefer tepid water, not cold. Much like teaching a cold shower for us, cold water will cause spotting on the leaves too. Consistently watering from the top will cause the crown to rot, so always water from the bottom. Every now and then, however, to remove dirt and dust and help flush out the soil I will give the violet a nice warm shower under the faucet spray as long as there is good drainage and the plant does not have to sit in water for too long, causing root rot.

A bit of fertilizer now and then will make the plant happy, too.

I am not so sure that these in the dining room will be very happy. I need to find better lighting for them.

I even re purposed Lily's high chair. She doesn't like using it anymore, anyway. She's four, you know.

The arrowhead will take a while before it is has a nice shape and it will be weeks before the the re potted violets bloom.

As my silent companions, they demand nothing except water and light. They are simple friends, the kind that don't talk back, bark, chatter, meow, or throw tantrums. They carry on sitting quietly.

A quiet week planned. I need to finish up the prairie dresses. I am having a lot of trouble with the collars this time. We are in for a warm week, so unless the wind kicks up, we should be able to do some garden clean-up

Happy Valentine's Day, dear friends. 

Linking with Maggie at Normandy Life for Mosaic Monday. Hope to see you there, too.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Blogging Organically

A dull, gray dawn greeted us this morning, reminding us that it is February, still winter. Yet here this week the temperatures are supposed to work their way up to 71 F by the end of the week. Every year I promise myself to get out early and lay down the pre-emergent granules that will prevent those pesky annual weed seeds from germinating. The pre-emergent is on its way through Amazon.

Meanwhile we wait for spring. We wait for our favorite spring flower, the daffodils; we wait for the crocuses to emerge in the center court; and we most anxiously await the blooming of the eastern red bud to confirm that it survived another cold, dry winter.

I spent Saturday with Heather who lives in Denver 60 some miles south of us. She has the most amazing garden in the from of her home and indeed she has one sure sign of Spring, a yellow crocus.  

So while the weather plods along or rages, remaining predictable for the season, we amuse ourselves inside. Thrifting, one my guilty little pleasures amuses me on some dull days. I make myself become very selective with what I put in my cart, so for those of you who love dolls, I hit the jackpot again, finding Eva at ARC thrift store for 2.49. She was, of course, naked. Now she models one of the prairie dresses that I am sewing. She is so cute and in near perfect condition with only a smudge of make-up on her face that some little girl applied. It wiped off with a wet cotton ball. Of course I looked her up on Google to find that she is an Our Generation doll, Target's brand of 18 inch doll.  At first I had the thought that I would dress her and offer her for sale, but I can't. She is too cute. 

Another find this week was Julia. She is a German made doll by a Gotz or Goetz, a German company known for it's exquisite dolls, both play quality and collector quality. They are now very rare in the States, but Goetz does make Pottery Barn's 18 inch doll. They are very expensive dolls. On eBay this doll sells for $110.  On the website she is priced at $75, but she available now only through second markets, such as Tuesday Morning where I found her. Still pricey at $50., She had been on the shelf since August 2016. I gave in. She will go to daughter number two. Goetz introduced her in 2015. 

I was even worse earlier in the week. Jen texted me that Goodwill had a dollhouse with 5 bags of furniture for sale. I said "no." Then slept on it. The Head Gardener took me to town the next day 
and. . . .

It is pretty cool dollhouse, a mid-century modern, which I like very much because it is contemporary instead old fashioned and Victorian. I am leaving it as it is, not doing a remake. If you'd like to read more about it, visit Ann's Dollhouse Dream.

With my favorite dollhouse store and the only one the Denver area--in all of Colorado for that matter--closing, Heather and I made our final trip to the store. The store has been open for 39 years and with the aging owner, dwindling customer base, and a hobby with lots of completion on line, the  80 year old owner decided to close. So that's one reason that prompted me to buy this Brookwood by Green Leaf.

I most certainly need Spring to make an early appearance so that I can get outside and play in the dirt.  We have lots of projects on our list, which I will save for another blog.

Winter blogging when your focus is on gardening does get difficult, doesn't it. But we all do it, throw in tid bits about live around the home and that's what we love about what I suppose some would call natural or organic writing, writing inspired by our life. So what inspired you this week?

Thanks so very much for visiting. It is always wonderful to read your comments and it is always a treat to visit your blog. Have a great week.

Linking with Maggie at Normandy Life for Mosaic Monday. Join us.

A Rose by Any Other Name

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