Posts Tagged 'flowers'

Reveling in Green

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IMG_8986I did love my time in Tempe. I’m glad that I now have an excuse to go out west to the desert regularly. (Did I mention in any of my posts that despite my belief that the Jersey shore is heaven on earth, I think that the Negev desert is the most beautiful place I have ever seen?)

It was soothing to be coming into EWR and see all the GREEN spread out below me. It felt welcoming.

IMG_8978My husband had kept all the plants alive on the porch (they are sheltered from rain for the most part) and we’d had several rain storms while I was away. When we pulled up to the house, there were my favorite plants in full bloom – rudbeckia laciniata hortensia.

The canna lilies are also blooming fully, as well as the mandevilla.

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Stalled

IMG_8695Construction has come to a halt while we wait for the township to come and inspect the insulation. I have been extremely surprised at how quickly we have had the past inspections. It seemed Don had but to call and an appointment was scheduled within the week. Not this time. This is more what I had expected, given some of my other dealings with government when trying to sell our mother’s house. We are stalled for over a week, waiting to get the next inspection done. I think this is the last inspection for quite a bit. I don’t think the next few rounds of activity are going to require stage-by-stage approvals. So no renovation news until next week sometime, when we pass inspection (we hope) and start on the walls.

In the meantime I’ll share garden pictures. I’ve been working in my sun room in the front of the house. The house faces south, which means that sun room can get quite warm. IMG_8697That’s a good thing in the winter but can be a bit much in the summer, hence the awnings. A friend of mine said “why AWNINGS??? They are so DARK!!!!” Well, yes, I replied, but come and join me when the temps are in the 90s. The awnings are a real help then. There are 8 windows in that sun room. I keep the blinds shut in the early morning, until the sun rises above the awnings and there is no direct light into the room. My co-workers have been commenting on my beach room, because that is, of course, what I did with my sun room. It is a very happy place for me, even if the chair/desk situation is not very good for my back. I’m in the office today and I’m wearing my sweatshirt and drinking hot coffee because I’m COLD in the air conditioning. But the chair is soooo comfortable and I love my 2 ft monitor. Pros and cons everywhere.

Spring flowers (peonies and roses) are done but many of the summer flowers are blooming. I love them, but I confess that I get bored around mid-July with having to water them so much. I have a soaker hose, and I even have a 4-way spigot I could put on the outdoor faucet. I just haven’t gotten to it. IMG_8710A common refrain: “not gotten to that yet”. I know Honour knows this song too. I love canna lilies as you can see in the photos – I have them in 3 places. It’s almost time for the rudbeckia to bloom as well. I picked some of my “crops” to snack on today in the office: yellow cherry tomatoes, which are wonderfully sweet, and Mexican sour gherkins. The gherkins are fun but they are very sour. 🙂 I’m trying to think of a good way to use them to take advantage of the taste. I have another tomato plant as well as the cherry tomatoes, but that second plant has produced a single tomato. One. And my hot pepper plants have done nothing. I bought all of those at the ag fair back in the spring. I’m a bit disappointed with most of my purchases there. Only the gherkins and the cherry tomatoes seem to have thrived.

I need to trim the front hedge again. I took it down quite a bit in the spring, but it needs some attention. I need to tame the forsythia and the rhododendron on the side of the house. I cropped the picture to avoid the overgrown azaleas and the huge taller-than-my-dining-room-window weed that is growing by the outdoor faucet. That side of the house is definitely in need of major pruning. The lilac bush is blocking my way to that faucet, and so are the spider webs that spring up as soon as I clear them away. This past weekend was actually perfect pruning weather but I had other plans. I need to hire someone. Of course, I now need to hire someone to cut the grass as well, because my young high-school grass-cutter found himself a permanent job. It may be time for me to stop supporting the local youths and simply hire a lawn care service. But only if they’ll do it without chemicals. Or I could just let it all grow and grow….
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Mexican Sour Gherkins

IMG_8623There is a lot of hammering and drilling and other construction noises emanating from the basement today. It’s sunny and warm and dry outside, which means it’s a good day to check out the garden.

I am growing Mexican Sour Gherkins!!!! They were a spur-of-the-moment purchase several weeks ago in May. It was FINALLY a warm, sunny, weekend day and I fled the house to soak up some sun and fresh air. Rutgers University was having its big Rutgers day celebration which I believe started many years when the Rutgers Ag school would have Ag day, and the students would sell their plants – flowers, herbs and vegetables. I have NEVER made it to Ag day, despite many of my friends singing its praise. I headed over there and picked up a few items, including my strawberry plant (which got its very own post) and something I’d never heard of before: Mexican sour gherkins. IMG_8620 I asked if I could grow it UP a trellis instead of in the ground with runners. The answer was as long as it’s supported, it should be fine.

The plant has been putting out skinny light green runners for weeks, and little yellow flowers have been appearing everywhere. Last week I noticed that some flowers had become fruit!! I’m hoping I’ll know when they can be harvested because so far the most detailed description that I have for size is “smaller than a grape”. That’s very small.

If you are going to follow one of these links, I suggest the one above to “Modern Farmer”. I found Mexican sour gherkins in Wikipedia, but they have a horrible name there: Melothria Scabra. All I can think of is scabrous which is a big yuck. *shudder* The description is a mite alarming as well. It says it can grow to 10 feet. Um, I have this in a pot. IMG_8621 There is no way I can support 10 ft of plant. On the other hand – it’s a very skinny vine. Maybe I can just keep looping it.

It’s very exciting to see these tiny gherkins growing. They are colorful and I’m getting a good crop. Stay tuned for more adventures of the ignorant farmer. 🙂

Weather Swings Like a Pendulum Do

IMG_8515Apologies to Roger Miller but England is not the only thing swinging. Our weather is crazy. It seems that since January we swing between extremes. I’m sure we had an 80 degree day in February, then we had a nor’easter every week in March. April did nothing but rain, rain, rain. Or was that May? May was another month of back and forth – warm and sunny one day, back down in 50s (that’s Fahrenheit folks) and gray for the next 6. Yesterday we hit 87F and it was incredibly humid with bright bright sunshine. Until the rainstorm hit about 2pm. Today it struggled to reach 65, and the wind is blowing so strongly that our deck umbrellas were knocked over.

IMG_8489My cats “swing” too. Great success with WC yesterday – she came out and ate breakfast in the doorway of the food room. She even sat in the blueberry box in the hallway – a favorite cat resting place apparently. All 3 cats loved the blueberry box (8 pints of blueberries came in that box) so I made sure to bring it upstairs to be part of The Great Incarceration. Today – WC scorned breakfast and never even came out from under the bed for dinner.

I went out and bought a microwave yesterday – much smaller than our previous one, which is headed for the rummage sale. Trying to situate the new microwave properly was an adventure – we “swung” from level surface to level surface. My first choice was no good because we couldn’t make the cord reach. I opted against my second choice because I realized the refrigerator was on the same outlet. IMG_8490The third surface was the charm but necessitated me reorganizing some of the dining room so that the cord would reach the outlet.

In the garden I noticed that the deer not only attack my hibiscus, but they appear to be eating the white wave petunias in the hanging baskets and also the tops off of the purple-leaf-thing-that-has-yellow-flowers. Something also feasts on the sweet potato vines. So I got out my cayenne pepper and covered them all. I like this approach because I grow a lot of herbs and vegetables and even if we missed washing off ALL the cayenne it won’t hurt us. And besides – the commercial repellents are truly repellent – for us, too. Which reminds me, I forgot to spray the ferns out back with the truly repellent chemicals. It’s rained (of course) since I did it last. But it’s WAY too windy to attempt that now.

IMG_8517There have been some minor successes and improvements. I ATE my first home-grown strawberry. 🙂 You can see it in the picture but it’s not there anymore. My new porch railings are up and they are GORGEOUS. My Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia arrived and got planted. I finally remembered to get the plant supports out of the garage and brace the spiderwort. I planted two canna lilies where the wretched weeds wandered in. I bought a plastic dish rack for sitting on top of the washing machine in the basement – our new dishwashing location. (Notice the preponderance of garden tasks as opposed to indoor tasks.)

Today was given to a few more errands, still trying to make our renovation existence as smooth as possible. Somehow that also involved buying 2 new pairs of shoes….. It’s not MY fault that the shoe store is next to the BB&B store.

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The Best Flower

goose neck and rudbeckia (1)Many many years ago my friend Ulrike dug up a bunch of flowers from her wonderful wild garden and gave them to me. Two big garbage bags filled with enormous root balls. There were 2 different flowers in there – a yellow, sunflower-like thing and a white curvy thing that she called goose-neck. Both plants flourished in my front garden for many years. I discovered the white thing is indeed “gooseneck” or Lysimachia clethroides. It’s very hardy and is indeed aggressive and has spread along the driveway as well as taking over a good portion of the first bed. (Hey Debbie – I should give you some of these, too!)

rudbeckiaI LOVE the yellow things. A few years ago, however, they began to fade, perhaps because the gooseneck was choking them. I had them in 2 different beds so I still had plenty of them, but I was getting worried. My friend, who lived next door to my mother, had died and her house was on the market. She lived next door to my mother so one day I went over, found an inconspicuous spot, and dug up another 2 root balls. Yes, I know that was “wrong”. You know what was REALLY wrong? The realtor in charge of selling that house leveled that gorgeous garden, tore down the bushes, the flowers, the wild beauty of the back yard. Don’t lecture ME on ‘wrong’. The stolen goods emigrated successfully. I knew Rike would be thrilled that her garden lived on.

But I was growing worried. What WERE these flowers? My dog-walking neighbor loved them as well and always teased/threatened to come over and dig them up for his garden. I began searching online to find a match. It’s hard to search when all you have is “tall, yellow flowers”. I tried sunflowers. I tried tall yellow flowers. I tried 5 ft yellow flowers. Finally I found something that I thought was it in one of the seed catalogs and I ordered the seeds. The seeds DID thrive and they came up alongside my yellow things. BUT…. the leaves were the same, but the flowers were not. This is because I WAS close, but I’d found the single blossom version of Rudbeckia Laciniata instead of the double-blossom. Nice, but really not good enough.

weed and rudbeckiaI continued searching and searching. One day I stumbled across a blog or a post or something somewhere talking about very tall yellow outhouse flowers (that wasn’t the exact wording that they used, however). When I looked at the photo, there were MY flowers!!! There’s probably a joke in there somewhere about my taste is in the outhouse or something. 🙂 They are called Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia. Next I had to find the plants online. For some reason I kept ending up with seeds when I wanted plants.

weedI called our local radio station garden show and explained my problem – I needed outhouse flowers and did not know where to get them. Peggy immediately found a website selling the plants: Heritage Flower Farm. I went online that very day and ordered plants. I’d never ordered plants through the mail before and had no idea how it worked, how the plants traveled, etc. I ended up emailing with the owner, Betty Adelman, who was wonderfully supportive, informative and encouraging. The flowers arrived healthy and as described and all of them grew up last spring.

bare groundThis spring I ordered 6 more Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia (along with many other plants). I planted them in the front with their brethren. I watched them take hold, begin to grow. I cheered them on. The the rains came. And came. And came. People drove arks to and fro. The flora LOVED it and everything grew green and tall and thick. I was thrilled. Until just a few days ago when my sister said to me “I’m confused. You’re always talking about your yellow flowers, but I have the same thing and when I showed it to my neighbor she said it was a weed.” I guess some might call RLH a weed but I took a closer look at what was growing. Imagine my horror when I realized that with all that rain, weeds that looked remarkably LIKE RLH but were, in fact, flowerless weeds had taken over the bed. Although the leaves are similar, the stalk is very different. I yanked them all out, tossing them into the street to be run over by cars and trucks. Take THAT! I carefully uncovered what remained of my RLH but several of the new plants had been choked out.

heritage farms home pageThis is where dealing with someone as wonderful as Betty at Heritage Flower Farm pays off and brightens an otherwise cloudy day. I wrote to Betty asking if I could still get some RLH even though it’s now late in the season, and sent her pictures of the weed. She wrote back that she would send me some plants. I wrote again to ask if she needed me to send my credit card information. And she wrote back saying: “We’ll send you another one this week. We will cut back the leaves because it will help it recover from being dug after the record breaking heat we’ve had. Once they get going they are vigorous and weeds may grow near them but will not choke them out. … you’re not paying for this one.” That is kindness and generosity. I can’t WAIT for them to arrive and – trust me – I will guard them against the evil weed. This proves yet again that some of the best people I have ever met are people that I meet virtually. I’m not the only person who thinks Heritage Flower Farm is great – the National Wildlife Federation has honored them for their Certified Wildlife Habitat. So if you need flowers, or you want gardening tips and information, or you want some Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia for yourself, do yourself a huge favor and contact Betty Adelman and Heritage Flower Farm – Yesterday’s Flowers for Today’s Gardens.

Time out to smell the flowers

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red canna lilyI’m finding life a bit stressful these days. There is a lot happening, and a lot of it is not always positive. As a “small” example – there’s another borderline Category 4/5 hurricane aimed at the US Virgin Islands. Why is this of interest to me, you may ask. Long before the term “bff” was in vogue, I had a bff from 1st grade on. She moved to St Croix and made her life there. I’m not sure that we are BFF anymore but I am sure that I still care about her and her family greatly. I remember when Hurricane Hugo hit St Croix in 1989 and she and her daughter had to come back to NJ to live for several weeks. There was no power, no water, just disaster all over the island. Her husband stayed there and was part of all the cleanup efforts. St Croix was spared the worst of Irma, and Jose, but now the reports sound as if it may be Hugo all over again.

We here in NJ were supposed to be side-swiped by Jose today. large dahliasI decided to work from home instead of trying to drive to Corporate amid winds and rain. As it happens, it’s lovely here today. Although it’s overcast, it’s warm, and there is that lovely pre-storm moist breeze blowing through all the open windows, and the air smells of open sky. I’m loving it but it does make it a tad difficult to concentrate on the strategy plan I am supposed to be composing. The breeze evokes memories of summer days down the shore before a storm rolled in – birds perched on the wires a la Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ and bike riding in the cool air and sitting in the kitchen emailing to my St Croix friend as my young son read on the living room floor.

orange canna lilyI was sure that we were going to have lots of rain, and that my flowers would be washed away. I took some more photos of the garden because I wasn’t sure there’d be much left. If you’d told me years ago that I’d spend my time taking pictures of flowers, I’d have thought you were crazy. Because taking pictures of flowers is crazy, no? Many many MANY years ago we went out to California to visit my aunt and uncle. I have always felt extremely close to my aunt even though I almost never see her, but I didn’t have much of a relationship with my uncle. Again – didn’t see much of him, what was important to him was not important to me. For instance – he loved photography. He loved to take close-up pictures of flowers. I mean REALLY CLOSE UP. CLOSER. Weird, right? And he had them framed and hung about the house. Pink mandevillaI just didn’t ‘get it’ at all.

Well, here I am, taking pictures of flowers, cropping them, enlarging them, sharing them. *smile* I guess I’m weird, too, yes? I find such peace and joy when I look at flowers and plants and water and rocks. Nature. Nature brings me joy and peace. I know it can be violent and deadly, but it’s those moments of serenity that heal my soul.

So much to do, and so much happening that is out of my control. I’m not very good at accepting that there are things out of my control. *smile* But tomorrow is Erev Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year (well, one of FOUR Jewish new years) and thank goodness that is one of the absolute stops I give myself. No data loads, no strategy plans, no bills, no rushing here, being there. I’m looking forward to it. And I’m looking at flowers.

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I’m not the only one enjoying the flowers

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Fleur de Calli


I spent a LOT of time this weekend in my garden – cleaning the beds, weeding, pruning bushes, pruning an ailing Japanese maple, planting perennials. I came inworld in the evening for friends and music. Calli fits the bill for both friends AND music – she is one of my favorite DJs, spinning tunes at Tribeca and Fogbound regularly, as well as other locales. But with gardening on my mind, I remembered that I never mentioned Calli’s OTHER venture – besides her fantastic photography and DJing. We can now enjoy Fleur de Calli, a lovely little flower shop in Puli.

It was early March when the shop opened. Still too gray and cold and miserable to be in my organic garden. Calli tp’d me into the shop and immediately I felt more relaxed and cheerful. FLOWERS!!!! 🙂 Beautiful orchids in graceful pots. You can change the color of the pots to suit your decor or mood.

I found the white flower in the corner to be extremely striking. I asked Calli about it and she told me that it was the result of a mis-click when creating. Quite a fortuitous misclick, I would say!

So the next time you need a hostess gift, or a little pick-me-up for yourself, or even just a visit to a clean, well-built space, drop by Fleur de Calli for your flower power.


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