Thursday, March 22, 2012

To Pot or Not to Pot, That Is the Question

It was clear to me last summer that my bog / carnivorous plant container was getting too full, so in the fall I bought another pot so I could split up the plants to give them more room. I figured the ideal time to repot would be in the winter when the plants go dormant. The winter came and went, but I never repotted. How come? Because a Molly-plant sprouted in my designated bog pot.

Molly vs. plants. I think Molly wins.

For whatever reason, Molly decided this pot was hers. We have had a box on the back porch for Izzy because she loves to roll around in it. We had put it out for recycle one night and Izzy took such a shine to it we couldn’t bring ourselves to recycle it anymore. I guess when Molly saw this pot out there, she thought it was for her. So I stuck some crunched up paper in the bottom so her butt wouldn’t get too cold and it’s been her favorite spot ever since. Now that it’s so unseasonably warm, Molly and Izzy both want to be on the back porch all the time. That means Molly spends even MORE time in this pot. She’ll curl up and nap in it or she’ll sit upright watching the birds and squirrels in the yard, or lately it’s been a rambunctious chipmunk she’s had in her sights.

So my question is, do I take Molly’s pot away from her and use it for what it was intended? It took me quite awhile to find the perfect pot. I needed a low pot without a drainage hole. I was so happy when I finally found the right pot. And now I can’t bring myself to take it away from Molly. So a-hunting I will go, for another perfect pot for my carnivorous bog plants. After all, who can resist that cute face????

And because I always try to give equal attention to both of “The Adorables” and lately Molly’s been hogging the limelight, here’s a picture of Izzy in her box on the back porch.

Isabella in her box.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Creative or Crazy?

The girls at work are all into the website Pinterest. It’s pretty cool — you can “pin” things you like and it will retain the source link. It’s a kind of bulletin board, a visual reference — which is good for visual people like myself. For instance, if you’re planning on redoing your kitchen you can “pin” pictures of things you like, such as tile, sinks, etc, so you have a visual reference (with links). Kind of like bookmarking, but much prettier. I have yet to join, but I’ve been on there exploring several times. You need a facebook or twitter account to join, and anyone who knows me knows I’m not on facebook or twitter yet and prefer to remain anonymous. This blog is the most extroverted thing I’ve done. But I digress…
So a friend from work sent me this link about growing gourds into molds to make little sculptures. Crazy, but true. She originally found it on Pinterest, although it linked to a website called Instructables. I was simultaneously amused and fascinated. In fact, I laughed out loud when I first saw it. But then I found myself thinking it was pretty gosh-darn creative. But still really funny. Click through the steps to see the process. Completely crazy, yet fascinating.
Come on, admit it, it really is interesting that those gourds will take on the shape of the mold as they grow. But what I found myself thinking is where did this guy come up with this idea? What does he do for a living — does he normally work with molds or do sculpture and this idea (bad pun alert) “grew” out of that? Does he make molds of the Presidents or famous composers and sell these things? Does he do custom gourd sculptures for you and your family? It could be a whole enterprise of gourdness! It could be this guy’s “million dollar idea.” Or maybe not. Upon further reading, these gourd molds were made by Mr. Zhang Cairi and apparently they’ve been growing gourds in molds in China for more than 500 years. If you want to learn more about this fascinating combination of art and nature, check out the book “The Immortal Molded Gourds of Mr. Zhang Cairi.” You can buy his book and some of his gourds at The Caning Shop in California. Go figure.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

More Signs of Spring

I have Spring Fever. Yesterday and today it has been an unseasonable 70 degrees. The rest of the week is supposed to be around that same temperature. I spent all day yesterday in the yard, raking out beds, pruning, etc. Today I cooked some salmon on the grill for dinner and ate on the back porch. I took the camera around the house to capture some more signs of spring — and I wore sandals. If you know me, then you know how shocking that is for this time of year when I’m normally still wearing two pairs of socks and long underwear! Here’s what I came across as I explored the yard... 

I’m starting to see a few more crocuses. 

One thing I love about spring is seeing the green bits breaking through the dirt, reaching for the sun.  This is one of my bleeding heart plants starting to come up. Hard to believe how big and beautiful this will be a bit later in the spring.

Here’s some Siberian Iris poking out.

In the fall I planted a few new bulbs, including some English Bluebells. I fell in love with English Bluebells on my first trip to England (I think that was maybe 1996). There’s nothing more captivating than coming across a field of English Bluebells whilst on a walk in some shady woods. It’s romantic and magical. At the time I did not have a garden of my own, so I planted a “field” of bluebells on the side of my mom’s house. They still bloom every spring. Here is one of my new bluebells showing its green leaves.

Some of the other varieties of daffodils are now showing their playful faces. These are in the front yard.

These are in the side yard in front of the shed/workshop.

And these are in the back yard by the greenhouse.

Every spring when I start to clean out the garden I have a robin that follows me around getting all the bugs and worms that I’ve raked up. Pretty clever bird when you think about it. I sometimes wonder if it’s the same one every year. I’m not sure how long they live. I know it’s not very creative, but I call him “Robbie.” Here’s a blurry picture of Robbie the Robin.

If Robbie isn’t a sign of spring, then I don’t know what is!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spring Is Almost Here

Daylight Savings time is almost here and that means more daylight and more spring flowers! Can’t wait! Ok, that might have just given it away that I’m a dork, if you hadn’t figured that out already. My best friend has known it for years. I can’t help it, though. Spring is an exciting time for me, as the earth awakens from her winter slumber, taking a deep breath and stretching her green legs. I think poet and NJ native Joyce Kilmer put it best in “Spring”...

“The air is like a butterfly
With frail blue wings.
The happy earth looks at the sky
And sings.”

The earth is just starting to sing. Don’t worry, I’ll try to refrain from breaking out into the “Sound of Music” or anything like that.

The daffodils decided to show their faces first this year, but there’s another favorite that’s blooming now:  snowdrops (galanthus). When I was a kid I used to call them “snowbells” instead of snowdrops. I think it just had to do with the shape of the flower. I believe the variety I have is Galanthus Elwesii, if I remember correctly. You can’t always trust my memory, but I think you can on this one. I love the teardrop shaped petals and the bit of green in the center of that pure white. They are so delicate and lovely. And they just look like they should make a tinkling bell sound in the breeze, don’t you think? Ok, that’s just me being a dork again. Unfortunately, only two survived out the 10 or so that I planted a couple years ago. Did they fall victim to squirrels? Could be, could be.

In December of 2007 we had a cat that adopted us. We found it living under our back porch. For some reason I decided to name her Snowbell, naming her after the “snowbells” I enjoyed at my mom’s house in the early spring. Unfortunately, Snowbell wasn’t the nicest kitty in the world. We think maybe she had been abused and kicked around because she would hiss and swat at you if you moved your legs or pet her anywhere but her head and neck. At the time we already had a cat with “behavioral problems” and knew we couldn’t take on another one. Luckily for Snowbell, a kind-hearted co-worker was willing to put up with her personality quirks and adopted her. So that’s the story of Snowbell, not to be confused with snowdrops.

This is a snowdrop...  

Snowdrop (Galanthus).

This is a Snowbell...

Snowbell, the cat we found living under our porch in 12/07.

Getting back to spring blooms, so far only one crocus was brave enough to flower yet (see previous post from Feb 24 “Winter? What Winter?”). I’m waiting to see when the rest will show their faces this year. I couldn’t resist another picture of my Helleborus Bridal Queen, though. It has at least 10 flowers this year. Rock on, Hellebore!

Helleborus Bridal Queen, yet again looking like a beautiful blushing bride.


Daffodil is a funny, playful, “daffy” word. Daaaaffffooodiiiilll. I just love saying it. It is THE quintessential spring flower for me. Each spring, seeing them reminds me I want to plant more of different varieties. Hmmm...makes me wonder how many kind of daffodils there are. Let me look that according to The American Daffodil Society’s website, “Depending on which botanist you talk to, there are between 40 and 200 different daffodil species, subspecies and varieties of species and over 25,000 registered cultivars (named hybrids) divided among the thirteen divisions of the official classification system.” Seems like quite a bit to me. You’re surprised there’s an American Daffodil Society??? But why? There’s an American Azalea Society and an African Violet Society of America, so why not daffodils? Besides, daffodils are so cute and playful they deserve their own society.

One of my favorite poems has always been “Daffodils” by William Wordsworth. This poem strikes a chord with me because it reminds me of a special place I knew as a child...

“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.” 

As I mentioned in my very first post, when I was a kid there was a “secret” place in the woods behind our house that had tons of daffodils blooming in the spring by a small pond. This place sticks in my memory like no other place I’ve known. I cannot help but think of it when I hear Wordsworth’s poem. 

 This year spring came early and my daffodils started blooming the end of February! Unheard of! 

Daffodils starting to open in my back yard (picture taken last week in February).
This daffodil is in my front yard (picture taken last week in February).