29 January 2011

5 years of Blooming Fun...

Life is always entertainingly busy around these parts. Right after the holidays, people came back to work, looked at their calendars, and freaked out about the time, and bombarded me with “we need to get this done” statements. Those sorts of announcements  don’t bother me at all, as I like to be busy, but I’ve been so busy that I plumb missed my own blogaversary.

Somehow, I thought it was at the end of the month, not two weeks ago. Whoops. Well, at least it wasn’t my own anniversary, a birthday or something else of import.

28 January 2011

Introducing...my first paphiopedilum orchid bloom

Patience is a virtue when it comes to dealing with certain plants. I present to you, Paphiopedilum 'Limerick x Hillsvale x Cherokee', a splendid young ladyslipper orchid that I purchased last March during the annual orchid show and sale held by the Orchid Society of Nova Scotia at Acadia University's Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens.
The orchid fancier who sold the plant to me told me it would take a year or so for it to get around to flowering. I was quite all right with that--having more than enough plants in the house, there is always something blooming here.

26 January 2011

Not-so Wordless Wednesday: Wondrous Winter Wings

One of the best parts of winter is the arrival of the snow buntings, also known as 'snowbirds'. These charming little songbirds are a very good excuse for me to hide behind a curtain in the house, trying to photograph them through snow- and salt-splashed windows. (It was far too cold the past couple of days to go outside and hang around trying to stalk these little guys.)
Snow buntings prefer open ground, and you will see drifts of them along roadsides, in farm fields, or large open spaces like we have at our property. They are not often seen in cities, for obvious reasons. Neither am I, though, so I can relate to them. They're also really, REALLY skittish, so I was pleased to get as decent shots as I did. They land on the west side of our barn roof, and start working their way up to the peak...

24 January 2011

Cats and poisonous plants, part one: Indoors

An off the cuff Twitter conversation with a friend of mine the other day prompted me to create a public service post for my cat-loving readers. She hadn't known that so many plants, both those grown indoors and those in our gardens, are toxic to cats. I've written about this before, but it bears bringing to other cat-loving plant people's attention on a regular basis.

Cats do like to get into things, although usually those are food-related items such as cans of soup. Yes, this is Mungus. If someone is doing something bad in our house, it's usually Mungus.

19 January 2011

Coaxing Spring with Flowering Twigs

Welcome to winter in Nova Scotia, part the 83rd. After some lovely snowfalls and brisk cold...it's pouring rain outside. Yuck. In desperation to cheer us all up, I suggest that when it stops raining (or whatever it's doing where you live,) we all go outside and cut some twigs off flowering shrubs and bring them indoors to force. Wouldn't it be nice to have a couple sprigs of Chaenomeles (quince) flowering indoors in February?

16 January 2011

Bursting with indoor colour for Bloom Day

I don't do a post for every Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, mostly because I don't like to follow memes every time they run. But in the bleak midwinter, we need an outburst of colour to cheer our souls, and I have to say my house is blooming happy right now. Let's lead off with those tropical-looking darlings, members of the hibiscus family. I have two young, vigourously growing plants, both of which are flowering right now. This porange (pink-orange) beauty is one of my favourite indoor plants.
Hibiscus are well suited to growing as houseplants for most of us. They like it a little warmer than some varieties, so at this time of year I move mine out of my office (the coolest room in the house, unless I run a heater) and to the sunniest, draft-free spots. They don't like soggy feet but need to be watered regularly, especially this time of year. I draw off a watering can full of water and leave it set all day before I water the hibiscus, and this keeps them from getting shock to their roots.

14 January 2011

Skywatch Friday: After the Snow

The first serious, get-down-and-boogie snowstorm came along on Wednesday, with nearly a foot of snow blanketing everything and creating wonderful snow-art, ranging from dustings on asclepias pods to drifts in some of the borders. Hey, if we are going to have winter, we might as well have snow, to protect those hellebore buds from the vagaries of temperature shifts so that they will bloom when spring comes!

A heavy snowfall accompanied with impressive winds tends to make everything look new, interesting and fresh. Although the grey skies tend to make for a bit of a monochromatic Skywatch Friday, things are serene and relaxing as I walk around the property.

09 January 2011

In the Pink, the colour of happiness

One thing about snowy winter days: they sort of remove most of the colour from the natural world, swathing everything in purest white and turning other shades to somber, yet tranquil, darkness. Browns, greys, blacks, shadows. While the landscapes are soothing on such days, our hearts yearn for colour, especially in our quiet gardens.
Here again we turn to gardening in the mind's eye, remembering sundrenched days when the gardens blazed forth with a rainbow of colours, across the spectrum.

Apparently it's not enough to have a plant of the year, person of the year, song of the year...there's also a colour of the year, as selected by Pantone. This year, the colour is called Honeysuckle, and is an interesting shade of pink. I'm not a colour theorist, and I'm not necessarily a huge fan of pink, except where flowers are concerned. Our friend Joey of The Village Voice calls pink The Colour of Happiness, and I can certainly agree with her there--as I agree with her on most things having to do with the garden!

My favourite pink flowers are the annual and perennial poppies, which flaunt their colours throughout the summer, providing bees with pollen and me with plenty of delight watching the shows.
When I am able to cajole hollyhocks into blooming, they're never yellow, the colour I long for in hollyhocks. Oh no...they're always some shade of pink, or in this case, verging on fuchsia.
This pink gerbera is about as close as I can get to the 'honeysuckle pink' shade that Pantone has decreed this year's colour. What I want to know is, is this supposed to be a colour to decorate our homes with? Wear on clothing? Ummmm...I like it just fine in the garden, or in the house as a flowering plant, but that's the limit.
Last summer was the first in a few years that I was unable to find these most excellent African daisies, or venidium, anywhere at my favourite local nurseries. This plant has a metallic sheen to its flowers, which I've had in red, orange, and this lovely pink shade, and hope to find again this year.

Pink seems to be a polarizing colour, in part because it has been politicized for a certain disease, but aside from that it's a colour many people have a strong opinion about. What about you? Does pink have a prime position in your perennial preferences? Or do you push pink into the past, preferring pastels or pungent purples?

Okay, I admit it. Been working too hard, and insomnia is making me slightly giddy. Enjoy the pink petals, friends, and I'll return after I catch up my work and my sleep!

07 January 2011

Bouncing over book news and other Friday Fun

Writing a book is kind of like planting a tree, or maybe more like doing winter-sowing; you put in a bunch of work, then there's a lull, while you're busy doing other things, and then suddenly it's spring and the seedlings are germinating or the tree is leafing out.

That's where I'm at right now. Last year, I worked for months on the manuscript for my second book, Plants for Atlantic Gardens, and it was a huge effort made easier by having wise fellow gardening and writing friends who I could turn to. Then there was a lull while my fabulous editor did his magic, then another flurry of work for me, then another lull. Well, those lulls were occupied by other things like other work obligations, so really, the time flew past.

05 January 2011

The garden of indoors...Phalaenopsis orchids

If there is a more perfect cure for winter (other than a trip somewhere warm) than orchids, I don't know what that would be. For those of you who think you can't grow orchids at your house, I'm here to tell you: if you can grow a simple African violet, a Christmas cactus, a philodendron, you can grow phalaenopsis, or moth orchids.
Trust me on this. I have about a dozen, in myriad shades and shapes and yes, even sizes. When I first became intrigued by these graceful, long blooming and elegant plants, they tended to come in only a couple of colours, white and magenta, at least locally. They were also very expensive. Today, things have changed quite dramatically!

03 January 2011

Canada Reads...The Birth House!

Welcome to 2011, everyone! I hope you've had a great New Year's and Christmas holiday and are settling back into the regular routines of your week.

As I mentioned in my last post, there are going to be a few changes to Bloomingwriter in the coming weeks, especially as the end of this month will mark 5 years of me bathering on here. One of the changes I have been sort-of implementing of late is the publishing of book reviews and author interviews. Although these will mostly be of books pertaining to gardening, botany, and such, I also plan to drop in the occasional review of a favourite fiction book, and a talk with its author.

CBC Radio has a program on each winter called Canada Reads, where five 'celebrity judges' debate the merits of five recent works of Canadian fiction. The show will run in early February, but there's been a lot of hype and chatter in recent weeks and days. This year marks ten years of the show, and the books were selected from works published in the past ten years. To my great delight, one of the books in the top five is The Birth House, by Scotts Bay resident Ami McKay! This is one of my favourite novels of all time, and not just because it's by a writer who is a friend and is set in my community. It simply reads like a dream. Chapters/Indigo included it as one of their best books of the decade, and it's been published in numerous other countries, including the USA, Great Britain, Germany and the Netherlands.

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