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Meet Olivia

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“Meet Olivia”
Well, that’s what my wonderful and oh so generous friend, Hart, said when he brought me this lovely Clivia. Named Olivia, to help me remember what the name of the plant was, of course. But I do like the name, so from now on…..  she will be Olivia.

Hart had given me part of the mother plant, a gorgeous plant that had a permanent spot just inside his patio doors. She had grown too big and he’d promised me that one day, when he split it and repotted, I would get a bit. So a little while ago, I got my promised gift. I noticed right away that there were buds coming, which inspired me to start my little photo progression. Now it turns out, that poor Hart has given me the part of the plant with all the blooms! So Hart, just so you don’t miss out entirely, Olivia sends her love and her blooms to you. Thank you….I do love her.

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A Perfect Birthday on a Perfect Spring Day

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Yesterday I celebrated another year on this beautiful world with just a very few of my most special people. Yesterday was a perfect spring day and somehow my presents confirmed it.  Well, at least here it’s Spring already, and looking around, I’m pretty sure about this.

First a gift of Orchids called Cymbidium, pale mauve pink and spotted peaking out from an abundant set of leaves. Love the name, the way it sounds. Sometimes I just love saying the names of flowers and plants, just for the way they sound, like cymbidium, alstromeria, phalaenopsis or pachysandra.

And it just so happened that I had the perfect pot for them, made years ago by mosaicing an old crock pot of all things.

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Then, a beautiful arrangement of spring flowers which, after spending time being admired as my table centerpiece, will be planted out in the garden. Almost like a double present. The wire hearts will I think become part of some chime arrangement later.

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And then last but not least, a Hart’s Tongue Fern. This is for some reason my most favourite fern. I’ve been wanting one for years. There is something about the curl of the leaves that I love. I may have to draw it first, before it takes its place in the garden.

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So yesterday was a perfect day. And my birthday celebrations are not over yet! Friday, I’ll have more of my very special people over to make all kinds of pizzas and drink lots of wine. Ah, can’t wait!

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Getting Lucky with Amaryllis Bulbs – Second Time Blooms

Last year I treated myself to a few Amaryllis bulbs, little prezzies for Christmas. You can’t beat an Amaryllis bloom for making you feel like the world is a beautiful place and cheering you up on a gray winter day. The flowers are like beacons, facing out in sometimes four directions, like trumpets shouting “Look at me, Look at me, am I not the most gorgeous flower you’ve ever seen??” And of course, you have to agree with the “girls” (they’re always girls to me). They are the Most Beautiful of flowers. The “girls” have treated to me to a bonus this year. Both of these bulbs came back with flowers. This deep pink bloom is just at the papery stage, almost done, but still beautiful. I do love that backlit look, which shows off the veins in petals.

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And this deep bright red amaryllis is just bursting with vigor, four blooms and another stem coming up. It’s a bulb originally from South Africa.
Of three bulbs that I restarted, only one produced only leaves and I must admit that bulb was a bit shriveled when I repotted it.

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I remember the first time I got an amaryllis to re-bloom many many years ago. All really quite by accident, not knowing what I was doing at all. In fact, why it worked with all the neglect and just plain lack of knowledge was a miracle of sorts. I’d gotten a bulb before Christmas and it had bloomed and I’d lopped off the stem when the flower was done and let the leaves grow. I must have know that much at least.

One day, in the late spring I just put it out on the deck and more or less forgot about it except for watering until fall. Then it died back and I brought it in for winter. I noticed a bud starting out from the bulb and started to water it again and it rewarded me with another set of wonderful blooms. Dumb luck that time.

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Now I’m a little better at it. I try to remember to let them dry up in early fall. This year I set empty flower pots over the bulbs to make them think it was dark. Then in late November I brought them out and repotted them with fresh dirt, put them in a warm place and watered and waited. The “girls” came up very well. Now, I wonder, can I do this for another year? It’s always a surprise and well appreciated when it works.

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The Repotting of the Bonsai Tree

Last year, for my birthday, Eric gave me a Bonsai tree, a really cute little Ficus. Growing Bonsai was something entirely new for me. Everything about growing a Bonsai is quite contrary to my experience with houseplants.  My aim with houseplants is to get them to grow as large as possible, have lots of leaves, and live in ever larger pots.

Bonsai, on the other hand, are meant to live in small pots, get pruned a lot and stay small. Hmm. I have problems pruning bushes and trees outside. I’ve lived most of my life in Alberta, where you stand back and cheer if things grow and you hardly ever have to, in my opinion, prune. Now here I had a plant that you actually had to not only prune stems but also roots! I have to admit that to me it seemed cruel and nasty, unnatural, sort of like foot binding. But having one of my own, has made me start to appreciate the “art of Bonsai”. That is creating the look of a large tree in a small pot, a vignette so to speak, of a larger natural beauty.

But the time came when I realized that Bonsai or not this little plant needed a bigger pot or needed to have it’s roots pruned. My way of doing anything new is to look up everything at the library. So off we went and back we came with lots of books on Bonsai, care of and growing, pruning, training, etc.

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Now this poor little plant was so root bound that my method of checking to see if it was watered enough was just to pick up the plant, roots and all, out of the pot and check.

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Between the three of us, Eric, Will and I, it was decided after much studying of various books, that rather than attempting to prune roots, that it would be better to move it into a larger bonsai pot. Luckily, as garage sailors, we had a little supply of recycled bonsai pots. After a bit of consideration, one was chosen.

Eric, took on the task of loosening the old dirt from the roots with a little bamboo skewer, amidst worried remarks from me admonishing him not to tear the roots or hurt the poor thing. Eventually it was ready to re-pot.
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Eric also trimmed the roots from a little lower root that would become a root feature near the bottom of the trunk. Following instructions from our many books, the scissors had been sterilized with alcohol.

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At the Glendale Garden Show, on one of my many jaunts around the other exhibitors, I‘d picked up a bag of Bonsai mix at a Bonsai Garden Exhibit. This was basically a mixture of bark mulch, turface (still don’t know what that is), sand, gravel, grit, vermiculite and perlite. To this I added a bit of regular bagged houseplant dirt. This was added carefully around our little plant in the new pot.

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Then our little plant was watered and the new dirt gently tamped down around it. It has, for the last few weeks, resided happily in it’s new pot on the sideboard in the living room. I’m happy to report that it survived the move to the new pot very well.

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New leaves are coming and only one leaf was lost. And doesn’t it look very very Japanese with it’s display of Japanese coasters, also a garage sale find, set prettily but minimally, of course, in front?

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My Indoor Flower Show

How often is it that I’ve seen something wonderful and not run for the camera to snap a shot? I’ll give myself a mental reminder to get back to that soon but then,distracted by all the stuff going on in my life, I forget. Don’t even want to estimate an answer. And I know that I can take all the mental snapshots I like but I am NOT going to remember that moment in a few years or even days, or let’s face it, even a few hours later.

Thank goodness every now and then, something just catches my eye and makes me get up and get that camera. This happened the other day as I sat reading on the couch one morning. I had the front door open and I glanced up and saw the sun streaming in on the Christmas Cactus in bloom. Now, I’d known that it was full of blooms for a few days and even had a plan to take a photo, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. But at that moment, it was a plant suddenly aglow with each magenta flower outlined in light. It practically screamed at me to get off the couch and take a picture!

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And also caught the other little starters also in bloom. Did I tell you I have a hard time throwing out cuttings and tend to pot things up till I have too many plants?

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Which of course led to me noticing that I had a few more flowers in bloom around the house. The African Violets on the kitchen windowsill were also strutting their stuff.

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I’d just recently changed the windowsill ornament collection from cats to dogs to set off the plants and since I already had the camera out, well, here they are. Pretty aren’t they? Such old fashioned flowers, hardly trendy, but I never care.

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Today, as I post this, the Christmas Cacti are already over their bloom time. They always seem to be a more of a Remembrance Day Cacti anyway. But they sure did put on a show for us and I’m glad I caught it on “film”.

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