Ah Swell, Seed Starting is Upon Us

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Our Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ is here with its annual flush of color and we have several Hellebores blooming too. This means that is time to get ready for our annual pilgrimage to Seattle in February for the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. I am hoping this year my husband and I will have more fun than ever, but we just never know since my chronic illness—a mysterious malady—can make me miserable quite quickly.

As I sit and drink my special tea, the one I only drink when I need to feel the warm embrace of my Parisian friends and the happiness of what brought my husband and I together, I only do so as if to hold a warm security blanket. I say this because January has been a really difficult month of me, oh, and if you’d like to know the tea, its Mariage Frères “Pleine Lune.”

Despite the ongoing pain from continual swelling, and the fear of having a swollen neck that can make it difficult to swallow, and sometimes breathe, I have continued to keep my hands and my mind occupied with garden-like crafts. Sales of my online boutique shops have continued, and the kids have kept coming. What I have learned from being sick like this off and on now for 10 years is that you have to simply keep going. Doing this is so hard at times because on the other hand you must learn to let other things slide. For a Virgo perfectionist like me, this has been heartbreaking and it is my real daily struggle.

I’d wanted to have had these finished a few months ago, but they are finished now and I am really happy to have made them. This is the only complete accordion seed book so far, but I learned a great deal from making it. It looks really nice too and I am so pleased with it.

These origami boxes are for seed collections too. I made these while watching a 007 movie marathon a few weeks ago. I’d wanted to roll up seed tapes in them but when the seeds were applied to the paper strips, they were simply too big. Guess I need larger origami paper!

Lastly, these are large stakes I’ve painted with chalkboard paint. I am not sure if I would use them outside since the chalk comes off with water so easily, but nevertheless, they look really cute. I highly recommend making some of these if you have any kind of garden themed party this upcoming season. You can get the paint at craft stores in all kinds of crazy colors. Folks also plant planters with the stuff, and I have some I’ve been making too, but for some reason I am thinking that the pots will chip off. We’ll see and I’ll let you know.

So January has been a rough time, but I have completed some goals, despite having to neglect some others. Never giving in, and never giving up can really wear a person down and I am so concerned that this year my seed starting will end up like last year’s. Many of the seedlings didn’t make it because I was too wrapped up in being a new foster respite provider. This year I will really need to find the balance between my needs and those of the kids.

The last year has taught me much about empathy. I empathize too much with everyone and it is really draining. Some of us are just very empathetic and although it is a skill set, it must be used responsibly.

The kids in therapeutic foster care often have little empathy for others because of what they have experienced in their lives. This is a huge challenge for many of them. Some will learn to trust others enough again in the future to really open up and feel what others feel, but others will not. My job is to be a good role model, and not to over empathize with them. I need to teach them skills and help their confidence. This is how gardening fits into the big picture and this is truly my New Year’s Resolution.

With that, we begin the seed starting season: Gardening Skills 101.

If you would like to see the list of seeds I’m starting this year, please visit the tab that reads Seed Starting 2001 to the right of the HOME button above this post.

Out of my Illness Ill-nest

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Whenever summer comes around I get excited, but then I have to remember, summer is my garden’s best season, but it is not always mine. It takes longer for me to recover from a swelling, and there is simply more to do, so that means an additional chunk of time taken from my life that I hadn’t planned to lose in the first place. To add to this irritation, this past weekend there was a one-day conference here in Portland concerning Hereditary Angioedema, its three types, and what treatment options are available for all of them. We left with the realization that my Type III HAE is really as crazy and as unpredictable as it feels, we were told there is no treatment anywhere on the horizon for me, but to help that process along, I gave them blood and DNA samples so I understand now that it’s all out there for the right researcher to investigate and that’s kind of exciting. So, with that in order, it’s back to work.

My Egyptian walking onions are all ready to walk out on me. Maybe being surrounded by the jungle that is our garden right now has inspired them to take the walk they need in order to get better spacing for next year. I hate to anthropomorphize, but this little army of onions really cracks me up. Luckily, every single part of them tastes great too. 

I have also finally started to break open the Christmas houseplant terrariums I’d planted to help those plants continue on their journey. The heart I found at a thrift store recently and since I love topiary so much I stuffed it and planted some baby’s tears in it. With all of the rain we’ve been having, this should do well this year. 

Here is the lovely Julia Child rose. We all need to have golden butter colored roses, right? I only have this one, but it is more than enough. 
Lastly, here are two of the three black cats (Mona in the foreground, Maurice in back). And with that, I’m back on my horse, and off to garden at my employers’.