Terra firma in springtime…

Standard
A Phalaenopsis orchid given to me as a gift last Christmas (2011) has finally re-bloomed.
Like the above orchid, I’m currently in the process of re-blooming too. It seriously took my being able to accept that I had to simply shut my own eyes, let go (trusting that I would be caught by something), and finally I allowed myself to fall backwards—yes, I guess back into my own life.
So what if I went to that moment kicking and screaming? I made it.
If I told you what happened next, well this wouldn’t be a garden blog any longer.
A lovely organic leek I sliced for fresh potato and leek soup on St. Patrick’s Day, 2013.

Cooking has again become popular around here and I’m happily creating and trying new things. I’m learning to make the basics, while appreciating the bountiful produce that’s appearing as the season changes.

Being gluten-free is easy most of the time, but then you find recipes such as the one for the cake seen below, and you just have to make a cake to share with your friends.

Though not a garden, or even a plant, I had to share my leprechaun trap cake with everyone. Although no leprechauns were hurt, we did attract some pixies. (See below.)

I wish this had been a gluten-free cake, but it wasn’t. I think that it turned out well except for my poor handling of the frosting. Someday soon I will master buttercream and this cake will look more like it’s covered in grass. (That’s why it’s here. I knew there was a reason! Grass!)

The pixies are French so they could have cared less about the rainbow and pot of gold. Note that one has a ladybug on its thigh and the other has what looks to be a snail. No, oops, I mean escargot.

Like other gardeners I am excited for spring and I am feeling very playful and happy again.

The vintage ceramic potatoes make for nice vases on St. Patrick’s Day too. 

I really miss ikebana classes a lot but due to the divorce I’ve had to cut such things from my life for now. In the meantime, I’m doing the best I can and it’s not so bad at all.

Vintage hanging ceramic indoor planter with an Aligator fern (Microsorum musifolium).

The fact that I’ll be moving sometime during the next few months has finally sunk in and I’m looking at my plants much differently now. Although I have not yet found a place to call home, I’m finally getting excited about it.

Epiphyllum grown from seed. I like to call this move “doing the Icarus”.

Someday soon, I hope to see many of my houseplants bloom—like this Epi cactus!

Well, stay tuned since it’s moving with me. I have no idea how many years it will take, but I will wait for it.

Green mums in a small vintage liquour glass inherited from my family.

These past few weeks I’ve quietly sat back a bit to think about my life, my garden, my plants, and who I am and who I want to be now. I started this blog when I was obviously a different person, living a different married life. It was full of chronic illness, unhappiness, and for a time, troubled foster children.

When things changed for me over a year ago, I was shown by many of my gardening friends that I belonged here.
I learned that lesson rather quickly, but I didn’t know how to start over. I have no shame in admitting I needed to find my own way. I’ve learned some incredible things about myself during the last two months. The serendipity I’ve experienced has given me a kind of hope.

My niece Chelsea glam’d me up for an event.

Yes, then there are the things you need to do for yourself. My marriage did not make me feel very beautiful at all. Let me tell you now, if you feel that way yourself, get out. It is the most important lesson I’ve learned. The people you surround yourself with should always help to make you feel like the beautiful person you are and sometimes that’s just not what happens.

My nieces helped me to really understand this recently and I’m proud of them. When you help to raise a child, and then they come over to spend hours making you look pretty—after you’ve not looked so great for nearly a decade—it does something to you. To say that my niece Chelsea made me look beautiful one Sunday to prove a point to me is an understatement. She’s been telling me for years she missed me, and that she wanted the world to see the woman she sees, and I have to say the kid’s got a great eye. I just wasn’t seeing it.
She proved her point, and as an aunt, it was the first time I’d sat back to be school’d by one of my nieces and it was so worth it.

Oh weird! Downtown Portland. I remember this place…

Trust me when I say that I’m not giving up gardening. I’m very much going to continue blogging too. I just need a little more time to adjust. There are many changes afoot.

There is direction too—and maybe even a plan (possibly a very detailed plan).

I’m over the shock and pain of having fallen blindly. I survived and I’ve planted my feel solidly on the ground. It’s new where I’m standing but I’m certain it’s terra firma. In characteristic Ann fashion I’m standing a bit uncomfortably in the middle of an empty field and I’ve covered my eyes with one hand while with the other I reach into my pocket for seeds.

I am throwing out the seeds. I am casting them blindly in every direction, and if you look closely, you’ll notice I’m coyly smiling. If you listen, across the distance, you’ll hear me laughing again. It’s not loud, but it’s happy at least.

So take that springtime! I’m ready for you this year.

Let’s get this party started.

Filoli (Woodside, CA): Part I, Arrangements, Doors & Gates

Standard
Located in Woodside, CA the Filioli Estate was built between 1915-1917 by Willliam Bowers Bourn II and his wife Agnes Moody Bourn. The estate has a total of 654 acres, 16 of which are formal gardens.
Filoli was first on my list of gardens to visit during this trip to California.
Floral arrangement in Visitor’s Center.
In the newly constructed visitor center I was stuck by this massive floral arrangement and noted that the materials used were garden materials instead of stark and showy exotics so I was thrilled when I discovered that the arrangements throughout the interiors were made with flowers from the cutting garden on the estate.
When you enter the main house, you will see this orchid planter. It’s massive size does nothing to dwarf the beauty of its contents.
In another room nearby an arrangement is seen on a table with Delphinium and Dutch Iris (Iris x hollandica) from the garden. As a matter of fact, all of the rooms in the house had amazing arrangements in them—though the ikebana-inspired piece was truly my least favorite since it really disappointed me.
Of coures there are a few houseplants too like this Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)—a classic for any dark interior.
A pair of Boston ferns (Nephrolenpis) on two of the largest plant stands I’ve ever seen.
Out back, past the larger formal gardens you’ll find the cutting garden. It’s in two parts with one being protected, while the other is out in the open.
Then there are the many garden doors and gateways at Filoli…

Hope you enjoyed the brief tour of these few pieces and parts.

Stay tuned for more…

Official Website: Filoli
Wikipedia: Filoli Estate

Phalaenopsis Birthday Orchid

Standard


This beautiful orchid was a birthday gift given to me by my employers. For the last year I have been taking care of their many orchids—as well as the other houseplants in their historic home—so I suppose I deserve the opportunity to try NOT to kill another orchid in my own home. (Yes, in the past, two orchids had failed to thrive here while under my care. They knew that though when I was hired.)

My plant is a Phalaenopsis cross: Phal Taisuco Grace x Phal Taisuco Swan. The genus itself has approximately 60 species of orchids, but it has been toyed with since the Victorians first fell in love with it so there are many others out there that have been crossed and crossed again. (I should add that they can do so on their own in nature as well. Shocking! I know.)

What I love about this plant of mine is that the blooms measured in at just under 5 inches wide! To add to that, the blooms are so large, the pot practically tips over from their weight—poor thing. I can now see why Phalaenopsis orchids are among the most popular orchids sold, but how can I help it survive here in my home? Popular because it’s easy to grow is what they say about spider plants. I killed one of those too. In their native environment they can bloom for several weeks, but in a home, they flowers can last for 2-3 months! I must know how to achieve this!

In the wild: 68 to 95°F
Acceptable home temps: 59 to 86° F
Below 64.4°F, overwatering causes root rot
Need high humidity 60-70%
Low light of 12,000 to 20,000 lux (1,115fc to 1,858fc)