Barbie and Ken go to an African Violet Sale…

I found this little drama is a notebook in the guest room where the therapeutic foster kids used to sleep while I was cleaning up the house this week. I’m pretty sure I know who wrote it, and that’s only because she looked at my plant tags and has included their names. Too funny! (No houseplants were harmed during the writing of this play.)


Ken is a scientist who makes a love formula.

Ken says this you say this. I love sciens its cool. Vet comes in. You say. Hi ken what are you doing. I’m make ing a formula a looovvveee formula I need a shirls plum jam a Baby plant just potted and senks blue cascade. Ok ken I got it I’ll go get it now.

(Make up your own line now.)

Barbie says I love plants don t you ken. I ges so. Pink lady. What did you say Barbie. I said Pink Lady Ken. What is that. It’s a plant.

I like Becky plants Ken ow and jungle print plants. so there is a violet sale next Saturday at 10:00-3:00 Barbie. Then let’s go Ken.

The end!!!…


Those Last Minute Fall Plant Sales!!

I am such a sucker for the Fall Plant Sale, and by that I mean the plant sales with deep discounts, the ones that often have the sad plants that look like Charlie Brown Christmas trees. Maybe it’s the foster parent in me, the girl who has always been on the side of the downtrodden, sad, and neglected in life, or maybe it’s the fact that I have an incredible amount of patience that is backed by this drive in me to study things over a long period of time. Who knows but at least I am not alone.
I already have a Monstera deliciosa thriving in my entry, so I knew I could resist this amazing Monstera deliciosa ‘Albo Varietgata’ but I won’t lie, I wanted it! That frosted, glazed donut look gets me every time!

This year I limited myself to two sales and the first one I went to was at Al’s Garden Center in Woodburn. When I saw that they had Woolly Pockets at a deep discount, I had to go! I’d wanted one ever since I first saw them in an amazing glossy ad, but then I promised myself I would resist all the other stuff!

One more way to stuff African Violets into your home.
A frilly edged Asplenium nidus, or Bird’s Nest Fern.
Crocodile Fern, Microsorum musifolium.
Mounted Staghorn Ferns aka Platycerium.
I was so proud to have made it past all the ferns, but then it was this display of Bromeliads that ruined me. I saw all of them and thought, “Maybe I should keep working on this group. I bought one last winter and didn’t kill it so maybe I could expand on that success!” (For such a cynic, I truly can sound ridiculously positive.)
From left to right: Phlebodium aureum ‘Mandaianum’, Vriesea ‘Splenriet’, Dracaena ‘Green Stripe’, Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Moonshine’.

Lucky for me I was able to find a Bromeliad on the clearance rack. At that point, after crumbling, I couldn’t buy just one plant from the sale rack, so I bought the group shown here and brought them home with me.

Moving out to the perennial sales area I came across this tulip blend and the idea of a ‘Wine and Cheese’ tulip mix really cracked me up. Maybe this loosened me up too much though because I continued to select a few more items to purchase.

Delphinium ‘Sweethearts’.

At least I was able to convince my friend to purchase this amazing Delphinium. I am not fond of pink, but I do love dusty rose. From afar, this plant really stood out too.

Doll’s Eyes or White Baneberry, Actaea pachypoda.

As if by fate, while standing there trying to convince my friend to buy something, I saw these Doll’s Eyes staring at me. This North American native is one I’ve wanted for a really long time. I bought one of them too and, of course, I quickly harvested its seeds.

The second sale I was able to commit to this year was the annual Cistus Nursery parking lot sale. Due to my rather challenging foster child that weekend we were a bit late, and many plants had already been purchased by people who’d shown up with trailers, but we had a good time anyway and found plenty of plants.

Our cart filled up quickly with plants that were very different from the plants we’d found last year! You just never know what you’ll find at this sale. That’s what makes it so much fun.

This year there were a number of Windmill Palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) so I picked one up.
My husband and I were never really sure about planting palms, but after seeing them in Japanese gardens in photographs shown during a lecture last winter up in Seattle, we felt more comfortable about adding one to our berm area.

I picked this one after the tag tugged at my heartstrings. It was grown from Portland seeds. Awhhhhhh!

Myrtus communis ‘Ann McDonald’.

There was also a Myrtle so I bought it even though I already have a small one in the backyard. Myrtles fascinate me and the blooms were so pretty I couldn’t resist.

Spider Plant ‘Gold Nugget’ (Chlorophytum ‘Gold Nugget’).

I also bought two plants from the nursery that were not on sale. This Spider Plant ‘Gold Nugget’ is one I’ve been wanting for awhile, and since it looked like it had some seeds, I was even more sold on the idea of it. I am curious to see how those grow. I know this must sound funny, but I really am curious.

Spider Plant ‘Gold Nugget’, (Chlorophytum ‘Gold Nugget’) seed heads.
Jasminum parkeri.

This cute little Dwarf Flowering Jasmine also caught my eye. The smell was nice too.

Has anyone else been to any great sales? What deals did you find this fall?

Wow! An Early Spring? Let’s Get Moving!!!

This past week I purchased a few more houseplants to add to the other 100 or so. I wanted some foliage shock for some of the pictures I post with my vintage planters I sell online in my Etsy store. I think these two are perfect for that job. Don’t you? No one has asked me yet what they are, but I am sure someone will eventually. I am happy to promote houseplants in my store since so many people seem to be rediscovering what fun they can be!
Fittonia argyroneura ‘Red Vein’.
Begonia rex

Last fall when I attended one of the African Violet Society plant sales I bought some leaves too. The first time I bought some, I felt rather silly just purchasing a leaf in a baggie, but now that I have seen how easily they can take root and grow, I feel far less goofy about it. (They do take some time to grow though. This is about 3 or 4 months old.) I plugged in a light with a timer in the basement the the heater has kept them warm all winter. Doing this in a windowsill might not have been as successful in a 100-year-old house.
African Violet ‘Emerald Love’.
Episcia ‘La Soledad Bronze’.

Here is one of the terrarium plants I purchased last fall too. I used a large apple juice glass jug since it seems really difficult to find a big terrarium anywhere that can withstand an accident. With the foster kids running around I needed for it to be as safe as possible. This is an affordable terrarium too. I like it when I can show the kids things they can do with plants that don’t cost a lot.

Begonia partita.
Outside the garden is beginning to grow. I am afraid that if I don’t pay attention right now though, my house will be overrun. Last year I never got around to pruning what needed to be pruned and by the time I did, it was too late to do so. This year, I am going to get on it quickly, nipping it in the bud, so that our house will not be eaten. Since I plan to have more parties this summer, and I’d like to watch some movies out back, I will prune responsibly. Oh, how I cannot wait for warm summer nights!
Dianthus amurensis ‘Siberian Blues’.

This is my precious evergreen Himalayan maidenhair fern. They are difficult to find because they can only be reproduced through division. In zone 8 the make an amazing evergreen ground cover. I cannot wait for the plants I have to spread more.

Adiantum venustum.

A buttercup relative, this springtime harlot will be bursting forth with some waxy yellow blooms soon. After it blooms, all of the plant dies back until next spring but it is really quite shocking while it is up.

Ranunculus ficaria ‘Brazen Hussy’.

Oh, what would I do without my Hellebores! They cheer everyone up at this time of the year.

Helleborus with Sword Fern Volunteer.

This is the absolute best Sedum I have ever found for shade. It is great for covering up bulb foliage too as it dies back just so long as it is not Narcissus foliage.

Sedum makinoi ‘Ogon’.
Yellow Helleborus.

Maurice the Cat says it all. Currently we have three cats in crisis. They think it is spring because of all of the sunshine we’ve had, and yet the cold outside is telling them otherwise. Having three cats nipping at your heels to go outside with them—like dogs!!—sounds strange, but so it is at this time of the year during a year like this. I am glad that I have them around to nudge me out though since I still am not feeling great.

Red-twigged alpine maple with Camellia ‘Yuletide’ bloom, Maurice the Cat in ecstasy believing spring is springing, and a great clump of Aspidistra.

Winter Crafts, Houseplant Blooms and Loss

The month of December is flying by and for the most part my little slew of Christmas orders on Etsy is over and I am very content. Folks were happy with their garden oddities, and I kept up with the shipping. Considering how busy we have been, this a big accomplishment for me and I couldn’t be more happy about it.
These are some wooden spoons someone ordered for a gift.

I have been making these simple accordion books, but I have not completed one yet for sale or for Christmas presents but I am getting close. So many layers of glue can take a long time to dry. I intend to glue a few envelopes inside of them too, add some seeds, and voilà, you have a little seed book.

These are the envelopes I have been making. The chicken wire paper is so cute I could not pass it up. Usually when I sell seeds I make origami envelopes but this time I used a template. It seems to work ok, but I wish that I could get the wire links to match up consistently. I plan to paper over them anyway, but I will keep working away at these.

While I work, I get to adore my little winter treats on the houseplants. Hopefully I will have more blooms this winter than ever. Whatever the plants need to look their best, I will help.

African Violet, not sure
African Violet, Genetic Blush, standard
Streptocarpus, Butter Blues
African Violet, not sure, given to my mom when she had breast cancer for the second time about 10 years ago.
African Violet, Kentucky Strawberries, semi-miniature

Lastly, we lost a very dear feline friend this week and I am still mourning his untimely death. Meng was a neighbor’s cat who also lived at another neighbor’s house, and often spent time sneaking into our basement to sleep and eat. He was also the guardian of my garden, the cat who claimed and protected my turf, saving my 3 cats from the trouble. He lived outside and so was on guard 24/7.

He was struck and killed by a car this week on a dark and rainy night. It was not unexpected, but that somehow does not make it any easier. We will miss his so much around here.

Meng the Cat, RIP, you will be missed

Revisiting the African Violet

This former Catholic school girl is feeling a bit guilty about only posting on Wordless Wednesday, so here I am writing this late one night while I have a foster respite watching a movie quietly. Luckily, she has been here before, and she likes that I post plant stuff, so I am having a great night. Few kids I know would ever let me get away with this. Whew!
So our only real activity planned this weekend was to attend a plant sale up the hill from the house. Now don’t laugh, or cringe—because I know that many of you might do both—but it was an African Violet sale. In my defense, the sale also include other Gesneriads too: Streptococcus, Episcias and others. (I bought something called an Alsobia so we’ll see what it turns into!)
I only say all of this because African Violets are such a love/hate plant topic. My mom HATED them. Her mom loved them. Funny that I love them too, but I suspect it skips a generation.
This is only one of many of the tables set up today at the church where the Mt Hood Gesneriad Society held its bi-annual plant sale.
If you do not like all of the purple, here is a little bit of pink with some amazing variegation. I seem to have misplaced its name, but it helps to show how important leaf variation can be since when there are no blooms, it helps to add interest.

This little one reminded me of tiny violet blooms. Since it is in the semi-mini category, it is a bit different than your regular standard class.

(Did you know there are trailers too and that they are small? The foster girls LOVE them so much because they are so tiny and cute. That works for me!)

I was miscalculating when I took this picture and had the camera on the wrong setting. This is a standard I think by the name of Garden Party. The leaves are ruffled too and these remind me so much of lettuce leaves so I hope they will be safe in the home.

This is a Streptococcus. It goes by the name of: Frosted Pink Flamingo. I could not stop laughing when I saw that title. Luckily I convinced my friend to purchase this one so I know I will get some cuttings. She is a good friend that way.

As a child of the 1980s, anything that looks like it has a splatter paint look really softens my heart. I suppose there is a bit of Jackson Pollock in there too. This one is called: Fantasy Maker. Now that I think about it, the name sounds like a 1980s record album too. Maybe Aldo Nova was connected to it?

After the sale we took my friend home and I captured this picture of a rose bush she has banned to the farthest corner of her property. It has to be one of the strangest hybrid rose colors I have ever seen. It is blooming now, all alone, in front of her berm/compost/yard debris barrier. It was pretty funny to see it standing there ablaze all by itself as we drove up.

After we’d arrived home, and eaten lunch, I took another good look at my houseplant loot. This little frilly one is called Bishop. It reminds me so much of parrot tulips and since my husband loves those, I knew he would love this too. (My husband has serious Rococo taste. It is an Italian thing and I suppose I have a bit myself.)

Then I also admired my new Genetic Blush. It too has to be one of the most ridiculous names of today.

African Violets named after American Indian tribes are another odd thing. This is called Arapaho. I would have preferred Shoshone or the little Cheyenne girl but I probably should not seek to acquire African Violets named after the tribes my husband and I are descended from. That somehow really trivializes what happened to Native America not that long ago. Naming is a funny thing.

Speaking of naming, here is Macavity the Mystery Cat. She is my elderly queen, not so much into gardens anymore, but once long ago, she was my little dirt ball who loved nothing more than to sleep in the garden with me nearby reading. Now she roams the indoor houseplant jungle instead, and she was happy to see more greenery arriving today.