The Plants

Friday’s Flower-Lilac

Lilac

Blue, not Purple

The lilacs illuminated

in the  morning sun

hard to describe the color

so soft, finely spun.

*

Blue, not purple

like faded blue jeans

softer than the morning sky

of a pastel azure blue.

*

Fragrant so soft

like power on the air

a treasure of the morn

wish we all could be there.

Raymond Foss

The month of May, the flower month, brings such wonderful blooms and fragrance in the garden.

One of the bloomers that is so anticipated is the lilac bush.

Lilacs carry memories for so many.

How fleeting and delightful they are.

About Lilacs

Type-Lilac-syringa vulgaris (the common lilac)  is a small tree or shrub.   Lilacs are related to the olive tree.

Zone-Lilacs grow from gardening zone 3-7.  They are very hardy and can survive temperatures as low as -60 degrees. Lilacs can live for hundreds of years.  Your grandmothers lilac is probably still growing!

Sun exposure-Lilacs grow best in full sun, and will bloom best with at least 6 hours of sun.  They can take some partial shade, but won’t bloom as well.

Soil-Most any soil will grow lilacs, but a good loamy soil is best.  They do not like a lot of fertilizer, and do not like wet feet.  Just an application of compost and mulch after pruning will do.

Color-Lilacs come in many colors-white, violet, blue, lilac, pink, purple, red, yellow and in bi-colored varieties.

Height-Lilacs can grow quite large, up to 25 feet tall, and this is one of the reasons to prune them back.

Width-Lilacs can also grow quite wide, and send out many suckers around their base.  It is best to keep them pruned back or they will make a messy looking shrub.  I propagate my lilac by digging up the suckers and potting them up.

Bloom Time-Lilac blooms in mid to late May for about 3 weeks.  The bloom time is fleeting, but, oh so beautiful and fragrant.  There are some re-blooming varieties.

Lilac is a good looking shrub with pretty, shiny leaves.  It is easy to grow, is low maintenance, and very hardy.

It attracts butterflies. And it is also edible, and the flowers can be used as a garnish.

Lilac makes a lovely cut flower and brings the wonderful fragrance inside.  To make the flowers last longer, the stems need to be smashed with a hammer so they can up take water.

Lilacs bloom on old wood, and should be pruned yearly, right after bloom time.  If you wait too long to prune, you will prune off many of next years blooms.  If your shrub is badly overgrown, it can be rejuvenated by cutting the whole thing back to the ground-it will not bloom the following year, but will have a nice, compact shape with many blooms in a few years.

My lilac bush was given to me by my mother many years ago, and I call it Grandma’s Lilac.  It has bloomed faithfully for me all these years.  I love it.  Now, if only it would bloom longer!

Do you have memories of lilac?

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Romans 5:1

Since we have been justified through faith,

we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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Friday’s Flower-Crocus

Friday’s Flower

Crocus

The crocuses bloom again,

The silken violet reaches from the green,

Nestling its golden yellow smile for the sun.

Night is over!

The last of winter’s fingers fade,

And beneath the budding blossom shade,

The crocuses bloom again.

Ms. Amendable

Oh, what a sight for winter weary eyes!  The crocuses are blooming again!  What a late winter delight!

The blooming of the cheery crocus signals the ending of the winter, with it’s blooms gently ushering in the Spring.

Yes, I know winter is not done with us yet-a winter storm warming has been issued for tonight and tomorrow, calling for snow, and winter driving cautions.  This is hard to believe with this sunny day and temperatures in the low 50’s, but with March weather anything is possible!

But when the crocus are blooming, we can handle a snow storm yet again, knowing that underneath the snow the blooms are waiting to rise again.  Spring is on the way!

These crocus are growing in the flower beds lining the front walkway to the house, and are such a cheery welcome to all who come up the walk.  Every year, when they are blooming,  I say that I will plant many more come the fall, but somehow it never happens-I am weary of gardening by then, and ready to call it quits!

About Crocus

  • Crocus are members of the Iris family, and grow from small bulbs, or corms.  The corms should be planted 3-4 inches deep, with the pointy end up.
  • Crocus are hardy from zone 3-8.
  • Crocus grow best in full sun, though some will take some shade.
  • Crocus like well-drained, loamy soil.
  • Crocus are a low-growing flower, only growing 2-4 inches high.
  • Crocuses have grass like leaves, and will spread out to make an ever spreading clump.  They naturalize beautifully and can be grown in the lawn.
  • The crocus flowers open to the sun and close up on cloudy days.
  • Crocus colors are blue, orange, pink, purple, white, yellow and striped.
  • Crocus are not much bothered by deer, squirrels and rabbits
  • Crocus are long lived
  • Plant crocus in the fall, before the ground freezes, from September to October
  • Crocus are the first flower to bloom, blooming in late winter and early spring.  They will bloom through the snow.
  • It is good to grow crocus in amongst, or in front of perennials-the emerging perennials will grow to cover up the brown and dying foliage.  The foliage should not be cut back until it is dead.

Crocus

Purple crocus smiles-

It’s greeting gives me hope-

Spring will soon be here.

Carol Shelton

*

Hebrews 11:6

He that cometh to God must believe

that He is, and that He is a rewarder of

them that diligently seek him.

 

 

 

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Christmas Cactus

 


Christmas Cactus

My Christmas cactus is blooming beautifully.

How nice to have a plant burst into bloom when most everything else has been laid low by the cold, and is brown and dead.

In reading about the Christmas cactus, I learned some new things and had one of my questions answered.  I have wondered what triggers the cactus to bloom.

The official name of this plant is Schlumbergera buckleyi or zyogcactus buckleyi, and  it does not exist naturally in the wild.  It is a hybridization of two parent tropical plants from the rain forests of Brazil.  It is not actually a cactus, but a type of succulent.  It is not poisonous to humans or animals.

It is identified by its segmented stems with blooms at the end of the stems in red, pink, purple, yellow and white. And it blooms around Christmas time, and thus the name.  My plant always blooms between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I am never sure which to call it-a Thankgiving cactus or a Christmas cactus….

A close-up of one of the blossoms.

The Christmas cactus does not take any special care.  I pretty much ignore it most of the year, watering and fertilizing with all the other plants.  But when it blooms, it takes center stage on the dining room table.

To grow Christmas cactus-

Water-likes moist soil but does not like sitting in water.

Soil- regular potting soil, with small stones in the bottom of the pot for good drainage.

Fertilizer- every month with regular fertilizer.  Stop fertilizing in October.

Light-likes bright indirect sunlight.  A north or east facing window is good. Direct sunlight will burn the leaf segments.

Temperature-likes a moderate temperature, best between 65-75 degrees, which is the average temperature of most homes.  I put all my houseplants outside, on my shaded back porch for the summer. The Christmas cactus has always flourished outside, but being a tropical plant it must be brought in before temps drop below 40 degrees.

Humidity-likes a high humidity, between 50 and 60, which is the biggest challenge for indoor growing.

Christmas cactus likes a snug pot, and will bloom best when pot bound.

Pruning-Prune about a month after blooming to encourage better bloom.  Prune by twisting off a portion of the segmented stem.  Up to 1/3 of the plant can be removed.  The removed stems can be used to propagate new plants.

Christmas cactus will bloom when they have complete dark for 12-14 hours a day.  Now I know why my cactus blooms when it does!

(And I have an odd little habit of collecting the dropped blossoms-they keep their shape and color for years, and I have a little bowl of pink blossoms on the buffet!)

Do you grow and like Christmas cactus?

*

Matthew 24:35

Heaven and earth shall pass away,

but my words shall not pass away.

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Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan

Rudbekia fulgida ‘Goldstrum’

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I have’ Goldstrum’ rudbekia growing on each side of the front steps.  What a show they put on from middle to late summer!  What a cheery welcome they give!

Rudbekia is in the sunflower family, and many a young man has picked a flower and pulled off the petals, asking on each one, She loves me, She loves me not.

Rudbekia is a lovely perennial plant, native to North America, and a daughter of the prairies.  The early pioneers found them growing wild in the meadows, and named them after an old English poem, Black-Eyed Susan, by John Gay.  (The poem is at the end of this post.) The dark black, or brown eyes of this coneflower reminded them of the poem.

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This variety, ‘Goldstrum’ , was developed in Germany in 1937;  the name means ‘Gold Storm’.   There are other varieties of rudbekia, but this is the most popular variety grown, and for good reason.  It is hard to beat such a strong growing, beautiful flower.  It has performed well for many years.

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Rudbekia fulgida, ‘Goldstrum’

Easy to grow, even in poor soil, but prefers a moist, loamy soil that drains well.

It takes drought well once established, but the leaves do droop some.

Likes full sun, but will grow in partial shade with fewer blossoms.

Hardy to zone 4 and below.

Grows to 2-3 feet high.

Has an upright habit.

It is long blooming, and bloom time is mid to late summer.

It multiplies readily into a large clump that will crowd out weeds.

I consider this perennial a ‘well-behaved’ perennial, though it can misbehave a bit.

It bears yellow, daisy-like flowers with dark brown-black centers.

The flowers can be up to 3 inches wide.

It bears in profusion, covering the clump in a glorious glow.

It can be propagated by root division in the early spring,

or by seed.  It has popped up in surprising places in the garden,

and is usually welcome.

It can be cut to the ground after it blooms,

or the seed heads can be left for winter interest and food for the birds.

I have found that there is some lack of vigor in the center of the clump after a number of years,

and the new, fresh outer edges need to be dug and plopped into the center to refresh it.

It can be used in meadow plantings, or mixed beds and borders,

and it makes a good cut flower.

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I don’t know what there is to not love about it.  During the ‘magic’ light of twilight, it seems to ‘glow’.

And I don’t know which glows more- the blooming rudbekia, or the three beauties in the matching pink jumpers!  I’m thinking the three beauties!

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Black-Eyed Susan

John Gay (1685-1732)

All in the Downs the fleet was moor’d

The streamers waving in the wind,

When black-eyed Susan came aboard;

“O! where shall I my true love find?

Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true

If my sweet William sails among the crew.”

*

William, who high upon the yard

Rock’d with the billow to and fro,

Soon as her well-known voice he heard

He sigh’d, and cast his eyes below:

The cord slides swiftly through his glowing hands,

And quick as lightning on the deck he stands.

*

So the sweet lark, high poised in air,

Shuts close his pinions to his breast

If chance his mate’s shrill call he hear,

And drops at once into her nest:-

The noblest captain in the British fleet

Might envy William’s lip those kisses sweet.

*

O Susan, Susan, lovely dear,

My vows shall ever be true remain:

Let me kiss off that falling tear;

We only part to meet again.

Change as ye list, ye winds: my heart shall be

the faithful compass that still points to thee.

*

“Believe not what the landmen say

Who tempt with doubts thy constant mind:

They’ll tell thee, sailors, when away,

In every port a mistress find:

Yes, yes, believe them when they tell thee so,

for Thou art present wheresoe’er I go.

*

‘If to fair India’s coast we sail,

Thy eyes are seen in diamonds bright,

Thy breath is Afric’s spicy gale,

Thy skin is ivory so white.

Thus every beauteous object that I view

Wakes in my soul some charm of lovely Sue.

*

‘Though battle call me from thy arms

Let not my pretty Susan mourn;

Though cannons roar, yet safe from harms

William shall to his Dear return.

Love turns aside the balls that round me fly,

Lest precious tears should drop from Susan’s eye:

*

The boatswain gave the dreadful word,

The sails their swelling bosom spread,

No longer must she stay aboard;

They kiss’d, she sigh’d, he hung his head.

Her lessening boat unwilling rows to land;

‘Adieu!” she cries; and waved her lily hand.

*

There is another beloved flower mentioned in this poem.  Can you name it?  They say that this flower and rudbekia ‘Goldstrum’ make a beautiful color combination….I will have to try it!

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Revelation 21:7

“He that overcometh shall inherit all things

and I will be his God,

and he shall be my son.”

 

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Rhubarb-Growing it…and a Recipe

Ahhh, Rhubarb!

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Rhubarb in early spring

Did I ever tell you that I love you, rhubarb?

Yes, yes, I do!  So, why do I love you so?  (Are there really folks out there that hate rhubarb!?)

Rhubarb is faithful, to return every single year no matter how harsh the winter was.

Rhubarb is so easy to care for.  It even likes fresh chicken manure!  I can throw the manure on it with abandon.  And it never becomes unruly!

Rhubarb is right up there with the garlic in the race to poke its head up in the early spring.  What a happy sight!  How nice to see those red knuckles of rhubarb emerging.

Ahh, and rhubarb pie!  Just close your eyes and relish!

 Rhubarb

About rhubarb

  • Rheum rhabarbarum, is a perennial vegetable, used as a fruit.  It is grown for its red stalks, which are very tart.
  • Rhubarb is a large showy plant, with large, heart-shaped , crinkly leaves on reddish stalks.
  • Likes full sun, but will take some shade.
  • Likes deep, fertile, moist soil.
  • Grows in zone 2-9, but needs 2 months of cold temperatures to thrive.
  • It is seldom bothered by pests.
  • Rhubarb is long lived, so give it a place where it can live for many years.
  • Rhubarb is one to the first vegetables that can be harvested in the spring.

How to grow

  • Plant each division about 4 feet apart into deeply dug and well manured soil.
  • Keep the bed weeded and mulched.
  • Manure the bed each year, spreading a 1 inch layer over it.
  • Rhubarb likes to be well watered.
  • Rhubarb should be divided about every 4 years or so or the stalks will become spindly.
  • Dig and divide in the early spring, just after it emerges, and before it leafs out.
  • It is best propagated by root division, and not from seed.
  • To divide, slice down through the root crown with a shovel, lift and replant.  Keep well watered after replanting.
  • Do not harvest the first year.  Wait until the 2nd. or 3rd. year to begin harvesting to let the plant become established.

How to harvest

  • Do Not eat the leaves-they are poisonous.
  • Stalks can be harvested when about 12-18 tall.
  • Grasp an outer stalk near its base, twist and pull away from the main clump.  Do not cut with a knife.
  • Do not harvest more than 1/2 of the plant at a time.
  • Rhubarb can be harvested till about mid-summer.  The spring stalks are the best tasting.
  • Rhubarb will let you know when to stop harvesting-the stalks will become spindly, and it needs to rest.
  • Leave the plant to rest for the rest of the summer.

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Rhubarb will send up flowering stalks-you can start new rhubarb plants from these seeds, but it is far easier to just dig and divide it.  I always cut these flowering stalks off, to keep the clump producing more stalks.

Rhubarb is one of my most favorite perennial vegetable to grow!

And, now a quick and easy recipe to use with your rhubarb.  I will be posting more recipes later.

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

3-4 cups diced rhubarb stalks

1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar

A white or yellow cake mix

  1. Place the diced rhubarb in the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.
  2. Sprinkle the sugar over the top of the rhubarb.
  3. Prepare the cake mix according to the package directions-use 1 less egg than called for.
  4. Pour the cake batter over the rhubarb.
  5. Bake as directed.
  6. Cool.

A pudding type sauce is created on the bottom of this cake.

This cake is best eaten the same day as baked.

This is good to make when serving a large group.

It is amazingly good and so easy to make.

Enjoy!

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Who am I ???

Child of God, pastors wife, mother of five, grandmother of ten (and counting), gardener, quilter, homemaker, reader, homebody and dreamer…

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