Garden · Uncategorized

Groundhog Day

February, a form

Pale-vestured, wildly fair-

One of the North Winds daughters,

With icicles in her hair.

Edgar Fawcett1847-1904

American poet

February has arrived.  And with it comes Groundhog day.  Groundhog Day is celebrated at 6 AM at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, PA, every year on this date.  So, what did old Punxy Phil see this morning?  His shadow!  Which means 6 more weeks of winter. This all makes no difference, as winter will leave when it is ready and Spring will come soon after.

Folklore says

“no matter how you measure,

its 6 more weeks of winter weather.”

But Groundhog Day makes a nice excuse to party in the middle of winter.  (But whoever wants to party outside in this frigid weather is a mystery to me!)

This date is also known as Candlemas, a traditional Christian day of lighting of candles.

This date is also known as cross-quarter day, the midway point between the winter solstice (shortest  day of the year), in December and the vernal equinox (equal daylight and nighttime) in March.  Thankfully the light is lengthening every day.

The setting of the sun gets later and later each day-by the end of

February the sun will set at 6:12,

March at 7:50,

April at 8:25,

May at 8:57

and by June, 9:08

I am looking forward to the returning of the sun!


Garden · Uncategorized

Start With Seeds

A List of Seed Catalogs

While the winter winds howl and the snow blows and you are tucked inside a warm house under a warm throw with a warm drink near by….

It is time to crack out those seeds catalogs that have been arriving in the mail.


What a welcome sight these catalogs are….with thoughts of great garden dreams as I peruse them.

Some of my past seed order packets…

And some free seeds thrown in!  Yes, I started them, planted them out and they grew well.  I had been wanting to grow some ancho chilis for chili rellanos and here they were!

Here is a list of seed companies to order from;

Park Seed

Johnny’s Selected


Vermont Bean

Pinetree Garden




Jung Quality Garden

Southern Exposure Seed

Sow True

Baker Creek Heirloom

High Mowing



Wild Garden


Territorial Seed

True Leaf Market Seed

Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden


John Scheepers Kitchen Garden

Just a few comments about some of the above companies-

I order many of my seeds from Pinetree.  I think you get more seeds for the money.

Territorial-I always get in trouble here!  The garden dreams run away with this catalog!

Totally Tomatoes-Any tomato you are looking for!

Vermont Bean Seed-I always like the thought of growing a huge variety of dry beans, but alas, I don’t have the room, so I just keep dreaming!

Baker Creek-This catalog is the the cadillac of seed catalogs and the unusual variety is amazing. It is real eye candy for gardeners.

Burpee, an old reliable company, but a little on the pricey side.

The Burpee seed display is already out in the local Walmart store.

This is just a partial list of all the seed companies that are out there.

Now is the time to start planning that garden!

Yes and No….

Yes it is nice to have a diversion for house cleaning, but No, I still plan on cleaning my house!  Will be deep spring cleaning the living room today. If only it stayed that way!

Do you have a favorite seed catalog to order from?











Growing Amaryllis

Can a flower bloom so beautifully in the dead of winter?

Yes!  Most everyone is familiar with the annual parade of Poinsettias at Christmas time, but here is another beautifully blooming flower for the winter season, Amaryllis.

I have grown Amaryllis for many years and they bloom so extravagantly and beautifully every year.

The double white Amaryllis ‘Marquis’ in full bloom this past Christmas.


Growing Amaryllis

The Latin name for Amaryllis is Hippeastrum.  Amaryllis is a bulb from South America and is a tropical plant.

Amaryllis flowers are large, trumpet shaped blooms at the end of tall leafless stems.

They come in many colors-red, rose, white, pink, salmon, and orange.  The blooms can be single, double, variegated, stripped or picotee.

It is very easy to grow, and if cared for properly it will continue to grow and bloom for you for many years.  Some have been known to grow for 50 years.

Amaryllis naturally grows in zone- 8-10.  To grow in my zone, 5-6, the bulb takes special care as it does not survive in our freezing weather.  But it is very easy to do.

If they are purchased by bare bulb, the bulbs should be soaked in water for a few hours, then planted into a pot with good potting soil.  I always purchase my plants already potted and usually from the clearance rack, so they are very reasonable.  But the selection is very limited.  If you are searching for a special color or form they would need to be mail ordered in bulb form.

Use a heavy pot, as the plant can become top heavy when in full bloom.  Make sure there are drainage holes so the bulb never is in standing water or it will rot.

Plant the bulb with the pointy end up, leaving about 1/3 of the bulb exposed and above the soil level.  Use good potting soil.

The bigger the bulb, the bigger the bloom.

Amaryllis grow best in a cool room- 60-70 degrees.

Place them in bright, indirect light.

Rotate the pot to keep the stem growing straight.  It is helpful to use stakes for support, as the blooms can be heavy and may flop over.

Water sparingly until the new growth begins, then water regularly.  Make sure the water is draining.

Amaryllis will bloom 6-8 weeks after being planted.  You can plan accordingly as to when you want them to bloom, and you can pot up multiple bulbs for a longer succession of blooms.  I wanted these white Amaryllis to bloom at Christmas time, and they did.  They were beautiful!

Amaryllis make wonderful cut flowers that can last up to 2 weeks in the vase.  A potted up blooming Amaryllis makes a wonderful gift at Christmas time!

After the bulbs are done blooming, cut back the flowering stalks.  The stems will eventually yellow and then they can be cut back too.  Cut back about 2 inches from the bulb.

Be aware that Amaryllis is toxic to pets.

I have had some of my Amaryllis for many years and they have bloomed faithfully for me every year.  This is what I do.  After the flowering stems and foliage is cut back, I place the pots in an out of the way place that does not freeze.  For me, this is the back porch, a regular area for in between things.

When the outside weather is above freezing, sometime in May, I put the pots in an out of the way place in the garden or on the patio.  There they stay, all spring, summer, and fall, getting rained on and fertilized along with all the other plants in pots.  When the temperatures begin to fall into the freezing range in the late fall I cut all the foliage back again, and take the pots to the basement.  There they will stay until I am ready for them again.  It is a cool, dark area.  I water them when I think of it.  I bring them back out when I am ready for beautiful blooms in about 7 weeks.

Something that I have done for years with my Sunday School class…we grow the Amaryllis after Christmas.  I have mostly girls in my class and I let them have free range in decorating our classroom for Christmas with items that I have collected over the years.  The class room is definitely not the nicest decorated classroom but they are very happy and busy doing it.  All of the Christmas decorations were taken down and packed away last week, and the row of Amaryllis set out.  The pots were watered and next week we will see if they have grown.  I always enjoy their expressions of excitement when they come back each Sunday and see how much they have grown.  I will keep you updated with photos as the Amaryllis grow and bloom.


I will do a new thing,

Now it shall spring forth.

Isaiah 45:19










Garden · Uncategorized

A Visit to the Conservatory

A trip to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

A Christmas gift to me from one of my children was a trip to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  It was beautifully arrayed for the Christmas season.

The Conservatory is located in Oakland at Schenley Park on the hill. It is one of America’s leading conservatories and is a historic landmark.  It was built in 1893 and covers 15 acres.  There are 14  Victorian style greenhouses plus adjoining grounds that are all landscaped beautifully.  There are 23 distinct theme gardens, and they are decorated seasonally.  Their Christmas season display was impressive.

And the company was vey delightful.  The grandchildren seemed to enjoy touring the greenhouses as much as I did.

There were a number of train displays in one of the greenhouses.  A boys delight!  I also thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the intricate detail in the train displays.

There were a number of water features, some with live fish.  This one, with a glass viewing area was very entertaining to the littlest one.

Visiting a conservatory or botanical garden is a wonderful way to spend a winter day.  I can’t say that I got many gardening ideas from my visit, but it was so nice to spend time among living, growing things while everything is frozen outside.



The January sun is climbing imperceptibly higher in the southern sky.  We are gaining 2 additional minutes of daylight each day this month.  Have you noticed the days getting longer already?

Gardening season will be here before you know it!








A New Gardening Year


Let us walk softly, friend,

For strange paths lie before us all untrod.

The new year, spotless from the hand of God,

Is mine and thine, O friend.


Let us walk straightly, friend,

Forget the crooked paths behind us now,

Press on with steadier purpose on our brow

To better deeds, O friend.


Let us walk gladly, friend.

Perchance some greater good than we have known

Is waiting for us, or some fair hope flown

Shall yet return, O friend.


Let us walk kindly, friend,

We cannot tell how long this life shall last,

How soon these precious years shall all be past.

Let love walk with us, O friend.


Let us walk quickly, friend,

Work with our might while lasts our little stay

And help some halting comrade on the way.

And may God guide us, O friend!

Lilian Gray, author

The old year has passed and a new year lies before us.  

It may seem like this new years garden is still a long way off, but it will arrive before you know it! We will soon be saying that there is so much to do with spring coming, how will it all get done?

Now, while days are cold, and snow and ice cover the ground, and you are sitting by the fire staying all cozy and warm, it is time to begin thinking and planning this year’s garden.


Anyone who thinks that gardening begins in the Spring,

and ends in the fall is missing the best part of the whole year;

for gardening begins in January with the dream.

Josephine Neuse

Here are some ideas to use in dreaming and planning this years garden-

1. Garden Books-(Do you have a bookcase full of garden books on all subjects, like I do?)

2. Gardening Magazines-(You’ve saved lots of those haven’t you?)

(Visit the library if you do not have any of these two)

3. Pinterest-(Ahh…the ultimate time consumer, but such wonderful ideas!)

4. Look through those seed catalogs.  They should be arriving in the mail about now!

Make note of those things that interest you. 

Make plans to try something new this year!

Here’s to a delightful, fruitful garden year to you!


Believe in possibilities

For with God all things

are possible.








Good Friday

This is how we know what love is;

Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

1 John 3:16


Were You There?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Oh….sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble!

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?


Were you there when they nailed Him to a tree?

Were you there when they nailed Him to a tree?

Oh….sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble!

Were you there when they nailed Him to a tree?


Were you there when they laid Him in a tomb?

Were you there when they laid Him in a tomb?

Oh….sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble!

Were you there when they laid Him in a tomb?


Afro-American Spiritual

It was the third hour when they crucified him.

Mark 15:25


Cooking · Garden

Growing Chives

There are a number of herbs and vegetables that are perennial, meaning that they will return year after year to give you a harvest.  One of my favorite perennial herbs, or one of my favorite herbs in general, is chives.


There are 2 types of chives, the common chive (Allium schoenoprasum) and garlic chives (Allium tuberosum).  The common chives have a mild onion flavor and the garlic chives have a garlic flavor.

Pictured above is the common chive, the one that I have grown for years.  This clump has moved with me to our current location and it has been divided and shared many times.

Both the leaves and flowers of chives are edible.

The most commonly used part of the chive plant is the leaves.  The leaves are hollow and grass like and are best used fresh.

The flowers are also edible and can be cut and used fresh while they are in season.  They are usually used in salads and as a garnish.

How to Grow Chives

  • Chives grow from small bulblets
  • Chives are one of the first of the herbs that are ready in the spring
  • Chives are milder than onions, and are members of the onion family
  • Chives grow well in any zone from 3-9. They are very cold hardy
  • Chives grow best in full sun
  • Chives like well-drained rich soil that has been amended with compost
  • Plant clumps of chives 6 inches apart
  • Chives can be divided every three years and re-planted out after the last spring frost
  • Water regularly, keep weeded and mulch
  • Can be grown in containers and can be moved indoors for all year use
  • Require minimal care, and I consider them well behaved.  Some of my reading says that the flowers heads, if left, can cause them to spread but I have not found it so.  If you have a problem with too much self seeding, just make sure the flower heads are cut off before they go to seed.
  • Will flower from late May till June.  Flowers can be used fresh or dried in cooking, or as an ornamental or cut flower
  • To harvest, just grab a handful or how ever much you need, and cut them off at the base.  If using the flower heads, just cut off as needed
  • Chives can be used in salads, dips, egg dishes, in potato salad, on pizza or as a topping.

My favorite way to use chives-freshly chopped over a baked potato with butter and sour cream.

What a lovely, delicious welcome to Spring!

Do you grow chives?

Praying for Ukraine



Reasons to Garden

The garden gate is opening….

March is here, Spring has arrived

and it is time to begin gardening in earnest.

Before we begin, let us consider some reason to grow a garden.

  • Beauty.  There is nothing as beautiful as a well-tended garden.  It can lift your mood just seeing the beautiful garden you have created.  Flower gardens are a thing of beauty, and vegetable gardens can be too.

  • Taste. There really is nothing compared to the taste of a just picked tomato, warm from the sun. Just the freshness issue makes homegrown vegetables taste better.
  • Grow safe healthy food.  You will know how the vegetables were grown and how they were handled.
  • More variety.  If you grow some of your own food, you can have more variety than what can be purchased in the grocery store.  The different varieties seem endless when looking through the seed catalogs.
  • Exercise.  Gardening gets you outside and moving around.  You will work your muscles with bending, squatting, tugging, pulling, lifting, and digging.  The exercise will lead to better sleep.  You get Vitamin D from being out in the sunshine.
  • Mental Health.  Working in the garden can lift your spirits, relieve stress and can be like a therapy for the soul.
  • Save money.  The price of a package of seeds will yield much more than the actual cost of the packet.  Granted, there are expenses in getting started in gardening, but you soon will recoup the cost if you garden year after year and are careful in your expenses.
  • Make money. If you are able to grow a good amount of produce or flowers, more than you can use, it is fun to see what you can sell with your excess.
  • Sense of accomplishment.   How rewarding it is to see what you can accomplish in the garden. Wether it is beautiful bouquets of cut flowers for the house or great tasting vegetables for the table, or just wandering through the garden you have created is a joy.
  • Sharing.  How nice to be able to share your excess produce with others, those that are not able to garden, or are no longer able to.  There are usually food pantries in town that would appreciate any donations.  Sharing with neighbors is a great way to make friends.

  • Prepare for winter food.  It is a wonderful feeling to know that your pantry  or freezer is stocked with delicious produce from your garden.  How nice to enjoy the garden produce in the middle of winter.  It will help beat the winter blues.
  • Training children.  Get the children involved in gardening.  Make it a fun time.  It will give children a sense of accomplishment, teach them things and make memories that they will carry with them.
  • Creative.  Gardening can be a great creative time.  Try new things and new methods of growing. Learn something new yourself.
  • Learning.  Gardening can teach us many things-Patience, perseverance, hard work, self reliance, how to deal with successes and failures and it can be very rewarding.

I am always amazed at this wonderful world God has given to us, and it is so beautifully displayed in how generous He is in the bounty of the garden.

Are you planning to grow a garden this year?

Praying for Ukraine
















The February Full Moon


Tonight’s full moon is known as the snow moon,

or snow-blinding moon.

or the boney moon,

or the little famine moon,

or the hunger moon

or the trapper’s moon.

February usually has the heaviest snow fall of  the year…but do not despair!

This is the month that the temperatures are gradually rising, and they will keep rising until they peak in July.

And the days are getting noticeably longer.

There will still be snow, ice and cold to deal with, but Spring really is on the way.


Psalm 40:3

“And He put a new song in my mouth,

a song of praise to our God.”


Faith · Garden · My Town

In Praise of Snow

Beautiful snow, so pure and white,

Dancing through the air you go.

Falling so gently, softly and light

From th’ clouds above to the earth below.


Beautiful snow, so pure and white,

Th’ crowning beauty of winter cold;

Falling both by day and by night,

Falling on mountain-top and wold.


Beautiful snow, so pure and white,

Falling gently on vale and dell;

Cov’ring the cottage of the poor,

And the mansion of the rich as well.


Beautiful snow, so pure and white,

Falling on things both high and low,

Hiding the fallen leaves out of sight,

While o’er the brown tree you thickly blow.


Beautiful snow, so pure and white,

Oh, how I love to see you fall.

Oh, I am certain, yes, I am sure,

Nothing’s as pretty as snow at all.


Lord! make my heart as pure and white

As the snow when it falls from above.

Fill me with Thy truth and light

And sweet beautiful faith and love. 

Effie Waller Smith


A poor photo, I know, due to the angle of the sun, but icicles on the roof of the house.  My roses are just below and they are entombed in ice also.  Hopefully, they make it through this winter.

There are benefits of snow for the garden.

  • Snow acts as an excellent insulator.  Shovel the snow onto your growing bed to give them a nice blanket of protection.
  • Snow protects from harsh, drying winds that can damage plants.
  • Snow can protect from the heaving up of plants due to the freezing and thawing cycle.  It is best to have the ground stay frozen until spring.
  • Snow provides moisture to perennial plants and bulbs as they are waking up for the spring.
  • Snow, as it melts, provides nitrogen that is essential to plant growth.
  • If you have designed a garden for winter interest, snow provides beauty as it covers everything.

As we are ending the month of January, we are leaving the season of Deep Winter.  As we enter the month of February, we are entering the season of Late Winter, and the seasonal temperatures should be steadily rising all across the nation, which they will continue to do till mid July.  There will still be snow and ice and cold to contend with, but-

Winter brings the

the cold of February,

But remember,

It is only temporary.

I do love a good snow fall!

Following are some photos of my town after the last storm.


And a photo of the Redbank Creek with the resident geese and ducks.

And lastly, a big shout out to the state and local snow crews that work so hard to keep our roads clear.

They had quite the big clean-up job after this last snow storm.  And another one is on the way….

Thanks guys!

You Lord, are forgiving and good,

abounding in love to all

who call to you.  

Psalm 86:5