Turning Lemons into…Dinosaurs

Our lemon tree is covered with flowers again, promising another banner crop later this year. What I didn’t expect was this:

baby dinosaur lemon tree
It seems our enterprising tree has given birth to a baby dinosaur.

Thank you in advance for keeping your congratulatory comments to a dull roar. We don’t want to wake the baby.

Is there any ‘funny business’ happening in your world today?

How to Revive Cut Flowers

I originally published this tip in October 2012. It continues to garner multiple views each week. I’m sharing it again in case you missed it.

Hat-Pin Trick

gerbera daisy with pin

Hat-Pin Trick

Cut flowers, especially those with hollowed stems, often droop after a short time in water. Why? Because the stem is no longer siphoning water.

Simply insert a pin or needle all the way through the stem of a drooping flower, about one-inch below the bloom. Carefully remove the pin and return your flowers to a vase of water. Within an hour or two, your flowers should be standing tall. I’ve used this trick successfully over the years with Gerbera daisies, roses and tulips.

Gerber Daisies hat pin trick

Gerbera Daisies Revived: The yellow flowers perked up; but the orange ones did not.

Rubber-band Recovery

If for some reason the hat-pin trick fails, here is plan B. Gather the flowers into a loose bunch and slide a rubber-band over the stems and up to the neck of the flowers. Wrap a second band around the bottom of the stems. Return to the vase, and enjoy your perky arrangement.

cut flowers rubber-band recovery

Rubber-band Recovery in Action

Edit your Collection

I don’t know about you, but I like to get as much “life” from my cut flowers as possible. Most mixed bouquet flowers have varying shelf-lives. Some blooms fade within a few days while others can last up to a week, maybe longer. Instead of dumping the entire bouquet, I change the water and return the flowers that still have life. As those fade, I’ll cut the healthy flowers down by a few inches and display them in a smaller vase. If I have nice greens, I’ll see what’s blooming in the garden and I’ll mix the two together. I make a game out of it to see how long the flowers will last.

Do you have any tips or tricks you’ve used to preserve the life of your cut flowers? Please share in the comments, below.

Happy Mail Times Two

Mailbox full of mailVal over at Nikitiland published a post of a similar name yesterday and included free, downloadable labels that say Happy Mail.  She went on to ask:

When was the last time you got something in the mail that wasn’t a bill?

Well. The funniest thing happened when I joined the world of blogging: My Happy Mail started to overflow. Treasures arrived from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the US. I’ve managed to surround myself with thoughtful, creative, talented people who share their talents with generosity.

I relish the irony of the fact that we’ve all met online, but were quick to broaden and deepen our connections via snail mail. For as long as I can remember, I always loved ‘checking the mail.’ When I traveled to Europe in 1989, I obtained an American Express mailbox in Paris. After traveling for a month I arrived in Paris and took a subway to the AMEX office. Imagine my joy to receive six letters from family and friends back home. I ♥ mail!

She’s Here!

It’s true: one slim white envelope on your doormat can send your heart racing. Squee!

Earlier this week I re-blogged Pauline King’s post A Painting for Alys. Pauline blends paper and paint, and in this case, some of my father’s stamps, and gathers them into beautiful works of mixed media art.

The Wonderland of Alys

The Wonderland of Alys ©Pauline King

Rich color and texture

Rich color and texture

Flowers, hearts and postage stamps

Flowers, hearts and postage stamps

I knew she was working on something, but by the time she posted her blog, the beautiful painting was already making its way from New Zealand to California. It arrived yesterday. Thank you, Pauline!

Amber Leaf, Heart of Gold

I received this second precious gift from a regular follower. Mary Elizabeth’s life is full taking care of her disabled son. She faces challenging days, but does so with grace and love and heart. Thank you, ME. You’re an inspiration.

autumn leaf pin

Autumn Gold

To read more about Pauline’s process, check out her blog at The Contented Crafter.

Pauline offers some of her treasures through her Etsy shop at The Contented Crafter: Whimsical Art, Hand-Crafted Cards and Sparkly Things

You can also find her on Facebook

Smiling Sunflowers

bee and sunflower

Incoming bee

Okay, technically sunflowers don’t smile. The effect is pretty much the same, though.  When I look out my window they’re waving in the breeze, nodding their sunny flower heads and vibrating with bees.  Maybe I’m the one smiling, but either way it’s contagious.

sunflower and yellow bee

Bees move between the sunflowers and the pumpkin vines

The tallest of the sunflowers is my height: 5’10” or 177 cm. It was the first on the scene.  I planted a variety of sunflowers this year, so each one is a bit different. One of the flowers just reaches my knee.

pair of sunflowers

Brothers and sisters

knee high sunflower

Knee high sunflower

Yesterday I gently untangled a few overzealous pumpkin vines, redirecting them back towards the deck. As soon as the sunflowers go to seed, they’ll be overrun by squirrels. I don’t want my furry visitors trampling the pumpkins in their quest. Sunflower stems are sturdy enough to support the heavy seeds. They are not, however meant to withstand the added weight of a squirrel running up and down at snack time.

A little history:

Sunflower (Helianthus annus) is an annual plant native to the Americas. It possesses a large inflorescence (flowering head). The sunflower is named after its huge, fiery blooms, whose shape and image is often used to depict the sun. It has a rough, hairy stem, broad, coarsely toothed, rough leaves and circular heads of flowers. The heads consist of many individual flowers which mature into seeds, often in the hundreds, on a receptacle base. From the Americas, sunflower seeds were brought to Europe in the 16th century, where, along with sunflower oil, they became a widespread cooking ingredient. Leaves of the sunflower can be used as cattle feed, while the stems contain a fibre which may be used in paper production. – Wikipedia

sunflower leaves and bud

Sunflower bud, about a week before it bloomed

opening sunflower

Ready to meet the world

sunflower

Bronze-centered flower

Here’s a story that will leave you smiling like a sunflower:

The Fukushima Sunflower project is now following the lead of Chernobyl, and fields of sunflowers are bursting into bloom across this contaminated area of Japan. Volunteers, farmers, and officials planted the flowers so that they can absorb the radiation that leaked into the soil from the region’s damaged nuclear power plant. There are concerns that the contamination is mainly in the topsoil and that the roots of the flowers are too deep to absorb it. Time will tell whether this project will be a success.

Officials are hoping that the local economy will benefit as much from the project as the environment. They are hoping tourists will come back to the region to admire the sunflower fields. Due to this magnificent flower’s ability to assist in getting rid of nuclear waste, it has become the international symbol of nuclear disarmament.

I’m smiling. How about you?

sunflowers near walkway

Sunflowers along the deck

DSC_0117

Mini Plant Care Book and Happy Birthday to the Bard

Karen Philips designed this mini photo album a few years back. She taught a workshop at a weekend retreat, leading us through the steps to make our own.   After making a sample in class, I purchased a few of her kits.  It’s been fun using her template to create a few designs of my own.

The album below is Karen’s design. I just added the flowers to bring in a bit of color

Today I put it to use as a small plant care log, then delivered it with my Earth Day project. This little album is the perfect size and color.

I photocopied the back of the plant care labels and included them in the book. After removing the pointy ends of the tags, I added those too.

Putting this together reminds me that I need to make more time for projects like this.  It was so relaxing.

fold out mini album

Fold Out Mini Album designed by Karen Philips

mini album open

These photos show the steps for opening the mini album

plant care instructions

Plant care instructions

Happy Birthday Shakespeare

Now one lives forever, however the brilliant collection of William Shakespeare is timeless. Today we celebrate The Bard’s 450th birthday. To ‘men of middle age.’

Here are a few of his garden quotes:

Yet mark’d I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound,
And maidens call it love-in-idleness.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2.1.169-72)

When daffodils begin to peer,
With heigh! the doxy over the dale,
Why, then comes in the sweet o’ the year;
For the red blood reigns in the winter’s pale.
The Winter’s Tale (4.3.1-4)

Here’s flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun
And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age.
The Winter’s Tale (4.4.122-7)

 

 

 

Drizzle, Fizzle

Our ‘chance of rain’ was a tiny drizzle in the middle of the night. San Jose saw 0.01″ in the past 24 hours.  No puddle splashing for me today.

On the bright side, the garden looks refreshed.  The fog, mist and drizzle freshened up the foliage so that’s something.

Here’s what I saw on my morning rounds.

I mentioned a random bulb growing out of the bottom of the vegetable bed last week.  The lovely Narcissus made her debut yesterday.

narcissus

Narcissus

I need to prune this four-in-one fruit tree but I’ve been putting it off. It’s grown tall so I need a ladder. Two years ago I fell off the ladder trying to cover the tree with netting, and I’ve been nervous about it ever since.

fruit tree buds

Raindrops on tree buds

I see little blueberry buds. Sweet!

Blueberry buds

Blueberry buds

Succulents need very little water. I haven’t watered these plants in months.

Flowering succulent

Flowering succulent

Silver drops

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass [as if], it’s about learning to dance in the rain. Vivian Greene

Convergence

Convergence:  the act, condition, quality or fact of converging.

Cyclamen's near the Hyatt Hotel, San Francisco

Cyclamen’s near the Hyatt Hotel, San Francisco

It’s what came to mind when I clicked on Julia’s Blog, Defeat Despair last week.

In late December our family ventured to San Francisco in what could best be described as a bust.  Mike had the week off and wanted to go somewhere with our boys. We rode the train, then a trolley followed by a long walk, only to find a line wrapped around the building of the site we had come to see: the renovated Exploratorium.

It was a big let down, though not unexpected when you live in a large, metropolitan area.  Whatever you thought to do, it seems thousands of others had the same idea.

As we were leaving the City, we stopped in to see the holiday decorations on display at the Hyatt Regency, then exited into a courtyard filled with cyclamen.  I took several pictures before we headed home, and planned to blog about them the following week.

Cyclamen

Cyclamen up close

San Francisco Cyclamen

San Francisco Cyclamen

When I clicked on Julia’s blog I felt that odd sense of deja vu.  Her post “Actually See” featured her cyclamen photo, taken a decade earlier in the same neighborhood of San Francisco.  Convergence.  Julia lives in another state.  We connected through a fellow blogger living in Canada.  Yet here she was posting cyclamens from 2004 that seem to mirror my own the week before.

Convergence.

Have you had a similar experience?