"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Category: plants

winter windowsill . . .

orchids 1It’s March, the Ides of Spring but it still feels like winter outside. This is the first weekend in a long time where we have not had a snowstorm and we are told that daylight saving time will be upon us next weekend!
orchids with oxalis
As I watered the plants this morning, it seemed like a good idea to capture some of what’s going on there: the amaryllis blooms are heartening since I forgot all about these summered-over pots during the Christmas bustle. Discovered hidden on the inside porch and given a little water, they appear in full regalia. It never fails to amaze me when amaryllis bulbs come back year after year. These neglected late-bloomers are a nice boost during the quiet early months of the new year.
orchids and amaryllis

During this quiet hiatus between the seasons, we are thankful for all the orchids, amaryllis and other plants humming along on our winter windowsill.

“supposed-bly” . . .

Recently, I heard someone on TV (I think it was a news commentator on CNN or someone they were talking to) say the word, “supposedbly” instead of “supposedly.” The speaker wasn’t aware of it and this comic word stuck in my head as the events of last week unfolded. It made me think about how we get certain ideas in our heads about what we think the best outcome might be for things that we are worried about.

Last week, for example, we had a meeting for which I had thought the best thing for us would be for us to reach a certain conclusion. I even had so much anxiety about it that I asked the Helpers for help as the I-Ching suggests but which I often forget to do. Anyway, the actual outcome was exactly as I had feared. But the impact of it, drawn from observing small details and listening to what others said they planned to do, cast a different light on things. After doing some research when I got home, I was surprised to find that instead of feeling thwarted and defeated, I was re-energized. It felt like a cosmic hand (helper?) had picked me up and set me down on the gameboard facing a different direction.

Yesterday, we also trimmed back the money plant branches that were caught up against the skylight handle, burned by the heat of the sun with no place to grow. I put the clippings into a jug of water to see if they will root. The tree, whose trunk is growing thicker by the day, may now branch OUT rather than having no room to grow UPWARDS. I had worried, superstitiously, that if we pruned it back, it would diminish our luck. Now the tree has breathing space and room to grow, just not necessarily further up, but every which way out on its branches and trunk. And multiply if the clippings supposedbly develop roots as baby plants.

Here we are, instead of things being the way I thought they were “supposed to be,” there are ways that I could not have imagined when my expectations were set in concrete. Transformed in an instant with the help of the Cosmos, I have been given examples of how much wiser it is. I’m going to call this wiser, almost comic relief to things as the way that things are “supposed-bly” meant to be.

change (again) . . .

What is it when someone says they don’t want to change? I want to change all the time, it seems. When I learn that I may have thought the worst of someone when I felt down and out, I’d love to change and trust in the best of them in the future instead. They say you can’t change the past but I disagree because I’ve found that you can certainly change the way you think about the past–and therefore how you might feel about it at this stage in your life, especially if the shift in perspective allows you to feel a little better about things.

I seem to be at a stage in which there is a lot of loss of things that I valued in the past. The only way to “repair” things when a workman has carelessly uprooted and demolished the bed of red daylilies that have been in the front yard for over a decade is not to bawl him out (which I haven’t done although I wanted to) but to go online and buy 20 fans of red and red/orange daylilies on eBay and plant them in the barren space, this time, making a small stone border around the plot and mulching it so that the mistake doesn’t happen again.

I am happy to say that the poor hydrangea plant that had also been cut down twice (by the same workman) actually sprang back with some new leaf shoots after I rescued it last week. There’s an area of new white hydrangeas that seems to be forming a grouping in the front yard, visible from our third floor bedroom window. The rescued hydrangea will find a home there too, along with some pieces of old red brick that I will encircle the plot with, just in case.

It’s slim pickings these days at the local nursery across the street from Wal-Mart. I stopped by there yesterday after buying a small vanilla cone dipped in chocolate at the Dairy Queen up the street. It was drippy as I walked through the perennial sale table where I found a lone lunaria plant. They grew abundantly in the garden of our house in Lexington where the kids grew up. It’s also called “honesty” or “money plant” because you remove the brown papery edges to reveal a white, translucent inner shell that shimmers when it is dried. I had paid for it after I had decided not to spring for the tall gardenia tree in bloom on the asphalt, baking in the sun. The soil was dried out which made it all the more astonishing to see so many beautiful flowers on it. On the way to my car, I saw the owner of the nursery and asked him if it might be on sale. He said sure, he’d look it up and see what he could do. A few moments later after a $20 discount, I left with the gardenia tree on the front passenger floor of the car.

You might as well know that I have loved gardenias for a long time because it was one of my mother’s favorite flowers too. I used to buy them for her when I was nine while I was in Washington, D.C. where I took the bus from Maryland for my piano lessons. One creamy, fragrant blossom cost a dollar, the same as what my lunch would have cost at Neisner’s then. I remember that she was a hard person to give things to in those days and later on too–and that the gardenias were not always taken out of their cellophane wrapping. Nevertheless, I kept giving them to her over the years for special birthdays and so on.

I also ordered some when my second husband and I got married, just the two of us there with the Town Clerk in City Hall many years ago. So I bought the gardenia tree, not as some kind of nostalgic reminder of my mother, but because I liked it. Simple as that. Now, if that isn’t change, I don’t know what is.

roses . . .

Gertrude Stein said, “A rose is a rose is a rose.”

Maybe you know what she was talking about. With the heat wave we’ve been having here, and because the rose bower was being trimmed, G. appeared a couple of days ago with rose cuttings over three foot long in his hand. I had noticed a thick glass vase while cleaning out the pantry that day so we put the two together.

Astounding because these were not just “long-stemmed roses,” they were four feet high! Today, I cut more in to save them from wilting in the heat and just had to take a couple of photos so that you might enjoy seeing them too.

Everything may not be coming up roses in our lives, but it’s hard to ignore these just the same.
[click photos to enlarge roses to their full glory!]

time . . .

I’ve been thinking about time lately. How to plan for the next run of time. Because I’m approaching a birthday in December that seems a little high in count compared to how I feel about myself inside, I’ve decided to bring the outside of me more in balance with the inside. So, juicing is a new routine. I prepared green smoothies before but it seemed to be fattening with all the fruit and bananas involved. Now, it’s just juice with vegetables that fill my refrigerator with their bulk: kale, spinach, celery, carrots, green apples, cucumbers.

Instead of fasting on juice only, I’m thinking about juicing for breakfast and lunch, then preparing a light meal for dinner with fresh fish, vegetables and salad. Maybe some charcoal grilled teriyaki chicken thighs like those we had the other night. This way, I don’t have to give up cooking and trying out new recipes or ways to cook, which is something I enjoy doing every day.

stand of siberian iris

Thinking about time makes me think of “carpe diem”–just do what you really want to do and more, each day. But don’t go crazy. Toward that end, I found a new pair of Merrell sneakers, taupe suede, white mesh and apricot-white colored shoestrings like the ones I saw on a young woman with a backpack at the airport last week. Just having them on feels good and makes me want to start walking more. Think I’ll go by Cape Hedge beach this weekend and walk along the shore during low tide. Haven’t been there in awhile (see “ashes to ashes“.)

I also wonder how long I’ll last. I see lots of older people these days it seems. Last weekend, I met a woman in her nineties, who had the most joyful smile and calm manner even though she had a splint bandaged on one leg, her ankle swollen. She was going to visit her husband in the assisted living unit nearby later that morning. In her small home, she had her golden retriever and her Steinway grand piano rebuilt by G. about ten years ago. Plantings outside each dwelling were lovingly cared for — I saw a woman planting some flowers where her Dad wanted them in his front yard, next to the home that M.J. lives in.

iris by front driveway

oriental poppies in back of the house

So, today, because it’s been drizzly and grey, perfect weather for planting, I’m going to find a good place that is part shade for the two Japanese primroses and the perennial dianthus that will surround them in the front garden. And also plant the five flats of morning glories that go in every year in front of the barn which climb the strings to the second floor deck where their color illuminates our mornings in the fall (see “one day at a time“.)

morning glory seedlings

But first, I’m going to make my “mean, green juice” (kale, cucumber, green apples, ginger, lemon, carrots) to give me energy for the rest of the morning. And maybe I’ll think more about time and what’s important about it in the way that I want to spend my days.

japanese primula and dianthus

spring cleanup . . .

Even though it’s been unseasonably warm this winter moving into spring, I’m catching up on some spring cleaning this week. I’ve been meaning to clean up the plant shelf where G. had brought up some gorgeous dusty rose marble planks to provide a surface for the orchids. They’ve been coming along and their bloom is still approaching its peak.

I had a grocery bag full of clippings and dead leaves from the plants, especially the maidenhair fern which had nasty, dried-up brown fronds.

maidenhair fern after repairs

I also noticed that the overheating going on inside me has abated with the wise treatments given yesterday by C., my gifted Shiatsu practitioner. A levelling and cooling off that feels really calming and steady. By next week, some ceiling repair around the skylights and painting will take place in the kitchen and living area. Benjamin Moore’s “Navajo White” paint is my favorite color and has followed me from place to place wherever I have lived. The storage closets will be cleaned out altogether and organized so that we can find cottage and Christmas things more easily. My plan is to provide a swift exit for anything that we won’t use and that we don’t need. Outdated books and CDs will be donated to the local library. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G that remains will have its place. It has already begun to look more spare and feels as right as rain.

To top it all off, here is a photo of little Josie, lending a hand to vacuum the floor at the cottage the day that we left. Priceless!

in bloom . . .

in bloom, march 26, 2012

We have a weeping cherry tree in the front yard that usually blooms around the first three days of May every year.

These photos were taken, Monday, March 26th, on the second day of the tree’s blossoming. Last night, it was 26 degrees outside. So let’s enjoy these gorgeous images while they last.

Follow-up photo taken, Thursday, April 5th, on the 10th day (still) in bloom!

seeing green . . .

Even though this winter has been unseasonably mild (hallelujah!) a friend and I went to the Lyman Greenhouse at Smith College, Northampton, MA a couple of weeks ago, a place usually reserved for snowbound winters. I had thought there were more exotic plants–or at least slightly unusual ones but most of what we saw was commonplace. That is, I had seen most of the plants somewhere before. The place was also looking a little rundown but maybe that was my imagination.

In any case, I took a few photos and downloaded them onto my IPhoto file. Then forgot about them. Yesterday, some of these images came onto my screensaver, slowly zooming in and out. And I swear, I could almost smell the fragrant, damp air of the greenhouse. It seemed like an oasis of plants. So, I thought Read the rest of this entry »

one day at a time. . .

The snowstorm over the weekend has ended our late-blooming season of glorious blue morning glories. We plant them every year spaced in four columns in front of the barn and watch them climb up the strings to the deck on the 2nd floor where they sprawl along the decking, three dozen blooms at a time. From the third floor, we look down on them during the month of October, especially striking on foggy, grey days. They still bloom when just about everything else has gone by.

As I looked at these photos that G. took last week, I was reminded that the unique thing about morning glories is that they open in the morning, and by the late afternoon or early evening, the flower closes for the last time.

Isn’t that also the way our own days go by? We wake up and live our day and then it closes. When the day is over, it’s over. Our experience for each day opens and closes just like these glowing blooms.

They’re rather inspirational, don’t you agree?