Right “Plant”, Right Place

It’s the season for holiday parties. I’ve attended two already this past week and I am not a social butterfly. In the language of gardeners, I  am a wallflower. I get to a party, I stay at my table, I talk to those I am seated near, or those I came with, and that’s that, usually.

But, as gardeners, we are blessed if we find ourselves with other gardeners in our midst. I have had the most delightful time at weddings or at the Spoiler’s college reunions when I unexpectedly found myself seated near a gardener. Suddenly, I have something in common with others in the room (besides perhaps a spouse, an address or a friendship with the bride or groom).

And the language of gardening is rarely controversial enough to cause upset. At one of the parties this past weekend, a tablemate was engaging in heated political discussion that was very inappropriate.

It’s hard to conceive of a situation where a similar offense could be given or perceived while discussing gardening (maybe folks might not want to hear about manure tea, but otherwise?)

I suppose it’s possible to offend (correction: it’s always possible to offend somehow) when discussing organic versus conventional gardening methods. But so long as everyone remembers that most people truly believe that what they are doing is okay and no one wants to truly harm the place where they live (at least not backyard gardeners!), it should all turn out fine.

(Mind you, as an organic gardener for over two decades, I have been lecturing for 16 years to “mixed” crowds. I am thrilled that the more I talk about organic gardening, the more I see people embracing it. But not everyone still does. And you get no where by offending those who don’t.)

So if you are a gardener, and somewhat quiet, or shy, or introverted (or whatever the new word is for the wallflowers like me who don’t like to shine in large groups), just try to find the gardener in the group. You’ll have a great time. And when the end of the evening comes, you’ll say, “Oh? Already?”

Wordless Wednesday–Flame


This year I am just entranced with my zygocacti. One is more spectacular than the next. And the colors of the flowers–the multiple colors within a single flower, particularly as it transitions from but to blossom–leave me almost speechless.

An Unusual Holiday Arrangement


Knowing how I feel about succulents, I am sure you all were surprised to see this photo. But I do like to do non-traditional things at the holidays. And my house is much too cold for those tropical heat loving poinsettias.

And I have discovered something. I did not have to take that unruly succulent to the compost heap after all. You may remember a few months back I posted about a succulent growing tall and leggy. I said that I couldn’t stand the look and that I would have to compost the plant.

You all should know me better than that by now .  Almost nothing leaves this house. I just can’t do it.

So I cut the leggy top off and stuck it back in the pot. Voila! More plants. Who knew? Maybe I do like succulents after all!

Another Great Book For Holiday Giving


I don’t know about you, but I love the idea of foraging. But of course, I only love the idea if I can safely identify the plants I am foraging for–and then I need to know what to do with them. Not everything can be tossed willy-nilly into a salad (or should be. Some things are far tastier prepared in other ways).

Well, of course my favorite publisher, St. Lynn’s Press, has come up with the perfect solution! I was delighted to discover The Scout’s Guide to Wild Edibles  by Mike Krebill in my mail on Monday. I  immediately sat down–before my coat was even off–and began paging through it. It’s that good.

First of all, it’s a perfect size. You can easily take it outside with you on a hike or a longer camping trip without feeling that you’re lugging a heavy field guide.

Next, although it is compact, it manages to pack a lot into its small size. There are photos of the plants, not drawings, which is important to avoid misidentification. And there are photos of several stages of plant growth, so that you know what to choose.

When a plant like poke weed, which can be toxic in some stages, is suggested, not only are numerous photos of the right stages of the plant shown, but other hints for avoiding the wrong stages are given, such as avoiding leaves with any purplish color in them, and changing the cooking water at least twice.

And, once you have found the plants, there are some wonderful sounding recipes listed, including one for a garden weed quiche he called GAZP, microwave purslane pickles, dandelion donuts–you get the idea. There are some very creative ideas here.

Both common and botanical names are given for the plants, there are numerous appendices of plant parts, for types of cooking and preserving, of phone apps and other foraging references–this is a complete book in a compact package!

Krebill’s background is equally impressive. He has been a science teacher, run a nature center, and of course been involved in scouting.

This really is a complete book. I am totally impressed.


A Different Way of Seeing

About 10 days ago, I posted about my zygocacti. I had a few photos of them and I asked the question about whether they were Christmas or holiday cacti.

One of my helpful readers commented that she thought mine were all holiday cacti, and that she never sees true Christmas cactus sold anymore. That makes sense.

I believe that the type that I have can be pretty easily manipulated to bloom right about now–just when we gardeners and gift givers are going to want them–by controlling the temperature and light that they receive.

I have always appreciated my plants because they are totally carefree for me. I admire the way the buds are generally a different color from the blooms. And I love the long bloom time that they have on even small plants.

But this year a catalog made me notice something entirely different. First of all,  the catalog had numerous zygocacti, all named varieties, (which I didn’t realize existed), some of which they were selling together as a trio in one pot. Interesting.

Next, I always just thought there were maybe 4 colors: red, pink, white and some undefined orange color. Oh, my mistake! This catalog is calling some of these plants yellow, and some of what I would call “white” ivory.

I am famous for seeing numerous colors in a single flower–in a tulip petal, or a rose, for example. I am not sure how I missed this.

Finally, the catalog points out that the pistil/stamens combination on some of these plants are like fireworks! Oh my!

To read up on some of this magnificent language, you can go to Logees and search for Christmas cactus. And while they are one of my favorite plant vendors, they had no idea that I would be featuring them in this manner.

It’s That Time of Year–Be Alert!

Yes, today is what’s commonly known as “Black Friday” in the United States. It gets it’s name because supposedly so many folks go shopping that the retailers are able to move their books from the “red” (or debt) column into the “black” column.

A long time ago–ever since I worked in retail–I gave up Black Friday shopping. For one thing, I rarely found great bargains. For another, it just added a “not nice” aspect to the whole holiday season. And that was not how I wanted my season to begin.

I know lots of people make it a tradition with their family and friends. For those of you that do, enjoy, have fun, and especially after our turbulent political season, please be nice to each other!

But since many of you will be on the roads before dawn and out after dark, I chose to post this particular topic today.

November is the month with the highest number of automobile-deer collisions. And I can think of no better way to quickly ruin a day out with family and friends than to collide with a deer. Even if there is only property damage to the car and no injuries (except perhaps to the deer) it is going to leave everyone shaken and in no mood for the festivities that were planned. And that’s the best possible scenario.

So please–if you plan to go out shopping today–or when ever during this busy holiday season–be alert and stay alert.

That also holds true for holiday visits and all those holiday gatherings. December is also a prime time for deer-auto collisions (never mind auto collisions of other sorts).

Let’s all try to stay alert and safe on the highways this season so we can gte back into our gardens next spring!