Simple Flower Beauty Contest

I need your help folks.

Please judge the five Intarsia flowers below and tell me which one you like the best.

All five were hand crafted by Grumpa Joe in Santa’s workshop while Santa held Grumpa hostage and worked GJ’s fingers to the bone.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

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Flower A, Cedar, Pine, Poplar

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Flower B, Mahogany, Walnut, Poplar

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Flower C, Poplar

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Flower D, Pine, Cedar, Poplar

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Flower E, Walnut, Oak, Pine

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Vote by taking the Poll below:

Dr. Orchid Revives a Patient

Miss Orchid 2012

Miss Orchid has done it again. After six months of abuse by her owner, she decided to grant him a gift by blooming. Thank God Grumpa Joe knows an orchid expert who helped him repot her and to rejuvenate her root system into fresh potting medium.

Dr. Orchid Expert diagnosed her with severe dehydration and recommended immediate surgery. He clipped some her most severely dried roots and hoped for the best. Upon returning from the orchid hospital, Grumpa Joe assumed a new attitude about this precious symbol of his deceased wife Barbara. He began to give it the kind of care she should have received all along.

Weekly half hour showers of tepid water in the kitchen sink followed by a drenching of water spiked with fertilizer  have been the routine since November. She began to bloom a week before Christmas, and continues to sprout new blossoms, and even a second spike from her main stem. Her solitary place of honor is on the glass table in the sun-room.

Miss Orchid in Her Glory

She has finally opened her final blossom. Miss Orchid’s stem carries eighteen gorgeous phalaenopsis flowers. I promised to show her off when she was in full bloom so those who have never seen this type of orchid in bloom could have that opportunity.

I posted a photo of her first blossom in my piece titled Brighten Your Day With a Bloom in January, 2011. On that day she began her bloom cycle. Today, on Valentine’s day she gave me all her love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

CITY FARM

My family lived on South Avalon Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. They call the neighborhood Burnside.  Mom and Dad raised us in a small house, with a porch across the front. The property was small, only twenty-five feet wide, and one-hundred twenty feet long. It was a typical city lot. Our house was a small, wood framed, two-story with seven steps that led from the porch to the city sidewalk.  Between the porch and the sidewalk, was a narrow bed of flowers, and a patch of grass.  The parkway between the sidewalk and the street had grass. Sometimes there was a tree there too.

All of the houses were very close to each other. The narrow space between houses called a gang-way was only wide enough for one person to walk through.  On the end of the gangway, at the back of the house, Dad installed a gate to close off the back yard.  At the back of the house we had another porch which Dad walled in to make a three-season room.  Behind the house, was Mom’s farm. It extended between a very small lawn surrounded by flower beds, and vegetables that extended to the garage and chicken coop.

At the end of the lot stood Dad’s one car garage. He built it directly on the ground without a foundation. It had a dirt floor.  Ma’s chicken coop hung off one side. Together the garage and the coop stretched across the lot.  The chickens roamed in a small space in front of the coop.

In this precious plot of ground, Mom and Dad squeezed a front lawn with a flower bed, a three-bedroom house, a back lawn and flower bed, a good-sized vegetable garden, a chicken ranch, and a garage.

Mom grew most of what she needed to feed the family right in her backyard.   The garden produced tomatoes, onions, kohlrabi, cabbage, corn, beans, peas, lettuce, radishes, cucumbers and more.  What we couldn’t eat immediately, she preserved, by canning.  The chickens provided fresh eggs, and meat for Sunday dinners.

Mom grew flowers from seed she got from friends or by taking cuttings. In Spring she had tulips, and by Fall the same bed was a sea of chrysanthemums.  Mom had roses, snap dragons, petunias, dahlias, bleeding hearts, marigolds, zinnias, carnations, and pansies to add a mix of color.  She planted any flower that she could get, and propagated them to keep it going.

My love for flowers, came from watching Mom’s delight at seeing things grow. She loved bright colorful flowers, and grew as many as she could. Mom kept a garden on her father’s the farm too, but there it was mostly vegetables, fruit, and berries, as opposed to flowers.

Her knowledge of plants came from watching other gardeners, and by experimenting  with seeds. She never turned down an offer of new seeds or cuttings from friends. Her trial and error approach, taught her the best methods.

Mother kept her gardens going until she was into her eighties. When her heart began to slow, so did she. She began to lose her sight, and memory. Her gardens became smaller and smaller. The loss of energy killed her desire for the garden, and the city farm was no more.

Brighten Your Day With a Bloom

The indoor garden occasionally brings me great joy. Today, I was graced with two new blossoms. One, is an Amaryllis, and the other is my old friend the orchid. Both flowers have stories behind them.

The Amaryllis: Grandma Peggy and I received this plant in a Christmas gift exchange. We brought it home and forgot about it. It was late January or early February when I found it and decided it was time to open the box.  I knew the box contained a bulb in some organic floss. Surprise, When I opened the box the bulb had a three-inch long very pale green  sprout sticking out of it. I planted the bulb into the pot that came with it, and watered it. Within six weeks we had a beautiful flower. At the end of winter, I planted the bulb in the garden. Every year for three years, I dug the bulb out, potted it,  and brought it in. This year, for some odd reason, it decided to flower.

The orchid: My deceased wife Barb received the orchid as a gift when she came home from her open heart surgery in 2000. It was in full bloom when I brought it home with her. The orchid blooms for six months, then, takes a nap and re-blooms. This year, it is doing the same thing. This plant has been faithful to me for ten years. When I think about it, she has blossomed continuously for five of those ten years.

Right now, the plant has only opened one blossom. In a week or two it will have a double spike  with as many as twenty flowers on it. I’ll show it again when it goes into full bloom. The poor thing needs to be repotted, but while I was thinking about it, she decided to go into labor and bloom. I can’t touch it now until the last bloom falls off sometime in June.

Hug a Cactus

The winter doldrums have certainly set in. Grandma Peggy has the flu, the days are short, the weather is questionable, and I have the blahs. I don’t chose to have the blahs, they just come. When I get this way, I look at my cactus collection. It is not a huge collection, but I’m willing to bet that it is the largest one in Frankfort.

Why do I look at the cactus? For one thing, they are beautiful plants. How can a spiny thing like a stag horn cactus be beautiful? I see all life as beautiful.  Even a blah day has a beauty about it. All I have to do is to switch my mindset to anticipation of a bright sunny day, and life is good. The cacti give me an outlet to vent my frustrations. At times, when I get upset with someone, I tell them to go hug a cactus, and if I get very upset I’ll tell them to go kiss a cactus.

Cacti grow in extremely harsh environments and they are hardy survivors. They live without water for months, sometimes years. A cactus can withstand high temperatures, and suppress predation with their spines. Like all living things, they do succumb.

My cacti are not treated to a life of high temperatures, but do get treated harshly. In the winter, I bring them indoors and place them in a low light environment. Occasionally, I sprinkle them with a few drops of water.  When the temperature outside is above freezing, I move them into the garden.  I place them strategically between the perennials to add interest, and confusion. How confusion? Have you ever walked a perennial garden in the Mid-West to spot a desert plant nestled among the traditional plant life?

During the summer, my cacti are stressed, not by the heat but by the large amount of water they get. In the desert, light, heat, and water add up to procreation by  flowering. Nature compensates the gross stems and the spiny foliage with brilliant beautiful flowers. I have only had luck with one of my plants. It flowers every year, but the others have not. Obviously, my basement and yard do not yield the correct conditions to promote flowering. That is one problem to challenge the blahs.  I look forward to learning what it takes to get them to flower as beautiful as they do in the desert.

Here are some of my critters, and some real desert cactus in bloom.

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