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April's Gifts

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The greenhouse has once again become a place I resort to for comfort. Every plant you see here got the crap frozen out of it on January 31 when the gas well on our land froze solid. And each one came back. It's amazing!

Speaking of gifts, look at Creole Lady!! She froze solid on January 31 (read it and weep here) but look at her now!! I'm told all hibiscus need a severe cutback from time to time....well, maybe. I can tell you neither of us needed a greenhouse freeze at the end of January.

But then again...maybe I had to lose all my beautiful plants, live without them for a few weeks, to make room in my heart to say yes to Curtis on February 19. Maybe everything happens for a reason. Or maybe it's all just mindless, undirected randomosity. Some things feel as if they were guided by a higher intelligence. This thing, for one. From what heavenly cloud did you flutter down, Sugarbean?

Creole Lady, when will you flower again? That's OK. You don't have to answer. Just put out leaves and leaves. Feed yourself first.

The Path looks like a hairy stick. But it's alive, and it will be beautiful again by July, mark my words. 

The red-brown powder is dried blood. I'm trying to keep the chipmunks from chewing the leaves off my hibs INSIDE THE GREENHOUSE as fast as they grow out. Yes. That is what's happening INSIDE the greenhouse.

Thai Giant Crown of Thorns going nuts! Nothing eats a COT. They have nasty milky bitter  Euphorbia sap. I wish more of my plants had that.

Teeny Kenyan Crown of Thorns trying to keep up! I love growing these two extremes of the same species. Oh what humans can do to a plant, a dog, a chicken, a horse.

My friend Alan told me to dig up my big lemon verbena and put it in the basement for the winter. Well, that worked! It's delighted to be welcomed into the greenhouse and smells divine. 
Runner's tea a-coming!

My seedling impala lilies, or Adeniums, who never batted an eye at the freeze.  I can't wait to see what color their flowers will be, when they get old enough. It could take years upon years. That's most of the fun.

See the little score marks on the caudex of this one, below? Chipmunk. Climbed up to the top shelf and chewed these helpless little Adenium seedlings.

Erodium reichardii, a little alpine geranium, also weathered the freeze without losing a leaf. (The chipmunks chewed one side off it, but it grew back).

My gardenia sulked a bit after the freeze, but she is going to blow me away when she finally bursts into bloom. Every stem has a fat emerald Christmas bulb at the end.

I counted and there are 24 buds ready to pop on this plant. I keep feeding it, hoping it'll grow some more leaves on those spindly stems. But when it blooms I'll forget all about its looks. This is the plant I got for $10 on clearance last summer. It survived the freeze pretty well.

I was sure my Fuchsia "Gartenmeister Bonstedt" was a goner. But up from the root it comes!

As does this incredible hybrid balcony Pelargonium. Already has a flower bud forming!
It just takes time, faith, and care. That's all. 
It hasn't even been two months, and here they all come roaring back!

 A tidy shelf of color. So grateful to have my Vancouver Centennial still with me, and a new dwarf pomegranate seedling in bloom for the first time.


Against all expectations, my pink fuchsia Trandshen Bonstedts all came back from the root. This is one I was harboring in my house, my "plant ark." 

And then there's Happy Thought. I've missed you so. Remember my gigantic Happy Thought from last winter?? My pride and joy?? It was almost six feet across.

Well, this cutting that rooted and is blooming for the first time is all that's left of it, and I'm so, so happy I have it. I have to keep it on a pedestal inside the greenhouse or the chipmunks, hungry for anything green, will destroy it. Life is harder than it ought to be sometimes.

 Yesterday the chipmunk jumped onto the plant on its pedestal and clipped off some leaves, just to keep me from relaxing and enjoying my plants. Havahart will be set tomorrow. I've caught one and I'll catch this one, too.  Peanuts and peanut butter will get him.

It seems that death and destruction is always waiting when you try to grow things. There's always something trying to get at the things you love, whether it's coons and snakes after your bluebirds or deer chewing down any little tree you try to plant.  Or #$#$%$# chipmunks breaking into your greenhouse, climbing the baker's racks, and annihilating your precious plants. It's always something.  Despite it all, the plants persist, and so do we.

Another lovely thing that keeps me going: nesting bluebirds. They're building, laying, incubating, singing and tussling everywhere. This pair cannot decide which of three different boxes they want. They have spent so much time poking around. Now another pair has shown up to contest them. They could be incubating by now, but they dither instead.

 I've already got baby Carolina wrens piping in the copper bucket under my front eave! Must be a record, such an early hatch! They're trying to beat the rat snakes. If they can pull off a brood before the snakes stir, they're way ahead.
 There are now five eggs in this Carolina wren nest, placed somewhat atypically in a shallow, small slot box along the driveway. They are such clever artisans where nest building is concerned. I love those birds.

I love this little bird, too. He likes to bake his bacon on the porch and on the lawn.

It feels so good to look out the kitchen window and see a dog on the stoop. Even if it has no front legs. Papaw still gets around pretty good wifout his legs.

Figured out why Curtis smells gently of potting soil most of the time. He has dug hisself a couple little setts where he cools off when his bacon is overheated.

There's no sense getting exercised about how dirty he is. As soon as it dries, it just falls off him like rain. I try to make sure that happens outside. On this particular morning, he had an al fresco breakfast because he was raining a fine sprinkling of potting soil. If you click on this photo you can see the fallout.

Just a few things that make me happy, in a roller-coaster spring of wild oscillations in the weather and my heart.


I put 79 of the little stripey guys in the relocation program here last year.

Curtis Loew - chiptymunks! go!

I was able to over-winter two of the Vancouver Centennials this year -- they are so cool! You are so right that plants keep going and going, and restore us when we need it most. I'm a cat person, but that doggy is GORGEOUS!

So many things about which to comment. First, love seeing the crown of thorns--one of the plants I remember from my childhood in southern Africa. Second, love your paean to the affirmation that is the life force in all things. Third, love the bluebird pair--my dog and I see bluebirds flitting about in the place of our daily walk: in a large open cemetery with flat grave markers. Fourth, the dog, the Dog, the DOG! It is so easy to see how quickly he steals your heart. I can almost see the thought bubble above his head, which says "I am so fortunate I found the perfect person!"

Oh how glorious. So pleased for you re: greenhouse resurrection! And the birds and their eggs ... tender blessings.

Snake repellent ( lavender etc) sold on Amazon. I spread it ( granules) along railing under phoebe nest after one horrifying experience w/ snake!!

The thing I love most about this post is the way everything is a metaphor for everything else. "Only connect!"--and, as always, you do. (Perhaps never more so than now.)

Oh my, all those lovely looking plants! What a wonderful thing. And Curtis, he must be just pure joy. Loved those photos you put on Facebook this morning.

Plants and birds and a dog named Curtis Lowe, oh my! It's almost an Easter awakening. I do admire you so for bringing us this beauty and joy even as you grieve.

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