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It's Looking Up in the GroanHouse

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I have to admit I'm grasping at straws. Digging every unfurling leaf, every tiny bud, every promise of a blossom.
On a warm 65 degree rainy day I took pity on the ENORMOUS rosemary topiary I've been growing for I don't know...five years? and dragged it into my little selective Paradise.
I'd been planning, for the second autumn in a row, to sacrifice it to Cruel Winter.
Now, having seen it live through the 18 degree freeze that killed the Groanhouse, and outside, no less, I couldn't let it die.

I know I will be glad when I make Hodge's rosemary spiced pecans, rosemary pork roast, rosemary chicken, spaghetti sauce. I love fresh rosemary. I love running my hands up its oily flanks and filling the Groanhouse (yes, until everything is back full size, I've reverted to its original name) with its spicy aroma.

On December 13, I noticed that Rosemary is setting flower buds! Lots of them! They're the downy white masses at the growth tips.  It's not that common for rosemary to flower, but it has lovely curly blue two-lipped mintlike flowers.

Very happy to see Jasminum nitidum (Royal Jasmine) starting some teeny tiny flower buds. Now, just hold onto 'em, girl. There's been a lot of bud aborting in my groanhouse of late. Don't be doing that.

I got this plant at a greenhouse in WV the Monday after the big freeze. Jasmines like a cold period to set buds. The greenhouse this was in had to be in the 40's. The jasmines I got there are SO THRILLED to be in my care now. They're putting out tons of new shoots and setting buds in the warm humid space.

These buds have opened and filled the space with citrus blossom scent. Ruby Red Grapefruit. Wouldn't it be a hoot to have citrus fruit form here? To see huge pink grapefruit hanging from a foot-tall "tree?" How exactly does that work? I'd have to fashion some kind of bra for this tree to support full-sized grapefruit. It's a twig!

My friend Lori from Indiana sent me a babe off her giant variegated agave. A rare, beautiful and valuable plant. Symmetrical and leathery and lovely. She packed it in bubble wrap and sent it Priority in the three days that were in the 60's. Arrived in perfect shape. I expect to be giving its babies away in a few years. And my friend Betty from Claverack NY sent multicolored abutilon seeds from her plants, one parent of which is "Kristen's Pink." Growing those will be fun!

Little Christmas lights help with the floppy red poinsettia. They dignify it.

I would not be telling you the whole story if I did not show the Shelves of Death. The big pot in the middle is the only one with any life in it. Sigh. I lost so many plants...

To cheer on the one living shoot at the base of what was once my giant orange hibiscus, I planted some lobelias that survived the freeze. They'll bloom soon, and cover its knobby knees while the shoot grows.

I've been ordering plants online. Dumped $50 into mini and scented geraniums from Hobbs Farm in Maine. Of course, they'll have to wait until the temperatures between Maine and Ohio are well above freezing before they can pack the plants up and ship them. That could be awhile. I want them now, but I'm not getting them. I have a $40 gift certificate from Logee's from my friend Charles in Brownsville sitting here. I have the plants all picked out, but Logee's isn't going to send tender plants in 20 degree weather. Sigh. I want them now...

The Shelves of Life. Black Vesuvius, the red geranium on the left, never blinked. Just lived through it. 

 Ironically, I'd saved some cuttings of the heirloom geranium Occold Embers, which perished outright in the freeze. These were sitting in a glass of water on the kitchen windowsill. Not rooting. Just sitting there. So I dipped them in rooting hormone and put them in wet vermiculite and put a clear plastic drinking cup over them as a little humidor.
The blooming plant is patchouli. The leaves smell like hippies. I realize it's mostly about smell for me now.

All in all, coming along. Not there yet. But the blooming grapefruit and the poinsettias and the lights help.

And what really helps is my sweet friends who have swooped in once again to lift me up. Thank you all.


You must be pretty special to get rosemary to bloom up there. I used to love to visit my daughter in California in March because Rosemary is used as a landscape plant there and was blooming.

Looks like you'll need another greenhouse soon.

"jasmines like a cold spell to set buds"
Except Jasmine Sambac, it does better cool, not chilly, otherwise the leaves yellow. On the other hand it loves heat. The best blooming I ever got from my decade old plant, came in near 100 degree heat. Sambac is from India. My old gnarley plant is a beloved thing. Putting out buds all year round. Romantically fragrant. Glad to see you getting your devastated pot garden back. Good to your dog buddy came out of that last scrape all right. Shrews revenge i guess....

I can imagine some of your craft-inclined friends and admirers could make some wicked cool grapefruit bras. Sewn,crocheted, quilted, knitted...and where would underwires fit in, if at all?

Dear Julie, I am writing a thank you note. Recently, while my 14yo daughter and I were at a medical appointment, her 11yo brother found your book, The Bluebird Effect, at the library. He checked it out, telling his sister, "I thought you would like it."

Oh my stars. We love this book. I read it aloud, daily, as part of our homeschool lessons. Every day when it's time for lessons, it is the first thing the children ask for.

Thank you so much for sharing your gifts.

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