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Tending toward RED

Sunday, October 23, 2016

We were looking for folding camp chairs to sit in for Liam's crew regatta on a chilly Saturday morning at Home Depot (because of course we'd forgotten to throw them in the car) when I spotted it: a gigantic pot of gerbera daisies, marked down to $2.67???!!!

OK, it IS mid-October, and this isn't going to be sitting on the front porch for very long...but $2.67???!!! You couldn't buy a bouquet of cut carnations for that!

I bought my first red gerbera this spring, and that plant bloomed hard all season long, delighting me. It always looked like a million bucks, and still does! Here it is after giving its best all summer, now groovin' on the greenhouse warmth. Not sure what it'll think of the lower winter temperatures, but it's all an experiment anyway. I don't want to be without gerberas again. They're just surreally beautiful, and besides, they're from South Africa!

So I looked at the enormous pot of gerberas, asked myself why I needed more, reminded myself it is mid-October, walked away, looked at it again...

and lifted it into the cart.

Oof! That's a lotta biomass. I figured there were probably three plants in that one pot, but I'd have to knock it out to be sure.
It sure dressed up the back of my car!

As I get older, I notice I'm gravitating toward RED. Red house. Red seatcovers for the Subaru. Red flowers. Hell yes. Red. Red is assertive, even when I'm not. 
 Wish I were more red! Red says I'm here! get used to it. Red gets me revved up. Red makes me happy. Red shouts, instead of whispering.

Not putting the red hat on just yet, but getting redder all the time.

When I got home, I got out the Leonard Deluxe SOIL KNIFE that my friend Vicki sent me for my birthday.


This is the baddest ass garden tool you will ever have.  Get it for yourself; give one to a friend, but make sure you hide it when you're really, really mad at anyone. Because it is Dangerous.  

It has a razor-sharp serrated edge, as I found out very quickly. OW.  Red. Gravitating toward red, making red. Lovely shade, that. Matchy matchy! I kept working. Soon the wound was packed with potting soil and quit bleeding. I'm not much for Band-Aids, nor sterile technique.

Plant One

I knocked the plant wad out of the pot, peeked at the leaf clumps and ascertained that yes, there were three individual plants in the same pot. With the soil knife, I simply sawed the rootball into thirds in a matter of seconds. No teasing apart, no trauma to the plants. I could preserve the soil around the roots intact, and just separate them cleanly. 

Plant Two--slightly lighter coral-red

Plant Three--a fetching fuchsia pink--which looks horrible with the two strong reds anyway. A separate pot for each!

At the middle of the mass of crowded gerberas, I found what I expected: rot.

This is caused by poor air circulation, and it can attack new flowers. This one will never open. It's been strangled by rot.

It was high time these were divided. They never should have been put three to a pot in the first place.

Muuch better.  And with the soil knife division and room to expand, they never wilted for a moment.  If you click on the picture you can see where Vicki wrote "Happy Birthday, JZ!" on the blade. Ha! 

Let's see. These glorious plants cost me $.89 apiece. I can guarantee you I'm going to get $89.00 worth of joy out of them this winter. 

Speaking of winter joy, here are six tuberoses I dug from the gardens, which are in full spike, and will burst into bloom in late October and mid-November. Those puppies are coming into the greenhouse when it gets cold. 

I can just imagine sitting under soft twinkly lights, inhaling that matchless fragrance as the first snow  ticks on the greenhouse roof. I'll lean over and turn up the gas heat a notch and smile, breathe deeply.

This time of year, it's all about preparing for winter, in my own squirrelly way. Knowing deep inside, the way a bear knows, that it's going to be a real stinker, with some bright spots sprinkled here and there. Making a happy place for myself, filling it with the things that sustain me, in that endless and tireless quest for beauty. Beauty: my prime motivator, my sustenance. For some people it's money, or movies, theater, dance, music, or food, or some combination of all that. Or different things. Travel, riding, running. For me, it's about the beauty of living things, growing things. It's caring for them and making them all they can be. Maybe I should list my profession as "Aesthetician," but the kind with bloody knuckles and dirty fingernails. Without the makeup, hairspray or heels.  


Thanks for the extra dose of beauty today! Kim in PA

I love how you take the time to figure out what is life giving to you, and then you do it and share it! Inspiring:)

Posted by Anonymous October 23, 2016 at 12:33 PM

Wonder what it is about having vibrant colors around us as we get older? Does that mean we are "beyond the pale"? ;-)

@The Odd Essay, the word 'pale' in the phrase you mentioned doesn't refer to color, rather it refers to a safe, fenced in area (old English). Just a bit of arcane trivia to mull upon.
Julie, in pursuit of beauty, totally with you!

Posted by Gail Spratley October 23, 2016 at 8:09 PM

After decades of wearing neutral colors, I find myself integrating red into my wardrobe in sweaters and lipstick. If it's something one does as one becomes "a woman of a certain age," it's probably to avoid becoming "invisible." It's certainly more dignified than standing on a table and yelling "HEY! Over here, buddy!" to waiters and salespeople.

Posted by Anonymous October 24, 2016 at 3:45 AM

I'd wager that @The Odd Essay's little wink means she was making a pun!

Oh yah, pun intended for sure. :)

Posted by Gail Spratley October 24, 2016 at 7:44 AM

Another avid plant hoarder here....wish I had your wonderful greenhouse. I like the aesthetician moniker. It seems to fit your love of all things beautiful and living. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us....I was just musing over why I'm so attached to gardening on my blog recently and I heard echoes of my thoughts in yours. So glad there are other folks out there who appreciate the incredible riches of the natural world. Sigh!

Posted by Anonymous October 24, 2016 at 11:00 AM JEEPS.

Funny, here in crazy FLland, we are having our spring. It is finally time to plant, cool enough to weed six months of overgrowth and yet I find clearance plants tucked into the back of the Big Box garden centers too. Local nurseries governed from small trailers know the seasons better but the ones with corporate offices in the north mark down the root bound half dead rose bushes and orchids. I say, "Come with me babies and I will make you all better" and bring them home, trim off the deceased and diseased limbs, put them where they can grow and turn them loose for the winter. I figure anything that can survive a summer in a nursery deserves a second chance. Next summer they will be better prepared for the rough heat wave. Makes me feel like the plant rescuer.

Hi Julie,
I have been reading your blog with great delight for several years but have never commented before. I admit I am more of a plant person than a bird person. However, I always enjoy your photos and writing on everything: flora, fauna, family and, of course, The Bacon.
I HAD to comment today because I have just brought in 4 gerbera daisy plants that were outside all summer. I was going to let them go the way of all annuals, when I noticed one of them with a small, healthy bloom. That did it; in they came.
For some reason I have also become enamored of the color red and, when I look around my house, I see that most of my plants (geraniums, begonias, vinca) are red.
Perhaps it is a color that expresses our strength and confidence as we age (I am proud and fortunate to have turned 60 this year!).
Anyway, thank you for sharing your life and passions with us.
Cathy McDonald

Posted by Anonymous October 24, 2016 at 6:31 PM
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