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Archive for the ‘Orchids’ Category

Lettuce...going to seed in the Summer heat


Yep, you read it right. The Hoarders are whispering in my ear: “Don’t keep that stuff, it will make you crazy and your kids will hate combing through it when you kick off and die!” I have even been guilty of hoarding plants, trying to keep the smallest little lettuce plant alive past its due date when I could have spent that time doing something more worthwhile, like painting my toenails or sipping herbal tea. Or caring for a plant that actually mattered. So lately I have been getting rid of things, books, clothes, junk in the potting shed, junk everywhere. There were even four pairs of my shoes in a bag that went to AMVETS yesterday and those of you who know me well know how difficult it is to get rid of shoes.

"Rawrr!" ....one of my long dead orchids...she had cute teeth.


From now on if I have it in my hand or it meets my gaze it’s going on my brain scales to be weighed for worthiness. Do I want to keep cleaning, dusting, watering, moving, staring at, or rearranging whatever it is for the rest of my days? No? Out with it then! Time for a major purge. The lighter the load the faster the middle-aged community college student right? Right! Time for stealth and no matter how fond you are of something, having it saps energy in strange ways so it better provide enough payoff to balance out the equation and there aren’t very many things that do that. There are plenty of cherished gift objects that I will keep and there will be more space in which to appreciate them properly.

The resident Muse at Summers Past Farms


Books are being donated to a worthy cause if I never intend to read them again. The internet has changed everything – there’s no need to keep CD’s or DVD’s or books that aren’t special. I’m not even selling any of it because, as my brilliant daughter pointed out after watching an episode of “Hoarders” with me, my time is valuable and selling stuff online takes up lots of time and that cost has to be weighed against something. Suddenly I’m feeling free of the weight of things and finished with that dance I do all the time of organizing and shuffling things here to there and back again because I think of a better place to put it. Now, the better place will be ‘outta here’ and I am free. Free Free Free. I hereby refuse to be manipulated any further by inanimate objects. Amen.

another of my long lost orchids...we loved them, every one.

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As promised, I took a lot of photos on the tour of the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers. Terri and Emily took us there because the special exhibit was out of Amy Stewart’s book “Wicked Plants” which I have read and loved. The old Gothic conservatories and hot-houses are another love, so basically it was an awesome day all around spent with some of my most favorite people in the world ever. Thank you, Terri and Emily 🙂 I was going to find the names of all the plants and label them for you, but that would keep me from posting them sooner. Basically, enjoying the photos this time is better than worrying about the names. There are orchid things and waxy things and steamy things…mostly tropical things and some poisonous things…enjoy.

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Well, Happy Summer Solstice! It’s warm outside, the day is long, Sun is shining, and plants are growing. The garden was left alone today so she could bask in the Sun while I worked elsewhere. Tomorrow or the next day I may start trimming up some things since the Moon is waning. The biggest job at the moment is keeping everything watered, but I expect that at this time of year. One thing I am celebrating today is an Orchid ‘re-bloom’ and I’m very proud of this one. It’s not easy for most of us to keep Orchids alive, much less do so until it blooms again, which sometimes takes two years. This ‘Tie Dye’ Phalaenopsis is a beauty that managed to survive my worst care record in history last semester. There were a couple buds that fell off during the last week of school because I was late watering, but I put a little extra love into the process for a while and she rewarded me…

'Tie Dye' Phalaenopsis Orchid


One by one, 15 blooms.

Will they all open?


The end bud here is smaller than a pea:

The tiniest of spider webs.


Reminds me of an inkblot test…what were those called? I forget.

I remember now: Rorschach!


It also looks like an alien in the center of a fancy personal spacecraft:

an alien from outer space?


Or maybe it’s just beautiful.

Summer Solstice - 2011

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Great eaters and great sleepers are incapable of anything else that is great. ~Henry IV of France

Pensive Cupid

Yesterday was a light day in the garden, especially for a Sunday. And a luxurious and warm Sunday too, reaching up to 80 degrees mid-afternoon and fooling me into thinking it was April.

After clearing out a bunch of old leaves from under the lemon tree, I bagged them up tight to make mulch for next year. I also picked a huge basket of lemons. The tree will start blooming soon and I want to have most of the old fruit picked so I don’t knock off all the flowers picking them later. Also, I made a list of seeds leftover so I’ll remember to plant them this week:

Radish – Easter Egg Blend – 1 packet
Beets – Heirloom Gourmet Blend – 1/2 packet
Beets – Red – 1 packet
Zucchini – 1/2 packet
Baby Lima Beans – 1/2 packet
Royal Burgundy Bush Bean – 1 packet
White Bush Scallop Squash – 1/2 packet
Pencil Pod Yellow Bush Beans – 1 packet
Dixie Hybrid Yellow Crookneck Squash – 1/2 packet
Large Ribbed Swiss Chard – 1 packet
Cucumber – 1/2 packet
Giant Musselburg Leeks – 1 packet
Sugar Snap Pole Peas – 1 packet
Broccoli Raab – 1 packet
Catnip – 1/2 packet

and a list of things I need:

a new broom of the wood and straw variety

seeds:
arugula
lettuce – butter and mesclun…etc
morning glories
moon flower
chives
peppers
tomatoes

Also being welcomed into the family are two new orchids, which I have been coveting forever. Thank you Tom!

The Paphiopedilum, or Magic Cherry Black Lady Slipper Orchid. Sexy no? He even got it for less than half the price because of a broken petal.

Paphiopedilum Orchid


and a spider orchid, or Caladenia. Notice this one has a spider web on it, which makes be unbelievably happy!

Lucious Wicked Spider Orchid

After that, then some laundry and cooking, the day fell under a warm golden gooey spell that made everyone stop being busy and celebrate the beauty of the day. We opened a bottle of bubbles

MmmmmmmHmmmmm


then took to our special corners for hypnotic dreamy naps

Summer in February


Somebody said it was a national holiday, but we didn’t really need an excuse.

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In the pull of the moon
and the weight of the stars,
you anchor me with all that you are
Like the stemming of the tide,
the moon’s attraction to the sea,
you are, you are all these things.

~ Jodie Manross

Well, I can’t believe it’s the full moon again already. Is it me, or do they just come faster and faster as you get older? In my mind, they are becoming like the flighty images on a ‘View-Master’ I had as a kid – click – click – click.

Despite the feeling of being rushed through time, and no matter what’s happening in my life, I never fail to step outside and stand in the light of the full moon late at night when it’s high in the sky (unless it’s cloudy). Whatever the events of the day were, I stop on the full moon and take inventory. What have I accomplished since the New Moon? What’s coming full circle, or still unfinished? What’s different than it was the last full moon when I stood barefoot in the damp grass and held hands quietly with Tom in the moonlight? Sometimes I light a candle or burn some incense, throw some sage on the fire…whatever it takes to make me mindful of the issues that came and went and the milestones that I managed to pass, even if ‘passing’ was only a limp or a crawl.

The happiest additions to my growing jungle since the last full moon were both gifts from Tom (yes, he is wonderful):

The first one, a baby phalaenopsis, which can only be described as precious or dainty. It’s the cotton candy of orchids and it’s adorable!

phalaenopsis orchid


* Keep in mind that I’m five feet tall and have tiny little munchkin thumbs!

The other one is a new breed for me – cymbidium.

cymbidium orchid


When Tom brought it home, I set it in the living room with the other orchids. Late last night, I got an email from my local Walter Anderson Nursery about a free class on the care of cymbidium orchids. Serendipitous no? So off I went this morning and this is what I learned:

These orchids NEED SUNSHINE! It will be an outdoor orchid and prefers filtered sunlight. I may leave it under the lemon tree or the grape vines, or maybe on the patio…we’ll see what it likes. They don’t need as much water as the indoor relatives and like to be ‘slightly dry’ before you water again. Also, they like to be left alone. Maybe this is why I love orchids so much, they’re mildly anti-social and bloom best when not fussed with.

I learned more about the food thing too: In September or October you start feeding the next bloom. In spring, until fall, you feed to promote plant growth. Apparently, orchids have a pretty good appetite and need to be fed if you want them to bloom again – even though you sometimes have to wait a couple years between blooming cycles. This wait will be longer after you re-pot, which should happen every few years as your plant grows out of its home. Anyway, back to the food…

While feeding for plant growth (from spring through fall) use a 30-10-10 food, which is higher in nitrogen. When feeding for blooms (from fall to spring) use a 10-30-20 mix. The plant food number codes aren’t complicated…the first number is always the nitrogen content, the second – phosphorous, the third – potassium. Plants can produce their own food, but need these minerals in differing quantities to do so. This guy Jack explains it pretty well I think. If you have an orchid that has refused to re-bloom, try a food boost!

Of course they had some outrageously priced food for me to buy while I was there, but I’m waiting another couple weeks because of a vow I made with Inky, a blogging friend who seduced me into a “no spender bender” commitment. When I go back for the food or another freebie class, there’s a dark purple slipper orchid with my name on it! and some more seed starting mix, and perhaps a new…..

cymbidium orchid

Happy Full Moon everybody, and while you’re out there howling at it, don’t forget to say hello to Mars. It’s especially close to the earth now and right up there next to the moon, shining bright red in the silvery night.

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How can one help shivering with delight when one’s hot fingers close around the stem of a live flower, cool from the shade and stiff with newborn vigor! ~Colette

Orchids (Orchidaceae)…you see them in garden centers and gourmet restaurants, pissy spas and hotels, preening fancy in the limelight

long elegant necks arched out for attention more gracefully than Audrey Hepburn.

Yes, you say to yourself, yes i want to take one home and call it mine and it will flourish in shiny perfection for ever and ever. Then you get it home and your dreams are soon shattered as your orchid collapses and dies like a leggy runway model who has fallen off her shoes.

Until recently, this was my story. Then, something mysterious happened to changed my abysmal orchid juju. My husband brought me an orchid plant early last year – and it’s still alive! I didn’t do anything differently than before but, there it is, a lone survivor in a long line of phalaenopsis failures.

So, in honor of the new year and all the automatic optimism that comes with it, I’ve decided to take a leap of horticultural faith and ride the trend. There are five to the family now, holding steady in all their glossy seductive glory, and my green fingers are crossed! Today, while a winter storm rages outside, I’m even more grateful to have a bit of rainforest in my living room!

Orchid Care: The orchids I have so far are all phalaenopsis. They are easy to find, inexpensive, and require little maintenance. They live in the front room of the house which gets plenty of light and no direct sun. They are kept moist but not soaked and I never let them dry out, which pretty much kills em. Don’t re-pot them while they’re blooming – just leave them alone. When the bloom dies, you can re-pot using orchid bark and then you’ll have a juicy green plant
until it blooms again

On my wish list for new additions:

a slipper orchid

and a spider orchid

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