Tuesday, January 29, 2008


A mass of white butterflies--or maybe, more seasonally, snowflakes--comes to rest on my dining room table.

This brawny florist's cyclamen has been in bloom for a month. We have a deal: I'll soak it once a week in the kitchen sink and it can stay around as long as it flowers. Our relationship is respectful, businesslike, and free of commitments. I like that.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Thank goodness for amaryllises! What would winter be without such floral exuberance? These sirens exist to lure us away from the reality of snow, sleet, and frost.

An unnamed variety--maybe "Pink Impression"--celebrated New Year's Day here.

Currently, I am intoxicated with the deep red cabernet sauvingnon blossoms of "Royal Velvet." You could become lost in the dark centers of those blooms.

Three bulbs from last year spent the past nine weeks chilling in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, one of these, "Picotee," emerged with some blotchy red signs of fungal disease. Last year, its foliage ended the growing season spotted and discolored. Enough. That bulb was pitched.

The other two, a bright red and a striped red, were planted in a potting soil and peat moss mix, well watered, and set on a warm radiator next to a south-facing window. In a couple of months, they should be in flower.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Looking to be lucky

The other day, I went to the local nursery to pick up a few stalks of "Lucky Bamboo" Dracaena sanderiana. Yes, it's only January, and that's how strung-out I was for the sight of some greenery.

Stuck in a water-filled bowl of pebbles, these shoots would almost have you believing that they actually bamboo . . . or at least a real plant. As long as I change their distilled water weekly and keep them out of direct sunlight, they carry on their charade admirably.

On the way out of the nursery clutching my bag of lucky bamboo shoots, I noticed that the ground was covered with leftover Christmas tree branches. Since we were on the road during the holiday season, there's no tree this year to harvest for winter mulch. I'm not adverse to clipping away at our neighbors' discarded trees on trash day, but this opportunity was so much more dignified. I filled the car trunk with pine boughs and happily drove home.

I like to wait until after Christmas to lay down mulch. The ground has to be frozen in order for the mulch to create a micro-climate that protects against the freeze-thaw cycle. And voles and mice will set up housekeeping in a cosy pile of mulch if the season's warm--without so much as a thank-you for the home delivery of tasty roots and stems. Unfortunately, during the few days between bringing home the branches and tucking them around, we've had our January thaw. The temperature has risen to the 50s, the snow is melting, and the air is balmy. Winter weather is forecast to return in a day or two.

So maybe I really will need some luck in order for this mulch to do its job. Good that I went for that bamboo after all.