Growing Hardy Cyclamen

Naturalized Cyclamen hederifolium at the Connie Hansen Garden in Lincoln City, OR are already in bloom in mid-October.

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Cyclamen are just one of those delicate, special plants that we delight in growing.  Their intricately patterned leaves and sculpted, sometimes fragrant, flowers are some of the most novel and beautiful among common potted florist plants.  I generally buy a florist Cyclamen in early December and enjoy it on my kitchen window sill through late spring, when it begins to die back for its summer period of dormancy.

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Discarded from the kitchen windowsill in June, this Cyclamen re-bloomed  out on the deck in the fall of 2013.

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As much as we enjoy the tender florist’s Cyclamen, Cyclamen persicum, I have been seeking out other, more hardy species, too

Cyclamen persicum is native to the Middle East, parts of North Africa, and some Mediterranean Islands.  Although it is frost tender, it still prefers cool growing conditions and thrives when kept in medium, indirect light in a spot where night time temperatures drop down into the 50s F.  It wants to go dormant once night time temperatures rise into the upper 60s and 70sF.  I grow it in a windowsill to give it the coolness it needs to keep blooming.

I first began growing Cyclamen hederifolium, which blooms in late autumn into early winter, and Cyclamen coum, which blooms in late winter to early spring, a few years ago.   I was inspired by the Cyclamen I found growing at the Connie Hansen Garden along the Oregon Coast, and then discovered that they are readily available from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, and other bulb dealers.

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Hardy Cyclamen and bulb foliage shine through the leaf litter of a perennial bed at the Heath’s display garden in Gloucester, Virginia in February, 2018.

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Cyclamen grow from tubers.  Like other geophytes, they go dormant each year and will live on in a dry state with neither roots nor leaves.  If you want to buy Cyclamen , you may purchase seeds, tubers or living plants.  While seeds are relatively inexpensive, it will take a few years to grow your plants on to a good size.  There are more flowers with each passing year as the tubers grow larger.

Many experts recommend buying your hardy Cyclamen plants in leaf, so that you can see the color pattern on the leaves and the color of the flowers.  Others just say they have experienced more success in getting plants established in that way.

Once you have a plant or two, they will produce viable seed.  You can collect and sow the seed, or trust insects to spread it around for you.  New Cyclamen plants will emerge  in following years from seed, even as the original plants continue to grow and expand.

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I order tubers for hardy Cyclamen , which is also an easy way to start a patch of your own.  I have planted directly into the ground in years past, and I’ve planted tubers into our large ceramic pots outdoors, as part of my autumn planted winter arrangements.

Although I’ve had some success, I’ve had disappointments, too.  These are very small plants, and can easily get lost under leaves and under other, larger plants.  They tend to show up best when planted among the exposed roots of mature trees.  I didn’t know that when I planted the first batch out into the garden.  The area where I first planted them has since filled in, and so our patch is less than spectacular.

I’ve sited later plantings in better spots.  But again, one needs to clear away fallen leaves and other, faded plants to really see and enjoy Cyclamen planted in the ground.  The Connie Hansen garden has their patch under a pine tree, in the middle of a concrete bordered traffic island in their parking lot, where little else grows.

Many successful gardeners suggest planting hardy Cyclamen among the roots of established trees because they thrive in the lean soil,  they prefer drier soil in summer, and they are shown off to good advantage.  There is room for seedlings to sprout and the effect in autumn and early spring can be spectacular.

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Last year, I planted most of the precious tubers I bought in large pots outdoors.  To make a sad story shorter, there was obvious digging in the pots in the week after planting, and I never did see any Cyclamen emerge.    I’ve since read advice to lay a sheet of 1/2″ chicken wire over the soil in pots, and cover it with some mulch to protect Cyclamen and other tempting tubers and bulbs.

So this year, I am trying a different approach.  I’ve bought a bag of both C. hederifolium and C. Coum.  C. hederifolium generally gives its best showing in its second and subsequent years from a tuber, because the season of bloom begins in autumn.  But I am planting five of each, just to see what I can do with them.

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Plant the tubers concave side up. If you can’t tell, plant the tuber on its side and let the plant sort itself out as stems and roots begin to grow.

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And rather than planting them where I want them to grow, I’m going to try to foil the squirrels by planting them in little plastic nursery pots, indoors, and keep them inside until they have roots and leaves.  Then, I’ll transplant to where I want them.

The challenge in planting tubers is that they want to be planted very shallow; with only an inch or so of soil and mulch above the surface of the tuber.   That is a screaming invitation for rodents to grab a snack, especially if they’ve watched you plant or see the disturbed earth!  Once the tuber is rooted and attached, they have a fighting chance to survive!

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Fill small pots to within an inch or so of the rim with new, commercial potting soil.  Dust the soil with a little Bulb Tone or bone meal to get the Cyclamen off to a good start.  Cyclamen don’t require a lot of fertilizer.

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I’ve planted ours in regular potting soil under about 1/2″ of soil and another 1/4″ or so of perlite.  I ran out of perlite and finished off the last few pots with vermiculite, which works equally as well.  You’ll notice that some of the C. Coum tubers already show evidence of the first few flower stems emerging from the crown. I hope that these will plump up and continue to grow as the tuber re-hydrates over the coming days.

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C. Coum tubers came packed in wood shavings.

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This was even more pronounced on the tubers I bought last year, as I didn’t get them until early December.  I made a point of arranging to pick up my tubers this year within just a couple of weeks of when they came in to the warehouse to get the freshest tubers possible, and get them growing as early in the season as possible.

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Our new tubers are resting tonight in my basement work area.  I’ll keep an eye on them, and move them up to a protected spot on the deck as soon as new growth appears.

Once the plants are growing well, and some of our summer plants have died back, I’ll plant them out where they can grow on through the winter.  This year I expect success with all 10 of our new little Cyclamen plants.

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Water the pots well after planting, and then let them rest. They won’t need light until they begin to grow. Keep the plants evenly moist when they are in growth, but never let them sit in water.

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To maintain your plants, dust with a little bone meal in the fall, and keep them evenly moist when growing.  Once they die back and go dormant, they prefer to spend the summer on the dry side.  Growth is triggered in autumn when temperatures drop and the weather turns a bit wetter.

It is such a pleasing surprise to see their first flowers and leaves emerge each year.  Hardy Cyclamen are a simple and inexpensive pleasure and well worth the small effort to grow them.  If you’ve not tried them before, this is the time to order a few tubers and try something new.

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Our hardy Cyclamen were a welcome sight last February.

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Woodland Gnome 2018

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Naturalized

Naturalized Cyclamen at the Connie Hansen Garden in Lincoln City, OR

Naturalized Cyclamen at the Connie Hansen Garden in Lincoln City, OR

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“…the creative potential of disorderly randomness…” 

Ben Huberman

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Ben invites us to show photos of  ‘chaos’ in this week’s Photo Challenge. 

I’m not a great fan of  ‘chaos;’  however much it might invite creativity.  Perhaps there is that much conditioning left from my teaching days…. But I think it runs a bit deeper in my psyche.

Mother nature has her own sense of order, realized or not by the human mind, and those of us who work with her grow a bit lenient with her exuberance in our gardens.  Especially when the plant spreading in all directions is so lovely!

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If you grow potted florists’ Cyclamen on your windowsill each winter, as do I, you may love these little winter blooming hardy Cyclamen coum  and Cyclamen hederifolium, and excuse their untidiness.   Planted as little bulbs, and hardy in zones 6-9, these lovely plants emerge in autumn to grow and spread all winter.  They self-seed easily and form beautiful expanding clumps as the years pass.  Once planted, they naturalize and basically take care of themselves.

These grow in an island bed between the entrance drive and the exit drive at the Connie Hansen Garden Conservancy in Lincoln City, Oregon.  My daughter and I were there to let my granddaughter run around a bit.  Two year olds have a lot of energy to burn, and life around a toddler always feels a bit chaotic… unless they are sleeping.

With two of us, we just managed to keep up with her, and I managed to still click off a few shots.  This one may give you a better idea of that visit:

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Yes, those are my Sebagos before my fateful walk on the beach when a sleeper wave caught me.....

Yes, those are my Sebagos before my fateful walk on the beach when a sleeper wave caught me…..

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As we were herding her back to the car, this beautiful stand of Cyclamen, mulched in falling pine tags, caught my eye.  These have been growing and spreading for quite a few years, by the looks of this  lush coverage filling the little traffic island bed.

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I believe we can always find a bit of order out of chaos, once we take a deep breath and concentrate a bit.  The patterns begin to emerge.  We can understand each burst of unruly, exuberant energy in the context of the whole.  And so while little one was buckled into her booster seat, I framed and shot as many images of the Cyclamen bed as the moment allowed.

Exuberant energy seems to be the rule along the Pacific coast.  Whether rolling waves, moss covered trees, thick rain forests, or creative people; the energy is contagious.  And this special garden captures the vibe beautifully, only a few blocks from the beach.

Woodland Gnome 2016

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for the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Chaos

On A Tray: Beautiful Bouquets

December 28, 2015 Garden Tray 001

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Inspiration waits everywhere; especially in a good gardening magazine.

Particularly inspiring is the article ‘Beautiful Bouquets’ in the current special edition Plant Issue of Gardens Illustrated magazine.  Plantswoman Anne Townley suggests delicious combinations of plants one might grow together, expecting to later cut them for beautiful and unusual bouquets.

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Clockwise from top left: Violas, Edgeworthia, Artemesia

Clockwise from top left: Ivy, Violas, Edgeworthia, Lavender, Artemesia, Iris, Mahonia, Fennel, Black Eyed Susan.

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Her plant choices are quite idiosyncratic, at least to this Virginian gardener.

The photography for this article was my inspiration, however.  Photographer Andrew Montgomery created a stunning tableau with each combination of plants Ms. Townley selected.  Please follow the link to see these artful vignettes of petal and leaf composed to illustrate this lively article about cutting gardens.

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Clockwise from top left: Viola, Camellia, Cyclamen

Clockwise from top left: Camellia, Viola, Pineapple Sage, Camellia, Cyclamen, Viola, Edgeworthia, Ivy, Rose, Salvia, Hellebore,  Pineapple Mint, scented Pelargonium.

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Emulation remains the highest form of flattery, and so I couldn’t resist assembling a little tableau of my own this morning from what looks fresh in our garden today.

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Part scavenger hunt, part journey of discovery; what a surprisingly diverse collection of leaf and flower waited for me in the garden!

Wandering, cutting and arranging, I quickly realized that most of these bits of horticultural beauty would have grown unnoticed save for this challenge.

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Clockwise from top left: Rosa, 'The Generous Gardener,' Ivy, Viola, Black Eyed Susuans,

Clockwise from top left: Rosa, ‘The Generous Gardener,’ Ivy, Viola, Black Eyed Susan, Rose hips, Mahonia, Fennel, Iris.

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Each newly snipped blossom and leaf delighted me.  Though cut from many different areas of the garden, from pots, beds and shrubs; they harmonize.  What a helpful way to get a ‘read’ on how well the plants in one’s garden go together.

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Clockwise from top left:

Clockwise from top left: Purple Sage, Viola, Rosemary, Pineapple Sage, Lavendar, Dianthus, Vinca minor,  Cyclamen, Viola, Ivy, Salvia, Hellebores, Pineapple Mint, Pelargonium, Camellia

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I could have just sat and admired this tray full of cuttings over a steamy cup of coffee.

But, other projects called, like the bin filled with Brent and Becky’s bulbs, gleaned from their end of season clearance sale, just before the holiday.   We had been granted another good day for planting, and so I didn’t tarry over the tray too long.

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Rather, I recut the stems and tucked them into a vase, floated the blossoms in a bowl, slipped the ivy into a jar of rooting cuttings, and headed back out to the garden.

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Because there were  just one or two stems of each plant on the tray, this is a somewhat unusual vase.  It needed photographing from all sides as each of its ‘faces’ is different.

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I am happy to join Cathy at Rambling In the Garden for her “In A Vase On Monday’ meme this week.  She has created a ‘Moondance’ by the sea; more inspiration, as always!

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Although we are enjoying our little vase this afternoon, my partner and I remain intrigued by the possibilities of simply arranging stems  on a tray.  I plan to tour the garden, tray in hand, at some regular interval from here on just to see what there is to see.

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And, inspired by several excellent articles on garden color  in Gardens Illustrated, I also took my bin of bulbs back out to the garden for a few happy hours of planting today.  Bulbs planted a few weeks ago have already broken ground with their first, tentative leaves.

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Winter blooming Iris have started into growth in this pot with Violas and Moss.

Winter blooming Iris have started into growth in this pot with Violas and Moss.

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I dug new areas and planted Daffodils, Muscari, Leucojum, Cyclamen and more, before covering everything with a fresh coat of compost.

Although imagination is a wonderful thing,  I can’t wait to actually see these new additions grow into the tapestry of our garden in the months ahead.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

 

 

WPC: Reward

February 27, 2015 Bittersweet 006

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“What does reward mean to you?”

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge

 “The end is not the reward;

the path you take,

the emotions that course through you as you grasp life

– that is the reward.”

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Jamie Magee

Reward comes in the enjoyment of the fruits of one’s efforts.

We each tend to those things which matter in our daily lives.  We give our attention, our energy, to those things, and those people, we value.

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I take great pleasure in these flowers.  Coming to this spot, this window, brings such a joyful reward for the small efforts of daily tending.

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The tiny luxuries and pleasures of life, like winter flowers and freshly baked bread, are reward enough for our daily efforts.

Sharing them with loved ones makes them even more special.

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Sourdough bread still warm from the oven and a jar of newly fed starter

Sourdough bread still warm from the oven beside  a jar of newly fed sourdough starter

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“All those who love Nature

she loves in return, and will richly reward,

not perhaps with the good things, as they are commonly called,

but with the best things of this world-

not with money and titles, horses and carriages,

but with bright and happy thoughts,

contentment and peace of mind.”

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John Lubbock

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

In A Vase On Monday

February 16, 2015 Monday Vase 002

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Today’s vase of flowers reflects what is growing and blooming in our garden indoors.

We were thrilled to see the Impatiens, tucked into a pot of Caladium tubers back in November, in bloom this weekend.  These are the first Impatiens flowers we’ve seen since autumn.   We expect these cuttings will root and grow on through the coming summer.

The Caladiums have also decided to offer some fresh winter leaves.  I selected two tiny ones for this vase.  A few Cyclamen flowers and a Jewel Orchid stem complete the arrangement.

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We are happy to enjoy a vase of these bright summer flowers, knowing that at least a few of these stems will grow roots and live on. Our indoor garden offers enough flowers to get us through until the garden outside wakes up to spring.

Today’s vase was purchased from the potter at a show a few years ago.  It is very ‘handmade,’ and eccentric, but we admired its free form exuberance and bright glaze.  Sadly, it is signed only with an initial, and I don’t recall the artist’s name.

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The glass ball off to the side is by Portland, Oregon glass artist Paris Birdwell.   I met her at a show  in Oregon last September, and had to bring this unusual piece home.

You can see our stark winter garden through the window.  The hazel tree is absolutely covered with little catkins dancing around in the breeze.

It just looks cold, doesn’t it? 

Our garden is frozen rock solid now, after a winter storm front swept through Saturday evening, leaving Arctic air in its wake.  Our high today was around 20 F, and all of the waterways around us are freezing.  The Violas I had hoped to cut for the vase today have collapsed in the cold, and snow will cover them by nightfall.  They are hardy, though, and can perhaps  be cut next week, instead.

Today we are content to stay inside, where it’s warm enough for flowers, cats and people to grow on happily, and in comfort.

Please visit Cathy, at Rambling In the Garden, to see the beautiful vase of early spring flowers she brought in from her garden today.  Cathy hosts this Monday Vase challenge each week, and you’ll find links in her comments to vases arranged by many other enthusiastic gardeners.

This is an international challenge, and I always find it interesting to see how the seasons are progressing, elsewhere.  If you’re feeling even a little inspired, please pull together a little vase of your own with whatever you can scavenge locally.  Wonderful surprises wait for you to notice them…..

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Woodland Gnome 2015

Tropical Plant ‘Bonsai’ And Other January Adventures

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It is too wet and cold to putter about outside, but I’m still cruising the garden department at our local ‘big box’ stores.   My shopping list was a short one this week.  I hoped to find some little 2″ potted Rex Begonias or ferns for terrarium building, and held out hope to also find an early shipment of potted Hellebores for some pots outside.

Disappointment on all counts.

But, instead I found the first of the summer bulbs and tubers at our local Lowes.  I picked up several bags of interesting things, including some Cannas with dark burgundy leaves.

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Our native maidenhair fern has a spot in the 'kitchen garden' for the next few months.  This is a hardy fern, and will spread to a 2' clump after several seasons.

Our native maidenhair fern has a spot in the ‘kitchen garden’ for the next few months. This is a hardy fern, and will spread to a 2′ clump after several seasons.  A rooted Begonia cutting now shares its newpot.

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There was also a single pot of our native Maidenhair fern, Adiantum pedatum, for only $2.98 at Lowes.  Considering my favorite plant catalog offers the same fern in the same sized pot for $15.00 plus postage, that one purchase made the trip worthwhile.

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Arrowhead vine, Syngonium podophyllum, can eventually grow to about 6'.  Commonly kept as a houseplant, it is native to Mexico and Central America.

Arrowhead vine, Syngonium podophyllum, can eventually grow to about 6′.   Roots can form at each joint in the stem.  Once established, it is a prolific grower.

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And finally, when Home Depot offered nothing but an assortment of tropical houseplants, this little arrowhead vine called out to me.  This lovely little tropical vine, hardy only in Zone 10 to 12, is native to Mexico and Central America.  Poisonous, Syngonium podophyllum, is a useful, if invasive, garden plant in Florida.  But we generally grow it in a hanging basket here in Virginia.  You may have grown a green or green and white version of this common houseplant.

I have a weakness for the pink leaved variety, and adopted this one on the spot. It will join our indoor garden for the next four months, but will move into a basket on the deck this summer.

I re-purposed a pot of dormant Oxalis tubers from the garage by digging out enough of the tubers to make room for the Adiantum’s roots.  Oxalis leaves may pop through the moss in a few weeks, and that is fine.  The more the merrier!

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Then for the finishing touch, I laid a green coat of moss over all to cover the soil and add a little interest.  A few pebbles and a quartz crystal dress up this little pot for display in the living room.  It looks a little like a bonsai planting even if it’s not an expensive little tree.

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This Selaginella kraussiana variegatus came from Trader Joes in December.  Known as 'frosty fern,' it is a tender spike moss and must winter indoors here.

This Selaginella kraussiana variegatus came from Trader Joes in December. Sold as ‘frosty fern,’ it is a tender spike moss and must winter indoors here.

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Are you itching to get back out into the garden?  Do you simply need to get your hands in the dirt for a while to shake off the winter blahs?

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January 24, 2015 ferns 001~

Let me whisper a word in your ear to recommend the garden department at your local Walmart or Lowes.

After much searching, a single Rex Begonia, barely clinging to life in its dried out little pot, was waiting for me at our local Walmart.  The guys were moving a shipment of lawn furniture into place when I found it.  A quick inquiry brought the biggest one over to mark down the pot by half, and I went home with a new B. Rex to add to my collection.

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Begonia Rex from Walmart was dry and had many damaged leaves when I found it.  I've cut out most of the spoiled foliage, gave it warm water and a light feeding, and am now watching new leaves emerge.

Begonia Rex from Walmart was dry and had many damaged leaves when I found it. I’ve cut out most of the spoiled foliage, given it warm water and a light feeding, and am now watching new leaves emerge.  Aren’t the leaves lovely?

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The Begonia is already offering up tiny shiny new leaves.  After another few days of recovery, I’ll pot it up into something more interesting than its nursery pot.

Your local garden centers are probably as empty and deserted as are ours.  It is still January, after all.  Who in their right mind is out shopping for plants in January?

I am, of course.

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The 'mother' strawberry begonias who have provided tiny baby plants for my terrarium projects.

The ‘mother’ strawberry begonias who have provided tiny baby plants for my terrarium projects.

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Until the specialty places restock and open for spring, I’ll keep cruising the local Lowes, Home Depot, and Walmart for “tropical” treasures.  And I’ll putter around with these little guys in the warmth indoors until the weather settles, and we can all go back outside.

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January 23, 2015 expressive 008

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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A bit of the kitchen garden.  Cyclamen love this cool and bright window, the Begonias tolerate it, and the new maidenhair fern will just have to enjoy the attention here.

A bit of the kitchen garden…   Cyclamen love this cool and bright window, orchids will re-bloom here,  the Begonias tolerate it, and the new maidenhair fern will just have to learn to enjoy all of the attention.

 

WPC: Warmth

December 26, 2014 Warmth 019.

Boxing Day dawned warm and bright, sunlight flooding through the windows. 

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We have a respite before wintery wet weather returns on Sunday.

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May your home be warm and bright, bathed in love and happiness this Christmas weekend.

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Begonia

Begonia

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The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge:  Warmth

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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December 26, 2014 Warmth 017

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