Sunday Dinner: Color My World

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“Let me,
O let me bathe my soul in colours;
let me swallow the sunset
and drink the rainbow.”
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Khalil Gibran

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“The world is exploding in emerald, sage, and lusty chartreuse
– neon green with so much yellow in it.
It is an explosive green that,
if one could watch it
moment by moment throughout the day,
would grow in every dimension.”
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Amy Seidl

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“Why do two colors,
put one next to the other, sing?
Can one really explain this? no.
Just as one can never
learn how to paint.”
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Pablo Picasso

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“Red was ruby,
green was fluorescent,
yellow was simply incandescent.
Color was life. Color was everything.
Color, you see, was the universal sign of magic.”
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Tahereh Mafi

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“Each day has a color, a smell.”
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Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

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“Color directly influences the soul.
Color is the keyboard,
the eyes are the hammers,
the soul is the piano with many strings.
The artist is the hand that plays,
touching one key or another purposefully,
to cause vibrations in the soul.”
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Wassily Kandinsky

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“Love was a feeling completely bound up with color,
like thousands of rainbows
superimposed one on top of the other.”
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Paulo Coelho
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“Life is a sea of vibrant color.
Jump in.”
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A.D. Posey

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019
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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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February 27, 2015 Bittersweet 003

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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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February 27, 2015 Bittersweet 005

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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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February 27, 2015 sunset 002

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

WPC: Warmth

December 26, 2014 Warmth 019.

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

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December 26, 2014 Warmth 033

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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

Visiting the Homestead Garden Center

December 13 2013 poinsettias 004

We visited Homestead Garden Center today to pick out one of their beautiful Christmas trees for our own.  We love the freshness of these trees.  They are  picked on a farm in the mountains and brought here early in the season, and then kept in water until sold.  Each tree has its own little dish of water.December 13 2013 poinsettias 002

Although there are only a few trees left, they are all beautifully grown.  The small table top trees are especially nice.

Wreath making is underway in the workshop and greenhouse, each a beautiful combination of evergreens and decorated with cones, fruit, and berries.

Poinsettias fill the shop.  There are so many hybrids now it is hard to choose which one to bring home.  Whether you love the creamy white ones, or prefer red, pink, spotted, or marbled; they are all healthy and ready to go home and bloom for the next month or so.

December 13 2013 poinsettias 003Poinsettias are members of the Euphorbia family, native to Mexico and Central America.  Poinsettias were introduced to the United States in 1825 by our first Minster to Mexico, Joel Poinsett.  In their native Mexico these plants grow as shrubs or small trees.  Some of the leaves, known as “bracts”, begin to turn red, orange, white, pale green, or pink when the days grow shorter.  They need several weeks of nights 12 hours or longer to change colors.  The actual flowers are actually tiny and yellow, located in the center of each bunch of colored bracts.

A light pink poinsettia in the Homestead Garden Center shop.

A light pink poinsettia in the Homestead Garden Center shop.

Poinsettias enjoy bright sunshine during the day, warm temperatures, and a steady supply of moisture.  They can live outside during most of the year, but are brought in to protect them from frost, which will kill them.

The poinsettia industry in the United States dates to 1900 when the Ecke family began raising poinsettias on their dairy farm near Los Angeles.   The family began selling them from street stands around LA, later developing a special growing technique to produce color on every single branch of their bushy, compact plants.  They were the only growers in the nation with the secret for growing florist quality poinsettias, until the 1990s when a university researcher discovered their technique and published it.  Poinsettias are now grown all over the United States.  They are also popular in Turkey, Egypt, Central and South America, Australia, and Malta.

December 13 2013 poinsettias 015

These Rose series poinsettias come in several different colors.

If you want to keep your poinsettia after the holidays, make sure to keep it watered and in bright light until the weather settles in spring.  Poinsettias prefer morning light.  Prune the plant after the holidays to remove all of the colored leaves and tiny yellow flowers.  Keep the plant fed and watered all summer, protected from afternoon sun, and watch it grow into a small shrub.  It will probably need a new, larger pot in early summer.  Poinsettias enjoy moisture, but must never sit in water.  They require good drainage.

Bring the plant indoors before first frost to an area where it will remain in darkness for at least 12 hours each night.  Soon, the leaf bracts will begin to turn bright colors again and you can enjoy it for another holiday season.

A whole new palette of plants comes available in December for those of us who love to keep flowering plants indoor during the winter.  Cyclamen are in their prime now, as they enjoy cool indoor temperatures.  They grow best near windows where they enjoy the bright winter sunshine and cooler air.  Christmas cactus are in bloom now as well.  And the first perennials of spring, little Primulas, have shown up for sale at Homestead.  The gardening year rolls on and on, with something beautiful close at hand to greet each new day.

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2013

With an Eye On the Weather

C. Sasanqua, "Jingle Bells" unfolding its first blossom this year.

C. Sasanqua, “Jingle Bells” unfolding its first blossom this year.

We checked the weather forecast repeatedly today.

On days like this, we just wish all of the local media weather people would get together on a conference call and work it out among themselves.

Instead, we are hearing a different story on most every channel.  And none of them see it the way the Weather Channel staff is calling it for the next week.

Time to finally bring this cane Begonia in for the winter.

Time to finally bring this angel wing cane Begonia “Sophia” in for the winter.

The day started with a weather report from my partner, and then a dash to the car to see whether the dashboard thermometers agreed with the TV’s “Locals on the 8s.”  They didn’t.

Why such concern?  Most of our potted things were still outside soaking up the sunshine and gentle autumn rain.  Please notice the past tense of that statement.

A late rose

A late rose

We were hearing more than a 10 degree spread on the forecast for low temperatures tonight, depending on who we listened to.  Not an issue for the Camellias, but definitely an issue for the Begonias.  You see, we may have our first dip below 32F tonight, with wind from the northwest.  That is a recipe for disaster for any annual or tender perennial abandoned to the elements over night.

In fact, the weather maps on the 10 day forecast are filled with this huge blue field of cold high pressure air swooping down from Canada.  Not only are we hearing, in minute detail, about the wintery temperatures on the way, we even heard them discuss the “S” word for next week.  REALLY?  We need to think about snow before Thanksgiving in coastal Virginia?

Snaps will bloom happily outside all winter.

Snaps will bloom happily outside all winter, and the lamb’s ears will green up in early spring with lush growth.

So far, we’ve had roller coaster temps and Indian summer.  It was 70F here yesterday.  I’ve let the daytime sunshine balance out the early morning dips into the 40s or even high 30s, providing a little shelter for the tender potted things and hoping they could withstand the cool.

So, with one eye on the monster typhoon crossing the Philippines, headed directly into Vietnam, where a dear friend is on a cruise with her extended family; the other eye was fixed on tonight’s forecast and the projected lows for the next several nights.  And on the threat of snow.

This cane Begonia "Cracklin Rosie" has grown huge outside.  It was quite a challenge to get it inside with minimal damage.

This cane Begonia, “Cracklin Rosie,” has grown huge outside. It was quite a challenge to get it inside with minimal damage.

By noon the decision was made.

Today was the day to bring in any potted plant we’re not willing to see freeze.  I was handed Latex gloves, and I accepted one for the “infected thumb hand.”  Then I was handed gardening gloves.

I could see this was going to be a big deal, but that I would have help.

Ivy geraniums love the cool, but will freeze in the cold.  This one came inside today.

Ivy geraniums love the cool, but will freeze in the cold. This one came inside today.

My allotted space in the garage, between the hot water heater, the washer, and the steps had already been outlined with dots of “Duck Yellow” paint.  I had partially covered the area with a white plastic tablecloth, to better protect the floor this winter, days ago when the first of the Begonias came inside.  Now it was finally time to match the right plastic saucer to the right plant in the right spot.

Oh how I hate bringing the plants in.  Not only do I hate bringing them in out of the sunshine they need; but I hate mucking with the muddy summer saucers, the fallen leaves stuck deep in the branches, and the occasional slug or snail clinging to pot or leaf.

The baskets and pots are heavy and awkward.  Worse, I hate seeing bits broken off as we move them from deck or patio to narrow doorway to their allotted winter spot.

It is a very messy operation.  But I would hate watching them die in the cold so very much more.

The Bougainvillea is still outside tonight.  We'll need to bring it in before it snows.

The Bougainvillea is still outside tonight. We’ll need to bring it in before it snows.

We carefully calculate the timing for each plant.  How much cold can it stand?  What if we shelter it close to the house under the eaves?  How likely is it to warm up again?  How well will it fare inside for five months, and what will it look like by spring?

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Dragon wing Begonias will wither when they freeze. They root easily from cuttings, so one saved plant can yield many for spring.

There isn’t enough room for all of them, but we get very creative to save as many as we can.

Hanging baskets stand in empty five gallon buckets.  Others sit in combinations of plastic trays to both support them and catch the inevitable drips from watering.

Some we keep mainly for late winter cuttings, others we know will soon go dormant and won’t need much light.  The choicest come inside to the living room, the rangy stay in the garage.

It amazes me to see how huge some of the Begonias have grown this summer.  Two of the canes stand taller than either of us, and we aren’t small people.  They look so much bigger now that they are inside.  They fill the allotted space with a dense forest of leaf, bloom, and branch.

A friend recently asked whether I’d considered getting a greenhouse.  The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” but so far that hasn’t been an option.  There is no good place to site it here where falling trees or limbs wouldn’t be a constant worry.

The cane Begonias look so much larger inside.

The cane Begonias look so much larger inside.

So we appreciate our bright garage with windows to let in the winter sunlight.  We appreciate our bright living room with space to line up the pots like obedient elephants in a circus.  We appreciate the windowsills wide enough for little pots of orchids and cyclamen, and the good light we receive on bright days.

Our entire home becomes a greenhouse from November through April.

Oct. 6 pots 002

Cyclamen love the cool autumn, but must come in before a freeze.

Late this afternoon, when most of the moving was finished and I was soaking the thumb before fixing us some lunch, I found a missed call from a cherished friend.

I returned her call and learned she had “a few things” she wanted to drop off for us.  She had some candles, some magazines, a lent plate to return….  We told her to come on by.

Along with the cardboard carton came a shopping bag- holding a gorgeous asparagus fern.  She didn’t have enough light to keep it through the winter, and she knew we’d find a bright spot for it.

It is lovely, and I have an empty pot in mind….

Our asparagus fern in its new pot.

Our asparagus fern in its new pot.

All photos by Woodland Gnome 2013

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A week into November, and winter is closing in.

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