If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Food for the Soul

We were sitting on the deck one night this past weekend and Mike asked me if all the flowers out there are real.  I just laughed but now that I really look, I see what he means.  They are really splendiforous and overflowing with blooms.  The funny thing to me is that last summer Mike said he didn't understand why I spent so much time nurturing, watering, and caring for something that I grew but didn't eat.  With that one comment about my flowers being real, I understood that he was enjoying the beauty of the flowers much like I do.  I think growing flowers is food for the soul - and don't we all need that? 

My favorite flower is a lily with those pink stripes blending into the white petals and offset by a rich green foliage.  I moved some lilies from my former house.  They haven't bloomed yet - and may not this first year; so, I don't know what color they are exactly but the foliage is spiky and pretty.  I think one is a deep russet-burgundy color.  It is a sampling of one I had picked up as a bargain when the children were young and we had little money for things like flowers.  I got three or four packages of miscellaneous colored lilies for five dollars at Big Lots, I think.  This lily was such a novelty perking up the patio area there that folks always made comments about its unusual color.  So, when I moved from that house, Bridgette dug up a handful of the bulbs and I took them with me.  The other lily I moved from my Rover house is one of those that I think of as my favorite.  I splurged on those bulbs that first summer I was at that house.  They provided Ginger (my dog) and me lots of pleasure.  I enjoyed their show-stopping beauty and Ginger liked trying to catch the bees they attracted.  (Her nose stayed stung and swollen the entire time those things were in bloom!)

I'm still waiting to see if those are going to bloom but my annuals, which I put in pots here on the deck, are bursting with blooms and Mike and I both are enjoying it.  Every time we sit out there to relax he comments on how nice it is and how it really does seem like we are in an outside room.  That makes my heart sing and my soul smile!

I have some before and after shots to share and didn't even realize it.  I took the first photos about a week after I had planted my pots.  The after ones were just taken so that I could share their beauty here.

Here is a shot of the fun (and cheap!) plant stand that sits outside my kitchen door. 
This is the 'before' shot which was taken a few days after I planted them.  I remember taking the pictures because I was surprised that everything looked good so soon after the shock of repotting. 

I got the Gerbera Daisy and the pink geranium at my school's FFA plant sale.  Eagleville School has an award winning agricultural program headed up by Bruce Haley and Brian Lewis.  One strand of their classes is called greenhouse management, I think.  Students learn about growing plants from seed and propagating and such.  I wish I could take that class!

Here is the 'after' shot I took yesterday.  Isn't it amazing?  What a profusion of beauty!

The Bacopa came from the local greenhouse, Nature's Best.  I really love that place!  I think you can see the ivy geraniums in the concrete urn to the right of the wonderful (and cheap!) plant stand and trailing out of the black pot on the ground.  They were left-overs that I got at the half-price sale at the school greenhouse.  What a deal!

That black pot also has a couple of geraniums in it.  One is pink and the other is white.  It was an oops!  The students were not as attentive at following instructions as they should have been I was told by Mr. Lewis, the ag teacher.  (That isn't exactly the way he worded it but that is the gist of his statement emphasizing his frustration.)  Since the plants were two different colors, nobody wanted it.  So, I took advantage of the bargain and brought it home.  I think it has turned out quite lovely don't you? 

Another 'before' shot. 
More geraniums, some chocolate mint, a left-over verbena, a sprig of an ivy geranium, and a petunia.  The mint is from the local greenhouse, the geranium is from Mike's aunt Peggy, and the rest is from my school.

See how they have blossomed!  Before, the beautiful pots took the stage and now the plants are the stars.

I'm thrilled to have the two stages.  A body would think I'd planned it that way, huh?  Notice how I had to back away (and even stand in the sun!) to take this shot.  The sacrifices I make...

This is a close-up shot of one of the geraniums. 
Isn't it beautiful how it looks sort of like it was painted with watercolor paint? 
It is also a 'before' shot of one of my cheap pots flanking the deck sofa.

Even though the angle is different, look at the dramatic growth of these two plants!

The geranium sort of looks like a ball gown and the petunias are the ruffly slip flirting underneath. I love how it looks like they are dancing!  These flowers are some of the ones that Mike thought were not real.  He said he had never seen a pot of flowers so full of blooms. 

This is the pot at the other end of the deck sofa. 
She is dancing, too.  Maybe even doing some sort of salsa or dipping with her partner!

Do you see the pretty begonias in the pot on the table?  These are a new phenomenon for me.  I may have to move them to the front porch even though the tag says they are for sun or shade, though.  I think it just gets too hot for them on the deck with the sun beaming down in the middle of the day.  I got these from the school plant sale because I thought the blooms were absolutely gorgeous.  This one on the table is another oops!  It blooms both red and pink.  I like the gypsy-ness of that, though.

This is a shot of a different begonia but isn't the bloom delightful?

I also got a close-up shot of the Gerbera Daisy.  When I selected these, the only bloom on the plant in the little pot was fading and sad looking but it was full of buds.  I thought it was interesting because it was this cheerful pink color but I also liked the fact that it is edged with yellow.  That makes even the under side of the bloom pretty (when it won't turn and face the camera), don't you think?

Cheerful Gerbera Daisy!

This is not Wisteria Lane (where everybody's perfect) nor is it Lake Wobegon ("where all the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average").  Not everything looks as lovely as those annuals out there, though.  I never want anybody - even my one reader (Thanks Mom!) to think we lead a charmed and perfect life here on 'the compound.'  

Sad, but promising.

This fern was a share from my mother and I neglected it.  Last fall it was huge and lush and wonderful and I was pulling it in and out of the house to avoid frost and let it enjoy the outdoors as long as possible.  One night I forgot to pull it in and it got freeze bitten.  Feeling guilty, I put it in the back seat of my truck to take the pot to the barn so I could reuse it this spring.  Well, being lazy or maybe forgetful (I am 51, you know.), I waited two or three days before I was ready to unload it.  I guess it was the greenhouse effect of the sun on the truck, but I noticed that there were little green shoots peeking up.  So, I cut all of the brown fronds out and took the poor baby to my classroom where it would be warm and get plenty of light - at least from the fluorescent ceiling.  Somehow the students seemed to get more attention than my fern - imagine that!  So, it didn't become lush in my classroom.  I'm going to keep petting on it in hopes that it will return to its former lushness.  Keep your fingers crossed.  (By the way, I have a partner to this one, too!)

On to some more successful ventures...

Isn't that verbena amazing?

I liked the cool look of the color of this verbena when I saw it at the local nursery.  So, I brought it home and plopped it into the planter with the lone Gerbera Daisy.  Doesn't it remind you of a cool, refreshing waterfall spilling over the edge of this planter?  I wish that Daisy bloom had turned toward the camera and smiled, though!

My experimental novelty.

As a special nod of recognition to my sweet husband, I created this novelty experiment.  I used to incorporate squash, tomatoes, lettuce, and such into my flower beds, when I was a single lady, before he put a ring on it!  (There you go, Lydia, I included your current favorite dancing song!)  So, I thought, why not do this with a planter on the deck?  Really what happened is that I ran out of flowers, needed something to put in this pot, and was too lazy (and probably too poor!) to go back to the greenhouse and shop.  I think this cauliflower, onions, pepper, and geranium looks rather wonderful sitting on the collect-all stand by my laundry room door, though, don't you?  See, I can nurture something that is edible, too!  (I know that many flowers are also edible and tasty, but I cannot see my big burly guy chomping on a pansy, could you?)

This pot seemed a little empty after I had put the two different types of geraniums in it. 
So, I poked a cauliflower and some onions in there, too. 

Isn't the rule of thumb with planters to have a thriller, a filler, and a spiller?  Well, I think the veggies might be the thriller here!  I also liked the color of the cauliflower's leaves and the spikiness of the onions poking up in this hodge-podge mix.  By the way, the cauliflowers were freebies from the local nursery!  I also borrowed an idea that they had sitting right in the doorway of their first greenhouse (the one with the 'store' in it).  They had a big beautiful painted pot which is meant to be a show piece on its own.  It was filled with broccoli and bacopa.  The deep blue-green of the broccoli and lace-edged by the white, frilly bacopa was absolutely stunning.  (I'll bet it would be lovely with that deep blue bacopa, too.  Maybe that will be a fall pot!)  The girl there at the nursery said, after they harvest the broccoli, they go back with a pepper plant for a riot of color or with some other annual flower that has little color and the pot remains the star.  Maybe some day I'll be able to afford one of those shining, hand-painted pots.  Till then, I'll just tuck the idea away and copy it as I can...

Finally, I had a couple of petunias and a verbena left over.  I didn't really want to put these on the front porch because I was afraid it would be too shady and they wouldn't proliferate.  So, I went to the local dollar store and got a cheap hanging basket and just plopped all of them into it.  I have seen these hanging baskets which are full of trailing plants and they just seem so relaxed and cheerful.  (Remember all the ones which used to hang on the light posts at Opryland?  I miss that place!)  I hung it on the hook next to the hummingbird feeder and it is starting to look dazzling.  (I know you can't see the verbena but it is the same shade of blue/purple as the petunia and it isn't blooming or trailing as much as the petunias...yet!)
Sometimes left-overs are better than the original dish, ahem, plan!
Plus, the hummingbirds like the blooms almost as much as the sugar-water in the feeder.

Well, I need to get out there and give everything a drink of water before the sun slides over the rooftop and heats everything up to frying point.  Flowers are food for the soul and mine will be smiling!