An Unidentifed Vine Reaches for the Sky, Clinging Only to Thin Air

I don’t believe I published this photo, taken a month or two ago. I was so intrigued by this vine’s ability to hold itself up without support, I had to record the sight.

For some reason, the photo system doesn’t show the vine properly when flipped over to vertical view. It really is clinging, seemingly, to thin air.

Sunlight Gilds Thunderbolt Hosta and Peeks Through Drooping Branches of Norway Spruce

Seated on the lawn on a recent muggy afternoon, this view made me think of cypress swamps and Spanish moss.

Perhaps that comparison is a stretch of my imagination, triggered by my wandering mind and the uncomfortable weather. I’ve never been to the south myself, to view such, to me, exotic plants. But the thought was pleasant.

Though the air feels saturated and solid, like it could be sliced with a knife, in the words of a former co-worker, “I’m not complaining about the muggy conditions. My snow shovel is hanging on its hook on the garage wall”. It’s got to be a good day.

Side Door into a Lovely Country Church

Here’s another picture from my spring morning churchyard stroll,which I posted about earlier. There’s something simply charming about the plain white door, neat sidewalk, plush bed of vinca minor,otherwise known as “periwinkle” or “myrtle” ground cover.

It was a perfect morning, very calming. I sat beside the vinca Bed for some time, contemplating these crazy times. The solitude, except for the melodic songs of birds, gave me hope and inspiration.

Book Review of The Complete Language of Flowers By Sheila Pickles

I do love the British- At least their whimsical attitude toward gardening and home life.

This book is like a lovely museum devoted to flower lore and Renaissance and 19th Century paintings – of long ago scenes of children and adults, seemingly intoxicated by the pleasure of languishing in verdant settings filled with color and greenery.

Author Sheila Pickle should be commended for recording in such a wonderful way, the traditional symbolism and tradition of classic flower species.

I shall have to seek out her other works, including, The Essence of English Life, and Simply Christmas 

I plan to include posts referencing The Complete Language of Flowers over the next few months, with full credit to the book and its author.

If you love gardens and nature, if you long for the days when spare time on fair season days was spent, not with eyes glued to a screen, but lazing in the sunshine reflecting upon the symbolic essence of flowering plants, you must seek a copy of this book.

A first rate escape from stress.


Poinsettias and Pets – Are These Prettiest of Christmas Plants Safe?

A Personal Tradition

I used to get one for my mother every year. She would baby it along all winter, keeping it from drafts and doing her best not to over water it. One year she even kept it going all summer then put it in darkness according to a schedule, to stimulate bloom the next Christmas.

Are Poinsettias Poisonous to Pets?

For many years I avoided bringing poinsetias into my own home, as I heard a rumor that they are quite poisonous to pets.

It seems I’ve deprived myself of the beauty of these pink, red, and white flowers unnnecessarily. According to the Pet Poison Helpline they are only very mildly toxic, and pets who do have issues with them rarely need medical treatment.

As with any houseplant, care should be taken to place them in a spot where they’re not an obvious attraction to pets, and the reaction of each pet should be observed when the new plant is placed in a room. If an individual shows a desire to ingest the flowers and leaves, the plant should be removed.

Should you think your pet is having a reaction to a poinsettia plant, observe him or her for the symptoms listed in the Pet Poison Helpline article referenced above and phone your veterinarian if the symptoms are severe or persistent.

But it’s great to learn, after all these years that poinsettias apparently aren’t the deadly to pets plant some of us had grown to believe. With proper prudence, we pet lovers can enjoy the velvety blooms and deep green foliage of this lovely tradtional Christmas flower.

How Did Poinsettias Become a Christmas Plant

Legend says that a little Mexican girl named Pepita picked a bouquet of weeds to take to a Christmas Eve service as a gift for Jesus. The weeds turned into beautiful flowers – poinsettias.

Joel Roberts Poinset the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico brought the plants to the United States in the early 1800s. The entrepreneurial Ecke family popularized the plants a century later.

Read more details at Readers Digest.


The lovely parts of the poinsettia we think of as petals are actually leaves.

Resurrection Lilies – Gifts from Spring

I’m seeing more resurrection or “magic lilies” than I have for some time. Perhaps busy gardeners are rediscovering the lovely, carefree blooming plants.

As long as they like their site, one can pretty much forget about them once they’re planted.

In spring they’ll surprise you with a ring of leaves, then disappear for most of the summer. In August, when other flowers have begun to fail or fade, their lovely pink trumpets will appear overnight, swaying on flexible stems for about a week.

Want to learn how to grow the bulbs that create these fascinating flowers? Click this link for details of site selection and planting .

Beautiful Bee Balms – Lost and Found

Nature presents us with many gifts. Several years ago, the bounteous patch of bee balm outside my back door bit the dust in favor of a drainage project.

I celebrated the protection the project gave our home but missed the buzz of  hummigbirds and the bright blooms in the dooryard.

Over the years, apparently the shoots I had inadvertently pulled out with the weeds sprouted in the field just behind our back lawn. So now I can look out my upstairs window or sit outside and see the hordes of hummers descending on the new patch that’s even larger than the one we used  to have.

Perhaps there’s a lesson in this occurence for other aspects of our lives.

Dreaming of Daylilies and Historic Buildings

My old shed isn’t really a historic building as the world sees things. But we all make history, so every place we’ve ever lived is  a historic building in my eyes.

I can still feel the souls of those who lived and worked in our old shed, long before we lived there. We should clean up the site, but for me that would mean an emotional experience, as it would be akin to digging up a grave, the old boards like the remaining bones of a living being.

Today, I sit and dream amid the daylilies, such a lovely flower, with a blooming season that’s way too short. They do breed long-blooming dayliles these days, but I’m still partial to the original orange wild ones.

Here’s a link to a lovely article that tells the history of the orange daylilies that rode along in pioneer wagon trains, spreading across America to decorate our roadsides to this day.

Perennials that Pop – Peonies

Peonies in our area are bowing their heads this year – after nearly daily spring showers. 

The reign of these lovely belles of the springtime ball is nearing an end. But they’re still beautiful even as their tiered skirts dust the ground, weighed down by the crystalline droplets that nest within the deep pink petals.

Peonies are one of my favorite spring flowers. Early settlers brought them to the Midwest, planted them on the lawns of farmhouse homes. Many of the plants whose roots were buried by our ancestors are still gracing our gardens.

These two common shades of peonies have decorated this hillside with their uncommonly lovely display for many years. Planted by a former resident, the hillside is no longer a homesite, yet the plants continue to thrive.

Of Peonies and Memories

Peonies grew prolifically outside the rambling farmhouse where I was raised. They were planted by my grandmother on my father’s side, whom I never knew as she passed away before I was born. But my mother and foster grandmother who lived with us until her death I was six enjoyed them too.

Those ancestors passed on their love of peonies to me. Though the plants don’t seem to like my own lawn, every spring I visit the ones established beside the cemetery stones of my paternal family plot (also established by my father’s mother), and the ones at my parent’s grave on down the lane. My mother and I planted those together after my father passed.

The plants pictured in this post grow on the hillside where the caretakers’ house for a local dam used to stand. Sadly the house is now gone, though the garage is still there, used as a headquarters for absentee caretakers on erratic visits. Like lighthouses, apparently full-time stewards and their residences have been replaced by automated equipment.

But the peonies still appear each year. Once the roots of this plant settle into the soil, they’re there for a lifetime.

I’m not certain whether my favorite shade is hot pink or this lovely pastel.

Love these gorgeous flowers? Following are a few tips to help you get them growing in your own garden.

Peonies have some particular site requirements. They don’t like to be disturbed or transplanted but if they the spot where they are set suits them, they can flourish there for a century. 

How to Grow Healthy Peonies

Assessing the site

Choose a spot in the sun, away from trees and bushes that compete for nutrients. Peonies like deep, rich, fertile soil that drains well and has a neutral pH. Provide shelter from strong winds.

Proper Planting Procedure

Peonies are sold as bare-root tubers featuring several “eyes”. Space them 3-4 feet apart for good air circulation. Dig a hole for each plant 2 feet deep and 2 feet across. Place the tuber so the eyes are facing upward, on top of a mound of dirt in the center of the hole that comes to nearly ground level. Fill in the hole but never cover the roots with more than 2 inches of soil. Water thoroughly.

Minimal Maintenance

Stake if frequent rains make the plants droopy, deadhead after blooming. Only fertilize if needed every two years, immediately following flowering. Only mulch lightly, never heavily, if winters in your area are extremely frigid. That’s about it. Peonies are one of the most carefree of plants.

Peonies and Disease

Peonies are generally very hardy, rarely suffering from disease. But they are susceptible to some wilts and blights. Never spray the ants that peonies attract. They are simply enjoying the flower nectar in exchange for protecting the plants against harmful pests.

Planting in an area that is well ventilated is normally sufficient precaution to ensure continued health for these pretty plants.

For more details about growing peonies, see this Garden Design post.

Fun Facts About this Fantastic Flower

The downside of peonies is that they do attract ants. But the sight and scent of the fragrant blooms is worth the pesky presence of these insects who actually help protect the plants.

I’m not certain if peonies can directly relieve headaches and asthma. A theory of which I recently read. But a bouquet of them beside one’s bedside is certain to provide comfort and promote improvement of any condition.

Peonies Aren’t Always Pink

Peony patches are often composed of mostly pink plants. But the species does come in  a variety of colors – nearly every hue except true blue. Here’s a great tour of types to help you find some favorites.

For a full list of twelve fun and useful facts about peonies see this Town and Country Magazine post.

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Keep calm and read on!

Weekly Wisdom – The Penny Mason Post

To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment. Jane Austen
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