Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hidden Art

I was cleaning the breakfast dishes today and glanced down  at the dish drainer and happened to see a shiny sparkle on a tea cup. The bright sun was streaming in the kitchen window. I said to myself,  " Oh my, that is a beautiful floral bouquet on the tea cup". I was inspired to get a few more of my favorite tea cups down from the shelf. I thought it might be fun to get a close up of each cup and post them on my blog.  A patch of sun was coming in the dining room and gave me perfect light for the photo.

One of the favorite passtimes of Artists, the world over, is to capture still-life's on canvas. Floral arrangements not only grace the estates of the Royal class but are a very popular image to place on fine china. This practice is a way to pay tribute to the love of beauty. Placing the image on fine china offers a signature opportunity to  approach immortality; a seeming permanent tribute to the artist's talent and the fine china company's good taste.  (Click once on the tea cup for an  enlarged view)

Duchess Fine Bone China England  

                                   Royal Albert Bone China England

Queens Fine Bone  China                                              England Rosina China Co Ltd. Since 1875                                                                      

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's Good to Day Dream

Art can show up in the most unsuspecting places

I almost forgot I took a picture of a napkin at an Iris Society meeting last fall. I was day dreaming today and thought of it.  Last fall we were having  a snack and I looked at the stack of napkins and I said: "Those napkins are too beautiful to dirty". So I got the crazy idea to take a photographs with my handy I-phone. Well, the result is the work of art immediately displayed below. This is your invitation to Day Dream about the Iris bloom this Spring. Usually the bloom peaks the third to fourth week in May, but you never know with the funny weather we have been having. Enjoy Iris and if you do not have any Iris in your garden maybe it is time you planted some. There are thousands of color combinations and several varieties, including Tall Bearded, Dwarf, Siberian and Japanese Iris, to name a few.Some have fragrance and some rebloom Check out the American Iris Society  Facebook page for brilliant examples of this magnificent perennial. Yes, they come back year after year with some basic good gardening care. You owe to your self to display this amazing flower. For more information go to or check out the North East Ohio Iris Society web site at  See you in the Garden.

Double Click to enlarge Artists view  of Tall Bearded Iris

Monday, January 21, 2013

Surprising Growth in Ten Days

Geranium Cuttings in January: A New Adventure  

It was a total crap shoot to experiment with cuttings in January. Never before had I tried it this early. Usually I wait for the Spring Growth Spurt when you feel it in the air. Take a look at how much growth I have had on these individual Ivy Gernaiums since January 12, 2013. Today is January 21. The leaves are broadening out, there is a great deal of  new stem growth. I am still using the heating pad underneath the tray so I am certain the warmth is adding the lovely growth pattern I am seeing. I am gleeful with the early results. I have no idea what I am going to do with all these plants in February when there is no room for them to grow. I really must get a heated greenhouse to cool off the temperature during the day. But of course  protect the flowers  from frost at night. I have an interesting challenge to face in mid February.  
 Ivy Geranaiums with established roots

Individual Ivy Geranium with rich green leaves

Below you will see a few flats of pink and red pelargonium cuttings. I am estimating I will get about 65% germination or 20 plants that will grow roots. The cuttings in the foreground were planted on January 20. The Red one you see was planted about two weeks ago. I imagine some of them have started roots.  I told my wife how excited I was with my results thus far. Guess what she said. "I am glad for you". No passion. No thrill. Bummer. Oh well. She is all about enjoying the flowers; not about growing them. That's ok, she is a great cook. You have to be a gardener like me to appreciate what is happening. See you in the Garden. 

 Pelargonium Cuttings20 Pink and 12 Red

Saturday, January 12, 2013

White Phaleonopsis Orchid Blooms

I pamper three lovely Orchids in my office which overlook our woods.  My wife is not fond of Orchids because when they are not blooming they are kind of stringy and somewhat unattractive. I prefer to focus on  the fact that Orchid leaves stay green continually and tend to look nearly as hardy as the leaves on a Mother-in-law Tongue plant.

The White Phaleonopsis shown to the right is one of my favorites because the buds come in multiples and the blooms seem to last forever. In the middle of winter I can always count on my Orchids to cheer me up when it is cold outside and spring blooms seem so far away.    

The secret to my learning how to grow Orchids was the rookie success I had due to the amazing amount of indirect light that enters my large office window. Orchids  do not do well in direct sun-light. Since Orchids are essentially parasites, which grow in a shaded jungle environment they do not have a true root system. In the jungle they often grow on the bark of trees.

As you can see the Orchid on this page is positioned in a flower pot, with ample drainage holes. I do not use soil as such, but rather a moss-like, medium that is very porous, unlike traditional potting soil. I water the Orchid about every seven days; wetting the entire surface inside the pot. There is  also very good drainage at the bottom of the pot. You do not want the Orchid to dry out completely but you also do not want the Orchid to sit in water.   My Orchids fascinate me and I don't mind that my wife prefers other flowers. I do not discriminate when it comes to appreciating beauty in a flower. Quite frankly, I don't think  I ever met a flower that I didn't like.      

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ivy Geranium Cuttings Ignore Winter

Skylight & Ivy Geranium Basket 

Do you have a skylight in your home? We have a great skylight  in an upstairs bathroom. It has become an annual tradition to bring in an Ivy Geranium basket as the first frost approaches. This year was no different. I cut it back and pulled out  pesky weeds and hung it up. The photo to the left shows some healthy growth after pruning. While you do not see any pink blooms in this photo  I have enjoyed  many pink blooms for the past few months and it has added some warm color and charm to those cold, dreary, winter days.

Ivy Geranium Cuttings 

As my in-house Ivy Geranium basket began sending out long shoots it became apparent that I had to trim it back.  A few days before Christmas I took some scissors and gave it a trim. Naturally, it goes against my instinct to throw anything away that might grow, so I took several leafy geranium stems to my garden room in the basement. I prepared them to be cuttings. 

I chose my preferred stems (an even dozen) and placed them in a 12 pack of growing medium. (peat moss, pearlite, and some rich humus;  harvested from my 2011-2012 compost heap. I put the flat of cuttings into a plastic tray, set them on top of an electric heating pad and then poured  about an inch of tepid water in the bottom of the plastic tray. The heat reaches a temperature of about 60-65 degrees and warms the soil just right.

I also turned on the florescent grow light so that the green leaves would receive a good days light every day. In about two weeks or so (should have logged it precisely) I could see that several of the cuttings seemed happy and green; my instinct told me germination had occurred in these. The six pots you see above and the pot to the left are my successfull results. Some of the original cuttings had turned  yellow; a sure sign that the stem did not yield roots. I ended up with six successful cuttings. I was very pleased with this result.  All of the pictures on this page are ivy geraniums; photographed on January 5, 2013.

New Growth

I will publish pictures of these cuttings for the next few months so you can get an idea of how much time it takes to grow into a mature plant, and how long it takes to get flower buds and blooms. The cutting above is doing very well. The small leaf is a new leaf. The picture to the right shows new sprouts at the base of the plant. The new growth is robust. It will be interesting to see how many stems will burst forth from the center of the plant. I want to encourage you to begin experimenting with  propagation of your own ivy geraniums. It is great fun and definitely saves you some cash. See you in the Garden. It is only a few months until Spring.