Tag Archives: Christmas cactus

Flowers open on Maundy Thursday.

For us Orthodox Christians, Holy Thursday is still four weeks in the future. So when I woke I wasn’t immediately thinking about the events of that day that my western Christian friends and family are commemorating.

Rather, I thought to go open the greenhouse door so that it doesn’t get over 100 degrees in there today. On Monday, before I had realized the effect of the sun’s changing orientation in the sky, and how it has been shining on the winter-shaded greenhouse more minutes of every day, I glanced at my indoor-outdoor thermometer to see — 113°. Uh-oh, I don’t think any of my plants would like that for very long.

Look what was blooming this first day of April: a Christmas cactus. It is one of many I propagated from the large cactus I gave away, and you can see in the picture below another five that I’d like to give away. If any of my readers who lives within an hour’s drive of me would like one of these smaller plants, please let me know and I will bring it to you. Maybe they will bloom soon, too…?

More scenes from the greenhouse, where the newer Love-in-a-Mist seeds are outperforming the older ones. The Winter Luxury Pumpkin starts are getting their secondary leaves. This is a small heirloom pumpkin that I got from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds. It has a reputation for good flavor.

I also picked asparagus early this morning, because the stalks continue to emerge at record speed and in record numbers. Only half of the crowns that I originally planted survive, but those produce more every year, so I really have plenty….. though I do wonder if one can ever have too much asparagus.

I accidentally broke off one crisp spear in the middle, and it only took me a few seconds to decide to eat it right then and there. That made me think back to various discoveries over my gardening life, of the many vegetables that are pretty tasty when they come right off the plant and are eaten “alive.” Asparagus is one of those that is sweet and juicy at that moment, but it loses flavor and tenderness fast. I used also to eat green beans, sweet corn, and bell peppers before I ever got them into the house.

First volunteer Delta Sunflower

I know one can eat Brussels sprouts raw, but I don’t think I have. And I’ve never grown them successfully, either. But since vegetables are the topic at hand, here is my favorite way to cook that one. Now that I have a standard  recipe and can count on success, it’s easy to have a container in the fridge that I can snack on. They are like candy to me, but more satisfying, of course.

In the front yard, in ascending order of the day’s favorites:

Returning to the most beautiful remembrance of the day….

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

“Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

“For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.

“Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

“As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.

“This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

John Chapter 6

Lovely new things…

So many newly sprung buds and flowers to be seen around here — also some not so lovely, even ugly things in my garden. One of the most pure and fresh is the bloom on the plum trees:gl-p1060882

I spent hours in the garden over the last few days; one task was to provide some more strings for the snow pea plants that keep growing up and up and have even formed two infant pods so far. Why do they keep on – how do they do it, on the stems that seem rotted and dried near the ground?

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I wouldn’t be surprised if I go out one morning and find that they have keeled over, but strangely, life flows through those brown and emaciated tubes. The sugar snap peas did not survive long enough to get flowers, and I removed them yesterday as well.

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Evidently being beaten down by rain and then frozen every night is not their idea of seasonable weather. Truly, October is the month we are supposed to plant peas in our area, but this hasn’t been a typical year weather-wise….

For a week we’ve been having more frosts, so I brought the Christmas Cactus indoors by my computer table and it is giving us Christmas in March.

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The arugula and pak choi have gone to flowering, so I pulled them out and planted some parsley and new pak choi, purple this time. From the flowers you can guess that it is in the Brassica family.

This first week of Lent we have so many wonderful services, I’ve been at church a lot, and am glad to have my phone with me so I can save images like this. Somehow the camellia escaped getting brown spots from being constantly wet. It is giving us a picture of the purity and beauty that is God’s will for our souls.

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Life and work in the January garden.

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This looks like a ball of moss growing on a broken brick, but I think that the moss is growing all over something small and lumpish. I don’t know what. Maybe I will find out in the summertime. But it was a pretty thing I saw in the garden this afternoon.

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After I finally got outdoors — the second time, after I came back inside for a hat and scarf — I found lots to see and do. I have resisted even going near the plum trees because I knew they wanted me to prune them and I didn’t feel ready, somehow.

garden-p1060549First I had to hunt around in stacks of papers to find the directions and pictures that helped me last year. I did that yesterday. When I took the instructions out there this afternoon I still lacked courage, so I came back in a second time to watch some YouTube videos on pruning. I liked hearing nice men tell me I would not kill the tree so just go ahead. Some men threatened that I might actually damage the tree, but I didn’t listen to them.

I’m only showing you the before picture of one plum tree, because I would rather no one sees my trees now until the blossoms beautify them. I saved the straight pieces of prunings for – something. They might come in handy.

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A couple of weeks ago I spread a too-huge tarp over my little lemon tree to protect it against the frost, and when the danger was past I took it off so the tree could get light and rain. Of course I just left the tarp crumpled on the path. Today I decided to fold it up. It was too huge for me to wrestle by myself, but with the help of the patio table to spread it on I finally pinned it down. Unfortunately, it is wet. I’ll have to air it out on the driveway after the next spell of rain, but for now it’s tidied up. p1060566

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We weren’t allowed to burn wood today, but a storm is coming in tonight, and while it is raining the air quality is almost always good, and we can have wood fires. I’m expecting to be enjoying the woodstove for the next few days. My firewood is under tarps outside, to keep it somewhat dry, so I uncovered it enough to bring wood into the garage to stock the rack there. Right now I have oak, almond, and eucalyptus for fuel.

The cold and dark greenhouse is keeping some plants alive. I have been leaving the door open so that it doesn’t get too damp. The tarragon is little sprouts in a pot.

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And the Christmas cactus is almost ready to bloom…

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When it does, maybe that will be a sign for me to take down my Christmas tree!

March colors, surprises and celebrations.

ceanothus blue so hemI took a long walk around the neighborhood this morning. If I had brought my camera, I’d have more pictures to post, but then the prayer and exercise benefits of my outing would have been greatly reduced, so I don’t regret not thinking of it.

I noticed fuzzy chamomile plants close to the ground, and the cobalt blue ceanothus bushes such as we used to have at our former property. Many types of ceanothus grow wild in California but you can also buy them at nurseries. The picture above shows the color that is blooming around here right now.

pine cone forming 3-15 March is the month of our wedding anniversary, which makes it the month that we have many times made day or weekend trips within northern California to celebrate. Usually some blue bushes are flowering in the places we are visiting, and we are outdoors a lot walking or looking from highway overlooks. Maybe this is one reason that blue flowers have long been my favorite.

For example, Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans), which I first noticed decades ago in Big Sur. It can grow in our county and we even had one on our church property for a while, but they must not thrive here. The picture at bottom I took last year in Cambria.

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forget-me-nots in the garden

At home this morning the pine cones that are forming in our big tree caught my eye. It seems to me there are double or triple the number of them that have grown there before — or maybe it is just my imagination.

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Is there some climactic condition that could cause this, say, severe drought that makes the tree feel that it is dying, and ought to get busy and reproduce? I’ll have to ask the children if their memories are different from mine. I still don’t know what kind of pine this is. The task of finding out needs to go on a project list that is buried somewhere here. It will be a small project just to find it.

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The children I want to consult with, all five of them, will be here celebrating with us this month – we’re letting them do the traveling this year. It’s not like the early years when we had to get away to be alone. Nowadays being alone is the usual thing, and we are thrilled when any kids converge on our house.

Mr. Glad and I sat in the back yard this afternoon, on a bench in the sun. If I have many more days in which I accomplish both a walk beside a creek among the trees and sitting in the sun, I may find that I don’t need the Christmas lights that are still shining around my kitchen window.

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While we were relaxing and facing my potted plants, it suddenly dawned on me that sourgrass was living and blooming in the miniature rose pot. When did he move in? I don’t remember having sourgrass anywhere on our property in all the 25 years we have lived here. Maybe a bird dropped in a seed.

Another new thing is the Christmas cactus in bloom. The story behind my cactus is long: Friend May and I had both admired the mother cactus in our friend Jerry’s house for decades. It was a prolific bloomer and it was a huge potted plant on wheels, taking up a space about 4′ x 4′, with most of that measured out by long arching stems. When Jerry moved to a retirement home 3-4 years ago, May gave me a big chunk of his cactus plant with roots.

But I don’t have the wall of windows Jerry did, or any sunny and convenient indoor place for houseplants, so I moved my piece of cactus from place to place outdoors, and under the eaves in the winter. I made many cuttings from it and managed to give at least one away before they died of neglect. Last month my sister told me that her grandchild of the Jerry cactus was blooming beautifully on the central California coast, which was a big relief to me — my guilt at not providing a nurturing home for my adopted child was assuaged by knowing that the next generation was prospering.

first Thanksgiving cactus bloom 3-15 JerryNot a week later I walked past the corner of the utility yard where my poor peaked plant would have gone unseen as usual if its flower buds hadn’t glowingly called up to me, “Look at us!” I was shocked and blessed no end, and quickly moved “her” to a sunny place. Now that my cactus has shown a desire to perform, I am endeared to her in a new way and have named her “Tylda,” after Jerry’s late wife.

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This site tells how to care for these plants, and it showed me that this one is not a Thanksgiving cactus as I had previously thought, but a Christmas cactus. It also says that they require cold temperatures to spur them into blooming. So perhaps it’s not a bad thing that I left it outdoors. I’m thinking of ways that I can be a better houseplant owner in the future.

But this month, it’s the outdoor plants for me, and I do enjoy whatever colors they are dressed in when they bloom. But especially blue.