This and that

Here are five things that caught my attention lately:

1.these lemons

lemons

because I’ve been to the garden where they grew.
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Viewing life through a wabi-sabi lens

Loneliness does not come from being alone, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important. – Carl Jung

wabi sabi the beauty of things whithered

Discovering a concept that describes an emotion your culture has no word for can help you make better sense of yourself and more able to cope with life’s stresses.

This happened to me several years ago when I learned about wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi (wobby-sobby) expresses things I’ve long felt but had no words for.

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Yellow roses and a three-legged cat

 

yellow roses

yellow roses

yellow roses

yellow roses

yellow roses

Capturing the beauty of yellow roses as they fade helped me tap into peace and calm, which I really needed these past few weeks.

I was distressed about one of our cats; Archie wasn’t doing well and I feared the worst.

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Coaxing paperwhite bulbs: an aura of spring in the dead of winter

coaxing paperwhite bulbs

With very little coaxing paperwhite bulbs will reward you with clusters of fragrant blooms in as little as four weeks. All you need is a container, a holding medium and water.

Soil is not necessary; paperwhites will happily grow anchored in either decorative stone, glass, pebbles or gravel.

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This and that

wreath in window

Here are five things that caught my attention lately:

1.this juice

carrot, oange and ginger juice

because it’s an elixir when I’m feeling less than vital – 3 carrots, 1 orange, 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger.

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Flowers in the home elevate mood

carnations, flowers in the home to elevate mood

I received much-needed emotional support this past week from photographing a bunch of grocery store carnations.

Displaying them about the house helped ensure my whole family reaped their mood-elevating benefits, too.

Handling each flower, cutting the stems and immersing them in water, and arranging them to be photographed draws my attention to colour, texture and pattern, to the softness of the petals and the particular green of the leaves and stems. It helps me recognize the beauty of flowers, which opens my heart to feelings of joy and love.

orange and pink carnations

orange and pink carnations

fkowers in the home to elevate mood

flowers in the home to elevate mood

I bought three bunches of orange and pink carnations for $20.00. A bit of baby’s breath was mixed in each bunch.

I like to break up the flowers and arrange them in separate vessels of varying sizes.

Place your bouquets in rooms where you spend the most time, and in areas where everyone can see them and benefit from their beauty.

Seeing them first thing in the morning is important since they help set your mood.

The kitchen is an excellent spot since it’s where we tend to gather before we start our day. Plus it’s most convenient room to change the water!

flowers elevate mood in the home

flowers elevate mood in the home

flowers elevate mood in the home

carnations, flowers in the home to elevate mood

flowers in the home to elevate mood

carnations, flowers in the home to elevate mood

 

Pink and orange carnations; flowers for the bereaved

 

pink and orange carnations

 

Michael leunig, selling violets, flowers heal

See that character selling violets? That’s me.

I’m not so naive to think looking at photos of flowers can repair the blow to the spirit you might be experiencing today, as the results of the US election sink in. Still, I offer you these pink and orange carnations, styled specifically with you in my mind.

Flowers to comfort the bereaved.

xo

pink and orange carnations
carnations
pink and orange carnations
pink and orange carnations
pink and orange carnations

Air drying chamomile, mint and sage

 

dried chamomile, tea

November arrived and I’m giving myself a pat on the back for getting the garden to bed before things freeze up.

Potted hostas are in the garage covered with a blanket. Pots of mint and catnip are safe in the ground until I retrieve them in the spring.

I hate to waste so I gathered the last of the chamomile, mint and sage, and I’m air drying them.

Air drying takes longer than using an oven or dehydrator, but it’s an easier method for preserving fresh herbs. Plus air drying means the oils in the leaves (wherein the flavour lies) aren’t depleted and you get more pungent herbs.

air drying herbs, chamomile

air drying herbs, chamomile

Any herbs still growing in your garden? Harvest them now and air dry them before it’s too late.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Remove only the healthiest blossoms and branches.
  • Lay chamomile flowers in a single layer on a flat surface and store in a container once thoroughly dry.

drying herbs from the garden, sage

air drying herbs, mint

bundle of sage for air drying

air drying herbs, sage

  • Cut mint and sage branches, give them a good shake and remove any discoloured or damaged leaves. Rinse in cool water and pat dry with a clean towel.
  • You can strip the leaves from the stalk and allow them to dry individually, laid flat on a clean towel.
  • Or, bundle four to six branches together, securely tie, and hang in an area free of dust, moisture and direct sunlight, with plenty of air circulation.
  • Hang undisturbed for 1 to 3 weeks. Bundles shrink as they dry so check every so often to ensure branches are secure and not slipping.

air drying herbs

air drying herbs, mint

 

dried mint leaves

  • You can also place bundles inside brown paper bags and hang to dry if dust poses a problem. Make sure to punch a few holes in the bag for good air circulation.
  • When leaves crumble between your fingers your herbs are ready to be taken down and stripped from the branch.
  • If using the bag method vigorously shake the bag and a give it a few squeezes. The bag is great as it catches all the dried leaves.
  • Store herbs in a tightly lidded container.

dried chamomile, tea

Beat the winter blues; visit a greenhouse

government of canada tropical greenhouse

I think I felt my psychological reaction to winter shift from acceptance to slight dread.

In preparation for the inevitable, I’m reviewing my list of ways to stay cozy and beat the winter blues.

Other than the usual items – dietary strategies, steam showers, naps, extra layers of blankets and clothing, etc – I’ve added to the list a visit to the Government of Canada Tropical Greenhouse.

A greenhouse, I recently experienced, is both a physical and psychological oasis in the dead of winter.

For starters, it provides you with a potent plant fix. Plants are proven mood enhancers and this heritage greenhouse houses more than 500 lush tropical varieties.

The building itself is a sight to behold. It’s a soaring web-like structure made almost entirely of glass and metal, a seemingly too thin separation from the realities of a harsh winter day. Yet inside you’re guaranteed the air is warm and humid. You can ditch your winter duds, close your eyes and be momentarily transported to somewhere tropical.

Here’s hoping there’s a greenhouse somewhere near you.

P.S. Planning your garden for next summer is another good way to get a psychological lift during the doldrum days of winter. Would you like some of my marigold seeds?

government of canada tropical greenhouse

government of canada tropical greenhouse

government of canada tropical greenhouse

government of canada tropical greenhouse

government of canada tropical greenhouse

government of canada tropical greenhouse

government of canada tropical greenhouse

government of canada tropical greenhouse

government of canada tropical greenhouse

government of canada tropical greenhouse

Marigold, the perfect fall flower plus a giveaway

 

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

It’s October and, while most of the garden is shades of solid greens, the marigolds are multi-shades of vibrant yellows, reds and oranges in stunning single and bi-colour patterns. In this growing zone marigolds start blooming in late June or early July and by the fall are really (as Beyonce might say) feeling themselves.

Marigolds are the perfect fall flower for colour palette alone but also because they thrive in spite of chilly temperatures and shorter daylight hours.

Before the first hard frost hits I’m cutting marigolds for vases and bringing inside potted marigolds so I can enjoy them for longer.

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

My very first plantings of marigolds were store bought but now I only plant from harvested seeds.

It was never my intention to harvest marigold seeds. It’s the blooms, at the height of their beauty, I can’t resist and I collect them by the basket full. I discovered the more I pluck, the more and more marigold blossoms produced. Magic!

October and while most of the garden is different shades of solid greens, the marigolds are multi-shades of vibrant yellows, reds and oranges in stunning single and bi-colour patterns. They start blooming in June and by the fall, at least in this growing zone, are really (as Beyonce might say) feeling themselves . Marigolds are the perfect fall flower for their colour palette alone, but also because they thrive in spite of this season's chilly temperatures and shorter days. The first hard frost hasn't hit this region yet and before it does, I'm bringing the potted marigolds inside so I can enjoy them just a little longer.

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

Inside the house I watch them dry and change colours – to mustard yellows, burnt oranges and burgundies. Then I discover seeds inside the pod, at the base of the blossom.

Now I always save the seeds. Saving seeds for planting draws my attention to how great nature is. It’s a comforting micro ritual – harvesting, sowing, planting, and enjoying marigold blooms.

dried marigold petals

dried marigolds

dried marigold petals

It’s trial, error and learning as I go. I read you only get viable seeds if you let them ripen on the plant before you harvest. Ooops! I didn’t know and I was plucking blooms long before they died on the plant.

However, experience tells me you can harvest early as long as you allow the plucked flowers to dry and you leave the seeds undisturbed to ripen in the pod. I’ve had very good luck growing seeds harvested this way. Still, I always assume not every seed will grow and I plant them extra thick. Lord knows I have plenty!

Would you like some marigold seeds?

marigold seeds

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

marigolds are the perfect fall flower

Type your name in the comment section and I will randomly draw five names and send you each a packet of seeds. Open to readers everywhere!

I hope you grow some marigolds and enjoy them as much as I do.

One final note: marigolds are not only the perfect fall flower but wonderful companion plants for your garden. They balance the garden’s ecosystem by repelling harmful insect pests like aphids and white flies. Even their roots are at work underground releasing into the soil thiopene, a chemical that repels harmful nematodes.

marigold seeds

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