Saturday, February 28, 2009


This morning, I walked into the greenhouse to check on some seedlings and cuttings and to my surprise, calendula and viola seedlings, especially, are sprouting--even needing to be transplanted at this point. A few cornflowers and striped marigolds are showing signs of emerging as well. Boxwood cuttings are showing new growth, too! I didn't take a picture of the sweat peas, but they refuse to be left behind and are growing fast as well. And, petunias are blooming in between the chickens! Who cares if it is cold outside and the weatherman is calling for snow tommorrow and the next day. The mantra in my greenhouse is spring is coming...spring is coming...spring is coming...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pussy Willow, again...

"While yet the woods lie grey and still,
I give my tidings--Spring is near!
One day the land shall leap to life--
Spring is HERE!"
By Cicely Mary Barker

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pussy Willow

This past weekend was a mix of blustery winds, sun, clouds and even some snow but that didn't deter Peter and I from getting out and getting to work at harvesting the graceful branches from our Pussy Willow Bush. Located far out in the yard and away from our house this bush is a large, sprawling shrub that stretches itself all the way to it's twiggy ends that sway in the breeze. It will once again oblige us with plenty of silvery, soft catkins to use for crafts, potpourri and bunches of graceful pussy willow wands to add to flower arrangements as well.

The catkins are blooming a bit later this year than last...perhaps because it has been colder, for the most part, longer into this February. We cut down only about half of the bush so far in anticipation of seeing it's branches become fuller within the next few weeks. However, we got a good start and I especially wanted to show you Peter making some of the simplest yet prettiest wreaths you'll ever see..Willow catkins are just plain lovely.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Great Wall of China? Perhaps...

Yesterday's Washington Post Home Section featured a story about the changing tastes of today's brides when it comes to selecting a china pattern. It said that the trend is for brides not to select a formal china pattern anymore since many may be receiving their mother's or grandmother's formal china. The article also went on to say that the trend now is for brides and newlyweds to pick out white ground china for everyday use as well as formal occasions that can be mixed and matched with other pastterns as they acquire more throughout their marraige.

I was married almost 29 years ago and, although I did not select plain white china for everyday use, or two different patterns-- one for everyday and one for formal, I did select one pattern and still use today because I loved it then, love it now and see no other possibliltiy but to keep on loving it and appreciating it.

I grew up in a house where my mother collected antique Blue Onion pieces and her collection was small change compared to that of my Aunt Jeanne's--her sister. I was lucky enough that my older sister's favorite color was, and still is green, so the "antique-aholic" that she is, didn't seem to have any interest in it, thereby the Blue Onion pieces were left to me...Thanks, Mom and Chris!

Anyway, I chose one china pattern, ("Blue Danube" by Lipper, Int.) to use for everyday, anytime and have never looked back. The Blue Onion pattern (which is really a pomegranite intertwined with various flowers and vines) mixes beautifully with old Meissen pieces and other antique flow blue china as well. I never thought about mixing it with anything other than similar china pieces that I have acquired over the years. Is this boring? No. Actually, I think white is a bit boring and then you definitely have to mix and match colors and patterns to perk up your table--but that's my opinion.

Through the years, I have acquired a lot of Blue Onion pieces, both original and reproduction and every piece seems to be attached with a story of my mother, my Aunt Jeanne, and many dear friends along the way. I have come to realize that even though the china is pretty, it's the experience associated with it that really holds the significance. My advice to new brides--go with your heart! Get what you love--whether it's white china, blue and white china or something totally abstract. You are going to live with it a long time and, hopefully, have someone in your life who will love it just as much and will want you to pass it down to them to store their memories of you in.

One note about china patterns and marriage--I am beginning to realize just how long I have been married since I can no longer go to a department store to replace broken peices in "Blue Danube" by Lipper. I have to go to antique stores to find dinner plates and so on! Once in a while my pattern pops up in a discontinued items catalog and I still keep buying it because, to me, it is beautiful, even the chipped and cracked pieces (adds some personality to the mix) and it has staying power--just like my marriage.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wet Day

Garden Lore says "Much February snow, a fine summer doth show." Yesterday, we woke up, once again during February, to at least a fine dusting of snow and tiny crystal balls of frozen rain on the ground. By 10am, the glaze of white turned to wet grass, bricks and pavement and it remained a bleak, rainy day. The herb garden is still bedded down for the winter. I left two rosemarys--"Mrs. Jessop's Upright"--not so upright at this time, uncovered in these beds for the winter...they still show some signs of life and I remain hopeful that they will make it to spring. The burlap mound standing behind the statue is another rosemary-- "Herb Cottage." I've tried not to take chances with this one and covered that back in early December. It has been such a beautiful, bushy and fragrant plant, providing a nice backdrop to this small fountain during the spring, summer and fall months, that I cannot even bring myself to peak at it's condition until we get through this bitter part of winter....I'll look in March. All three rosemarys are on their third year in this particular garden, so I've grown a bit attached to them and know they have been happy here. Of course, the past couple of winters have been warmer than this one but, these rosemarys are hardy to zone 6 and Blooming Hill, VA is located in zone 6B...keep your fingers crossed. My herb garden is located on the southeast side of the house so it is positioned in a protected area which has always given a slight advantage to the plants--perrennnials, annuals, shrubs-- grown here and I keep reassuring myself that rosemary can be hardier than we imagine...check again for crossed fingers. Today, the forecast calls for clouds, snow flurries, low 40's at best and very gusty winds that will usher even colder air in by tommorrow. The goundhog was right back at the beginning of the month...a lot more winter to go...hold on.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Work Weekend

It may have been Valentines Day on Saturday but it was also a work day here at Blooming Hill, VA. Upper 40's to lower 50's and sun in the afternoon coaxed us outside to gather up old brush and fallen trees and branches, downed since last fall--one of the perks of living on a wooded lot. Burn piles never seem to go away around here, no matter what time of year it is, but you only have so many nice days (cool, no wind and not particularly dry--also it helps to call the county fire marshall and check in with them in order to avoid any fines if there happens to be a ban on burning at the time you want to burn yard debris--don't worry, we did.) On Sunday, Peter cut down ornamental grasses and added them to yesterday's burn pile, a job that takes a lot of strength and energy. The ashes were still hot and the dried up grass was gone in hardly any time. Spring is still pretty far away, but it's never too early to get a jump start on some of those big jobs. burning yard debris isn't every family's favorite way to bond on Valentines Day Weekend, but we had a good time and a few laughs anyway. Even our son, Kevin, and dog, Tucker, got into the act and within a few hours, the huge burn pile was reduced to ashes. By the looks of the Pussy Willow behind Peter cutting down the ornamental grasses, I'm thinking we have next weekend's to do list at least partially planned out...cutting that down, making pussy willow wreaths and bundling branches for other crafts...never a dull moment around here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day

Poet Edmund Spencer once said, "Roses are red and violets blue, and all the sweetest flowers that in the garden grew." That is what I wish for you... Have a happy Valentines Day!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Cherubs can be any kind of angel, often represented as chubby, rose-faced children with wings. Along with flowers and hearts, angels, especially those depicting cherubs, have become symbols of love and romance. Cupid, a popular Valentine's cherub, always has a bow and arrow in his hand. Whatever you may call them, angels, cherubs, beings of beauty and innocence that trancend the ordinary, capture the imagination and dwell within the spirit and all around us in our daily lives. Author Thomas Traherne described these facsinating creatures as "Immortal Cherubiums! And young men glittering and sparkling angels, and maids strange and seraphic pieces of life and beauty! Boys and girls tumbling in the street, and playing, were moving jewels." Whether real or imaginary, angels are beloved. They lift our spirits and warm our hearts.