Thursday, February 20, 2014

February Plant Cuttings

"But now 'tis winter, child, and bitter north winds blow.  The ways are wet and wild.  The land is laid with snow," writes the early 20th Century British poet laureate, Robert Bridges, in his lament about February.  And, so it goes for this 21st Century February, as well. Even with the sun shining and temperatures warming, slowly, I might add, there is too much snow still on the ground or it's just way too soggy, to get much done outside but it's a good time to start cuttings for the coming spring season.

No matter the condition of the winter day outside, bright or dreary, the greenhouse offers a tropical forest Northern Virginia style--warm, moist, pungent and peaceful.  And, the geraniums, oh the geraniums--be they scented or your typical garden variety, are raring to go.  The rosemary, myrtle and bay cuttings I made in the early fall are looking good and healthy as well.

After making cuttings from the scented geraniums, my hands smell like a summer bouquet of rose and lemon with mint and a hint of coconut.  I carry them into the kitchen to plant in small pots and the green aroma sprinkles out of the big farm sink mixing with the morning scents of cinnamon and sugar, coffee and cream.

Finally, the annual lavenders bloom out, "Don't forget us!"  Don't worry I won't!  I collect a couple dozen cuttings or so to start with from Spanish lavenders, wild French and fringed lavenders and Canary Island lavenders. These are much easier and very rewarding lavenders to propagate as they bloom freely starting in spring and lasting throughout the summer months all of the way up until the autumn frosts really gain strength.  That's if you keep dead-heading them. Their sharp and piney aroma opens up my sinuses and travels past the boundaries of the kitchen and far enough to peak the dog's interest, sitting at the front door waiting for his morning walk.

While getting  set up to plant lavender cuttings, I ate the last of the lavender-chocolate truffles my friend Kay, owner of Little Apple Pastry Shop in Aldie, VA made for me.  She used Blooming Hill lavender, of course and they were absolutely delicious--as you can tell from the empty container.  She sells them in her shop so be sure to stop by Little Apple Pastry Shop and try one--or a few--of these little lovelies.  We will also be selling them here in April for Easter.  What a nice gift the Easter Bunny can leave in someone's Easter basket.
For the time being, I can forget the icebergs floating in the slushy grass all over the backyard and take comfort in yet another ancient gardener's tale, "Much February snow, a fine summer doth sow."  Let's hope that the wisdom stowed away here is true, as the cuttings and I are counting on it.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Radiant Orchid = Lavender, Really

Freshly picked and radiant in the soft summer light of last year.
Well, it's official.  Those in the know--oh, you know--the fashionistas, the style experts, those who tell us "what's trending today" have proclaimed Radiant Orchid to be the color of 2014 and "a modern twist to the traditional" and "exudes confidence and beauty." Of course, as opulent as this color appears to be, in all of its "orchidness," it looks suspiciously like a luxurious shade of good old-fashioned lavender, doesn't it?  But, that is okay.  Because whatever you want to call it, this lustrous, lovely shade will prevail in all of her classic grandness leaving the trendy glory to the name of the day.

Gathered flowers from our gardens, last summer.
Rosemary, zinnia and lavender in the background.
To take it even further, floral patterns are everywhere for spring from the runway to the showroom and, surprise surprise, even to the garden or, should I say from all of our gardens.  And, why not? what is prettier than the hue of Radiant Lavender--er--I mean Orchid splashed over petals and blossoms. Whether woven by Mother Nature or Oscar De La Renta, it's a color that compliments leafy green, rosy pink and sunshine yellow, to name a few.  No wonder the Red Hat Society claimed this shade of "purpley-vibrant and violety" lavender as it's unnamed but ever present compliment to their ruby facade.

I love lavender and I love flowers and I love, love, love lavender flowers especially lavender, lavandula, if you want to talk technically, lavande, if you want to appear French.  Good heavens--I'm actually "en vogue" as I'm sure many of you can make this claim, too.  That's if you love, wear, display and live the color of 2014--Radiant Lavender--er--I mean, Radiant Orchid!