Memory Prompt

Gardens. Flowers. August.

In the vegetable garden August is filled with picking, washing, cutting, and canning. Hot water in great quantities as mother performed (and directed) the preservation and storage of vegetables to tide us through the winter.

Flowers formed a joyful spot in their own garden, or on the edge of the vegetables. Their names escape me now but I do remember the year I was ready to take gladiolus to the county fair as part of my 4-H project. However, it was also the year we had a puppy — who decided the best place to roll and scratch his back was in the middle of the flower bed. (I took the dahlia. — It’s always wise to have a back-up plan.

Our neighbors grew difference flowers from our variety. They had hollyhock beside their garage. Decades later, the sight of this portion of the Missouri Botanical garden takes me back to the flowers grown by previous generations.

Do you have a flower garden? Fond memories of other gardens?


The Little Things

Big.  Bold.  Beautiful.

That is one way to be noticed.

Petite.  Delicate.  Fragrant.

These can be charming, especially in the floral world.

The first house I lived in had a lilac bush beside the steps to the front porch. Under and almost hidden were some floral gems. They also happen to be May’s designated flower.

Four and a half decades later, and too many residences to consider, I moved into a condo and needed to fill a flower garden. A large oak tree made the area shady, limiting the plants which would thrive. I soon decided what I wanted and talked about it at work. A few months later, at the height of a St. Louis summer, a co-worker offered me some plants when a home renovation project was destroying their current home. I accepted, planted, and prayed.

The lily-of-the-valley thrived in their new location — after a few years of getting established.

This year the experiment continues — the first full year without the shade of that large oak tree.




Finding Holiday Spirit

The music is playing in public spaces.  Decorations of green and red with more twinkling lights than a person can count adorn trees and doors, and walls, lawns. Every retail outlet, large and small, urges you to buy, buy, buy.

Are you feeling overwhelmed?

I bring you bad news.  It is twenty-two days to Christmas.

If you are hunting for a quiet, yet pretty space, to decompress from all the noise and advertising I may have found one.

This is from the Missouri Botanical Garden in 2017. The displays complimenting the trains change each year. Do a little research and find a public display you can enjoy at leisure.


Holiday Blooms

In a few short days, citizens of the United States will pause and celebrate Thanksgiving.

How will you mark the day? Family? Feasting? Worship? Football? Walk in the park? Shopping?

During the seasons of my life, I’ve done most of the above. My parents often hosted friends and/or family for a feast after a worship service. Other years we were guests in another home. (Bring a side dish — hostess prepared the main course.) I’ve watched football games either before or after the feast. The walk in the park (or through the neighborhood) works off a few calories to make room for a second round of dessert.)

This year? Well, in recent years I’ve obtained videos and binge-watched mini-series or television shows. This does not mean I omit the feast. And working on a shopping list for early the next week is a necessary task. And give thanks for the many blessings — my home, the food in the cupboard, transportation in the parking spot, family scattered across the country, and a spot of color from a holiday plant.

My “Holiday Cactus” blooms on its own schedule.



Simple Beauty

Beauty is not always elaborate. At times simple, clean lines serve the purpose.

Add a little color. Perhaps variety in texture.

The local garden club in this small town (the inspiration for Crystal Springs) maintains several planters in public areas. The planters are not large, but they serve as pleasant dividing lines between spaces with different purpose.

A line of seasonal beauty separates park from parking lot. A feast for the senses — plus the bees and butterflies.


Lion and Lamb

It makes a pleasant picture of peace and tranquility. The predator and the prey sharing space without danger or fear.

It’s also a scene I don’t expect to find in ordinary life. Predators are interested in survival. So is the prey. And the proven methods are actions such as flight or hiding or staying with the group. If I lamb does not want to become lunch — stay with the bunch.

So imagine my surprise when I noticed two signs in the same garden.

These are “Lion’s Ears”

And a few steps away:

“Lamb’s Ears”

No “preying” allowed.


Restored Habitat

Progress implies forward movement. Change toward some unknown future.

But in some cases, it’s good to take a step back. Take this chain of events as they played out over a century or two.

Woodlands developed along the waterways. The mix of trees changes over generations as various Native American tribes across the land hunting game and pausing long enough to plant crops in the open spaces. The larger open spaces, those filled with the diverse plants of a North American prairie thrived. Their extensive root systems held the soil in place, provided food and shelter to wildlife.

Then the Europeans arrived. They came with domestic animals and plows. Cutting down the forest to build homes, they turned the prairie into fields of corn and wheat.

Then a few descendants of the pioneers realized the forest and the prairie were good things. So they purchased land and guided it back to a condition close to that of before settlement.

They created an oasis of sorts. A small area where native wildlife and plants flourish. In the process they give human visitors beautiful vistas and an opportunity to re-connect (for a brief time) with the past.

                          Prairie and woodland on display on a fine day.                                      City visitors such as the author are grateful to the managers of the property who cut trails of short grass through the waist and higher prairie plants.



An Invitation

It’s an annual St. Louis event. Unlike many who have lived her over a decade, I’ve only recently discovered it. And managed to attend two of the last three years.

Residents of the American Midwest understand that winter can get a little dreary. Cloudy days appear plentiful. Temperatures drop. Streets and sidewalks vary from day to day – dry, slushy, ice, or impassable.

So if you live in the St. Louis area, and could use a dose of warm, fragrant, and pretty — come admire the blooms at the Orchid Show.

This lovely pair lives in the Climatron at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. The annual orchid show is held in a separate building — showcasing many colors and varieties. A welcome break from winter.



Flexible Name

They dub it “Christmas” cactus. It’s best to use that in the broad sense of timing.

This year I have a new plant at my home. The friend of a friend was moving and unable to take her houseplants. So I went into this season without much information or expectations.

But first a step back. A previous plant – featured on this blog at least once – bloomed on it’s own schedule. As early as Halloween and around Valentine Day after a pause.

So consider my pleasant surprise when this new plant opened the first bloom a week before Christmas. And now when I scan the plant for buds, I figure I’ll have a bit of cheerful color in my bedroom well into January.

What’s the timing at your house? Is it a Thanksgiving cactus?                 Christmas? Valentine?