Plants – Coleus Harvest & Sampler

I am in the midst of harvesting and packaging my coleus seeds from 2020 to offer at The Flower Ark Etsy Shop.

I’ve enjoyed watching the plants develop from small seeds into 12 -30 inch plants. There have been many new patterns, colors, and edge variations to observe and cherish. I haven’t been disappointed!

This beauty growing in the side yard produced an abundance of colorful leaves and flower stalks. It was the first to produce seed this year.

For some reason I loved the simplicity of this green and ecru plant. Surrounded by impatiens and other coleus, the gently swirling leaves were finely marked and scalloped.

 

To create my samplers I photograph the leaves and insert them in Ribbet’s collage maker. This is a very easy application to use.

As I gather and package the seeds, I am already dreaming of next year’s crop. Coleus seeds will sprout and grow through the winter and make amazing and easy to grow houseplants. Indoors give them your sunniest window to prevent leggy growth. Pinch out the tips and you will soon have a bushy, colorful addition to your plant menagerie.

Phlutters – Backyard Butterflies Part II


“O LORD, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.” ~ Psalm 104:24, NLT

I ended Part I of ‘Backyard Butterflies’ with a photo of this Monarch Chrysalis. Since that post, the butterfly has gone through its metamorphosis and emerged.

I didn’t see the butterfly break out of its yellow-green chrysalis, but I did notice it soon after.

After it dried off a bit, the butterfly began to explore the nearby garden. I watched throughout the day as the Monarch became acquainted with the sweet nectar in my garden.

The dahlia is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Quote – A Tweet Worth Sharing

I love this clip of Billy Graham when he says, “I don’t know…” In this world of know-it-alls, his humility is beautiful and inspiring. I don’t need to know it all. I love God’s mystery…I love HIM…I have FAITH in all he has said in His Word. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost…that is all…it is enough.

Phlowers – Forget-Me-Not

I love the clear blue of annual Forget-Me-Nots. The blossoms are smaller than a dime, and the foliage is unspectacular, but the way the color reflects the sky thrills me. I might try to grow a few in the house this winter. Although the flower is small, the annual variety produces a large and interesting seed, often found in wildflower seed packets.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits. ~Psalm 103:2

If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under. ~ Ronald Reagan

These beautiful annual Forget-Me-Nots are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Phlutters -Backyard Butterflies Part I

After a slow start, the backyard has been full of butterflies. One of the flashiest is the Monarch. The zinnias draw the Monarchs in to fill up on the nectar. They land on the flat surface of the disk and drink from the individual ray florets surrounding the center. While they are occupied they will often allow close-up viewing for photographs and video.

Another flower they love is Asclepias curassavica commonly known as ‘Silky Gold’ Milkweed. This flower and its leaves are a host plant for the monarch caterpillar.

This milkweed floret is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge. 

The caterpillars are poisonous to birds and other wildlife after eating the milkweed. The milkweed contains toxic cardenolides which keep some predators, but not all, away.

A week or two ago when I cut back a rose bush I uncovered a monarch chyrsalis on my siding.

Soon I found the newly hatched caterpillar clinging to the wall.

He dropped down to a mint plant and finished drying his wings. After a few hours he took his first flight to the upper branches of a pine tree.

A day or two later I spotted another chrysalis on the underside of a concrete lion statue I have on my patio. I’ll keep a close watch and see if I can witness the miracle as one emerges from the chrysalis.

Perspective – God’s Amazing World in Song, Scripture and Images

A beautiful rendition of Give Thanks by Henry Smith, combined with Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D and photos from the Hubble Telescope, beautifully combined in video format by Tim and Geri Ungurean. You can find a link to Geri’s blog at Absolute Truth From the Word of God.

I love the way Geri and Tim Ungurean have combined beautiful music and stunning visuals from the Hubble Telescope to share Scripture and Song that points the way to Jesus.

Photographs – Rainwashed Blooms

We had a hard rain, and afterwards came that splendid late-day light, breaking through the storm clouds, giving the rain-washed blooms gorgeous luminosity.

Cosmos

Dahlia

Zinnia

All three are common flowers, easy to grow, and found in many gardens, but washed in the rain and light they were as beautiful as any rare masterpiece on a museum wall.

Reminds me that while I am common, and really nothing special, I am washed in the blood of Jesus, forgiven, headed for heaven, and devoted to HIM.

Here’s a great old song with some timeless guitar. Are you washed in the Blood?

Thus post is part of Skywatch

Perspective – Let it Shine

I have been horrified by videos of people being bullied if they don’t raise their fist in support of hypocritical organizations and violent demonstrations. I will not raise a fist, but I’ll raise my hand with my finger pointing toward heaven, claim the name of JESUS, and sing and live this song. Will you?

This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m gonna let it shine
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m gonna let it shine
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine.

Don’t let Satan blow it out,
I’m gonna let it shine
Don’t let Satan blow it out,
I’m gonna let it shine
Don’t let Satan blow it out,
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine.

This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine.

When I sang this as a child we would also add this lyric:

Let it shine ’til Jesus comes,
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine ’til Jesus comes,
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine ’til Jesus comes,
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine.

Quote & Pheathers -The Hummer

Saturday evening, we watched two hummingbirds battling for rights over a firecracker plant. We were amazed at how long they dove and swooped at each other in the air. Finally, only one remained, and exhausted, he took some respite in the back yard pine tree. After the big battle with another wondrous flyer, an earthbound human didn’t seem very threatening to him, and he let me take at least a dozen or more photographs of him. What a wondrous little bird God fashioned when he created the hummingbird.

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
~ Psalm 104:24

This photograph is part of Skywatch.

Phlowers – Harvesting

Angelonia, in a gorgeous shade of coral, or is that fuschia, or is that pink? My pick for flower of the day and Cee’s FOTD Challenge.

I have been lax in my posting, not because I want to be, but because I am super-busy harvesting my flowers for pressing. I’ve pressed, hundreds, no, I’d say more in the thousands this summer. One reason I press so many is only one in three is perfect enough to be posted to my Etsy shop. For hydrangeas, the odds are even worse, only about one in five flowers is pristine and without spot and blemish.

I recently created a short fifteen second videotape, recommended by Etsy to advertise your shop. I thought you all might like to see me in action on my ‘Flower Farm’ harvesting flowers and foliage to press. In the Autumn, things will slow down, and I will have more time to blog.

Pheathers – Beauty & Rest

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-30

Even in the midst of all the upheaval in 2020, there is beauty to be found, there is rest. May God bless you this day.

This photo is part of Skywatch.

Plants & Praise – Job’s Tears

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. Job 19:25 (NIV)

This nondescript plant, resembling miniature corn, yields an interesting grain that makes perfect beads. Job’s Tears are a novelty item in my garden this year. I have grown it in 2.5 gallon containers in a spot that gets afternoon sun. The plant has grown well for me and I am now harvesting the colorful seeds.

Although the seeds, purchased through Baker’s Creek Heirloom Seeds, were mostly tan in color when I opened the packet, they have produced seeds/beads of many colors. I’ve harvested them when they easily pop off the plant.

Dave’s Garden has a great article on the plant and how to use the seeds to make a rosary or necklace. I’m hoping to save enough seeds for projects and also plenty to plant next year.

Plants – Coleus Week/Creating a Topiary Tree- Part II

This is my coleus topiary, in the works for two, maybe three years; I’ve lost track of time. Started from a spindly specimen, it has grown into a beauty.

Since the lush growth makes it top-heavy, I have added a whole bag of river rock to the potting soil. The extra weight keeps the plant stable in the wind that sometimes whistles through the porch screens during summer storms. In the winter I don’t have to worry so much about it toppling over, but I like the look of the stones and will leave them in place when I bring the plant indoors before cool weather begins.

The leaves of this coleus are a perfect example of how light affects the color. You can see the changes in saturation and design. There must be half a dozen variations on this one plant. I love the mosaic look of the newer leaves at the top, but also enjoy the deep pinks and maroons of the earlier leaves. It’s fun to move a coleus around from window to window, and outdoors too, to see what kind of rainbows the light will create.

Plants – Coleus Week/Creating a Topiary Tree- Part I

Creating a coleus topiary causes me to garden contrary to my usual standards. When I grow plants from seed, or from cuttings, I want them to bush out and develop branches. To grow a topiary I need them to grow tall and leggy. The best way I’ve found to accomplish this is to put the plants in a shady area where they must grow upwards to reach the brighter light.

Recently, I dug up and transplanted into potting soil several of the coleus volunteers from the front garden. Now they are growing in a shady nook of my outdoor porch, below the screened window. The coleus get enough light to live, but nothing direct, this causes them to shoot upwards toward the light. At this point their colors fade, and the growth becomes leggy, but this is exactly what I want from them.

As they grow upwards, I clip off their side shoots with small manicure scissors, leaving only a set of leaves at the top and the growing tip. The coleus will continue to grow toward the light, and I will continue to clip until each reaches a height I want. Even as small as they are I might have to begin staking to support the stem. At this point, because of their size, I would use a coffee stirrer, or another small slender support.

Plants – Coleus Week/Volunteers

It’s a hot, hot, hot day here in the Mid-Atlantic State of New Jersey. Heat-loving plants and people are doing well, those who dislike the temperature hovering near 100 degrees are not so good. If kept well-watered, coleus plants do well in July; they love high temperatures. Not only do they thrive in the heat, they also offer up volunteer sprouts in surprising nooks and crannies courtesy of last year’s seed stalks.

They are not particular about soil, many come up in between the rocks bordering the garden. It sometimes makes for crowded conditions, but it also gives me some interesting color combinations.

The plants will continue growing throughout the late fall. I have stopped pinching them, and now they will begin to bloom, sending up seed stalks for me to gather in mid-autumn. I have even dug a few up for special projects…a bit of a teaser for tomorrow’s post. Stay tuned!

Pheathers – Birdwatching

I saw so many beautiful birds this weekend. On the drive to Fortescue and the Delaware Bay an eagle flew over our car. Alongside the road, beside a small pond, we glimpsed a large heron with raggedy feathers on it’s chest. I looked up ‘heron with a feathery chest,’ and realized we saw a Great Blue Heron. While we were fishing I watched an osprey dive into the bay and come up with a fish, easily flying while clutching the meal in it’s talons. I also spotted a small sparrow, picking among the grains of sand for food. He was the only bird I managed to capture with my camera. I enjoyed seeing the large birds, but it was the small bird that reminded me of a favorite Bible verse, and although I have used it before in blog post, considering our crazy world right now, it’s a good reminder of how God watches over us, cares for us, loves us, protects us, and even though we aren’t always aware of it, intercedes for us. May God watch over you and bless you this day.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.” ~Luke 12:6

Pheathers – Swallow on Scroll

I was going to let the photograph stand alone as a Wordless Wednesday entry, but then decided to write a few lines since I haven’t posted in more than a week. I’ve been tied to the garden for the last week…high heat in NJ means more watering, weeds are growing faster than I can pull them, flowers are beautiful and ready to press, and that doesn’t even begin to cover the mess I’ve made in the house. The bottom line: doesn’t matter a bit cause I LOVE SUMMER!!! I guess I am still a kid at heart.

The little swallow in the photo was captured by my camera in Fortescue, New Jersey. We often fish there and when the weather is cooler I bicycle around the town. I thought the little bird seemed to pose for me and the whole look of it seemed quaint and sweet. I hope you are enjoying summer too. Stay cool and well!

Phlower – Daisy and Visitor


“Four things on earth are small,
yet they are extremely wise:
Ants are creatures of little strength,
yet they store up their food in the summer. ~Proverbs 30:24-25

When I downloaded my photograph of a daisy growing against the chimney I was surprised to spy a tiny ant on one of the petals. I wonder how high we would have to climb to match the ant’s ability to travel up the two foot plus daisy stem. Amazing!

This post is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.