Phlowers – African Daisy

My African Daisy plants are blooming. I’m thrilled! In mid-Spring, I sprinkled them on lightly-troweled soil within the confines of my butterfly/wildflower garden, and they are coming into bloom.

The colors are lovely, and even the foliage is a pleasing blue-grey. The buds are fun to watch as they open; I love seeing the first glimmer of color within the tightly folded interior.

I’m hoping one of the plants opens up into the rosy pink color portrayed on the seed packet. These flowers are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day challenge.

I’ve kept the seed packet in my garden notebook. I grew quite a few seeds this year from the Botanical Interests line. Everything did well, and next year they will be my first choice for seeds. I found this brand of seeds at local nurseries. They are not carried in the big box stores. Botanical Interests is having a 40% off seed sale through June 17th.

The Spruce has a great how-to article on African Daisies: How to Grow the African Daisy

Preserving the Good – You’re a Grand Old Flag

FLAG DAY 2021

I put our flag outdoors this morning and felt a touch of pride in the waving stars and stripes as they gently stirred in the morning breezes. I love my country, I love the people of my country, I love the land, the sea, the sky…not too impressed with the governing bodies at this point in time….but there is always hope! I salute the Red, White and Blue. God Bless the USA.

Praise – Charles Haddon Spurgeon/John’s Doxology/Part 23 – The Grandest Thing – Jesus Loves You

It’s that simple, Jesus loves me…this I know. If you don’t believe He loves you, repeat it out loud. Jesus loves me. Open the door of your heart to Him, He loves me…He loves you too…this I know.

C.H. Spurgeon – John’s Doxology

 Again, the word “him that loved us,” seems as if it described all that Christ did for us, or, at least, it mentions first the grandest thing he ever did, in which all the rest is wrapped up. It is not, “Unto him that took our nature; unto him that set us a glorious example; unto him that intercedes for us but, “Unto him that loved us,” as if that one thing comprehended all, as indeed it does.

 He loves us: this is matter for admiration and amazement. Oh, my brethren, this is an abyss of wonder to me! I can understand that Jesus pities us; I can very well understand that he has compassion on us; but that the Lord of glory loves us is a deep, great, heavenly thought, which my finite mind can hardly hold. Come, brother, and drink of this wine on the lees, well refined. Jesus loves you. Grasp that. You know what the word means in some little degree according to human measurements, but the infinite Son of God loved you of old, and he loves you now! His heart is knit with your heart, and he cannot be happy unless you are happy.

Phlowers – Common Evening Primrose

Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera bieinnis) is blooming in my garden today. It is another welcome volunteer wildflower in my herb garden. Most parts of the evening primrose are edible or medicinal. The flowers also draw goldfinches to my gardens when they begin to set seed. I never trim off the dead blossoms after the plant blooms; being able to watch goldfinches alight on the long stems, and eat the seeds, is one of my summer joys. These plants grow in gardens, in meadows, along roadways, and I have even seen a few very hardy plants growing in the cracks of concrete sidewalks and blacktop.

My Common Evening Primrose is my entry in Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Praise – Charles Haddon Spurgeon/John’s Doxology/Part 22 – All Other Love…

No; there is no love like that of Jesus Christ: he bears the palm for love; yea, in the presence of his love all other love is eclipsed, even as the sun conceals the stars by his unrivalled brightness.” ~C.H. Spurgeon

C.H. Spurgeon – John’s Doxology

"Think of this as being a recognizable description of our Lord— “Unto him that loved us.” John wanted to point out the Lord Jesus Christ, and all he said was, “Unto him that loved us.” He was sure nobody would make any mistake as to who was intended, for no one can be said to love us in comparison with Jesus. It is interesting to note that, as John is spoken of as “that disciple whom Jesus loved,” so now the servant describes the Master in something like the same terms: “Unto him that loved us.” No one fails to recognize John or the Lord Jesus under their several love-names. When the apostle mentioned “him that loved us,” there was no fear of men saying, “That is the man’s friend, or father, or brother.” No; there is no love like that of Jesus Christ: he bears the palm for love; yea, in the presence of his love all other love is eclipsed, even as the sun conceals the stars by his unrivalled brightness.

Phlowers – Yeti Nasturtium

Pale yellow is one of my favorite garden colors, and surprisingly, I find it one of the hardest shades to find in annual flowers. Gold is easy, bright yellow is easy, but a creamy, near white yellow is a bit difficult. You can imagine my delight this past Spring when I found a packet of pale yellow Nasturtiums in a seed display. I bought a packet with high hopes, and I have not been disappointed. “YETI” has lived up to it’s seed packet illustration, and boasts the creamy yellow I had sought for my garden pots.

Even the perky buds of this plant please me. They remind me of ponies before they unfurl their petals. The foliage, resembling small lilypads in shape, is a deep pleasing green with beautiful centers and veining. Even better, most parts of a Nasturtium plant are edible.

The plant has a robust look, but on closer inspection you’ll find a delicate interior with feathery fronds and puffballs of pollen. Did you know that Nasturtiums have medicinal properties?

I also love the Alaska variety of nasturtiums for the amazing variegated foliage.

I sowed some of my Nasturtium seeds indoors mid-winter. They did fairly well, becoming a bit leggy, but still manageable. Planted in hanging basket pots, they are already in bloom. I recently planted several more Nasturtiums in the ground. I soak the large seeds first, and then without any fanfare, just push them about a half inch below the surface of the soil. The sprouts are easy to spot, large, and with the distinctive lilypad leaf from first showing.

My “Yeti” Nasturtium is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge.

Phlowers – Roses/Watering/Fertilizing

If you want long-lived, healthy roses with an excellent root system, watering deeply and fertilizing are the best route to follow.

When rainfall is scarce and my rosebeds become dry, I water deeply using old milk gallon containers. I’ve shared this tip before, but I’ve adapted it a bit since last posted. Roses can develop black-spot disease if their foliage becomes wet. In the past, I always managed to get my roses wet when I filled the gallon container through the narrow opening at the top. This year, I cut a hole large enough to slip my garden wand into. Since I don’t begin to add water until the end of the nozzle is in the milk carton, the rose leaves remain dry.

A small hole poked with an ice pick or a screwdriver in one corner of the milk carton bottom is all you need to get a good supply of water into the soil. Because the water flows slowly, instead of running off to the side, it sinks down into the earth where it reaches the roots of the rose bush. Rose bushes thrive on two gallons of water per week in dry weather.

I also use the gallon watering method when I feed the roses every two weeks. I scratch the dry, organic fertilizer into the soil with a hand cultivator, then place the gallon over the loosened dirt and give the rose one to two gallons of water to work the fertilizer down to the roots. With minimal effort I deeply water and fertilize my roses with this method.

This deep watering technique also works well for newly planted bushes and trees. Larger perennials also benefit from this type of deep watering.

Praise – Charles Haddon Spurgeon/John’s Doxology/Part 21 – The First Source of Blessing

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. ~2 Thessalonians 2:13

If you spent time with me, you would soon know that I gather small pebbles and other natural items. Whether in forest or walking along ocean waves, I scan the area ahead of my steps for colorful stones. I have a rock polisher, and find it completely mesmerizing to transform a common pebble into a thing of beauty. The pebbles don’t look too impressive before I begin, often embedded with dirt, scratched, worn by countless years of weather, but they shine like precious gems when they have completed all four cycles of polishing.

I suppose I am telling of my rock polishing as a comparison to Christ Jesus choosing us for his own, washing me, washing you, cleaning away the clinging muck and scars of our sin. In His great love for us, he saw beneath our filthiness to what could be beautiful. He cleansed and purified our spirits by dying in our place. He is the source of all our blessings. If we call in repentence upon his name He will save us and dwell with us for all eternity. His Word says it is true, and I believe in what He promises. Blessed be the name of the LORD.

C.H. Spurgeon – John’s Doxology

“He loved us first before he washed us: “Unto him that loved us, and washed us.” Not “Unto him that washed us and loved us.” This is one of the glories of Christ’s love, that it comes to us while we are defiled with sin— yea, dead in sin. Christ’s love does not only go out to us as washed, purified, and cleansed, but it went out towards us while we were yet foul and vile, and without anything in us that could be worthy of his love at all. He loved us, and then washed us: love is the fountain-head, the first source of blessing.”

Phlowers – A Week of Roses/Yellow Rose

This year I converted two of my Square Foot vegetable gardens into rose beds. The soil is still loose and full of good compost, and the new roses have thrived. I bought these as bargain roses in the Spring, driving from place to place to find the best colors and varieties. I devoted the beds to a bright color scheme of yellows, corals, peaches and whites. Highlighted with a few white geraniums, the flower bed will glow in the moonlight.

The first rose to bloom in these beds is Golden Glow. Although the rose has only a faint fragrance, the color is gorgeous, and oh my, the staying power of the flower has been miraculous. The petals opened on Sunday, have given a gorgeous display, and even after a very heavy thunderstorm last night, are still holding on strong this beautiful Thursday morning. Hooray!

Phlowers – A Week of Roses/Mr. Lincoln/Fragrant Red Rose

I’ve grown Mr. Lincoln for years. In the early 2000’s, I first planted a few of these roses after a kind lady gave me a bouquet of them from her garden. I had never smelled a rose with such a strong and beautiful fragrance. The roses thrived in my side yard, but a few years ago, when we had to take a large oak tree down, the rose bushes were moved and didn’t thrive in the new location.

This year, I found several Mr. Lincoln roses at Walmart. They were such a good price I made a Walmart run to every store in our area. I found five that were in good shape and planted them a second time in the side yard. The roses are growing way beyond my expectations. I feel they are a gift to me from God. I had looked for them online, and the price and shipping was outrageous, so I had decided not to order them this year. I’m thrilled to quite unexpectedly have these beauties in my gardens once more.

Mr. Lincoln is my choice for Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Praise – Charles Haddon Spurgeon/John’s Doxology/Part 20 – Cropping the Focus

The photo I took of the setting sun is criss-crossed with lines for conducting electricity and cable. For some reason, the annoyance of these lines marring the image, seemed to mimic the problems in my life at this time. This beautiful season of the year is conflicted by problems, constant noise, and deceptions from every avenue. Instead of normality returning, every solution exhibits the potential to be more of a threat to our freedom, our future health, another prison cell bar in our upside-down lives.

Just like the same photograph after it was filtered and cleaned up, I’m learning to crop out the problems, the noise, the deceptions, and focus on the light of my life, Jesus. If I gaze at him “the things of life grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.” He is my hope for today, and my destiny in the future.

Truly, our Lord in his glory, loves us, focus on HIM.

C.H. Spurgeon – John’s Doxology

Now, this outburst carried within itself its own justification. Look at it closely and you perceive the reasons why, in this enthusiastic manner, John adores his Saviour. The first is, “Unto him that loved us.” Time would fail me to speak long on this charming theme, so I will only notice briefly a few things. This love is in the present tense, for the passage may be read, “Unto him that loveth us.” Our Lord in his glory still loves us as truly and as fervently as he did in the days of his flesh. He loved us before the world was, he loveth us now with all his heart, and he will love us when sun, and moon, and stars have all expired like sparks that die when the fire is quenched upon the hearth and men go to their beds. “He loveth us.” He is himself the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, and his love is like himself. Dwell on the present character of it and be at this moment moved to holy praise.

Projects & Phlowers – First Roses/Grain Alcohol – Update

The first rose to bloom in my 2021 garden was ‘Blue Lagoon.’ This beautiful rose is one of my oldest bushes, and is so large, I have to trim it to keep it off the back wall of the house. It is very disease resistant, and best of all, the flowers are sweetly fragrant.

The fragrance makes it a perfect choice to add to my Grain Alcohol Springtime blend. Last year, I wrote of using Vodka to extract the fragrant floral oils from flowers. I had a bit of success, however, the immediate results of using the higher proof Grain Alcohol has been truly exciting. Unfortunately, the color of the petals is also extracted. At this time, because of the mix of many colors, the Grain Alcohol is a muddy brown, but the scent, oh my, the scent is sublime.

I only use flowers that are edible, or that I have researched as non-poisonous. There are some beautiful fragrant flowers that I don’t use. Lily of the Valley is an example of a fragrance I like, but the plant is toxic, and isn’t something I want to take a chance with in my extraction. Skin can absorb the oils in the extraction so anything that is edible seems to be a safer choice.

The pink of the petals will disappear in two days. The fragrance in the flower will transfer in the same amount of time. I’m eagerly awaiting the blossoming of honeysuckle in our area. I will work on this jar until the end of May and then begin a ‘Summer’ jar of fragrant flowers.

Praise – Charles Haddon Spurgeon/John’s Doxology/Part 19 – Frequent in Praise/Increasing in Thankfulness

Praise to our Father in Heaven increases our thankfulness. I also want to thank him today for all the beautiful women in my life. For my mother, my mother-in-law, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, sisters, sister-in-laws, aunts, daughter-in-law, nieces, cousins, grand-daughters, friends, extended family members, and I thank him for all the new ladies he will bring into my life in the coming years. God has blessed my life with so many beautiful women. I thank him for his presence in my life, and for the love of so many. God bless you all on this Mother’s Day.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon – John’s Doxology

“These doxologies occur again and again throughout this book as if to remind us to be frequent in praise; and they grow as they proceed, to hint to us that we also should increase in thankfulness.”

Photo Challenges – Yellow Sunshine in the Raindrops

The photos in this post are part of Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge – May Macro. This dahlia, and others, are waiting to be planted in pots alongside my front porch.

These pretty begonias will be planted alongside of them. I usually plant in pink color schemes in the front, this year I’ve decided on sunshine yellows and purple.

The torenia has a pool of rainwater in the center.

Torenia is also known as the wishbone flower. I shook away the water from this blossom so the wishbone would be visible.

Praise – Charles Haddon Spurgeon/John’s Doxology/Part 18 – His Compassions are Divine

Sometimes, I can come up dry and empty when it comes to writing blog posts. Isn’t it amazing that at those times when we flounder, and can’t seem to get ourselves together, or moving in the right direction, His Compassions toward us are still divine?

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” ~Psalm 91:4

He lifts me up. He hides me under His wing. God is so good. Praise His Holy Name.

C.H. Spurgeon – John’s Doxology –

“Words are but air and tongues but clay,
But His compassions are divine.”

We want to get out of these fetters, and rise into something better adapted to the emotions of our spirit; I cannot emulate the songsters of Immanuel’s land though I would gladly do so; but as Berridge says

“Strip me of this house of clay,
And I will sing as loud as they.”

Phlowers & Pheathers – April 30th, Growing in the Garden/The Hummingbirds Return

We have been seeing a small ruby-throated hummingbird for two weeks. It has been visiting the feeder of nectar I have outside the kitchen window. Every other day, I bring the feeder in, soak it in hot, sudsy water, and refill with newly boiled sugar water. (2 Cups water, 1/2 Cup sugar) Hummingbird feeders can spread disease or become contaminated with mold. A great article on feeding hummingbirds can be found at EcoSystem Gardening.

NOTE: Thanks to a reader for the great comment about cleaning with vinegar. I did a bit of research on it and this is a good choice for cleaning the feeder. Also, another good idea is to use a brush to thoroughly clean all the nooks around the feeder openings. Here’s a link to more ideas for cleaning a hummingbird feeder. How to Clean a Hummingbird Feeder.

Mandevilla Vines come in a variety of colors. I chose to grow the pink flowers this year. These vines are beloved by hummingbirds. The vines bloom from Spring until Autumn, they do well in full sun, but also need to be shaded from the hottest late afternoon rays. I am growing the Mandevilla in a pot so that when summer is over I can bring it indoors for the colder months.

My mandevilla flowers are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day and also an entry in this week’s Skywatch Friday.

I have three hanging baskets a yard or two away from the hummingbird feeder. These are filled with plants I know hummingbirds adore. Blue Suede Salvia and Vista Red Salvia, also called sages, have the trumpet-shaped flowers that perfectly fit a hummingbird’s beak and tongue. These plants do great in full sun, but also can take a bit of shade too.

My beautiful Vermillion Cuphea, also known as Firecracker plants, are always a favorite with the hummingbirds. I grow them in the ground and also planted in pots. Last Autumn, the Firecracker plant I grew in a pot easily transferred to the house. It grew well all winter, and this week I placed it outdoors on the patio again. It is doing well, although some of the uppermost leaves, after growing in the lower light of the house, promptly became sunburned. Since I pinched the tops of these stems, new branching will soon leaf out and cover up the scorched top leaves.

Cuphea plants in a row will make a nice seasonal hedge. This plant is perennial in warmer climates.

Phlower – Tuberose Begonias

I purchased this beautiful Begonia last week. Shhhhh….if truth be told, I purchased three of them and placed them in a terracotta pot to grow indoors. The plants fill a 10 inch pot, creating a gorgeous view from all sides. I’ve been turning the pot a quarter turn each day to keep the stems growing and blooming evenly. I have the plants in one of my sunniest windows.

I’ve grown begonias sold for outdoor planting, indoors, for many years. They do very well living inside the house. The one problem area I need to be careful of is not letting the top of the soil become soggy. I plan to use some of my leftover seed starter mix on the top layer. I have a devil of a time getting this medium to become wet for planting. Maybe it will be the perfect soil topping for the begonias, and keep their lower stems dry, while easily letting water reach the roots below. Another tip for growing begonias in terracotta is to frequently wipe the upper lip of the pot with a damp rag. This will remove built up salts that could eat through a stem that rests upon the pot’s rim.

I found a good site with great information on growing tuberose begonias outdoors – Longfield Gardens – TIPS FOR GROWING TUBEROUS BEGONIAS.

My beautiful pink begonia is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Photo Challenge – Dewdrops

Bright April – Dewdrops – The word dewdrop brings to mind poetry. It’s such a pretty word for an ephemeral miracle of condensation. I thought this was a perfect photo for ‘getting to know you,‘ courtesy of the lens-artist photo challenge #145. Laying on the ground to get a perfect capture is very much who I am, the photo tells a bit of my story in that aspect, and so lets you know a little about me.

Each tiny dewdrop resembles a streetlight. I wonder if they illuminate the way of insects traversing the sprigs of grass. The brightness of this square will be my last entry in Becky’s April – Bright Square Challenge.

Praise – Charles Haddon Spurgeon/John’s Doxology/Part 17 – If You Begin…

If you begin praising God you are bound to go on. The work engrosses the heart. It deepens and broadens like a rolling river.” ~C.H. Spurgeon

Often, praise for my Father in Heaven, begins like a gentle stream within me, moving in the right direction, steady, bubbling with joy. Sometimes, praise begins in the quiet hours of the night. I wake, and my thoughts rest on Him, and I say before sleeping once more, ‘I love you Lord.’

Just as C.H. Spurgeon says in this paragraph from ‘John’s Doxology,’ when I praise God I am bound to go on. Praising the Father of all Creation does engross my heart. I love Spurgeon’s illustration that praise can begin with a tear of gratitude, going on to join the everlasting hallelujahs that surround the throne of God. Amen!

The portion I’ve based this post on is below. It seems daunting in it’s length, but if you have time, try to read it through. It shows the wonderful way Spurgeon led his congregation through the Bible passages for this sermon. What an amazing preacher and Bible scholar. What always comes through to me as I read his words is this man truly loved God.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon – John’s Doxology

Secondly, let us look at THE OUTBURST ITSELF. It is a doxology, and as such does not stand alone: it is one of many. In the Book of the Revelation doxologies are frequent, and in the first few chapters they distinctly grow as the book advances. If you have your Bibles with you, as you ought to have, you will notice that in this first outburst only two things are ascribed to our Lord. “To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.” Now turn to the fourth chapter at the ninth verse, and read, “Those living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne.” Here we have three words of honour. Run on to verse eleven, and read the same. “Saying, thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power.” The doxology has grown from two to three in each of these verses. Now turn to chapter v. 13. “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” Here we have four praise-notes. Steadily but surely there is an advance. By the time we get to chapter vii. 12, we have reached the number of perfection, and may not look for more. “Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever. Amen.” If you begin praising God you are bound to go on. The work engrosses the heart. It deepens and broadens like a rolling river. Praise is somewhat like an avalanche, which may begin with a snow-flake on the mountain moved by the wing of a bird, but that flake binds others to itself and becomes a rolling ball: this rolling ball gathers more snow about it till it is huge, immense; it crashes through a forest; it thunders down into the valley; it buries a village under its stupendous mass. Thus praise may begin with the tear of gratitude; anon the bosom swells with love; thankfulness rises to a song; it breaks forth into a shout; it mounts up to join the everlasting hallelujahs which surround the throne of the Eternal. What a mercy it is that God by his Spirit will give us greater capacities by-and-by than we have here! for if we continue to learn more and more of the love of Christ which passeth knowledge we shall be driven to sore straits if confined within the narrow and drowsy framework of this mortal body. This poor apparatus of tongue and mouth is already inadequate for our zeal.