Pressed Flowers – Blessings Amid Failure

I’m having an off year for vegetable gardening, well, perhaps I should qualify that…my early plantings, lettuce and other cold weather crops, have utterly failed this year. I didn’t use my tried and true method for starting lettuce by winter sowing in milk cartons. By far though, the biggest problem, was our cold and wet Spring weather. It’s June now, getting warm, and the lettuce is only three inches tall, while most of the other cold weather plants have gone to seed.

I had a bit of luck with radishes sown in a container, but they never grew large, and are rather rock-like when I try to cut them for salads. They are also going to seed.

I found a blessing amid the failure of my crops, the blossoms from the gone-to-seed veggies are terrific pressed flowers. The radish blossoms are especially intriguing. They are softly pastel and I can’t wait to see if they retain their delicate colors through the pressing process. So my failure in cold weather vegetable gardening has been a boost to my flower pressing. I could plant another crop of hot weather plants now, but I’m going to wait and see how many delicate blossoms for pressing these plants will yield. If they keep their beautiful colors I might just plant more radish seeds for the flowers alone.

Quote – Hudson Taylor

“It doesn’t matter, really, how great the pressure is;

it only matters where the pressure lies…

See that it never comes between you and the Lord—

Then, the greater the pressure…

The more it presses you to His breast.”

                                   ~ Hudson Taylor

These gorgeous roses, Rosa rugosa, are shown growing on the sand dunes of the Delaware Bay. They endure the ‘pressure’ of the sandy soil and salt water and bloom abundantly in the late Spring. The rose hips they form are huge, and almost as pretty as the flowers that preceded them when they turn golden-orange in the Autumn.

Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China. Although he was born in 1832 and died in 1905, his quote seems timely for those of us living now in the unrelenting pressures of this present age.

Peculiarities & Phlutters – Strange Beginnings

A few days ago my husband called to me, “There’s a butterfly in the chipmunk trap.” When I looked inside the empty trap there sat a butterfly on the bottom grate. We’ve trapped several of the destructive chipmunks in the past few weeks, but a butterfly inside was quite a surprise. I opened the trap, offered my index finger, and the butterfly climbed aboard. I thought it would fly away, but instead it dropped to the ground. The butterfly seemed newly hatched. I let it climb onto my finger again and placed it on a bush, leaving it there to dry its wings.

I went back and checked the trap, turning it upside down. Attached to the roof was the remains of the chrysalis. I have no idea how it survived the chipmunks as they attempted to escape the trap.

I am assuming the lucky butterfly survived. A day later, I saw a black swallowtail flitting about the yard. Amazing! I think, last Autumn, when I was saving late season caterpillars, this one traveled from my porch into the garage. The chrysalis was there all winter inside the trap. A strange beginning for sure!

Quote & Praise – It is Glory

Naturalized morning glories on the sand dunes of Fortescue, NJ, the Delaware Bay.

The morning glories made me think of the song, “It is Glory Just to Walk with Him.” I love this old hymn. I can remember singing it, as a child, in my grandparents church in Hampton, Virginia. The church was small, but the singing was big, and the church was filled with Glory!

It is glory just to walk with Him whose blood has ransomed me;
It is rapture for my soul each day.
It is joy divine to feel Him near where’er my path may be.
Bless the Lord, it’s glory all the way!
It is glory just to walk with Him.
It is glory just to walk with Him.
He will guide my steps aright,
Thro’ the vale and o’er the height.
It is glory just to walk with Him.

~Avis Marguerite Burgeson Christiansen

Phlowers – Salvia Flowers and Hummingbirds

Salvias, sometimes referred to as Sage, are one of my favorite garden plants. I grow both types, perennial and annual, and find the flowers and plants rarely disappoint.

Salvias grow best in full sun, and draw hummingbirds, butterflies and many types of pollinating insects to my gardens. I have planted several in hanging baskets this year to keep them high and in full view of my kitchen window. Dinner preparations often become prime time for watching hummingbirds as they visit these plants.

A great article on various kinds of salvias can be found on the Spruce. Common types of Salvia Flowers.

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

Perspective – Rainbows and Darkness

This morning, at 6:00, I looked out my window and saw this beautiful rainbow in the sky. Even better, I saw it after a time of prayer.

I had my breakfast next, still soothed in spirit by the beauty and promise of God’s rainbow, and listened as the newscaster described people taking a knee in honor of UNITY. I instantly felt extreme warning over this…and what came to mind is taking a ‘MARK’ in an attempt for ‘PEACE’ and unity…a bowing down to peace, or do I say it, a COUNTERFEIT man of peace. Please consider the consequences of ever kneeling to anything other than the Lord God Most High. Evil seems to be accelerating…everyone wants peace…but be aware, worshipping anything other than God, even a concept such as peace, is idolatry.

Perspective – Choices

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” ~ John 1:12

At some point being socially correct, pleasant, uplifting, a crowd-pleaser, etc., will become a personal choice totally against the Word of the Lord. What will be my choice? What will be yours? Will I flee to people and places that better suit my understanding of God’s will, or will I recognize that I am seeing wrong attitudes and choices but decide to stay and fight the Good Fight, to spread the Good News, to become a Prayer Warrior for Restoration and the Message of Salvation.

Following the road you’ve always walked can become confusing when edges begin to blur, when those in Christian leadership all over the world make choices for Community rather than Christ. My decision, I will turn my eyes upon Jesus. I will read my Bible even more, and trust that the worldly view will grow dim, and His Glory and Grace will light my way.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Helen Howarth Lemmel

People & Quote – D.L. Moody

“Few people have done more than Dwight L. Moody to evangelize lost souls and mentor and train the next generation to fulfill the Great Commission.” Profile in Faith: D.L. Moody by Lyle Dorsett

I’m sharing a song today that I’ve shared before, but I think it is timely in these troubled times.

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” ~Mark 16:15

Perspective – What’s Important?

This song never fails to inspire me. I have posted it in the past, but with the worldwide conditions and changes we’re facing now, it reminds me once again of what is important, the relationship of men and women to their Creator…all over the world.

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3 (KJV)

Plants – Coleus & Betty Grable

Betty Grable 20th Century Fox.jpg
By Frank Powolny – 20th Century Fox studio promo portrait [1], Public Domain, Link

What do Betty Grable, famous pin-up for World War II enlisted men, and coleus, famous rainbow-hued plants, have in common?

Legs! Well, not really legs where the coleus are concerned, but definitely a bit of legginess can develop as my young coleus sprouts grow.

Coleus, left side, before pinching, right side, after pinching out growing stem. 

When my coleus sprouts begin to shoot up and become leggy I know it’s time to pinch out the middle top leaves. Before I do this, I make sure the plant has at least six true leaves. Using my hand as a garden tool, I carefully grasp the last set of leaves between thumb and forefinger, and pinch the topmost leaves away. This will allow the top to branch out into two separate stems. I continue pinching throughout the summer months, helping the coleus to become bushy rather than tall and leggy. On August 1st, I stop pinching and let the flowers develop. Another plus to growing coleus is helping out the pollinators who make use of their flowers; at this point bees happily cross-pollinate the plants for me.

The coleus in the foreground has already been pinched. At this stage I can judge which sprouts are going to be tall and large-leafed, and which will be small with interesting swirled, fringed leaves.

Here’s a look at a sample of my sprouts. I have between 150 and 200 growing in the house. Our weather has been very cool and I want these babies to have the best start possible. Coleus cannot tolerate cold weather.

I’m thrilled with these babies since I know they will only improve, deepen in color, begin to swirl and turn, develop scalloped edges or stay straight, as they begin to grow outdoors under the pine.


Plants – Moringa oleifera ( Part 2 )

I am so honored to have a guest author write a post for my blog. SusieShy45, another WordPress blogger, has been a friend of mine for years through our contact on WordPress Blogs. She has grown Moringa trees from fallen stems into large trees. She has written to me of her experience and has given her consent for me to present it here. Thanks so much Susie. You can read more about Susie and follow her posts here: Susie Shy 45.

Moringa trees are a favorite tree of Indians- particularly South Indians- it can grow in warm dry rainless climates like in the Middle Eastern desert where a large number of the population has emigrated from South India. In a storm about 5 years ago, I got the watchman of our compound to get me fallen stems from moringa trees to plant in my backyard. This was in the heart of summer. Constant watering during the summer kept the plants alive, until they established roots. And then they survived on their own through the desert summer. By winter of that year, the leaves were green and the tree had started flowering. The flowers are creamy in colour and grow in bunches. They are used for cooking too- of course after removal of the stamens and pistils. Flowers are washed thoroughly to remove insects as they are a major source of nectar. The moringa tree loves the sun and direct sunlight, explaining why they are doing so well in the Middle East. And it is classified as a drought resistant plant, so does not require much watering. The tree grows tall in order to capture the sunlight.

Later the flowers turn to the moringa fruit, which is a delicacy and is used in many curries and sautes. The pulp from inside the fruit is what is edible, though the fruit is cut into small pieces and cooked – skin and all- only the soft part inside the fruit is eaten after they are cooked.

The leaves can be eaten any time, they are a good source of iron, folic acid, vitamin C. For us,eating moringa leaves in various sautees and curries, is supposedly responsible for the long, thick, black hair of many south Indians.

Here are some more photographs of Susie’s Moringa trees.

Drumstick Fruit

The flowers are edible.

Doves and other birds live on the tree.

Thanks Susie for the article and the great photographs.


Plants – How to Grow and Use Moringa oleifera/Drumstick Tree

This year, as I was browsing information on heirloom seeds, my interest was piqued by an amazing plant/tree, native to India, known by the name of Moringa, or Drumstick Tree. After reading through the health benefits found in this plant, I searched out seeds and located a source. I almost felt I was in possession of Jack-in-the-Beanstalk’s magic beans when I opened the packet; large, amazing seeds lay in the palm of my hand, dark brown/black with papery wings. I was thankful for the instructions: soak in very warm water for three days, changing the water frequently. I followed the instructions and was amazed at how fast they sprouted.

Because I started several seeds, I have half a dozen sprouts, and they are plant-like already; their growth rate is phenomenal, I am able to grow them in several different conditions to see what suits them best.

I’ll grow one in the house. I’ll need to pot it up soon as I’ve read they develop a long tap root and I want it to have room to expand.

One is planted in a container on my patio. I have two more to plant in my outdoor gardens. I’m excited about growing these and the harvests of leaves and seeds I hope to gather from them.

In the meantime, I am enjoying this amazing tea. It’s delicious and it gives me double satisfaction in knowing I am doing my body good.

The video below is excellent with tips on the health benefits of the plant and how to grow them best.  Beneath the video is an excellent link with information on Moringa.

Benefits and Side Effects of Moringa

Praise – Who???

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” ~Joshua 24:15

Here’s a great worship song, sung by one person, Ben Everson, in many parts. Beautiful and interesting.

Who is on the Lord’s Side

Who is on the Lord’s side? Who will serve the King?
Who will be His helpers, other lives to bring?
Who will leave the world’s side? Who will face the foe?
Who is on the Lord’s side? Who for Him will go?
By Thy call of mercy, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Savior, we are Thine!

Not for weight of glory, nor for crown and palm,
Enter we the army, raise the warrior psalm;
But for love that claimeth lives for whom He died:
He whom Jesus saveth marches on His side.
By Thy love constraining, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Savior, we are Thine!

Jesus, Thou hast bought us, not with gold or gem,
But with Thine own lifeblood, for Thy diadem;
With Thy blessing filling each who comes to Thee,
Thou hast made us willing, Thou hast made us free.
By Thy grand redemption, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Savior, we are Thine!

Fierce may be the conflict, strong may be the foe,
But the King’s own army none can overthrow;
’Round His standard ranging, vict’ry is secure,
For His truth unchanging makes the triumph sure.
Joyfully enlisting, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Savior, we are Thine!

~Frances Havergal

Planting – Here We Go Again/Critter Maintenance

I’ve begun planting out seedlings and potted plants. After placing this pretty orange pansy in the ground I found it uprooted and wilted within twelve hours. I pushed it back into the soil, and it revived a bit, but it probably will not regain the vigor it might have had if its roots hadn’t been bitten half away.

The situation is a Catch-22 for sure. I enjoy the cute critters that populate my yard. I’ve even been known to throw them a nut or two, and I keep the bird feeders filled. To help with the hungry animal problem we let the back yard grow naturally, and this has really helped with the bunnies,  since they love the dandelions and clover that grows in the lawn. The squirrels make use of the bird feeders in an entertaining fashion, but they also have a digging instinct that will cause them to uproot smaller plants in the garden and hanging baskets that show exposed earth. How to control the squirrels digging instinct is my biggest dilemma until the chipmunks emerge, which is a whole other story.

This year I marked my seeded plots with corks on short skewers. The skewers were purchased at the Christmas Tree Shop, 100 for about $2.00. The corks were a lucky find, dozens upon dozens in a bag at the local Thrift store.

A cork, stuck onto the sharp end of the skewer, with a drop of a ‘stinky’ essential oil on its top, is a great animal repellent. I started with pungent Eucalyptus oil. Because animals will adapt to  a smell they begin to recognize I will rotate Eucalyptus with Tea Tree oil, Cinnamon, Peppermint, and other oils I’ve gathered through the years. The oils won’t poison me, nor the animals, and will last forever since I only use one small drop and it quickly sinks in. The corks do double duty of labeling and repelling.

Other items can be used in place of corks. I’ve used seashells turned upside down to hold drops of oil in the past. I will update on how my plants do during this initial stage of planting. Once they are bigger the plant itself is usually left alone, it’s the fruits and vegetables that become a draw at that time.

Quirkiness – Garden Hacks

So…I couldn’t sleep…probably not alone in this…there’s a lot going on in the world. Between 2:30 and 3:00 a.m., I was watching Youtube through Amazon Fire Stick, and drinking coffee, yes, coffee in the middle of the night. Oh my! I came upon this video of the most outrageously amazing ‘garden hacks.’ I was hooked by the first tip…Did you know you can root an aloe vera sprig inside a banana? The tips keep coming, and they get even more unbelievable. I began to write them down…I can’t wait to try a few. Anyway, long story short, I thought I’d share the video here…just in case you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep. Oh, also, if you’re not a gardener, look up ‘Amazing Life Hacks,’ or if you’re a crafter, a cook, a makeup artist, a mom…the list goes on and on of the tips you can find. Give these video tips a try…you’ll be hooked.

Phuture – Easter Sunday Postscript

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” ~Revelation 1:8

In the 60’s, through the present time, I’ve sung this hymn.

I’ve included the words to the chorus, it’s a catchy tune, filled with truth…fun to sing as you go about your day.

“Coming again, Coming again,
May be morning, may be noon,
May be evening and may be soon!
Coming again, Coming again;
O what a wonderful day it will be,
Jesus is coming again.”
~ John W. Peterson

Plants – The Big Coleus Transplant – Hooray! (Tips for Etsy Seed Purchases)

I’ve been growing this year’s coleus crop in recycled chicken rotisserie containers since mid-winter. They have grown well, and it’s time to transplant them. Before I begin I gently move the larger plants aside; the coleus are already showing different colors, sizes, and leaf shapes. Years ago, and I have no idea where the advice came from, I read that often the best coleus are the last ones to sprout and grow large. I have found this to have a modicum of truth, beneath the larger coleus sprouts are often the best plants.

I transplant into small cups with a drainage hole cut into the bottom. A light potting soil is best, I add a bit of vermiculite to lighten it further, but it’s not necessary if the soil drains well.

The best method to remove the seedling from the surrounding sprouts is to use a fork. The fork lifts without cutting through the roots.

At this time I closely examine each plantlet and take note of those that have the most potential. I was impressed by this small sprout. Although it it is tiny it is loaded with color and sass. I like the spots and it reminds me a bit of a leopard.

Here’s my first tray of seedlings potted up and ready to grow on for a few weeks. Coleus cannot tolerate cold temperatures. I will grow them on in the trays until after the full moon on May 7th. At that time they can be placed in their permanent pots outside.

I love coleus. They can be sown and planted at any time throughout the year. They make an amazing houseplant. I’ve included a photograph of a coleus I’ve grown into a topiary.

The Flower Ark Etsy Shop Coleus Seeds