Phlowers – Camellia Blossoms

Camellia flowers – what a perfect way to start the week. Cee, host of Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge, posted a beautiful camellia today. Inspired by her photograph, I looked through my flower files and found a few vibrant Camellia photos taken in the Longwood Gardens Conservatory. Nothing banishes winter blues quite as well as the indelible hope and beauty of flowers in bloom.

Even the buds are beautiful.

What’s better than a perfect Camellia blossom? Why, two of course.

Planting – Winter Sowing in Photographs

Imagine growing hundreds of seedlings for your garden without the need to tend them indoors. It’s almost like magic! Winter Sowing is the answer to hands-off seedling success. I’m illustrating my steps to winter sowing with step by step photos. You can find amazing articles throughout the web and videos on Youtube if you need more information. I noticed there is even a Facebook group for Winter Sowing now. Today, I sowed and put my first container outdoors for the 2019 growing season. I planted beets from a dollar store packet that only cost 25 cents. I thickly sowed the seeds to take advantage of both greens and beets. Today in the supermarket one large beet was considered a bunch and was selling for $3.49. Outrageous! Winter Sowing is the brainchild of Trudi Davidoff. Detailed information and links on beginning winter sowing can be found here: Winter Sown

I’ve saved milk cartons in the basement for months.

Begin by inserting a paring knife into the carton 3-4 inches from the bottom, near the handle.

After I make a small slit with the paring knife I cut around the bottom with scissors.

Stop before you cut all the way through, leaving a bit of carton near the handle to join the top and bottom. This makes taping the carton shut easier.

I place the bottom of the carton in my kitchen sink over the drain. I push my paring knife through the carton bottom in four spaced out spots.

I insert the scissors in the slits and twist. This creates four large drainage holes. In the past I used a hot screw driver to make holes, but this process is easier and you don’t inhale toxic fumes from the melting plastic.

I fill the bottom of the carton with 1 1/2 inches of sterile organic potting soil. On top of the potting soil I add an equal amount of organic seed starter soil.

I water this until it is soaked and then let it fully drain.

I sow my seeds and cover with a thin layer of seed starter. If I keep the top layer very thin it will usually wick up water from the layer of seed starter soil beneath it.

I label the top with permanent marker. I have to keep a close eye on the labeling. The letters will fade in just weeks. It’s vital to reapply the marker when the letters lighten or I’ll be guessing as to which seedling is what. Tape the edges together with duct tape and place outside in a sunny spot. The wet soil in the carton bottom has always kept my cartons grounded, even in windy winter weather. I will remove the cap later today or the seeds might become too hot in warmer weather. I usually don’t quit my winter sowing madness until every spare milk carton is filled. You can find lists of which plants do best started this way on the Winter Sowing site. Happy Gardening!

Perspective – Restorative Power!

Saint Francis Xavier Church was founded by Father Thomas Mansell, S.J. in 1704. It is one of the earliest Catholic establishments in the English Colonies and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

History of St. Francis Xavier Shrine (Old Bohemia) Years ago, before the age of digital cameras, my husband and I drove around Cecil County, Maryland. We came upon a beautiful church unawares. I was struck by its beauty and took a snapshot with my camera. The photo above is a digital copy of the beautiful moment I captured.

The Old Bohemia Church was built in 1792. The church was established in 1704 to battle the repression of Catholicism in the English Colonies. In 1953, a group formed to renovate and restore the building. To me, the coming together of three such separate denominations is a testament of what Christianity should represent.

In 1953, the Old Bohemia Historical Society was formed by a Catholic, a Quaker and a Methodist who purchased the property’s core 120 acres with the goal to restore and maintain the historic site. Since that time, members have worked to bring the property back to its original state.

The month of October for me was a month without church. Between vacation and a dental surgery I missed every Sunday at my place of worship. This past weekend I was once again worshipping with the members in our church. When we entered we were greeted with the sight of almost every seat taken in the sanctuary. Hallelujah, what a blessed sight. We made our way to the balcony where there was still room, and I said to my husband, ‘It’s a full house today.’ When I left I felt uplifted and full of joy…I had been where I belonged on Sunday morning…in God’s house.

Yesterday I visited the blog ‘Tales From the Mama Duck.’ She perfectly put into words exactly how I felt on Sunday about the restorative power of church attendance. Here’s a quote and a link to her amazing post. ‘I Didn’t Want to Leave Church on Sunday.’

“Church is not a social gathering for me. Sure, it provides fellowship, but more intimate relationships are experienced in small groups. Church service is restorative. After six days in the world, I need a reprieve from the depravity, the images, the diseases, disappointments, and this Babylonian culture.” ~ Tales From Mama Duck

“He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” ~ Psalm 23:3