The Need for Seed and Other Musings – The January Wrap-Up

Here it is, the last week of January is upon us. We are pretty much half way through winter, so lets hope the ole’ groundhog gives us a break this year and predicts that spring will come early! By this time of year, we are all getting cabin fever, heck even my daughter is getting sick of riding her new bike around in circles in the basement. She’s ready for the rubber to meet the road!

After a wild and crazy Saturday night of learning to ride our new bike, it's finally time to take a rest.

After a wild and crazy Saturday night of learning to ride our new bike, it’s finally time to take a rest.

It’s also time to  check in and see if I am practicing what I preached way back when the snow started to fly. Well, I am very proud to say that I am now underway. So here’s a little round-up of what’s been keeping me busy in my world.

1. I am looking at seeds.

I am sure most of you have had your mailboxes inundated with seed catalogs like this:


Yes, now is the time to purchase your seeds to get a jump-start on your growing season. Whether you are going to start your veggies, herbs or some of your favorite flowers, this is the perfect time to purchase them. Why? Because the stores and nurseries are freshly stocked and you will get everything your little heart desires!!


2. I have been putting the pen to paper.

I love words. My life’s work is putting pen to paper. I do it in my job, but I have also been journalizing since I was very young. I currently have four different journals. One of those journals is my garden journal. It has all my musings in regards to my gardens, yard and what I want to do with it all.

Nothing better than a Moleskine. Or two.

Nothing better than a Moleskine. Or two.

3. I purchased some new books.

I remember a time, oh, about ten years ago, when all I did was work, exercise, and read. My love of words never died, it just went on vacation for a few years. I could read at least a book a week at one time. Now, it’s one a year! That’s life for you! But now, things are changing where I can now devote more time for reading and researching than I could before. My time management skills are getting much better the older I get. So, I have some really great books that I will review in the not so distant future, and I am excited to dive in to them.


4. I am getting dynamic inspiration.

This was the year I promised I would get back to being “me”. I took a few years off of being “me” to devote fully to being “mommy”. Before I became a mother, I always worked towards being dynamic. I always wanted to know a little bit about most things just so I would always be able to carry on a conversation with anybody I met. This thinking too, has contributed to the inspiration I get for gardening. It’s amazing the cool things you can think of when you look at the bigger picture!

5. I have been getting outside.

Yes, I have been able get outside a lot more than I have in the past few years, and it has made an incredible difference. I feel more at peace, and get such great joy with walking about the woods in snowshoes, cross-country skiing, or even walking. It’s amazing the effect nature has on you.

So, I guess that’s it in a nutshell. Just a little bit of what I have been working on, and hopefully it will all translate into a great, inspirational, and productive growing season!

A Natural Pause

On Saturday afternoon, I took advantage of the opportunity to do some snowshoeing while my daughter took her nap. As I lapped the little park I have all of my winter fun in, I noticed a small rainbow in the sky. It’s a special treat to see a winter rainbow, mainly because you don’t associate rainbows with winter. It takes you back to warm and rainy summer days that we are all longing for at this point in the season! Enjoy.

A small rainbow in a dusky sky made my day!

A small rainbow in a dusky sky made my day!

En”Deer”ing Friends and Your Garden – Winter Version

Another cold, winter week goes by, and I have noticed that hats, gloves, coats, mittens and boots wet with puddles dominate the landscape of my whole house. Scarves in the bedroom and living room, coats hung on the dining room chairs — you get the idea. I love winter, I love the change of scenery, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. My daughter loves it too, and plays in it with style:

She couldn't help herself when we got back from the doctor's the other day. Had to play on a snowy swingset!

She couldn’t help herself when we got back from the doctor’s the other day. Had to play on a snowy swing set!

The two aspects I don’t like about winter? Driving in it and deer.

How so you say?

Well, in my neighborhood, we have a severe deer problem. Overpopulation at its finest. They are a year round nuisance, (spring/summer versions will be coming), but they have been proving to be the most destructive in winter for my garden.

Every hunter's dream -- to have this big guy in your back yard!

Every hunter’s dream — to have this big guy in your back yard!

Here’s why:

It’s winter, and food sources are scarce. If it’s a particularly cold winter, they will pretty much eat ANYTHING. Even the “deer resistant” plants that you purchase. They are so hungry, they will eat anything, including thorn bushes at times. They have massacred my holly bush, and that is supposed to be “deer resistant”. I even have chicken wire around it!

You have a bird feeder around. Yes, I have a bird feeder, and this is where I found this “deer” friend 5 o’clock at night on Thanksgiving:

This grainy photo is evidence that my "deer" friends eating out of my bird feeder.

This grainy photo is evidence that my “deer” friends like eating out of my bird feeder.

They will eat your bird seed and then start scoping out the rest of your yard.

What I have learned about bird seed and deer. They tend to like the super cheap stuff you can get in the 20lb. bag for $6 bucks at any store. I have the pricier sunflower seed in my feeders now, and they don’t like that as much. They also do not like thistle seed either. I put some in last year to attract more finches.

So, how do you protect your plants against deer in the winter?

Cover up. Burlap or any other full covering is the best protection in my opinion. I have fenced some other plants, including my holly bush, and they will avoid it as long as they can find other food. Once they can’t find anymore food, they will become aggressive and make their way into the wire. Now, fencing works for bigger things such as trees. Lesson Learned for me: burlap all of the smaller plants and bushes!

If all else fails, just deal with it. If you have done everything on your part to keep the deer away, and they still are making problems for you, just worry about it in the spring when you can actually do something about it. The damage will be minimal if you have covered it up for the most part. Winter itself can do serious damage to your plants, so it’s a trade-off at one point or another. It will grow back, and if it doesn’t, you can always get a new one!

Disclaimer: Deer are really wonderful animals, but they are also very destructive when it comes to your landscape. As a gardener, you spend a lot of time and money trying to make your home and yard look beautiful. The intention of this post is to give you tips on how to deal and live with the deer you have in your neighborhood, without harming them.

Houseplants, Part Three: Tropical and Other Unique Plants

I hope everyone had a wonderful week! It was the coldest week yet for this winter in Buffalo. Sub-zero wind chills and single digits for a good portion of the week made the temperature in the teens that we experienced the other day feel down right balmy!

Brrr! Icy cold was everywhere!

Brrr! Icy cold was everywhere!

We had a nasty lake effect band come in the wee hours of Friday morning, dumping 9 inches of snow at my house, and more in some other areas. Work was delayed until noon, so I took advantage of the situation and went snowshoeing in the rare, yet precious powder we get around these parts! There were great examples of winter interest all around me:


The way the snow was on this tree reminded me of zebra stripes!

The way the snow was on this tree reminded me of zebra stripes!

Grateful for this perfect cold and snowy morning!

Grateful for this perfect cold and snowy morning!


I finished up the weekend by cross-country skiing, and sadly, my binding broke on my ski and I wanted to cry. Those were my dad’s skis, and even though the bindings are ancient in technology terms (the skis I am using are close to 30 years old), those have been the only skis I have ever loved and used so much! Hopefully, all I have to do is get new bindings.

While I must say people thought I was crazy because I went out this weekend, the wind was really bad, at times visibility was zero — yea, they were probably right. But when I got back in the house, I was in for good. I thought I better do my weekly watering of my plants. And then I saw this:

My cat Leo has supernatural leaping abilities, and way too close for comfort to my amaryllis!

My cat Leo has supernatural leaping abilities, and way too close for comfort to my Amaryllis!

This reminded me of the time my beautiful, unique plant called the oxalis was nearly destroyed by my other kitten, Teddy. I was horrified to see it in such awful condition after coming home from work one warm and sunny summer afternoon.


What is an oxalis?

  • It is part of the clover family, or false shamrocks.  They refer to this particular plant as the “three-leaf purple shamrock.” My daughter calls it the “butterfly plant” because of the petals looking exactly like a butterfly. I was first introduced to this interesting plant by a co-worker. I had asked her what it was, and she said she didn’t know, but it looked like butterflies to her.
  • There are over 900 different species of this plant. You can actually plant this one outside, too!

A couple of months later, I am perusing the Farmer’s Market in downtown Buffalo, and lo and behold, there it was! I asked the fellow working at this particular tent what it was, and he told me. I just had to get it! It was in a lot better condition than it is now, but I am happy to report that I have nursed it back to life. Little by little, just by watering it on a regular basis, it is starting to get bushy again.

This is a great addition to your houseplant collection because not only is it different, but it gives a burst of color to the sea of green that is common among your houseplants. It’s a talking piece, which is something I definitely like. I love looking at the expression on everybody’s faces when they see something and ask, “WHAT is that?”

Just like when I show people this plant:

The pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant.

The pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant.


This a Pitcher Plant. I squeed with joy when I went into my local supermarket (that boasts a great selection of houseplants, I must say) over the summer to find the exact plant I was going to purchase online because I couldn’t find it anywhere!

The Pitcher Plant:

  • Is a carnivorous plant just like the venus fly trap, meaning, they eat flies and other insects.
  • They “trap”insects in the “pitchers”, the leaves which are commonly known as “pitfall traps” filled with liquid.
  • There are several different kinds of pitcher plants.
  • This particular pitcher plant is tropical. They need warmth and need to always have moist soil.  I put my pitcher plant out on my enclosed patio for the summer, and bring it in to my bedroom the cooler months.

I have to admit, this has been much easier to take care of than I thought it would. Just watering it regularly and keeping the soil moist seems to be the trick. That, and because my bedroom is one of the warmer rooms in the house, it may think it’s in its native tropical setting.

*Not all species are tropical. You can find some of these in bogs in North America!

This is a GREAT plant to add to your collection. It is so unique and adds some real jazz to your home decor!

Here are just a couple of good examples of some different plants that add great value to your house. I have a few more that I am going to single out in future posts, but for now, hopefully these will give you some ideas on trying something different to keep the long winter days full of color and excitement!

A Natural Pause

It’s been awhile since I have had a chance to post a “Natural Pause”! I just wanted to update you on my Amaryllis that I potted from the kit that I purchased a few weeks back. It has bloomed! And quite fast at that! I was very nervous about this actually blooming, but according to the directions, it’s actually ahead of schedule!

What a beautiful plant to brighten the long days of winter that include sub-zero wind chills and lake-effect snow!

Here it is in all its glory! Enjoy your day!

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Houseplants, Part Two: The Common Ones

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful New Year! It’s a new year, and a new perspective on life! I am happy to say that I have already checked a few things off my list that I told myself I was going to do this year. One of those things includes a renewed sense of appreciation for fine art pieces:


My daughter’s picture of a kitty brightens my days in the cubicle…

Anyway, I am posting a day early because I will be going out-of-town to my parents tomorrow to FINALLY celebrate Christmas. With my daughter sick last week, and the weather horrible today, we had to scratch plans until tomorrow. And something tells me my work schedule is going to pick up pretty quickly this first week back, so, again, I am prioritizing.

I have spent more time inside than I have wanted to this past week. The weather has been so awful (bitter cold, wind, snow), I haven’t even entertained the thought of taking my workout outside. So, this has allowed me to prepare for my post this week on common houseplants! In fact, I watered them all today, and already have a couple of more in mind I would like to purchase.

With that being said, here are some common houseplants I have in my home that would be good for you.

1. Snake Plant— the snake plant is the best plant for forgetful people. It’s part of the succulent family and tolerates neglect. Snake plants love to be left alone. I water mine about once every two weeks. It doesn’t need a lot of light or water, and it grows just as well.

The Snake Plant is the non-plant person's best friend! Low maintenance living decor!

The Snake Plant is the non-plant person’s best friend! Low maintenance living decor!

2. Green Dracaena— can be recognized with white stripes on their leaves. They grow upright and need medium to bright light. I water mine once a week, and even a little more during the winter months. I purchased mine at a home improvement store and it done very well for me.


3. Pothos— This is probably the easiest to recognize.  They have this beautiful marbled look on their leaves. I have about three of these. I have purchased all of them from my local grocery store. It’s a vine that is extremely low maintenance. There is no such thing as too little or too much light for this vine, it grows in any lighting condition you give it. I have had one of mine for at least 6 years, and in the early years when watering my plants was not high on my to-do list, my pathos weathered that ugly time and have flourished for me.


4. Philodendron — I also have a few of these, and they have a tendency to get confused with the above pathos. They too, are not fussy about light, and will grow through neglectful times. The philodendron has heart-shaped leaves, and my one also happens to be very long– about four feet. They are the number one most common plants in any indoor gardening setup.



5. Peace Lily — This was the first plant I got when we moved into our house. It’s been in my bedroom ever since. The Peace Lily gets these beautiful white flowers on them about once a year, and they too, are very tolerant of low light and low humidity.


6. Ivy— I believe this is English Ivy, but I have to still research it. This is actually part of the Ivy that grows outside. I took a shoot off two years ago and put it in water in the house. It has grown very well, surprisingly. Because the last time I purchased an Ivy, it died right away. Again, I was younger and didn’t pay much attention to my plants, so this could very well be the reason why it failed for me. Boston Ivies are the more common indoor Ivies, and they are hard to keep going, in my opinion. I still have to figure out how to keep them alive!


Some other plants to consider:

*Corn Plant— they resemble a corn-stalk and are very tolerant as well. I actually have one of these, but I didn’t get a chance to photograph it. They can take a beating and still keep going!

*Jade Plant— I really want a Jade Plant. They look very unique and grow very slowly into a tree. They love bright light!

There are still many other indoor plants that you can choose, but I just wanted to list the ones that are very common and easy to maintain. I also have some other interesting houseplants that I will talk about in a later post. For now, you have a good foundation on the basics of houseplants, the ones that are the easiest to find, and what will be good for you and your home!