U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8b. Sunset climate zone 5

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Please Choose One For Yourself

What kind of gardener are you? I have a stack of Holiday cards, and you can decide which one appeals to you the best. You might like more than one!
You are the most supportive, kind and encouraging group of friends anyone can wish for, and I hope 2010 will bring you peace, health, sunshine, love and joy!
Let's start.
If you are a Cottage gardener, this card is for you:

If you are a Desert gardener, this is for you:

This one is for a Water/Container gardener:

Gardening with kids?

Indoor gardener?

Oriental Style gardener?

This one is for a Tropical gardener:

Succulent gardener? This is for you:

For a Romantic gardener:

For a Wildflower gardener:

Do you have a "Will - Garden - for - Food" Gardener in your family?
This is for Him:

Have a furry helper? Amur is chewing on an edible Christmas card, but I am sure they make doggie New Year cards too!

This card is for a Sandy Soil gardener:

For a Vegetable Gardener:

Gone-to-Dogs gardener?

For a Formal Gardener:


Monday, December 28, 2009

One of December's Prettiest Colors

Do you think I love turquoise? Yes? No? Let's look at this collage.

What do you think now? I didn't include pictures of my swimsuit, laundry room countertop, scarfs and towels in the collage, but believe me, they would blend into it perfectly. Yes, I love turquoise! Who doesn't?

I already love the name itself. It is apparently related to the fact that it was brought to Europe from the Eastern Mediterranean by Levantine traders, more commonly known as Turks. It has been used as a valuable ornament for ages and was used by the Egyptians thousands of years ago. The range of turquoise colors varies from green and greenish blue to sky blue shades.

Turquoise is one of the official birth stones for the month of December as adopted by the American National Association of Jewelers in 1912. (Alternate Birthstones of Sagittarius the Archer (Zodiac sign for November 22- December 21, ) are: Topaz, Beryl, Blue Topaz, Blue Zircon, Rubies, Lapis Lazuli and Citrine).
It is also the wedding anniversary gemstone for the 5th and 11th year of marriage.
The properties with which Turquoise, the birthstone of the Zodiac sign of Sagittarius, are claimed to be associated are as follows:
Prosperity, success, happiness and good fortune, open communication, protection against all diseases, regeneration, and strengthening.
The healing properties of turquoise are reputed to be effective for the throat, lungs, asthma, teeth, depression and infections.

These are all interesting facts, but they were not the reasons for this post. I wanted to share with you the pictures of a beautiful plant. I took them last summer on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. This vine was hanging from nowhere. I stopped in amusement when I bumped into it.

It looked almost unreal, like nothing I would expect to see even in an exotic land. The size and shape were impressive, but most of all it was the color that stunned me. What a spectacular show it was!
It reminded me of one of my favorite chimes back home.

As I learned later, the plant was a STRONGYLODON MACROBOTRYS, Jade Vine. Other names: Turquoise Jade Vine, Blue Jade Vine.
Specimen vine, it belongs to a Fabaceae Family and originates from the Philippines.
Size: 30- 50 feet.
Light Requirements: full to partial sun.
Water requirements : average.
Minimum temperature is in low 30's. Cannot stand frost or drought. Grows best in Zones 10-11.
They say it blooms during winter and spring. My pictures were taken in August.

The flowers have a beautiful seagreen/turquoise color that is considered to be the rarest in the flower world. The bloom is a pendant, clustered birds beak like inflorescence up to 4 1/2 ft. long. Spectacular show! The flowers are often used in Lei making.
The young leaves have a very dark, almost black color, then the leaf turns pale green with dark veins which looks like chlorosis, but it is not. As the leaf matures, it turns deep green.

They say it can be grown indoors! Who is brave enough to try?

They also say, although this vigorous grower can reach 30-50 feet tall once established, it is perfect for a pergola where the blooming clusters can hang down.



Since I touched upon a Hawaiian theme, I want to show you, as I promised in August, what I brought from our last trip. I brought a lot, although I could hold it all in one hand. I brought a part of Hawaiian culture, Hawaiian flora and most importantly - I brought friendship. While in Kauai, I met some wonderful people, Amelia U. and her daughter. With the help of all the members of their family, they make Hawaiian Kapa Cloth. Pounded Wauke tree bark is used as a base. Tapioca starch serves as a glue. Hibiscus flowers and roots, together with Kukui Nuts, are used for creating a dye.

These are two pieces of Hawaiian Kapa Cloth. This first one, I bought as a wedding gift for my friends who were engaged in Hawaii. Thus, it had a special meaning for them.

The piece below I bought for us.

The red color of the cloth comes from Kauai's signature vibrant red dirt. You can see it on the next picture:

What causes Kauai’s dirt to have such a red color? Kauai is 5 million years old. It's enough time for the high iron content of its volcanic soils to oxidize, especially with the wet conditions of the island (one of the wettest spots on earth is in Kauai, with an annual average rainfall of 460 inches (1,170 sm).

I treasure this piece as well as a simple lovely friendship bracelet which Amelia gave me. Meeting local people who keep traditions of the islands alive was the the highlight of my trip. Thank you Amelia. Happy New Year to you and your wonderful hardworking family!

Copyright 2009 TatyanaS

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Let Us Have a Sense of Humor

Let us have a sense of humor in good times and in bad times,
in times of plenty and in times of want,
in times of sickness and in times of health,
in times of joy and in times of sorrow,
in times of failure and in times of triumph
in boom times and in bust times,
before the holidays and after them!

I'd like to give credit to the author of the photograph, but he/she is unknown to me
Just in case: what does DITTO mean?
"The same, me too, I agree"

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Everything Is Ready

Everything is ready for the big day.

From the very first Christmas tree we had, we knew it wouldn't be a one-theme, perfectly color-coordinated tree. Our tree is interesting for our kids and full of memories and special meaning for us. The ornaments create a colorful mix of gifts from friends and family, rummage sale finds, high-class collectible pieces and kids' school creations.

The blue Santa in the picture above is made from salt; the mosaic ball was made by our niece when she was in middle school; the carousel goat is a rummage sale treasure; the pineapple was bought for our first Christmas tree; the bird and weiner dog are from ordinary stores - our boys love animal ornaments; the bunny is from a Christofer Radko collection; the pewter ornament on the buttom of the collage was bought on a family trip to South Dakota.
Without a doubt, everyone's favorites are the five pieces from Kurt Adler's Russian collection.

The girl in the traditional Russian dress, the Cossack, the Tsar, the Priest and the St. Basil Cathedral have bright colors and intricate patterns. Originally, we had one set. Then, I found another on E-bay and bought the second identical set. I wanted both boys to have this collection for their own Christmas tree in the future. I know that they will remember these ornaments even if the fragile glass won't last so long.

These prints were given to our family by my friend Anita who is related to the artist, Tom Browning. What does Santa do in his spare time? Hey, he is a gardener!

Everything is ready for the big day. We lack only snow as shown in the picture from last year.


Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year!

Copyright 2009 TatyanaS

Friday, December 18, 2009

Legally Autumn

The first official day of winter is Monday, December 21, known as the December solstice. So, legally, it's still autumn now. To close this season, these are several pictures reflecting how lovely last autumn was in the Pacific Northwest. The foliage stayed on the trees til late November showing all the pretty fall colors.

Maples were especially vivid and bright.

This tree has leaves of different colors simultaneously. Interesting, isn't it?

Fallen leaves decorated driveways, sidewalks and lawns.

The last leaves of autumn signaled the end of the season.

We are now somewhere between the seasons. The fall colors are gone, and the winter whites are not here yet.

This time last year we already had snow. The picture below was taken on the 15th of December 2008.

Yesterday, it was so warm, wet and green that it smelled and looked like spring. It was then when I realized that I am not ready for spring yet. I need to go through some cold, snowy days and weeks to long for warmth, sun and everything that spring brings. Well, I miss sun when I don't have it, but obviously I didn't suffer enough yet. I don't want to jump over the seasons. I want to experience them all. The same is true about the plants. They need a period of cold and a good rest that dormancy brings. A good winter brings a good summer.

Sleep plants, sleep! Come winter, come!

Copyright 2009 TatyanaS

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