Late Winter Succulent Window Revamp

This is the small, south double hung window where my succulents spend the winter.

These are what just came out of that window. You can see that they’re pretty content there. The echiveria in the bowl in the middle left is just about to bloom. And the aloe on the desk is blooming–that’s one of the reasons I didn’t move it.

A few things that normally bloom haven’t done so yet. I wondering if it’s a result of my late repotting (September instead of May). Or, who knows? Maybe they just need a year to settle into their new containers.

A redo of the window lets me groom plants like this scilla peruviana, which tends to get untidy every so often.

And now they are all back in place, ready for more sun!

Do You–or Should You–Divide Your House Plants?

Before I begin the discussion about dividing plants, let’s talk about this lovely plant. It’s one that I have had, most likely for about 8 years or so. I just got a smaller identical one (labeled foliage plant, of course), and then one with slightly different colors labeled as a calathea.

This plant is one that I have always known as stromanthe tricolor. I have also seen it as stromanthe triostar. But I have never seen it called a calathea, despite the fact that its leaves do move in relationship to light.

But I had my other calathea/stromanthe with me at my most recent house plant lectures, as well as 2 aglaeonema. I got asked about dividing plants at each lecture.

Both times my answer was the same: generally, I don’t divide plants. I like my plants to look full. Certainly there’s no reason not to, particularly if there are multiple plants in a container.

But this brings me to a different issue. When you have had a plant for several years, and you have re-potted it a few times, you probably want to “renovate” it.

What do I mean by that? I mean that you want to carefully groom the plant (usually this can be done without taking it out of its pot), removing old stems, and even old dead plant parts if you find them. I did that with this stromanthe before I took the above photo.

This is the crud that I pulled out of it. Notice all the dead stems.

There was even this little bit of dead plant stem in there.

By the way, all of this is on a glass-topped table. The signed poster underneath is from several years ago when Allen Smith came to Hartford for our Hort. Society. I was lucky enough to be one of the ones to be selected to record a radio show with him and he gave us all posters as souvenirs.

So, if you choose not to divide your plants–as I do–it’s just fine. Just be sure to renovate them every so often. They will thank you!

A Child of 70s Music

Today’s #bloganuary prompt asks about a song or poem that speaks to you and why.

I am sorry to say that there is no particular song or poem but an entire Era of music that speaks to me.

I really hoped this wasn’t true. I even took one of those “online” tests hoping that I would get some other era of music (because of course we know how reliable those tests are, right?)

But what I find, as I go throughout my day, is that I am constantly humming or singing little snippets of songs and usually they are from the 70s.

This morning was a brief exception: as I was leashing the dog, it was “Who let the dogs out, woof, woof…” of course.

But as soon as we opened the door, I hummed “here comes the sun,” –and so it goes all day long.

Why the 70s? My theory is that if I am actually singing–in the car, by myself, of course–there are great songs to harmonize with. Mind you, I did NOT say great songs. Some of the best songs for harmony come from groups like ABBA (I know people love them but I am not a fan) and the Starlight Vocal Band (I think I have that right).

Great harmonies if you don’t care what you’re singing.

Of course other classic groups–Crosby Stills and Nash immediately come to mind– are also fabulous to harmonize with.

But it’s these unexpected things that make me smile.

Now I just have to get the words to “Afternoon Delight” out of my head. It’s an earworm.

Not Playing Favorites

Today’s #bloganuary prompt asks who is your favorite author and why?

I just got asked about my favorite house plant on Thursday night at my lecture on house plants and I am frequently asked about my favorite plant when I lecture. It’s a tough question. I usually laugh and say “whatever is in bloom, ” but that not true really about plants and I generally admit that I love roses and hydrangeas.

House plants are a little harder because they are a lot more varied. Thursday I chose an aglaeonema that I had with me. On a different day, if I had a different collection of plants–or if something was looking better–I might choose something else.

All of this is a very long winded explanation for why I have a collection of favorite authors but I don’t really have one. Here’s what I mean.

I like to read historical fiction. It’s entertaining and I learn things so long as I keep in mind that I am reading fiction and don’t fall into that trap of believing that the minority of the characters existed or that they might have interacted with the actual historical people in the way that the novels portray.

Sometimes, however, the subject matter is terrible, as in what might happen to spies if they are captured.

In that case, I might not like the book much. The writing is still wonderful, the story is great, but ugh! What a dreadful violent tale.

Do I like the writer less? Truly, no. But I can’t say that I “enjoyed” the book. It was well done but I would have loved it more with a few less graphic details.

That writer, Kate Quinn, is one of my favorite historical fiction writers. I have others, like Fiona Davis, who doesn’t get graphic like that, as well.

I just need to remember what I am in for when I read for a certain type of Kate Quinn book.

Luge Track

Today’s #bloganuary prompt asks about what irritates me about my home.

This is so easy it’s ridiculous. It’s the driveway. And what’s funny is that the driveway appears benign if I were to post a photo. It’s about 60 feet of blacktop that goes up at a fairly steep angle then takes a hard right for another 40 feet or so in front of the house.

Living in the frozen north as I do, you can imagine the logistical challenges this presents. I have driven Subarus for the last 24 years to cope but lately we get more ice than snow and no vehicle can cope with that.

The Spoiler finally came around and also got a Subaru for his “winter ” car 8 years ago. Before that, we–or AAA–were regularly digging him out of the drifts on either side of the driveway.

In summer, it’s just fine. But there’s too little summer here.

And while I have commercial brine. (that liquid magnesium chloride that road crews use) to treat the driveway with, too often what happens is that we get rain that freezes so brine washes away and then the driveway is a luge track.

Last year I had to park my car at a neighbor’s for a week and hike up the lawn.

Thanks, but if I had any other way to access this house, I would change my driveway in a heartbeat!


Today’s #bloganuary prompt asks what color describes your personality and why?

Oh my! Is this like “what color is your aura” question? I am not sure that my personality has a color but I will give it a go.

My favorite color is any shade of purple from the palest lilac to the deepest plum. You might notice that many of the annuals that I grow (forced hyacinths, purple petunias in my hydroponic garden) are purple.

I do it because those flowers are some of the most fragrant. In fact, I walked into the house last evening and immediately thought, “oh, something’s blooming.” Sure enough, it was a forced hyacinth on the desk nearby.

So purple is my favorite color and so I think I would say that it describes my personality too. It’s not a pure color like red or blue, from which it is made. That’s my personality–a combination of things.

And I think people often associate purple with moodiness. I wouldn’t say that I am moody, necessarily, but I am quiet and reserved and people often mistake that for all sorts of things. So purple seems to fit that because it can have that moody tone.

Finally purple is associated with so many causes but one of them is migraine awareness. I have had migraine headaches since kindergarten. Believe when I say it is so much more than a headache!

So purple seems to fit me well. I’m claiming it!

Pasta, Please

Today’s #bloganuary prompt asks about your favorite meal.

This is easy and once again I am boring. I like pasta–not spaghetti, but some tube shape (ziti or mostaciolli or penne) with marinara sauce. On rare occasion, I might eat a meatball but not often.

The variation on this theme is “if you could only have one cuisine for the rest of your life…” and yes, I would choose Italian.

Simple Things

Today’s #bloganuary prompt is to describe the happiest day of your life.

It’s interesting that WordPress chose that as a theme because there has been so much written lately about happiness, joy, the happiest people based on 3 decades of studies–you get the idea.

In fact, when I first started seeing all these articles popping up, I started thinking about what I meant by “happiness ” and when I last felt it.

What I decided was that happy was kind of a fleeting emotion for me–as was joy. I might feel each of them for a brief time, say, a couple of moments or an hour or something but not even for a day. I don’t think I have had a whole happy day.

But before you say ” get this woman help or some meds,” don’t think that I am clinically depressed. In fact, you might be surprised to hear that many people have described me as “upbeat” or “positive.”

And that’s because I would describe myself as content. And just about every day I am content.

So my “happiest ” day is actually my most content day. It could be today. Who knows?

What makes it a good day? Being able to spend it peacefully, with the Spoiler (my husband) and my dog, doing a little something with plants (house plants is fine), maybe getting outside for a nice walk and getting some time to read. All things that are possible today.

I wish that kind of a day for everyone.


Today’s #bloganuary prompt asks about a smell linked to a memory

Of all my senses, my smell is probably my least developed due, at least in part, to allergies to everything that leads to a perpetually stuffed nose. It’s hard to smell that way!

So I don’t have memories linked to smell except for rain. And they’re not specific really. I just know that rain is a definite thing that I can smell (and yes, I do know the science behind that) and I associate it with nice things since we haven’t had any catastrophic flooding or hurricanes here at my inland location.

Some people say they can smell snow. I am not one of those. I do have lots of different ways to describe it, including the icy, rimey mess of a coating that fell overnight. But that’s a story for a different post.


Today’s #bloganuary post asks about a conquered fear.

I think it’s probably pretty obvious from the title what I was afraid of ( in case it isn’t, I was terrified of spiders).

But when you garden, particularly if you garden organically, spiders are one of the “good guys,” or a garden helper. So it’s not useful to be terrified.

How did I conquer my fear? In the usual way, of course, by becoming familiar with what I am most afraid of. I just watched and studied the numerous spiders in the garden and gradually I became fascinated and not fearful.

Even indoors now, I generally just let them be unless they are in a totally unsuitable place (running around the bedroom qualifies, for example. I have found a spider bite on my face in the morning. Most unwelcome!)

Otherwise, there are now very few spiders that I am afraid of–and for those, there’s a handy organic product called “spiders away ” that works if I need it!