Poinsettias Galore

If you’re looking for a poinsettia Dunvegan Gardens in Fort St John has you covered! Though you might want to wait for  a warmer day to take one home. It’s -28 out there right now! Brrrr. On the other hand, it’s a great day to be in a greenhouse.

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And no, in case you’re wondering, I don’t get anything from Dunvegan for writing this. The same can’t be said in reverse. Dunvegan gets a lot from me in the way of business, but often I just go out to browse and smell the roses so to speak. So I guess I do get something from them. On days when I am in a funk, a drive out to their gorgeous greenhouse always puts me in a better mood.

I was there a few weeks ago when they were decorating their Christmas trees (if you have never gone out there for Christmas you really are missing out) and I heard one of the workers tell a customer, “We have two seasons here, summer and Christmas.”

Of course, they’re open year round and there is always something beautiful to admire but for sure, summer and Christmas are when the place revs up into full, glorious gear.

Here’s a peek at just a few of their trees…

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It’s on my bucket list to see a cardinal…this doesn’t exactly cross it off my list but now I can say I saw a few this winter. One day I am going to see a live one. And fireflies. Though probably not at the same time.

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This tree is sort of decorated like the woodsy one we had for years.

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And here’s one that goes with my new modern theme.

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They even had a tree decorated like summer complete with a pansy inspired garland…their two seasons collide!

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And whaaat? A shelf shaped like a giraffe. Very cute, but I think my bird shaped shelf is enough for one apartment.

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And if poinsettias aren’t your thing they have quite a few Winterberry plants too. Though not as many.

Okay…enough eye candy and lollygagging about on the computer.

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Amaryllis this Morning

Ack! My Amaryllis bulb has officially left the station and is on track for another round. I bought the bulb as a post-Christmas gift to myself back in 2014. I always go into a bit of a funk after Christmas. After all the excitement of our kids coming home etc. there is that period in January where the place feels empty. I settle in for the long wait until spring with nothing but Facebook photos from friends and family in tropical places to keep me entertained.

My Amaryllis bulb helps get me through. Watching those thick green leaves knife their way towards the ceiling renews my faith in life. They grow so fast it is amazing. But then again, nature is always amazing. And then there is the Amaryllis blossom. There is nothing quite like it. Mine is a brilliant red and white. Very colourful against the white winter backdrop and very Canadian.

Last year after the foliage died down in the fall I let the bulb dry out a bit and then packed it in newspaper and put it down in our storage locker in the basement. After Christmas I brought it up and started the Amaryllis show all over again. I was smitten with the ritual and looked forward to repeating it for many seasons to come.

This fall it died down as usual and I kept meaning to remove it from its pot and put it into storage, but somehow I kept forgetting. Then disaster struck. A couple of weeks ago I forgot what I was doing and accidentally watered the Amaryllis pot. I should have yanked it up then and there, patted it dry and stored it. But I did not.

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This morning I woke up to this. Note the Amaryllis in the forefront in its white pot. It is no longer dormant. In fact, it is a full eight inches beyond dormant.

Get back in there! I told the leaf, very firmly I might add, but to no avail. The cycle has started and there was no growing back. Life is like that.

And then there is the Christmas cactus. No sooner had I noticed the Amaryllis than I looked down and spotted the Christmas cactus. Taking a leaf from Amaryllis’s book it has jumped into premature action as well.

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I rescued this cactus from a grocery store 15 years ago. It was mid-January and it was sitting all by its lonely self in a corner by the Valentine vases. To add insult to injury the forgotten Christmas cactus was marked down to a humiliating .49 cents. For an investment of a couple of quarters it has been faithfully blooming in our house around Christmas ever since. Until this year.  Maybe it has been watching all our October snow and decided its calendar was off.

Ah well, it is what it is. Let the blooms fly. Nature always has the final say, which is as it should be. Of course that doesn’t mean I won’t find another Amaryllis bulb or some such growing thing under the tree this Christmas for my January pick-me-up. Who knows, I might even find two.

 

Survival Tip…Getting Houseplants Home Alive in the Winter

A close up of a cluster of red berries on a tree branch covered in ice during the winter season.

Living in the frozen north makes getting houseplants home alive a bit of a challenge for several months of the year. Carrying a tropical rain forest plant across a parking lot when it’s -20 C with a serious wind chill happening is enough to make the poor plant curl up its toes, stick out its tongue and fall over dead.

Most stores will put the plant inside a plastic bag, hopefully trapping enough warm air to get you from the store to your warm car and then to your home, depending on how fast you move and how cold it is. However, there are no guarantees your plant will make it out alive.

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A great option is to take a cooler with you when you go to make your plant purchase. If it is really cold, pop a hot water bottle inside (or a couple plastic bottles filled with hot water), close the lid tightly and your new plant should travel home snug as a bug in a rug. The soft sided coolers that grocery stores sell work great.

 

For larger plants you might have to break out the monster beach cooler on wheels…or wait for a chinook to blow in!

 

Five Purifying Plants For Your Home

 

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The last post explored the importance of trees as the lungs of our earth and ended with encouragement to plant more trees come spring. I used to live on 60 acres, two thirds of which was raw forest. Despite this ratio I was forever planting trees in the garden!

But what if you can’t plant more trees? What if your yard has no room, or worse, like me, you live in an apartment? I feel your pain!

The answer is instead of planting a tree, pot up some plants instead.  Adding houseplants will make your home healthier by cleaning the air and providing oxygen, just like our trees.

Any tropical type plant will do. Well, any plant at all will do, but tropical plants are suited for life in a constantly warm, shady, environment…something the average home mimics beautifully. While not necessary, I have discovered that plants love in-floor heat! Something I found out when I ended up with a few plants I couldn’t find a spot for, so crowded them on the floor in a corner while I decided what to do with them. After a week they started to put out new growth like crazy. This despite receiving little light and one of them being an orange tree, which usually requires at least a few hours of sunshine. In-floor heat is the sole source of heating in our apartment, so that means I can set plants on the floor pretty much anywhere and they’re happy. Yes!!!

Here are five plants that are always being recommended as environmental superstars in the home. They are the aspens or the lungs of the living room so to speak!

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1 – Aloe Vera – not only does this common house plant do a stellar job of purifying the air, the gel in the leaves will help soothe cuts and burns…and make a rejuvenating drink!

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2 – Peace Lily – you have to love a plant with a name like that and what better specimen for a Peace Country home! It purifies the air and produces gorgeous pure white blooms. Even when it isn’t in bloom the leaves still make this plant a real eye catcher.

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3 – Snake Plants – also called Mother-in-law tongue (not PC…not PC at all!) this plant thrives on little to no light and is one of the best choices for the bedroom since it absorbs carbon dioxide by day and releases oxygen by night…the opposite of most plants.

 

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4 – Spider Plants – these prolific producers are even on the NASA list of best air purifying  plants. Hey, if they are good enough for space they are good enough for our space! Benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene are just some of the chemicals the spider plant eats for breakfast. And lunch. And supper. And snacks…well, you get the idea. A perfect choice for a new building with lots of off gassing from new floors, window coverings etc.

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5 – Golden Pothos – Another plant on the NASA list because of its thirst for formaldehyde. Another great choice for new buildings to combat the off gassing from new materials. This plant likes to cascade its leaves down, so is best suited for hanging baskets or perhaps perched on a tall stand.

 

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    To be oxygen self sufficient an air tight space would need approximately 300 – 500 plants per person! A few walls like these would be a good start…

 

I recently read about a man who had started a garden in huge glass bottle. A few years into the project he screwed a lid on the bottle and left it alone. Despite being cut off from any outside source of air or nutrients, the garden thrived. I can’t remember exactly how long he had the garden by the time the article was written, but it was something like 30 years. For 25 or so of those years the garden had been completely self-sustaining. The leaves provided its own moisture, fertilizer and oxygen. It was like the planet earth in a bottle.

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While living in an apartment might feel claustrophobic at times, obviously we multi-housing dwellers still  have access to earth’s fine blend of air. If you really were living in a glass bubble cut off from any source of air, you would need approximately 10,000 leaves to keep each person in oxygen or the equivalent to 300 – 500 plants. That’s a few more than most of us are willing to care for–or sacrifice space for.  Ah well. Even bringing half a dozen plants into your home will make it a healthier place to hang your hat. The place will look prettier too.