CHRISTMAS CACTUS IS BACK — Marilyn Armstrong

The Cactus is Back!

I had been noticing how exceptionally healthy both my cactuses looked, but I hadn’t noticed any buds. Until I looked more carefully and realized they were full of buds. Tiny buds at the end of almost every strand.

Now, some of them are big, plump buds and just about ready to open. Here’s how they looked yesterday:

An overlook of the big cactus

Closeup one

A little broader look

Softly framed

A SUNDAY LOOK AT THE INDOOR GARDEN – Marilyn Armstrong

An Indoor Garden – 11-3-2019

Taking pictures of birds today, I stopped and took some pictures of my indoor garden. The purple orchids are finally falling, but there are new shoots that I hope will replace them. And there are a lot of shoots on the other orchid too.

November and I bet there will be buds on the Christmas cacti soon. They sure do look healthy. Maybe too healthy. It’s time to water them less often I think.

A vertical look at my indoor garden

And then, this is what our woods looks like today. You can see how the oaks are all bronze. This is the month of the golden woods.

Downy Woodpecker in golden woods

PURPLE ORCHIDS REIGN O’ER THE TABLE – Marilyn Armstrong

PURPLE ORCHIDS – September 27, 2019

So there I was loaded for bird.

Big camera with the 100-300 mm lens.

But — there were the orchids, looking totally gorgeous. How far could I back out of the room until I could actually get a focused picture of them within changing lenses? I’m so lazy about changing lenses!

I was halfway into the kitchen by the time I could focus!

Purple and very orchid

 

MORE ANNIVERSARY FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

More Anniversary Flowers – September 20, 2019

I had a few more pictures from the bouquet. It’s still popping buds and I think it will be around for a while. It’s wonderful to have that beautiful color of autumn in the middle of the room.

There is some autumn color in the trees. Not a lot. But you can see it on some of the maples.

Love the colors!

LEARNING TO GROW THINGS – Marilyn Armstrong

I started to grow plants because my friend Mary was a crazed grower of potted plants. She lived in Brooklyn. Park Slope at the time.

These years, she has a house out on Staten Island. We haven’t seen each other in a really long time. Not since right after I got back from Israel — which was August 1987.

She was the first person to encourage me to grow things. I’d really never tried. But she gave me some of the cuttings from her plants. Told me to put them in a sunny window and water them when they got dry. They did very well and soon, all I wanted to do was haunt nurseries.

She taught me how to examine a plant, make sure it didn’t have any diseases or insect invasions.

Somewhere in the course of my conversion from non-growing to a wild-eyed enthusiast, basically converted the first floor of a really big house into a giant nursery. No curtains. Plants hung from the ceiling, lived on glass shelving. I put metal trays with gravel and water in the trays so when the radiators came up, they created a nice mist for the plants to live in.

They thrived. I was also the editor of the Doubleday Garden Guild. Because I’m me, I read all of the books we published, so whatever I hadn’t gotten from Mary, I learned from reading hundreds of books about growing plants. Indoors and outside.

I never took to outdoor gardening the way I did to indoor pottery gardens. For one thing, even way back then I’d already had major surgery on my spine and although I was a lot more limber than I am now, a lot of bending more or less did me in, even then. I left the outdoor gardening to husband and son.

So when I tell you that all you need to grow plants indoors is decent light and go easy with the watering can, maybe I’m understating where I learned what I learned. Mostly, it came from Mary and other friends who grew plants. We traded cuttings, sometimes passed off our huge plants for smaller ones.

My ceilings were only 10 feet high on the ground floor and once a plant started trying to dig through to the upper story, it had to move on. Which is why, now, I have a small but a good-size Norfolk Island pine in exchange for a Dracaena Marginata I had been growing for almost 20 years. It got too tall. In the wild, a Norfolk Island pine will grow hundreds of feet tall, but in this house, 7 foot 6 inches is as tall as it can get before it moves to another house.

I don’t have the volume of plants I did. Having an entire house full of plants became a job — at least an hour or two every night going from plant to plant, pulling off dead leaves, turning plants so they would grow evenly. And how many times did I fill the watering can before I finished with all 6 ground floor rooms? It was a big house with tall windows.

Today we were passing a house on our way to River Bend and there was a little house that had the most lovely garden I’ve seen in years. All the white picket fences were lined with sunflowers and a rather wild, yet obviously well-tended crop of bright flowers surrounded the front of the house.

I took pictures. It was just the way I’d make my garden if my spine would let me.