Friday, April 18, 2014

A Passion

The Orchid Bug

I can remember it very clearly---over a decade ago- my dad walking out of a craft tent at a Chicago art fair (of all places) holding one of the ugliest plants I had ever seen, an orchid. He spent $65 dollars on a plant that looked absolutely ridiculous and I thought he was crazy...........

Now 10 years and 100's of orchids later, I look back fondly at that memory and wonder what I would have told someone if they would have told me that later in my life, this plant (aside from my wife and kids) would be my passion.

Spotted-Tathiopedilum "Winston Churchill"

Orchids have been here long before us and will be here long after us. If a plant is well taken care of and given exactly what it needs, it will last through multiple generations. There are orchids in the Smithsonian's collection that have been there since the 1800's It is neat to think that my kids also catch the "orchid bug" so that they might inherit some of my most prized plants.

These little (sometimes not so little) plants have long been sought after and held with much wonder and amazement. The first orchid was brought to England sometime in the 1700's and was truly by mistake. A well to do plant lover had sent men to the jungles to find a different species of plant. When the ship arrived back in England, the gentleman found the plants he desired and they were packed inside another tough, rubbery looking plant. Curiosity kills the cat they say, however in this instance- this one man's curiosity started something in the plant world that could challenge the tulip craze in the Netherlands. Figuring, why not? He planted the odd specimen in a pot and put it in his greenhouse. Roughly a year later it bloomed and to the worlds amazement it was unlike anything they had ever seen. We now know this plant to be the corsage orchid. Our friend the Cattelya. Now....hunting orchids was dangerous, many died in pursuit of that one unobtainable I prefer to walk into my local grocer or plant society, thank you very much..... not one to live life on the edge all of the time.

Everyone will ask you, " but aren't they hard to grow?" Simple answer. no. If you can grow African Violets, you can grow an orchid. Your average orchid that you will see at your local supercenter or grocery store is a Phalaenopsis Orchid. Large flat leaves, tall flower spikes with beautiful moth shaped flowers in every color under the rainbow. For the beginner, Phalaenopsis, or Phals, are the best choice. They can take the climate that the average home is going to provide. Average temperatures of 65-72, nice bright (but no direct sun) window and weekly watering is all they require. Watering is the key here. Not enough... the plant will die, too much and the plant will die. Best advise-- once a week take the orchid out of the decorative pot, go to your sink and run temped water through the pot for about 2 minutes. Let it drain- DO NOT let it sit in water. Like all plants, a yearly re-pot is good for them and will entice new growth and new blooms. Too expensive you might say?? Not anymore! I was at my local garden center superstore and they had a double spike miniature phals for $8.96... you can't eat at a fast food restaurant that cheap, and this plant will last a LOT longer than that greasy food ever will!

Grab an orchid, get a book about them. Read up, educate yourself and you will be amazed at what these little plants will do... but be careful- much like a potato chip- one is never enough......


Ian and Lisette
Our Guest Blogger is Ian Kitson that has been a collector of orchids for a long time. He garnered his passion from his father. Ian works for Central Insurance Companies. He is civic minded. Ian and his wife Lisette, have had their home on the YWCA CHRISTMAS WALK, a local fundraising event. He is a man of many talents, one being a talented artist. They are involved in the community and we are blessed by this. Thank you, Ian

Christmas at the Kitson's

Louise and Sue

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tis The Season

                                                            Coffee, Tea, and Me

 This is the time of year that there are not enough hours in the day. I usually run out of energy before I want to quit. There is always just one more thing I want to do. The winter has been long and devastating. In touring my gardens, I find a lot of winter kill and I mean a lot. I thought the deep snow would be a great insulator for the plants, but the temperatures were so frigid that it was not kind to many of my plants. It is early, but evidence is not looking good. The list for the nursery will be long. Our home is 21 years old, so some of our plants need to be replaced. Having to replace mature plants for smaller new plants will take some adjustment for me . I like instant gratification. I also want, as most of us do, is less maintenance. My plan will be to do one section at a time. The focal spot of our garden is our gazebo. We obtained the blue prints from Southern Living magazine. My husband (Fred) is very capable, so he constructed this gazebo not realizing that it would become a gathering space for our neighbors and friends. What a bonus. It always has a nice breeze. New this year is a larger swing. It is big enough for me (5') to take a nap.

Winter Kill

The garden has a cottage flair. It is a good place to stick in that just one more plant. It has variety and lots of color. Hummingbirds visit regularly  I have to fight the robins every spring. because they want to nest in my hanging centerpiece. Looks like home to them.. My good friend and family member, that is an artist (Krista Scarbrough) wrote some garden sayings on the inside of the gazebo. I love them all, but my favorite is "At my table, sit with me ~ I'll pour coffee or some tea~ Perhaps we'll share our tears and laughter ~ and be friends for ever after"  ~ D. Morgan. Every time I read this I am reminded of sad and happy times. Thank you so much Krista.

I have made a new cushion for the new swing and some new pillows to spruce it up a bit.

I will be replacing plants that don't come up to standard so we can sit back and make memories with family and friends.

Iberis sempervirens 'Purity'


Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Franklin Park Conservatory
Columbus, OH

Last weekend a friend invited me to accompany him to the Orchid Show and Competition at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio. Now I am not very knowledgeable about orchids. This young man is a walking, breathing, expert on the subject. He stated he became interested in orchids while in college. Instead of doing the wild thing on Spring Break, he visited his aunt and uncle in Flordia that grew numerous orchids. They planted the seed in him that grew into a passion.

Epc. Rene Marque "Tyler"

My day with him was impressive. It was so interesting for me to listen and watch him talk to Orchid Society members on the subject with equal knowledge. They quickly recognized his knowledge of the plants. Now I know a little more about orchids than I did, but for me, it will take more than a one day short course.

Phrag - Eric Young

Braassolaeliocattleya - riosgr

I really do appreciate their beauty. There are so many different kinds and forms. He explained the different kinds and the ones that are easy to care for. So , he directed me to the beautiful "Odc dm. Catatanta'  Pacific Sun Spots.' " It is pretty, so it found a foster parent. It has two bloom stems. I have had different kinds, but never this one.  I like them because of the long bloom time. Orchids are more affordable now then at one time.  I rationalize buying an orchid is a better choice than buying a cut bouquet. The bouquet may last a week, the orchid bloom may last for three months. If I do proper care it will, maybe, bloom for me next year.  A botanical garden is a place to see so many species in one place.

Odc dm. Catatante' Pacific Sun Spots'

I heard terms like; Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, Oncidium and Cymbidium.  Now Louise, try to remember this.

The conservatory was also featuring 75 Amarphophallus Konjac, also known as Voodoo Lily, displayed in the Rain Forest and Desert biomes.  This plant emits a strong scent of decaying meat. The scent attracts corrion-eating insects, flies and beetles, that aid in pollination.  In spite of the smell the plant is quite attractive.

Amarphophallus Konjac

Also being featured at the conservatory was British Artist, Bruce Munro: Light.

Again Dale Chihuly has a permanent display that has been a draw to the conservatory.

We picked up our plants and made the decision to visit Oakland Nursery and Garden Center before returning home.  After a quick over look of the nursery we stepped out the door to a snow covered car.  The trip home was cautious and not easy.  We saw several cars that slid off the highway. Thank heaven for a careful driver.  This winter just won't go away.

I had a great day with this young family. It was so nice of them to include me on this, special day.

Thank you Ian and Lisette


Wordless Wednesday....Specimens

Coral Cactus


Fern Spores
Sue & Louise

Friday, April 4, 2014

Guest Spot Light

Meet Our Guest Blogger

Let us introduce you to Heather Gottke from the village of Paulding, Ohio. She was born in Scotland, went to Ohio State University for her under graduate and masters degree.  She majored in Agriculture and Extension.

She loves teaching because of her love of children. Heather was in 4H and FFA. She loved showing horses and other animals.

Heather has held her present position at OSU Extension in Van Wert, Ohio for the last five years. Heather is the coordinator,  manager of 4H clubs, teen programing, 4H camp and volunteers. She has had much success acquiring volunteers. She must have a secret weapon.

Heather is very enthusiastic about her job, and when asked to do a guest post, she was more than willing. To be good at your profession, you first have to like what you do. Way to go Heather.

Youth Development with a Purpose
By Heather Gottke

From the time of its birth over 100 years ago the idea of 4-H has stayed the same. The main job of the 4-H youth development program is to build skill sets for youth and their families to be productive and meaningful members of their community. The approach has been to teach in a way that is experiential, or learning in a way that is hand-on and outside of the traditional classroom.
The program formed in 1902 in Clark County, Ohio. The foundation of 4-H is credited to A.B. Graham. Many of these clubs focused on agriculture, and appropriately linked up with agricultural fairs to show their skill set to those in their community.  In 1914 the Smith-Lever act created the Cooperative Extension System through the USDA and nationalized the 4-H program.  This linked the 4-H youth with knowledge of 109 land-grant universities and over 3,000 county offices nationwide.
The history of the 4 H’s gives deeper meaning to the program’s objectives. Head, heart, hands and health are the four h’s. Through those h’s,  members are encouraged to build their skills in managing and thinking (head), relating and caring (heart), giving and working (hands), and being and living (health).
Today, 4-H has grown from its roots, to accommodate that same purpose focused on community and families. In Ohio, youth complete and learn through over 200 projects ranging from the tradition livestock, crops, cooking, and sewing to science-based technology projects such as robotics, healthy living, nutrition, and career developing projects. These projects help our nation to compete in key scientific fields to help take on the challenges of the 21st century.

At the local level, 4-H programs are guided by county Extension professionals who recruit, certify, train, and coach community volunteers. Those volunteers (over 100 in Van Wert) work with our 23 community clubs. Some of the clubs feature special focus such as the shooting sports, dogs, beef animals, sewing, rabbits, visiting other states to learn about their programs, and teen leadership.

Taking a project through a club gives members the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with their peers, and adults.  Aside from the project members are given the opportunity to practice public speaking through demonstrations, learn how to conduct a business meeting with parliamentary procedure, and build relationships with others through respectful and thoughtful discussion and decision making.

The youth exhibiting their projects at the Jr. Fair showcase still projects in the Jr. Fair Building during the fair nestled in decorated club booths. Those exhibiting livestock get the chance to show their animal for quality of market purpose and showmanship.  One of the highlights and signature programs in 4-H is the Quality Assurance (QA) program. QA trains members on 10 good production practices that all livestock producers (both commercial and person) must focus on. Good practices produce good market animals in which the public can feel confident and safe about consuming.

4-H gives purpose to youth searching for skill development (whether they realize it at the time or not). It gives the structure for purposeful socialization of youth, as well as purposeful healthy decision making. Soft skills are often sought for in the professional world, and 4-H gives youth those skills as they mature and develop into young adults.  As a 4-H professional, my goal is to develop skills, while working hard, and having a whole lot of fun. That goal is my own professional purpose, and Extension and 4-H give me the ability to do that in the community.

This is Heather Gottke Signing off.

Thank you Heather for another fine job.

Louise and Sue

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


                                                        Lunch with the Ladies


We are fortunate enough in our little town to have a small Gathering Room where they serve lunches in a cute style. It is a place where you can relax and share conversation with a friend. It makes you feel like you are doing the lady like thing.

 She, Karen Miller, has a very nice gift shop, boutique, and at Christmas becomes the place to buy Christmas magic . She has home decor and for a small shop, it is quite complete.

One day when I was in the shop, Karen asked me if I would do a program on gardening. I have a power point presentation of how you can incorporate art in any garden, no matter how big or small the space. The subject was agreed upon . So last week I did the presentation to a lovely group of ladies.We had a very nice lunch followed by " ART IN THE GARDEN". They all were very kind and stated that they were inspired to begin work in their own gardens.

We are still getting snow and it is getting to be a four letter word. We are so anxious to get into our gardens

Karen is planning more events, a book signing and a miniature garden workshop. She did this last year and it was very popular. She has all the fittings and supplies. She will have an expert there to assist you with your creation.

It was a fun day for me and I think the ladies enjoyed their day also.

See you in the garden.