Marilyn's Musings

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Monthly Archives: November 2010

Embracing Winter

Tobaggon Run

The Tobaggon run at Pokagon State Park, Angola, Indiana

I hate winter.

No. Let me qualify that a bit. I hate what winter does to me.

I am an outdoors kind of person. One thing I don’t “do” well is being hemmed inside because of extended darkness and dreary days. I crave the outdoors, warmth and sunshine and green, growing things.

This time of the year, I tend to get sluggish and fall into a bad, bad case of the blahs. I dread how I feel after about a month of short days, cold weather, long nights.

Now, I know this is classic seasonal depression. I’ve taken medicine for it in the past and used the bright lights. Don’t like the side effects of the meds, but in the long run, it’s helped. I work in psychiatric/behavioral nursing, so I don’t knock it if it works. But as I mentioned, it has its drawbacks.

So, I am going to take a different approach this year.

I intend to continue at least 1/2 hour walks, even if it means dressing up in multiple layers, looking like Kenny on South Park or that kid  in A Christmas Story who is so bogged down he can barely move.  Believe me, I’ll move!!

I am also reflecting on how it was when I was younger. I never had a problem with dreading winter or getting into the seasonal doldrums until I hit my mid-30’s. What made things change??

I think maybe not only walking, but being active on a daily basis in other ways made the big difference in all kinds of weather. Heck, we can get some hellacious snowstorms out our way. Yeah, it needs shoveled, but it’s also makes for a fantastic playground, too.

The neighbors know we are empty nesters. They wouldn’t expect a snow fort or a family of snowmen to appear on our front lawn. But this year,  I just might go ahead and do that!

Years ago when we lived in Wyoming, I used to hit the resorts from time to time. Did a little skiing, tubing, and just hanging out watching the activity. Now, I don’t live in the Rocky Mountain area by any stretch of the imagination, but there are some hills around here that do offer some opportunities for sledding or tubing, and not little whimpy hills at that. There is also the toboggan run at Pokagon State Park which is about 45 minutes north of me almost on the Michigan line and the highest hills in Ohio are about an hour away near Belfontaine at a place called Mad River Mountain that offers tubing and skiing. I think both places would be a hoot and a half to try again. Even if I am not quite sure about skiing, I sure would try the gentler runs for tubing and that toboggan run!!

We have wonderful facilities in town for ice skating, both indoors and outdoors. Perhaps it is time to get back into a leisurely skate. It’s like riding a bike: Once you’ve learned it, you never forget.

And other pursuits as well: We have a YMCA. Maybe it would be a good thing to join and get into not only Yoga and other classes, but hit the pool and swim a few laps. Or get into a water aerobics class.

I think what I am discovering as I write this is that when I was younger, I kept not just mentally, but physically active as well. The doldrums didn’t hit until I started giving up the snow men, the snow forts, the snowball fights, the sledding, and the skating when my kids got older.

Perhaps it is time I’ve started to get back into that again and embrace the child within and the opportunities that winter presents  instead of cursing it!

Oh, and a photo I pinched showing there is more than farms and factories in Ohio:

 

Mad River Mountain, Ohio

Mad River Mountain: Skiing and tubing in Ohio

December Gardening Calendar

December Gardening Calendar

 

Holly

Holly

December is, as it is everywhere, a festive season in the Southern Great Lakes Region. It is a busy time for all: Shopping, decorating, and entertaining all take top billing this month. Fall changes officially to winter this month, but with the winter holidays, one hardly notices the official passage into winter.

Generally, our region has already experienced a good snowstorm or two by the official turn of the season. Some years, however, autumn lingers long into the month. By now, planting chores and winter prep are completed with the garden and yard. Many of the leftover chores are hold-overs from last month’s list. Yet, there are a few other things we can continue to do in the home, yard, and garden this month:

1.  Purchase some Christmas Cactus, Kalanchoes, Cyclamens, and Poinsettias to make your home more festive. Be sure to remove any foil wraps on the containers. These can hold water in the pots, which might cause the plants to rot from excess moisture. Make sure these plants are well wrapped before leaving the store for the trip home.

2.  Buy some amaryllis bulbs to grow on the windowsill. Depending upon variety, some staking might be required.

3.  Houseplants can suffer from the lack of humidity. Growing plants in pebble filled trays and saucers can help maintain humidity around plants. Set your plants on the pebbles, and fill the saucer or tray with water to just the top of the pebbles.

4.  If your roses aren’t protected, do so early in the month. Spray anti-dessicant on any exposed canes when the daytime temps are above 40. Mound soil, mulch, and leaves around the base of the plants to about 18 to 24 inches above the base of the bushes. this is especially true of hybrid teas, floribundas, and roses that have been growing in the yard less than two years, and any other marginally hardy rose. Some of the bush roses, such as the Explorers, Rugosas, Mordens, and Buck’s roses can overwinter successfully in our zones 5a to 6a region without protection. Again, if any variety was newly planted this past season or has been in the ground less than two years, protection would still be a good idea.

5.  Continue watering outside when the weather is above freezing, if there has not been sufficient precipitation and the ground has not frozen. Drain hoses after removing them from the faucets to prevent damage to hoses and plumbing.

6.  Try to take a daily walking tour of your yard, as the weather permits. Observe frost patterns in your yard in early morning. See where frost lingers, where frost does not hit, and write this down in your diary or journal. Often a surprise plant or two will be blooming in a protected spot. These are indicators of microclimates, and you can use this information when planning on where to site plants.

7.  Check the coldframe for any problems. Make sure plants are overwintering without the problems of standing water, field mice, disease, insects, or excessive cold. Prop it open on days that are sunny and above freezing to prevent excessive warming of your plants.

8.  Continue to keep birdfeeders filled. Birds offer a lot of winter interest, and by making your property attractive to birds, these helpmates might decide that your place would make a good home next year. Many birds migrate to the region from further north, but many birds make our region their year-around home.

9.  Take cuttings of holly and evergreen boughs indoors for Christmas decorating. Also fill outdoor window boxes with Christmas greens and decorative bows.

10. Keep fresh-cut Christmas trees in a cool, not freezing location. After bringing a tree home, cut 1 to 2″ from the base and plunge it into a bucket of tepid water with preservative added to prevent the cut end from sealing over. Don’t let the water run dry! When bringing a tree indoors for decorating, allow it to rest in the stand with water in it for several hours to allow the tree to “relax” its branches as it becomes acclimated to indoor warmth. Then decorate.

11. Gardening catalogs should start arriving this month. Start a list of items that you want to purchase for planting next spring. This is also a good time to take out any pictures you have taken of your gardens during the past growing season. You can see what you might need to add to your gardens and yard.

12. Potted Christmas trees should be placed in a cool, not freezing, area until brought indoors for decorating. These trees should not be brought in for extended periods. A day or two before Christmas and a few days after will not harm them. If kept too long indoors, they will break dormancy. After Christmas, take the tree out to the area where you prepared the planting site earlier (see October’s calendar), and plant it. Water well and mulch.

13. Continue to keep bird feeders full. Word will get around, and you will be amazed at how many visitors will come to call during the winter months if you provide a steady supply of suet and seed!

14. Remove any stray leaves that may have blown in around your plants. If they are not shredded, they can mat down around your plants and smother them or promote rotting.

15. Continue to apply mulch to your flowerbeds as the ground freezes to prevent freeze/thaw heave and premature breaking of dormancy.

16. Have a gardener on your gift list? A gift certificate to a nursery or garden center would be appreciated. You can also “gift” him or her with a gift certificate to a gardening-related mail order source. Another good idea would be a gift subscritption to a gardening magazine.

18. Most of all, have a Blessed Holiday Season, one and all!


Decorating for the holidays: Evergreen arrangements

Decorating for the holidays: Evergreen arrangements

 

fresh evergreen arrangement

fresh evergreen arrangement

 

You know, so many of us have artificial Christmas trees these days. For most of us, it’s a case of saving money and having a tree that doesn’t dry out over the season. It is also a matter of convenience.  Less hassle to have an artificial tree and we don’t have to worry about straight trunks or the tree having a “bad side” to it.

But, we’ve sacrificed one of the best things about having a live tree in our homes: The rich scent of the Christmas tree, whether of pine or fir.

So, how to have our cake and eat it too??

Well, if you are like me, buying those room sprays or even candles often doesn’t duplicate the true scent of a Christmas tree adequately. Many of them are close, but not quite on the mark.

One of the best ways to add an authentic scent to the air is to add floral arrangements made of evergreen cuttings.

Now, most of us have a pine tree, spruces, cedars, junipers, or firs growing in our yards. If we don’t, we can find the greens relatively easily. Most Christmas tree farms offer either free branches cut from the bottoms of the trees for customers when they purchase their trees. That, or they will charge a nominal fee for cuttings.

Whichever way you gather these evergreen cuttings, if you prep them before using them, you can add authentic Christmas scent to your home.

Start with fresh cuttings. Be sure to use a sharp pair of pruners to cut the end pieces of the stems–be forewarned, though; the cut ends often will leak a little sticky sap. You might wish to use gloves when cutting.

Once cut, plunge the cuttings in water for several hours for them to take up water. By plunge, I mean submerge them.

In the meantime, gather the glass bowls, vases, or baskets you intend to use for your arrangements.  You can use empty small butter or sour cream containers, cut floral foam to fit tightly, and add to baskets or other non-waterproof containers. You can later on hide the foam and container with a little moss.  Remove and soak the foam until saturated, place back in the container.

Remove the cuttings and cut again: About 1/4 of an inch.

Starting at the outside with the longest branches, add branches all the way around the base of the foam. Add progressively shorter stems, working your way into the middle. You can add other decorative touches such as a flameless candle in the center, some ornaments, some cones and ribbons.

Keep the arrangement misted and do not allow the foam to dry out. If you find a few branches are brittle or browning, you can remove and replace the stems with fresh cuttings treated the same way.

These arrangements, if kept watered and misted, will last up to a month and will hold their fragrance well.

Basic Homemade Buttercream Candies

Basic Homemade Buttercream Candies


Buttercreams


You know those fancy chocolates with the flavored centers that we give and receive for the holidays? How about trying your hand at making  a few of these buttercreams this holiday season instead? They aren’t that difficult to make and you can add the flavors you like to them.

Here are two basic buttercream recipes you can try. These are the foundation for the candies. All you need to do is to vary the flavors and if you wish, you can tint some of the centers as well.

Use a good quality chocolate coating on these. If you have candy coatings available, I’ve found that mixing them with real chocolate bumps it up a notch and adds a better consistency and flavor to the chocolate flavor.

Chocolate Covered Buttercream Candy Recipe I

4 cups powdered sugar
*1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 Tablespoons heavy cream

1. Combine these four ingredients and mix well until smooth and firm. Add more sugar as necessary to make a firm mixture that will hold its shape.

2. Form into balls and place on waxed paper covered trays. Chill.

3. In the top of a double boiler, melt 2 cups of chocolate chips or pieces, 1 Tablespoon of butter, and 5 drops of vanilla. Alternatively, use a good quality candy coating in dark or milk chocolate. Add real dark or milk chocolate to it and melt for a better flavor and coating. This is what I use.

4. Dip the buttercream balls in the chocolate and place on waxed paper covered trays to set. Chill if desired to set faster.

*Note: You can add orange extract, almond, coconut, peppermint extract, maple, or any other flavor you desire. You can also tint the centers. Just decrease the vanilla or eliminate it. For example, use 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp of another extract. Or one tsp of extract of choice–for stronger flavors, add 1/2 tsp of extract at a time and taste-test first.  Keep in mind that the flavor fully  develops after a day or so.

Chocolate Covered Buttercream Candy Recipe II

1 pkg. (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened
4 c. confectioners’ sugar or more to make a fairly stiff mixture
*1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Beat cream cheese and butter in bowl until smooth. Blend in sugar and vanilla. Chill 1 hour – shape into 1 inch balls and chill overnight. Coat as above.

*Note: You can add orange extract, almond, peppermint extract, maple, or any other flavor you desire. You can also tint the centers. Just decrease the vanilla or eliminate it. For example, use 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp of another extract. Or one tsp of extract of choice–for stronger flavors, add 1/2 tsp of extract at a time and taste-test first.  Keep in mind that the flavor fully  develops after a day or so.  You can also flavor with 1/2 vanilla, 1/2 coconut and add finely shredded coconut to the mixture before dipping the centers.

Black Friday, 2010

I was going to make this a humorous article about Black Friday and our experience today. But after reading a few very judgmental and rude comments written by readers in response to one of the news items posted about today’s Black Friday in Fort Wayne on our local CBS affiliate station’s web site, I decided a few of my own opinions and observations were in order.

Granted, Black Friday isn’t something for everyone.  Many people would rather endure a root canal without any anesthetic. Or something akin to that.  They sure don’t want to be out in the fray.

But, these are hard economic times we are still experiencing in our area. The latest figures for unemployment released last week for the Fort Wayne metropolitan area is 9.5%. When one figures that the unemployment rate is actually down, it’s still quite abysmal for an area this size to still be experiencing such a tight employment market.

Most of the people I saw at midnight at Wal Mart were not there for the big ticket items. Most of them were everyday people–young parents, grandparents, family teams of all ages–there to save a few dollars.

The atmosphere for the most part reflected a camaraderie among all of these strangers. For whatever reasons compelled us to sacrifice a night’s sleep to shop, we were there for the same reasons–to pick up good bargains at the beginning of the holiday shopping season while selection was still good.

While we hear horror stories of people stampeding into stores, jostling for position, rudeness, and even injuries and death as a result of what the media portrays as extreme greed, my experience of this particular Black Friday soiree was positive for the most part.

Most of the people were decent to each other. People were helping each other at the displays–handing items to those who could not reach them. They were in good spirits and were respectful and followed the rules of the store not to break into the displays early. Not your picture of the greedy, frenzied hoards we typically associate with this shopping experience.

What I read on the WANE TV site was, as I mentioned earlier, very judgmental and biased against the shoppers in particular. Scathing commentaries about selfishness, greed, and morons.

My take is that no one is breaking anyone’s arms to go out shopping on Black Friday. The simple fact is that at the stores I went to–Wal Mart, Target, and Lowe’s–people were there to buy for their families. They overwhelmingly were there buying clothing, toys, other gifts from what I could see in their carts.

One very opinionated person kept trying to compare the people at Wal Mart with the people at Best Buy, stating that the people were there only to buy for themselves and could care less about their children or other family members. That simply wasn’t the case at the time I was there. At 12 Midnight, no big ticket electronics items were being offered. They would not go on sale for at least five more hours.

Would I do it again? Yes and no. Depends on how I feel at the time and what my financial circumstances are. I didn’t have a bad experience. And, this is not the first time I’ve done the Black Friday shopping spree. But, that is not the point.

People should look beyond their perceptions and consider that everyone has their motivations for going out on this first big retail shopping day of the Christmas Season. To lump everyone as being motivated by greed, selfishness, or being stupid or moronic is in itself a very narrow minded and shortsighted viewpoint.

So much for holiday cheer and goodwill.

Celebrating Thanksgiving with the foods & plants of the Americas

Celebrating Thanksgiving with the foods & plants of the Americas

 

Thanksgiving Dinner

New World Foods: Thanksgiving Dinner

Many plants we take for granted that originated in the New World have become such important food staples and have affected nearly every culture’s cuisine. So much so that we often forget that foods we associate with different countries had their origins in the Americas.

The same can be said for many ornamental plants now grown in gardens around the world.

So, I think it would be fun this Thanksgiving to look at some of the foods we eat for this holiday and the plants we use to decorate our homes, all of which makes this a truly American holiday and tradition.

The feature of the Thanksgiving Day Menu is, of course, the turkey. The largest game bird in North America, the turkey did not originate in Turkey, as some believe. So, how did it get its name? The Spaniards came back to the Old World with numerous plants and animals, including the turkey. At that time, many goods came to the rest of Europe via Constantinople, a major distribution center that was strategic in its location on the trade routes between Asia and Europe. The North American bird we now know as “turkey” eventually worked its way East and was distributed to the rest of Europe through Constantinople, modern-day Istanbul. Because almost anything coming out of Constantinople in Turkey would have a tag of “Turkey” attached to it, like Turkish rugs, etc., the name attached to the turkey by the English was Turkey coq, later shortened to turkey.

If we proceed down through the menu, probably the most universally featured side dish on the Thanksgiving Dinner menu would be mashed potatoes.

Although we often associate potatoes with the Irish and Ireland, potatoes actually originated in South America. They are an important food staple around the world, so much so that the country of Ireland adopted the potato as its own, both to its benefit and its downfall. The potato was such an important crop that it allowed the Irish to thrive and helped to contribute to a population explosion in Ireland. The Potato Famine of the mid-19th century, which was brought on by Potato Blight,  so obliterated the crop that many in Ireland moved to North America in a vast migration that left more Irish in the US and Canada than in Ireland itself.  So, if you have Irish ancestors, when you sit down to grub on those mashed potatoes, consider how you and your family have come to celebrate an American holiday this Thanksgiving.

Another featured item on the menu is the cranberry. Whether in relish, whole sauce or jellied, cranberries are  purely North American in origin. Previously, cranberries were pretty much used only around the holidays. With the many health benefits as an antioxidant and a urinary tract cleanser,  the cranberry is a staple as juice or a food source year-around.

Candied, mashed or baked or in a pie, sweet potatoes are another staple on the Thanksgiving menu.

A distant relative of the regular potato, sweet potatoes also originated in South America, but in the more tropical, frost-free regions. Columbus found the local Native Americans growing them in the Caribbean islands he discovered, so they were already spreading from their countries of origins even then.

Other items commonly found on the Thanksgiving Day menu include green beans or corn prepared in different ways. Often the corn is prepared in a casserole also featuring another New World food: diced sweet  peppers.

Of course, Thanksgiving would not be complete without the traditional pumpkin pie. Pumpkins, a member of the squash family, are also a very American food.

Now, the decorations at the Thanksgiving table might include pumpkins and various leaves in arrangements including the leaves of the sugar or red maple, various gourds, cattails.  And if you are lucky,  the arrangement might also include American Bittersweet, which is a plant so rare that it is on the endangered species list.

Another plant that you might find around this time of the year is the Thanksgiving Cactus, a relative of the Christmas Cactus that originated in Brazil.

So, there you have it!  Celebrate the food and plant contributions of the Americas this Thanksgiving, and a Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much!

I have a facebook page. Noticed a theme going on there lately about positive vs negative outlooks and happiness in general.

It seems that for many of us, we never understand that the world doesn’t pee on us to be peeing on us. There isn’t a perpetual storm cloud hanging over our heads. It is not that someone else or fate or God, whomever, has pre-determined what will be our lot in life.

Now, I’m not talking about the disabilities that many people have to cope with. Even then, speak to many disabled people, and they are more apt to count their blessings than curse their state.

It’s all about mental attitude. I know, beat me over the head with a dirty broom, but it IS true that it is all about your perceptions of a situation: Is the glass half full or half empty? How a person sees it determines how they accept the curve balls that life will undoubtedly throw in their direction. And getting back to that, no, this is not a contradiction to my second paragraph. Most stuff that happens to us is a result of our own actions or lack of the same. Other stuff is random. It’s a non-discriminatory roll of the dice if a tornado hits the house, etc. But how we choose to react to events and how we roll with the punches depends on our outlook.

Now, no one wants a tornado to rip a home and its memories apart. But, let’s just say that two of your neighbors both took a direct hit. While both of them will mourn the loss of their homes and irreplaceable possessions, the neighbor with the positive outlook will also be grateful that no one was hurt and will also have the attitude that they will start over and while it will be a challenge, it will also be a new adventure: New house, new possessions, etc.

The neighbor with the negative outlook will gnash his teeth and wail about how this load of crap was tossed on his head of no doing of his own. Well, yes, but it’s the same load of crap that the neighbor behind him also experienced. The difference is in how he handles it. The negative person stews about it. The positive person cuts his losses and rolls up his sleeves and sets about doing something about it.

I know we have all met someone who, at first glance, doesn’t stand out.  Maybe they are plain, maybe they are overweight. But they have a zest for life, and that draws people to them. Spend five minutes in their company, and they start to look beautiful to the eye as well as within. They have a personal radiance and happiness that shines like a beacon. And they make you feel good about yourself, too.

That brings me to my next point:

Happiness does not grow on trees–we’ve all heard that before. Again, throw a shoe at me for saying it! But, it’s so true. Happiness comes from within. Each one of us is responsible for our own happiness. If we don’t love ourselves first, develop that strong sense of self and the happiness that comes from that, how can we expect others to be drawn to us??

Many of us have a fear of being alone. We all are alone whether we realize it or not. Married, single, living with a roommate, we are still alone in many ways. We share moments with our loved ones and friends, we may share a bed at night with a lover or spouse. But, we are basically on this trip alone. How to overcome that loneliness? I believe that by learning to enjoy the solitude of being by youself comes from liking yourself first. Once a person develops a strong sense of self and loves himself first, loneliness is usually not an issue. Granted, you may not have someone to cuddle with on a cold night, but you will have people who remain important to you and who will gravitate towards you and be there for you even if they aren’t sharing the same space.

For years, I had a little signature tag with the saying, “Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much”. You see it everywhere. I also have a wall plaque over the entranceway to my dining area visible from the living room with that expression on it. It’s not just a cutesy expression, either. Those three short phrases sum it all up for me.

Life is too short to be unhappy and to piss and moan about it and to think the world is peeing on my head. I don’t know about anyone else, but I refuse to go down that path: Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much!.

Homemade Pizza Dough

Homemade Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough

1-1/2 cups  warm water
1 packet of quick rise yeast (that’s one of the strip of the three packets of yeast you buy in the store)
1-3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
2-1/2  cups bread flour
3/4 cup of all-purpose flour

Put warm water in a bowl. Add the sugar. Add the yeast. Mix and let start to proof (bubble).

Add the salt and bread flour. (You can substitute all-purpose flour, but the bread flour gives a better dough and taste). Mix. Might be a little sticky at this point.

Turn out onto a surface covered with the 3/4 cup all-purpose flour. Knead until smooth and elastic.

Turn into a greased bowl, cover with a clean towel, and let rise an hour. Punch down.

Lightly sprinkle a clean surface with flour, flour a rolling pin and roll out to fit a pizza pan or pizza stone. Add a little cornmeal to the pizza pan or stone. Add the rolled out crust, tuck in the edges. Bake about 5 to 8 minutes at 475 degrees just enough to set it up and keep it crispy, not enought to brown it. Remove from the oven, add the tomato sauce, toppings of choice, and cheese. Return to the oven and bake at 475 until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.

This dough also makes excellent bread sticks. You can also add herbs to the dough when adding the flour. Rosemary and Basil make good additions to the crust.

Talking The Talk

One day I was idly surfing the net when I came across a German gardening site. Now, I will usually click on foreign sites since they often offer English language versions of their information. This one did not. But, instead of clicking off the site right away, I lingered for a bit because something struck me about the plants named: While I could not understand a lick of German, I could understand the names listed with the plant photographs! It occurred to me that this is the reason why I needed to write this article.

The scientific names that are assigned to plants are not there to impress anybody, or to confuse the average gardener. These names are to help provide a standardized nomenclature, or naming, of the vast array of plants that we encounter in our gardening efforts. It pays to understand a few things about this naming system, more properly known as binomial nomenclature, in order to communicate on the same level with other persons who have an interest in plants.

Why else should the Average Joe/Josephine gardener bother learning the scientific names of the plants that he or she grows?

There are two good reasons why we need to understand the proper names of plants. One is to be on the same wavelength with other plantsmen and gardeners and to avoid confusion. For example, Impatiens is known as Patience Plant, Balsam, Busy Lizzies, Sultanas, and, of course Impatiens. There are other instances where plants can be called the same exact name, but be entirely different plants: Balsam can be two different annuals or a type of tree. Also, regional differences can occur when describing a plant. By learning scientific nomenclature, we can all understand each other and what we are describing immediately. If we need to go to a plant expert for help and information, by knowing the proper name for a plant, we can get the help we need and cut down on some of the confusion.

The second reason to understand the scientific name of a given plant is to decipher or glean a bit more information about the plant itself. Not only does the individual learn what genus a plant belongs to according to its classification, other information such as color, origins, and other characteristics can be gleaned.

Here is a brief list of some of those prefixes and suffixes we see attached to many of the descriptive names of plants:

Color

Alba, Albo = White
Aurea, Aureus = Yellow-Green or Yellow
Caerulea = Blue
Chrysantha = Yellow
Glaucus = Slivery-Blue
Lutea = Dark or Deep Yellow
Nigra = Dark, often nearly black
Purpurea = Purple
Roseum = Pink
Rubra = Red
Sanguinea = Dark Red
Virdis, Vireus = Green

Origins

Alpinus = From Alpine regions; from the Alps
Canadensis = From Canada, or from the northern US, generally east of the Mississippi
Campestris = From fields or meadows
Chinensis = From China
Helvetica = From Sweden
Hibernicus = From Ireland
Japonica = From Japan
Koreanus = From Korea
Maritimus = From regions near the seas or oceans
Montana = From the mountains
Occidentalis = From the New World
Orientalis = From the orient or eastern Asia
Planus = From the plains
Sylvestris = From the forests or woods

Other Descriptives, Including Growth Habits

Aborescens = Like a tree
Angustifolia = Having narrow leaves
Contorta = Being contorted or twisted
Decidua, = Deciduous, or drops leaves in the fall
Edulis = Something that is edible
Fruticosus= Something that is shrubby
Glossis = Being tongue-like
Grandiflora = Having large flowers
Grandifola = Having large leaves
Macrophylla = Having big leaves
Maculata = Being spotted, usually leaves
Nana = Being dwarf
Odorata = Having scented flowers
Officinalis = Being an herb
Paniculata = Flowers having panicles
Pendula = Hanging or drooping
Procumbens = Spreading or prostrate
Pubescens = Having hairlike covering, such as on leaves
Racemosa = Flowers having racemes
Repens = On the ground, creeping
Reptans = On the ground, creeping or hugging the ground
Rugosa = Having wrinkled-appearing leaves
Scandens = A climber, climbing
Sempervirens = Being evergreen
Tomentosa = Having a down-like covering, such as on leaves
Variegata = Having variegated leaves, or leaves with more than one color

This is just a sampler of some of the more common descriptives. You can see that by picking apart the names of many plants, you can obtain much information.

Once you start to use the “official jargon”, you will begin to understand what a plant is all about! It’s not at all hard once you get the hang of it, and by using the proper names of plants, you will become a much more informed person. Besides, you will be able to understand what those high-falutin’ gardening show hosts are talking about! So, be in the know and start “talking the talk”!

Sharing the awesome & the beautiful: A treat at the Philadelphia downtown Macy’s

Sometimes, the most totally awesome experiences happen in unexpected ways and in the places you’d least expect them to happen. Here’s one of those experiences. I wish I could have been there: