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Holiday Cactus

December 10, 2017
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Some call them Christmas Cactus, while others call them Thanksgiving Cactus depending on when they bloom. The Latin name  is Schlumbergera truncata.  Mine has been in bloom now for several weeks with more flowers coming on it.    Several have told me they can’t get theirs to re-bloom.  I just stick the plant outside for the summer. It gets indirect bright light and I water along with all my other container plants.  I pretty much forget about it.  As I was moving a few things indoors I happened to notice that it was covered with buds in late October.  I moved it inside, water it once a week or so, and the first bloom opened on Thanksgiving and I think  I will still have blooms at Christmas.  I have a window seat in our spare bedroom where I often store plants that don’t look great.  I was moving something in there today and noticed another holiday cactus with a bloom on it.  This plant was near death, but I didn’t have the heart to throw it out so I stuck it in there over a month ago. I haven’t watered it or anything, and look at the bloom about to open today.    I would not say it is a beautifully shaped plant, but they are resilient.  The key to blooming is cool temperatures–not freezing.  Although the light/dark cycle is a factor–(long nights and short days do help initiate blooms) it is several weeks of temperatures around 55 degrees that will set buds. I will move these plants back into the window seat after bloom, and I often will get another set of blooms later.  While I love poinsettias, and have several,   they are annual plants and you have to buy new ones every year.  I keep them with color usually until it is time to move plants outdoors–April or May. The key for them is bright light and even moisture–not too wet.  The true flower on a poinsettia is the tiny center yellow blooms, while the showy color is modified leaves called bracts.  While thy can be grown as a houseplant, best coloring is achieved by buying new plants each year.  My cactus plant is one that lives year-round with at least one set of flowers but occasionally two or three.    Next up will be amaryllis blooms. I like having something blooming indoors in every season.

Office and weather

December 6, 2017
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December is a slower travel month for many of us, so a time to get caught up with office work.  We have had meetings and meetings, but also writing columns and planning for 2018 events.  The weather is still a huge topic, with really warm temperatures early, and now we are entering the deep freeze.  Thankfully we did get some rain, which was really needed.  In preparation of cold weather, yesterday I harvested peppers from the garden and took a look at what else was going on in the garden.  I love the look of my hydrangeas now.  Amazingly enough I have one new bloom   but the spent flowers which I left on the bushes are absolutely stunning right now.    My encore azaleas are also still loaded with flowers and not showing signs of slowing down.  I also still have summer annuals blooming and perennials growing well. 

They are married, and we are home

December 3, 2017
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It was a whirlwind weekend in Florida as our “nephew” Jason married Lindsay on the beach.  It was a beautiful wedding and we were so happy to be there and be a part of the festivities.        It was interesting dressed up and barefoot, and while an elegant wedding was going on, beach life was happening all around.  After the ceremony it took a while for photos.   and it was a beautiful sunset.   Then we had an elegant meal with fabulous flowers.     Outstanding toasts, followed by cutting the cake and DANCING!  It was a great evening and they were a gorgeous couple.  

Lots of fun events leading up to the big event, and Clay and I had time to see Kennedy Center, I got to walk the beach and we got to visit with friends.  Plus all of our flights were on time, so an excellent weekend.  

Florida

December 1, 2017
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Clay and I had an easy flight to Florida for one of our best friends sons wedding. We made it to Vero Beach by evening and met up with friends for dinner outside next to the ocean.Today Clay and I drove to the Kennedy Space Center, where Clay was in heaven. Space is toClay like gardens are to me.

We also saw numerous alligators, a coyote, turtles and loads of birds. While I did not have the same enjoyment as Clay did, it was very interesting and I learned a lot. I also saw scheffelera with fruit and some interesting plants. We are meeting with more friends for dinner tonight then the whole wedding party. Tomorrow is the wedding. Fun times.

Meetings, preparing and watering

November 29, 2017
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We had a series of meetings today.  We were planning quite a few things.  Once again, we had a zoom meeting with Barbie in El Dorado and the rest of us in the office.  We met with the RRR committee–Recruiting, Retention and Recognition.  Our first discussion was on the upcoming award applications–due in our office by January 15.  For MG programs–I hope you are working on your nominations for MG of the Year, Rookie, Agent, Projects, Educational projects, Newsletters and Friends to nominate.  We also worked on finalizing plans for the 2018 Annual to Perennial events.  Next week we should have firm dates for those so we can get a save the date out.  

We are also working on tours for  the Rhine trip coming up next August.  I was planning on getting a newsletter out before Thanksgiving, but it may be after the new year now.  We do have a few rooms available still and I think we have some exciting garden tours planned throughout the trip. I also think we now have a 1 day Basel extension for the end of the trip instead of just 2 days in either Lucerne or Zürich.  It is going to be a great trip.  As soon as I have the details ironed out, I will send them on.

We are also working on logo ideas for the 30th MG Anniversary event slated for Saturday, October 13.  If you have ideas, send them my way.

Events don’t just happen, they require a lot of planning.  I think this final year for me will fly by in a flash!

I wonder what happened to the supposed rain that was forecast for today. My yard is dry, dry, dry.  I turned the sprinkler system back on this afternoon and was dragging hoses as well until it was getting too dark to see.  I am heading out-of-town for a few days and I have some plants that don’t look exactly perky.  I think we could use some moisture statewide.

I finished up packing and am ready to leave in the morning for a wedding in Florida.  It is rare that I have to leave watering instructions in December!

A full Monday

November 27, 2017
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It was a busy day for the first day back in the office after a short holiday.  We jumped in head first with a zoom session with our county agent advisory group. We discussed the recent zoom MG training–what worked, how it could be improved, etc.  We got the evaluations in from the participants, the agents and the instructors, and we hit a home run.  We had a bit of a learning curve, but we are starting to work on next years class.  We are going to confirm the dates later this week.  We also discussed the upcoming online class which will start in January. So far we have about 20 signed up and the deadline is in a couple of weeks.   It will be even a steeper learning curve for us on this one, but we are committed to trying new things and trying to meet the needs of a variety of audiences.

We finished up the zoom session and we had a little time for a debriefing and planning for the rest of the week before I headed north to Fort Smith for an executive meeting of the planning committee for the state conference.  We are getting down to the wire in wrapping up the program and this was a needed session to get us organized.  Then it was a drive back home.

It was a pretty day for a drive, and the weather remains one of the hot topics.  It feels like spring once again. People were out raking leaves in shorts and tee shirts, and it was interesting to see folks lined up all weekend buying Christmas trees in shorts and sandals.   I saw flowering quince in bloom yesterday and folks are saying that it isn’t just the Encore azaleas that are in bloom, but their spring-only azaleas have some errant blossoms.  It is dry statewide, and everyone is keeping their fingers crossed for the promised rain on Wednesday.  We definitely need it.  Don’t forget your fall planted winter annuals.  Especially if they are in containers, they will dry out even quicker, so water! 

Decorating and spring is back!

November 25, 2017
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I am not a big Black Friday shopper, so I spent yesterday doing laundry,  taking down Thanksgiving decorations inside and out and I put up the outside Christmas decor that I do.  I did need a few things like laundry detergent and another storage tote, so went to Home Depot.  People were lined up for Christmas trees, but I was in and out in record time.   The weather has been spring-like the past two days and we have had all the windows open to cool things down inside.  This weather has definitely been a roller-coaster.  As I walked the garden I noticed things were  a bit wilty with lack of rainfall.  I watered the vegetable gardens and turned on the sprinkler system.  I have still not had a killing frost. Surprisingly I have cuphea Vermillionare in full bloom, along with begonias, callibrachoa, vinca, and surprisingly a few impatiens.   I had the first blooms on the hellebores, and I also had a new bloom on a hydrangea and some interesting faded colors on long-spent blooms.   Encore azaleas were blooming nicely but needed some water, and the mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ was still in peak bloom.    The bees were working the hellebores, mahonia and camellias all week.

Late yesterday afternoon the kids all arrived to upload the fall decor and bring down the Christmas boxes.  I spent a bit of last night organizing and beginning, but today was a full day of decorating. It was the first time I did almost all the inside decorations and the tree in one day. Clay and I are out-of-town next weekend for a wedding so I was on high gear today.  It is almost done and I am liking what I see.   Some tweaks will happen the next few days, but I have other tasks to do as well.

  The tree is getting a bit tired, and looks hideous before I start decorating. It is amazing how much you can tart up a bedraggled old tree.      It is definitely beginning to look like Christmas.  It is always a treat to unload the boxes.  It brings back so many memories. Last night on the news it said that people who decorate are happier than those who don’t. I don’t know about those that don’t, but I am sure happy tonight, albeit tired as well!

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