Thursday, December 28, 2006

Peace and Eucharis grandiflora for 2007!!

Sunday, December 31st. 14 degrees out and the temperature is dropping rapidly now. This year quickly slips from the grasp of Father Time with but a few hours left to savor before 2006 dissolves into 2007. It's been a great year here at Vermont Flower Farm and we hope it has been positive for you too!

This time of year we like to enjoy potted amaryllis on into January and we're always pleased to see the Amazon Lily bloom again. With a minimum of care, this houseplant springs forth a handful of scapes three times a year. The blooms last for some time and their pure white intricacies encourage a number of "What is that plant?" queries.

I truly can't recall where our plant came from but it's been with us for a long time. It has suffered neglect and near freeze-ups from being too close to the door where the firewood comes in. One time Gail tried it in the bedroom in a north window thinking it didn't need much light. Within a week it began shedding its large green leaves, one right after another until she abandoned the experiment and returned it to the front room. Just like the ligularias in the summer garden, this plant has be well watered to maintain stem and leaf turgidity. Let it dry out too much and the leaves topple and fold on top of each other. If you are interested in houseplants, give this one a try.

As I sit in the front room "plant" reminiscing far into the past, a couple plants prevail in memory alone. Not significant houseplants but a couple that I recall from when my family first came to Vermont in the early fifties. We moved next door to a very old farm, known locally as the Century Farm, which confirmed only part of its real age. There were some neat Vermonters living there and for years they helped raise me and my sister when our mother was ill. All the old folks are long since passed but I'll never forget what they taught me and how in their own way they influenced my green thumb and what has become Vermont Flower Farm.

There were two sisters, short, round, and caring. One was Fidelia, the other Lilian. They handled the domestic side of the farm as well as the milking and feeding chores under the watchful eye of sharp-as-a-tack, 93 year old Eunice, their mother. Summer vegetable gardens were always well tended and at this farm there was a separate flower garden which served to keep flowers on the table and bouquets ready for summer visitors who stopped for milk, eggs and baked goods. There were rows of tall sweet peas, zinnias and asters, and a minor number of other flowers, now only represented by a blur of color in my mind. To the women, the flowers meant ribbons from the county fairs that equalled or exceed those won by the "men" for their maple syrup, fine milkers, and horse and oxen pulling events. Those gardens were very special and the soil the flowers grew in was 100% pure Vermont farm!

But we're talking winter in Vermont now and back then there were no Amazon lilies in the farm house. The white curtained windows were lined with geraniums planted in old Red and White brand coffee cans and a wide array of African violets which Eunice tended daily. She was very proud of the collection and especially liked to point out the doubles and a couple with variegated leaves which were not common back then. I recall when I first saw an angel wing begonia at their place and how they always planted baskets of tuberous begonias. "Never water into the center of the bulb", explained Fidelia, "you'll rot the bulb." She was a good teacher and showed me the shape of the bulb and the importance of a lesson, never to be forgotten.

I can't remember when I last saw geraniums in used coffee cans or African violet cuttings stuck in water-filled glass jars, held upright by wax paper with rubber-bands across the jar mouths. That's a memory. Eunice and Fidelia and Lilian, and others at the farm contributed to some very fond gardening memories which set my course for a life time of horticultural endeavors.

Today memories turn to 2006. There are lots of good memories!

Peace and best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where deer wander through the field, checking the apple trees one by one for errant droppings while some of the residents of the pond have already started a fireworks display, almost as if begging 2006 to leave so 2007 can begin.

George Africa


IBOY said...

Happy New Year, George.

Craig said...

I found you today from Lattice 'n Clematis and am enjoying your posts. Thank you for writing about Eucharis. I started growing them in the late ‘70s and was always pleased that most people didn’t know what it was. They still don’t, as a matter of fact. I always thought the leaves and flowers made a cool combination because the foliage looks like a broad-leaved Philodendron or Spathiphyllum and the flowers always reminded me of a daffodil but more exquisite. One of the characteristics that should be noted is the light and delicate fragrance. Eucharis is an old-fahion plant and used to be one of the traditional flowers for weddings. I borrowed a very large plant in full flower as the floral accompaniment to a burgeoning vase of white Oriental lilies when my wife and I got married.

I liked hearing your memories about what people and gardening used to be like and look forward to reading more. My grandmother used to grow upright tuberous begonias in old metal one-gallon nursery containers. She used the pots over and over for many years and some were quite rusted through. But that didn't matter when the plants bloomed as a small rainbow of color was formed, enshrowding the base of an old peach tree.

jeka bernot said...
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