Friday, January 11, 2013

Winter Break in Michigan

Now that I'm a little more than halfway through winter break, I've finally made it home to Michigan for the first time since August. The band trip to Houston kept me away until after New Years, and fall semester kept me so busy that I couldn't even spend a weekend at home. So it's certainly nice to be back for a two week break from campus and the Twin Cities.

Here's my band on the field in Houston before the bowl game! 
I'm one of the little gold dots in the "8"!

The best part about coming home is seeing all the plants my parents have. Almost every room in the house that gets some sort of light has greenery tucked in the corners. The front window that gets lots of southern sun in the winter has our largest tropical plant, gorgeous flowering African violets and a Christmas cactus just finishing up a cycle of blooms.

The kitchen is also full of mason jars full of cuttings of the coleus with lovely root systems starting. Some of these are the coleus plants I started in my plant propagation class last year that we had outside our house this summer. These cuttings will be able to go back out in the spring for another year of potted summer greenery.

Once I got back, I booked it (pun intended) straight to the library and checked out a big stack of horticulture and gardening books. A lot of my free time has since been spent reading and taking notes in the garden journal I've fashioned out of a barely used sketchbook. To keep this post from running too long, I'll have another post about making a garden journal later this week.

A few snippets and ideas I've found:
1. Freeze smaller, edible flowers or their petals in ice cubes to make a pretty, decorative addition to your summery drinks.
2. Use plastic take out containers to start seedlings in early spring. Since they already have a clear cover, you won't have to put a plastic bag over them. Be careful of plastics, however, and stay away from plastics 3, 6 and 7. You can find this number on the bottom of the container.
3. You can actually eat daylily buds before the flowers bloom. One book recommended sauteing them like peas!
4. Pinks can actually be infused in wine or vodka and some begonia petals can be eaten but are sour like lemons.

Some of my time has also been spent reading the book my younger sister got me for Christmas, "A Victorian Flower Dictionary" by Mandy Kirkby. It's a fascinating little book with pages of flowers and their meanings, often accompanied by little snippets of literature or poetry.

My discovery of the week, however, has been a really fun gardening program you can watch for free on It's simply called "Organic Gardening" and it's a gardening and horticulture program out of Australia. Since it's such a different climate than the one many of us are living in up in the Northern Hemisphere, some of the things in the gardens down there might not work in our gardens and their seasons certainly are different than many of ours. But it's still very interesting from a horticultural perspective in learning about how gardening works in a different part of the world. And, of course, some of the gardening advice, such as how to prune apple trees and ways to fix common garden problems, are the same as anywhere else. You can find the program here if you'd like to check it out. Ever the multi-tasker, I've enjoyed watching it while writing in my garden journal and finding magazine cuttings to decorate it.

In my next post, I'll be talking more about the making of my garden journal (along with some rather fuzzy photos of the journal taken with my phone camera) and some ideas for getting your own started, if you don't have one already. 

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