Overwintering Geraniums - A Casual Tutorial

As promised in my post at A Bird and A Bean, I want to show you how to keep the same geranium plants year after year instead of buying new ones every time the garden stores open for business in the spring.

There are probably some containers outside on your patio or porch which have geraniums
waving pathetic and mostly dead stems around in the cold November air. Maybe you even have some geraniums
out in your flower beds that were lovely this summer and fall, but which you now consider a loss -
along with once vibrant impatiens, petunias, periwinkle and lobelia.

You might think it's too late to save them now, but geraniums are a pretty hardy lot, and what do you have to lose? It only takes a few minutes to prepare them for overwintering, and if it works, you'll have geraniums for free next spring. And free is the very best price for any plant purchase!
So here is a very casual tutorial - a scheme to get a few free plants.


Here's a container with one geranium plant mixed in with other annuals and perennials.
Can you see it pointing up at us? 

Use a hand spade or the blunt part of your trimmers to pop the entire plant out of the pot, roots and all.
Does this photo make my wrist look fat???

Shake off most of the dirt, especially if the soil was very wet.

Trim the stems to about this height.
It's not rocket science, so don't obsess about exactly how much to leave. 
The new growth will erupt right out of the stems that are left.

Pack the  geraniums in a box where they'll have plenty of room for a sleepy winter. Remember - Nobody likes a crowded bed!  The box should close loosely so that a little air can circulate around and keep rot from forming. A friend of mine has great success wintering her geraniums in paper bags. Whatever you have handy is fine.
Go for broke and try both methods! Carpe Diem!

Make sure to label the box and store it in a cool, dry, dark spot like a garage or a basement shelf.  I'll be storing mine in the Maid of Honor dry sink in my greenhouse - someplace I'm sure to look when winter begins to finally fade away. As you can see, it's one of my favorite stashing spots. I meant to use those paper lanterns all summer but never did. I must do that in the spring!
Sometime around the end of February and certainly by the beginning of March, you'll want to get out there and check on them. You might open the box to find new growth already on the stems, but don't think your experiment failed if they look like they're goners.

Go ahead and trim off any dead bits and place them directly in a basin or bucket of water for a few hours to moisten up the roots and jump start their new lives. Then place them directly in some slightly moist potting soil. Leave them in a warm spot, with plenty of direct sunshine. New leaf growth should begin to sprout in about three weeks!

Now you can spend money on a new pair of spring flip-flops instead of buying geraniums! Yippee!



Some people do not know when to quit.
Just like this snapdragon that continues to bloom, even in these subfreezing temperatures.
I can peek around the corner from my bedroom window and watch its blossoms wave 
in the frigid breeze.
When is enough finally too much?
How much does a person have to endure before throwing up hands and walking away, and who gets to make the call? I'm not sure where the lines lay, but I see that Peter wondered the same thing.

I took some begonias into the greenhouse when we started to have frosts.
They should've been fine in there, even though it's not a completely enclosed shelter.
A week or so later, sadly, I found them completely grayed out - touched by the frosty air and dead.
In contrast to these spunky snapdragons which were left out in the open to deal with the 
full force of wintery weather, those fragile begonias gave up the ghost at the first signs of chill.

I want to endure in relationships like a snapdragon and NOT behave like a begonia.


Beverly Jean Fights Back

Beverly couldn't help it. She chuckled to herself as she squeezed  the extra-strong starch solution out of her newly made antimacassar. This time when Albert's slimy head came to rest on the back of her best, and favorite armchair, he'd get a little surprise! How many years had she been asking her brother to stop wearing so much of that greasy hair oil? And did he ever listen? Did he consider how she wore her hands to a mess cleaning those stains out of the upholstery every time he came to visit? No, he did not! What foolishness - slicking perfectly healthy hair down with all that ... what was it ... Wildroot! Wildroot Cream Oil, that's what! Well, she was finished with such nonsense! She didn't have fine things, like he did, but she did have clean things. When he took to her chair for a nap after stuffing himself at Christmas dinner, he would not be resting his vain head as comfortably as he had on earlier holidays. Beverly Jean was going to make sure of that. 

Wildroot advertisement - here

How to starch your own doilies and antimacassars - here

Buy Beverly Jean's starched creation - here


Browning Blues

We closed the gardens on Saturday, since it was such a warm day. 
It's all hands on deck when that big job looms between me and the (real) Holidays.
But this year, all hands meant only 6 - Husband, My Youngest and myself.
One of us was less than enthusiastic about spending Saturday afternoon this way.
And it wasn't those of us over twenty years of age.

Now listen, I know it's way more effective to motivate an un-motivated teenager by 
praising positive effort and casting a vision of the many 
satisfactions of a job well done
 than it is to 
goad and fuss, or prompt and point.  
Encouragement is always better than prodding - that seems easy to agree with, doesn't it?
But when I want something to be done, I find it so, so hard to discipline myself to stay on the right side! 

And in a nutshell, that's what parenting is REALLY all about, isn't it? 
Yes, there are lots of hugs and warmth and blessing abound, 
but I don't think it's hard to admit that it's also the Refiner's fire at times. 
The poor kid probably thought I was having some sort of personality disorder eruption right there
in the middle of the lamb's ear patch. One moment pleasant and smiling, encouraging ---
then frowning, huffing and haranguing. It's a battle, people! 
*** Making a side note of the obvious - these photos! ***
One of the jobs on Saturday was removing old hydrangea blooms. The weight of a heavy snowfall(or ice)  can break the canes if the mopheads remain on the bush through the winter, so it's better to take them off as part of the fall clean-up. 
An easy, standing up sort of job! Clip and toss! It's freeing! They just blow away! 
What teenager wouldn't want that job, I ask you?

Look how the deep blue color fades top to bottom from this bloom - is that cool or what? You can see on some individual petals how the color is fading to brown - brown and sky blue on the same petals! Beauty in the most ordinary, disposable items!  The Father is certainly lavish in His displays of splendor!


Pumpkin Pansy

I love this photo which means nothing to you whatsoever.
But if you knew the background, maybe you'd be right with me, tilting your 
head and smiling a small goofy smile.

- The pumpkin was on sale for 98¢ at a local market, and I got FIVE of them. 
Because there are five of us! Even though all five don't all live here anymore. 
The 'parent' pumpkins each had a long stem like this one. You can decide for yourself
if you think this is me or hubs.*

- Here you see my complete harvest of spinner gourds for this year. 
Having given up unrealistic expectations  for bushels and bushels of them,
now  I'm free to enjoy and rejoice  over the dozen I received. 
I will refrain (for now), but there's a major key to general happiness in this concept.

- The concrete-ish garden urn was snagged at a yardsale for only $2.
She had been asking $5, but by the end of the morning, she was glad for me to take it 
for so much less. You've got to love its pie crust edge!

- The pansy! 
I took my mom to a local nursery to pick out some mums, and while I was there,
I got this luscious pot of winter-hardy pansies for myself.
Two of my big 'boys' went along on this trip, and they actually selected this one.
"Look at this one, Mom! Look at these colors, your favorites - get it!"
So of course, I did!
 Photobomb by a ladybug larvae
I've got to get it in the ground this weekend. It's not too late to get your 
Halloween mums in the ground - what do you have to lose? Maybe you'll
get a free mum for next fall!

* It's me.

Click over to A Bird and A Bean to read my gardening contribution for November - 'Winter Displays in Summer Containers' -
You'll enjoy browsing her blog for ideas on crafting, 
fitness, cooking, organizing and lots more!


Crazy Eyes

I've been walking by this pumpkin carving for over a week now. It sits right by my front door, 
of course, right where a jack-o-lantern should. MWH and I
carved it together as our entry in the family pumpkin carving contest,
 and it was truly a team effort. 
 I'm thinking
"Crazy Eyes"
would be a good title for this pumpkin which did NOT win the contest.
"Menopausal Mother"
also comes to mind. 
What's that? Is that you giving me a shout-out, Hubs? 
Oh, Yes - you're right! Another apt title might be:
"Menopausal WIFE"
But let's keep it real.
This unintentional, sometime self-portrait of a pumpkin might've represented me 
just as well in earlier NON-menopausal years. For example,
I'm pretty sure I looked like this on the two memorable occasions of being
 seriously bitten while nursing one of my sweet baby boys.
Oh, yeah, and that time my brother-in-law burst into my labor room while 
I was getting an enema - I think I remember baring my teeth.
And when I caught sight of one of my toddler boys walking away holding the hand of a strange 
man, this is probably really similar to the face that guy saw when I caught up to him.

I don't know about you, but over the years life has presented 
plenty of occasions to sport CRAZY EYES. 


Joie de Vivre!

The time change has given us a brief return of early, early morning sunshine, 
and it's way too balmy to stay inside scuffing around in pajama pants.
So go get your boots on and scuff about your backyard instead - or your front yard,
 if you don't mind the neighbors seeing you sporting pajama bottoms and barn boots. 
I'll be sticking to my backyard even though my neighbors have already seen 
enough nonsense going on over here to scorch their eye sockets plumb empty.
Like the time Hubs gave me a piggy back ride 
around and around the crab apple tree. (frontyard)
Or the time we had stay-over holiday guests for so long we felt compelled to sneak out to the apple trees, under the full moon, wearing nightgowns? OK - he did not have a nightgown, I did. I think I did... (backyard) 
ANYway. These boots were not put away properly and have been sitting on the back porch, 
wide open to the Wild Kingdom that lives and moves and has its being on our small acre.
You can either work on making sure that nothing alive is in the boot toe, 
or just go for broke and plunge your foot down in there. 

 Can you believe I found a few iris blooming again? 
Double bonus that it's the dark purple!

Forsythia is taking another turn at blooming, too. 
The frosted fall foliage on the bush really makes the blooms pop!

A good reason to wear boots. But they do have a certain beauty, don't they?
Well, they don't anymore - within about a day, these mushrooms turned into a pile of seriously disgusting mush.

THIS is how the boots SHOULD be put away.
Much, much safer. 
But less Joie de Vivre...


Estate Sale Vultures

We went to an estate sale today, held along the way I drive My Youngest to school everyday.
I looked forward to it all week. 
Now, we don't usually make it to a sale like this one at its opening. 
Somewhere around the middle, or even toward the end of the sale - that's when we usually arrive.
Today, we were within thirty minutes of the  (official)  start.
We parked fairly far away from the house - a little brick ranch with a spacious yard.
I felt a slight touch of panic when I saw so many things being carried out to vehicles
before I could even begin my perusal. We started in the garage and moved through the house, 
room by room, ending in the laundry area of the basement. 
It was  who gets to go down the hallway first  crowded. 
Employees of the estate liquidation team were everywhere, ready to quickly
and firmly quote an unreasonable price for every bit of flotsam I brought for inquiry.
After it became obvious that the prices were not in my range, 
I was free to just browse and ponder without any competition to consider.

A story was written, ever so obscurely, right there in their leavings.
She left a charmingly mismatched set of china plates.
He left a tidy garage with perfectly pegboarded tools.
She must have loved quilting, and he fishing.
Their clothes were hanging on a rack in the basement - 
his smallish dapper blazers and her polyester slacks.
A man rooted through a huge box of hangers, ramming the wooden ones in his back pockets. 
A chic blonde woman put her readers on top of her head and pulled iron garden-markers  from the dirt.
Two old men discussed UK basketball at the bottom of the basement stairs.
An odd character with a long ponytail and an even longer beard sported a fedora with a
hawk's feather and clutched doilies to his chest. 
We seemed to be a flock of oddly feathered vultures, picking over the meat and bones 
of a once-full lifetime condensed within a 2,000 square foot boundary. 
A downward focused group of Mrs Dilbers and Ol' Joes
busily unhooking bedcurtains as brisk, early morning exercise. 
We brought home their impossibly heavy concrete table and benches set to anchor our own front yard.
None of the other vultures even cast a glance our way as it was loaded.