Sunday, January 31, 2010

Will a Scilla Fill a Pot?

Perhaps one of the best kept secrets in my area is the Tulip Tree Gift Shop at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory.  Besides unique garden-related items, they've got a wonderful selection of potted plants at can't-resist prices. These aren't your usual big box store selections and they certainly are more healthy than their counterparts.

A nice feature is that the gift shop often offers the same plants they show in the conservatory.  For example, our last visit made heavy use of Primulas, and you could purchase one for yourself for just a few dollars.

Whenever I want (notice I didn't say "need") a new and unusual (to me) houseplant, The Tulip Tree is the first place that comes to mind.  You don't have to pay admission to the conservatory to visit the gift shop, which is located just inside the front doors, and if you're an AHS card holder or member of the conservatory, you'll get 10% off the purchase of anything in the shop.

Last week, before we left the conservatory, we stepped into The Tulip Tree. (Isn't that a great name? The tulip tree - Liriodendron tulipifera - is Indiana's state tree.) I made my way back to the plants and chose a couple of new ones to take home with me. I had an empty pot to fill.

I've a weakness for interesting foliage, so I grabbed the two remaining Ledebouria socialis (syn. Scilla violacea and Scilla socialis), also known as Silver Squill.  It's a succulent bulb, and if you look down into the plant, you'll see them.  These bulbs are not to be covered with soil and only add to the plant's interest.

The leaves are spotted on top, which is what grabbed my attention, and reddish-purple on their undersides.  Their racemes of tiny flowers are really unremarkable until you examine them up close. This is one of those that always leaves me in awe of the detail God puts into such a tiny thing. Each individual flower is only ¼-inch at its widest point.

This squill is an ideal houseplant because it requires very little care. Due to its succulent properties of storing water in its bulbs, care must be taken to not overwater.  I put it in a sunny south window to satisfy its need for full sun.  From what I've read, it multiplies readily, so I may have some to share with my girls later.

I also bought a Tillandsia, which is in bud.  More on that one when it blooms!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Our Little Acre Joins The Open Sky Project!

Last fall, I was contacted by The Open Sky Project about the prospect of becoming a shopkeeper with their company.  I'd heard about this innovative venture a couple of months before, and I was intrigued with the idea of shopkeepers, suppliers, and shoppers working together to make a difference in how people shop for the items they want.

After considering everything the company does and the way they do it, I agreed to become an Open Sky shopkeeper. Their website explains it best just what OpenSky is:

  • We handpick people with passion, specialized knowledge and a point of view to become Shopkeepers.

  • Shopkeepers manage their own OpenSky shop: they curate a collection of their favorite products, create original content about those products, and provide insights and advice to Shoppers.

  • OpenSky empowers Shoppers to pursue their passions, discover extraordinary products, and make educated buying decisions guided by people they trust.

What it boils down to is this:  If your interest is let's say, gardening, and you want to find products that passionate gardeners have knowledge about, recommend, and may use themselves, then you choose shopkeepers with that same interest.

Each shopkeeper has personally chosen the items you see in their store. You can connect with the shopkeeper personally through their shop, asking questions and making suggestions, and you'll get a response from the shopkeeper themselves.

OpenSky has a great FAQ page that may answer any questions you might have about this new and innovative way to shop.

So, without further ado, I invite you to shop at my new OpenSky shop, Our Little Acre, where we're always open for business!

Click on the graphic below to enter the shop:

Featured product:

This is one of my very favorite garden tools.  I confess that I'd not heard of the CobraHead Weeder and Cultivator before Spring Fling last May, when I met Anneliese from her family's company. But after talking with her and other gardeners that had used it, I promptly ordered one when I got home. 

I've used it ever since and have to say it's one of the most versatile tools I've ever used in my garden.  It's especially good for working the soil between tightly situated plants. It's been likened to a giant fingernail and I'd say that's a pretty good analogy!

    A Mid-Winter Visit To a Local Oasis of Green

    It would seem that Mom and I hadn't had enough togetherness during our recent trip to New York City, so the Thursday after we returned, we found our way to the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory in Ft. Wayne (IN).  Our American Horticultural Society membership allows us free admission, so we use it several times during the year when we want a nice, relaxing stroll through their gardens.

    Never does it feel more like a respite from the outside world than it does in winter.  The colors of the flowers and the aroma of "green" does a person good, physically and mentally.

    Each time I visit the conservatory, I try to photograph something I haven't before or things I have, in a different way.  And some things are just so beautiful that I never tire of photographing them any way at all.

    From the day's visit:

    Links to previous visits to Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory:

    Thursday, January 28, 2010

    More From New York City

    So you thought I'd shown and told all there was to tell about our trip to New York City? Nope. There were very few unoccupied seconds of the day where we weren't on the way to or from something or another, unless it was when we were sleeping in our ultra comfy bed (must find out what kind of mattress that was!), or sitting in a Broadway theater.

    Let's see...what did I leave out of the other posts?

    On Thursday, after we attended the taping of The Martha Stewart Show, we took the subway to South Ferry and after a trip to Staten Island, we walked to Ground Zero and Trinity Episcopal Church and St. Paul's Chapel.


    St. Paul's Chapel, across from the World Trade Center buildings, amazingly suffered almost no damage from the explosions. (One window cracked.)

    Graveyard of St. Paul's Chapel

    The Chapel is Manhattan's oldest public building still in continuous use, built in 1766, and is a part of Trinity Episcopal Church parish. George Washington worshiped here on his inauguration day in 1789.  During the aftermath of 9/11, the chapel served as a place of rest for rescue workers and now houses a memorial to those lost and the rescue workers.

    Scuffs on the church pews have been left as a tribute to the rescue workers who made them with their boots and coats as they rested.

    "Thank you for saving people."
    Many have left their works of appreciation for those who worked so tirelessly.

    Patches from Fire Departments across the country

    Trinity Episcopal Church

    Trinity Episcopal Church sanctuary

    Alexander Hamilton (R) and Robert Fulton (L) are both interred in Trinity Church's cemetery.

    A giant Sycamore tree once stood by St. Paul's Chapel, and was felled during the 9/11 explosions.  It's thought that the tree protected both the chapel and the graveyard, since both suffered very little damage, unlike everything around them.  Steve Tobin took what was left of the tree - the stump and its roots - and created a bronze sculpture which now sits in the courtyard of Trinity Church.

    Artist Jessica Stamen used steel from the wreckage of the World Trade Center to fashion "The Chalice," depicting God's hands holding a cup atop two beams (Twin Towers) with roots of a tree at its base (the Sycamore tree).

    The Chalice

    While a visit to the site of the crash of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, a few years ago moved Mom and me to tears, strangely, seeing the site where the World Trade Center buildings once stood did not do this.

    Ground Zero, as seen from the second floor of Brooks Brothers

    I almost felt guilty, and searched my soul to figure out why it didn't.  Perhaps enough time has passed for me, as one who was not directly affected by it, that the initial horror and sorrow have given way to a feeling of sympathy and appreciation for those that were.

    What I did feel was more of a realization of how real and horrific it must have been to be on the street  and experience the sounds, sights, and smells of the events of that tragic morning. It could just as easily have been Mom and me playing tourist that day in 2001, rather than 2010.  I thought about those who worked and lived nearby and what fear they must have felt, not knowing what or why it was happening.

    Liberty Plaza Park with Ground Zero in the background

    "Red Cube" by Isamu Noguchi in the Financial District, is 24 feet tall.

    Across the street from "Red Cube,"  in Liberty Park Plaza, is "Joie de Vivre" by Mark di Suvero

    While I wasn't all that thrilled about going to a Broadway show before we'd left for New York, we planned to see one and decided we should see the longest running show on Broadway, The Phantom of the Opera. We got seats in the center of the seventh row, but there likely aren't any bad seats in the Majestic Theater.

    I was so taken with every aspect of it - staging, costuming, vocals, orchestra - that when Mom suggested we see a second show, I agreed.  We tried to get tickets for A Little Night Music with Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta-Jones, but it was sold out.  Same thing with Wicked. But Mary Poppins had great seats in the center of the eighth row of the New Amsterdam Theater.

    I'm hooked. If I ever get back to New York City, I'll definitely see another Broadway show.

    So let's see...what's left? Oh, yes - the Empire State Building.  We went up there on Saturday, which was a perfect day for seeing the sights from the 86th floor.  For an additional fee, you can go on up to the 102nd, but we opted out of that.

    The Empire State Building is located at the corner of 5th Avenue and 34th Street, just down the street from the original Macy's store

    View of the Hudson River and off in the distance, Central Park

    Looking down...

    It was the place to be on a Saturday morning

    The fencing was put up in 1947, following five suicides over a period of three weeks.

    View of the East River, looking southeast

     Smiles all around! :-)

    The building is legendary and the Art Deco style is everywhere you look.  There is a large aluminum relief of the building on one wall of the three-story lobby.

    So here's the final tally of our activities while in New York City, in the order in which we did them:

    I'm not sure we could have fit much more into our three-and-a-half days than that.  We both had such a marvelous time and were blessed with nearly perfect January weather.  Both of us would love to return in the summer and do a "garden tour" of New York Botanical Gardens and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, along with Central Park and other attractions we missed this time around.

    So many people have said to me, "I love New York!" and now I know why.

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