June is the happiest month for me, not only because it's the first summer month, but also because it's the cherries' month, as we're calling it here, in Romania. Just seeing the ripe cherries in the tree, looking like dozens of red earrings hanging from the branches, makes my heart sing.
Our Easter comes late this year, but the nice, warm weather was of great help when cleaning the house and starting the plants and vegetables in the garden. Now that all is done, everything smells so good and clean - it's time to bring the Easter goodies scent in the house!
In the spring we all clean our homes and open the windows so the sun and fresh air can come inside, after the long winter. We clean the windows and floors, and wash the curtains, so that everything shines and smells good. But have you ever thought of spring cleaning your body and soul too?
Pansies are some of the first plants that sprout in my garden in spring. They are growing all over the garden, practically invading it with their "funny faces". But how come that some of the blooms are so much smaller than others?
'Heeeelp!! I have lots of bugs on my plants!' I feel like shouting when I see the ugly pests covering the tips of my beautiful plants, especially the hibiscus and citruses. I'm fighting them, but they always come back during winter, while the plants are indoors.
Although it's March, I'm already thinking about Christmas. Are you asking why? Well, because I need to prune my poinsettias and, as you know, they are a symbol of Christmas. Now is the right time to get my poinsettias started for next Christmas, so they can have enough time to grow bushy and beautiful until the colored bracts will appear and make them the stars of Christmas.
If you happen to come to Romania on the first day of March, you will see women wearing a tiny little “toy”, tied up with a cute white and red yarn ribbon, on their coats . This toy is called “Martisor" and here's the history behind these trinkets.
Cozy and beautiful, that's how I think about Gesneriads. They stay dormant all winter long and sprout back in spring, don't need too much watering, can be easily divided and the blooms are heavenly beautiful - I'm telling you, they are some great plants to have in your home!
Gloxinia is the beautiful plant with big bell-like flowers and large hairy leaves. At least that is what I knew before I heard about the New World names for Gloxinia. What is the New World names? If you didn't know, you are about to find out now.
Basil is an important plant for our orthodox religion, present in all masses and rituals, but its most important contribution is, without a doubt, on Boboteaza Day : the religious celebration of Christ's baptism, celebrated every year, on January 6 . The priests use basil for blessing the water, but this isn't the only use of basil on this day. Romanian tradition says that basil has magical powers which can help a single young girl dream about the man who is meant to be her future husband.
Christmas is almost here and you're decorating your home. You're searching through your Christmas ornaments and realize that you need some more. More ornaments, more money - not so good for your budget! But what if, instead of buying more ornaments, you make your own crafts? I'm going to show you how to make a frugal Christmas railing, with minimal cost.
Gardening is almost over for those of us living up north, but some works are still going on until the temperatures will go down to freezing and stay down. "Covering" roses with soil is one of these works which needs to be done if you want your roses to survive to any deep freeze or blizzard the winter might bring.
Do you ever look under your thuja? I must confess I don't do that very often, especially since my four thujas have grown so big and bushy. But this summer I checked the ground under them more frequently during the drought, and that was my good fortune: I was rewarded with a few dozen of thuja seedlings down there!
I am one of the lucky people living in a temperate zone, where the tree leaves turn every shade of fall. I remember a time when the fall used to come in September, when the leaves started to turn. I had plenty of time to watch them getting yellow, red and brown, then falling down and making a beautiful carpet of leaves. But lately I barely have time to see the colorful leaves, before everything gets white and freezing. Is it that I don't have time anymore or is fall hurrying to do its number and leave before winter comes? I think both!
In late summer after the heat is gone, just when my geraniums are starting to bloom more and look happier, some ugly worms are eating their buds. Why are those worms particularly on my geraniums and not on other flowers? Why do they attack in late summer? Where did they come from? And, most of all, what are those worms?
When I see a cabbage, I am reminded of my grandmother shredding cabbage and giving me the core.No one else was offered this special treat except me! Since I was the only child in our family until my cousins were born, I was rather spoiled. I would always get the best of every food and some were only for me, like the cabbage core. I remember how much I enjoyed its sweet taste and the sound of the crisp bite, similar to a sweet radish. It was like a special gift!
I have a powerful "enemy" living in my lawn: clover. As much as I've tried to get rid of it, it is now spreading on many large spots of the lawn. Only this isn't just a simple clover, but the four-leaf clover which so many people want to find and keep as a lucky charm.
Sun flares, terrible heat and powerful storms - this is what I had to deal with all summer, like most of the gardeners on earth. Watering was a life and death issue for my garden, so I kept on watering all summer long, which helped my plants and vegetables to survive. But not all have survived and I'm pretty sad to see that my vegetable harvest is much smaller than I expected.
A mole in a garden means disaster and I'm sure that most gardeners have had to deal with moles, maybe more than once. Some of you may have bought traps or different devices for chasing them away, but did you know that some plants can do this better than any device?
Just thinking of fall makes you feel melancholy, doesn't it? I have some contradictory feelings about this season; part of me hates it for getting so cold and rainy and grey, but the other part loves it because of its colors...oh, sometimes the view shows such colors, like in a painting!
Mosquitoes are very bad, everyone knows it. A repellent spray can keep them away for a few hours, but what if you forget to spray yourself or your child? A walk in the garden at night can be as dangerous as a walk in the jungle! But what if one of your plants can help keep mosquitoes away from you and from your garden? I happened to find out about this marvelous plant, Pyrethrum, which chases away mosquitoes!
Starting in the spring, all kinds of blooms invade my garden and the field around my house. It is amazing how so many of them have the same daisy-like shape! The field is cheerful when the wild chamomile, wild aster, helenium, and yellow chamomile are blooming, while in my garden gaillardias, rudbeckias, calendulas and zinnias are smiling for all summer.
Children are so funny when they are playing! And I don't mean the computer games they're playing now, but those games we used to play outside, in the middle of nature. Leaves, flowers and fruits, along with rocks, sticks and sand, were our favorite "toys" for playing.
For many years my favorite strawberry dessert was just simply, raw strawberries, sprinkled with sugar. I couldn't get enough of their delicious taste! But since I love making and also eating desserts, two of my favorite are made with fresh strawberries.
I don't know if there is a day to celebrate strawberries, but I think it'll need at least a week every year - if not one week each month - to talk about this wonderful fruit. And what can be more delicious than a fresh, juicy and flavored strawberry, coming out of my own garden? I'm not the only one craving my strawberries and I need to fight for them with some very small, but powerful enemies, the slugs!
Many people detoxify their bodies in spring by eating herbs, especially people living in the northern hemisphere. A leafy herb with great taste, which also has important medicinal properties, is commonly called patience dock. We're making some delicious meals with it in Romania and I'd like to share one of these recipes to you.
Plants coming back to life after winter is always amazing, but this year it's more amazing than ever, after the hard winter we had in Romania. Although I knew all my plants could survive, I couldn't help being afraid that some wouldn't.
I remember the garden I knew as a child, with many roses and tall cosmos, with long petals we uses as fingernails in our play …with all kinds of bushes full of flowers and bees…ouch, I almost feel every pinch they gave me when I tried to catch a bumble-bee and tie it on a thread, just to see how it flies! It was a big challenge for me, but I was happy when I could start my very first garden!
Spring is here and the market is full of red orach, waiting to be cooked into a delicious soup or a salad. I know that red orach isn't as well known in the U.S. as it is in Europe, so let me tell you a few things about this great plant. I'm sure you will include red orach soup in your menu after reading my article!
Have you ever had a burning stomach pain? I never had problems until a few years ago, but my husband has suffered for many years. He takes tons of antacid pills, which started to worry me. When I found out that St. John's wort is used as a healing herb for stomach treatment, I decided to harvest the St. John's wort I had in my garden and on the field around the house and use it for healing our burning stomach pains.
Just thinking of the possibility of another Ice Age is scary, but the latest weather changes and the unusually hard winter in Europe made me think of this possible scenario. Can it be? I surely hope not! For gardeners it would be the end of our wonderful hobby as we know it, but let's not think of the worst.
I've always wanted to have my own snowdrops in my garden. Just seeing this beautiful, tiny flower popping up from under the snow brings me hope that spring is coming--its purity and spring scent always brings joy to my heart. I was surprised when a friend didn't know what a snowdrop looked like! That's when I decided to write about this plant that brings joy to northern "peeps" each spring!
I'm always happy when it's snowing, but never like I was as a child! Those were great, carefree times, when nothing mattered except going out to play in the snow for hours on end. My only concern back then was not to get too wet and catch a cold.
Throughout the ages, people have known that plants grow, bloom and fruit during the summer and die or go dormant during the winter. But haven't you ever wondered why a plant's life cycle is so perfect? How does the plant know when to flower and attract the bees for pollination, and when their seed can germinate, and when to go dormant?
Of all the Romanian customs, "Sorcova" is the most beautiful and funny! On January 1, children participate in this custom to wish their family and neighbors all the best luck and health for the New Year.
What would be a window without a geranium during the long winter? Perhaps just a cold window with icicles hanging above. But when the geranium leaves are showing through the window, the house looks warm and cozy. Those of you who are living in warm zones might not understand, but those in the north, where it's already freezing, will know what I am talking about.