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Archive for April 30th, 2011

The End Of A Mystery.

It began the first year I moved to this plot of land, all along the woods edge these plants would show up every spring. It didn’t matter if the location was flooded, they seemed to like the wet lands.  Through the years they have multiplied, moving to fill the back woods and skirt a border along the left side of the yard.  I can’t say they are the most beautiful of flower alone, they sort of hold a ghoulish look to them with those long “Spikes”, but when you see a field of them in their white glory in early spring, they do hold quite an impact.  I just never could figure out what they were, until now.  The other day, while looking up something completely different, I stumbled upon a picture of these flowers.  They are what is known as Hymenocallis, or Spider Lilies.  Mystery solved!

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That’s a greenhouse, not a green house because I already have that with all the spouting garden plants, clippings to be rooted, mint hanging to be dried.  Today after finally getting last batch of spearmint clipped and in dehydrator to be fine ground into tea mix I went to work on my latest scores.  This spring on my trip to Lowe’s to replace a dryer I stumbled across a pallet of clay pots with daffodils well past their prime inside.  There was about 15 pots in total and each holding 5 to 6 bulbs.  Asking the manager how much he wanted for the lot of them, he quoted me a price of  $4.99.  The pots alone were more then this and could be recycled many times for other projects.  Sold!  I stuffed the back of my vehicle with plants and children.

A second trip to Lowe’s a week later graced me with an additional 8 pots of various colored hyacinth they were getting ready to throw out.  Holding 3 bulbs each and being quoted a price of $3.99 for the lot I again filled my cart and headed for home.

Then, three weeks ago I made a trip to Kroger’s on one of those quick stop to pick up medicine trips.  While there I was browsing their floral department and seen a trash bin with several potted, yellowing Freesias tossed inside.  Once more my inquiry to how much for all the plants they had paid off.  For $.25 cents each ($1.50) I walked out with 6 pots of Freesias each holding 4 bulbs a piece.

I let them continue to dry in their pots in the yard and today went to work extracting the bulbs from the soil in preparation of storing them for next springs gardens.  Not a bad deal for 80 daffodil bulbs, 24 hyacinth and 24 freesia bulbs for $10.50. Also got two gallon bags of free potting soil and a ton of clay pots now. The hard part is to find the patience to wait until next spring to plant them.

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Sidewalk chalk is a big hit in this family, even not having sidewalks does not stop them from finding things they can decorate. Trees, garden stepping stones, rocks all become subject to their artistry in the summer months.  It also means a lot of used up chalk which can get pretty expensive.  This recipe is pretty easy to make and can be done in numerous molds.  Plastic Easter eggs, ice cube trays (these happen to be made using a tube like ice cube tray I found at the Dollar Store.), toilet paper rolls with one end duct tape shut.  To make your own you need:

2 parts Plaster of Paris

Less then 1 part water

Food coloring, tempera paint or Koolaid (sugar free).

Mix together and pour into parchment paper lined mold, let harden, unmold and let creativity flow.

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I truly do love the smell of gardenia’s, and take every opportunity I can in their blooming season to cut bouquets, open windows and enjoy the pure sweetness day and night they can offer.  It is such a depressing day when the flowers fade giving way to summer heat.  When I stumbled upon ways to preserve that fragrance in a simple perfume and water spritz I just had to try them.  They did not disappoint.

First you need to pick your fresh flowers, as gardenia’s are delicate and do not last long after picking you need to be rather quick and prepared to process them right after pickings.

Once picked, separate the pedals from the green stems.  Now you get to decide what you wish to do with them.

Perfume

To make perfume you need

Distilled water

Alcohol :  Rubbing alcohol, witch hazel, or vodka (100 proof) works best.

Glass jar

Mix your distilled water and alcohol base together in even amounts. (1 part water to 1 part base).

Fill glass jar with gardenia pedals until filled, pack them down slightly so the jar is full but not to point the flowers are mashed.

Add the water/alcohol mix to the flowers and seal.  Warning, they will take on a brown look, this will get worse as they sit and release their oils, this is ok. Let rest in a low light location for several weeks to fuse the fragrance.

Strain water/alcohol mix through paper towels/cloth into pitcher or bowl.

Add your new perfume to spray bottles and enjoy.  Store in dark/low light location.

Water Air Freshening/Body Spritz

To make a water spritz, you place your flowers in a large kettle and add distilled water.  Heat water slowly on low heat until just under boiling, reduce heat and let flowers steep in hot liquid until water naturally cools to lukewarm or room temperature.   Strain flowers from liquid with us of a cloth, retaining the liquid in a glass bowl.

Using glass containers or canning jars store your liquid air freshener, be sure it is stored in a semi to dark location, or cover the bottle with thick towels to keep out light.  When needed to use just fill a dark colored spray bottle.

Yep, it’s that easy. Now you are ready to spray your room, add a cup to your bath, or rejuvenate yourself.

The brown coloration you see is natural. I have used the water to color homemade paper, “antique” papers and color wool and fabrics. Not only do they get a unique color but smell wonderful also.

For variety in either of these try adding mint, lavender, roses, rosemary,sage, basil, hollyhock, lilac or other flowers to the pot.  Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg also can be used to accent.  Experiment and enjoy.

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