Thursday, December 5, 2019

History Of The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

I'm sure you've seen photos just like this one above of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Maybe you've even visited New York City at Christmas time and personally viewed it in all its holiday splendor. But I bet you didn't know some of its fascinating early history!

On  the 31st of December 1931, a group of twenty construction workers erected a 20 foot tall balsam tree on the future site of what would eventually become Rockefeller Center. It was during the time of the Great Depression in America when more than 13 million people were out of work.  These men were among the fortunate who had jobs. In celebration of the Season, and having just been paid, they decorated the tree with strings of cranberries and paper garlands.  And so the tradition began.

1933 marked the official first year display of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.  The tree was nearly 50 feet tall and covered with 700 lights.  

  In 1936 on Christmas Day, the first ice skating pond in New York City was opened to the public on the lower plaza.

The 1940's brought America into the second World War.  To show support for our troops overseas, three trees were displayed on the plaza ... each decorated in red, white and blue.

In 1951,  all of America got the chance to see the famous tree. The very first nationally televised lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree took place on the Kate Smith Show on NBC.

America became more environmentally conscious in 1971. It was the first year that the Rockefeller Christmas Tree was recycled into mulch to cover nature trails in in upper Manhattan. Since 2007, the tree has been donated to Habitat For Humanity and the wood has been used for milling purposes. 

*Happy Holidays To All

My Version Of The Twelve Days Of Christmas ... In Flowers

             You probably know the song ... on the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me ... a Partridge in a Pear Tree.  
This ... is a Partridge. Looks kind of like a pheasant to me. Whatever. Anyway, it is not exactly what I would want on the First Day Of Christmas  ... as well as the next 11 days following Christmas. Nor do I want or need Calling Doves, French Hens, etc. My dear hubby, Bill, knows the way to my heart ... he knows I love flowers! So, I dedicate this blog post to  him, my True Love. This is my version of The Twelve Days of Christmas ... In Flowers!

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
         a pretty, frilly pink Pe-on-y.

         On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
two yellow Roses ...
and a second lovely pink Pe-on-y.

       On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
three white Daisies
   two yellow Roses
     and my favorite flower ... another pink Pe-on-y.

   On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
     four lavendar Lilacs
       three white Daisies, two yellow Roses 
       and, Oh My ... another lovely pink Pe-on-y.

           On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ... 
    four lavender Lilacs, three white Daisies, two yellow Roses 
              and another ...  pink Pe-on-y.

        On the sixth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
six stunning Tulips 
 four lavender Lilacs, three white Daisies, two yellow Roses
   and another very pretty Pink Pe-on-y.

  On the Seventh Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me ...
seven fragrant Sweet Peas
six stunning Tulips 
four lavender Lilacs, three white Daisies, two yellow Roses 
and to my delight ... another pink Pe-on-y.

   On the Eight Day of Christmas my true love gave to me ... 
eight purple Poppies 
seven fragrant Sweet Peas, six stunning Tulips 
 four lavender Lilacs, three white Daisies, two yellow Roses 
     and a rosy pink  ... Pe-on-y.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
nine nodding Bluebells
eight purple Poppies, seven fragrant Sweet Peas, Six stunning Tulips
four lavender Lilacs, three white Daisies, two yellow Roses 
       and ... what else? Another pink Pe-on-y!

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
     ten tiny Violets
nine nodding Bluebells, eight purple Poppies, seven fragrant Sweet Peas
six stunning Tulips
    four lavender Lilacs, three white Daisies, two yellow Roses
    and another sparkling Pink Pe-on-y!

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
eleven lovely Lupines
 ten tiny Violets, nine nodding Bluebells, eight purple Poppies
seven fragrant Sweet Peas, six stunning Tulips
        ---FIVE GOLDEN SUNS ---
    four lavender Lilacs, three white Daisies, two yellow Roses
       and what else? Another ruffly, pink Pe-on-y!

    And on the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...
11 lovely lupines
 10 tiny Violets
 9 nodding Bluebells
8 purple Poppies
 7 fragrant Sweet Peas
 6 stunning Tulips
4 lovely Lilacs
3 white Daisies
2 yellow Roses
 12 beautiful flowers
as perfect as can be
Ah, come on, you know ....
it was a dozen lovely, PINK PE-ON-IES!

Wishing you all
 a very

Thanks to Pixabay for use of the photos used in this blog.

Monday, November 25, 2019

In The Poconos - Let's Talk Turkey!

Folks, Can you believe it! Another Thanksgiving is upon us.

Now, let's get down to talking turkey. Pictured above: the North American wild turkey. NOT WHAT'S ON YOUR DINNER TABLE. Here's the facts ....

 1. They are the largest game birds found in North America.
 2. They are intelligent, social, and have excellent eyesight and hearing.
 3. wild turkeys can fly short distances up to 55 mph.
 4. They can run up to speeds of 35 mph.
 5. Only male turkeys, called Toms, can gobble.
 6. When a Tom gobbles, the sound can be heard up to a half a mile away.
 7. On average, their lifespan is 4-5 years in the wild, sometimes as long as 10.
 8. Wild turkeys have between 5000-6000 feathers. The male's feathers are more colorful with areas of red, purple, green, brown, bronze, and gold. Its 18 beautiful long tail feathers, called a fan, are proudly displayed during breeding season to attract a female.

Trivia:  If Ben Franklin had his way, the North American wild turkey would have been the national symbol of the United States ... not the American bald eagle.  He felt that the bald eagle was a creature of "bad moral character."

Trivia:  There is some controversy concerning the claim that the Pilgrims hosted the First Thanksgiving in the New World in the Fall of 1621. There is speculation that in 1598 a Spanish explorer had led an expedition of 500 people across southern Mexico finally reaching the banks of the Rio Grande near San Elizario, Texas. In "thanksgiving" for their survival on their long, arduous journey, they held a mass and feasted on local game and fish from the region.

         Folks,  pictured below are the turkeys that will wind up on your dinner table for Thanksgiving. They are commercially raised domesticated white turkeys. 

1. They, too, are intelligent and social. Their vision and hearing is just not as developed as their wild cousins.
2. They cannot fly.  Because they are bred to have larger breasts and thighs, they are much heavier than their wild cousins. They weigh, on average, twice as much as wild turkeys.
3. The lifespan of commercially raised turkeys is very short - on average, 126 days.
4. They are bred to have white feathers.

Trivia:  Since the pin feathers are white, unattractive dark blotches won't mar the surface of the bird's skin after it has been plucked.

Trivia:  The average weight of a Thanksgiving Day turkey is 16 pounds.

                          Happy Thanksgiving to all!         

Friday, November 8, 2019

Growing Thanksgiving Or Christmas Cactus In The Poconos

Early last October 2018, I bought a small budding cactus plant, similar to the one above, from a local supermarket.  The information tag inside the pot indicated that it was a Thanksgiving Cactus. I had never heard of Thanksgiving Cactus … only Christmas Cactus. I figured … what the heck! Either way I'd have a pretty flowering plant to look at during the holidays. I guess I had been too optimistic ….

Unfortunately, soon after I brought it home all the buds began to fall off the plant, and my little cactus (the pathetic little thing to right of the lamp), remained flowerless all through the Winter and Spring. At least it had some Amaryllis, an African Violet, and a Mini Rose Bush to keep it company.  For the most part, I ignored my little cactus except for a one-time gentle pruning and only occasional watering. To my surprise, by late Spring my little cactus began to put out new, healthy growth!

 I moved it outside for the Summer and it actually flourished in a sheltered shady spot on the back deck. In September, I brought it back inside to acclimate the plant to indoor conditions again. That's when I began a lot of researching online on how to make the plant set buds for this coming Holiday Season

It was not as difficult as I thought it would be. Keep it in a warm spot with indirect light for about 8-9 hours a day. Then give it 12-14 hours of complete darkness in a spot with cool temperatures between 40-50 degrees. So, that is what I had done for the entire month of October. During the day my little cactus basked in the bright light coming from my living room window … and then spent the night in the darkness of my cool, unheated garage. Occasionally, I would lightly water it when the top inch of the soil was dry. 

By the 3rd week of October I began noticing little green nubs forming at the ends of the plant's leaf segments.  Not long after, I noticed even more of the little buds and they had begun showing a hint of pink! Time to move into the light!

This photo was taken November 5th. The flower buds vary in size, so I'm hoping my little cactus will be blooming by Thanksgiving and even a few weeks later. Maybe even some blooms left for Christmas!

Just a few tips ….

When forcing Thanksgiving Cactus to bloom, when the buds start forming, discontinue the day/night cycle and move the plant into bright light to fully encourage flowering. 

Water sparingly. Don't drown them. Thanksgiving Cactus don't like soggy feet.

Thanksgiving Cactus might not like very wet feet, but they love humidity! I placed the pot on a water-filled tray of glass beads. I also lightly mist my little cactus at least once a day.

Watch out for sudden cold drafts from windows or doors as well as too much heat rising from radiators and other sources. Sudden changes in temperature can cause flower buds to fall as they are forming.

One last thing … Thanksgiving and Christmas Cactus are nearly identical.  Thanksgiving Cactus have more serrated leaf segments  …  while Christmas Cactus have smoother, rounder edges. Christmas Cactus also tends to bloom later in the holiday season. 


Sunday, October 20, 2019

Woolly Bear Caterpillars! What Kind Of Winter For 2019-2020?

Woolly Bear Caterpillars? I bet many of you have never heard of them. Well, they are sometimes considered Nature's winter weather predictors! 

If you've been reading my posts regularly, it was September 2013 when that I first wrote about these fuzzy weather forecasters.  The story goes like this. If the orange band across the center of the caterpillar is wider than the black bands, a mild winter is predicted. If both the black and orange bands are similar in width, pretty much it will be just an average winter. if the black bands are wider, it will be one doozy of a winter with lots of cold and snowy days. From the photo above, it was a pretty average winter here in the Northeast in 2014. The orange band is just a bit wider than the black bands. Not a bad winter at all.

Now, the Winter of 2015 was quite a different story. Just look at the wide black band on the Woolly Bear Caterpillar on right side of the photo.  If you live in the Northeast, you probably remember the winter of 2015.  I'm certain Boston, MA does. January 26-27th of 2015, Boston got over 2 feet of snow making it the 6th largest snowstorm on record!

Moving right along … September 2015. Notice the wider orange band? The winter of 2016 wasn't really terrible, but due to a strong El Nino, the northeast got hit with a blizzard in late January. Afterwards, the rest of the winter was fairly tolerable. Although I have no photo of  the finicky little caterpillar in the late Fall of 2016, the winter of 2017 was definitely warmer and wetter.

Ah, the winter of 2018. Really nothing until March. See the photo above? Well this is what the front of our house pretty much looked like for the entire month! We had a Nor'easter every single weekend in March. Unfortunately, I didn't have a photo of our friendly little forecaster, so I don't know what the little critter may have predicted.

And what of the winter of 2019? Well, not bad. Also didn't have a photo of our little hairy weather predictor. This photo was taken in very early January. Pretty quiet start to 2019.

February 2019. Some snow, but nice and quiet and no more significant snowfall for the rest of the season. 

So, what do I really think about Woolly Bear Caterpillars? Well, it is FOLKLORE, but it is fun to see how things may all play out in the end!

Happy Gardening