Saturday, February 12, 2022

Roses & Chocolates for Valentine's Day

February 14th is Valentine's Day. For most women, it's a day they are gifted with bouquets of red roses as well as bright heart-shaped boxes filled with an array of delectable chocolates.  Did you ever wonder why chocolates and red roses are the classic gifts for Valentine's Day?

Well, chocolate, which is made from cacao beans, began its inception more than 3000 years ago in Latin America. The Maya grew cacao trees, and realizing there was great value in the beans, used them as currency and also for trading. They also made a wonderfully rich, frothy drink from crushed cacao beans mixed with water and spices. In their culture this chocolate drink was considered a luxury only the rich could afford. Otherwise, it was primarily used in their religious rituals. The evolution of chocolate did not stop there once it had made its way across the oceans of the world. By the end of the 18th century when courtly love flourished in the Middle Ages, it was commonplace for a wealthy aristocrat of the court to profess his love for his chosen lady by indulging her with a gift of flowers and a goblet of the exotic drink made with powdered cacao beans. To also mark the occasion, the lovers would send each other  greeting cards decorated with lace, ribbons, and hand painted depictions of cherubs and hearts. These greetings had come be known as valentines.

As to why red roses and Valentine's Day? Red roses are fragrant, long lasting, and for many considered the most beautiful flowers in the garden. Roses embody the classic symbol of love and romance. A single red rose in all its simplicity means I love you.
So I've just given you a small bit of background information about the origins of Valentines, chocolates, and roses ... but did you know that roses of different colors reflect different sentiments?

                A light pink rose implies happiness

A gift of a yellow rose denotes friendship, not 
romantic intentions

A lavender rose conveys love at first sight


A white rose represents truth and purity.

 A peach-colored rose indicates appreciation and gratitude 

A pink rose says, "Thank You" and is also associated with the fight against Breast Cancer.

An orange rose

 Happy Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

C'mon Spring ... Bring On Some Flowering Spring Bulbs & Flowers!

Groundhog Day has come and passed. I know Punxsutawney Phil predicated 6 more weeks of Winter. That's pretty much the norm here in the Poconos. Whatever ... I can't wait till Spring arrives, so I'll put on my own flower show!

Not the first Spring flowers to appear in the Poconos, but Daffodils are my absolute favorite Spring flowers.  They are just so cheery and tolerate the early cool days of Spring with ease.

Snowdrops, though, usually show up first by defiantly pushing their way right up through the snow!

Crocuses are okey-doke with the white stuff, too.

Pansies also love the cooler weather.

Sweet Alyssum love the sun but don't mind a little nip in the air.

A much warmer mid-Spring brings sweetly scented Hyacinths

more Daffodils

Muscari, also known as Grape Hyacinths

and bright, colorful Tulips.

When the later part of Spring arrives, the Alliums will be blooming their heads off

along with the Peonies

and Bleeding Hearts.

Just have to wait ... sigh.

What are your favorite Spring flowering bulbs and flowers?

Happy Gardening

Monday, February 7, 2022

Winter Landscapes In The Poconos

It's early February and Winters in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania can sometimes be drab and dreary, but if you take the time to look more closely, you just might see the most beautiful hues of white, gray, brown, and green coloring the landscape.

Winter lake shores can be dotted with bare trees, rocks, and boulders.

or covered and glazed over with snow and ice.

 It would be very easy to spot a red male Cardinal resting on a snow-covered branch.

Yet, a snow-covered branch alone can be just as beautiful in its simplicity.

Our whitetail deer bring color and texture to snowy landscapes.

Snow-crusted branches of a pine tree are just lovely if you take the time to really look at them.

Just look up and you might see a squirrel's nest.

Oh ... and here is one of the nest's residents.

You might spot a fly fisherman trying his luck in one of our many creeks and streams

 or catch a glimpse of a child enjoying the pleasures of a Winter snowstorm.

You might even see our cat, Patch, getting nose to nose with a whitetail buck.

You never know ... what you just might see. Just take the time to look.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Your Birthday Flower For February 2022

Happy Birthday February Babies! I'm one, too! Did you know that we have our own flowers to mark the occasion? Violets, Irises, and Primroses are our special flowers!

With Violets, sometimes called Pansies, we do tend to think that they only lean toward the cooler shades of purple and lavender ...

but they can also be found in the warmer colors of red, rose, pink, orange, cream ... and even white!

 Legend says that Violets represent spirituality, creativity, and gentleness. In Victorian times, it was often said they symbolized Courtship.

Irises are another group of Spring blooming flowers that come in gorgeous colors! Generally speaking, there are 2 main groups. This lovely one pictured above is called a Bearded, or German Iris. I like to call them the "Frilly Girls" because of their abundance of flowing ruffled petals. They come in a rainbow of colors!

Here is another beautiful one in purple!  And below ...

A pretty white one!  They, too, are Spring into Summer bloomers!
The flowers are often associated with Royalty, Wisdom, and Respect. 

 The Beardless variety of Iris are beautiful too ... but in a uniquely different way. This one is called Siberian Iris. The petals are more streamlined, not as frilly ... and the stems are tall and very slender.

And this is the other variety of Beardless Iris, called Japanese Iris. They have more elaborate flowerheads and shorter, wider leaves. 

Last, but not least, Primroses! Lovely little rounded flowers nestled in the center of a circle of bright green leaves! The name "Primrose" means "first" or "early". They, too, come in a range of colors such as vibrant blues and purples ....

bright and soft yellows, oranges, reds, pinks, rose, cream colors ...

and whites to delight the eyes!  Primroses are also known as Butter rose, Early rose, and Golden rose. Primroses, too, bloom from Spring into Summer.

Wishing all of you born in the month of February ... a very Happy Birthday!

*** All photos are courtesy of ...   Pixabay. ***

Feel free to leave comments!

Thursday, January 27, 2022

The Colors & Scents of Spring ... In My Mind's Eye

It's almost the end of January. I'm already tired of the cold, of the snow, of the ice and ... the numbing absence of color.  Not that winter landscapes aren't bathed in lovely, varying hues of muted browns, tans, grays, and whites. But they are neutral tones. They blend easily into one another. Nondescript. Barely noticed. I keep telling myself I have to be patient ...  as I walk out my front door and begin to slowly walk around my garden. As I turn a corner, I see ....
bright yellow Daffodils! In my mind's eye, I see their heads gently bobbing on a slowly warming breeze. So, I take a few more steps ...
Oh my! I then see a lovely cloud of blooming Crocus in a pretty shade of lavender edging the walkway. In anticipation, I continue to meander around the yard ....
Look! There's a budding Peony stretching toward the sunny, blue sky.
And a few steps beyond that, I see Tulips ... in shades of pink, lavender, and yellow swaying lazily on tall stems in the warm sunlight. As I continue on and turn the corner, I pause. What is that intoxicating scent?
Of course! My favorite flower scent of all ... Spring Lilacs! Just then I happen to glance upward to see a smattering of snowflakes just beginning to fall. With a shrug and a gentle sigh, I turn and head back down the walkway toward the front door. As I close the door, I find myself once again, softly smiling.

SPRING ... is a time of rebirth, renewal.  SPRING all its glory, is the culmination of what we wait patiently for during the long Winter months. SPRING ... is a PROMISE that Mother Nature always keeps.

Keep your spirits up! Spring ... will be here before we know it!

Happy Gardening 🎕🎕🎕🎕

*** All photos courtesy of PIXABAY ***

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