Vintage Settings of Silver

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

Proverbs 25:11 (ESV)

I have always loved that verse. It taught me that my choice of words and how I deliver the words I speak matters. If carefully crafted, our communication becomes a thing of beauty. Well chosen words have the power to lift people up, bring comfort and encouragement, and remind the hearer that they are loved and special. When I hear myself being critical, or my words come out snippy, I need to take myself back to the biblical principles of communication and ask God to reset my attitude and help me communicate in a gracious manner – help me frame my words in Christ-like beauty.

Something I did this week reminded me of that verse. Let me share it with you, my friends.

I spent the better part of a day giving my little 3-season porch a good end of summer cleaning — everything from the dirt on the floor to the cobwebs on the ceiling got a bit of long overdue attention. My hubby even got involved by dealing with some big Rubbermaid bins filled with treasures he had brought home from his beloved aunt’s home. Wayne carried the bins to the garage, where he took a bit of time to sort through the contents–loads of fascinating treasures in there. Each bin was chock-full of memorabilia related to the pet shop Aunt Vera owned in her younger days. This memorabilia has fueled a passion in Wayne’s heart to blog about this very special aunt’s life. We love to visit with sweet Vera and listen to her reminisces and testimonies of God’s faithfulness throughout her life. Many difficult things have happened to her in the past, but Vera’s words are always beautiful and forgiving, apples of gold in settings of silver.

While hubby worked in the garage, I worked up a sweat on the porch. I cleaned windows, vacuumed the rug, mopped the floor, dusted and tidied. As I diligently worked, I kept picking up the same small box and moving it here to dust, and there to vacuum, then back again. The simple cardboard box with its flaps turned inward was filled with various tarnished silver pieces my thoughtful daughter had purchased for me at our local thrift store. She knew I liked to create little succulent arrangements in them, so snagged a few sugar and creamers, a baby cup, a compote (or candy dish), and a teapot. I’ve had it on my to-do list to create those arrangements all summer, so decided it was finally time to stop moving the box around and just get to it.

I harvested a few hen and chicks from my front flower beds, and immediately thought of the lovely lady named Carleigh who had given them to me. I love having plants in my garden rooted in friendship.

Next, I plunged my gloved fingertips into the soil and pulled up a little plug of a beautiful chartreuse Angelina stonecrop.

I took my garden’s little offerings to the garage where I had already filled my silver vessels with a mixture of soil and sand. I pushed the roots of my tiny plants into the soil, sprinkled a little pea gravel around them, and gave each a little drizzle of water.

A vintage silver pedestaled compote serves up succulent beauty
No need to polish the silver – the tarnish gives off an antique, faded glory vibe.
A few of my succulents in settings of silver.

Now we wait. They’re beautiful already, but when they start pushing out growth, they’ll be gorgeous.


That’s my little #SixOnSaturday thing! Six things, in the garden, on a Saturday. Could be anything – a favorite flower, a beautiful tree or bush, a perplexing garden dilema, your amazing success (or pitiful failure) at growing food…anything garden-related thing at all. You’re invited to join in on the fun and give us a peek at what’s goin’ on in your little corner of the world.

Oh! Almost forgot! Here’s my number six. Just for fun.

A succulent’s setting need not be silver…a little child’s outgrown watering can will do just fine. All six of my grandchildren carried this little watering can around at one time or another. Sweet memories.

The Magic of Marigolds

Marigold, both the double African and the double French. These flowers always give me a pricking of the conscience, for during the summer, when there are plenty of others, I give them the “go by,” but in October turn to them with shame and thankfulness.”

Helena Rutherfurd Ely, ‘A Woman’s Hardy Garden’ (1903)

A stroll through my September garden does not delight the senses in the same way as the garden in July. While most plants have quite given up the thought of pushing out more flowers, there are a few which are just now coming into their glory. Perhaps they’ve been blooming for quite awhile, but are just now being noticed and appreciated because their showy garden partners have now exited the stage.

I’ve never thought much of marigolds. They need to be deadheaded quite often, which I don’t enjoy because it makes my fingers smell marigold-y for quite some time. It’s a spicy fragrance, but not one that I enjoy much. But there is something quite beautiful about the flower.

When I choose annuals in the spring, I rarely tuck marigolds into the flat. If I’m going to purchase annuals to nestle in amongst my perennial favorites, I’m going to opt for petunias, zinnias or snapdragons. But this year, a few marigolds managed to find their way into my shopping cart.

The bunnies thought they were delicious.

I managed to put a little wire fence around the one plant that remained, thereby rescuing it from becoming bunny fodder.

And I’m so glad it survived. It you come visit me, you’ll find this signet marigold thriving in a flowerbed right next to my front porch.

In looking around at my September garden, I have decided I need to plant a few more marigolds next year so that I will have another month or two of color to enjoy. I decided to try harvesting seeds from my lone marigold plant. I pulled off about a dozen dried flowers and went to town.

It’s really easy to harvest marigold seeds; here’s a little video that demonstrates how to do it.

Do you think this will be enough seeds?

Rain, rain, go away

It’s Saturday and time for my little Six on Saturday garden tour.

I’m almost embarassed by the title I chose for my blog today, as I know full well that there are areas of my country which desperately need the rain. I can only offer my prayers as some battle the devastation of brush fires. I wish I could send the rainclouds in their direction. It has been raining since Sunday – at times very heavy rain, now just a mist.

There was a tiny reprieve from rain this afternoon, so I went out snapped a few photos of my somewhat soggy plants before the rain started up again. As I stepped out of my front door, this beautiful zinnia was the first to greet my senses. The pot of zinnias has grown scraggly and leggy, but the rain refreshed things enough that if I just show you the tops you’ll be none the wiser as to true neglect of watering.

A beautiful orange zinnia just outside my front door

A squirrel apparently thought the garden needed a sunflower planted in an adjacent flowerbed which is nestled up to my front porch. It’s only about 4′ tall and just as cute as can be.

Just underneath the sunflower and next to a few marigolds, I have a little group of gazania planted. Rabbits had given it a crewcut earlier in the summer, but it has recovered and is just gorgeous. I understand that gazania is also called ‘Treasure Flower’ in some parts of the country. I can see why.

Gazania

A little later in the afternoon I decided I needed another break, so ventured outside once again. Still misting a bit, but pleasant enough to go barefoot and work for just a bit. I donned my gardening apron, grabbed my garden stool and an empty bin, then sidled up to a spent and mildewed peony and started cutting it back. It felt good to accomplish a task on my very long list.

I’ve got a little stand of Chelone (turtlehead) ‘Hot Lips’ growing in my front yard. It’s an amazing pink, and I had so hoped it would be prettier this year, but I must be doing something wrong. Does it need to be fed? Thinned? In a shadier spot? I don’t know, but I noticed a hummingbird in this photo which doesn’t seem to care that the flowers aren’t perfect.

See the little hummer in the photo on the left?

A couple of years ago we had a neighbor who left a couple hundred dollars worth of plants in the driveway, just languishing unattended in their pots all summer. One day in late summer we were chatting and I made a polite inquiry about the plants. She told me to take them and that if I could do anything with them, she’d be so happy. Apparently she was going through a divorce and just didn’t get around to planting them. Most of it was pitched into the compost bin, but I planted a sedum which looked to be only “mostly dead” (a nod to ‘Princess Bride’). Well, sedum ‘Maestro’ now flourishes in my sunny front flowerbed and is one of the most popular bee magnets that I have. I’ve even been able to take a division off of it to plant near the mailbox.

Sedum ‘Maestro’ and its happy buzz of bees

As I headed back indoors after my little garden photo shoot, I was momentarily waylaid by this sweet miniature rose in one of the pots on my front porch. Beautiful!

My hubby is peering out of our kitchen window and just exclaimed, “Whoa! There’s a bright light in the sky!” We haven’t seen much of that bright light in the past week, so I think I’ll go outside and slosh around in the sunshine.

Thanks for visiting my soggy, but beautiful, little slice of earth. Have a great weekend, my friends!


That’s my little #SixOnSaturday thing! Six things, in the garden, on a Saturday. Could be anything – a flower, a beautiful tree, garden friend or pest, your bountiful (or pitiful) harvest…anything at all. You’re invited to join in on the fun and give us a peek at what’s goin’ on in your little corner of the world.

The Parable of the Hosta

I’m not sure, but I think it has been gloomy and rainy since Sunday. The sun has made a few cameo appearances, but it’s definitely feeling rather fall-ish here in Wisconsin. I even dug my blue jean jacket out of the closet and threw it on before picking up my granddaughter Vi to transport her to a behind-the-wheel driving lesson this morning. (I know! How can she possibly be old enough for that?!)

Proof that Vi turned 16 in April!

Well, anyway. While I was gone today, hubby closed “my” windows and turned on the heat to take the chill out of the house. Thankfully, the weatherman tells me that the warmer, throw the windows open temperatures are returning soon. I sure hope so. Wasn’t it just last week that I was playing in the dirt? Yes, I think it was. I seem to recall being busy gathering seeds and dreaming of colorful annuals dotting my perennial flowerbeds next summer. Along with that fun task, I’d been cutting back spent foliage and taking diggings of favorite perennial plants I’d like to grow in other parts of the yard.

I wish I could say I accomplished everything on my garden to-do list during that spell of wonderful weather, but must confess that I am a wanderer in the garden – never quite finishing one task before wandering off to work on something else. Case in point, one glorious day last week, I was digging around in the flowerbed nestled under our locust tree when I spied a particular hosta plant nearby in a flowerbed by my 3-season porch. The hosta was looking a little tattered and sad. So, true to my garden-wandering self, I picked up my gardening stool and plopped myself down in front of this hosta, then pulled my pruning shears out of the pocket of my garden apron.

My sad hosta

As you can see, some of the leaves are blighted and stressed. I found a super informative and well-illustrated pdf publication on hosta disease and am really hoping this isn’t something fatal (you can find that publication here). Maybe one of my readers knows what I’m dealing with here.

I’m hoping this is drought damage and not some fatal hosta disease!

In contrast to the steady rain we’re having now, we had a pretty long dry spell in August where I wasn’t as faithful as I should have been in watering this area of my garden. Even though there is now a little river running through my back yard, last week there were areas of the garden with deep, water-thirsty cracks in the soil. I’m no expert on hostas, but I’m thinking this damage was due to drought stress. Most of the leaves looked really healthy and I didn’t see too much insect damage, so I decided to just snip away the unhealthy looking leaves. A few snips later, I had this bucket of damaged leaves.

With a little pruning and cleanup, the plant began to take on a bit of its former beauty. There! Now isn’t that better?

A few snips later, a bit of its former beauty restored.

The Parable of the Hosta

My garden often teaches me little lessons in life – parables, I guess. This hosta reminded me that neglecting the essential disciplines in life leads to a rather shabby looking life. There are always consequences to my actions (or lack thereof) when important things are neglected. Too little sleep leaves me sluggish and crabby. Poor eating habits affect how my body feels and looks. Forgetting to drink enough water leaves my skin looking 10 years older. Neglecting to exercise early in the day probably means I will neglect it altogether that day, and I will feel it in the way my body moves (or doesn’t move).

Likewise, time in God’s Word is essential to my growth as a believer. When I neglect spiritual disciplines in my life, it begins to show up in the way I think, my attitudes and actions, and even in the way I speak. The beauty of Christ in me becomes marred and difficult to see.

Word Before World

I am grateful to have been invited during the month of August to participate in a virtual Bible study challenge called Word Before World hosted by Well-Watered Women (you can read more about that group here). It was just the challenge I needed for re-establishing the habit of making time in God’s Word a number one priority. First thing in the morning, before social media and other things which vie for our attention. It was fun to virtually gather together with women all over the world. A few of my friends from church were part of this group, so that was a wonderful way for us to spend time together around the Word, taking the sting out of not being able to gather with one another in person right now during the pandemic. I absolutely loved the friendship, the sisterhood, encouraging words, prayer support, photos, videos, Facebook room chats, and desperately needed the accountability.

My favorite Bible study spot on pleasant August mornings.

“Put off” and “Put on”

My hosta parable falls short in perfectly illustrating this growth principle, but here’s the lesson I’m taking away from my little adventure in gardening. Just as my hosta needed me to take off the decayed leaves to restore its beauty, time in the Word helps me see what needs to be “put off” or “put on” in my spiritual life so that the beauty of Christ can be seen in me. And, of course, the water of God’s Word is as absolutely essential to my spiritual growth as the refreshing rain is to the lush growth of my garden.

A Month in Ephesians

During the month of August, I made an effort to read through the book of Ephesians each day (it only takes about 20 minutes). I learned something new each time through and there is still SO much more to glean.

Six on Saturday: Goodbye August

While there’s still beauty to be found if I look hard enough, the garden is definitely winding down.

Honestly, the older I get the faster the calendar pages turn. I feel like I just said “hello” to August and now it’s nearly gone.

It’s been hot and dry lately. So dry that we’ve set out our sprinklers to give the thirsty lawn and gardens a little drink. We get a little tease of rain here and there, but it mostly just skirts around us. The last “almost rain” we got looked like it would be a doozy, but it was just a lot of wind and thunder, with narely a drop of rain. But, that weather front did push our hot weather out and paved the way for cooler, fall-like weather – perfect for cleaning out flowerbeds.

While there’s still beauty to be found if I look hard enough, the garden is definitely winding down. I could run around trying to get snapshots of some of the pretty stuff that’s hanging on for dear life, but thought I’d share a few of this season’s favorite garden helpers.

This gardening stool was on my Amazon giftlist. My daughter and family bought it for me as a Christmas gift. I love its simple design – sturdy and stable. It’s lightweight, yet durable. Depending upon which way you flip it, you can be seated at 9″, 12″ or 15″. Best of all, I can just hose it down to clean it up.

I think I probably use this little “Corona CT3740 eGrip Hoe/Cultivator” nearly every day during gardening season. It’s a great weed cultivator, hole digger, clod-breaker, furrow digger, can’t-do-without gardening hand tool. Hubby ordered it for me from Amazon, where you can purchase it for less than $12.

This repurposed mailbox helps me stay focused on gardening tasks in the backyard. With a fresh coat of paint and a just for fun bit of artsy embellishment (it was originally used as a prop for a skit), it houses a few handtools and a pair of gardening gloves. No more running to the garage, then being distracted by something else along my scatter-brained way.

Oh, and let me introduce you to the hardest working garden helper I have – my husband of 44 years, Wayne. Along with a never ending list of household projects, he’s been busy this summer ticking things off my garden to-do list, including replacing and leveling flagstones on my garden path.

Today’s project finds him busy cleaning a summer’s worth of cottonwood fluff and other plant debris and critter mess from our air-conditioning unit. Projects, to name just a few, have included rebuilding two of our raised garden beds, building birdhouses for me to paint, emptying and moving a compost bin, digging plants from here and moving them to there, and doing his level best to be a blessing to his wife. Seriously, what would I do without him?

Okay, room for one more “pretty” as my garden bids August adieu.

Pretty garden partners – Sedum ‘Maestro’ and good ol’ fashioned Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta)

There are my six, my gardening friends. Many thanks to The Propagator for hosting this weekly garden show ‘n tell.

Shopping Spree

Daylily lover that I am, I just had to share Carolee’s post. I’m especially enamored with “Scatterbrain”… I feel a special bond with that one. 😉

herbalblessingsblog

Always a happy surprise when a box arrives!

Too much time to think and ponder as I pick tomatoes or deadhead borders can lead to retail therapy. As you know, gentle reader, stretching the daylily season has been a project for the past few years. Slow to occur to me was the idea of using REBLOOMING daylilies to get more late blooms. Of course, I have the obligatory “Stella d’Oro” which is just beginning its second bloom, but since I wasn’t all that impressed with it, I hadn’t looked for others. What a mistake!

After spending some time researching on the web, I decided to order from a company unknown to me, Iriswarehouse.com. They had an impressive selection of reblooming daylilies, at reasonable prices. Now when I say “reasonable” keep in mind that rebloomers are not as common, and are more in demand, so they are not cheap. After I…

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Seed Gathering

I love hearing the little ‘ping’ when my granddaughters send me a text. I received one from Mia last week asking me to identify this plant that she noticed growing at her church. She remembered seeing them growing between the cracks of my flagstone path when she was a little girl and she had always enjoyed them. Of course, I recognized them as portulaca (moss rose) and told her I have a few little bits of it growing in my garden this year.

Mia’s photo taken at Wildwood Church in East Moline, IL

I plant moss roses every now and again and am always delighted when a plant throws seed and new moss roses come up willy-nilly somewhere else the following year.

The loveliest ‘flowers’ in my garden of life, my grand-girls (l to r) Noelle, Violet and Mia

Mia’s question spawned a curiosity within me about seed gathering, so I decided to look up a video demonstrating how to collect the seed from some of my moss roses so that I can plant some of my favorite colors more purposefully in areas where I’d like them to grow next year. There are plenty of YouTube videos on the subject of gathering seed from portulaca, but I appreciated this one .

I enjoy growing petunias in my pots. They’re just so pretty – especially the purple ones. I decided to watch a few more videos on how to gather petunia seeds so that I could perhaps save a little money by growing my own next year. I discovered it’s very similar process as the one used for portulaca seed gathering. After watching this particularly helpful video, I decided head out to my front porch and check my favorite petunias to see if there were any seeds to gather.

I was so excited to find the little seed pods mentioned in the video, so picked a few and tried harvesting them myself.

See the little black specks that look like dirt? Those are the itty-bitty seeds!!

I used this little strainer from my kitchen drawer to sift and separate the seeds from the little pods. Next, I slipped the harvest of seeds into a white paper envelope and then labeled the envelope with what kind of seed was within (knowing full well I would forget by next spring). Before sealing the envelope, I slipped the plant tag from this year’s plant into the envelope too. I am looking forward to planting my seeds next spring and really hope they will germinate. If they do, I’ll be sure to post some pictures!

What about you? Have you had success in harvesting seeds? Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to see your ideas and tips in the comments below.

Happy gardening, my friends!

Cicadas: Garden Buddy or Pest?

I’m not sure if I should consider this cicada a gardening friend or foe, but it seemed to be quite interested in what I was doing as I worked on cleaning out one of my flowerbeds.

I’m a curious gal, so did a little reading about cicadas today and enjoyed this National Geographic article (see link below). I learned that the male cicadas mating vocalizations can damage our hearing. If you’ve ever heard a cicada, you will certainly believe that.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/group/cicadas/

I also learned that the cicada that hung out with me is an annual cicada. I also learned that my state of Wisconsin is expecting this cicada’s cousins, the “periodical cicada,” to show up for their big event in 2024. That cicada is distiguished by its orange and black body and red eyes, compared to the dull green of the annual cicada. I learned that we can expect a very loud show in 2024 when those cicadas are expected to emerge by the millions.

I confess. I’m not looking forward to that show…or gardening with them.