Last weekend I fell on the ice twice. Who didn’t? Despite my trusty Bearpaw boots, the thick layer of fresh powder disguised the ice rink beneath. Slam…Ouch! Move all limbs, check for broken bones, breathe a sigh of relief. I’m walking, but currently find myself holed up inside facing yet another “Winter Storm Warning.” If you live in a place that keeps you screaming at six a.m. “Not another school cancellation!” consider indulging in one of the greatest blessings of winter…fresh flowers.
A rainbow miracle amidst the grey comes to us every year from Hausermann’s Orchid Farm in Addison, Illinois. During late February and the first weekend of March, you can breathe 90 degree humidified air and feast your eyes on blooming phalenopsis extending to the horizon (at least to the six acre under glass horizon.) Periwinkle Vandas, orange Cattleyas, fragrant Miltoniopsis will assault your senses, confuse your internal compass AND give you the groundhog reprieve in only about two hours rather than six weeks. We make pilgrimage to this place every year to relieve our sinuses and restore our marriage. This isn’t an overstatement. One year we faced a significant financial crisis and found a safe place to reestablish our lines of communication in-between those mossy aisles of arcing color. The orchids helped bring healing to our frayed hearts. Here’s Miltoniopsis also known as the pansy orchid. It’s hard to grow without significant humidity, but well worth a try.
With Valentines Day upon us, a gift of flowers may be predictable, but also glorious. My husband gave me one of my most favorite birthday gifts ever last year when he surprised me with a bouquet of fresh flowers delivered on the first Monday of every month—for a year! These arrangements in their clear cellophane wrapping take my breath away each time the doorbell rings. Here’s February’s mix of lisianthus, magnolia leaves, lavender roses, eucalyptus and stocks. Also, this shop flings their excess rose petals on the snowy sidewalk in a startling display of luxury topping frozen slush. Also check out my friend’s gorgeous flowers at Gatherings. She and her husband do literally everything creative with flowers a person could possibly think of, even disguising a basketball backboard with ribbon and fabric and adorning the hoop with a floral crown for a gym wedding reception. They don’t use grocery store flowers which are short lived, they buy direct from the wholesaler. Lisa can also design and deliver a monthly floral arrangement for your beloved if you ask her. Many of us love to play, plan and party with flowers, but she is a true artiste des fleur.
Over the years potting narcissus bulbs at Thanksgiving for Christmas blooms and amaryllis in December to keep blooming through February fills our home with foreshadowings of summer. This holiday amaryllis variety, which I skeptically bought at Home Depot, is one prodigious bloomer. The first stalk of all four flowers opened in January and the next one of four flowers started in February and continues to grace our kitchen window with red-tipped warmth. A sturdy stem of four open flowers brings a peaceful symmetry and unity, but this second stalk actually contained five flowers! Kind of like finding a five leaf clover under a mat of wet, fall leaves.
If you’re looking to jump start your spring gardening with more than seed trays on windowsills then a trip to the Chicago Flower and Garden Show at Navy Pier this March should do the trick. Wander through 21 gardens and demonstrations by local food growers, topiary artists, arborists, hardscape architects, and perennial experts all ready to engage your imagination with grand plans. Be careful about the grand part, start with one manageable area this spring and add to it a bit each year or you’ll find yourself overwhelmed. Remember, more gardens = more flowers = more weeds.
Even a single stem brings joy and unlike following Marie Kondo’s kamikaze method of tidying up, this one won’t be painful to throw out when it’s life is over, unless it’s from your first Valentine and then you should dry it and keep it forever. When our daughter was born her daddy brought me roses in the hospital and I dried them and saved them in this Valentine box for a special occasion in her life someday. They still look beautiful 24 years later as they wait inside that tissue paper nest!Happy Valentines Day with much love and don’t forget the one who made all this flowering love possible,
“We love because he first loved us” 1st John 4:19