Great Midwest Weather Monday, Aug 15 2022 

Rarely, are we in the Midwest United States envied for our weather. We typically experience hot summers and cold winters. The change of seasons is fun to some extent. It is just that winters can be long, bitter, and dark when we have weeks with little sun.

However, our weather is currently perfect. Unlike much of the country (our coasts are hot and dry and south has had storms with flooding), the Chicago area is in the 70s/low 80s during the day with low humidity and pleasantly cool in the evening.

Also, we’ve had a good amount of rain, so our grass, shrubs, and trees are lush and green. The flowers, birds, and butterflies are in abundance. (Except for the rare occurrence of monarchs.) And fields are plentiful with fruits and vegetables.

I love the summer–the deep greens and lavish flora and fauna that surrounds us. The best part is that I can work on the patio surrounded by wee creatures coming and going. I find it inspiring, rejuvenating, and exhilarating.

*Photos: Black swallowtail butterfly, goldfinch, hydrangea, hummingbird.

*Take care of yourself while you take care of your family. Follow along with weekly photos, affirmations, prayers, suggestions for caring for yourself, and a little humor with my book, Inspired Caregiving.

Magnificent Mandevilla Tuesday, Jul 5 2022 

Dipladenia or Mandevilla? I received a stunning, tall plant with brightly colored trumpet-shaped flowers for Mother’s Day from my son and daughter-in-law.  The plant was tagged “Mandevilla.” I loved it so much that I bought a second tall one and a small one in a pot.

I later noticed the small one was labeled dipladenia. With a little research, I found that dipladenia is a type of mandevilla. However, the taller variation is simply noted as mandevilla.

Mandevilla plants are evergreen, tropical vines, commonly known as Funnel Flowers or Rock Trumpets and bloom from June to October. They can be grown as annuals or perennials. Those typically noted as mandevilla crawl upwards to 16.4 feet. They have larger flowers and broader shaped leaves than dipladenia.

Dipladenia belong to the mandevilla genus. The plant grows bushy with downward growth rather than upward and vine-like. The leaves are fine, pointed, deep green, and slightly glossy. Dipladenia grow well in containers and hanging baskets.

All mandevilla plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day and well-drained, moist soil. They may be grown in or outdoors. If grown indoors, the plants should be kept warm and watered deeply and thoroughly about every 8-10 days. Plants do best when dead and damaged leaves and blossoms are removed. They also may also be trimmed to maintain a desired shape.

Hummingbirds and bees are attracted to the enticing blossoms of these beautiful plants. So, not only do we enjoy the flowers in our gardens, but we also have the birds and bees to watch, as well.

I’ve read that dipladenias are easy to propagate and will try to do so myself. Instructions say to cut a short length of healthy vine and remove the lower leaves. The cutting is then to be planted in a free-draining potting mix and placed in a bright, warm spot. The soil should be moist but not too wet or it will develop root rot.

If plants become infected with spider mites or aphids, the leaves may be wiped gently with a cotton swab and neem oil. 

Mandevillas are toxic to humans and pets.

* Information for this post was gathered from Plantophiles, Gardening Know How

*Peace begins within us. See Grieving with Mary, The Rosary Prayer by Prayer, and Fatima at 100. Fatima Today.

Orchid Paradise Wednesday, Mar 9 2022 

I’m excited to share some photos from a recent Orchid Show, titled Untamed, at the Chicago Botanic Garden. I’ve seen orchids in abundance in Hawaii and growing in the Costa Rican jungles like weeds. But I’ve never seen the variety as I did at this show, and I want to share some of the photos with you, so you too can enjoy a few moments of peace.

The blooms were incredibly diverse and spectacular in colors, sizes, and styles. Orchids were speckled, spotted, and striped. Some reminded me of other flowers, such as narcissist, and the patterns on animals, such as giraffes or wild cats.

Orchids were arranged with other tropical plants in assortments hanging overhead, on the ground, and everywhere in between. Guests were treated to a paradise overflowing with orchids.

Orchidaceae, commonly called orchid, is a diverse flowering plant with about 28,000 accepted species. Many are fragrant, others have little-to-no scent, and some smell quite awful.

For home gardeners, growing orchids can be addictive but also challenging. If done well, the rewards are abundant with plants that bloom for many years.

According to the American Orchid Society, the trick to successful orchid gardening is determining the correct balance of light, air, and water appropriate for each plant in its particular environment. When orchids do not get enough light, they do not bloom and their foliage is dark green rather than a desired yellow-green. The goal is to give the plants as much light as they can tolerate without burning.

Orchids need air circulation around the plant and roots. The recommendation is to water a 6” pot every 7 days on average insuring that the plants do not dry out. Water should run through the pot when watering allowing the potting medium (typically not soil) to soak and flush out the salt.

Orchids should be fed by watering the plants first and then adding the fertilizer at ½ strength stated in the directions on the packaging.

Most of the information in this post was taken from the American Orchid Society website. You can learn more about caring for these plants on their site.

**Alzheimer’s disease is fatal disease that requires someone to have 3-5 caregivers for an average of 8 years. Care is a relentless 24/7 responsibility. Learn more about caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and the needs of the caregivers in The Alzheimer’s Spouse, Navigating Alzheimer’s, and Inspired Caregiving.

If you’ve read any of my books, please post a comment on Amazon. I’d really appreciate it!

Lily White Friday, Apr 18 2014 

The sweet, pungent fragrance of Easter Lilies along with colored eggs, chocolate bunnies, and baskets of goodies signal the season. If it is your tradition to include lilies in your holiday celebration, they are available in nearly every grocery, garden, floral, and gift shop, much like the poinsettia we see at Christmas.

The lily is a symbol of virtue, innocence, hope, life, and the resurrection of Jesus. It is called the milk of Hera in mythology and featured in early artwork of the Virgin Mary to signify the Annunciation and her purity.

The flower is sometimes referred to as the white-robed apostles of hope because it is said that lilies grew where drops of Jesus’ perspiration fell along the way to the cross. Another legend is that when the Virgin Mary’s tomb was opened three days after her burial, her body was not there but the tomb was filled with lilies.

The lily is mentioned in the Bible 15 times. Song of Solomon has 8 references. I particularly like the ones in Matthew and Luke because they are reminders not to worry about our daily needs if we are striving for the Kingdom.

Lilium longiflorum, which is the Latin name for the Easter Lily, is native to the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan. Bulbs initially were brought into the United States in 1919 by a World War I soldier, Louis Houghton, but the Easter Lily bulbs sold here were imported from Japan until 1941. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, importing ceased and US production took off. The Oregon-California border is now known as the Easter Lily Capital of the World and produces nearly all of the bulbs used in Easter Lily pots.

Production is an exact and demanding science. The process begins with a small growth, called a bulblet, on a mother plant. The bulblet is removed and planted in another field. It is dug up the following year and replanted again in a new field and remains there for another year until the plant is harvested.

When purchasing a lily plant, look for flowers in various stages and an abundance of dark green foliage to signify a healthy, blossoming plant. Remove any paper, plastic or mesh sleeve and also the yellow anthers before pollen starts to shed for longer flower life.

Lilies prefer cooler room temperatures, preferably 60-65°F during the day and cooler at night. Avoid placing the plant near drafts or direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist but well-drained.

After the plant has ceased blooming, it may be cut down and planted outside in a well-drained garden bed. Plant the bulb about 3 inches below ground level and mound up with three inches of top soil. As with the indoor plant, keep the soil moist but not overly wet or dry.

 “Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the filed, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well (Luke 12:27-31).

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

(Some of the information for this post was taken from Aggie Horticulture, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M System.)

Cantigny Formal Gardens Thursday, Jul 11 2013 

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The 29 acres of gardens on the 500 acre Cantigny estate are in full bloom. The former home of Chicago Tribune editor and publisher, Robert R. McCormick, showcases themed gardens including an idea garden, reflection point, scalloped garden, fountain garden, rock garden, rose garden and prairie. Wandering down the manicured paths is both relaxing and educational as many of the plants are labeled.

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Located in Wheaton, Illinois, the magnificent estate also includes the First Division War Museum, historic McCormick mansion, a café, gift shop, and a golf course. The grounds and facilities are open to the public daily and feature special events such as concerts, festivals, and a Revolutionary War Reenactment.

At only $5 per car, the ticket onto the grounds is an affordable family outing. (There is an additional fee for some events.)

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See more about Cantigny at http://www.cantigny.org/gardens/explore/default.aspx

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

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