Marty's Gardening Journal, March 11th, 2014


Meanwhile the first flower shows have been attended: the Edison flower show in mid February (while it was snowing hard outside) and the Philadelphia flower show (on the day a threatened snow storm didn’t quite materialize) in early March. Both provided a very welcome boost of color and fragrance in a winter dominated by cold and show.


Recently I started a collection of miniature African violets. I dabbled in African violets decades ago. They were in special African violet pots. These pots contain a water reservoir to reduce the need to water frequently and they probably save many plants from an early demise. However, once I started gardening outdoors, my indoor plants were reduced in numbers until eventually I had none left. The pots remained in the basement for years until I gave them all away a few years ago. Meanwhile I started to amass a nice collection of cups and mugs with a horticultural theme. Then one day I saw an article in a magazine about miniature African violets and the plants were showcased in teacups, sugar pots and creamers. Talk about adorable (you know where this is going, right?)


At the Edison flower show I picked up a few miniatures and at the Philly show a bunch more. Then I went to a nursery nearby (thanks for the tip neighbor!) and found even more.


I brought all of my horticulturally inclined mugs and cups together and started potting up these little gems. The garden window in front of the sink, usually home to blooming orchids in the winter time, now showcases all of my finds in their floriferous splendor. There are single white, pink, blue, purple and red blooms; double blooms with ruffled edges and single or double blooms with multiple colors. There is even a pink and purple speckled one!  While the weather outdoors is still dreadful I find myself daydreaming at the sink washing dishes while admiring all these flowering plants as well as their containers. This little African violet obsession bloomed nearly overnight and I don’t feel too bad about the expenses. Most plants were obtained for $5 or less (most at half that cost) and most containers (except for three) were already somewhere around the house. The Spouse probably wishes I spent this little on any of my horticultural obsessions!


african violets at window


 So far this winter the waterfall in the pond continued to flow strong and the additional pump has kept the pond at least partially ice-free even during the coldest periods. Occasionally all of the ice would melt but then parts would refreeze again. The fish would show themselves once in a while, with George (or more accurately Georgette – as she is a female) being the most curious of them all. The water temperature still remains in the high 30s; too early to start feeding, but there is plenty of greenery growing on stones for them to feed on if they get hungry. In other week or two I will be able to take the secondary pump out of the pond and as temperatures slowly climb the fish will become more active.


 The plastic heron is currently residing in the gazebo. As herons are fiercely territorial, a fake heron will discourage other herons to visit your pond and feed on your fish. However, this time of year as the herons are looking for a mate that same fake heron will attract attention far and wide from any male heron looking for a mate. So, fake heron goes on a two or three month vacation only to appear again around mid May when the fish become more active and the herons go back into being territorial. My fake heron has worked literally from day one when a big heron was just ready to swoop down to my newly installed pond when it spotted the fake one and instead landed on our neighbor’s roof. For about fifteen minutes it made quite a racket on that roof; trying to either get the fake’s attention or to warn it away. However, fake heron continued to look intently at the pond and finally the real one gave up and flew away. Each day I moved fake heron to different spots around the pond; that’s important, because even a real heron will catch on to the fact it is being discouraged by a plastic one if the fake continues to stand in the same place day after day, week after week. The only time my fake heron didn’t work was when an immature heron stopped by and assumed the fake was a sibling. It quietly stood next to its plastic kin, hoping to score a fish. In order to deter that kind of behavior I put fishing line around the pond to discourage the heron from landing on the stone edge surrounding the pond. That worked, more or less. The first time it landed, I scared it away and it promptly caught on the fishing line and fell down beside the pond. Then it flew away. I thought THAT would have done the trick in deterring it. The next day it came back. Again, I scared it and this time it got tangled up in the line and fell in the pond! It soon escaped and that was the last time I saw that particular heron. Since then I have had no visits from either immature or mature herons and I have kept my fish safe. Now I bide my time for better days, warmer weather and a sprinkling of color to arrive soon. The days are getting longer as daylight savings time gave us an hour of light to watch the garden unfold. It may only be March, but excitement is ahead of us!