Traditions, Stories and Rabbit Holes

Christmas – a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. There are few holidays more historical or steeped in more tradition than Christmas. … Nativity, Decorations, Santa, Advent, Caroling, Poinsettias, Gifts and so many more. I love tradition – I can almost break out in song at the mention of the word. Remember Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof!!!

When our children were small our life was filled to the brim with Christmas traditions – We wanted them to know who and why we celebrated. We wanted them to have a stong foundation. We wanted them to have all the wonderful memories that Christmas traditions can bring. Oh the joy Mr. G and I experienced in the wonder on their sweet faces.

We now have the pleasure of so much wonder and excitement coming from these little candy canes! We will sure miss them this year! 😢

This was from last year. They have grown so much since then!

This season I have been reading Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas by Ace Collins. It is a fascinating book that taps into my love of tradition and history!

SOME OF MY FAVORITE TRADITIONS…

Christmas Cards: I love receiving them and sending them. A time to share warm wishes and get an update from friends scattered about. Now more than ever. I hear that writing notes/letters, in general, has increased during the pandemic. I am so glad for that. I have sent more notes too but not enough – I plan to send more! In a world of “virtual” I have deeply enjoyed the written notes that I have received this year from others.

Christmas Cookies: Oh the joys of Christmas baking and sharing! My favorite cookie to bake is Grandma B’s Fruitcake Cookies. (recipe here) Even if you think you hate fruitcake, I suspect you will love these cookies too.

My favorite cookie to receive is my sister-in-law’s Pizzelles. A special memory from 2020 happened before the pandemic when our Ohio family came for a Christmas visit in February (so many schedules to work around). We had a traditional Christmas feast and Aunt Cindy treated us by making her family’s traditional cookie – Pizzelles! And, mentored her nephews through this fine art too! Aunt Cindy is from a big, beautiful Italian family where a multitude of wonderful recipes and traditions come from!

I don’t even want to admit how many of those I ate.

Christmas Music: We are definitely on the side of early Christmas music. Hearing Bing sing White Christmas is appropriate and encouraged after Halloween as needed. This season we decided to take advantage of Spotify and created wonderful playlists of all our favorites!

About Poinsettias:

Traditional or not, I will admit I have a love/hate relationship with Poinsettias. (My apologies to Mr. Poinsett) They just don’t fit with my Christmas “vibe,” especially this year. I like a soft, quiet, peaceful, twinkle light filled Christmas with fresh evergreens and pinecones. Then out of the blue comes the Poinsettia in every store! Screaming loudly and proudly that IT IS CHRISTMAS TIME! (In her best “Elf” impression) You gotta appreciate her enthusiasm! So most years I succumb to the loud lure of her call to have a real Christmas experience you must have a poinsettia. Then she comes home with me and sadly she just doesn’t fit in — demanding so much attention with those big beautiful bracts! Anyone else???

About Gifts:

Gift-giving can be a sweet part of Christmas. The wisemen certainly set the stage for gift giving. It can also be so “commercial” and can put undo strain on people. We each have to find our way with our own how and why of giving gifts.

While I do very much believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive … I just have to tell you about a special gift I received!

Look at this! While it was not a Christmas gift, recently a special friend sent me a book that I will treasure. It is a classic… “How to Grow Roses by J. Horace McFarland and Robert Pyle. Two men that are giants in the world of roses! Thank you Carrie!

This book sent me down a rabbit hole of wanting to know more and more about these two great men.

Want to go down the rabbit hole with me?

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

J. HORACE McFARLAND…

J. Horace McFarland was the son of nurseryman and publisher George McFarland, who settled in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania after coming home from the Civil War. Young Horace worked in his father’s nursery, but also gained experience setting type in his father’s publishing business, printing seed lists and later nursery catalogs. At age 30, in 1889, Horace McFarland purchased the vacant Mount Pleasant School where he opened his own publishing company, the J. Horace McFarland Company. He studied the newly invented color-photoengraving process, and subsequently gained contracts with major establishments to publish handsome nursery catalogs, numerous magazines, and significantly, L. Hyde Bailey’s monumental four-volume horticultural work, the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture.

J. Horace McFarland was named the Father of the American Rose Society.

One Hundred years after J. Horace McFarland became affiliated with the American Rose Society, the organization’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to bestow the title of “Father of the American Rose Society” at a convention in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Though he was not instrumental in the founding of the American Rose Society (the ARS had been in existence for about 20+ years before nurseryman-publisher J. Horace McFarland joined the organization), he was instrumental in turning the commercial growers’ organization into one that welcomed — and served — ordinary home gardeners and lovers of roses. McFarland was and is the most significant contributor to the organization. To this day, he remains the most remarkable and most loved rosarian the American Rose Society has known.

Read more here.

ROBERT PILE…

Robert Pyle was an internationally known nurseryman as well as a noted authority on roses. Throughout his life, he served in many capacities of several horticulture organizations including the American Rose Society, the National Association of Plant Patent Owners, the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboretums, the American Horticultural Society.

FROM STAR ROSES & PLANTS WEBSITE...

Over 75 years ago, Robert Pyle laid the foundation that still exists at Star® Roses and Plants today: A beautiful garden begins with exceptional plants. By establishing friendships with nurseries and hybridizers all over the world, Pyle expanded our horticultural palette. These friendships have allowed us to work with some of the world’s most innovative nurseries to introduce plants that have passed the ultimate test — the rigorous and diverse American climate. For some amazing pictures and more history, read on here.

THE PEACE ROSE

Most likely the most famous rose of all time, the Peace Rose, was introduced by Robert Pyle in 1943.

THE ROSE OF THE CENTURY

The video below tells the beautiful historical story of the Peace Rose. As you watch, you will see how many of the great rose giants intersect during one of the most tumultuous times in our history to bring us this beautiful symbol.

Hope you enjoyed your trip down the rabbit hole! Welcome to my world! 🤦‍♀️

BACK TO CHRISTMAS

Our Christmas decor is slowly coming together. We are savoring every minute. As is the order of the day for us – it is peaceful and adorned with twinkle lights.

We have had wonderful weather – just perfect for gathering evergreens and plant material from the garden for swags, wreaths, and other decor for inside and out.

For the first time, I am using battery-powered candles in some areas. I do appreciate them however, they will never completely replace the enchantment that a real flickering candle gives. BUT what a bonus the timer is! 🕯

My Annual Boxwood Tree…

CHRISTMAS DINNER

Our original plan was to be in England for Christmas. While our hearts break for the cancellation, we have decided to embrace our reality and we will celebrate in traditional English style. And use modern technology for our visit with our loves!

ON THE MENU…

  • Standing Rib Roast
  • Yorkshire Pudding
  • Creamed Peas
  • Roasted Root Vegetables
  • Wassail
  • Mincemeat Pies – ALL THE WAY FROM ENGLAND!!! 🇬🇧 Thanks to our sweet daughter!

When I think of my own “Plan B” celebration, I think of Mary and I am sure that her son’s birth in a drafty cave with animals for company and a feeding trough for a baby bed was not her Plan A. Whether we are on Plan A, B or C, God uses it all for his glory. And, we are so grateful!

And she (Mary) brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7)

Merry Christmas my friends. Wishing you joy!

Bloom Thyme Friday: Heavenly

Well friends I have turned the corner and have said a proper goodbye to summer with the last rose bokay I picked this week. I am embracing the fall beauty around me!

Side Note: One garden friend on seeing my recent bokay asked if I should be still cutting my roses. She has heard me say on more than one occasion that we should stop deadheading our roses several weeks before the first frost to encourage them to begin to make hips (seeds) and go to sleep in protection of the cold to come. That is true. However, once a week I do scour the garden of nearly 200 roses to find the best of the best. My Cherry Parfait rose had about 25 blooms and 15 or so buds and I just picked one.  So I do limit my cutting during this time! (But, it’s super hard to do so.)  I’m so glad she asked!
WHAT I’M LOVING…
The most beautiful thing right now is the Heavenly Blue Morning Glory vine… that has completely invaded the Potting Shed’s personal space.
Morning Glories (Ipomoea) are natives albeit “very happy overachieving natives” who can spread their beauty around in ways that look like an invasive! 😳 Their ability to self seed gets them into trouble!
Yes, it is heavenly!
Bees love, birds love, butterflies love and even my camera lens loves these amazing blooms. A fall highlight!

NOT SO HEAVENLY

A morning glory family member, Bind Weed, is a much more aggressive plant and drives our farmers crazy. Do do check your variety and your local cooperative extension for information on growing any of these vines in your area.
Birds do contribute to the problem! As I mentioned in a previous post. I have a very healthy vine of Grandpa Ott blooming this year and I have not planted that variety for many, many years! I suspect some little bird left me a present.

POTTING SHED PUTTERINGS…

Hudson’s African Violet is still going strong and has been blooming for several weeks. Cooper’s African Violet is smaller but it’s on the verge of another bloom cycle too. (Both started from a single leaf.)
While we are on the subject of the boys… guess who turned 6…  my, my, where does the time go. 😢
Still haven’t potted my roses. Maybe tomorrow! 🤦‍♀️ But we have new tiny leaves.
And, I bought one new plant ….. a cute little peperomia.
And lastly, this beauty is bringing me all kinds of happy —  but alas I can’t remember her name. Do you know it???

If it is cold where you are, I hope you are safe and warm and enjoying a mug of something delish.

If it’s spring where you are, enjoy it enough for me too and share pictures. 😊

BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: COMFORT AND JOY

I have always loved the Christmas Carol, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. If you are not familiar, the verse is…

Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

This season I have thought of it so often as our family has been in need of comfort and has been given so much joy.

COMFORT

Our need for comfort came as we walked through finding care for our beloved matriarch this year as she needed extra care and in slowly handing her over to her Heavenly Father. Our comfort came from our family, our friends, and our faith. Faith in the scripture that tells us in John 14,

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

We know she was welcomed into her forever home with open arms. JOY!

 

OH, THE JOY!

Joy in remembering stories and hearing new stories of a life well lived.
Joy in the man that I am privileged to share my life with.
Joy in our grown children who inspire us every day.
Joy in our friendships – we have the best.
Joy in our “littles.” These little boys make our hearts want to sing. Their innocent faces full of wonder and unbridled expressions of love can erase all the murky dust our world sprinkles around us.

Just look at them! JOY!


 

BLOOM THYME

When we left Indiana is was cold and “frosty.”

But here in sunny California, there are roses and their companions in bloom! JOY!

I leave you with wishes for a wonderful Bloom Thyme Friday and Pentatonix singing God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen…. JOY!

 

 

OH, ONE MORE THING!!

The African Violet cuttings the littles worked on in the Potting Shed a couple months back (read about that here) are starting to grow! JOY!

 

 

Yep,  just looking at their pictures, I could just break out in song!!!

Wishing you a week filled with all the things that fill you with Joy!

Bloom Thyme Friday: A Very Special Day

Yes, some days are better than others and some days are in a whole new category of wonderful. Two weeks ago I had such a day – a very special day.

WARNING: GRAMMY STORY COMING

My grand boys were here and that doesn’t happen too often. It is more common for us to travel to them and play by the ocean and enjoy all the California sun.

On the second day of their visit, H said, “Grammy can we play in your potting shed?” Music to my ears! Let’s do this!

A few weeks before they came I took some cuttings from the African Violet that H had started on a previous visit, (read about that visit here) and put them in water to root. They were ready for potting! H’s violet was even blooming! He was thrilled to be back in the potting shed and it was great to see him looking around and commenting on all the things he remembered! He was ready to get started!

Now C is only 2 but I wanted to bring him in on the action too. This little super busy adorable two year old approached the potting process with deliberate calm – checking everything out. Once he saw the dirt drawer, the look on his face said, I am a gardener! He was all in.

TIME FOR FUN.

H know the ropes and is ready to go. First up let’s decorate a pot!

 

TIME FOR THE ROOKIE TO GET STARTED…

 

GARDEN PLAY THYME…

Unfortunately, we couldn’t be out in the garden very much while they were here as the temps were soaring in the mid 90s but we did do a garden walk or two.

 

 

 

He’s too small to play in my Potting Shed, but our little is just perfect in my lap!

 

BLOOM THYME…

The day before my boys came, our local rose society, hosted the IL IN District Conference and Rose Show. Oh the blooms we saw. Some were so perfect they looked artificial. Here are a few, but if you’d like to see more and read about the weekend, click here.

Some of my blooms in the refrigerator before the show.

 

Below are John and Donna Hefner’s award winning blooms. Can you even believe these!! The Hefners are the exhibiting masters!

 

Thanks for stopping by. Stay cool and have a wonderful

BLOOM THYME FRIDAY!