It's very cold outside today, but at least the sun has finally come out. The first Amaryllis has bloomed and the African Violets are starting to pump out their blossoms, so at least it feels like a spring garden inside. CC brought one of the bonsai Azaleas upstairs and put it in the kitchen bay window, so we can enjoy the flowers. The kitchen bay window has provided us with a lot of enjoyment - we have red and white Cyclamens in bloom and all of the orchids have sent out flower stalks that will soon reward our patience.
Even though it's a sunny January day and there isn't much snow on the ground, it's still cold outside and there is definitely a lack of greenery in my life. CC is forcing bulbs in the greenhouse, but none are flowering yet and we needed a hit of spring. So, we got into the car and headed to Belgian Nurseries, one of our favourite plant destinations.
My favourite area is the cactus/succulent room where they have cleverly put tongs beside the numerous cacti so one doesn't injure one's self when trying to pick one of the damned, pointy things up. They have some specimens that were clearly planted there many years ago and , as a result, are quite large and imposing. Some are getting ready to flower, so we will have to make a return trip for that. Our second favourite area is the orchid room which has many verdant, moisture-loving plants and I can feel my dry, flaky skin breathing out a sigh of relief from the much-needed humidity. CC buys some bug spray - damn aphids are invading our house begonias - and a couple of spray bottles. I get the Kalanchoe (pictured above) for it's very unusual flowers. I have a different one growing in the greenhouse that has beautiful, bell-shaped, orange flowers but is still a couple of years away from producing. So, if the winter blahs are getting to you, go for a stroll in your local nursery and take in the beauty - you will thank me for it and who knows what new discoveries you will make.
Although there is still some snow on the ground, it has been raining for most of the day and is quite damp out. CC and I have had a busy couple of days after three glorious days of rest and relaxation at home. On the 30th, we went up north to Devil's Glen near Creemore and stayed at a friend's family ski chalet for the night. It was a very foggy drive up, but very relaxing once we were ensconced with a roaring fire, drinks in hand and lively conversation. We came back to Guelph yesterday, stopped in at the grocery store, and came home to prepare for a dinner party at friends' nearby. We made a fennel and orange salad and mustard beans as our contributions. There were fifteen people altogether and we started the evening with a bunch of appetizers: garlic Boursin and olives on pumpernickel, pear and cheese on endive and radicchio, cheese and bacon on toasts and broccoli cheese squares. We then sat at the table and had small bowls of a hearty beef stew, followed by baked, stuffed peppers and lots of salads. We ended with an almond cake with pomegranate seeds. Guests were asked to talk about news stories or quotes that affected them this year. Some guests left before midnight but a few of us hardcore types greeted the new year with champagne, hugs and kisses!
Today, CC and I packed away all of the Christmas decorations and took the Christmas tree and the evergreen boughs outside. While I vacuumed and dusted, CC cut the greenery up into manageable pieces to put around the Rhododendron, Azaleas and Japanese Maple. They act as a good shield from the winter sun and will eventually add to some acidity to the soil. We noticed the Cyclamen had started poking up through the snow, adding some green to a somewhat monochromatic landscape.