Sunday, December 14, 2014

Elizabeth and Her German Garden

This is a story about a book. As you're reading this, you're probably going to think to yourself, "Well, that's rather historical, how nice," and then your attention might wane unless you're interested in that sort of thing. But this is not going to end like you might think...,d.aWw
Thanksgiving weekend, my husband and I spent three days watching the first four seasons of Downton Abbey since we were both too sick to do much of anything else. We're both DA addicts and we thought we'd just start from the beginning and watch them all again in preparation for Season 5, which begins here in the U.S. on January 4, 2015.

It's amazing how much you forget and even more amazing the things you didn't notice the first time around. For example, there was one little detail that I didn't remember in the scene where Mr. Molesley brought a book for Anna to read, in the hopes that he could spend more time with her, discussing it.

While I did remember the scene, I did not previously take note of the title of the book - Elizabeth and Her German Garden.

This time it caught my attention and as a collector of old gardening books, I immediately took to the internet in search of it.  It didn't take me long to find an early copy, located in England, where it was first published by MacMillan & Co. in September of 1898. The author is Elizabeth von Arnim, but it was published anonymously and nowhere in the book does it state who the author is.

This particular copy - First edition, 4th reprint, December 1899 - has a bookplate affixed to the front paste down, indicating that it once belonged to Lady Anne Dick-Lauder.

Now that sent me off on a search to see just who this Lady Anne was.

Wikipedia states:

Sir John [Dick-Lauder] married at St. Cuthbert's, Edinburgh [Scotland], on 22 May 1845, Lady Anne (1820–1919), daughter of North Hamilton Dalrymple, 9th Earl of Stair. 

Well, that's interesting. I now own a book that belonged to a proper lady who was an aristocrat with maids and everything. Just like the Crawleys.

But the author of the book itself has a storied past that bears mentioning. Born in 1866 in Australia and raised in England, her given name was Mary Annette Beauchamp. First married to a German Count, she went to Germany to live with him, where she wrote this book.

Elizabeth von Arnim
She later lived in England and Switzerland and married the brother of Bertrand Russell, during which marriage she was known as Countess Russell. Following the death of her first husband, she also became a mistress of H.G. Wells. She fl19ed England at the start of World War II to America, where she died in South Carolina in 1941 from complications of influenza.

Elizabeth and Her German Garden was her first book and it was an enormous success and somewhat controversial, going through several printings in its first year alone. Though the original book had no illustrations, a deluxe illustrated edition was published in 1900. Two of Elizabeth's later books were made into successful movies, one of which starred Bette Davis. The text of this book is available online via Project Gutenberg.

A recurrent theme in Elizabeth's books is that she took great refuge in her gardens, much like those of us who garden today do, even if we don't lead such turbulent lives like that of our dear Elizabeth.

If you've ever read books from an earlier time period such as this (Victorian/Edwardian eras), you know that the English language has evolved with regard to both formal and informal speaking and comprehension can be a little tricky sometimes. Romie and I had a conversation about this as I was looking through Elizabeth and Her German Garden:

Me:  Listen to this...

I am always happy (out of doors be it understood, for indoors there are servants and furniture) but in quite different ways, and my spring happiness bears no resemblance to my summer or autumn happiness, though it is not more intense, and there were days last winter when I danced for sheer joy out in my frost-bound garden, in spite of my years and children. But I did it behind a bush, having a due regard for the decencies. 

Romie:  Yes?
Me: What do you think she's saying?
Romie:  She went potty behind a bush.


While writing this blog post, I discovered these articles, which have more information on Elizabeth von Arnim and her recent connection with Downton Abbey:


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Postcards From the Past

Last week, I wrote about collections for my garden column that I write each week for our local newspaper, the Paulding Progress. Gardeners collect plants, certain genera of plants, garden tools (such as hoes), and old garden books. I do the former and the latter, but I used to collect something else.

Long before I ever knew or even thought about becoming a gardener, way back in the sixth grade, I collected postcards. Cheryl, my best friend at the time, and her family were antique buffs and I often went with them on their journeys to local antique dealers to look for treasures. I often came home with odds and ends of things, but always more postcards to add to my collection.

I still have that collection, kept in a shoebox and stored in a closet, but now and then I get it out and look through it for a certain postcard that pops into my memory for some reason or another. A couple of weeks ago, as we were cleaning out the attic over the garage, another box was found - a box of old family photos and memorabilia from my mom's side of the family.

Found amid the pieces was this postcard, addressed to my great-grandma. A friend of hers had sent  greetings from Belle Isle in Detroit, depicting the Horticultural Building. The postmark was dated August 31, 1920. My great-grandma would have been 28 years old at the time.

I knew Great-grandma Gertie, and so did my girls, though I doubt they remember much about her. She died in 1988 a little over a month away from her 96th birthday.

World Cup of Gardening

Though I don't live that far from Detroit (2½ hours), I've never been to Belle Isle, and I'm not familiar with it, but finding the postcard piqued my interest. Next summer, I hope to attend the first World Cup of Gardening event to be held on none other than Belle Isle, located in the Detroit River.

This premier gardening show, running from June 16-21, 2015, is expected to be world-class, showcasing ten 1000-square-foot gardens designed and built by internationally acclaimed landscape artists from around the world. There will be educational opportunities, vendors, entertainment and diverse food offerings.

More information about the show can be found on the official website as well as in this brochure.

Belle Isle National Park

The 982-acre park, which is the largest island park in the U.S. and on the National Register of Historic Places (so designated in 1974), was designed in 1883 by the famous landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted.

Photo by Elizabeth McMillan/Wikipedia CC

The Horticultural Building, also called the Conservatory, was begun in 1902 and completed in 1904, when it opened to the public. Originally a wooden structure, the frame was rebuilt with steel and aluminum in 1949.

In 1953, it was renamed the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, after Ms. Whitcomb donated her collection of 600 orchids. It is the oldest continually operating conservatory in the U.S. and is open to the public at no charge.

A bit of a mystery though, is the Lily Pond. Online sources tell me that it was not a part of the original design and that it wasn't constructed until 1936. This postcard, clearly postmarked 1920 would suggest that "a" lily pond existed long before that.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pumpkin Torte on the Thanksgiving Table

It's been two years since I posted my pumpkin torte recipe, but since there are always new readers to this blog, and I get asked for this recipe every year around this time, I'm posting it again. This is seriously good stuff and it's my personal favorite dessert of all time. Enjoy, and happy Thanksgiving to all!

With Thanksgiving looming on the horizon, thoughts turn to food and those special dishes we enjoy as we dine with family. I'll be doing the turkey again this year as well as the pumpkin torte that I'm known for. With the exception of my husband, our family likes this dessert better than pumpkin pie. It's not that he doesn't like the torte - he does. He just likes pie better.

To each his own, I say.

I've posted my recipe for the pumpkin torte a few times before, but I always get asked again for it when Thanksgiving rolls around, so here you go:

Kylee's Pumpkin Torte

1 yellow cake mix (take out 1 cup)
3 eggs
1¼ cup white sugar

¾ cup butter

¾ cup evaporated milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 large can pumpkin pie mix
(30 oz.)

: Mix the cake mix (less 1 cup) with one egg and ½ cup butter. Press into the bottom of a greased jelly roll pan (10½ x 15½ x 1).
Filling: Mix until smooth - pumpkin pie mix, 2 eggs, and evaporated milk. Pour on top of the crust.
: Mix 1 cup cake mix, sugar, cinnamon and ¼ cup butter. Sprinkle on top of the pumpkin mixture. Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes. Serve with whipped cream.

Enjoy the torte, enjoy the day, and don't forget to give thanks!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Updated Lowe's Creative Ideas Project: Swing Shelf Planter

Swing Shelf Planter in March 2013
About a year and a half ago, I did a project as a member of Lowe's Creative Ideas Garden Team in which I potted up a trio of herbs in a shelf planter that hung in a window. I designed it and making it and putting it together was a joint effort with my husband. My herbs grew well for several months in that south window, but the day came when I wanted something different.

In the summer, that window can really generate some heat, and I had a few cacti that I thought would work out better. The herbs were constantly thirsty, so I transplanted the herbs to the garden and the cacti to my red pots. They've been living happily there for a little over a year now.

Last month, I spoke at the Ohio Master Gardeners State Meeting at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware. My husband and I arrived early with enough time to look through the vendor's area.

'Frizzle Sizzle' at OFA 2013
I'm always attracted to unusual plants - most gardeners are - and though I vowed not to buy any plants while I was there, Groovy Plants Ranch had a couple that I simply couldn't resist. The price was good, too, at just six dollars each.

I'd first seen Albuca spiralis 'Frizzle Sizzle' at OFA in Columbus the summer of 2013. James Greenhouses had several specimens of this curly cutie on display and they were causing a lot of buzz.

This distant cousin of the hyacinth (you'd never know it though) is a bulb that must be grown in well-draining potting soil and allowed to dry out between waterings or the bulb is in danger of rotting. If you live in Zones 8 or warmer, you can grow it outside year round, but for me it has to be grown as a houseplant.

It likes full sun, and though it will grow in part shade, the more sun it gets, the curlier the foliage will be. Around late winter it will shoot up flower stalks that will bloom with yellowish-green flowers that are unremarkable but are said to have a slight vanilla fragrance to them. That's if it's grown outdoors, where it will go dormant in summer.

I wonder what it will do in summer here. I haven't been able to find any information online that tells whether it will lose its foliage in summer when grown as a houseplant. Maybe one of my readers can enlighten me?

Albuca spiralis 'Frizzle Sizzle'

I started to walked away from the vendor area with my plant as I began to prepare myself mentally for my presentation. And then this caught my eye:

 Opuntia cochenillifera f. variegata

It was a variegated prickly pear cactus - without the pricklies. Sometimes called Warm Hand Cactus or Velvet Cactus, it wasn't the lack of spines that fascinated me. It was the fact that it was variegated, because variegated plants in general are one of my weaknesses. If it hadn't been variegated, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have noticed the plant at all. Ho hum.

Opuntia cochenillifera f. variegata is hardy to Zone 9 and needs the same care as many succulents - minimal water with good drainage and full sun/part shade. It can grow up to 3-4 feet tall, but I'm pretty sure it won't do that for me. If it does, I'll have to find another spot for it other than the swing shelf. ;-)

Four cacti and a 'Frizzle Sizzle'

In case you were wondering, that hairy cactus in the middle is an Old Man's Cactus (Cephalocereus senilis). I've had it for several years now and it's about twice as tall as when I bought it. I learned early on that I had to keep it out of the reach of Simon, one of our inside cats, because he loved to lick it and chew on it. But mostly lick it. I guess he thought it was in need of grooming.

My Old Man's Cactus is sporting a cowlick.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Growing Amaryllis: Easy for Everyone (and a giveaway!)

Hippeastrum 'Gervase'
For as much as I dread winter every year, there are some things about it that I look forward to. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Fluffy snowfalls. The smell of winter air. Curling up on the sofa with a blanket, a kitty, and a good book.

And amaryllis.

Gardening continues for me, in spite of the outside gardens going dormant during the winter months. I've got plenty of houseplants to keep me busy, both in the house and in the conservatory. Most of those simply need to be watered, but I'll pot up my collection of amaryllis all winter long and have beautiful blooms from winter through spring.

Even though I get a few new bulbs each autumn, I save the bulbs from previous years, growing them outside over the summer. This year, I set aside a specific area for growing them, using galvanized aluminum firepit rings. I plant them, making sure to keep part of the top of the bulb exposed, and let them do their thing. Usually one or two of them will reward me with a bloom stalk sometime during the summer.

This is where my amaryllis bulbs lived for the summer,
before I dug them up just before first frost.

'Apple Blossom' bloomed outside in June.
Before first frost, I trim away the foliage, dig them back up and store them in the cool, dark basement until I'm ready to pot them up again.

New to my collection this year are 'Lagoon', a deep pink variety, and 'Magnum', which is red. 'Lagoon' is already potted up and beginning to grow and I put 'Magnum' in its container today. For the last three years, Longfield Gardens has sent a free amaryllis planting kit to me and being the amaryllis-crazed gardener that I am, I've really enjoyed this surprise gift.

Longfield's bulbs are some of the largest I've ever seen and a larger bulb means more blooms. Last year's Longfield bulb produced three flower stalks, and of the nearly 100 amaryllis bulbs I've grown, that was a first for me.

This year's amaryllis kit from Longfield Gardens contained a large 'Magnum'
bulb, potting medium, a plastic-lined "bird's nest" basket, and Spanish
moss for top-dressing the container.

 Potting them up is easy:

Choose a container just a little larger than the bulb. Amaryllis like it snug. The heavier the container, the better, because by the time it blooms, it's going to be top-heavy. I use a fairly inconspicuous plant support like this one to give the flower stalk stability once it gets some height to it.

Most bulbs like very well-draining soil, and this is especially important when planting in a container. I like to use a potting mix designed for cacti (which also need good drainage) when potting up my amaryllis and I make sure that there's a drainage hole in the bottom of the container. Soggy soil encourages bulb rot and fungus gnats and you don't want that! If the container you want to use doesn't have a drainage hole, you'll need to be extra vigilant about not overwatering.

Make sure that you leave the top fourth of the bulb exposed when firming up the soil around the bulb. Water thoroughly but don't water again until you see signs of growth. Thereafter, only water when the top inch or so of soil is dry to the touch. Err on the side of underwatering if you aren't sure.

I use  Haven Brand Compost Tea for watering all my houseplants and the amaryllises are no exception. It's nearly impossible to overfeed them when using this natural, organic product.


  • Some amaryllis will have the flower stalk appear first and foliage later. Others will do just the opposite.
  • Amaryllis make great cut flowers. In fact, the blooms tend to last longer when cut and put into a vase of water. Be sure to change the water daily though.
  • You can keep your amaryllis bulbs from year to year. Continue to care for the plant in its container, or do like I do and plant them outside for the summer, after all danger of frost is past. Grow them on throughout the summer, then cut back and dig up before first fall frost. 

Here's a short video featuring some of the amaryllis blooms from my amaryllis collection over the years:

Want an amaryllis of your very own?

Now that you know how to grow them, guess what? Longfield Gardens wants to send a 'Red Lion' amaryllis bulb to one of my readers! And Annie Haven provided some extra Moo Poo Tea in with my last order, so I'll send the winner a 3-pack of that as well.

Here's what you need to do to be entered:

1. Leave a comment on this blog post, telling me about your amaryllis experience. (Have you grown them? If so, what is your favorite one? Do you keep your bulbs from year to year?)


 2. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below with your contact information. I'll use this when choosing a random winner and to contact you if you're the lucky one.

Enter by midnight EST next Sunday night, November 30th and a winner will be chosen on Monday.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WINNER!  Rafflecopter has spoken! Lona B. is the lucky winner of the giveaway and has been notified. Thanks to all who entered and commented. Look for amaryllis bulbs in your garden centers now!

But wait! There's MORE! 

My friends Dee Nash of Red Dirt Ramblings® and Robin Haglund of Garden Mentors are each giving away a bulb from Longfield Gardens and some Moo Poo Tea too! Robin is a new amaryllis grower and I love her excitement and enthusiasm over it. Dee is a veteran grower like me and has grown some beautiful varieties. Check them out and triple your chances at winning a bulb and some Moo Poo goodness:

Garden Mentors  - "Amaryllis Advent Calendar"
Red Dirt Ramblings® - "Growing Amaryllis is Easy"

If you want to read more about my Adventures in Amaryllis, here are some links to earlier posts about them:

Amaryllis Blooms Never Fail to Deliver
Amaryllis Season Has Begun!
Green Thumb Sunday - Amaryllis 'Lemon Lime'
Remember the Amaryllis!
The Hippeastrum on the Shelf
Absolutely Amazing Awesome Amaryllis
Desperately Seeking Susan
'Tis the Season
Wordless Wednesday: 'Gold Medal' Amaryllis
Amaryllis is a 'Dancing Queen'
Play 'Misty' For Me

Longfield Gardens sent me a free amaryllis kit and has provided an amaryllis bulb for the purposes of this giveaway. Annie Haven provided a 3-pack of Haven Brand Compost Tea as a bonus in my order, which I am giving away here. All opinions about these two companies are my own.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Let's Drink to Apples!

My husband and I have taken many, many evening walks down our road over the years. As far as country roads go in these parts, this one provides some interesting scenery. There are the neighbors that have an assortment of animals, a cemetery that has many familiar names, and we cross two creeks lined with wildflowers.

Many years ago, we also noticed a mature apple tree growing in the deeper ditch on the west side of the road about three-quarters of a mile south of our house. I've always been curious as to how it got there, knowing that there are random apple trees planted by Johnny Appleseed in our general area.

Logic tells me that while it's fun to fantasize, that tree more than likely grew from an apple that got tossed out the car window after someone long ago enjoyed it as a snack. And if that was the case, then it's highly unlikely that Johnny Appleseed had anything to do with planting it.

John Chapman planted several apple orchards as he traveled these parts, but the trees he planted didn't produce eating apples. Apples eaten for their fruit didn't become popular until the last century. Until that time, apples were almost exclusively used for cider.

This is because apples don't come true to seed and though they grow readily this way, the resulting fruit is almost always very, very sour. Henry David Thoreau described the taste of apple fruit as sour enough "to set a squirrel's teeth on edge and make a jay scream." So how do we get those deliciously sweet varieties such as 'Honeycrisp', 'Gala' and 'Jazz'?

Just like other new cultivars are created by crossing two varieties with the desired traits, so it is with apples, but because of their extreme variability, once a favorable result has been found, propagation is done by budding or grafting.
I personally learned about apple genetics by reading The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan as well as watching the PBS series by the same name. It never occurred to me that the apple wasn't commonly eaten until our not-so-distant past.

Like so many heirlooms, the apple varieties have dwindled to just a fraction of what used to be grown years ago. Back when they were open-pollinated, there were no less than 7500 different varieties of apples. Cultivated varieties for commercial use have basically created a relative monoculture, but apple enthusiasts are growing some of the older heirlooms in greater numbers.

The U.S. is number two in the world's apple production (China is number one), but apples aren't native to our country. They originated in what is now Kazakhstan and were brought to the U.S. by the Puritans. 'Red Delicious' currently leads all varieties in production.

I've not tasted the apples growing on the tree in that nearby ditch, mainly because there's a huge swath of poison ivy in the way of being able to reach the tree. But my curiosity may get the better of me and I might just have to figure out a way to pick that apple. I feel a bit like Eve...

Previously published as "Let's Drink to Apples!" by Kylee Baumle in the Paulding Progress newspaper in October 2013.  Reprinted and modified here with permission.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: You Might Be a Gardener If ...

...this happens.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Foraging For Fungus

If ever there was a good year for mushroom hunting, this is it. We've had plenty of rain all summer long into fall, and I've never seen so much fungus growing here, there, and everywhere as I have this year. Fairy rings abound.

I've always been overly cautious about wild mushrooms because I have a great fear of eating the wrong kind. I just don't know enough about them to say for certain what's edible and what isn't. But I *think* we've got plenty of the good kind just a few yards from our back door.

First, it was the puffballs (Calvatia sp.)...

A couple of weeks ago, we were cleaning up the garden over in the neighbor's yard where we grow our sweet corn and noticed a nice round fungus growing that was about the size of a softball. There was a golf ball sized one next to it.

I broke it from its base and was amazed at the heft it had for something of its size. 

I then broke it apart and saw that it was white and very dense all the way through. Puffball came to mind because of its shape so I googled it, and I'm 99% sure that's what it was. But that 1% kept me from frying it up.

Then today, we noticed that the "brains" that grow every fall at the base of one of our large oak trees were growing again this year. There were two and the largest one was the biggest we've ever seen, measuring about 15" across. The smaller one was the size we usually see. There's a third one starting on the other side of the tree too.

"Hen of the woods," with chickweed growing around it on the right! Ha!

Until now, I'd never bothered to search for information on this particular fungus. I was surprised to learn that it's Grifola frondosa, otherwise known as "hen of the woods." And guess what? This one's edible too. The Japanese call it maitake and it's supposed to have the texture and taste of chicken breast, my favorite part of the chicken. 

Grifola frondosa

I think it's starting to dry out in this section.

Maitake is normally found growing at the base of oak trees, and is a parasitic fungus that feeds on the roots of the tree. It's a beneficial parasite, wanting its host to live so that it can continue to glean nutrients for its own benefit. The fungus can usually be found year after year for as many as 10 years, but in most cases the tree eventually dies, perhaps due to a combination of the prolonged parasitic action and environmental stresses such as drought or high winds. 

Grifola frondosa

Our tree where this is found has so far been just fine, although it has been damaged over the years from lightning strikes. Many years ago it took a particularly hard hit and the evidence can be seen on the southeast side of the tree in the form of a large longitudinal ridge running all the way up the side of the tree from the ground up. It's a very large tree, estimated to be close to 200 years old.

For the first time in a long time, there is no "chicken of the woods" (Laetiporus sulphureus) growing on the large oak tree on the other side of the yard this fall. We always anticipate its appearance each year, if for no other reason than to marvel at its otherworldly mustard yellow color. It always reminds me of that foam insulation that comes in an aerosol can.  It too is edible, but no, we've never tried it.

"Chicken of the woods" (Laetiporus sulphureus), growing about six feet up,
on the trunk of one of our large oak trees.

What all this means is that we've apparently got some really good eating going to waste in our yard. If I was absolutely, positively, undeniably positive that these wouldn't poison me, I'd be frying them up in a heartbeat. I love mushrooms and so does Romie, even though he's been advised not to eat them because of his various environmental allergies.

What do you think? Are we letting a good thing go to waste or are we being wise in our caution?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Lunar Eclipse - 8 October 2014

Photographed from a second floor bedroom window in Northwest Ohio at 6:09, 6:17, and 6:42 AM, EDT.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

American Meadows $50 Gift Certificate Giveaway
Just when we got a winner to my last $50 gift certificate giveaway, here's another! This time it's to American Meadows, a company I've done business with in the past, and I just placed another order with them. They're located in Vermont and they've been around since 1981.

Here's what I ordered:

Red Spider Lily (Lycoris radiata) - 5 bulbs

I've always loved these but never thought we could grow them up north here in Ohio. Not so, I recently found out! So when I saw that American Meadows had them, I decided to give them a try this fall. They're a late summer bloomer and they're RED! You know how I love red...

Photo: American Meadows


Amaryllis 'Lagoon' (Hippeastrum) - 1 bulb

I didn't need another amaryllis bulb - I've got a couple dozen different ones already. They're growing outside at the moment, but I need to dig them up, cut the foliage, and store them in my cool basement for about six weeks and then I'll pot them up again so I'll have some blooms this winter. Several of them bloomed outside this summer, which isn't common here in the north, but it happens now and then.

I ordered this one because I love its unique strawberry color. (Like I need an excuse???)
Photo: American Meadows


Now here's where the fun comes in for YOU. American Meadows gave me a $50 gift certificate code to give away to one lucky reader.  

To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post, telling me one thing you'd order from them if you win. Be sure to also fill out the Rafflecopter form, so that I'll have contact information should you be the winner.

The giveaway ends at midnight EDT, Sunday, October 12, 2014.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
American Meadows provided me with a $50 gift certificate which I used as partial payment for my order. They also provided me with a $50 gift certificate to give away to one reader.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Big Apple - In My Garden

When we moved to our present home in 1977, my parents bought us two apple trees. Both were 'Red Delicious', a popular cultivar at the time and especially in our area, because of its resistance to cedar-apple rust. We planted them at the back of our property and it wasn't long before both trees were giving us apples in the fall.

Several years ago, the smaller of the two trees began to rot at the base and one day, Romie simply gave it a shove and that was the end of that.

A few years later, it seemed that the remaining tree was going to go the way of the first one, and we planned for a spring removal by planting four new trees around it. (Two 'Honeycrisp', one 'Idared', and one 'Gala'.) There would be plenty of room for the other trees to grow after we removed the ailing one. It had lived a good life for an apple tree and we were ready to move on.

But spring came and the tree leafed out and bloomed profusely so we put off removing it, thinking it had one more good crop in it. That was in 2010 and the tree is still with us, still producing. Part of it did die and we cut that large branch off, leaving a large enough stub for me to use as a pedestal, with the intentions of putting a blooming planter there - something that spilled out over the pot with viney lushness.

Before that happened though, I was walking through Molbak's in Woodinville, Wash., earlier this year and spied these:

Wheels began to turn in my head when I saw that large red apple, but I didn't know if I wanted to spend what it would cost to buy the apple and have it shipped home. I'd have to think about it.

Spring came and I thought about that big red apple again and I wanted it. I called Molbak's and guess what? They were no longer available. In fact, the manufacturer wasn't making them anymore. You snooze, you lose. But of course, that just made me want the apple all the more. I had plans for that big ball of shiny scarlet goodness.

I put out a plea on my Facebook page and as nearly always happens, someone came to my rescue. To make a long story short, my friend Karen Chapman (of Fine Foliage fame) used her landscape designer skills to locate one and before long, a big red apple was residing in our orchard.

Thank you, Karen. That apple makes me smile every time I see it, not only because I like how it looks, but because of how you went above and beyond to make it happen.

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