Monday, December 10, 2007

Year Round Gardening

Sunrise in December

Gardening all year long is something that I like doing. I garden in a temperate climate and that means that outside gardening is not always possible. Right now the days are very short as it gets light around 8 o'clock in the morning and dark around 4.30 in the afternoon, so that leaves very little time for outside gardening during weekdays.

People over here who work outside their homes leave in darkness in the morning and return home in darkness again at night. It's small wonder that there are many people suffering from the winter blues. The only daylight they get to see and enjoy is during the weekend. I'm fortunate in that I work from home and can work at any time during the day or night, as long as I meet my deadlines/targets.
This season so far we have had some light night frost, but not really all that much to write home about. The temperature is on average between 5 and 12 degrees C during the day, but it feels a bit colder when there's a nasty wind blowing from the north or east. It rains quite a lot here during the Autumn and Winter; in fact it rains a lot here all year round and sometimes for days and days on end which makes outdoor gardening impossible, whatever the season.
But, because I am fortunate enough to have a nice big conservatory (a big selling point when we bought this house), I can always manage a spot of gardening, either indoors or out, all year long.
In my conservatory there are many houseplants that do quite well there as it is the lightest room in the house and, as we all know, most plants need tons of daylight. It still gets to be around 18 to 20 C in the conservatory during the day when the sun is out, which makes it a very popular place to be for many plants and also for all the members of the Bliss team.
I love growing orchids in my conservatory as they do quite well there.

There are many plants to be found in my conservatory, even a big tree. I like trees of all kinds and shapes and sizes except for the Monkey Puzzle tree. For months this year I've been trying to find the right bottles to make myself a fun bottle tree for my garden. I've wanted one ever since I saw a pic of a gorgeous bottle tree on Pam's Digging blog, but so far no luck. Oh well, I suppose I'll have to be happy with the tree in my conservatory I have at the moment and it's a very special tree indeed, as you can see here. ;-)
My indoor cat tree; charmingly decorated from top to bottom with: Kadootje, Merlin and Dolly.

As I wrote before I love growing orchids in my conservatory and they do surprisingly well here. When I buy a new orchid it is usually put in either the living room, kitchen or bedroom so I can enjoy lovely orchid flowers dotted all over my house. As soon as an orchid has stopped flowering, I pop it into my conservatory and mostly forget about it. I water it from time to time and so far I've managed to keep most of them alive and well. Some of my orchids I've had for years now and they keep producing flowers again and again, year in, year out.
This one for instance, is producing some more flower shoots even as we speak and I've lost track of how often it has done that. I bought it years ago for only 5 euro (slightly more than 5 US dollars) at a market stall in Rotterdam years agoand think it's great value for money as its flowers last for months on end.
I'm utterly amazed that my orchids are doing so well as I'm not really all that green fingered and have managed to kill off a fair share of the houseplant population through the years.

This orchid growing thingy is new to me and rather exciting; I love it that I have orchids in flower all year round. Those gorgeous exotic blooms give me such a sense of luxury, especially during wintertime.
A very cute mini-orchid flowering for the third time.

The conservatory is also used for propagating plants. The above plants are kept in a mini Victorian greenhouse so that my cats will leave them alone and won't eat them. The spider plant on the left is grown for one purpose only; it will be eaten by my cats once it has grown a bit more. I like providing my cats with some grass to munch on during the winter season and this one is a firm favorite with them and o so easy to propagate. On the right is a botanical Cyclamen that I've grown myself from seed of which I'm very proud.

Apart from the lovely loads of daylight and the nice warm temperature, there is one more reason why both my houseplants and kittycats love the conservatory:
the indoor fountain that keeps the humidity up and provides my cats with drinking water. Of course, the sound of running water is wonderful to listen to, as it is so soothing. I love being in my conservatory this time of year. It can be a bit hot during summer in there, but during the rest of the year it's a great place to be.

And perhaps surprisingly, I also do a spot of harvesting from time to time in my conservatory. These mini-oranges and the many fruits on my little kumquat tree where ready for picking. But what to do with them?
The mini oranges are not sweet enough to eat just like that so, after giving it some thought, I did this with my harvest of kumquats and oranges.

So, you see, it is possible to garden all year long even when the climate you have is temperate or even cold instead of hot.

copyright: Y.E.W. Heuzen. 2007

The simpler effect is always obtained by means of temperate and wise restraint.
Gertrude Jekyll


Pam/Digging said...

Pam @ Digging says:

Nice conservatory, YE. I guess that's what we in the US would call a sunroom or Florida room?

The cat tree is certainly unique, but I do hope you can create your own bottle tree too. Bottle trees are quite popular here in the South (and maybe elsewhere in the US), but are they ever seen in the Netherlands? If not, then you simply must have the first one. :-)

Julia said...

Oooh. We can't have a true conservatory here in Ontario, Canada; I've never seen one and heard that the snow build up would be too much weight for a glass roof. We do get brilliant, blinding sun all winter where I am, so I should stop complaining! The closest to a conservatory would be a "sun room" which is a room with filled with windows on three sides, but alas, a regular roof.

I am jealous, Yolanda. I remember your post about sitting outside in the evening without bugs, too!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I am just drooling over your conservatory Yolanda. It looks so inviting with all your plants and Kitty tree.

I have tried orchids without luck. I could keep them alive and they would grow but they wouldn't bloom for me. I think my house doesn't have enough light. I gave them to a friend that has a greenhouse attached to her house. She called me one day to come look at my orchids blooming their heads off at her house. Sigh

Seeing your mini orange tree makes me think of an old friend that had this same plant. She grew them for her parrot. That is what you need to complete your conservatory. A big red macaw!

Karin A said...

We have more or less the same climate, temperature and light here on the swedish westcoast. The days are too short and I really miss the snow these days. You are lucky to have a conservatory - it must be great! Your orchids are so beautiful. They are really nice and easy to grow.

Is the christmas spirit coming soon!? ;) Have a nice week!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Although it gets colder here in the US Midwest, we have longer days as we're much further south than you. I think I'd rather have the cold than more darkness. It makes me want to hibernate. Your orchids are lovely. I don't know if it would be fair to the orchid if I got 1, as I've already killed 1.

Lis said...

In dieser Jahreszeit beneide ich jeden der einen Wintergarten besitzt. Das Wetter ist im Moment wirklich nicht schön und ich stelle es mir herrlich vor da zu sitzen und die schönen Orchideen bewundern zu können. Ich habe auch ungefähr 10 Stück und obwohl ich mich ebenfalls nicht viel um sie kümmere blühen sie sehr zuverlässig. Wenn schon draussen alles grau in grau ist, so kann man sich wenigstens drinnen an den tollen Blüten erfreuen.

stadtgarten said...

The frosty leaves look wonderful.
You can be very happy to have your conservatory, so that you can do gardining throughout the year.
But I cannot complain, my husband built me a wintergarden for my plants to survive the winter time - even if it is to cold there for orchids and other inside-plants, I can use this room for tea and from time to time I can even harvest some mini-oranges there.
Groetjes, Monika

kate said...

Your cat tree is a wonderful sight - as is the sunrise in December. I seem to miss the sunrises here, but see the sunsets instead. I will be so happy when the days start lengthening.

When the weather warms up some, Lytton has suggested that I take pictures of him in the park. He is carefully considering what he should be including in the meme!

I hope your week is a good one ...

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I'm sure my kitty would love to eat some spider plant too. She is always wanting to chew on my plants, so I have to be very careful what I bring inside.

I love your conservatory too, that would indeed be winter bliss.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi all and welcome to Bliss once again!

* Pam: in the Netherlands I haven't seen any bottle trees so far, so I hope to be the first one. All I have to do is to find those elusive bottles. ;-)

* Julia: a sun room sounds very nice too! My conservatory consists mostly of glass and it can get very hot in there in the summer season.
There's no need to be jealous, every climate has its pro's and con's. The main drawback here is too much rain all year round and very short and gloomy days from the end of October till the end of February.

* Lisa: I've found out too that orchids love light so I'm glad I have a conservatory but a greenhouse would be very good too. Perhaps one day you will have your own greenhouse and will be able to grow orchids to your heart's content.

A parrot! Now why didn't I think of that? ;-)

* Karin: snow will make the daylight last longer and make the gloomy winter days look brighter too. Are they predicting a white Christmas for your area Karin?
The Christmas spirit will come soon now over here. ;-)

* MMD: I do not mind the cold all that much as you can wrap up nice and warm against that. Over here my bug bears are the rain and the strong winds and, worst of all, the gloomy and dull days during the winter months.

Some orchids are very difficult to grow but others are very easy indeed. Perhaps you could try again with an easy one?

* Lis: when it is a sunny day it already feels like spring in my conservatory. The cats notice it too and want to go outside and play in the garden. But if I let them out they are very soon disappointed with the temperature outside. ;-)
It's nice to know that we have a love for orchids in common too!

* Monika: I am very happy with my conservatory and I have admired the lovely wintergarden that your hubby built for you on your balcony. I think it is a great idea and more people should built one on their balcony too. I hope we will be able to see some pics of tea time in your wintergarden on your blog soon!

* Kate: the sunrises are quite late now so it's easy to catch one. ;-)
I will be very happy too when the days start lengthening!!!!

I like Lytton's suggestions very much and am looking forward to see the result on your blog! Have a good week too, Kate!

* Robin: you are right, I have to be careful with what I bring inside too as my kitties are bound to chew on the plants. That's why I grow the spider plants so that they will leave the other plants alone and it seems to be working most of the time.

guild-rez said...

Hello Yolanda..
I love to watch my little feathered friends at any time, anywhere and keep records during the migrating season.
We have a sunroom with a very large window (2.75m x 1.750) overlooking the garden.
Here, we enjoy our breakfast and lunch, read our newspaper and watch the birds feeding on various feeders.
Your suet birdfeeder is very useful, love to have one like yours. I'll post later a picture
of our square suet feeder. Maxi chews on spider plants as well, but prefers cat grass or dried catnip leaves during the winter.
Posting pictures, customs and stories about our traditions? The Advent and Christmas season is one of the best time to do that.
Have a wonderful week,

Carolyn gail said...

What a wonderful conservatory and indoor garden you have. Thanks for showing us your beautiful orchids.

The houses are so close together on our block and the rooflines are low so little sun comes in but I now have a sunny nook in the dining room where I've started an indoor garden for the first time.

Next year we're planning a sunroom addition and perhaps then I can expand my plant collection. It just feels good to be surrounded by them and to have some gardening duties in caring for them.

Ruth Welter said...

Hi Yolanda, you lucky girl you...I so envy your conservatory. I want one some day, I keep telling my husband, when her retires in 12 years or so and we move away, that is one thing I'm getting for myself.

I'm an orchid lover as well. They are so beautiful...all your plants are looking great.

Also, if you revisit the comments section on my most recent post, I answered you question about the ceiling tin. Have a great day.

Rosehaven Cottage said...

In my experience, orchids love to be ignored so you are doing exactly what they need. I love the photo of the cat tree in your conservatory. I can't believe that each level is occupied by a kitty all at the same time! Very cute! Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Brimstone said...

Mooie seree en je maakt er ook intensief gebruik van.
Leuk een kattenklimpaal. Onze katten hebben er ook een, zelfs met een huisje halverwege :-)

Ewa said...

Yolanda Elisabet, most puzzling for me was info about kumquats-orange marmalade from your own harvesting - big bow to you :)
How many fruits did you get from how old trees?
Conservatory - sounds verrry niccce... :) I would love to have one.
BTW - do you mind if I put link to your blog to mine?

MrBrownThumb said...

great flowers you got there Yolanda. Is that a "piggy back plant?"

btw I responded to your question about your feed but in case you don't go back to that post I'll give you a link with some how to tips.

How To Shorten Your Feed

Ewa said...

I would love to subscribe to short feed, just to know that you posted something new. In daily hektik days are passing very fast....
so feed is great thing to be able to follow up the up-dates. I followed the story with - You Know Which - forum, very annoying situation..

Birgit said...

Hallo Yolanda, ja ein richtiger Wintergarten, wie Du ihn hast, das wäre auch ein Traum von mir. Dann würden vielleicht auch meine Orchideen wieder blühen. Bei mir stehen sie alle im Wohnzimmer und dümpeln mehr oder weniger ohne Blüten vor sich hin.
Unseren "Wintergarten" haben wir ja im August abgerissen, nein rückgebaut. Aber das war auch eigentlich kein richtiger Wintergarten. Im Winter waren dort auch immer Fröste, so dass man dort keine Pflanzen einlagern konnte.
Schöne Bilder wieder bei Dir zu bewundern.
LG, Birgit

Cottage Magpie said...

I love your photos and your orchids are gorgeous. My indoor gardening thus far consists mostly of poring over garden catalogs and dreaming of Spring. Oh yeah, and building fences and walkways! :-) But I hope to add some kind of conservatory at my new house to help with that.
~Angela :-)

jodi said...

wonderful conservatory, Yolanda. We're all in a pout here, because I, of course, want one, while the cat-children have been after me for WEEKS to get them a cat-tree similar to yours. Maybe Santa Cat will bring them one!
Your orchids are exquisite! I can handle phalaenopsis, and I did have a Masdevallia (spelling off) for a couple of years, but if they need much heat and humidity, this is not the house for them.

Pam/Digging said...

Pam @ Digging says:

YE, my blue bottles came from MSS's sake and sparkling-water collection. If you can't find a dusty boxful from someone's shed, as I did, then perhaps you can just buy the water to get the bottles. It's cheaper than sake.

Connie said...

A wonderful collection of plants! The photo of the orchid with the back lighting is fabulous.

Libbys Blog said...

Oh how lovely it would be to have a conservatory! Sadly for us the only place we could have one is at the back of our house which is south facing, I think we would cook in the summer!!!!
I love your cat tree by the way, was that bought or cleverly constructed by the under gardener?

lenie said...

denk dat het nu wel over is met de tikjes nachtvorst , als ik de voorspelling mag geloven ;)
ik ben nog even bladeren en takken aan het ruimen geweest sinds de laatste storm was het een bende geworden , eigenlijk is er altijd wat in de tuin te doen , nu komt de fruitsnoei eraan ;))
groetjes Lenie

Frances said...

Your conservatory is wonderful. In our renovation we added a sunroom, I call it the greenhouse. It has windows on three sides and two skylights. It has a tile floor with a drain in the middle and a sink with hot and cold running water in the corner. BUT the walls are drywall, a big mistake. It has been painted with an exterior primer and exterior paint and lots of caulking. The whole room should have been tiled. The orchids love it though. And spider plant is safe for kitties? My Hazel will be so happy to have that to munch on. Thanks so much.

rusty in miami said...

You are so lucky to work from home. I am one of those that leave home in the dark and get home in the dark. For us sunrise this time of the year is around 7am and it gets dark by 530pm. Is not the same walking around the garden with flash light. Your orchids are beautiful, I love orchids but they don’t love me back.

Tracy said...

Lovely conservatory! Your orchids are speaking to me...I love ochids! And your cat tree is amazing--and I love the cat "deocations"! LOL! It's such a joy and inspiration to come here--thank you! Happy Day & Hugs ((HUGS))

Gardengirl said...

Yolanda, Nature Girl needs some prayers today. Please go
read my post.


Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi all and welcome to Bliss!

* Gisela: your sunroom sounds like a lovely place to be Gisela! Maxi has excellent taste; what cat can resist catnip, dried or otherwise?

* Carolyn gail: good luck with adding a sunroom to your house; I'm sure you and your plants will enjoy it a lot!

* Ruth: a conservatory is a wonderful addition to any house, so I hope your wish will come true!

* Cindy: the cat tree in the conservatory is very popular but there is another one in the cat room and both get used a lot.

* Brimstone: die serre was een van de belangrijkste redenen waarom we dit huis kochten. Heerlijk toch die klimbomen, de katjes zijn er zo blij mee!!!

* Ewa: I got about 1 kilo of fruit from my kumquat tree and the mini-orange tree together. I've had the orange tree for 4 years now and the kumquat for 3 years.
Sure, go ahead and link with my blog!

* MrBrownThumb: it's possible, I don't know all the common names of plants in English. sorry. And thanks very much for your help, it's much appreciated!!!!

* Birgit: perhaps one day you'll have your own Wintergarten! I know that I dreamed about one for many, many years and then my dream came true!

* Angela: LOL, poring over garden catalogs is not so bad. ;-) Good luck with building your own conservatory to your new house. BTW that new house of yours is looking better and better all the time!

* Jodi: I hope that Santa has enough space on his sledge to bring your cat-children their own cat-tree. They will be over the moon with it!
Not all orchids do well at my place either, I just go for the easy ones like the P.

* Pam: over here the water bottles are transparent (white), that's why it's hard for me to find any that are blue.

* Connie: glad you liked that pic so much.

* Libby: you are right, you would cook in there in summer. The cat tree was bought and you can find them for sale at cat shows, in pet-shops but also on the internet.

* Lenie: inderdaad een tuin is nooit klaar en het is zeker een stuk kouder op het ogenblik. Gelukkig hebben de vogeltjes veel te snoepen hier.

* Frances: your sunroom/greenhouse sounds wonderful and very practical too with hot and cold water in the corner. Yes, this grass plant is safe for kitties, mine have munched on them for decades. ;-)

* Rusty: I realise every day how lucky I am to work from home because once I was one of those unfortunates who had to travel to work and back home in the dark for months too. My garden I only saw during the weekend!

* Tracy: I love orchids too as they flower for such a loooooong time. Fun isn't it, to have a cat-tree like that. ;-)

* Gardengirl: thanks for letting me know about Anna!