I love flowers. For me, flowers give so much, from the anticipation when sowing their tiny seeds to enjoying the beauty and scents of their full grown blooms. Then, there are some flowers that become so much a part of life, they are practically part of the family.
My fondness for the plant I know as the Christmas cactus spans several decades. From early Autumn, I begin watching out for the beginnings of tiny buds forming on its shiny dark green leaves. Gradually the buds fill out and then, usually just before Christmas, the bright fuschia pink flowers burst open.
I remember my very first Christmas cactus. It comprised of just two green leaves. I’d bought it from the plant stall at the church Christmas fair. I was an eight year old Brownie and the plant cost me 10 pence.
There were no flowers for a few years, but slowly, year by year, my two leaves grew into the fuschia flowering plant I now know so well.
My cactus plant has met a few mishaps along the way. Bits of it snapped off when it fell off the fridge in the first apartment my husband and I lived in. Bits of it “snapped off somehow” at the hands of our children too – it usually involved footballs or light sabers 😉
Many of these broken off pieces of cactus plant were then divided up into smaller cuttings and planted into potting compost in a small pot. Quite a few cuttings later is the plant you see in my photo.
I have several of these cactus plants, all grown from cuttings … that would have been taken from plants that themselves had started out as cuttings …
Some of my cuttings have developed into the most splendid specimens, about 2 feet across (that’s about 60cm), just like the original plant that fell off the fridge years ago.
Some plants are really so generous and can be so easily raised from cuttings from mature plants. For me, the Christmas cactus has always been one of those.
I’ve been missing from the virtual world this week. I’ve been fighting a battle – well, two, actually. Though, the second one required me to call up the cavalry.
Did you see my beautiful fresh garden peas on my Wordless Wednesday post last week? This is the image here if you missed it.
I’ve been carefully watching the pea pods gradually plumping up and this was my ‘test pod’, to check if my tall garden peas had fully grown and were ready to pick. A pod-full of bright green, sweet, juicy peas – just right and just ripe for picking. There were quite a few pods at this stage now, so I was looking forward to my first Champion of England tall pea harvest.
The next morning, I went off to pick my peas. But OH NO! Horror! My beautifully ripe pods of peas had already been picked! Well, not as much ‘picked’ as pecked!
This was the sorry sight that met my eyes on my tall pea frame. Lots of ripe peas ripped away. Some of the pea plants were mangled too – evidently visited by a stampede of starving birds.
My battle with the pea-eating birds has been ongoing this week, attack and counter-attack … them against me – me against them. Though I must say they have been very sneaky … or, from their point of view, very careful and clever! I’ve still never actually caught them in the act of pea-munching … but I do now have a reliable witness who has seen them both picking the peas and then picnicking happily on the shed roof 😉
I was initially inclined to blame the local population of jackdaws, as I’ve previously encountered them pea pinching. But then I began to think the amount of damage there’d been to the pea plants, this must be the work of heavier birds. I then believed the wood pigeons must be responsible. However, the witness for the prosecution was quite certain – definitely the jackdaws, and very persistent they have been too!
The first of my counter-offensives saw me covering the whole of the tall pea frame and the growing pea plants with a combination of garden netting and fleece (in the pouring rain, of course!). Did this work? No, not good enough!
Next, I added willow hoops to hold the netting away from the pea plants. Still not good enough! I then added unstable hazel twigs on the outside of the willow hoops and the netting. Promising at first, but still not completely effective.
Now, hopefully, I have added the final layer of defence – chicken wire! With each additional layer of defence, it’s certainly becoming more difficult to pick the peas … not only for the jackdaws, but also for me!
My other battle this week has been against a machine … my desktop computer to be precise. At the end of last week, I’d carefully prepared to upgrade my computer’s operating system. Early in the morning that Saturday, I hit the upgrade button.
For the first two hours everything went smoothly. I was completely in control. Then, boxes began to appear. The boxes said things like, “failed” and “cannot complete the upgrade”. Before I’d managed to digest the first message, succeeding ones appeared much too quickly. UGH!
There was nothing else for it, I’d have to call in my tech team. “Are you busy, dears? I’m afraid something’s gone wrong,” I called up the stairs.
My children came to the rescue. My carefully planned upgrade was now in tatters. I don’t consider myself entirely useless with computer software but my two teenage sons are invaluable when things do go wrong. Rather like my ‘pea wars’ against the jackdaws, we devised a battle plan against the computer.
Gradually, over the course of the week, I am glad to report that not only have I managed to repel the maurauding jackdaws, but we have also managed to win out against the computer’s persistent attempts to thwart us 😉
Hopefully, peace and tranquility have now been restored so I can get back to my blogging … 😀