Orchids have a reputation for being finicky and difficult to grow. I am here to try to convince you otherwise. For the last few years I have added to my assortment of orchids and nothing provides more beauty year round than my orchids. My first purchase was Phalaenopsis (fayl-eh-NOP-siss), commonly called the moth orchid. Well-grown phals can flower often, twice a year perhaps. Flower stems on certain varieties can be forced to rebloom by cutting off the tip after the initial flowering to the next node. Only healthy plants should be forced to flower repeatedly. The one here in the photo has been in a state of constant bloom and rebloom for many months now!
Phalaenopsis grow easily in a bright window with little or no direct sun. An east window is ideal and a shaded south or west windows are fine, too. In overcast northern climates a full southern exposure may be needed. As for temperature, phals like 75-85 degrees during the day and above 60 at night. I’m here to say mine do not get the ideal and still thrive. They do like the drop at night, and mine get that. In the Autumn, they like a nightly drop to 55 degrees for several weeks to promote a flower spike. For that I place mine in a cooler sun room with its own thermostat.
Water is essential to the phalaenopsis as they do not have any major water storage organs (other than leaves). They must be kept moist, but not overly wet. You should water the plant thoroughly, allowing water to drain off and repeat weekly before they completely dry out. Humidity is important, too. A gravel tray is helpful so that their feet aren’t sitting in the water, but surrounded by a moist environment.
Fertilizing advice is varied but the method that has worked well for me is to fertilize “weakly, weekly” when not in bloom. I dilute orchid fertilizer to quarter-strength and water away, always draining the pot of any excess.
Repotting is best done after flowering, usually in the Spring. They should be potted in a porous mix and whenever the medium starts to decompose, usually every two or three years. The roots will rot if left to sit in a soggy medium. When repotting, carefully trim old medium and rotted roots with sterile scissors. Add your trimmed plant to new, loosely packed and porous orchid mix. Enjoy the exotic flowers and the pop of color on an otherwise dreary winter day!
For those of us lucky enough to live near Richmond, Virginia, the Virginia Orchid Society will hold it's annual show at Strange's Garden Center on February 22-24, 2013. There will be a wealth of information, lectures, supplies and hundreds of orchids to admire and purchase. Best yet, it's free! Mark your calendar; I am. For more information, check this out.
Recently our fair city celebrated the 150th anniversary of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. If anything, seeing the re-enactment gave you pause as you watched "death" up close and personal.
While I make no claims to be a nutrition expert, I’d like to share a recipe I’ve been enjoying daily for the last two years. Kale serves as the backbone of the recipe and as a result I have seen dramatic changes in my body. Kale is full of antioxidants, calcium, vitamins and supports cardiovascular health (lowers cholesterol), just to name a few of the many reasons why kale is king. It’s also low in calorie, high in fiber with each cup packing only 36 calories while giving you 5 g of fiber. It keeps you full and satisfied longer. So, give this smoothie a try and you, too, can walk down the road to healthier living.
Put liquid in the blender, followed by dry/frozen ingredients. I don't use ice since the greens and berries are frozen, but you may wish to add ice. Blend on high until thoroughly blended and smooth. And then, ENJOY! For me, it’s a welcomed and healthy start to my day. Why don’t you join me?
The new Sundance catalog arrived yesterday. For me, it is the epitome of everything that is chic, cool and hip, yet as much as anything that finds its way through my mail slot on a regular basis, it is a seasonal reminder of just how remarkably uncool I can be. As I slowly turned each page, I found myself constantly reminded of how much damn work it is to be cool. Then, just as I was about to give up all hope and resign myself to living out my days on earth in terminal unhipness, there they were. The shoes. My shoes. After all these years they were back. Popular during my high school years, which was, of course, just a decade or so after the official end of the Ice Age, suede wedge shoes had finally resurfaced, and I was downright giddy.
Despite years of conformity in my Catholic school education, complete with a uniform, I have always tried to stand out among the masses. I always walked that fine line between wanting to fit it and wanting to be different – just not too different. And when I was in high school, these beautiful little accessories to my Catholic school uniform were my ticket to individuality in an otherwise cookie-cutter world. I dare say that I was the first to wear suede wedge shoes in high school. And navy leather lace-up boots. And wool knickers to football games.
That’s right. As much as my coolest friends today might find it hard to believe, in the land of cool Dee Antil once had game. Still does, sometimes.
With each passing year, I wonder if I’m losing touch with that little girl who was determined to both fit in and stand out. I wonder if I’m drifting too far from the uniqueness that once defined me. I shuffle kids to games, I grocery shop and I maintain a home like millions of other women. In my neighborhood of traditional Virginia sameness I pass rows and rows of brick colonials with their black or red or white front doors. Then I see it. As I reach the end of the block and my own brick colonial comes into view, I know I’m home when I see that beautiful purple door.
Did you ever stop and wonder, of our five senses, which is the most important? Some would argue that smell can transport you to another place and time. With it you can relive a distant experience, the aroma of garlic in a favorite Italian restaurant or the salty scent of the sea from a long-ago vacation. And I imagine blindness would be devastating. After all, who has the words to describe the glory of a sunset or the verdant innocence of newly sprouted grass? Touch, too, is oh-so-important. How else could you wrap your mind around the softness of a baby’s cheek or the smoothness of a piece of beach glass?
For me, though, hearing is king.
I was raised in Syracuse, New York, home to Finger Lakes, Stickley furniture and Carrier air conditioners. Thanks to the folks at Carrier, life in the Sun Belt became possible. People now flock to areas previously all-but-uninhabitable due to their brutal summers. Life everywhere has changed, though. Our homes have become insular places where the sounds of a sidewalk conversation, a barking dog, or a wind chime blowing in the breeze are now either muted or have vanished completely from the comfort of our homes. Gone, too, are so many of the sounds of my youth. Such timeless moments of clamor as the mechanical turn of a rotary dial, the clang of an ice cream truck, and the whimsical ding at the right hand margin of a manual typewriter are vanishing from the soundtrack of my life. Many of these sounds and others have fallen prey to technology. How sad that my children and theirs will no longer even know such sounds. They simply won’t hear them. Ever. Theirs, instead, will be a virtual world where they will stay plugged in and online, while just outside their earshot a beautiful world will pass by them unnoticed. They will play their video games, listen to their music on their Ipods, and communicate with each other only by text. Even their own voices will soon seem extraneous.
The silencing of such sounds will be even more poignant for me, a woman who, with each passing day, is slowly but surely losing her hearing. And while I hate what we’ve lost through technology, I thank God for what it’s brought us. Without the wonderful little hearing aids I put in my ears each morning, I would not hear the birds chirping or crickets humming. Speech would be garbled and the subtleties of the spoken word lost in a sea of white noise. While I hate losing that lovely rotary dial sound, thank goodness I can hear the doves from my porch swing and the sweet sound of my children’s voices. And some nights, when I’m all alone, if I close my eyes and imagine really hard, I can even hear a screen door slam, the crack of a baseball bat or that haunting little piano piece I once knew by heart.
Dee Antil is a multifaceted woman much like the stones she uses in her artisan jewelry designs. She has worn many hats from nurse anesthetist to single mother, founder of non-profit art co-op, amateur photographer, orchid grower, exercise/nutrition enthusiast. She also loves design, fashion, and the sea.