Keeping My Hands In The Dirt


The east-facing window looking out on the barnyard.

On the weekends, in the winter, I take time to fuss over my houseplants. Most of them are succulents or cactus so they don’t need to be watered often.  I’d always heard that succulents, like cactus, go dormant in the winter, but that’s not my experience.  The succulents are growing, making babies and some are flowering.

Having plants in the house keep my hands in the dirt this time of year when the farm is covered in snow the soil frozen.

I’m constantly discovering which plants like which windows best.

The Cyclamen and African Violets bloom all winter in the north-facing windows. The cactus really do go dormant so I put them where ever I have space.  Some succulents love the bright southern sun and others prefer the morning sun in the east.  Some along with the air plants like the indirect light of the west windows.

Vicki, from Cluckin A Farm ,who I’ve gotten to know online, is also an artist.  She sent me my first succulents a couple of years ago.

They came in boxes in the mail, cuttings from her own plants packed into egg cartons.  After that,  Jon started bringing them home from Hannaford,  with the weekly groceries. An indication of how popular they’d become.

Succulents, as well as art,  have also been a part of my friendship with Emily.  We trade cuttings and text pictures when our plants flower and have babies.  Emily, unlike myself, knows all the proper names of her plants. When I get a new succulent I send her a picture and she tells me, sometimes after days of research, what the plant is.

I usually forget within a few hours.

I may not know their names, but I do love caring for them and watching them grow.  The succulents are so sculptural, and their colors so subtle, I never get tired of looking at them.

I have this idea of doing drawings of my window sills and plants, it just hasn’t happened yet.   But I trust it will at the “right” time.

Emily has been incorporating her plants into her drawings for a while now.  Take a look here to see a video of one of her sketchbooks which are filled with her plant collages.

Emily is also giving an Online Collage Workshop in February called Flora.  It’s a basic collage class focused on making a collage plant or flower. Click here for more info.

The pandemic had its part in making houseplants popular again.  Just like knitting came back into fashion after 911, bringing comfort to so many of us who needed it, houseplants helped fill that lonely spot that came with the shutdown.

I’ve also noticed it can become a bit addictive.  But I figure it’s pretty safe as far as addictions go.

5 thoughts on “Keeping My Hands In The Dirt

  1. Hi Maria,
    Maybe you can give me some advice. I’ve had houseplants around me for a long time. I remember ivys growing so long and tacking them up so they’d wind around the walls of a room. I rarely had plants die. They flourished.
    Now they don’t. I lose plants all the time. I don’t know what’s changed. Of course I wonder if something has changed in me, and that maybe I don’t give them what they need. It’s very disappointing.
    Any ideas?
    Thanks, Sandy

    1. Wow Sandy, I have no idea. I can only think it has to do with the kind of plants and the environment in your home not being right for them. Maybe try cactus, or airplanes they’re easy and don’t demand a lot of attention.

  2. Mine always flower in the winter but not all of them just a select variety and this year I discovered by accident that if they get cold suddenly they rebloom. My christmas cactus bloomed in December, and the few that I have on my closed in porch which is heated but it hit 17 below a few days and the porch was 48 degrees, the next week they all formed new buds. They are ready to open up to a full bloom. That is the first time that has happened so I attribute that to the sudden change in temperature because the ones in the house where the temperatures never go below 68 never did that.

    1. Oh that’s really interesting Vicki. I’m going to pay more attention to the temperature and see if I notice difference in the plants growing.

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