The beauty of old houses Friday, Dec 12 2014 

for gardeners. Aside from the Christmas cactus that have blooming since October and will continue through January; the house is also cold enough and dark enough in areas to allow jasmine to set buds. Not quite ready to bloom yet, but almost. The buds, which stated as miniscule green points, having lengthened. They are now long white spirals, picture a unicorn’s horn, reaching towards the light. There is no fragrance yet, but there will be, subtle and rich.

We still haven’t quite figured out how to prune them for shape; but considering the difficulty of getting them to set flower…

The trick is to put them outdoors during the summer, and then keep them outside until the first frost. They then need forties to fifties and natural daylight for flower set.  No turning the lights on at night! Not easy to do in most houses. But an old, rambling house? That works.

Must be nearly winter Tuesday, Nov 18 2014 

If all the scented geraniums and the jasmine and the citrus have been moved from beneath the south porch (an enclosed, but not insulated area) to various locations inside. This is a bit of project: we have four jasmine, one passionflower, three full sized geraniums in gallon pots, and multiple small ones, along with various other plants including a collection of baby citrus grown from seed (so who knows what they are, maybe Meyer Lemons maybe mini oranges, maybe?)

Most of these plants like a period of cold weather, but they can’t take an actual freeze. The area beneath the porch is ideal for a month/month and a half. If the interior basement door is kept open, this enclosed space can be kept above freezing as long as the true outside temperatures stay above 20 and the day was sunny. If not…on a night when it is windy and severe clear with a low in the teens, well it just isn’t good for things that can’t take an actual dip into freezing: i.e. the temperature of the leaf surface gets down to 32. Which weather usually occurs right about now!

But it is definitely nearly winter when the space is promptly given over to a frozen solid, aromatic*, grubby horse blanket that must get dried out before the next storm.

*I put it next to the furnace in the basement only once….the odor when drying is well, exactly what one would expect!

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