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I do hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season filled with friends and family.  Have you already put away your decorations?  I certainly haven’t, but I usually get it done by New Year’s Eve.  I still turn the lights on my Christmas tree because it looks so pretty, even though it is a little bare without presents underneath.

We did experience some illness in our family over Christmas.  My daughter, Gracie, had a fever and a horrible sinus infection so she missed much of the festivities.  The blessing was is that she felt so sick that she really didn’t mind….as long as she still got to open her gifts 😉  She is much better now.

I have been watching the news and seeing how much snow has fallen all over the east coast.  It strange to think that I was just there 2 months ago when the leaves were turning and much was still green.  

We are expecting some very cold (cold for us) and rainy weather tomorrow.  Highs will maybe hit 50 degrees and the lows will get down into the 20’s, so I will be bringing out my old towels and sheets to cover my sensitive plants.

A couple of weeks ago, we had some wonderful rain.  I love rainy days because we do not get them too often.  I usually stay indoors, but stepped out into the garden to let the dogs out.  It was then that I noticed something so beautiful in my vegetable garden.


 My nasturtium leaves each had a large raindrop centered in the middle of each leaf.
Now you may be asking why I have nasturtiums in my vegetable garden.  Well, they actually help to repel damaging insects that would eat my vegetables.  
They have been working very well and I just love how pretty their leaves are.  It was fascinating to see how the raindrops would fall into the center of each leaf to form a large drop of water.
Now I do not normally stop to look at raindrops on my plants, but it really can be quite beautiful.  
I discovered how pretty it was when I downloaded the photo below….

Look at the tiny raindrops on the edge of the leaf…..
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Okay, enough about raindrops and leaves……I have a New Year’s giveaway that I am excited about.
I have made a 2011 calendar using pictures from my garden, Double S Farms and some beautiful scenery from our desert.
I must admit that I had so much fun making this calendar and I still had lots of beautiful photos left over.  I will definitely need to make another one for 2012.
Most of the pictures are of my garden, but I also included some from Double S Farms which is one of my favorite places to take photos.

There are also pictures from some of my travels around our beautiful desert as well.
So, if you would like to win this calendar – just leave me a comment or send me an email and I will pick a winner at random on January 1st.
Good Luck!!!
**If you do not win, I will be more then happy to order new ones and send them to you for $25.

Okay, you may be wondering what these two things have in common with each other…..nothing really.  But this past week has been full of the unexpected, the expected and I also have some seeds to giveaway.

For those of you who may have been following my “Curing the Garden Blahs” posts (I do hope someone is reading them), I will return to them next week when we will focus on color combinations.

As I sit here writing this post, I am frankly surprised that I am not more worn out.  This past week was all planned out…..in addition to my normal responsibilities, I had two speaking presentations to prepare for, I had to replant my vegetable garden (more about that later), prepare the Sunday School lesson for 5th & 6th graders and get ready for the scheduled birth of my nephews on Thursday.

Well, we were on our way home from church last Sunday when we got the call…..my sister-in-law was rushed to the hospital because she had a placental abruption (basically her placenta detached) and although she was okay, the babies were being delivered right away.  We could hardly get there fast enough for me.  I was so thankful she was going to be okay, but I wanted to see my brother’s face when he came out to tell everyone about his sons.  **You know the expression that new fathers get?  I call it the ‘new dad face’ and I couldn’t wait to see my brother wearing that expression.  It had not been an easy path for them and now they were giving birth to twin boys.

 Meet Danny & Dean.  

Of course, my planned schedule went out the window because I was spending much of my time doing this….


 I was perfectly happy to make daily visits to the hospital to visit with my brother, my sister-in-law and my new nephews.  But life had another surprise in store for me .
I mentioned in my previous post that my son, Kai, was injured on the playground at school.  We got there when the paramedics did and helped to splint his hurt leg.  Wednesday afternoon was spent in the ER.  Thursday was spent taking care of Kai who could not walk and was in considerable pain.  Friday involved a visit to the orthopedist to check out his leg and then another visit to get a new prosthetic to add to the brace that Kai already wore on his leg.  Six hours later, it was so nice to return home and see that my mother had brought over dinner for all of us…..Joe’s Real BBQ rocks!
Unfortunately with all that life has thrown my way, I have not been able to visit my nephews since Tuesday.  But, I will soon be holding them in about 1 hour 🙂
Between caring for and carrying Kai, I was able to replant my vegetable garden and finished preparing for one of my upcoming presentations, so all things considered, I am pretty pleased that I am able to sit upright this morning 😉
Now for my second subject…..seeds!
 
Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) is absolutely my favorite plant.  There is so much to love about this beautiful perennial; it is hard to know where to start…. reddish orange flowers, attracts hummingbirds, blooms winter through spring, low-maintenance, drought tolerant and native to the desert.  Need I say more?  Well then, I will……

This particular Penstemon can be found growing in the Southwestern US deserts of Nevada, Arizona, California, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.  It is hardy to -20 degrees F.  Beautiful orange/red flowers are produced in the winter and spring.  In zones 7 – 10, their leaves are evergreen.  Grown easily from seed, Firecracker Penstemon reaches a mature size of approximately 2′ x 2′ when in flower. 

USES: Firecracker Penstemon is a welcome asset to the desert flower garden.  Plant in full sun and keep away from the shade as they will grow leggy from lack of sunlight.  I particularly like the way they look when planted singly next to boulders.  They also look spectacular in bloom when planted in groups of three.  Place alongside other plants that are either yellow or white which will contrast nicely with the orange/red color of this Penstemon’s blooms.  Recommended companion plants include Damianita, Blackfoot Daisy, Prickly Pear Cactus,  Brittlebush, Agave, Angelita Daisy and Desert Marigold.  For maximum hummingbird viewing, be sure to plant Firecracker Penstemon where you will be able to see the hummingbirds feeding.

MAINTENANCE: This perennial is low-maintenance.  The main requirement is removal of spent flower stalks, which will often promote additional flowering.  Firecracker Penstemon is drought tolerant when established, but will require regular irrigation to look their best.  At the minimum, supplemental water will be required in the summer months.  Older plants can be be cut back to remove old, woody growth.  NO fertilizer is required.

Now for the seeds…..I have 5 beautiful Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) in my garden.   Last spring, I harvested some seeds from their spent flowers and would love to share some with you.
All you have to do is to leave a comment.  I will randomly select 7 people who leave comments to this post and notify you next Wednesday.  **Please make sure that there is a way for me to contact you, either through your blog or an email address (you can use my email link on the sidebar to send me your email address if you do not want to enter it in the comments section).
 **You still have time to submit your Monthly Garden Bouquet (MGB) before the end of the month.  I can’t wait to see what you create 🙂
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

  ***CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FOLLOWING WINNERS OF THE FIRECRACKER PENSTEMON SEED GIVEAWAY****

Rosey (Dung Hoe)
Liza (Good to Grow)
Diana (Scrappy Wonder Woman)
Rose (Prairie Rose’s Garden)
Ginny (Ginny’s Garden)
Nancy (Sun Lakes)
Johanna T.
Donna F.
Susan in the Pink Hat


I do have enough seeds for 8 winners.  If your name is on this list, PLEASE email me your mailing address so that I can get the seeds in the mail to you.


Congratulations!