Careful About Your Christmas Gift Decisions Boys…

On this holiest of holy days for shoppers, please remember to think through your gift choices. Especially you guys out there. Before you go shopping for the perfect vacuum… please watch the video.


=-) Ilex Farrell

Thanksgiving: A Day of Mourning

There aren’t just bad people that commit genocide; we are all capable of it. It’s our evolutionary history.

James Lovelock

If you are interested in learning a different story of what happened after the pilgrims reached Plymouth Rock, please read on!

thanks not

Winston S. Churchill — ‘History is written by the victors.’

Those who are indigenous Indians to North America have been misrepresented and effectively banished in American history textbooks in favor of glorifying European colonialism. Why does democracy refuse to teach that thousands of American Native Indians were unjustifiably slaughtered in the name of conquest and imperialism?

From the book The American Tradition.

“After some exploring in 1620, the Pilgrims chose the land around Plymouth Harbor for their settlement. Unfortunately, they arrived in December and were not prepared for the New England weather. However, they were aided by friendly Indians, who gave them food and showed them how to grow corn. When warm weather came, the colonists planted, fished, hunted and prepared themselves for the next winter. After harvesting their first crop, they and their Indian friends celebrated the first Thanksgiving.”

This is what is taught here in the U.S. Some of it is the truth; the Pilgrims did come to America in 1620. Most didn’t survive the first winter because of their lack of stored food and supplies. They did meet Native American Indians. That’s pretty much where the truth ends.

The Wampanoag people did not truly trust whites, having dealt with European fishermen who had enslave or kill them for the past 100 years. However, because it was their culture and religion to help those in need, the Wampanoags took pity on the settlers and helped them. On March 16th, 1621, a Patuxet Indian (neighbors of the Wampanoag) named Samoset met the settlers for the first time. Samoset spoke excellent English, as did Squanto, another bilingual Patuxet because the British had taken them into slavery in the past. Squanto acted as an interpreter for the Wampanoag Indians, led by Chief Massasoit.

The next harvest season, the settlers and Native Tribes agreed to meet for a 3-day negotiation. As the meeting fell during the Wampanoag Harvest Festival, the Native Indian community agreed to bring most of the food for the event. The peace and land negotiations were successful and the Pilgrims acquired the rights of land for their people. This became the base for the Thanksgiving story.

In 1622 propaganda started to circulate about this “First Thanksgiving”. A book called, “Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims in Plymouth” publicized the greatness of Plymouth and told of the meeting as a friendly feast with the Native Indians. The Pilgrims glamorized the situation, possibly in an effort to encourage more Puritans to settle in their area. By stating that the Native Indian community was warm and open-armed, the newcomers would be more likely to feel secure in their journey to New England.

What started as a hope for peace between the settlers and the Wampanoag, ended in the most sad and tragic way. The Pilgrims, once few in number, had now grown to well over 40,000 and the Native American Indian strength had weakened to less than 3,000. Not only did the battles lower their numbers, contagious diseases never seen by the Native Indians were also to blame. By 1675, one generation later, tension had grown between the Europeans and the Native Indians. The Wampanoag called in reinforcements from other surrounding tribes.

Many Native Indian communities throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut rallied with the Wampanoags, but the power of the English was overpowering. After the war was over, the remaining Wampanoags and their allies, were either killed or deported as slaves for thirty shillings each. This slave trade was so successful that several Puritan ship owners began a slave-trading business by raiding the coast for Native American Indians and trading them for black slaves of Africa. The black slaves were then sold to colonists in the south. Hence, the Pilgrims were one of the founders of the American-based slave trading industry.

This is why I will not be celebrating Thanksgiving the same way as in the past. I will still be thankful for my friends and my family. However, I will also remember there’s more than one way to weave a story.

Monday Memories 11-23-2015

How to Care for Your Thanksgiving / Christmas Cactus

Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) with its pointy leaves.

christmas cactus

Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) with its rounded leaves.

The Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) and Christmas cactus  (Schlumbergera bridgesii) are popular winter-flowering houseplants native to South America and come in many colors: red, rose, purple, cream, white, peach and orange. The Schlumbergera species grow as epiphytes (non-parasitic plants that grow upon others) in the rain forests.

To distinguish the difference between a Thanksgiving and a Christmas cacti, look at the shape of the flattened stem segments called phylloclades. On the Thanksgiving cactus, these segments each have saw-toothed serrations or projections along the margins. The stem margins on the Christmas cactus are more rounded and less pronounced.

Since flowering plants sell better than nonflowering, merchants tend to fill their shelves with Thanksgiving cacti.

How to Choose, Care For, and Rebloom Your Poinsettia


Choosing Your Poinsettia:

  • Choose a plant with dark green foliage. Avoid fallen or damaged leaves as this indicates poor handling, fertilization, lack of water or a root disease problem.
  • Avoid plants with too much green around the bract edges, as this is a sign of insufficient maturity.
  • Be sure to check the underside of the leaves for insects.
  • The colorful flower bracts should be in proportion to the plant and pot size.
  • Little or no pollen should be showing on the actual flowers, the red or green button-like parts in the center of the colorful bracts. This indicates a younger plant.
  • If you are planning on reblooming your plant for next year, examine the branching structure. If the plants are grown single stem (non-branched with several plants per pot), these cultivars do not branch well and will not form attractive plants for a second year.

Propagating Woodies in the Midwest

woodie cuttingsAutumn is the best time to propagate woody plants via cuttings in the Midwest.

There are many benefits to cuttings such as instant maturity, faster growth, and easier transplanting.

The first step would be to find a healthy specimen from which to obtain the cutting. You should scout for plants while they are still actively growing and mark healthy branches, as when they are dormant, it will be hard to tell healthy from not.

Auxins or growth hormones are of great help to the success of cuttings. Note that there are different strength suggestions for different types of wood.

Prairie Fires – Cleansing the Midwestern Landscape

imageFire has played an instrumental role in affecting many of the prairies in the Midwest.

Historically, tall grass prairies are shaped by one of three types of disturbances;

  • Drought
  • Animal grazing
  • Wildfires

There are many misconceptions that if the prairie (or other natural area) was left alone, it would revert to native. In the absence of disturbance, prairies often revert to either poor quality grasslands or thorn woodlands.

Native American Indians were keen on this information, observing what Mother Nature did naturally to herself to cleanse her skin, fire. They learned that fire removed the thorny brush, which gave access to animals and hunters alike. The open areas were also available to grazing animals and native plants that equal medical supplies and food to the Indians.

 November is the Time to Protect Shrubs for Winter

Scan_Pic0003November is the time for Midwesterners to protect their vulnerable shrubs from winter damage. A little protection from cold winds and snow is all that many cold-sensitive shrubs require. There are several methods available to provide shelter.


Smaller shrubs like rhododendrons, will benefit from using fresh cut branches of conifers [spruce, pine]. Direct the thick end into the ground near the crown of the plant, and intermingle the branches together. This will provide a windbreak and help stop branch breakage from the weight of snow. If the shrub is taller than the conifer branches, tie them together at different heights to protect the whole shrub.


=-) Ilex Farrell

Article: The FDA finally approved ‘Frankenfish’ — the first genetically modified animal you can eat

Midwestern Plant Girl:

I am glad I don’t like salmon! However, this is surely just the beginning…

Originally posted on Bipolar For Life:

“The FDA finally approved ‘Frankenfish’ — the first genetically modified animal you can eat”

And you thought GMO soybeans were scary?

This article should have come out on Halloween.

I’m just speculating here, but if I wanted to make a fish that grew hugely bigger in a much smaller time than its normal cohorts, I would increase its secretion of growth hormone.

But wait: the article states that the fish are sterile. They can’t reproduce, or so they say. So does that mean that each fish is the subject of generic tweaking? Sounds expensive to me. Since the driving force behind more-for-less is money, I doubt that there is an army of experts injecting fish fry with modified DNA. (The baby fish kind of fry, not the kind with hushpuppies.)

And what about the fact that the US won’t even allow these mega fish to be cultured in the…

View original 350 more words

Hairy Woodpecker ~ Picoides villosus

This was only about the fifth time I’ve had a hairy woodpecker visit me. Maybe because of their size, they like to eat the suet off the tree, rather than the feeder. I will try attaching more suet to the tree this winter. This technique is supposed to keep the starlings away also.

image  image

Male and female usually keep separate territories in early winter then pairing up in mid-winter, often with the mate from the previous year. Female’s winter territory becomes the nesting territory. Courtship includes both birds drumming in duet, many times including chosen nest sites by the female. The nest site is a cavity (excavated by both sexes), mainly in deciduous trees in east, or in aspens or dead conifers in west. Cavities are usually four to sixty feet above the ground.


This is a Downy Woodpecker. Just a bit smaller, with a rounder head and has black spots on it’s white tail.


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Grape Leafroller – Desmia funeralis

Desmia funeralis or possibly, Desmia maculalis

A significant white spot on the head is, according to the Covell Field Guide, a characteristic mark of Desmia maculalis. Brian Scholtens informs me that this is not a reliable character and that two species (D. maculalis and D. funeralis) cannot be distinguished in typical dorsal view photos. It would be necessary to see mouth parts at high magnification or examine genitalia to make specific determinations. It is best to consider photos of these species as representing a species group.

Moth Photographers Group

image  image

The caterpillar host plants are evening primrose, grapes and redbud. As their name suggests, as larvae, they roll themselves in leaves and nibble on the inner curl.

The grape leafroller is a minor pest to the wine industry. Severe outbreaks can happen when their natural predators are low. Many times the leafroller attacks after harvest, when the farmers have stopped treating for pests. Unfortunately, the defoliation may cause a reduced crop size next season. 8-O

Honestly, had I had this information available to me when I had it on my finger, this post may have ended in a funeralis…


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

The Last of the Blooming Flowers 11-16-2015 Quiz!

I was out looking at my front foundation bed I planted this past year. I was pleasantly surprised to see some color still showing off in the garden. Some of these perennials have continued blooming and some have just bloomed out of nowhere land. I was thinking I would make a quiz out of it for my faithful followers…. See if you guys are really reading my posts or just hitting the like button ;-)

I’ve read about writing tests. In a multiple choice question, two answers should be close, but truly not possibly right. The other two should make enough sense to be right, but if the material was understood, only one answer is clearly correct. I’ve written my test in this fashion.

So, are these following photos of flowers blooming out of sequence (no where near their correct bloom time) or are the blooms in sequence for this late season (these are late blooming flowers)? Note that the Midwest has had pretty mild weather this late summer into fall. It’s been an average of 50F/10C high and a low of 36F/3C.



  1. I bloom now.
  2. I normally don’t bloom now.
  3. Nice windmill.
  4. Don King called, he’s suing over hairstyle rights.



  1. I bloom now.
  2. I normally don’t bloom now.
  3. This is a cactus!
  4. This porcupine is wearing a cute hat.



  1. I bloom now.
  2. I normally don’t bloom now.
  3. What? I’m not knautia, I’m a mum!
  4. Shhh, I’m a dandelion with a punk hairstyle.

image  image


  1. I bloom now.
  2. I normally don’t bloom now.
  3. I’m a bulls eye, not a flower.
  4. I am a sunset.



  1. I bloom now.
  2. I normally don’t bloom now.
  3. You’re thinking of my cousin, the other anemone…
  4. Shouldn’t I be in the ocean?



  1. I bloom now.
  2. I normally don’t bloom now.
  3. I’m a poppy for Veteran’s Day.
  4. I’m a colorful fall leaf.



  1. I bloom now.
  2. I normally don’t bloom now.
  3. Look! Squirrel!
  4. I think I want my lawyer.



  1. I bloom now.
  2. I normally don’t bloom now.
  3. I’m a starfish.
  4. I’m a wad of bubble gum.



  1. I bloom now.
  2. I normally don’t bloom now.
  3. I’m schizophrenic and so am I
  4. Don’t think about answering, just look at my cute face.



Centaurea = 2 – I usually only bloom in June.

Dianthus = 2 – I usually only bloom in May through June.

Knautia = 1 – I start blooming in July and go through September.

Gaillardia = 1 & 2 – They aren’t supposed to be blooming now, however I’ve usually had them bloom in a longer window than published.

Anemone = 1 – Although a tad late, I will still say this is a late blooming flower.

Geum = 2 – I usually bloom May through June. This one bloomed all season.

Echinacea = 1 -Yes, a true late bloomer!

Clematis = 1 – I bloom twice a year starting in May through June then again in September.

Violet = 2 – I usually bloom April through May. I think I was confused in the cold weather.


So, how did you do? Please post your results in the comment section.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Happy Friday the 13th!!

Happy Friday the 13th!! Do you have Paraskevidekatriaphobia or just the run of the mill Triskaidekaphobia?

It’s been estimated that $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do. .. You could always stay home and cuddle-up with your internet device and read Midwestern Plants all day!! =-)

Traditionally in numerology, 12 is considered the number of completeness: the 12 signs of the zodiac, the 12 Apostles, 12 hours of the clock, the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 days of Christmas – the list goes on. The number 13 is considered a transgression, or going beyond completeness.

There are many historical tales as to why either Friday or the number 13 are bad news:

  • Frigga (Frigg) The Norse love goddess and wife of Odin, was worshiped on the sixth day of the week. Christians though of Frigga as a witch, thus considered Friday to be the witches’ day.
  • Another Norse legend tells of one fine day in Valhalla, home to the 12 Norse gods, a party was taking place.  Loki (the trickster) crashed the party (13th guest) and arranged for Hoder (the blind god of darkness) to kill Baldr (the beautiful god of light) with a mistletoe-tipped arrow, his only way to die. After Baldr’s death, the world got dark and mourned the death of the god. Since then, the number 13 has been associated with gloom and doom.
  • Jesus was crucified on Good Friday and The Last Supper was believed to be attended by thirteen people. The thirteenth being Judas. (That story sounds familiar?)
  • Eve’s offering the apple to Adam in the Garden of Eden, supposedly happened on a Friday.
  • Chaucer even alluded to Friday as a day on which bad things seemed to happen in the Canterbury Tales as far back as the late 14th century (“And on a Friday fell all this mischance”), but references to Friday as a day connected with ill luck generally start to show up in Western literature around the mid-17th century: “Now Friday came, you old wives say, Of all the week’s the unluckiest day.”   (1656)


The list goes on and on. Opposed to dwelling on the past, what can be done to avoid the curse of Friday the Thirteenth? Maybe try starting out your Friday with one of these folklore curse remedies*:

  • Climb to the top of a mountain or skyscraper and burn all the socks you own that have holes in them
  • Stand on your head and eat a piece of gristle
  • Greeks think sponge baths cure you of curses
  • Spitting on the person or thing causing the curse will rid it
  • Place a black candle into the black bowl, fix the candle to the bowl using the wax
    drippings from the candle so that it stands alone.
    Fill the bowl to the rim with fresh water, without wetting the wick.

    Breathe deeply and meditate for a few minutes.
    When your mind is clear, light the candle.
    Visualize the power the spell cast against you as living within the candles flame.
    As the candle burns down, it will sputter and go out as it touches the water.
    As it is extinguished by the water, the curse is broken.
    Finally, dig a hole into the ground, pour the water into it, then bury the candle.

jason likes this

Dr. Donald Dossey, author of “Holiday Folklore, Phobias and Fun: Mythical Origins, Scientific Treatments,” thinks he’s found the cure. Once a sufferer learns how to pronounce “paraskavedekatriaphobia,” he said in an interview with NPR, they’re magically cured.
Maybe The Cure is the Cure?
*These were researched answers I found on the internet. Thus, since I found these on the internet, they surely must be true and factual.
 =-) Ilex Farrell