FROM SEEDS LIKE DUST…

These beautiful flowers begin as dust-fine seeds that produce the tubers that become begonia plants that blossom. Despite their fragile appearance, begonias are easy to grow given the right climate. A cool, wet environment is what they like. I am lucky enough to live on the Northern California coast where begonias thrive.

.Pink BegoniasBegonias are a favorite among gardeners, as a modest amount of work produces showy flowers in every color but blue and black.

I’ve had 3 baskets of hanging begonias outside my living room window for 8 or 10 years. I water them once a week, unless we have a good rain storm or it’s unusually dry and hot, and they bloom profusely.

White BegoniasThese are the blossoms from one of my 3 begonias. About a month ago the leaves began withering and dropping off. I cut it back to the tuber and it’s putting out new, healthy leaves. I never figured out the cause, nor could anyone I asked.

Begonia on Lightbox 2This is from the same plant as the flowers above, but I photographed it on a light box. The other was taken outside. Begonias are native to many tropical and sub-tropical of the world. Although I’ve read that they can be propagated from a single leaf or a cutting, I haven’t tried that myself.

Begonia close-up

Begonias have cane-like stems where they store water and are said to be drought-tolerant. Maybe, but I know they’re happiest in a cool, damp climate.

Begonias on blackThey are related to squash, pumpkins, cucumbers and melons. I didn’t realize that when I set up the flowers for this shot. I included the squash blossom for color, but now I know it’s also a family gathering.

.White Begonia CenterOften it is the sexual organs of these flowers that provide interest and variety.

Last week dahlias were my favorite flowers, but now I’m not sure. Could be begonias.

DAHLIAS, My Favorite Flowers

             Dahlia

They’re my favorite flowers today because I’ve been photographing them every weekend, but probably it will be begonias next. I’m fickle when it comes to flower favorites.

We either make ourselves happy or miserable. The amount of work is the same. Carlos Castaneda

Did you know that these beautiful flowers are the national flower of Mexico and the City Flower of Seattle? The ancient Aztecs used the tubers as food and the stems as siphons and straws. In fact, the Aztec name for dahlias translates to “water cane.”

I slept and dreamed that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. Rabindranath Tagpre“If you’re lucky enough to have them growing in your garden, Sunset Western Garden Book recommends cutting them for indoor enjoyment early in the morning or evening. Placing them into into 2″ to 3″ of hot water and leaving them there until the water cools will prolong their life.

Dahlia Dahlias most need good soil, adequate space (depending on variety), low nitrogen fertilizer and staking. But if you have them growing in your garden in the Northern Hemisphere it will soon be time to prepare the tubers for winter.

Dahlias Some dahlia trees have been found that are 20 feet high! There is some dispute as to who named the plant, but no argument about its being named after Anders Dahl, a Swedish botanist who studied with Carl Lineaus.
Dahlia 3These photographs were taken at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and more can be seen on my website, www.happinesscards.net. Copyright Connie Fledderjohann, 2015

BOTANICAL GARDENS THEN AND NOW

                                                                    

California Poppies
                            California Poppies at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

I grew up in Southern California where wildfires were common during the dry summer months. When I was 9 or t0 a large fire came close enough to the small town where my family and I lived that we could see the orange flames eating up the chaparral as well as a  nearby botanic garden. I’d been to the gardens on a school field trip and remember feeling sad that the beautiful plants and flowers were being destroyed.

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                                       Scene at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

Now I find myself living no more than 5 miles from The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens where I have taken hundreds, if not thousands, of photos. In thinking about my good fortune I wondered how long gardens like this have been around and where they are today. Here’s what I discovered:

BG3                     Looking toward the entrance to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

Although the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans cultivated gardens it wasn’t until the 16th century that something like our modern botanic gardens appeared. Gardens were established in monasteries, to identify medicinal properties of plants and to glorify God.

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                                                                  Rhododendrons

With worldwide exploration exploding during the same era, the explorers brought back specimens of plants never seen before in Europe. Gardens were set up to receive and cultivate these new discoveries and turn them into commercial enterprises where possible.

BG5                                                And a close up shot of rhododendrons

   Today many universities maintain gardens for research and education, the oldest in the English speaking world at Oxford University (established 1651.)

BG3-2                                                                      Columbine

According to Wikipedia there are currently 1775 botanic gardens and arboreta worldwide with more in the planning and development stage. Their stated purpose is research, conservation and education.

When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others. Peace Pilgrim
                                              Dahlias in the Dahlia Garden

We have a National Botanical Garden in Washington, DC on the capitol grounds. Congress authorized its development in 1816 with strong support from Washington, Jefferson and Madison. It  has been in continuous operation since 1850.

BG7                            Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens reach the Pacific Ocean

Botanical gardens are great destinations for vacationers. A list of gardens in the U.S. can be had here.  Some of them are free and others charge an admission fee, but either way they can be a welcome stopover for weary travelers.

A GROWING BUSINESS

There are enough Happiness Cards out in the world that everyone in Hajduboszormeny, Hungary could have one, or Pudsey, England, or Alice Springs, Australia. In fact, everyone living on the Mendocino Coast, where I make my home, could have 3 cards, even the kids. Amazingly, I’ve sold and given away more than 29,000 and just took delivery on 9,000 more. A dozen are new photos and quotations: Here are four of the new ones:

To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else. Emily Dickenson
To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.
Emily Dickenson
Love is friendship set to music. Joseph Campbell
Love is friendship set to music.
Joseph Campbell
When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully everyone is blessed. Maya Angelou
When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully everyone is blessed.
Maya Angelou
When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others. Peace Pilgrim
When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.
Peace Pilgrim

www.happinesscards.net

24,000 AND COUNTING!

I was blown away when I added up the numbers. There are 24,000 Happiness Cards somewhere out in the world spreading happiness. It all began 15 months ago with a wish to share my flower photographs with more people.

The first cards were 2″x3″ photos that I printed on my trusty Canon printer with an inspiring quotations that I glued to the back of each picture. I gave them away one at a time or left them around town for people to pick up. They were a hit.

A friend who saw them encouraged me to box them up so they could be sold and others could join me, so I did just that. If only 10% of the 24,000 cards have added to happiness in the world, my mission has been accomplished, but I’m not stopping there.

Last week I placed a new order for 8,700 cards, and thought you might like a sneak preview of some of the new ones:

When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others. Peace Pilgrim
When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.
Peace Pilgrim
The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. Henry Miller
The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.
Henry Miller
We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. Buddha
We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.
Buddha
To serve is beautiful, but only if it's done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind. Pearl Buck
To serve is beautiful, but only if it’s done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind.
Pearl Buck

                          www.happinesscards.net

SPREADING HAPPINESS LIKE ROSE PETALS

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“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one leave without feeling happier.”

Mother Teresa

Welcome to Happiness Cards! Blogging is a new venture for me, and I hardly know where to start. Maybe I should begin with a bit about who I am and what I do. I’m an 83 year old photographer and maker of Happiness Cards. I guess my age isn’t relevant until you consider the challenge I have when doing everything digitally.

When I was growing up things were very different: dial phones that were attached to the wall, no cell phones ; radios instead of TV; Monopoly and tiddley-winks instead of games on a digital platform; hours of playing outside and permission to bike all over town; and certainly no computers. I was in college before my family got a TV, and we were among the first in our neighborhood to have one. You get the idea. A very different world.

I’m not suggesting the world I grew up in was better. I love the things I can do with a computer (until it malfunctions) and with my digital cameras. But often I feel as if I’m running to catch up with the latest Facebook changes, software developments, platforms and things I don’t even know the names for. But it’s been said that if you aren’t learning you aren’t living, so here’s to life!

With this blog,  I hope to inspire, entertain, educate, and now and then challenge you. I also want to share Happiness Cards and show you how you can use them to make the world a happier place.  I’m looking forward to a wonderful adventure with you. Connie