Sunday is International Day of the Woman.
A few year ago Anne Marie and I decided to go to Italy about the first of March, our first real vacation in several years. After a week in Tuscany, we spent our last few days in a little town on Lake Maggiore, Stresa. On that first morning we were walking to a restaurant for breakfast when a man walked up to us and handed Anne Marie a small bouquet of Acacia flowers and asked if he could pin it on her coat. He said, grazie, and moved on. Three little bunches of Acacia later I asked our waiter what was going on, what was the significance of the Acacia. The answer was, “you Americans have never really appreciated the good and the beautiful things in life. Today we celebrate, throughout Europe and especially here in Italy, the International Day of the Woman. It is our day to really express our appreciation. Why Acacia? Because in the “Language of Flowers” it is said that it speaks of “secret love”
The story did not end there. As we wandered about town we came upon the outdoor market. I went to one of the vendors who had flowers for sale and purchased 4 little bunches of Acacia. I handed one to Anne Marie. Then we went back to our little ten room hotel that was owned and managed by three lovely older ladies, and I gave each a bunch.
Fast forward a couple of hours and we were having a late lunch in a small café and I was uncomfortable; it was obvious that people were pointing to us and talking about us. After a bit I asked the local couple sitting near us what was going on. His reply was they are talking about the American who honored Marietta, Elena and Maria at the hotel, with flowers. You seem to be a different kind of American. Welcome to Stresa. I remember that exchange as if it happened yesterday. How beautiful, and yet, how sad!
And now, the celebration has crossed the ocean and we are seeing a lot of articles about celebrating International Woman’s Day. It’s about time. Why don’t you celebrate it tomorrow or Sunday, the 8th. Take Mom or your wife or daughter out to dinner, take her a small bunch of flowers. Tell her how important she is to you. Stop by Cosentino’s and pick up a little bunch of Acacia to take home.
Okay, let’s move on. Now that we are in the last part of the winter, there are a few things to do with our houseplants. They will be waking up right now as the light begins to increase. So, now is the time to slowly increase the amount of water you are giving t hem and time to begin giving them half strength fertilizer. In most cases, if they need repotting, now is a good time to do it, Take a look, knock them out of the pot. If it is all roots and very little soil, it is time. Remember the rule, on pots under 5 inches go up in size only an inch or two. At 6 inches or more it is okay to go to a 3 inch larger size. Try not to break the soil ball, but if it is, indeed mostly roots, it is a good idea to make a few knife slashes to cut some of them. This will increase root growth in the new pot. Once potted, fertilize them.
It is a good time, too, to check for insects. Those dormant insect eggs that seem to be omnipresent will begin hatching as warmer and sunnier days arrive. Remember, they hide, normally, on the underside of the leaf. If only a few, hold the soil in the pot with your hand and spray with at the kitchen sink. If it is too much, get to a garden center or home improvement store and get some insecticide. Take a leaf with insects so the professional there can help you purchase the right spray.
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