An April Return

Having been beyond remiss in my garden blog, I poke my head out of my writing hole today to share with you some pictures. My roses are particularly pretty this early April day and their beauty deserved to be enjoyed by more than my muse and I.

As the writing of The Hushing Days is within sight of the homestretch, my spare time will be sporadic at best. However, I will try to keep my absences here to only slivers of the calendar.

Until next time,

Cora Sands and Her Muse


Gray Strokes

Chive 2

Chive blossom in front of tomato cages… 3/1/15

For a week in which the sun did not choose to shine for a single day, I have little to report from my burgeoning garden.

Everything has seemed to enter a state of limbo. These little guys are well aware that they are in Florida… the SUNSHINE state. They simply refuse to do more than sit and sulk until the skies once again turn blue.

Fortunately, the deck plants that have to battle every little thing winter throws at them, are not so melancholy (i.e. stuck up). I have chives, snapdragons, pansies and a dianthus in bloom. So, I thought I’d share a few snapshots of them just to get us through the bleaks.

A word about my photographic skill… I have none.

Calling me an amateur would be gratuitous. After 7 months of having my IPhone, I have just figured out how to take a selfie. But don’t worry, you and the rest of the world will not have to worry about any of those popping up anywhere (unless I’m standing in front of the Mona Lisa, the Great Wall or Benedict Cumberbatch, I really don’t see the point.)

Alright, enough chatter. Let’s cue up the photos!

Until next time…

Cora Sands & her Muse

Dianthus mono

Dianthus, after the rain… 3/1/15

chive crop mono

Chive blossom. (I found the “mono” button on my phone.)… 3/1/15


Chive blossom #2… 3/1/15

snapdragon crop mono

Snapdragon in mono. (I’d call this “Sensuality” if I had the guts or the talent.)… 3/1/15

Enter the Black Eyed Susan…

As I have just transferred a handful of these little beauties from their seedling nursery in my office window to the “halfway house” pots at my back door, I thought it was time to add them to The Garden Players.

Below you will find all the goodies I could learn about these flowers. This “bio” will be added to my Players page in the next few days. (Unfortunately, I could not find a vintage illustration of the flower that was copyright free. So, a photograph will have to suffice this time. Apologies for that.)


Cora Sands & Her Muse

stockvault-yellow-daisies103566Gloriosa Daisy (“The Black Eyed Susan”)

Rudbeckia hirta

-This dear goes by many names. Here are just a few… Brown Eyed Susan; Golden Jerusalem; Yellow Ox-Eye Daisy; and the Poorland Daisy

-She is categorized as an annual , although many consider her a perennial because of her magnificent self-seeding ability. Bed her once and she’s yours for life.

-Native to the prairies of North America.

-The state flower of Maryland. In fact, the Preakness Stakes run in Baltimore is often called “The Run for the Black Eyed Susans.” However, the blanket of flowers laid across the winning horse are actually chrysanthemums painted to look like Black Eyed Susans, seeing as the daisies are out of season at the time of the call to the gate.

-The plant is a traditional Native American medicinal herb used by the Ojibwa people as a poultice for snakebites, and by the Menominee and Potawatomi tribes as a diuretic.

-Growing up to 3ft tall, she enjoys full sun though she will stubbornly withstand the occasional chill in the spring air.

Days of Straws and Squash

Winter Squash

Winter Squash… 2/21/15

It’s been a busy week here in Cora’s Garden.

First and foremost, my furry, four-legged muse turned 13 on Friday! (Still suffering the hangover from that party, let me tell you.)

Second, half of the seedlings have been moved to halfway houses (individual pots) and have been introduced to outdoor life for a few hours every day.

Third, I failed at murdering the Sweet Pea.

Despite placing the delicate, baby vine and her objectionable stick (see previous blog for this story) out in a vicious windstorm which cracked the Sweet Pea in half, the flower has surprisingly survived my attentions. I’ll try harder next time.

As you’ll see in the attached pictures, I have employed some unusual helpers in my garden’s halfway houses. Straws, toothpicks, garbage bag ties all play vital roles in unscripted drama.

The other half of the seedlings should see their new homes tomorrow. So far, there has been no loss of life in these transfers. I’ll try to keep the mayhem down to a minimum with these babies too…. After all, homicide-by-windstorm is reserved for only a precious few.

Until next time…

Cora Sands & Her Muse

Gloriosa Daisies, Toothpicks & Ties... 2/22/15

Gloriosa Daisies, Toothpicks & Ties… 2/22/15

Cosmos & Straws... 2/22/15

Cosmos & Straws… 2/22/15

Waltham Butternut Squash... 2/22/15

Waltham Butternut Squash… 2/22/15

Cosmos before straws

Cosmos in their halfway houses w/o straws… 2/21/15

The Darling & the Stick

Sweet Pea and Stick

The Darling & the Stick

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day (a most wondrous day, I assume, for those lucky enough to be coupled off in life; a rather sour moment for us going it solo), I decided today would be a perfect time to introduce you to the darling of my seeds… the Sweet Pea.

The second arrival to the garden party in my office window, my lone Sweet Pea sprout is growing exponentially. Two days ago, I had to transfer it to its “forever” pot as it was literally busting the seed-starting kit’s seams.

As per all my heady research, (i.e. Google, Wikipedia, Burpee, you know, all the big guns of horticultural academia) I placed its support right alongside the Sweet Pea, in hopes that it will grow around the upright, well-anchored gentleman stick…

Well, apparently my darling Sweet Pea and her Stick are having a few couple issues.

She’s loosely tied to the guy, but there’s no hugging going on.

I’m feeling divorce coming on, but Dr. Phil is suggesting six weeks of separation first. Alas, hopes for some late minute hanky-panky are dwindling.

In short it’s high drama time for the Darling and the Stick. Stay tuned!

Until next time…

Cora Sands & Her Muse

Enter the Sweet Pea… 

Lathyrus odoratus

“A glimpse of beauty opened and was done.” –from Robert Henry Forster’s poem “Sweet Peas”

– my chosen variety is Burpee’s “Eckford’s Finest Mix”

– annual

– it’s a climber

– height: 4ft

– very fragrant (honey and orange scent)

– 2 ½” flowers

– blooms in spring and early summer

– bloom duration: 8 weeks

– named after Henry Eckford, a Scottish nurseryman and the leading developer of Sweet Peas in the late 1800’s

– native to Sicily, southern Italy and the Aegean Islands; first discovered in the wild in 1699 by Francisco Cupani, a Sicilian monk

– beware the dreaded aphid

– deadheading encouraged

– a wonderful cut flower; pick the blossoms early in the morning and place in water immediately

– first called a “Sweet Pea” by Keats in the early 1800’s

Sweet Pea and Cornflowers

Sweet Pea dwarfing the Cornflowers before hooking up with her Stick.

Enter the Cornflower


Cornflowers in my seed garden… 1/31/15

I’d like to introduce to you the first arrival in the 144 “seat” seed garden in my office window!

*pauses to pick the confetti out of my dog’s ears… dabbing the champagne out of her eyes is going to take a tad bit longer*

Below you will find interesting tidbits and what-nots about the plant du jour. Gathered from resources scattered throughout the world (a well-meant dramatic license taken here), I have provided both useful and useless facts about our new guest.

A picture of our newcomer is also provided along with a classic illustration of what the beauty is supposed to look like.

As always, enjoy!

Until next time…

Cora Sands & Her Muse

(As I’m still working out the best way to do this gardening blog, pardon any repetition you might find here and on the Garden Players page. This entry was added to the latter several days ago, but had not been officially “blogged.” That error is corrected here.)


Enter the Cornflower…

Centaurea cyanus or Bachelor’s Buttons or Hurtsickle or Bluebottle or Witches’ Bells.

“Fragrant mixture of well-doubled flowers on long, strong stems makes this selection fine for cutting, dried arrangements and border displays from midsummer to frost.” –Burpee Seeds


-full sun

-height: 30”

-bloom duration: 8 weeks

-origin: Europe

-in the past, cornflowers often grew as weeds in crop fields commonly called “corn fields” (hence its name), but now due to pesticides it is endangered in its native habitat

-in folklore, cornflowers were worn by young men in love; if the flower faded quickly than the love was said not be returned

-the national flower of Estonia

-favorite flower of JFK

The Lucky 144: An Introduction to the Seed Brood


My first day of planting required a spoon… Don’t ask.

So, let’s get this garden blog rolling!

As I stated in the “Seeds Hitting the Dirt” post, I am “birthing” 144 seeds in my office window this year. (I suppose, when a girl doesn’t have a uterus anymore, she’ll take birthing however she can get it.*chuckles slyly at her happily uterus-less self*)

Anyhow, I think it’s time to introduce you to the horticultural brood my muse and I are expecting. All of the kids are from Burpees, save one lone pepper which I will point out to you proudly. Beside their names will be the date they actually were planted and how many of the seeds we have sown.

I realize this will be rather boring, but I’m hoping you can use this as reference through our upcoming blogging adventure. (I know I’ll need the help.)

After this “getting to know you” bit, you will get some cuddle time with each seed in the order they pop up in my window. With each arrival, the plant will enter “The Garden Players” page. There I will keep a running record of that particular seed’s journey through life in Cora’s Garden.

So without further ado, here is this year’s “Seeds in the Dirt” list.

Brace yourself, this could get tedious.

Until next time…

Cora Sands

Seeds in the Dirt – The Lucky 144

Sweet Pea, Eckford’s Finest Mix (x10)… 1/26/15

Gloriosa Daisy (x12)… 1/26/15

Cornflower, Tall Double Mixed (x10)… 1/26/15

Snapdragon, Topper Hybrid Mix (x20)… 1/26/15

Agastache, Aurantiaca Fragrant Delight Mix (x5)… 1/28/15

Agastache, Bolero (x5)… 1/28/15

Tithonia (x10)… 1/28/15

Jimmy Nardello Sweet Pepper (x5)… 1/31/15

Sweet Thing Sweet Pepper (x5)… 1/31/15

Ancho (Poblano) Hot Pepper (x8)… 1/31/15

Serrano Hot Chile Peppers (x5)… 1/31/15 (From John Scheepers Seeds)

Hot Lemon Hot Pepper (x5)… 1/31/15

Green Tomatillo, Organic (x4)… 1/31/15

Lakota Winter Squash (x2)… 1/31/15

Acorn Table Queen Winter Squash (x2)… 1/31/15

Waltham Butternut Winter Squash (x2)… 1/31/15

Cosmos, Bright Lights Mixed (x20)… 1/31/15

Color Crackle Zinnia (x10)… 1/31/15

Raspberry Lemonade Mix Zinnia (x4)… 1/31/15

Pansies in Cora's Garden... 2/8/15, Tallahassee, FL

Pansies in Cora’s Garden… 2/8/15, Tallahassee, FL

I’ve actually managed to keep these beauties alive through our winter here in north Florida.

While more experienced flower mavens might pooh-pooh this accomplishment, anything that manages to come out on the good side of January with color and green leaves is a success story in our wee-little garden. So, please, pardon me while my muse and I gloat.

There. All done.


Cora Sands and muse

Pride of Pansies

Seeds Hitting the Dirt

orange-tulipIt’s as simple as that really.

No need to overthink it.

No need to obsess.

Seeds hit the dirt and grow. The end… or should I say the beginning? Oh, whatever.

The point is that growing something in the earth (or in little, tee-tiny pockets of jazzed-up earth from Burpee’s) has been going on since way before Adam lost that rib.

A reasonably intelligent (Masters in Art History from FSU, thank you very much), borderline sane (60mg of Prozac a day for chronic panic disorder, baby!), up and coming author of 17 genre romances should be able to do a little gardening for herself, right?


Add to that the fact that my available gardening space is the size of an overfed stamp…

Mix in the hard reality of trying to break into mainstream historical romance with a monstrously greedy, Revolutionary War-era drama in-progress…

And multiply all by my spritely (and often spiteful) four-legged furry muse of a dog overseeing each and every seed, seedling, and wee-small plant and I foresee no problems with this project whatsoever.

So, with this rationally thought-out enthusiasm bullying me on, I have planted 144 seeds in my little, office window nursery. What will become of the seeds, my muse and I is anybody’s guess. (Personally, I feel a Garden of Eden coming on. That worked out splendidly, after all.)

Whatever the outcome, whatever the twists and turns me and mine end up facing, will be chronicled here in “Cora’s Garden.”  Little updates you will find in the Garden Players page on my author’s website, a link for which you will find above. Full-frontal blogs with all the down and dirties will pop up here at least once a week.

So, please follow along. This will be fun.

Until next time…

Cora Sands