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Welcome to Kitchen Wisdom, a place to learn about old-timey, but very relevant, food skills!

Once Upon a Christmas, the story of Josephine geranium

Once Upon a Christmas, the story of Josephine geranium

Josephine is a Norwegian zonal geranium with a story

Josephine is a Norwegian zonal geranium with a story

Once upon a time not so long ago, I was scrolling through Craigslist in search of an old dresser, one with character. When we moved to the homestead-which-still-has-no-name, we got rid of nearly all our furniture. The dresser needed to go with our new bed frame, ornate and whimsical copper verdigris. Nothing on Craigslist. I turned to Facebook Marketplace and more scrolling. When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a small greenhouse chock-full of lovely geraniums - in November!

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Not just any geraniums, these particular pelargoniums have a story that begins in a very old white stacked-stone foundation home in Norway in 1980. I am of Norwegian extraction and was instantly captivated. I knew I had to have one of these lovely plants. But, alas, the geraniums live with their caretaker 85 miles away in Myrtle Creek, Oregon. It is hard to justify an 85-mile trip for a flower. Except for love. Love’s name is Samuel and he arranged for a drive to Myrtle Creek today, just so I could pick out the geranium my heart so desired.

We followed frozen, windy roads through low-hanging clouds and little towns with names like Days Creek and Canyonville to reach a small farm. Wanda, proprietor of the geraniums, met us in the driveway and ushered us into her small greenhouse. As soon as she opened the door, a breath of green wafted over us, enveloping us in a dream of Spring.

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Three-foot-tall “mother plants,” somehow stocky and simultaneously elegant, greeted us just inside, proud of their offspring potted up in 4-inch and one-gallon pots. All of this abundance descended from a single cutting taken from a single plant 38 years ago. Many of the plants were blooming, at Christmas-time, and all bore tangible evidence of loving care.

Choosing was a delightful and formidable task. Wanda introduced me to individual plants to consider. I ended up selecting two for myself and one for my niece, Alyssa, who is also Norwegian and a flower farmer. (Alyssa plans to sell cut flowers at the Medford Growers Market in the 2019 season.)

In memory of her mother, Wanda propagates and shares this special geranium (the light pink variety on the right) that she named Josephine after her Great Aunt who shared a cutting with her in 1980

In memory of her mother, Wanda propagates and shares this special geranium (the light pink variety on the right) that she named Josephine after her Great Aunt who shared a cutting with her in 1980

Do you want a Josephine Geranium of your own? I have twelve extra plants; small, well-rooted starts in 4-inch pots to give to friends. I would love to give you one. There is a catch. You have to come visit me to get your plant, no delivery. Simply comment below that you want one and then click the email icon or contact button to email me a choice of two or three times/dates that you can come visit, have a cup of tea, and tell me a story. I can’t wait to see you!

We’re still looking for a dresser, but today was a priceless gift. Thank you, Sam, for the gift of your time and attention two days before Christmas Eve. For putting gas in the Jeep and driving all that way because your wife really wanted a flower! For putting London Orchestra Christmas music on the radio. For being content with a picnic made of homemade bread and peanut butter sandwiches, a banana, and coffee. For being a good listener.

Josephine geraniums, free to good homes

Josephine geraniums, free to good homes

Who Knows What a Year May Bring

Who Knows What a Year May Bring

Repotting Myself

Repotting Myself