Category Archives: Plants I Adore

Seed Starting

Last year, I noticed that my seed starting trays – an ABS system from Gardener’s Supply Co – were getting a little Continue reading

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With water already boiling on the stove, I picked the first four ears of our much anticipated Silver Queen Corn. It’s officially the only kind we grow due to not wanting to risk cross-pollination. To assure good pollination, you need … Continue reading

Garden Revolution – In Honor of July 4th!

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Ahead of my original plan, I got a wild hair and decided I had some left over energy last Sunday afternoon, and ripped out the perennial border that I have been promising myself I would do.

Well, I really did it! And, all by myself, too! Continue reading

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You’d Avoid It Too

This gallery contains 3 photos.

To be frank, I have never been really satisfied with the border that faces Big Garden and I have struggled with trying many different plants in it. Some have passed on and more are about to do the same. Here … Continue reading

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A Garden Renewed: The Challenge

What needs to happen is this: 1- Dig up and divide the keepers: tiger lilies, irises, coreopsis (the tickweed kind, which is spreading, but the yellow flowers are worth it), liatris – if there are any left under the Campanula … Continue reading

A Garden Renewed: A Plan

So, here’s the plan, sort of.

Well, I need to backtrack a little. The perennial border on the facing edge of Big Garden is roughly 34 feet long by 3 feet deep. About 10 feet from the left edge is an old garden gate held in place by two 8 feet tall posts that hold two trumpet vines that I only just manage to contain/form an arch over the entrance. (BTW, trumpet vine is one of my invasive species, but I love it, so I am willing to fight its will to get that doorway…)

So, my goal for year one of the reno is to attack those first 10 feet. The next two years will address the remaining border. After 3 years, I really should start over again with the intention to divide what I love, toss the rest (eeks, I can hardly kill a plant, so I will be giving away anything I can’t use that isn’t going to be poison to another’s garden), and find space for improvements.

I’ve already decided I need brighter colors. Big Garden is half an acre from the house so I need orange, yellow, white, purple, magenta, sage green. Currently, the pale pink Campanula, lavender catmint, pink liatris just don’t show up.

Again, I have known this in the back of my mind for a while. I am not an unread gardener; I’ve just been in denial of what needed to be done.

Planting Big Garden

I really was so sure I would have this done before now.

You see, when I first designed Big Garden, I was able to plant by the end of May.   I remember much help from Donny and being treated to Thai Chicken Wings (an of-the-moment craving back then… restaurant long closed and I’m still trying to figure out that sauce…) I was four months pregnant, and nothing has been the same since.

Each following spring has had obstacles – planting during naps, driving two tired toddlers around until they were finally sleeping in their carseats, bad weather or too much rain to get to BG, but mostly sports, and of that, mostly soccer.

So, when that season wrapped at 11am after the final tryouts for next season, I donned the clogs, and headed out with 4 flats of seedlings, a plan, a new curlycue hose and a nozzle I can now rhapsodize about (the on/off is a thumb slide – no holding and it has about 12 spray patterns…), and my seeds.

Five hours, 20 or so trips to and from the house or barn, 3 dips in the pool, and one beer, I am done. Planting… there will be more to do, but I have to say that three weeks ago, with all  the weeds, no time and a million other things to finish, I really doubted that Big Garden would even look so good again.

I now have two perennial beds containing asparagus and rhubarb; four herb beds with four types of basil, sage, dill, oregano, parsley, borage, lemon balm; two cutting flower beds with five sunflowers, cosmos, niotiana (the old-fashioned white tubes), bells of ireland, cleome and poppies.

There are four 10′  x 10′ beds holding 5 pumpkins, zucchini, cantaloupe, acorn squash, 8 varieties of tomato (have I mentioned that DON”T eat tomatoes that I haven’t grown? Those at the store ARE NOT tomatoes!) and Silver Queen corn. (Let me give you a hint on growing corn – it is worth it if you can devote as little as a 4′ x 4′ plot! Just boil the water before you harvest – NOTHING compares!!!)

Finally, I have four peppers, two okras, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, fennel, beans, peas, cucumbers, ornamental gourds and two beds of mesclun, romaine, arugula and loose-leaf lettuce.

Chives and marigolds border one side to deter the deer and I will expand this to all sides and I need to divide the chives from time to time.

The face of Big Garden is edged with a 3′ wide border of perennials that I am always tinkering with – so much to learn about gardening for beauty and not production…

Watch for pictures for the next Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on June 15th!

Biennials

Unfortunately, one of my favorite plants – Digitalis or Foxglove – is a biennial.

By definition, this means the plant needs two years to complete its life cycle, as compared to an annual’s one year term and a perennial’s indefinite lifespan.

This has both pluses and minuses:  plus – the plant gets to live longer, minus – it takes that second year to bloom.

Gardening is known to teach patience, and perhaps some day it will for me too. Biennials may be the first step in that lesson.

Weeds

Okay, count on me as odd – I have moments when I like (love) to weed.

Weeding can be the perfect procrastination – how guilty can you feel about NOT doing what needs to be done when you are clearly getting SOMETHING done?

Weeding can be the perfect stress release – pop on the head phones and you can’t hear the kids bickering, and the repeatitive motion really requires little decision making once you know what a weed looks like.

Weeding can be the perfect way to see the plants you love – up close and happy that you have released them from their hideous bonds.

Weeding can be the perfect creative process – again, up close, you can see areas that need improvement and plan moves, additions.

Almost like shopping – weeding can the gardener’s version of cleaning your closets prior to a shopping spree.

Just remember:  no garden is one size fits all, so you just know you have to evaluate and you can  even”weed” out things that aren’t weeds – even those that are weeds just to you. Maybe a friend would like that extra daylily?

Of course, beware of gardeners with too much of something – that gooseneck loosestrife might not be a real gift…

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Gathering Thyme

Thyme has quickly become a favorite herb – pair it with mushrooms, lemon and sherry and it is just yummy.

Every spring, when the first potted herbs show up in stores – usually before it is practical to plant them in the ground – I grab half a dozen assorted herbs to put in a pot on the deck outside my kitchen. Thyme is always one of the selection – sometimes more as there are variegated and scented varieties too.

Thyme is easy to go, disease resistant and perennial in zones 2-10; planted in well-drained soil and offered full sun, thyme is an attractive addition to pots or the garden. There are two types – shrubby or creeping. Shrubby is more fragrant and is perfect as an edge plant in a formal herb garden. Creeping thyme spreads easily and can be used to trail over a container’s lip. Brushing against a plant will release its scent. Avoid soggy soil and over-watering to prevent root rot.

Slice 10 oz white button mushrooms. Melt 1 T unsalted butter with 1 T extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in a 10″ saute pan. Add mushrooms to pan with 1 clove garlic, minced; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Saute until softened. Deglaze pan with 1/4 c cooking sherry. Season with zest of half a lemon and leaves of 3-5 sprigs of thyme. Serve with hamburgers or steaks.