Thursday, May 30, 2013

Checking On the Berry Patch

Last Sunday was a wonderful day to be in the Garden. Cool temperatures meant for perfect weeding and planting weather, plus I had Junior and Izzy along to help. Junior and I handled the seeds in the Vegetable Garden, while Izzy inspected the Berry Patch.

Stomping through what will be home to strawberries. 

The currants are looking pretty good this year!

I am going to need to read up on pruning them, however. It seems like most of the new growth is currant-less, and I'm not sure if I need to prune out old growth, or just prune to shape the plants and let more light in.

The red raspberries have spread as expected, and the allium and Dutch iris will definitely need to be relocated. I may be able to move enough plants to have a second row.
One of the "wild" black raspberries.

And the golden raspberries.

It's only the second year for the 'Pixwell' gooseberries.

Will I have enough for a pie?
Just then Izzy spied something...
One of the woefully neglected and rabbit attacked blueberries is getting fruit! I have plans to move the blueberries (and plant some new ones) across the back of the Berry Patch. Half of the overgrown grass and "weed" sunflowers have been removed, so I will have space for a new rhubarb plant as well as several blueberries. Progress is slow but certain!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hot and Sour Soup

Quick post today as I wind down the holiday weekend. The rain has stopped, so I think today should be a pretty good day for getting muddy and weeding. I made this last week, but all of the actual cooking pictures were beyond bad, so all you get it a shot of the finished product. Besides, you can just watch Sarah make the recipe here. 

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! 

And it tasted delicious.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Vegetable Garden Update

We got a late start in the Vegetable Garden this year because I really wanted to get more soil, and till and amend what was already there. The mesclun and radishes were put in on time, as were the peas (although the germination of two types of pea has been disappointing). All in all, with the long, and it seems cool, three day weekend ahead I should be able to catch up and sow the beets and carrots and okra and dill and basil...oh my!
I went out to the Do-It Best on Dupont Road where I had found the interesting tomatoes last year late in the season, and was not disappointed. The plants all look extremely healthy, and there was a great variety. I want to go back for peppers and some great looking begonias. They are all priced so reasonably! I'm also growing the tomatoes a little differently this year by using some salvaged hardwood posts, sunk about two feet into the ground, as support for the tomatoes to grow upright. The strong twine and tomato clips will support them, and they will get more direct sunlight grown this way. Pruning will be an issue, as I've never pruned tomatoes and you must in order to grow them like this, but I'll deal with that when we reach that point. 

Three healthy plants in a mound with a watering moat around each. This year we will be growing several interesting varieties. Some new to us, some are old standbys. 

We've grown these before. 

A different type of paste tomato.

We've had some success with these.

And great success with these.

A great beefsteak. 

I've never even heard of these!


'Cherokee Purple' is becoming pretty common in many backyard gardens.

The 'Persimmon' still needs a home. I did, however, also plant two Romas. Plus there are still three planters ready to fill with cherry and grape tomatoes. 

The only shelling peas that germinated. 

And the 'Dwarf Grey' sugar snaps always do well. I'm going to resow a few more rows of peas in the next few weeks.

Mesclun in the foreground, than a loose leaf lettuce 'Black Seeded Simpson', and several varieties of radish.

And the lovely border of chives is blooming away. Time to sprinkle some blossoms on a salad!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Colorful Columbines

Last Monday I showed you early spring in the Shade Garden. Boy has everything changed. The Spring bulbs have faded, aside from a few tulips hanging on, and have stepped aside to let the columbines take over center stage. For now. Again I am surprised at just how well everything is blooming this year. Last Spring was such a let down due to the heatwave and drought, that I'm relieved to watch everything bloom in the "normal" order. That said, It was pushing 90 degrees today.

For a few years the Aquilegia canadensis, or Canadian (or Eastern) columbine has been down to one little plant. Apparently last year was a great year for columbine's to sew their seeds because suddenly there are a lot of new plants all over the place.

That one plant in the foreground is the mother of all the other orange and red columbines. And because they are extremely interfertile with other members of the Aquilegia family, many varieties have been created after the introduction of Aquilegia vulgaris from Europe...and I'm sure we've had some cross-pollination of several plants right here in our Garden.

Hiding down among the foliage at the base of the tree in the picture above is a very cute peach and yellow columbine. Almost looks like the A. vulgaris version of A. canadensis.
Pure, upward facing yellow.

A lovely looking A.vulgaris, also known as the Common columbine and Granny's Bonnet.

I was surprised at how many flowered after being transplanted last year. As we were cleaning up and planting this bed, I was careful to save and move any little seedlings. Almost all of them grew to a pretty good size and are flowering.

Lifting his little head up for a better look.
On accident, it appears that the Shade Garden has turned into an (almost completely) Purple Garden, and the beds near the patio are full of mauve and pinks!
Although when this hairy poppy bud blooms it will be orange.

Such a vibrant color.

A pretty medium pink.

And a faded pink that turns almost lavender. We will definitely be scattering seeds this year between the two separate beds. And maybe adding a few new ones to the mix.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Early Spring in the Shade Garden

Just a few weeks ago the early Spring bulbs were just beginning to push up out of the ground. Time flies so fast! I think we are really beginning to do a good job of planting for a succession of blooms. Sure, most of the daffodils bloom in about the same 1-2 week period, but some start a bit earlier, some a bit later, and some are actually just starting! The same is true with the tulips. It seems all of the striped tulips we planted, no matter the location, were the last to bloom. Maybe I should just pay more attention to what I'm planting. 

Anyway, here's a look back at how quickly things change. Especially when you get a little heatwave.

The river of blue muscari lining the Shade Garden. It grows thicker every year.

This picture was taken on April 27. Wait until you see the "Ten Days Later" pic.

These frittilaria Uva-vulpis was something I had forgotten I planted. There were three little groupings of them and they were a nice surprise.

Love these double daffodils. They looked great once the red and yellow striped tulips opened.

Next up were the peach and darker rose-purple colored tulips. Everything else was still pretty low to the ground, just beginning to come up.

These played off the pink/peach centered daffodils on both sides of the path through the Shade Garden. Boy I need to mulch!

The Solomon's Seal making an appearance for a second year!

One day the Shade Garden was just starting to leaf out. The lily-of-the-valley had appeared slowly, and the the heatwave arrived and...
BAM!!! This picture was on May 7! Everything was up and going. I hurried to grab peony supports, dead headed what daffodils I could, and started paying closer attention to where things were planted as there are a few things I want to move from here to another location, as well as a few bare spots (believe it or not).

The Canadian wild ginger is spreading nicely. There are two clumps on either side of the bath that will begin to create a nice ground cover.

I can't wait to see the new tree peony bloom!

Names, names, names. I'm not good with names. I'm liking the way this unknown hosta looks, though!

And just as the tulips and daffodils fade, aside from the mini 'Cheerfulness' daffodils in the background, the allium begin to bloom. Here we go for round two! Or three? I've lost track.

A too bright picture, but you can see how much the new section has really filled in in just a year. The Japanese maple sent up a new shoot (after the larger portion was pronounced dead by yours truly), and one of the hellebores never showed up this Spring, but all in all things are shaping up better than expected. Now to work on some height in this little area. I'm thinking a pink dogwood and another Japanese maple. And then there is another shady area across the way to begin planning with a wide grass path between the two beds. And a new tree of some sort to pave the way for the removal of the big old locust tree. Plans, plans, plans...