Wednesday, May 21, 2014

New Begonias!

I really need to limit my collecting.

 I've pretty much put a stop to adding plates and glasses to my collections, unless, of course, that odd piece of jadeite or drabware pops up. And I've put a complete halt on book buying, except for when I find something wonderful at a thrift store. I've slowed quite a bit on milk glass and pottery, although on a recent trip to Broadway Antiques I found several small McCoy planters I really must have. My collections are being edited down and rearranged and re purposed. Kind of.  All of my collections, that is, except for my plants.

I've always had the odd begonia picked up from a big box store or a clearance rack at a nursery. Last summer, however, I began finding different varieties. They did quite well in the dining room in the bright indirect light of the North facing windows, and they have given me the confidence I needed to branch out a bit and buy a few more different types primarily for their foliage.

Now that I feel more confident in growing them, I may begin investing more by ordering some from Logee's. I've always looked longingly at 'Marmaduke', and 'Flamenco' has always caught my eye. Perhaps I will have better luck with a begonia collection than I have with my staghorn ferns. But that is a different story of collecting.
Amazing leaves on this nameless Rex begonia. They are very red when they first open and fade to a mauvey-silver.

The undersides are gorgeous.

My Crinkle-Leaf begonia is a type of Rhizomatous begonia native to Brazil. I really should cut it back and see if it fills out, as it looks rather like a bonsai experiment at the moment.

'Lana' is a cane-like angel-wing begonia with great leaves.
I was also excited to use some of my new Guy Wolff pots on these new begonias. They are mass produced versions of the master potter's designs, and therefore much more affordable. Guy Wolff has been making custom pots for Martha Stewart for years. 

The underside of the leathery leaves are a rich burgundy-red.

This little guy is a Rex begonia called 'Fireworks'.
The swirling purplish-grayish-greenish top of the leaves give way to more red and green on the underside.

This is Rex begonia Shadow King 'Rothko'. He is pretty amazing. I bought him for myself as a birthday present.


The leaves have a shimmering quality that is rather amazing, as well as the awesome polka-dotted edges.

New leaves emerge green and pink before turning red and black.

The underside of 'Rothko'.


'Gryphon' is a hybrid begonia making appearances all over big box stores and garden centers as an annual for shade gardens.

I love the huge, long-stemmed leaves.

A new leaf beginning to grow.

Another Fibrous begonia, 'My Special Angel' is an angel-wing begonia with beautiful foliage.


The silver spots are almost metallic when they catch the light.


Most of the Rex begonias all together in a corner.

I love this grouping along with some of the old blown paperweights my Grandma passed down to me. Hopefully they will continue to thrive, and accept some new additions as I continue with my latest collection.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Fleeting Weeks of Daffodil Season-A First Attempt at Documenting Them All

The past few weeks the Garden has been at the height of Daffodil Season. Each Fall we add a few more varieties, and each Spring we are rewarded with the blooms. We have several early bloomers, like 'Ice Follies' (white with a pale yellow cup) that have been in their clumps for quite some time and need to be divided, as well as others that are making their second or third appearance, spreading out a bit more every year.

Daffodils really are a wonderful flower that give maximum returns on very little care or investment. Plus no critters enjoy eating them, so they are quite safe to plant anywhere. I dream of a day when I can have great swathes of them planted in a meadow or woodland, but until the day when my dreams become a reality, I am perfectly happy with my many, and always increasing, varieties in the garden. Aside from the increasingly diverse bulbs available in the Fall at nursery centers and big box stores, Brent and Becky's Bulbs is an excellent source.

I thought I took a picture of almost every type we grow, but as I look at these few pictures I realized I missed many, like 'Ice Follies', 'Tete-a-Tete', 'Jetfire', and many of the split corona and pink-cupped varieties. There are 13 Divisions of daffodils, and the American Daffodil Society has a nice breakdown of these divisions on their website.

I'll try again next year-and use my camera rather than iPhone.

It's always wonderful to bring home buckets of blooms!


'Barrett Browning' At least I think this is 'Barrett Browning'. He's a wee bit faded in this picture. My mom planted these somewhere between 1979-1981 and they have since been divided so many times that they are the main Spring attraction in the front beds every year. Once the flowers come up small or there are very few in a large clump it's time to divide them again.
Not sure who this is, but he's a classic yellow daffodil.

'Mount Hood' The trumpet opens yellow and fades to white.

'Red Gem', picked a little late in the season.

'Tahiti' So mad he's blurry! 

'Solar Wind' Another Division 4 Double Daffodil

'Hardy Lee'

'Pink Radiance'

'Pink Charm'
'Pink Charm' often has two flowers per stem.


A fading 'Red Devon'.


'Kiss Me'

'Salome' a very pretty salmon to peach colored cup.

Another 'Hardy Lee'
'Pacific Coast' is teeny!


'Thalia' pure white and always is supposed to be moved to the white garden. This year, I swear it will happen!

'Golden Ducat' We have several clumps of these guys around the garden, but they bloom so late that the buds in the full sun beds often sort of dry up. They will all be marked, and after the foliage fades dug up and relocated to shadier locales.
'Cheerfulness'
'Yellow Cheerfulness' is an heirloom variety and a sport of 'Cheerfulness'

One of the few Division 11 Split Coronas that I have a pic of, and he is fading fast.  Not sure of his name.
'New Baby'

So little I didn't even pick him!

Another Division 11 Split Corona type, this is 'Tripartite'

'Geranium' is so fragrant! These were planted years ago between the peonies in the vegetable garden original to the house. That garden has gone from vegetable, to cutting (which is when I think I planted these) to it's current and final incarnation as the Berry Patch.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Asparagus Season is Here - Asparagus and Gruyere Tart

It's that time of year when the asparagus spears start pushing through the garden soil, and gardeners everywhere clap their hands. Unless you are a gardener with a mature patch and more asparagus than you know what to do with. This has never been the case for me, but every year I read social media posts from people bemoaning the overabundance of asparagus in their garden, and I want to shake them. I believe asparagus is a good thing of which there can never be too much! I mean, at least give it away to your friends!

So if you are one of those gardeners with too much, or someone who just loves asparagus, make this asparagus and Gruyere tart and watch it disappear. 

All the ends snapped off and ready to go! Did you know you can just hold the end of the asparagus and bend the stem and the end will snap off wherever the tough meets the tender part? I mean, as long as it's fresh you can. If it's already really bendy you probably don't want to eat it.

OK, asparagus washed and dried, Gruyere grated, let's go.

I don't have a "before baking" picture, but clearly I should have pierced deeper in the center and cut my edge better.

However, it's really not going to matter.

See? It looks so good!


I actually made this for Easter and it traveled really well wrapped in parchment and then foil on top of the cutting board. So simple, so delicious, and the leftovers are perfect for lunch the next day.