Friday, April 26, 2013

Grow, Write: The Calm Before the Riot

Grow Write Guild
I'm joining in with the fans of You Grow Girl to participate in the Grow Write Guild. The latest writing prompt kicks off a recurring series exploring the changes we observe in our gardens. There is no more dramatic change in my garden than what occurs at this time of year. Because coming out of winter is a joyous thing for me, this time of year would be stellar no matter what. But there is also just something about the anticipation of watching plants emerge. I almost like the buds as much as the blooms. Had I done this exercise just two weeks ago, the images would be a lot more gray and brown, but the gist is the same--stuff is happening! 

In the native plant shade garden, Tiarella (foamflower) and red-twigged dogwood are the only blooms right now, the service berry tree and blood root having already flowered. It's more about the shades of green. Soon, all of the green will be punctuated by a series of white and pale pink mostly spire-like flowers, with the exception of Anemone and the violets that are found throughout all of the gardens. Neighbors' trees (like the dogwood seen in the upper left background, and poke weed later in summer) complete the picture.


After this "Betty" Magnolia blooms, it forms a great privacy screen. There is mostly green in this area right now as well, but once it does start blooming, the mostly pale flowers are a transition from the native shade garden's white flowers to the brightest and most sun-soaked part of the garden. The floppy daffodils (bottom right) were moved when I realized I needed more early spring activity here. They will soon be obscured by grasses and Veronicastrum. I've tried to repeat the grayish-green of the lamb's ear and iris and pick up the reddish tones of the neighbor's plants with a ninebark shrub. Later in the season, the bright pink blooms of the neighbor's crepe myrtle will also be echoed in my garden. You can still see my crazy plant tags (a necessity if I am not to destroy my forgotten plantings).
This sunny bed is much less subtle once summer rolls around. Only the blueberries (bird feeders only), forget-me-nots, and blue star (Amsonia) are blooming now, plus the lilac we inherited with the house (in the corner, closeup below). As much as I like the verdant green and the swelling buds, it does not all come together until summer, when the Lavender, Monarda (bee balm), Echinacea (cone flower), and Baptisia (wild indigo) are all blooming. Next up, though, are the Iris and Allium bulbs. There is a strange oniony aroma from the Alliums as well as the Fritillaria that recently bloomed (I guess that is why squirrels avoid both). Then, you pick up wafts of lilac!

On to the edibles. In this corner, I've let parsley, chives, cilantro, and arugula grow with abandon. I also have sage, oregano, sorrel, caraway, and rhubarb. The rose bushes are edible, too, if I get around to doing something with the petals (maybe a jam). I need to add cumin, fenugreek, and some other herb oddities.

On either side of my new hammock (!), I have a never ending supply of leeks, lettuce, and bolting Brussels sprouts and kale. All survived the zone 7 winter with ease. The vine is Carolina Jessamine.
The rest of the vegetable garden sits in the sunniest part of the yard. The fence is taller on this side, so I can use it as a support for a native honeysuckle, plus raspberries and blackberries. It never ceases to amaze me how flat it is now, and how in late summer it will be full of towering okra, tomatoes, and bean plants.

With travel and irregular weather, the spring plantings have mostly been a bust. Luckily, I overwintered fava beans and greens. I am mostly biding my time getting ready to plant the summer crops. The fact that I have spinach and lettuce is reason enough to garden.

These strawberries have a nice habit of fruiting while I am on vacation. 

I've had a nice little supply of asparagus though.

My view from the kitchen window:

Although I'm going to try to avoid obsessing over the numerous tasks these photos show me I need to do--namely edging to keep the weed-choked lawn from encroaching--it's always nice to take stock of where things stand in the garden. I also enjoy the satisfaction of reflecting back on what I've accomplished in just four years! (All of this was planted where just weeds and grass stood before.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Here's Hoping...

... That these tomatoes (Tess's Land Race currant type) perform as well as they look right now! (Especially considering last year's dismal harvest.)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Brussels Sprouts Post-bolting

Over wintering Brussels sprouts was more tricky than expected, solely because spring came in with a few days of nearly 90 degree days. A work trip coincided with this event, so I came home to, well, sprouting sprouts.
No matter, like the loose leafy sprouts that we ate raw last week, the long shoots are not bitter at all and roasted beautifully. I paired them with roasted leeks and mushrooms, served over polenta. A last blast of winter eating!

Saturday, April 13, 2013