Friday, March 31, 2006

spring chives Posted by Picasa

Garden Gifts

I opened the garden gate this morning. It is tough when your vegetable garden is 500 miles and a ferry ride away. But I am here and none the worse for wear. It was a warm day for New England, and I found the spinach was pushing up against its white row cover. I shall nibble on it some this week and look forward to a modest spring crop.

In the herb garden, only the chives are showing signs of life and I did snip some for my eggs this morning.

Buried beneath the surface is that wonderful spring sweetness … parsnips. Tomorrow I shall make a spring dug parsnip chowder.

I like having crops in the garden for spring eating. They are like little gifts. This year I will try to over winter leeks.

The apple trees have not been eaten to nubs by the deer. In the fall we had built an 8 ft. fence using tall bamboo for the posts. One of the bamboo poles snapped over the winter and the deer have had access for awhile, I guess. I only see damage on one tree. I shall measure them tomorrow and check against my records. I was out there with the Bobbex this morning trying to make them less appetizing. No “little gifts” for the deer.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Mr. Mallard visits the nation's capital Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Cherry Blossom report

We have a peak bloom date forecast for this year’s cherry blossoms --> March 26-28. They are a sight to behold. I went down to the Tidal Basin this morning to see how they were faring in the cold nights we’ve been having. They are in the phase right now called “peduncle elongation” and it is a frost critical stage. So far they are holding back enough that I don’t see any damage. And ironies of ironies, it looks like peak will actually coincide with the Cherry Blossom Festival this year. Often they have come and gone by the time the lantern is lit.

The trick to enjoying the cherry blossoms is to go in the morning … the real early morning … with a thermos of coffee, some croissants and a blanket. No one is there, the sun is brilliant AND you can park. Any other time of day is an exercise in frustration and enjoying nature should not raise your blood pressure.

I uncovered a little unknown piece of history about the trees once when I was doing research on WWII and the home front. The trees were a gift from the government of Japan in 1912. On December 11th 1941 relations with Japan were not so good, and the city awoke to find several of the trees chopped down. The DAR flew into action and mobilized the local chapter to symbolically chain themselves to the cherry trees. If you wanted to chop down a cherry tree, you were going to have to chop down a daughter of the American Revolution in order to do it. The vandalism ceased, and the trees were renamed “Oriental Flowering Cherries” for the duration of the war.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The seed order Posted by Picasa

Hope springs eternal. Green Globe Artichokes. Posted by Picasa

Seed Order

I mailed off my Fedco seed order this morning. I have been wrestling with it because I have to rethink my vegetable garden this year. My husband will be in Paris June through August and this will have implications for the garden, as I will join him for some of that assignment. I need to think of below ground items for this year’s garden. So I have ordered all kinds of carrots. I never do plant enough of them. I will plant no pole beans, no cucumbers, and no corn. I WILL plant tomatoes, but not as many. And I will plant …..TAH DAH …. Sweet potatoes. I found a wonderful ordering site for slips in Tennessee, Steele Plant Company. This may also be the year I try fingerling potatoes.

And then there are the artichokes. I swear, I must be a masochist. Last year I planted a dozen and one survived. And that one never really grew up to be an artichoke. They are very susceptible to damping off, so this year I planted them in very dry starter mix, and I have sprouts … 5 of them. Also I changed the variety this year from Imperial Star to Green Globe. I did so on the advice of a gardener at Monticello. He was quite adamant that there was a significant difference in the two varieties. Artichokes seem to survive as a perennial most years in Charlottesville. I am attempting the same in New England.

So no two years are the same and you can’t always plant what you want. But it’s still fun and an adventure.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Worth the wait Posted by Picasa


There ought to be a picture of an amaryllis next to the word anticipation in the dictionary. They seem to take FOREVER to show their glory. But glorious they are. I think I was tricked years ago into thinking these were showy Christmas plants. Make that March for me. I’ve taken to propagating them from side shoot bulbs and have pretty much stopped buying them.

I feed them well all spring and then place them, pots and all, below ground for the summer in bright sunshine. I’ve experimented with taking them out of pots, but they like being pot bound. Around Labor Day I pull them out of the ground, snip their foliage and their roots and put them into the cellar until Thanksgiving to rest. It’s become something of a Thanksgiving ritual to pot them after the bird goes in the oven.

About two years ago I started cutting them during bloom and placing them in vases. They continue to fully bloom in water and I think there’s a little less stress on the bulb that way.

Anticipation Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 04, 2006

flower vase Posted by Picasa

flower vase Posted by Picasa

American Crafts Council

Last weekend we went up to Baltimore to shop for crafts at the Baltimore ACC Show. Our purchases were mostly vases for flowers.

However, one of our first stops was at the booth of Andrew Van Assche. Andrew is a self taught ceramicist who caught my eye nearly six years ago with a series of tiles and plates he did on carrots. In particular I was charmed by a tile he did of a farmer in the rain (with which you are all familiar).

I love this tile because it speaks to me of the groundedness I feel as a gardener and the oneness (see the number 1 in upper left corner?) I feel with elements when there are things growing in my garden. I like that there are still parsnips and garlic below ground in my garden waiting for my return.

Since then Andrew has moved on to more abstract tiles all of which tell a story. Here is the one I purchased this year.

What story do you see?