Butter and Eggs (Linaria vulgaris) growing out of the gravel on abandoned railroad tracks.
I came upon this shopping cart planter the other day while riding my bike along College Street here in Toronto. The planter sits outside a restaurant located at the corner of College and Clinton, perched up high atop a metal outdoor patio fence.
What I love about it is that it is such an affront to the typical planter box. I’m a firm believer that anything that can hold soil can function as a container. And if it can’t hold soil, with a little innovation it can most likely be made to. In this case the designer simply used the basket of the cart like a wire hanging basket, lining it with burlap to allow drainage but also keep soil in. The planter is deep enough to house some pretty deep roots so really the only challenge comes in keeping the soil consistently moist. We’ve had a very forgiving wet and cool season so far which is why those violas are holding up so well into the month of July. In addition to the violas they’ve included some other edibles including strawberries, mint, Vietnamese coriander aka ‘Rau Ram’, nasturtium, rosemary and thyme.
The planter is great, but I’m most in love with their sign… I just can’t figure out the logistics involved in urinating in a planter box that high up. Given what I have experienced with my own public garden I can believe that anything is possible and that some people will go to acrobatic feats to make the impossible possible. But still… how do they do it? And what’s more bewildering, why?
Calendula had been self-seeding itself in my community garden plot in abundance, until last year when I put in a lot of soil amenders. I think the seeds got buried too deeply underneath all that extra compost. No matter, some are still coming up and in manageable quantities. The borage continue to self-seed with no noticeable change in population.
The flowers in this picture are not from my community garden. Those flowers are yellow, and try as I might I can’t get a bright orange variety to come up. No matter, this year I started some unusual varieties from seed and transplanted them into the garden. I’ll post pictures when they start to bloom.
I was invited to an apartment warming at my brother’s newish place the other night and since I had already treated him to a whole new garden, hereby known as “The Gift That Covers Me Off for Gift Giving Until 2010,” I decided I wanted to bring something but that that something should be simple and not cost money. The great thing about gardening, beyond the thousands of other more important reasons, is that there is always something available last-minute to gift to friends. I can just step outside and find homegrown edibles or flowers in a pinch that just about anyone will appreciate.
After all, who doesn’t like homegrown food or flowers? Granted, I’m sure if we looked hard enough we could find one or two out there in America but still…
As I was saying, a gift was in order. A gift that says, “Congratulations on your new apartment! Here’s something nice and useful to commemorate a meaningful life step but, you know, you’re my brother and dude, until I get a higher paying job or miraculously unearth a winning scratch ticket buried in the street garden… enjoy some quality homegrown herbs and edible delights.” Of course, I’m saying that cynically because in truth a winning scratch ticket would not change my desire to share the homegrown goodness. I’d just wrap it all in fresh, crisp hundred dollar bills.
And that is what I did (minus the cash money). My brother has been speaking highly of his new herb garden and all of the delicious herbed omelets he has been enjoying however I knew his plants were still small and were probably strained by enthusiastic and vigorous picking. My plants on the other hand are all well-established. I am actually over-run this year with sage, oregano and marjoram. I have been making herbal bouquets for myself for some time now and it only made sense to harvest a selection of yummy herbs, tie it up like a floral bouquet and give it as a gift. Flowers are nice but this bouquet keeps on giving. What’s more my bouquet was literally free since the butcher paper and twine was recycled from the packaging used to wrap flowers bought at the market. Yes, I have become my grandmother, holding onto every last scrap of packaging in hope of a possible future use.
The bouquet I made for my brother is not the one depicted. That one included garlic scapes I had picked just that day, as well as a selection of assorted thyme varieties and large sprigs of fresh rosemary. The gift was a surprise hit with party goers wondering about that twisted oddity (garlic scapes) poking out of the bundle. I’m sure if my bouquet had included homegrown herbs of another sort I would have made a lot of new friends fast… however it did not and the love fest lasted a total of 10 minutes.
If you make your own, choose whatever you’ve got on hand or try for herbs that compliment one another. Help the recipient unwrap the package as soon as possible and get the herbs into water so that anything that has wilted can be revived. This is also your chance to talk about the herbs so your friend knows a garlic scape from a frightening alien life form and how they can use them in their next meal.
Another wasteland favourite, Butter and Eggs thrives and blooms where most plants won’t.