This Plains Pricklypear (Opuntia polyacantha) was a new addition to the garden, planted just this spring so I was surprised when a flower appeared. All of my other opuntias took at least one full season to put out flowers.
And what a stunning dusty peachy-pink colour it is! One of the small consequences of “going to the desert to see the really big cactus” (this is how I put it to my six year-old neighbour) is that I missed out on the first blooms produced by many of the cacti in my own garden, so I feel especially fortunate to have caught this one.
I saw a lot of amazing plants on the desert trip, some with fascinating stories and critical ethnobotanic ties to the region. Yet, with so many to choose from and so many photographs far better than these, even I find it a little bit odd that I chose to begin with one so tiny and insignificant.
I suppose my affection for this plant has something to do with how I found it.
I’m not sure when I made the transition from rose-hater to rose-eater. These days I have several roses planted in my garden, most of which have been chosen specifically for their eat- and use-ability. All roses are edible, but only those that smell fragrant taste good. Scentless roses are flavourless.
I recently returned from a long trip to an explosion of fresh blooms specifically from the three climbing roses that are planted in front of my ramshackle shed. Two of the three were planted last season and are doing well, but the third, a beautifully scented orange and golden variety called ‘Westerland’ that is now in its third year here has gone absolutely gangbusters. I have been harvesting a generous basketful of fresh blooms every day since my return and it doesn’t seem to be stopping. Once this flush is done there will be at least one more smaller flush later in the season.
I preserve the blooms in several ways, but today I thought I’d share the quickest and easiest method: drying.
I have long sung the praises of the perpetual aka perennial onion. Allow a few to multiply each year and you will have them forever.
I started growing one such type, ‘Egyptian Walking’ onion (Allium proliferum) aka tree onion in my community garden plot well over a decade ago. The exact date is a lost memory to me now as is how I came by it in the first place, but I suspect that I may have been growing from the same stock for approaching 18 years. In that time I have passed on countless full-sized onions and bulbils (the small bulbs that form at the top of mature plants) to friends and neighbours without making the slightest dent in my own yearly harvest.
Indeed they do. Or at least I do. We like spinach and we eat a lot of it, so it’s a good thing I sowed a nice-sized crop this spring. I grew two varieties: ‘Bordeaux,’ a stunning variety with bright pink stems and leaf veining, and ‘Monstrueux de Viroflay,’ an heirloom with monster-sized leaves.