Once again work deadlines have pushed last week’s Herbaria into this week. Still, I was sure to take the photograph last week — it just took me until this week to do the write-up.
This collection marks the 8th box that I have done so far. I figured it was high time to write up an F.A.Q for those who were not around for box #1. You’ll it at the end of this post.
Tomatoes dominated my attention last week. We enjoyed our first two varieties, and I was sure to document the occasion by adding them to the box. Each week I take care to choose plants that stand out in the garden or that have a short lifespan and will not be around by the next week. While my garden may be small, I have packed it full of so many things that it isn’t easy to keep track and I find as the weeks go on I have to refer back to old boxes to be sure that I wasn’t repeating myself or missing something important. I am now finding that despite my diligence some things have fallen through the cracks. My blueberry harvest is one example. The bushes were full of fruit just a few weeks ago, but I have since missed their season. Here’s hoping I don’t miss anything else of importance moving forward.
From Left to Right:
Top Row: 1. ‘Hahms Gelbe Topftomate’ Dwarf Tomato This year’s winner of the race to be the first to ripen. We’ve enjoyed several since and there are plenty more on the way. I included a leaf because their rugose form is so pretty. 2. California Poppy This orange poppy is a rogue that must have found its way into a packet of ‘Buttercream.’ I should not have allowed it to stick around long enough to cross-pollinate with and contaminate my other plants, but I am a big sap so it stayed. 3. Pea unknown variety All of the peas got mixed up in last week’s big end-of-season harvest so I am not sure which this is. I allowed them to mature on the vine for replanting next year, and now I don’t know what is what. Another batch for the mystery pile.
Middle Row: 4. Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa) I purchased this plant on a whim last fall from the sale section of my local garden center. It cost five dollars and was not in the best condition. Jerusalem sage is not a sage, but it does have velvety, silver leaves that resembles many of the salvias I know and love. I’ve noticed that when rubbed, the leaves have a mild, resinous scent. It is a Mediterranean plant that sits on the cusp of hardy in my region, but I took a chance on it anyway, keeping in mind that it might have a chance with my sandy soil and a little protection. Low and behold we had a very mild winter and the plant thrived. Hooray for sale plants and chances taken! 5. Clematis ‘Jan Fopma’ This plant was a gift from my friend Barry who is the most enthusiastic clematis collector I have ever met and the reason why I have pushed through a longstanding aversion/fear of growing them. My (lofty) goal is to populate the ugly, low, wire fence that came with this yard with clematis flowers that bloom all season long. This is my second year in and despite several examples of their toughness, I continue to live with an ever-present, irrational fear of killing them, especially the plants that Barry gave me! Clematis come in so many shapes, forms, and growth habits. It’s exciting but frightening all at once. I strongly prefer bell-shaped flowers like the ‘Jan Fopma.’ I want this one or this one next. Baby steps! 6. Delosperma dyeri ‘Psold’ sold with the name ‘Red Mountain’ Iceplant Not sure why, but it took me until this year to clue into the fact that delosperma is a hardy, tough succulent. Until this year I had been coddling them in pots and bringing them indoors for the winter. This year I am transplanting them all into the ground or somewhere outside. I have planted this one into the cinderblock retaining wall that we constructed to elevate the lowest part of the garden. I don’t advise this treatment if you live in a more temperate climate as they are a known menace.
Bottom Row: 7. California Poppy ‘Buttercream’ Two weeks in and this poppy is still blooming strong. I absolutely love it! 8. ‘Ditmarsher’ Determinate (Bushing) Tomato This early variety, that often wins top placement in the race to be the first to ripen has taken second place this year. It is followed by ‘Whippersnapper,’ which I enjoyed yesterday. I always grow at least one of these varieties, but elected to grow both this year in order to test their differences/similarities. The seeds were sown at the same time, and the transplants set outdoors simultaneously in identical containers. It’s still early days yet so I haven’t drawn any conclusions. 9. ‘Pasilla Bajio’ Chile Pepper I could not assemble this week’s collection without including one of these peppers. I started the seed very early — sometime in January. Consequently, they are very early. I believe this is the forth or fifth that I’ve harvested. They are supposed to turn blackish when dried, but I have been harvesting the fruit slightly before maturation as it is still so early in the season and I want to encourage the plants to produce a lot more fruit yet. Disclaimer: I received the seeds for this variety as a gift from Botanical Interests when I visited their warehouse and seed packing facility last June. Seeing that many seeds in one place actually made me cry a little.
What is this?
An herbarium is a collection of plant specimens. Herbaria is the plural form. A collection of collections.
Every week, until I can no longer find anything living to fill up the boxes, I am photographing and posting a collection of flowers, leaves, stems, and other plant parts that are in my garden. This is an experiment in celebrating diversity and I hope it will allow me to focus more closely on the beauty that is inherent in the different parts of each plant. It also serves as a visual file of the seasons and a record of my garden, my gardening practice, and the plants that I choose to grow.
Why doesn’t this start at the beginning of the calendar year or garden season?
I would have preferred starting this project at either of those times, but alas, that is now how things worked out. The idea for this project came to me rather spontaneously one May morning as I sat pondering how I could best use a stack of nine wooden, pint-sized fruit boxes that I had recently purchased at the flea market. I have a thing for wooden boxes and I love to display little collections of cherished items within them. These nine little boxes begged to be kept together as a display — it didn’t take long before the idea came to mind: little boxes within a box, framed within weeks and months of boxes. Within the hour I had worked out the logistics of the project and was photographing my first box. That was May 16, 2012.