Again you are looking at last week’s photo, shot just before I took off for a road trip to teach a workshop at Margaret Roach’s garden in the Berkshires. The garden was fairly unruly and overgrown before I left, but nothing like it is right now. Total mayhem! I’m not exaggerating. Even the dog doesn’t know what to make of the obstacle course out back.
From Left to Right:
Top Row: 1. ‘Arbuznyi’ Tomato ‘Arbuznyi’ is a Russian variety that gets its name from its striking, watermelon-like look. In hindsight, I could have positioned these better in the basket to best show the green stripes that contribute to their name. 2. Diascia ‘Genta Orange’ I’ve grown this floriferous orange annual for two seasons in a row as a container underplanting beneath big-leaved plants. The hot colour pairs well with chartreuse. 3. Red Orach (Atriplex hortensis) Orach is an edible green that I’d love to see more food gardeners in my region growing. It’s so easy, almost like free food. I’ve tried to get some of the golden variety going for a few years now with no luck, but some of these purple plants should show up on their own next spring.
Middle Row: 4. Bolivian Begonia (Begonia boliviensis) ‘Bonfire’ I love the elongated, cascading nature of this particular tuberous type as well as the bright orange blooms. 5. ‘Benning’s Green Tint Patty Pan’ You saw its flowers a few weeks back, now here is the fruit. This one is at least double the size I typically allow them to grow; however, I lost it in the foliage. I’m glad I found it before it got any larger! 6. ‘Chinese Ornamental’ Hot Pepper (Capsicum annum) I grow this tiny hot pepper variety every year and often over-winter it indoors. They are the perfect size for popping into pickles when you want a little heat and the plant is small enough that it can be grown just about anywhere.
Bottom Row: 7. ‘Perpetual Pesto’ Basil (Ocimum spp.) This is the finickiest basil I have ever grown. It hates cool, wet weather more than any other variety. I had 10 plants last year and only one made it to the start of the season. To be safe I stuck with only one this spring and wouldn’t you know it we had a dry spring, perfect conditions for this variety. 8. Raspberries I received these plants for free and have no clue which variety they are. The plants are in their prime right now so I am assuming that they are an everbearing type. I’ll know for sure next year. 9. ‘Lettuce Leaf’ Basil (Ocimum spp.) The large, sandwich-sized leaves make this an absolute must-grow variety each year. In fact, I am thinking about enjoying a fried egg sandwich piled with lettuce leaf basil for today’s lunch, which I will go make in just a few minutes.
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.