It’s that time of year where so much is going on in the garden, I can’t keep up. I LOVE it!
Clockwise from Top Left: 1. Two types of mint, pink snapdragons, and a geranium in pots. I set these pots on a metal table at the back of the garden, in front of the ramshackle shed. The geranium was not happy there and has since been moved. 2. My friend Barry bought me two of these video blue metal pails a few years ago. I love the colour and always try to plant them up with complimentary plants. This one is currently holding yellow violas and pansies. 3. My lunch on holiday Monday. The salad is from the garden. It was sprinkled with dianthus petals that are now blooming in full force in the dry bed garden. 4. May 19.
Assorted and Sundry
An article I wrote about cherry tomatoes was published in the summer 2012 issue of Garden Making Magazine.
A review of my recent book, “Easy Growing” in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Interview about planting weekend with Metro Morning News’ Matt Galloway. p.s. I am eating my words when it comes to basil because this has been the hottest late May I can recall. I have put my basil out, probably the earliest ever! p.s.s I should have mentioned Hens and Chicks aka sempervivums to the question about indestructible. Tough as nails and hardy to the cold, too.
Recently on HGTV Gardens I answered questions about Making Thrifty, D.I.Y Containers, Where and How to Score Bargain Plants, and Trouble with Lettuce That Won’t Form Heads.
Have a great weekend! And happy long weekend to my American friends.
This week’s Herbaria is a tribute to columbine (Aquilegia) and some of its friends. There’s a lot going on in the garden right now, but chances are good that this will be the last week that they are all blooming at the same time and I was eager to see them assembled together as a collection.
Aquilegia are charming, graceful, meadow flowers that dance and sway in the breeze on long, thin stems. They are generally very profuse self-seeders, although I planted a deep wine colored double last year that broke the rule and did not reproduce or come back, period. [Shakes fist] Despite the rare exception, they are very easy plants to grow and the toughest of the bunch will succeed in surprisingly shady locations.
Aquilegia are a diverse group with plants in a wide range of forms, colors, and flower shapes. I tend towards the simple native types and the elegant double flowers. I am generally not a fan of the two-toned or very open flowers, although you can see that there is an exception in my collection. Of the flowers and leaves I have assembled below, there is one missing that I was not able to add here, a dark double called ‘Black Barlow.’ I put it in as a bare root early this spring and it will be another year before the flowers make an appearance. Plus, Davin moved it and I don’t know exactly where it is so I couldn’t find a leaf to include.
In the future I hope to add the native Aquilegia canadensis to my garden, but I’m waiting to get one in trade. I just can’t bring myself to purchase a plant that reproduces so readily!
Building an outdoor compost bin was the very first thing we did when we started working on the new yard last spring. We made our bin on the cheap by upcycling a busted futon frame that was left in the yard by former occupants. So far the bin has worked beautifully, but like all one-bin systems it has its downsides. Keeping the bin aerated is a chore, and the fresh, ready-made compost is a pain to extract from the very bottom of the pile. The bin is also open to vermin, and while nesting rodents can be discouraged simply by keeping a well-maintained pile, I have had at least one unwelcome occupant in my years working with D.I.Y compost piles.
Homemade bins are very viable and often far superior to the cheap black plastic contraptions sold by the City (our kept falling apart and eventually housed a wasp nest), but they are not ideal. For that reason I have longed to try a really good composting system, specifically a tumbler that makes easy work of turning a heavy pile. Still, when eartheasy contacted me about trying out the Jora JK125 Tumbling Composter I was intrigued but extremely hesitant as I wasn’t sure where or how I would cram a second composting unit into an already jam-packed, narrow urban yard.
Over the years, my motto as an obsessive plant hoarder working within exceptionally tight spaces has been, “I’ll make it fit.” And somehow, magically, I always do. The only reason I was able to to manage it here is because the Jora is a self-contained unit. It smells a bit when the balance of greens and browns is off, but even then we’re only subjected to a marginally funky smell when the lid is opened. Beyond that, it’s a really easy composting system to live with. I specifically located my D.I.Y bin way at the back of the garden, away from the house, but I was able to cram the Jora into our outdoor seating area, nearly touching the table I eat at. So far so good. Some people decorate their outdoor living areas with decorative water features, attractive container plantings, or charming woodstoves. I sit down to dinner next to an industrial-green, powder-coated steel, 33 gallon compost bin.
Every week, from now until I can no longer find anything living to fill up the boxes, I will be 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 will also serve as a visual file of the seasons.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I know I will enjoy putting them together. I can’t wait to show you more! The garden is so full and alive right now, I could have put together several for this week alone.
We’re hitting that magical time of the season when a growing portion of our meals are gleaned from the garden. I enjoy moving around the space, snipping bits of this and that from here and there. I have edibles tucked in everywhere. There are lettuce seedlings in every bed, except the dry one. They would not fair well there.
Yesterday’s lunch, a simple salad (Except the eggs. No chickens here. Le sigh. Oh, and the cheese.) came from the garden.
Here’s my process:
- Photo Top Left: ‘Four Seasons’ lettuce. This is the same lettuce that miraculously overwintered. I dug up the seedlings and planted them here and there.
- Photo Top Right: Harvesting assorted edible greens. These include: Two types of spinach, bloody dock, chive flowers, viola flowers, French Sorrel, pea shoots, curly parsley, violet leaves, another type of lettuce (I forget), curly cress, ‘Green Wave’ mustard, mizuna, ‘Red Frills’ mizuna, spring onion, lemon balm, mint, and borage seedlings. These are just a few examples of salad fixins you can grow.
- Photo Bottom Left: Easy dressing done right in the bowl. Just add your greens and toss. Olive oil, a dash of Balsamic vinegar, grated Parmesan cheese, chopped chive blossoms and parsley.
- Photo Bottom Right: And eat. With boiled eggs and asparagus. Enjoyed with a kefir milk smoothie.