The last of the tomato crop are racing to ripen on withering vines. The roselle is showing signs of cold damage and gaping holes are appearing in the garden beds where warm season annuals were once lush and thriving.
I feel blue. The garden season is winding down and while various contraptions will be employed to keep the food coming for some time yet, and even though several plants will join me indoors, creating a lush jungle in my office and the cold “greenhouse” out front, it’s just not the same.
Winter is not summer.
When I think of the months ahead, I can’t seem to get down with huddling up indoors plotting next year’s plan, nor can I anticipate the look of my new garden’s first winter. They are nice ideas, but I could do without them. Instead, I imagine myself cautiously traipsing into the garden in my bare feet to pick fresh herbs for dinner. I recall the heavy, smell of the sweet smell of the nicotiana flowers at night and rescuing the last head of sorghum from the squirrels. I don’t want that to end. I want it to keep going year-round. I want the roselle to get their chance to bloom. I want to cut back the hot peppers and the tomatoes and start anew. I want to be greeted each morning by a lush scene from my kitchen window and the promise of some new magic to discover.
I don’t want the long, cold break. I don’t want the slow, dark days and the blanket of winter to cover it all up. I don’t want to rest. I want to keep going.
I’m still suffering from extreme sleep deprivation and killer jet lag from hell, and have decided to roll out the Thailand trip coverage slowly with this Polaroid I took at the Mae Sa Orchid Farm just outside Chiang Mai. Thanks so much to Heather Champ who kindly gifted me with three packs of 600 film for the trip.
This was our first stop in Chiang Mai, visited directly after leaving the airport and on our way out into the countryside to have lunch and visit the Botanical Garden (which I will post about later). It was exciting to see so many orchids in one place and I was surprised by how enthusiastic I was to see more since we’d already been in Thailand for a while by this point and had seen our fair share. Orchids are everywhere in Thailand. Literally everywhere, including street plantings and highway underpasses.
Most of the orchids grown on the farm were vandas, which are extremely difficult to grow here in Toronto as they require a consistently humid environment. It was probably their extra specialness that contributed to my enthusiasm.
The farm presented each of us with a fresh orchid corsage on the way in, and I got another one when I flew Thai Airlines to Beijing. I even got one as a garnish when I ordered coconut water at in a cafe.
In the Caribbean, that’s what they call peppers that look like hot peppers but aren’t. Although, I have also heard the term used with hot peppers, too. I suspect they really are hot, just not by West Indian standards. All of these were hot, let me tell you, and incredibly aromatic. But hot, ho yeah, at least by my standards.
There was a time when I took pride in my ability to withstand the hottest hot peppers, but those days are long gone. My nearly middle aged digestive system would rather not, thank you ever so much and good night. I like growing hot peppers, and it is always fun to discover a new variety, but these days I enjoy them in small doses.
The green peppers in this photo were a gift from Stevie, Not Wonder. The little peppers were found growing on a bush behind our cottage. The rest were collected here and there. Pepper bushes are fantastically huge in the Caribbean heat. They grow on and on into perpetuity and are not hard to come by.
I’ve spent the last month steeped in lavender. I’ve photographed several different varieties, harvested and hung it to dry, and have experimented with ways to cook with it. I have spent hours carefully removing fresh and dried flowers from stalks.
My favourite variety is ‘Hidcote’, a hardy, blue, dwarf lavender with an intensely sweet, bright, and robust aroma and flavour. It smells and tastes so delicious — none of the varieties I have worked with can compare. So when I had a chance to go out to the country and visit a garden that includes a massive mounding bed of ‘Hidcote’ lavender I jumped at the chance.
Thanks to Jessica Hibbard for the crazy, out-of-date Polaroid film.
Has the spring been moving along too quickly in your area? Around here the warm weather has accelerated everything so that plants have been making their appearance and blooming faster than any year I can recall. The spring ephemerals are the worst of the bunch — they’re up and gone before I’ve barely had a chance to process them.
Don’t get me wrong, I am in love with the season and have been in a semi-blissed-out state through it all. It just means that everything has been rush, rush, and mania. There is the rush to catch the flowers before they are gone, the rush to take photos, the rush to get the garden prepped, and then planted in due course. Somewhere in there I am supposed to write about it. I can’t keep up! You should see the roof garden right now. It’s a disaster of pots and plants scattered willy-nilly.
All of that to explain why I can no longer recall which variety of crocus this is. I think it might just be more ‘Ruby Giant’ but so much time has passed and so many plants have come and gone since I took this photo.
My brain is simply overloaded. Although in a good way.