Monday, December 7, 2009

snow cover

Snowfall coated the garden this weekend. It took the fairy roses by surprise. Maybe the garlic finally will stop its rampant growth...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

raspberry rescue

Several years ago I planted some red raspberry plants along our back fence, envisioning a glorious raspberry patch basking in the sheltered sunshine producing an abundance of delicious berries for my morning breakfast. Well, the raspberries are now overtaken by rambling grape vines, full grown mulberry trees, and stubborn trumpet vines. The berry canes are slowly suffocating and harvesting them has become an impossible task.

This morning I bundled up, fueled myself with coffee, and set out on operation raspberry rescue. Just finding the remaining canes were a challenge, but I managed to dig out five healthy and still happy plants. They were transfered to the two shady beds in the kitchen garden where I am hoping they will have a somewhat easier existence. Once in place I realized they are the true ever bearing variety - several of them still had blooms and immature fruits.

Friday, September 11, 2009

garden tidbits

Frayed beauty. Wonder where you have been?

Late summer roses, somewhat ragged too.

Fall crocuses nestled in weeds.

French beans in the garden.

Lamb's ears, oh so soft.

Thriving nasturtiums.

Spider lilies in full bloom, everywhere. Now they brighten my home.

Friday, August 28, 2009

golden raspberries

Our golden raspberries are ripe and ready. This variety is called 'Anne' and it is sweet and delicious. Unfortunately we only have two young plants, so no gigantic harvest this year.

Friday, August 21, 2009

the clothes line

My lovely husband made us a clothes line. It is sturdy and functional, with plenty of room on three long lines, and the beautiful green color makes it blend in elegantly with its surroundings. I love to hang out my clothes in the warm summer breeze. It is quick, the laundry smells delicious, and it is easy to fold and sort the dry clothes as you take them down. Line drying our laundry makes me feel good about saving both money and energy, but what are the true facts behind line drying vs. tumbling?

Dryers consume about 6 - 8% of a households monthly electricity use. For us that would mean $9 - 10 in savings per month. Not a lot of money, but it adds up. When you consider that a clothes dryer uses 1800 to 5000 watts per hour it is still a worthwhile thing to do. 1.5 pounds of carbon emissions per kilowatt hour are generated in the production of electricity by a coal fired power station. Another benefit is that air drying makes your clothes last longer, and the sun acts as a natural bleach and disinfectant. It also gives you a tiny bit of exercise and precious fresh air time.

We are fortunate to live in an area where outdoor clothes drying is allowed, but in many places in the US that is not the case, especially in planned developments. For some reason clothes on a line are considered an eye sore and a threat to property values. If you are interested in preserving your laundry rights you can join the right to dry movement, you can also sign an online petition to encourage our first family to line dry their clothes for one day to set a good example.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

a garden's path

The paths in the kitchen garden has always been my lovely husbands domain. He laid the first path many years ago with small rocks in an intricate mosaic pattern, shown in the top picture. He would come home from work, and wind down by creating this puzzle from the stones we had dug out of the dirt. It looked really cool, but weeds quickly rooted in the tiny cracks and it became impossible to maintain.

My husband still recharges his batteries by hauling dirt, piling up bricks, and building things with his hands. Nowadays things are done more sturdily, and somewhat professionally. The ground is leveled, and the paths are covered with newsprint and stone dust before being covered. This summer, as a generous birthday gift for me, the paths are being transformed again. This time by using a combination of bricks, old and new, soapstone slabs, left over from various projects, and river stones.

In the lower part of the kitchen garden there will be a circle of soapstone, surrounded by gravel. Maybe it will have room for a chair and a small table to create the perfect spot for morning coffee and/or evening drinks... What I love most about my husband's work is the casual and spontaneous look while everything still is sturdy and well made. I am grateful!

I am also grateful for my friends Amoret and Lynn, who came and cleaned out the kitchen garden while I was on vacation. Encouraged by a few glasses of chilled rosé that my husband provided, they pulled weeds, hauled away old pea vines, and rescued a variety of useful plants waiting to be engulfed by the surrounding wilderness. Thank you my friends!

We have many Rose of Sharon (hibiscus syriacus) bushes in our yard. I love them despite their tendency to become weedy in our climate. This pure white one is my favorite.

While we were gone a volunteer butternut squash established itself by the compost pile. It looks like it will bear fruit, which is exciting. Lastly, the naked ladies (lycoris squamigera), my favorite summer bulbs, are up in full force. It is great to be back!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

rock garden

Our travels have brought us to my my family's summer house on the west coast of Sweden. Its rugged surroundings feature plants, flowers and wildlife, familiar to me from my childhood. Hollyhocks and wild allium self seed every season. In rocky crevices you'll find geranium and sedums. Out back are apple and cherry trees, and large stands of fern and rugosa roses grow along the house foundation. To me this is the most beautiful of gardens.

Friday, June 12, 2009

day lilies

The day lilies' fleeting presence is most impressive. They seem so vigorous and perky, yet each bloom lasts only a day. I love them in mass, where you don't notice the faded ones, and I am working on building up the border along the new family room addition on the northern side of the house. These are the common orange variety, I don't even know if they have a name or a cultivar. I love them regardless, especially because they all are hand-me-downs from my friend Lynn's garden just down the street. We are all packing up to go to the beach, so it will be quiet over here for a few days...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

garden tidbits

surprise iris along the kitchen garden fence

these buds...

...turned into these blooms...

the matron of the kitchen garden. she seems so content.

freja, our labrador is helping with the pea harvest

delicious snap peas

swallowtail butterfly feasting on oakleaf hydrangea flowers

Friday, June 5, 2009

the kitchen garden

The kitchen garden is the best cultivated, least neglected, and most appreciated section of our garden. It is located in the southwest corner of the yard, where the old rose garden used to be. We picked the spot because it has (or had) the most abundant sunlight and the best soil. The roses were carefully moved to other spots, and we started off by fencing in the area, mainly to keep the dogs from running through the beds. Over the years we have tried different configurations and designs, and last year we decided to install raised wooden beds. It has made a huge difference. The drainage is much better and although the weeds still will find their way in, it is so much easier to take care off the confined beds.

lemon thyme on the stone steps by the gate

tomatoes, etc.

My lovely husband loves to build things. He has a demanding and sometimes stressful day job, so carpentry and construction are some of his favorite ways to decompress. He designed and built the beds, the arches, and the beautiful jeffersonian gate at the top of the garden. He is also responsible for the brick laid paths, which are only partially finished, but hopefully will be completed this year.

the jeffersonian gate and the herb garden

the east arch/gate, and the brick path

At the top of the garden are the herb beds, backed by two espaliered asian pears. This year we have tomatoes in the top raised beds, 'sungold' cherry tomatoes, and the heirloom 'brandywine'. Next come the chard/lettuce and snow peas. Basil will probably replace the lettuce that is already bolting. In one of the small raised beds I have a beautiful stand of rhubarb. This is the first time I have managed to make rhubarb return. Normally it doesn't like our hot humid climate, or maybe it didn't like me...

this year's plan

snow peas ready for  harvest

The surrounding trees, both ours and our neighbors, have grown since we first started the kitchen garden. The bottom quarter really doesn't get enough sunlight to grow much of anything anymore. The bottom fence is lined with espaliered plums. They always bloom happily early in the spring but rarely bares fruit due to lack of sunshine. Earlier this spring I met with garden consultant Tracey Gerlach of life in sugar hollow, who suggested berry bushes that like dappled shade in their natural habitat. So now I have planted several varieties of bluberries as well as raspberries in the bottom section of the garden. Tracey also suggested shiitake mushroom logs nestled in the shady spots, which sounds both easy and delicious. That will be next on my list...

espaliered plums and 'the fairy' in the shady part

the kitchen garden in relation

Eventually we will extend the kitchen garden further north to make room for more sun loving plants. We are also working on the new paths and a stone circle/sitting area in the bottom part of the garden. Over the years the kitchen garden has become a refuge for me. Not everything here is edible, roses, ponies, and clematis reside nearby. The result is a peaceful, harmonius, and often sweet smelling place...

rosa 'almost wild' by the lettuce bed, and fennel close up

rosa 'the fairy' and mallows by the herb garden

blueberry 'sunshine'

clematis buds on the fence

clematis on the fence, allium in the peony bed
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