Sunday, May 30, 2010


I planted garlic for the first time last fall. I have no idea what variety I have; it is whatever hardneck garlic I bought at the Clarendon market last year. I saved some of the cloves and planted them. They grew. And now I have scapes. Seven of them. It should have been six, but an extra clove must have ended up in the ground.

What to do with scapes? I've never had them before, so I asked around. Should I even cut them off? "Yes!" was the resounding answer. Not only are they tasty, but the garlic will bulb better if it isn't trying to flower. Good, that makes me feel better about taking them. As for what to make, responses varied, from adding them to stir-fry to chopping up and putting them on salad. But the most common answer was pesto. I love pesto, but I generally stick with the basil variety. Pesto seemed like the easiest solution, especially since I didn't have anything else to put the scapes on.

So I cut the scapes and brought them inside.

I chopped them to fit in the food processor.

I put in some sliced almonds (note to self: use slivered almonds next time, to avoid the brown almond skins). Recipes I found suggested pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds. Almonds are what I had on hand. I grated some Parmesan and added that. Processed a bit to get everything roughly the same size, then added the olive oil. Once I added the oil I had to keep stopping and scraping the sides so the pesto would continue to mix. With this small amount, my mini-chopper would have been the better implement to use, but I've misplaced the blade.

All finished:

It isn't very much, but it is yummy. I'll stop by the bakery in the morning to buy some rosemary bread, then this will be my post-paddle picnic contribution for tomorrow's Memorial Day gathering. I have some store-bought basil pesto to supplement, since I don't think this will go very far.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Black and White

Two plants I put in last year are blooming for the first time this week.

I bought this Echinacea 'Finale White' last year. The plant was big enough to divide, so I sent some to Denise in a plant swap. Her half bloomed last year, but mine did not. Now I finally know what it looks like!

In return, Denise gave me some black hollyhocks. My red hollyhocks from previous seasons did not return or self-seed last year, so I was without their beautiful papery flowers last year. I've been eagerly awaiting the flowers on these new ones, because I've never had a black flower. I love it!

And yes, the black and white are right next to each other in the same bed. I didn't plan it that way, but now I may have to rethink what else is in that bed, and make my first color-themed garden. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spring Fling

"Spring Fling" is the theme of the May Picture This photo contest over at Gardening Gone Wild. We are to find occurrences of "whimsy" in the garden. I looked around my yard, and didn't see much frivolity. Now I know I need to work on that. Instead I'll share some photos from my annual spring trip to southeastern Wisconsin, the land of whimsy.

We passed this barn on the way to lunch one day, but my camera wasn't convenient. I made sure I had it at the ready for the drive back. When I stopped to take the picture, my hostess told me, "Oh, yeah, there are several painted like that around here." Well, this is the only one I saw, so I think its something special. And it certainly made me smile:

Happy Barn

And check out those Wisconsin-perfect clouds!

Next we went to a farm stand, so my traveling companion could buy some morels. This farm stand sits at a crossroads, but the entrance doesn't face either of the main roads. Don't worry, they are still good at advertising their product on the road-facing side. We were searching for mushrooms. Do you think we found the right place?

Mushroom Hut

I realize those aren't really garden photos. So, finally, back in town, is my GGW photo entry. After my rant on lawn ornaments, I can't believe this it what I found to submit. But I've never seen cuter pink flamingos. All decked out for the spring rains, from hats to galoshes!

GGW Flamingos

I hope you enjoyed my whimsical tour of Wisconsin.

Postscript, Saturday, 29 May:

My photo won! There were two winners, one for photo quality, and one for subject matter. No surprises that I didn't win on quality, but I'm glad I made one judge smile (or wince, actually, at the sight of so many garden flamingos)! Here's my award:

GGW Editor's Choice Award

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Not in the Garden

I haven't spent much time in the garden for the last couple of days. Why? This pile of leaf mulch that arrived in April:

The pile has shrunk a bit since then, but is still of substantial size. I've run out of weed-free places to put it, and I haven't been in a weeding mood. I can get the car mostly in the driveway, but not into the garage:

This leaves the garage free for some woodworking:

I originally bought the lumber so I'd have something to do on a "rainy day." But, as usually happens, the excitement of a new project led me to cast aside others and get started on this one. What am I building? So far I have a few nearly-squares:

What will they be? You'll have to wait and see.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

May Blooms

(or, Procrastination Pays)

The fifteenth of May, time for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, sponsored by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. I'm glad I made my Iris post yesterday, as the iris are done today. just a few purple ones left.

Meanwhile in the garden, shrubs and trees are blooming. Here's the Kousa dogwood, aglow in the side yard:

The Virginia sweetspire that I got as a twig last year is blooming, too:

Several flowers have appeared in the last several days. Here's goatsbeard, blooming in front of Amsonia hubrichtii:


Here are the mini blooms of the white rose in front:

And the rootstock of the dead rose in the side yard. The rose was dead before I moved in, so I never knew what it was. But I like the simple red flowers that remain:

All this has been a teaser, my peony is the main attraction today:

The geranium has been blooming for a while, but it is so cheery I have to include it here:

And the Centaurea montana is hanging on:

I have edibles blooming, too. Here are the peas (yay!):

Even the back alley is full of blooms. Honeysuckle is pretty uncontrollable here, but this time of year I don't mind, it's scent is intoxicating:

I don't know what this is, blooming outside my neighbor's fence, but I like it:

And on the other side of the alley, another unidentified flower:

Now, to address that subtitle, Procrastination Pays. I took most of these photos this afternoon, but didn't make the post then. Then, when I was cleaning up at sunset, I saw a new flower, Missouri Primrose, blooming for the first time this year:

I hope your May is full of blooms, too!

Friday, May 14, 2010


For the last few weeks the irises have stolen the show in my yard. Though not as much as I'd hoped they would.

Up until last year, I had one kind of bearded iris: the wonderfully scented purple tall bearded iris that came from my sister's godmother, via my mother.

I had it at my last house, and moved some of it here with me. I have two good sized clumps, plus some more I got from mom two years ago. The new ones I planted in a row of ten, and for the last two years only two of those have bloomed. Possibly because they are in a rather shady spot, in front of the ivy-covered fence and between the Buddleia and a tree. But the clumps that bloom are profuse. And floppy. I do my best to tie them up, but they still flop over the path. I think it's their way of saying "Look at me!" "Don't I smell wonderful?" As if I wouldn't notice anyway.

Last year I traded for a whole bunch of new bearded iris. I think I counted 20 new varieties in my gardens. Some are named, some came just with a bloom description, and one bunch was just labeled "mixed". Of those 20, six bloomed this year.

The "mxed" iris (I have three) all bloomed, and bloomed the same scented purple I already have. That's ok, I put them in the blackberry bed, so I've enjoyed having purple flowers in a new part of the yard this year.

The first bloomer of the spring was a dwarf, Pilgrim's Choice, that I kept in a pot all winter (Blooming April 12, long before I expected to see any iris). Eventually I need to find a place for it in the yard, but I'm afraid I'll trample something so small.

Here's a bicolor purple, Wabash, blooming April 30. I love it!

Next up is "Honorabile", blooming in front of the sedum.

Magenta and butter, blooming on May 8. Stunning.

My favorite of the year is Snowbrook. I missed the first bloom while I was out of town. It hadn't quite opened when I left, and was finished by the time I returned. I had to wait patiently for the next bloom (OK, I wasn't very patient.) Here it is on May 8.

I do have some other iris in the yard. Four years ago I dug a clump of Siberian iris out of my cousin's front yard. They grew here, but didn't bloom. Last year I finally had one flower. This year I'm up to six. A much better show:

I also acquired two types of water iris last year. No blooms this year.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


The rain came today. Not a lot, kind of misty, but cold, cold, cold. The cold came in Sunday, and should leave tomorrow. The rain is going to stick around for a while. Maybe all week. Even though it wasn't actively raining when I got home today, I used it as my excuse to not go out to work in the cold.

I did start a few new pots of cucumbers, for a friend who just discovered she does have rabbits. My own cucumbers are still just sprouts in the ground. I did see a new pole bean sprout today. Tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and melons are still on the porch waiting to be hardened off. I started over the weekend, but kept them inside once it got cold. Except I forgot to bring them in Sunday night, so they got to experience some 40s then. I hope that doesn't stunt the growth too much.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Audacity of the Robin

Today while I was planting some Angelina sedum and Coreopsis 'Zagreb' I brought home from yesterday's plant swap, a robin approached. I had just dug up one of the small terraces and was adding some of the composted manure from Professor Dirt's truck. I stopped to watch the robin, who was being very bold, hopping to within 3 feet of me. As I stood still, he hopped even closer. Two feet, then one. I could have reached out and touched him. Then he hopped into the small terrace, right next to my shovel, pulled out a worm, and hopped away. I couldn't believe it That was a brave, stupid, or very hungry robin!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

MAG Plant Swap

Today was the Mid-Atlantic Gardeners Spring Plant Swap in Burtonsville. Due to my hectic travel schedule, I didn't start preparing anything until Thursday evening. Even so, I managed to unload a few smallish Nandina (yay!), Helianthus, oregano, thyme, Tatarian aster, columbine, mums, lamb's ear, rose campion, and tomatoes. I even got rid of the one maypop that came up last week, and Madeleine was so happy to get it. I wish her luck with it (though not too much luck, or she'll be overrun like I was.

We had beautiful weather and a plentiful potluck. I got to see some people I met last year and meet some new gardeners. Always a fun time!

I brought home some daylilies, two kinds of iris (a white/yellow and a reblooming, my first of those), great Solomon's seal, a light pink hardy geranium, pink obedient plant (am I nuts? probably), cuttings of climbing hydrangea and carolina allspice (which didn't enjoy being in the hot car all day and probably won't survive), angelina sedum, a beautiful Coreopsis 'Zagreb', ostrich fern, calla sprouts, and some coleus. Four buckets of composted manure, some plant pots, and a net to skim the algae from the pond. I've already put that last one to good use. You wouldn't believe what came out of that pond!

Got a few things in the ground this evening. The wind is doing a number on the solomon's seal and I had to hold it down with a brick. I'll do more tomorrow. I'm determined to avoid colonizing a new pot ghetto! I still have a few things from last year's swap that never got planted out.

Monday, May 3, 2010


When I first moved in, the upper garden was covered with Maypop, Passiflora incarnata. I'd never seen such an unusual flower before, and it took a little while to identify it. The flowers led to fruit, which I never had the nerve to try (since then I've gone so far as to sample dogwood fruit, but I was chicken back then). A pretty vine, but oh-so-aggressive. I think it outcompeted the ivy that also dominated the landscape. It definitely beat back the mint and oregano in the old herb garden.

I pulled it all out, but it came back. That plant will grow from just a piece of root. One spring dad and I dug up most of the upper garden and sifted through the soil to remove the root pieces. We didn't get them all, and every May I get a few sprouts. But I can handle a few sprouts of just about anything, and pull them like weeds. It might be nice to keep one, but I'm afraid one will lead to many, so I don't.

Like all the plants that know when it is spring, Maypop always knows when it is May. Specifically, when it is the First of May. Seriously, on April 30 there is no sign of it, then May 1, there it is! This year I forgot to look for it on the first (too busy with my rain barrel, I suppose), but on my garden walk this morning, before leaving on yet another trip, I saw it!

Just one so far. I didn't yank it out, because I know a Gardenwebber who might want it.

6/24/10 Maypop update: I had a whole colony growing around one of my melon plants. I dug them up and gave them away. I missed one growing up the rose of sharon. Now that it is fully entangled I'm just going to let it be for a while - it's been a few years since I saw those odd flowers. I'll probably regret letting the roots get so well established.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Now I Need Rain

I am now the proud owner of a rain barrel. It is made from a repurposed olive barrel. I picked it up yesterday from ACE and installed it today. I had trouble installing the flexible downspout I bought yesterday, and the barrel is rather precariously perched on some blocks on my very uneven patio bricks.

Now I just need some rain to try it out. It is supposed to storm tonight, lucky me!