Saturday, May 28, 2011

Eating Green

My harvest this evening:

Garlic scapes, more peas, and kale.

Last year I grew curly kale. This year I grew "Early Curled Siberian Kale," a Christmas gift from sis and BIL, from the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants. I'm a TJ fan, so I had to grow some of his plants. But I don't know why this kale has "curled" in the name: the leaves are pretty darn flat.

They are also much thinner than last year's variety, which means they cook up into kale chips much quicker (and that's a good thing!). This batch of kale chips is spiced (inspiration from here). I left out the sugar, and tossed the kale with oil and vinegar before sprinkling on the spice mixture (because I can't imagine kale without vinegar, even for one second). Result, yum!

I turned the garlic scapes into pesto, just like last year. This year I had twice as many scapes (14), so I got twice as much pesto (~1/3 to 1/2 cup):

I didn't do anything to the peas, except eat them:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Almost Summer

I picked a mess of peas today:

It is so hot, the vines are nearly done. My experimental row of direct-sown seeds isn't going to amount to much, I'm afraid.

I brought the peas to a picnic this afternoon. They didn't last long.

Garlic scapes are ready now, too:

I'd wanted to bring garlic scape pesto to the picnic, but the day got away from me. On the agenda for tomorrow.

The girls and I had a nice picnic in the sculpture garden, though it was very crowded for the first jazz night of the season. A thunderstorm eventually chased us away, but I got home to find total dryness. Boo!

As I took a late-evening walk around the yard, some of the plants seemed to be glowing. The neon-yellow of the Oenothera missouriensis is much more palatable post-dusk:

Nearby, the kousa dogwood lights up the back corner of the house:

And in the front, the shrub rose does the same for the other corner:

I see the daffodil foliage is finally succumbing to the heat.

It's about time: I have things I need to plant there.

In the side garden ,the first daylily opened today:

I also saw my first fireflies (they're not very photogenic). Summer's here!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Peas Are In!

My first second pea pod (I already ate the first one!)

More are on the way:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Roses, part two

Here's another reason I don't feel the need to grow roses. When I want to see roses, all I have to do is look over the fence to my neighbor's yard:

When I first moved in, my neighbor introduced herself, saying, "My name is easy to remember. Just look at my yard." That's right, Rosie!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I don't grow roses.

But three roses came with the house.

This free-flowering beast with cute little white roses adorns the front bed. Not really the best place fore something that grows wildly out of control, but it was there. I don't have any better plan for the space, yet, so it stays.

Smack in the middle of the side yard (looking very out-of-place, until you realize it is where there used to be a fence dividing front from back), there once was a rose. I don't know what it was - the rose died before I moved here, leaving only the rootstock.
I haven't bothered to dig it up, so I have some ratty-looking red roses over there.

In the terrace garden was this:

A Floribunda rose called 'Sunsprite'. Now, yellow roses are my absolute favorite. I don't wear yellow (don't have the complexion for it). I don't decorate my house with yellow. But I do love yellow in the garden (daffodils, anyone?). It is just so cheery.

Sunsprite is not just a yellow rose, it is a yellow rose with the sweetest scent. In flower, I can smell it all over the garden. So many roses have had the smell bred right out of them, but this one is perfect. Not that any rose is perfect here in humid Virginia. Black spot is a real problem, as are Japanese beetles. But when this one is happy (in my yard that is rarely), it is perfection.

My yellow rose was very old. 'Sunsprite' was introduced in 1977, but I'm pretty sure mine wasn't that old. My terraces were installed about the early-mid 80s. It is possible this rose dates to that time. It was a tree rose, and the stem was thick and gnarled.

In 2007 I was away for about a year. There was also quite a drought that summer, and much of my yard suffered, including this rose. It survived, barely, and limped along for another year. A hard winter ended its suffering. Like the rose in the middle of the yard, I haven't dug out the rootstock. This one is especially happy growing and flowering, so much so I even showed it off in my Bloom Day post.
(note the old rose trunk on the left)

But I miss 'Sunsprite'. Last year I looked for a replacement (even though I don't do roses), but couldn't find one locally or even reasonably-priced mail-order. I did come across one when I was in Wisconsin last year, but it was too big to take on the plane. I started looking for substitutions. I was leaning toward a 'Julia Child', which is very pretty, even though I knew the scent wouldn't be the same. But I didn't get around to buying one.

Then on Sunday I just happened to walk by a parking-lot plant sale. I smelled it before I saw it, and knew it had to be mine. So much for my plant-buying ban. Welcome home, 'Sunsprite'!

(oh, how I wish this were a scratch-and-sniff blog!)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

May 2011 Blooms

I think May is my most crowded bloom day post. While the garden is calming down a little bit (new things to see every day rather than every hour!), there's still plenty to show off. I'll try to limit my photos today to three sections of the yard.

The Garage Garden (aka the herb garden, though it is less and less so as time passes) is no longer the Purple Garden.

There's still lots of purple in the form of columbine, but the front section is now yellow with potted iris and rue. The clematis add a vibrant red-violet. And toward the back, some new flowers this year.

I started a bunch of seeds last year, then did a plunk-and-run into a bare-ish spot of the garage garden. This year they are crowding each other out. The tall plants above are not what I thought they would be.

I think they are valerian. I don't like them, so out they will come. Making more room for:

Pink penstemon. This one got really crowded between the valerian and all the columbine. I've removed some of the offending columbine already.

Over to the terraces, the Neglected Bed (formal name: Right Lower Terrace) has all sorts of color going on:

some Iberis (candytuft) hanging on in front. Then, the rather vigorous rootstock from the Dead Rose is all abloom:

Further along, some iris I dug from my cousin's yard several years ago. They bloomed for the first time last year.

And just in case there wasn't enough color already, the Gaillardia have joined the party:
(I consider these a Summer flower - what are they doing up so early?)

Back across the yard, the driveway bed (now blackberry bed) is blue. But I'm not sad about it.

The grape-scented iris seem to be more blue than purple this year. They match the flax (Linum perrene ssp. lewisii) down the row a bit. Beyond the flax, not visible from the previous photo, is mom's geranium:

I wonder how much of this will last once those blackberries (also flowering now) take over?

Two more photos to show off today. First, the peonies are blooming!
Peonies always seem to pick the day before a rainstorm to open. Hard rains last night, a storm today, and more to come over the next few days mean I probably won't get to enjoy them much.

Finally, my favorite flower of May, for the promise it brings:

Peas are coming!

To see what's blooming in other gardens, visit Carol over at May Dreams Gardens.

also blooming today:
front - virginia sweetspire, pansy, coreopsis
side - bearded irises, Dicentra spectabilis, Dicentra spectabilis 'alba', Dicentra eximia, rose campion, heuchera
patio - virginia sweetspire
upper garden - Baptisia australis, Tradescantia, Sedum ternatum
shade garden - Chrysogonum virginianum, hellebores

Saturday, May 14, 2011

An Unexpected Find

I went to a plant swap today.

No, I still haven't finished planting all the things I've bought this year (which is why I wouldn't let myself got to the Green Spring Plant Sale this morning), but a swap is different: I get to find new homes for all my babies that have outgrown their space. If I happen to also bring home a few new things to try, well, that's just a bonus.

I brought to the Mid-Atlantic Gardeners' Spring Swap: Echinacea pupurea, balloon flower (these both were reseeds that I dug out of the walkway), Eupatorium coelestinum (mistflower), double purple columbine, Euphorbia myrsinites seedlings, and assorted tomato seedlings. There was so much more I could have given away, but I didn't have a chance to dig it up and pot it. I really meant to thin out the Solidago 'Fireworks', but completely forgot about it until I was on my way this morning.

I brought home: bleeding hearts, green-and-gold, hardy begonia (with bonus hellebore), red hen-and-chicks, tomato seedlings (Sungold and Sungold Select - yay!), a white cucumber, sage, a sedum I didn't have, some more white iris, a huge hunk of canna, catmint, and some other plants that were thrust into my hands as I walked by.

But the best part of today was not the plants. Or the great potluck lunch we all shared. The best part was a complete surprise: my cousins were there! Second cousins on my Dad's side, who I never see even though they live 1-2 hours away. The oddest thing is that we've all been attending this swap for several years, and had never run into each other before today. We had a weird moment of recognition and then lots of catching up over lunch.

When you go to a plant swap, you never know what you'll find.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

While I Was Gone

… is, coincidentally, the name of the book I was reading while I was gone.

While I was gone, I intended to keep up with blogging. I took lots of pictures before I left, and had several ideas formulating. But a hectic schedule left me very little down time. So no blogging while I was gone.

While I was gone, May was in full swing in my yard. The first thing I did when I returned was rush out to see what I had been missing.

New iris, of course. Here's a bicolor yellow and peach. When it first started to open, I thought it was a bit drab. Then the sun hit it, and it glowed:

Here's a medium sized iris in front of the sedum bed:

And finally, an heirloom iris from my sister's godmother (by way of my mother):
I was never particularly fond of this one, because the falls appeared brownish. But this year they are a vibrant burgundy, so striking I wonder how I could ever have shunned them.

Pink bleeding hearts! Pink bleeding hearts! Pink bleeding hearts opened while I was gone!
They were so far behind the white ones (2.5-3 weeks) that I didn't think they'd bloom this year.

And blackberries:

At the front of the side garden, here's a shrub I've never identified. It didn't bloom the first few years I lived here, but now it does. But that hasn't helped me to figure out what it is. It's flowers started to open while I was gone:

Along the front walk, the pansies are still cheery:

But wait! While I was gone something new started blooming in there:
Coreopsis! What a summery way to welcome me home from the cold northern climes.

(What didn't happen while I was gone? The mulch pile didn't get any smaller. But I moved eight cartloads when I returned, for a running total of 22. I think I'm about halfway through it now.)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day Vines

I don't have a Maypole in my yard, but I do have a trellis. Clematis is celebrating May with five new blooms:

Another vine celebrating Mayday is Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens). I've had this vine growing along the veggie garden fence for a few years now, but this is its first ever flower.

It has a lovely fragrance, too. What a way to ring in the new month! I love this time of year - each day brings something new to admire.