September 28, 2014




It's official - fall is here. Cold, dewey mornings, strangely warm afternoons, and then cool evenings again - perfect for a fire, and a glass of red wine. and aside from the annoying buzz of yellow jackets, there is little not to love about October in New England, (or anywhere in the northern hemisphere for that matter). In the garden, so much is coming to an end, or has ended already, the tomatoes are just about done, with dry, brown foliage yet surprisingly,  enough fruit still on the vines so many in fact that I need to pick them every day. I am not quite sick of these flavorful tomatoes, but I will admit that it seems more are being left in the bowl on our counter, and maybe even more are going to the fruit flys.

 Peppers and eggplants are really deep in their season - they are probably secretly wishing for even a longer seasonal transition with warmer days, but I fear that summer is really over for both us, and them. Apparently our summer has been the 5th driest on record, but for some reason, our vegetable garden only needed the sprinklers turned on three times this summer. I think that I can credit our unique geography here - just west of the Bershire mountains, Worcester gets frequent thunder showers in the summer. Many of our hot peppers are showing some cracks, just  tiny, woody cracks that are more of a sign of heat and dry stress than anything else, (I think after this week, I have a few more cracks too!) As you can see below, what's a few stress cracks - They are still full of flavor and maybe even photogenic, if not technically 'picture perfect'.


I only grew three types of peppers this year, Jalapeño ( for salsa which make about every three days - a little crazy for Mexican food lately!), and worth mentioning - a great blend of peppers from Johnny's Selected Seed called Lunchbox mix (this is not a product placement nor a sponsored post BTW - I only mentioned Johnny's because I trust them and honestly order from them), Lunchbox mix, an organic mix of sweet snack peppers produces the sweetest peppers that actually have flavor without the bit. Your kids would love them, as they are nearly as sweet a candy. Surprisingly, the plants are ornamental too ( I grew mine in containers and in the garden, but the container plants grew the best, but they may be a little tall for most small plantings - the plants reached 3 feet tall. I will grow them again. Oh, the Jalapeno's are also from Johnny's -  'El Jefe' on the left and 'Concho' on the right. I really didn't fuss over them, they had to fend for themselves in some raised beds out behind the greenhouse.

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September 24, 2014


Just a post to let you know that I just posted THIS to eHow.
( I kind-of want to help them default to another post about how 'hardy mums' can 'extend the season'). So why not introduce people to exhibition mums!

(I know, I know….as if average gardeners will go out and order spider mum cuttings and train them all summer long……but I can dream, right? I am fatally Polyanna-ish. Besides, I take it as my personal mission to inspire people to raise their bar on what they choose to grow - dang it, someone needs to! No matter how impractical it might be!). Down with boring.

So, please feel free to visit my eHow posts whenever you feel like it, and to perhaps do your social media magic with the post - particularly using the eHow 'Was this article helpful' button ( but yeah, only if you believe that it was helpful!).

Thanks bunches!

Yes,  I've been writing for eHow as-side from this blog - their gardening blog needed more content, and honestly, the new eHow is pretty nice, to both content creators and in content - as they have been editing and adjusting what they have, positioning authors as experts, and really raising the bar on their entire content load and database.

It really helps me and even this blog if you use the 'like' share or "tweet' buttons, or if you re pin my images to Pinterest,. I know that it's a pain, and usually I don't go for all of this social media crap, but sometimes, one just has to play the game.   If folks re post to Google+, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest - it increases my ratings and stats - and since analytics is a numbers game, it means all sorts of good things for the future of this blog. It might even help me keep heating my greenhouse for another year!

My eHow posts are HERE.

September 14, 2014


Anyone who grows dahlias knows that September marks the height of the dahlia season. Armloads of dahlias means that everyone you know ends up with a bouquet, with few complaints. This year my cutting garden is looking better than it has, but since I've been traveling a lot, few flowers have yet to be picked.

When one visualizes the summer garden, especially from the perspective of a snowy, January evening, one imagines such lushness, yet forgets that such abundance can dull the experience a bit. If only one could preserve a few buckets of our coral and peach pom pom dahlias for mid-winter in some magical refrigerator, but such luxuries do not exist. We are stuck far too many dahlias and other cut flowers to enjoy on these last days of summer, so why not celebrate the bounty with a late summer arrangement.
Here is the story of the one I made today:
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September 13, 2014

Preserving Summer - Home Canning, Whole Tomatoes and Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes seem to know when they should ripen - and it's never at a convenient time. I've been traveling for the past three weeks ( a couple trips to both New Mexico and California for work and pleasure) but I've been home every weekend for a day or two to do laundry, re-pack and to 'put-up tomatoes, which this year, have decided to not only ripen when I am at my most busy, they have also decided to become a bit of a bumper crop (which I have no idea why, as we have had a very cold and wet summer). Really though, I am not complaining - as come this winter, we will have lots of heirloom tomatoes canned whole, crushed, sauce, salsa and stewed. Since again this weekend I am just catching up on posts, emails and yes…..tomato canning, here are some pictures from last weekend's bounty.
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September 2, 2014


A just past prime Spotted Coralroot or Corallorhiza maculate blooms near the Santa Fe Basin Ski area.

One of the best things about attending a North American Rock Garden Society meeting? Well, it's hard to tell.  It might be the in-depth presentations by world class rock gardeners and botanists, or it may just be all of the amazing inspiring members who attend these annual events. The local garden tours are inspiring and impressive, as is the incredible plant sale - where some of the rarest and hard to find plants can be purchased from local nurseries, some long before most ever become available elsewhere - but I have to admit that my favorite part is the botanizing with friends -  fellow plant geeks and plant lovers. There is always the hiking on trails and subalpine meadows in and around spectacular Santa Fe, New Mexico. Honestly, I loved it all.

This year, I am so honored to announce to my readers that I have been nominated and voted in as the new president of the North American Rock Garden Society - a tremendous honor and responsibility in the plant world, and one which I intend to leverage, as I have a great affinity for all plant societies, and in this one in particular. Rock gardening is very inclusive - it covers the culture and study of high elevation alpine plants, naturally, but also includes woodland treasures, ephemerals, wild flowers and native plants, ferns, bulbs, trees and much more. Essentially, rock gardening today encompasses much more than merely rock gardens and alpine plants. The society attracts those who care about preservations, botanical diversity, wild species and native genera seed collecting and the study of many types of interesting plants. Some may consider NARGS to be an elite society, but I like to think of it as a plant society for those who really love plants, and for those who want to learn more. I encourage you all to consider a membership, to check out our beautiful color quarterly journal, and to participate in the annual NARGS seed sale. Feel free to learn more about NARGS here at our website.
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