}

May 28, 2014

How Chef's David Lebovitz and Dan Barber Changed How I Think About My Veg Garden

Farm to Table? How about: Garden-to-kitchen-to-table. A more realistic, tastier and achievable approach.
This past weekend, I've become more than a little obsessed with two books which happened to arrive at the same time from Amazon. The first one, by rock star chef and blogger David Lebovitz, MY PARIS KITCHEN- Recipes and Stories ( not a paid promotion here, I just like it, so I am going to write about it), and the second book - THE THIRD PLATE - Field Notes on the Future of Food by chef Dan Barber. For those foodies out there, you may see the connection here, for those of you who do not…read on (also, I just happened to male Alice Waters' recipe for Rhubarb compote this weekend - everything connects, sometimes).

May 23, 2014

DIAGNOSIS - Attention Deficit Gardening

A nearly black Salpiglossis, which self-seeded into a tub where an orange tree is growing, has grown to magnificent proportions throughout the winter in our greenhouse. Almost impossible to grow in a hot and humid New England summer, this old fashioned annual can be grown as a winter pot plant under cool glass, and this is proof.


Who needs a Cross Fit membership when they keep a garden?  I was reminded last weekend while chatting with other garden blog friends at Trade Secrets, that I am not alone in my grief. Really -- who has time to do it all? I certainly don't. For example:


4:35 am   Awakened by morning chorus of robins
4:45 am  Fall back asleep
5:10 am  Dogs wake me up to tell me that the robins are up
5:11 am  Mind starts racing about various garden chores to be done
5:12 am  Finally decide to get out of bed - no use waiting, as the weather looks sunny

May 21, 2014

WHAT I'VE BEEN BUYING THIS SPRING

Yes, lots of Guy Wolff pots were added to the greenhouse collection that I started 12 years ago. This Begonia grandifolia was also added to the begonia collection.



A reader wrote me yesterday, asking me what I had bought while at Trade Secrets, which reminded me about a post that I have been meaning to write - a post that showed some of the plants that have been finding their way into my garden.  I always feel funny about over-sharing purchases, as half the fun in our sport of gardening is discovering new things, yet I too sometimes like to see what other gardeners find interesting. Gardening is, and should be personal, but I'll admit that sometimes it's fun to see what lies in someones closet, or, over their garden gate.

Here are some of my recent acquisitions:


From my dear friends at Annies Annuals, came this box - so perfectly packed that one could almost find it hard to believe that this box traveled across the entire country. 
Are you guys all freaking out about planting your vegetable and flower gardens? It’s nearly Memorial Day weekend and I feel so far behind, but no fears – there is still plenty of time to catch up and breath. It’s so easy to get caught up with life, that tasks like digging a veg garden, or planting the perfect container, even cutting the lawn before it rains again can just seem overwhelming. Relax. We all do it, and if there is one thing that I am really trying to do this year, it is to cut myself some slack with all the duties – after-all, life if FULL of duty, and the last place we need any more in in the garden ( unless, of course, it is some nice, fresh cow duty).


It’s time for a little encouragement folks.  I too am out of control with my plant purchases, barely able to keep up with nursery pots that keep ending up near the deck and hose. How will I ever be able to plant everything in time? The truth, they will all make it into the ground in time (Except, of course for that yellow English Oak that I bought last May at Trade Secrets 2013! But it emerged unscathed last week, so it is finally being planted in). We all do it.There was a time when I used to wonder why anyone would order annual from a mail order catalog, especially from Annies Annuals, as I figured that I could simply grow them myself, but did I ever learn my lesson. A couple of years ago, I decided to order some of her more unusual annuals ( they offer far more than annuals), such as Godetia and some Clarkia - and the plants arrived in such a well packed box, and grown with such care, that I could hardly believe it. Four inch pots, well pinched, and grown in the cool conditions, outdoors in the Bay area of California. I can't recommend Annies Annuals enough. Real plant people who know what they are growing, many unusual or old fashioned plants found no where else, and always grown without growth hormones, retardants or stimulants.





Check out the packing job on these perennials that arrived from another fav source of mine, Song Sparrow Nursery. Each  2 quart nursery pot is fitted into cardboard wrap,, and each rectangular wrap fits tightly into a tall box. Just amazing. They are nice folks too, and if you are looking for a peony this fall ( which is when you plant them) be sure to check out their selection on-line, and order early. My grove of  Betula chinensis 'cinnamon flake'  birches also came from Song Sparrow. I am always impressed with their shrubs and trees, as each comes in its own box, which drives my UPS driver nutty, but hey - they are precious cargo.

From Annies this year, I ordered many Cuphea species and named selections, just to try them in our New England garden, as I am well aware that not everything from Annies will grow well for us here in the hot and humid Northeast, but one never knows when a cool, breezy summer may come, and besides, I usually back myself up with some dry-loving desert friendly plants for my dry spots in the front garden. Annies has something for everyone, and they can make a sweet pea or even a common snapdragon look like an expensive, well grown perennial, so don't scoff at the prices - you'll be surprised at what one pot will look like.







Here is my cart from last weekends' trip to Trade Secrets. Full of treasures.

An 18" tall variegated Ajuga? You be. This ajuga challenges our notions about any ajuga being planted in a garden. Ajuga incisa 'Frosted Jade' , from Broken Arrow Nursery, had many of us talking. A non-spreading, tall growing relative of a garden plant few of us ever think of actually introducing back into the garden.

'Rising Cloud' Redbud. a golden leaved form with rosy pink new growth. I can't wait. Thank you Broken Arrow!

I thought that I would share some of the containers that I am planting. This pair of tall containers has a selection of Proven Winners plants that caught my eye. I always find that the Proven Winners selections over-perform ( in a good way), and although I am not a spokesperson for them, I support their breeding and marketing efforts, especially for inexperienced or new gardeners, as they do perform exceptionally well.
While driving to the plant sale last weekend, I was thinking about what plant I would hope that I would find, and this is one that had been on my wish list for three years now . Rhododendron narcissiflora, a fragrant, deciduous azalea that I first saw at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden, where they have a magnificent mature specimen planted in their garden. It blooms earlier than most native species, and makes a large, well-branched shrub.