A Dozen Garden Moments from the Summer of 2014

Standard

1) Two of my favorite pieces of concrete garden decor were stolen off of my front porch. Boo!

TakenFromPorch2) I watched Mona the Cat flourish after the fence went into the back garden.

MonaOnTheFence3) Yes, you heard me correctly, a fence went into the back garden.

IMG_69464) I learned on the 4th of July that the pink blossoms of the Feijoa sellowiana taste a lot like fruity marshmallows. Yum.

IMG_6966

5) Seeds I’d tossed out into the garden finally bloomed. I was elated to see this Meconopsis cambrica ‘Flore Pleno’. Well hello there gorgeous!IMG_73956) The Garden Bloggers Fling went down in Portland and it was great to spend time with old and new friends. Although I was still exhausted from back surgery, I had a wonderful time. (Seen here on the far left is Laura of Gravy Lessons and on the right is Jennifer of Rainy Day Gardener.

securedownload7) It was a blast to jump on my bike to attend the first annual Montavilla Gardens Tour in the next neighborhood over from mine.

IMG_76118) While attending a monthly meetup group for Italian language speakers my husband and I were pleased to discover this fantastic giardinetto.

IMG_75379) I also found a lot of peace and comfort is this slightly more formal edible garden designed by the garden designer and author Vanessa Gardner Nagel. (She blogs over at Garden Chirps.)

IMG_784310) Recently I’ve been acting as a caregiver to my eldest cat, Macavity. She’s had a rough time these past few weeks.

IMG_817011) Filming a brief segment on cooking cardoons for the local show Garden Time was a blast. I’d never dreamed of doing anything like that and there will be more on that experience here soon. (The piece is set to air on October 4th.)

IMG_814912) Best Espelette pepper harvest ever.

IMG_7973

Now bring on my Pacific Northwest rain! I’m ready for it to pour and my skin is dry, thirsty, and tired.

Hope you had a great summer too!

Happy Autumn!

A Welcome Guest in my Seedy Garden

Standard
These are my babies—this year. I am rather proud of them, but I am not always the best mother to my seedlings. With so much going on, and with more kids coming through than ever, it is difficult to keep track of them all. I just hope that many of these can survive their time with me. I really mean to be a good plant mom, but sometimes, it’s so hard when you have so many. Ugh!
The grassy looking seedlings right above this caption are Freesia alba. I cannot wait for these guys to pull through and bloom for me.
My single Espelette Pepper from last winter produced spice and plenty of fertile seeds!
Recently I discovered my secondary asthma has worsened and this frustrates me daily but I am feeling better. Gardening has kept me so happy during the last 6 or 7 years though so I am using it as my secondary medicine and even if the seedlings mean more work, they are so cheerful I just cannot help myself. They need me as I need them.
Seeds: The ORIGINAL Earthmovers. 

(ASTHMA NOTE: You need neither wheezing nor a cough to have asthma though they are the most frequently listed symptoms. You can have a version similar to mine, where slowly, over time, your lungs swell.)

Yes, I grow grass for our cats. Once you rip out the lawn you need to keep them from wandering over to the neighbors’ yards, right?
With my health improving, I am finding that things are returning to normal, but I am significantly more tired from all of the recent garden and house activity. I just hope that my lack of energy and feeling better don’t combine to hurt the plants.

Pregnant Hellebore bloom. I am waiting to harvest the seeds for my ETSY store. They seem to take forever. 

Tonight, after walking the garden circle around the house—just as I was about to enter back into the house by way of the side door—I noticed Mona the cat acting strangely. Staring down at a moving object walking quickly along the ground, she didn’t even notice me as I hurried over to watch with her. I was amazed to find this rather large ground beetle. Mona was surprised too to say the least!

Sometimes we have to wonder where these things come from, but then we need to accept that we don’t need to know everything, and we must let these thoughts go. With my New American Garden design, I am not surprised I am attracting wildlife. When things are left to be part wild, and part planned, and you have plants everywhere, it really becomes a different place. And that different place, well, it takes ALL kinds and I mean all kinds.

In my own life and garden, I will accept that I am not always in control of anything, and that I cannot always do my best in either, and when the unexpected guest or surprise appears, I will stand near these things, watch their multiplicity, and I will take a deep breath to remind me how happy I am to be alive.

I will be the reed of grass humbly dancing in the wind—rather than the mighty oak that cannot withstand the barrage, falling to pieces.

So dance little seedlings and show me that you won’t break in the wind! How else will you begin to thrive if you cannot dance in the wind?

TO BE CONTINUED…

Houseplants in Bloom and One Ripe Pepper

Standard
This last week has proven to be more than I’d expected. The house is abuzz with blooms, the Norfolk Pine lights are twinkling, the Espelette pepper is finally ripe, and we made some unexpected headway on my rare illness.
In other news, let’s bring on the blooms while I recover, yet again, from my most recent health flare-up. This little jewel we purchased up in Seattle last year when we went to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. I neglect it all of the time and yet it rewards me again and again with its blooms. I highly recommend these for dependable re-blooming houseplants. Not everyone loves the color fuchsia, but it does work wonders during the dark of winter.
Monkey Plant (Ruellia makoyana)

I posted a single bloom from this little gift a week ago but since then it has been joined by a friend.

Streptocarpus, Butter Blues, with 2 blooms!

This is a single bloom on a rather sprawling plant that seems to be in bloom almost continually just so long as I listen to its needs. My friend gave me this plant in the form of a cutting and it grew really well and quickly. I will have to post pictures again when it is covered in these tiny little hovering lilac kisses.

Sinningia, not sure which

We bought this Norfolk Pink years ago to use as a small Christmas tree. It was very small when we purchased it and now it is large enough to wear 20 battery-operated lights all on its own. They are so cute.

Twinkle, twinkle little star!

The Black Jewel Orchid and I have not been great friends though I have read that these are easy plants to live with. This picture makes the leaf look really dusty, but it wasn’t that bad. Notice those amazing pinstriped lines. Even if these are a bit picky, the leaves alone make them worth it. They really add to the plant’s year-round interest.

Leaf of the Black Jewel Orchid, (Ludisia discolor)

This is our very first bloom on our Black Jewel Orchid. When the plant grows larger, there will be many more of these spikes. I hope that it will add more than one spike per year though. They bloom during winter so I guess no matter what I should not complain right now. It really is beautiful to look at when it is so cold outside.

First blooms on our Black Jewel Orchid (Ludisia discolor)

Lastly, the Espelette Pepper I wrote about a post or two ago is finally ripe. I am so happy that I brought it inside and gave it a chance. Sometimes we too don’t make it on time and need a bit of encouragement to keep up.

Ripe Espelette Pepper ready for Christmas harvest!

Hopefully I will be able to keep up with all of the seed catalogs coming in the mail. Nothing makes me happier at this time of the year than my seed starting! Hope you are all excited for the coming season too. We have planters to plan, structures to straighten and so much to do.

Espelette Pepper Winter Miracle with a Side of Beefsteak Begonia

Standard

Last year I was able to purchase hard-to-find Basque Espelette pepper seeds from Europe. I purchased them legally, with my seed importation permit, and although I am aware that when grown outside of their AOC they are no longer considered certified, I had to go through all of this because I love my husband, and he really wanted them. Besides, he knows how to use the dried pepper product, and that seemed important at the time.

Now, almost a year later, and after a horrible summer here in the NW, I have one pepper. It was still green when I brought it in from the garden in October, and then I set about trying to ripen it while it was still attached to the plant. It lives now amongst the houseplants under the lights and it is ripening. We never thought we would see this day, and as pathetic as it might seem, it is our little winter gardening miracle.

In addition to our one little pepper “that can!” I have also been enjoying my Beefsteak Begonia (Begonia ‘Erythrophylla’) though I think it should have been called Lily Pad Begonia instead. Purchased last year, it grew quite a bit this past summer on the porch and it needed better placement in the house. It now sits beside my chair in the front window and it is very happy there. I cannot wait to see what it does next.
I have no idea what variety of Begonia this is yet, but this is actually a cutting that is sitting in my window and it is blooming for us right now! What a great little winter gift.