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Spotting Wildflowers

February 29th, 2012

When we’re traveling we like to take the road less traveled, meaning no the four land highway. As a result we often see beautiful things. We drive through quaint little towns and admire people’s personal gardens as we drive by. Taking the smaller two lane roads also affords us the luxury of spotting wildflowers. Here’s a collection of wildflowers I spotted and photographed during out Tiny Trailer Trip out West this past August. Here’s a slide show of the flowers I spotted along the way. To view in full screen click on the icon in the top left hand corner, click the same icon to exit full screen mode.

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Do you ever take the small side roads instead of the highways when you’re traveling?

Kubota Gardens

February 28th, 2012

Many years ago when Mr Chiots and I spent a week in Seattle we stumbled upon Kubota Gardens and really enjoyed it. We took another trip back when we were out last August. It’s such an interesting garden because the emphasis is on coniferous plants not flowers, thus the structure, form, and texture are the features. Here’s a slide show of the flowers I spotted along the way. To view in full screen click on the icon in the top left hand corner, click the same icon to exit full screen mode.

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Generally, I’m not much of one for coniferous plants for some reason, but I did love the wide variety I saw at Kubota Gardens. I’m definitely more interested in adding more to the gardens for winter interest and structure now.

Do you like Japanese Style gardens? What about coniferous plants?

Visiting Bloedel Reserve

February 27th, 2012

I’ve been going through all my photos from last year, deleting the bad ones, duplicates and paring down what I have. While doing this I noticed that there are so many things I photographed and wanted to share but just haven’t gotten around to doing so. This week will be catch up, featuring lots of slideshows of wonderful things I promised to share but time got away from me.

While we were in Seattle on our Tiny Trailer Travels last August we were able to visit Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. I’d seen photos on Flikr long before and had added it to my list of places to visit. I’m always grateful that places like this are preserved. Bloedel Reserve is especially lovely because of the collection of hydrangeas found there (and you know how much I love hydrangeas). Here’s a slide show of the flowers I spotted along the way. To view in full screen click on the icon in the top left hand corner, click the same icon to exit full screen mode.

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The Pacific Northwest has such an interesting climate. It’s perfect for gardens, they’re almost tropical even though it’s so far North.

Have you ever visited the Pacific Northwest?

Quote of the Day: Kristin Kimball

February 26th, 2012

You don’t measure things with words like success or failure, he said. Satisfaction comes from trying hard things and then going on to the next hard thing, regardless of the outcome. What mattered was whether or not you were moving in a direction that you thought was right.

Kristin Kimball from The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love

This morning I have the privilege of cheering on a friend who’s running her first half marathon (I had to be up at 3:30 am to get to the starting line). She’s running in honor of her daughter Brooklyn who has Rett Syndrome – a debilitating neuralogical disorder. Little Miss Brooklyn can’t walk, so her mom laced up her running shoes and trained to run in her honor.


Kelly said she’s not going to come in first, her goal is just to finish the race. For her satisfaction comes by running, not winning.

Have you been working on any difficult things lately?

If you’d like to read more about Rett Syndrome visit Girl Power 2 Cure, the charity that Kelly works for.

The First Wild Salad of the Season

February 25th, 2012

When sugaring season rolls around I start keeping my eyes peeled on the ground as I walk around and gather sap. The same weather that is good for sugaring is good for the earliest of the wild greens like bittercress and garlic mustard. When I was out planting lettuce seeds on Monday, I noticed that the bittercress on the front hillside was ready to harvest. Since this is a south facing slope with rock walls, it’s usually a zone ahead of the rest of the garden. While the ground in the raised beds in the back is still frozen, the earth here has already softened.

I’m not quite sure why bittercress has it’s name, it’s not bitter at all, at least not this early in spring. Typically I like to mix it with more tender lettuces and spinach, but I chose to grow cover crops this past winter instead of overwintered lettuce. Thus our salad was all bittercress.

Bittercress ‘cardamine hirsute’ also known as Pennsylvania Bittercress, Jumping Jesus, Flickweed, Popping Cress, and Common Bittercress. It’s a member of the mustard family, which is evident when it blooms. The reason it’s called flick weed, popping cress and jumping Jesus (my favorite name which I’ll call it from now on) is because the seed pods explode when they’re ripe. I have, on many occasions, had seeds flicked right into my eyes when I unknowingly brushed up against them while weeding

Bittercress is considered a weed, as many edible plants are. You could try to spray it out as many people recommend, but why not just eat it. It’s not as spicy as arugula and has a bit more flavor than lettuce, it does get spicier and tougher as the weather warms. It also has a lot of texture and thus is better when mixed with a variety of greens. The smaller the rosettes are when you pick them the more tender they are. The best way to harvest them is to slice the main root right above the soil line with a knife. Then you can cut the small branches from the main root.

Since bittercress is a member of the mustard family it’s highly nutritious. I couldn’t find nutritionally information for is specifically, but it would be similar to mustard with highly levels of Vitamin K, A, C, B1, B2, B3, B6, E, Folate, Manganese, Calcium and so many more wonderful things. For the health benefits of mustard see this article at World’s Healthiest Foods.

I love foraging for food, you certainly can’t beat filling your plate with food you harvested but didn’t have sow or tend.

Have you ever foraged for food? What’s your favorite wild food?

A few of my favorite books about foraging:

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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