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Flowers for all Occasions

June 22nd, 2017

This time of year I always take a vintage mason jar full of flowers for the garden when invited to someone’s house. The vintage jar is a gift, as are the flowers. People are always excited about a jar full of flowers and I’m happy to share the loveliness from my garden. Yesterday we celebrated a friend’s birthday.

Flowers make such a nice addition to the table too. For our celebration I made a tiny bouquet for the cheese platter and put tiny black violets in the jar around the tea light.

Vegetable also make nice gifts, I find myself often harvesting a nice head of lettuce or packaging up some eggs to take as gifts. I’m a huge fan of gifting items that can be enjoyed and then they are gone.

What’s your favorite thing to take as a hostess gift?

Quote of the Day: Joy Larkcom

June 18th, 2017

“There will be disappointments (when gardening). The glorious visions that are conjured up when sowing or planting don’t always materialize and the painful memories of failures lurk in my written records: ‘chamomile path engulfed by chickweed; cat scratched up lettuce seedlings; first cabbage lost to pigeons; drought causing slow pumpkin growth; ‘Treviso’ chicory disappeared. There are bound to be highs and lows: no garden can be beautiful all the time.”

Joy Larkcom in Creative Vegetable Gardening

For two years I have had a vision of what I wanted to create in the garden area below the living room windows. A mass planting of ‘Walkers Low’ catmint with lovely purple allium globes towering above it. I had seen a photo at one time of this and found it stunning.

Clearly my alliums are not towering above the catmint, in fact one is being smothered by it. The flowers are also the same color, which wasn’t the plan either. Perhaps the photo I saw used a lower catmint, the version that grows only a foot tall or so. Or perhaps the alliums grew to their normal height. My ‘Globemaster’ alliums are definitely not as tall as others I have seen, in fast they’re a full 8-12 inches shorter than the others I have seen. All-in-all, this ended up being a gardening disappointment.

The one on the edge is pretty tall, this is more what I was going for, but the other two aren’t even close to being tall enough. The one closer in is being swallowed up by the catmint (as you can see in the first photo of the post). In my opinion this is a waste of alliums. Alliums should be showstoppers in the garden, they’re so graphic and bold.

I’m certainly glad I didn’t buy a lot of alliums, I purchased only 3 bulbs to give it a try first. I may try a different type of allium in, one that has smaller flowers and one that is a different color of purple. These alliums won’t be lost, I love them, just not here. The bulbs will be fed, dug up, and then moved to a new spot in the garden where they can shine and be the showstopper they should be.

What gardening fails have you had this year? 

Memorial Gardens

June 14th, 2017

My mom was an avid gardener, her gardens were always full of blooms (and vegetables too). For her celebration of life service, we decided that we wanted to use flowers from her garden to decorate the church. Her gardens are large, thus we had plenty of blooms. There were four large arrangements and four smaller ones. Here are some photos (some cell photos, some real ones, some mine, some my brother’s). They were lovely and just what we wanted, not the typical funeral arrangements. My mom was adamant about her service not being like a normal funeral, including the flowers.

It was nice because some of the flowers we used in the arrangements were from plants that my mom had gotten from her mom’s gardens. The white peonies and the sweet peas were both true heirloom flowers. My mom didn’t have a dedicated cutting garden, but she certainly had plenty of flowers to cut throughout the spring/summer/fall.

In lieu of flowers for her service, we had friend/family make donations to the charity my parents started. The funds will be used to build a memorial garden in at the camp facilities in Colombia. We figured this was fitting, it allows the funds to be used for something that will last. The garden will also be a place for all the people in Colombia to remember her and the work she did there. My dad and I are now starting the design process for this garden, I may be traveling to Colombia in the next year or so to help with the plan/implementation. It’s exciting to think about a lovely garden that will provide a peaceful place at the camp.

What’s your favorite flower?

Friday Favorite: My Mom

June 2nd, 2017

If you’ve been reading here long, you know that my mom is an avid gardener. She cultivated my love of gardening from an early age. Whenever she went to the greenhouse to get annuals for the flowerbeds, I was allowed to pick out a six pack to plant. When we ordered seeds for the edible garden, we were each allowed to choose some variety of vegetable to grow (I remember always choosing something blue for some reason). When I lived in Ohio we cultivated an edible garden space in her yard together.

My mom battled breast cancer six years ago, it metastasized to her bones last year. She was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer last September, after discussing various options she decided she only wanted palliative care. Her last 8 months of life were good, considering what she was fighting. Her battle with cancer ended on May 19th, four days after my parents celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary.

She lives on in the gardens, both at her house and in mine. My garden is filled with plants I got from her, her garden is filled with plants she got from me, both of our gardens contain plants we got from her mother’s garden. We enjoyed gardening together, we enjoyed visiting gardens together. She will be sorely missed.

Quote of the Day: Joy Larkom

May 21st, 2017

“Potagers, ornamental vegetable gardens, call them what you will, are seductive masters. Create one of your own, and it draws you to it like a magnet. There’s a deep satisfaction in a beautiful, purposeful garden. Beware though, if you are serious about producing vegetables, of forfeiting productivity to the easy charms of herbs, self-seeding flowers and topiary shrubs. ‘There’s nowhere left to plant’ is not an uncommon cry, and ironically, the larger the garden, the worse that problem can be.”

Joy Larkcom in Creative Vegetable Gardening

It’s no secret that growing vegetables is my passion, but I also love a beautiful garden. Even though the tidy, neat rows of a classic food plot in the back yard is quite lovely, I much prefer the potager type look, where vegetables and flowers are mixed together in creative ways.

I’m finally at the point in my garden here in Maine, that I’m starting to add the hardscape features and plan the layouts of the gardens. Hedges are being planned, walkways are being set out, edges are being defined. Funny enough, the above quote is true, the larger my gardens are the less space I feel I have left for the vegetables.

The best way I have found to combat this is to grow a bit less, since I almost always end up with way more vegetables than I need, scaling back the amount is the best way to find space for everything I want to grow. I’d rather have artichokes and green beans instead of just green beans. I’d rather have onions and carrots than just onions. It’s like a puzzle to plan a garden, a little time spent defining edges and planning in the beginning help make everything fit in the end.

Do you find your vegetable garden always too small?

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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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.