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A Dream Come True

May 26th, 2011

I’ve always loved boxwood hedges and have always dreamed of having one in my garden someday. I never knew quite where I would put it and the cost has always kept me from doing it, until now.

Yesterday afternoon the UPS man delivered seven ‘Wintergreen’ boxwoods and my dream of having a boxwood hedge will be a reality. I have two places I’m considering putting it. If I put it around my my Montmorency cherry I’ll have enough plants. I’m also considering placing in front that area that had the cover crop on it. This will become a large asparagus bed and I think a low box hedge would look really great with the asparagus ferns behind it.

‘Wintergreen’ boxwood (also known as Korean boxwood) is supposed to keep it’s green color better throughout the winter, which is a bonus here with our cold winters. It’s a more compact form for boxwood and can grow 3-4 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide. It’s a slow growing plant, only growing 4-8 inches per year.

I can’t wait to get these planted. It will take years for them to mature into a nice hedge, but at least I’m finally getting my dream of a boxwood hedge in the garden.

What’s a garden dream you’ve always had?

It’s Called Catmint for a Reason!

May 25th, 2011

I have a large number of ‘Walker’s Low’ Catmint (Nepeta x fassennii ‘Walker’s Low’) in the garden. It’s a beautiful plant, so easy and carefree to grow. Contrary to what you might think, the name does not imply that it is a small plant, it’s named for a place in England. I have a few mature plants that are about 3 ft square each.

Catmint is a tough as nails. It takes just about any kind of soil but thrives in those dry areas where other plants might languish. ‘Walker’s Low’ doesn’t reseed so you don’t have to worry about invasiveness, although it’s very easy to propagate with cuttings if you want more plants. (from what I understand other varieties of catmint may reseed, but I don’t have any so I can’t say first hand if they do). This plant is also unpalatable to deer, which is a huge bonus here at Chiot’s Run.

This plant is also fabulous because it looks good all summer long. With a little pruning it will bloom from spring to frost. It’s carefree, bugs don’t bother it much, bees and other beneficials love it! The only pests that will bother your catmint plant are CATs! It’s called catmint for a reason. I find our outdoor cats sleeping in it all the time. Small branches are also brought in for the indoor cats as well, who spend hours rolling on them on the floor.

I like this plant so much I would love to acquire a few other versions of catmint like ‘Six Hills Giant’, ‘Dawn to Dusk’, and ‘Little Titch’ which is a dwarf variety that I think would make a fabulous ground cover.

Catmint isn’t just a pretty face in the garden, it’s an herb that can be used medicinally for a wide variety of ailments from arthritis to menstrual cramps. I dry a lot of it for tea as it’s calming, helping ease stress, anxiety and insomnia – it’s perfect for nighttime tea. Since it had natural antibiotic properties, it’s also said to help when you have the flu or a cold. I’ve also read that it can help with arthritis since it’s an anti-inflammatory. I mostly use it for evening teas along with chamomile and mint from the garden.

Do you grow catmint in your garden? Do you use it medicinally?

A Match Made in Heaven

May 24th, 2011

The longer I garden the more I start to hone in on my likes and dislikes when it comes to plant combinations. For me, gardening is a creative outlet. Just as I’m constantly trying different angles and lighting to get that great photo, I’m often moving plants around to get just the right combination of texture, color, and form. Every now and then, a few things get planted together and they just work. They look as if they belong together.

I feel this way about chives (Allium schoenoprasum) and lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina). I find them to be stunning when paired together. Both of these plants are humble common herbs, you see them in many gardens and they have medicinal utilitarian backgrounds. There’s just something about the contrast in texture and form that works in my eyes (you may feel quite differently). One of the best parts of this combination is that both plants are quite easy to propagate. I’m working on incorporating a few more pockets of this combo in other areas of my garden.

What’s a plant combination that you find stunning?

Poison Ivy

May 23rd, 2011

We have poison ivy growing all around the property here at Chiot’s Run. We’re surrounded by woods, so it has the perfect habitat to thrive. I don’t mind so much because it is a beautiful plant and thankfully I’m not allergic and neither is Mr Chiots.

Poison ivy (toxicodendron radicans) grows throughout most of the United States and Canada. It is mostly found in wooded areas and along the edge of the woods, although it can grow in open areas as well.
Learning to identify poison ivy is quite easy. It is a good idea to learn to identify this plant even if you never hike or think you’ll be exposed to it. Look for three shiny smooth almond shaped leaves fanning out to form it’s distinctive trifolate shape. The leaflets alternate on the vine. The poison ivy that grows in my gardens emerges in the spring with beautiful tiny shiny red leaves.
I don’t aggressively try to eradicate poison ivy from my gardens. I believe all plants have a purpose and a place. I do pull out any plants that grow close the house, or along the walkways where people might come into contact with it just in case. I would hate for a visitor to go home with a terrible allergic reaction.

Poison ivy is beautiful in the fall, it turns a lovely shade of red and yellow. That’s one of the reasons I leave it in the surrounding woods.

Are you allergic to poison ivy? Do you have any growing in your gardens?

Quote of the Day: John Gunther

May 22nd, 2011

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.

-John Gunther

There’s nothing quite like starting the day with a good breakfast. I’m not picky about what I eat for breakfast except that it can’t come from a box and I prefer it to be warm. We don’t go for cereals or other pre-made things, if we’re looking for a quick breakfast a piece of sourdough bread toasted in a cast iron skillet with some good pastured butter is our breakfast of choice. We also like scones for quick grab and go breakfasts.

Once or twice a week we enjoy a breakfast featuring eggs. Whether a hearty “farmers” breakfast as they’re called in diners around the country. Eggs, bacon, potatoes, toast, sometimes mushrooms, and onions as well. Sometimes it’s an omelet and sometimes simply scrambled eggs. Every now and then I’ll whip up a breakfast pizza!

In the winter we love steaming bowls of oat groats topped with nuts, crystallized ginger, cinnamon, raisins and some maple syrup. We also enjoy warm coconut rice pudding on occasion.

Lately we’ve been eating sourdough pancakes a few days a week since we have such a bounty of maple syrup in the pantry from the 2011 sugaring season.

No breakfast is complete without a cup of coffee with raw milk. This is of course my favorite part of breakfast!

What’s a typical breakfast for you?

Seeds and Sundries
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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.