Orange you just loving it?

I just got a new camera, and I’m trying to learn to use it.  One of the reasons I decided I needed a new one (besides the fact that D & I were constantly wanting to take the single one we had in different directions) is the frustration in trying to capture the REAL colors I see, so you can see them, too.  As you know, my color palette is apricot, oranges, golds with touches of blue, purple and white.  The old point-and-shoot camera just didn’t do them justice. So, here are photos I just shot of some of the oranges in my garden.

Zinnia Lion 2 compressed  Zinnia “Mighty Lion”

Zinna Prof Apricot compressed  Zinnia “Profusion Apricot”

Tritoma Vanilla Orange compressed  Tritoma “Vanilla Orange”

Apricot dianthus compressed  Dianthus …wish I knew, I came without a tag, but it’s been blooming non-stop since I purchased it in early April!  I’d love more!

Butterflyweed compressed  Asclepias tuberosa, better known as Butterflyweed

Celosia Fresh Look Orange compressed Celosia “Fresh Look Orange.”  Very happy with this, and have it everywhere in borders and containers.  Not so happy with Celosia “Armour Salmon,” which turned out to be red.  UGH! I won’t even take its photo.

Coneflower Cantalope compressed  Coneflower “Cantalope”

Daylily Dbl Or compressed Daylily “Double Orange.”  I have lots of other orange, orange bi-colors, and apricot daylilies, but this is my favorite.

Lily Tiger compressed Tiger Lily….forget the name but it’s not the standard orange.

Marigold Hero Orange compressed Marigold “Hero Orange,” the workhorse of the potager center path borders.  Blooming constantly, and definitely in the garden in future years.

Nast Tip Top Apricot compressed Nasturtium “Tip Top Apricot.”  Has performed well despite the heat!  I had some darker orange ones, but they’ve languished.

Rudbeckia Chim var compressed A seedling from last year’s Rudbeckia “Chim Chiminee.”  Surprises are always nice.

Snap Liberty bronze compressed  Snapdragon “Liberty Bronze.”  Probably the most-commented upon plant in the gardens this year.  Definitely on next year’s list.

Tomato Orange Sun compressed  Not a flower, but these “Orange Sun” tomatoes have been large, delicious, and showy along the fence.

Tritoma 2 compressed  I have four varieties of tritoma…think this one is “Elvira” or maybe it’s this one…..

Tritoma compressed

Chard Orange  The Orange Chard is not as orange as I’d hoped, but maybe it will darken as the temperatures cool.

Rail planter compressed  The “Sedona” coleus from Proven Winners is always a success.  Here it adds height to a rail planter on the deck.

Pepper Orange Sun The “Orange Sun” peppers have been a great success….bags and bags already in the freezer and lots more to pick.

Lantana, coleus compressed  An orange lantana, which blooms despite our lack of rain, causing the butterflies to rejoice.

So, I’m still learning to use the camera, but you can see that there is lots of orange and apricot in my gardens, which makes me very happy.  Orange is a color for energy, vitality, and power.  If you have a favorite orange flower or veggie that I haven’t shown here, let me know and I’ll look for it for my garden next year.

 

Cipollini

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These are cipollini that I grew last summer, in a window box, because my potager had not yet been started, but I’d already given possession of the Cook’s garden at the herb farm to its new owners.  I fell in love with these heirloom, small, flat, very sweet onions in Italy.  We had them there as an appetizer, marinated in balsamic vinegar.  As soon as we returned home, I planted a white variety from Seeds of Italy.  You can read more about cipollini, and making marinated cipollini on my website (www.caroleesherbfarm.com) by clicking on the November 2015 E-Newsletter.  We’ve grilled them (parboil for 5 minutes first) and because of the high sugar content, they carmelize beautifully.  My daughter (who lived in Puglia) sent me a recipe for Cipollini Crostata, which is really delicious as an appetizer, or with a salad for a luncheon, or as a side dish for supper.  It’s good picnic food, because it’s yummy at room temperature, too.  Look for that recipe in the August 2015 E-newsletter.

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They are very easy to grow from seed, so I planted both  white “Bianca di Maggio” (95 days) and “Red Marble” (80 days) varieties this spring.   I sprinkle the seeds in rows in flats, then transplant the tiny grass-like plants into four-packs shown above.  When they get a little size and seem stable they go from 4-packs into a row in the garden.

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The white seedlings seem to be a bit more robust than the red, so I planted them first.  I just made a small trench and put the cubes from the 4-packs edge to edge, pulling soil up around the cubes and sprinkling a bit of mulch lightly between the plants.  You can space them closely, because they only get about 2″ in diameter.  Another row goes right beside them, staggered to provide ample space.  Here’s some of this year’s crop, growing happily about mid-June.  I have little rows and patches here and there in the potager, tucked in where early crops of spinach, mini-napa cabbage, pak choi and mustards came out.

Cippolini compressed

Knowing how much we love them grilled, and planning to make jars and jars of the marinated ones for antipasto platters over the winter, I actually seeded a third variety, “Red Amposta” about a month after the first sowings went into the potager beds.  They are now ready to plant into the beds as other crops come out. Supposedly, they are a good variety for storing over the winter.  Fingers crossed.

The first variety planted are now ready for harvest, indicated by the tops falling over, so I’ll start pulling a few of the larger ones to grill, and marinate all the cute small ones.  Even if you only have space for a windowbox, grow some cipollini!

Calendula harvest

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As an herb lover, it’s always hard to pick a favorite.  Mine varies from week to week, but during the spring and early summer months, it has to be calendula.  I would hate to live without calendula.  First of all, they are just absolutely beautiful.  Available in cream, through yellows, apricots, deep orange, and bi-colors, they also range in height from 8″ to 24″ and come in singles and doubles.   Calendulas are annuals, although they often self-seed.  They prefer cool weather, and as the heat of summer arrives, the flowers become smaller and fade more quickly.  If you look at the yellow flower on the very bottom left, you’ll notice that it is starting to fade.  There are a couple of orange ones closer to the center and center right that are fading, too.  That’s when I harvest them, when a few petals begin to shrink.  First pull the petals free, and then snip the head from the plant’s stem.  Snipping off the head helps the plant use its energy to produce more flowers. I drop the petals into this handy drying trug, or spread them on screens (keeping them out of direct sunlight in a dry, airy location) until they are totally dry.

Calendula petals drying  Then I store them in an airtight jar like this one  Calendula jars compressedon the right.  The dried petals can be added to tea for sore throats, added to homemade soap, stirred into sugar cookie or scone batters, or any number of projects or recipes.

Often, I simply take a jar out to the potager and fill it with plucked petals.  When it is full, I add enough olive oil or sweet almond oil to cover and store it in a dark place for at least a week.

Calendula in oil compressed  Here’s the first jar of the season, but I’m making more.  You can see the second jar in the prior photo behind this first jar.  The oil can be applied as is to scratches, bug bites, scrapes, minor cuts, rashes, dry skin, and other skin ailments, or it can be the main ingredient in healing salves and lotions.

Right now, I have a monstrous case of chiggers, a gift from helping weed a neighbor’s garden.  From neck to knee I am covered with red spots (sorry, a photo would be just too embarassing!) which would be itching terribly if not for the liberal application of calendula salve.  So, obviously, right now calendula is definitely my favorite herb!  In fact, I think I’d better go pick some more petals!

The tiny lavender harvest

Lav bunches compressed

The first harvest from my new lavender patch is complete….5 bunches, but don’t they look nice hanging in my shed?  And 5 little bunches will provide enough lavender for a few pots of tea and several batches of lavender-walnut scones this winter, which makes me happy. The harvest didn’t take long.  After fifteen years with 7,000 lavender plants that took weeks to harvest manually, this was a snap, since there are only 47 baby plants.  Fifty were planted last autumn, and I truly didn’t expect any of them to survive since I did no soil preparation, and the site is not ideal (heavy clay, run-off from the neighbor’s field, a north slope that holds the snow longer than any other spot on the property.)  I just needed a place to stick them and behold, there was the bare, bull-dozed slope next to the new potager, so in they went!

Lav field with cloth compressed

Imagine my surprise this spring, when 49 plants began to show growth.  They not only survived, but they actually seem happy!  So, instead of moving them, I weeded the patch, put down landscape cloth, and watched them grow.  Most of the plants are “Abrialli,” my favorite for their wonderful fragrance, long stems and good color, which I reserved for myself,  but there are a few  “Sleeping Beauty,” “Victorian Amethyst,” “Imperial Gem,” “Violet Intrigue,” and one “Dwarf White” which were unsold when we closed the farm and I couldn’t bare to toss them, so in they went.

Lav first bunch compressed  I just cut them with heavy-duty scissors, shaping the plant into a mound as I go.  Harvest begins when the bees start working the flowers.

Lav bunch with bee compressed  If you look carefully at the center top of the bunch, you’ll see a bee that could not be deterred from her task.

Lav patch harvested compressed It doesn’t look very attractive without the flowers.  In fact, it’s actually ugly.  The plan is to add a layer of stone to cover the landscape cloth, and I’ve planted a few perennials and a small shrub island to help screen it from the house and driveway.

Lav patch screen compressed  I’m not sure at this point it is helping the beautification effort, but hopefully it will be lovely eventually.  For those of you detail-obsessed folks, there are only 47 plants left because two at the far end were actually washed out of the ground by a heavy rain before the landscape cloth went down, and I was too slow to notice and get them back in the ground.  Sigh.  And, yes, I’ve used leftover bits of three different landscape fabrics, but once they are covered in stone it won’t matter.  When I look at it now, I see future summers, when the fragrance of the lavender will be carried into the potager, and hopefully, with the help of westerly breezes onto the deck at the house.

At the shed

Shed without shutters

Here’s the garden shed a few weeks ago, showing the newly planted, newly mulched border in front of it.  See my problem?  Yup, the mud splashed up on the side, and I knew my newly planted babies would be pounded by rain falling from the roof.  So, I put on guttering.  Never having done it before, it took forever, but I’m proud to say I finally figured it out.  Before we go on, please notice the lovely foxgloves on the left, Polkadot Polly, which have been blooming for months!  I’m thrilled with them.

I kept looking at the shed, thinking it needed more pizzazz.  Shutters would be lovely, so while I was at the store getting guttering supplies, I priced a set of vinyl shutters….$31!!! That seemed rather pricey for such a small window, so I decided to wait.  Good decision, because when I went to the Madison Co. Master Gardeners’ Spring Plant sale, I found this very satisfactory set for $2.00!

Shutters By sawing them in half, they were a perfect fit, and only needed cleaning, a coat of primer, and a coat of green paint.

Shutter stage 3 I used some lumber left from the shed’s siding to make a windowbox.

Windowbox building compressed And painted it to match and planted it with flowers.  Here’s what it looks like now!

Windowbox installed compressed

Much, much better.  And notice how those foxgloves are STILL blooming.  And that lovely guttering!  And those half-shutters left from the project are getting lots of use as shades for new plantings here and there in the potager.  That’s one of the best $2.00 investments I’ve ever made.  Now on to other projects!

 

 

The bounty begins! But wait….

Elder compressed

One of my written goals for the potager is to “keep good and accurate records of the harvest.”  That hasn’t been as easy as it would appear, partly because it is hard to force myself to take the time, and partly because no rules have been established.  Starting out was easy, because only a few ounces of herb or a few pounds of lettuce needed weighing.  As the harvest revved up, there was less time and more questions.  Do I weigh shallots as they come from the potager, or is the correct weight after they are cured (the weight they would normally be if purchased from the grocery?)  Should bolted lettuce that ends up in the compost count as “harvest?”  Must I weigh or record that pepper or cucumber that I happen to devour while I am watering, that never make it to the house, let alone a scale?  These questions and more are still under debate.  So, I’ll just begin to update you, gentle reader, on what I’ve been harvesting and preserving recently.  The above photo is of my elder tree, taken in April, when I began harvesting the flowers.  Only the tiny white blooms are carefully rubbed free, because the stems are toxic.  The flowers can then be spread on pans or screens to dry.  Once that happens, they can be stored in an airtight jar such as the one on the left below, with the green lid.  Jars should be stored in a cool dark place until the flowers are needed for delicious (and medicinal) teas or baking.

Elderflowers dried and syrup

In the center of the photo, note the four quart jars of steeping elderflower syrup.  Each jar takes 1 1/2 cups fresh elderbloom, the zest and juice of one lemon OR lime, and a simple syrup made of 2 c. water and 2 c. sugar brought to a boil and poured over the flowers and citrus.  Shake daily and allow to steep 3-4 days, then strain and refrigerate or can in a water bath.  I use the syrup mostly to make Hugos, the cocktail using about an oz. of syrup muddled with a sprig of good spearmint in the bottom of a wineglass.  Add a slice of lime and fill the glass with chilled Prosecco.  Perfectly delicious on a hot summer afternoon, or in winter to remind you of summer!  You can tell I really like them, because I made this much syrup!  I hope it’s enough to last until next April.

Elderflower syrup compressed  Well, actually I made more, because I’ve already used one jar, there’s another partial jar in the refrigerator, plus I’ve given three jars away!  Now, how do I count this in my harvest records?  Should I have recorded the number of cups of fresh flowers that I used in the syrup, or should I have weighed them? Or, do I just count the finished product in quarts and pints?  Decisions, decisions.  I think I’d better make a Hugo, and mull it over.  If you have “rules” that you use to record your harvest, please share.

 

The Bad

Not everything in the new potager has been perfect.  The most frustrating aspect comes from critters, who thwart every effort.  The most frustrating has been the raccoons, which have decimated the strawberry harvest.  After only 4 quarts of beautiful, big berries, my harvest has been ZERO because the coons are eating the berries just as soon as they form, even before they begin to show color!  You can see from the photo that they nibble the berries right to the stem cap, just as soon as they are marble-sized.  (Note the black spot on my thumb nail….let’s just say my carpentry skills are not equal to my weeding skills.)DSC00066.JPGSince they discovered the berries, the potager has become their favorite playground.  They’ve knocked rail planters over onto the ground, dumped flats of plants,

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pulled the timbers away from the borders, and then merrily dug up plants,

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knocked over pots,

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and generally just made a mess and destroyed dozens of plants.  Some nights they dig out the landscape cloth under the paths. Most mornings it takes me two hours just to tidy up their pranks.

 

One early evening, after I had just showered and changed into my nightgown, David called, “Look out the window!”  A mother coon and three youngsters were heading straight toward the potager.  I ran outside, shouting, and banging two boards together that I picked up on the way.  By the time I reached the garden, they were already trampling strawberry plants.  Obviously, they had visited before.  After much yelling and board banging, and with David’s help, we finally herded them out of the garden.  I needed another shower after all the running.  I’m sure if someone had taken a video, I’d be on “America’s Funniest.” Good thing we live in the country with no close neighbors!

A review of the critter camera the next morning showed that two additional coons later made nocturnal visits to the berry beds, which are now fairly flattened and sad.  Raccoons are good climbers and have no difficulty going over the fence.  I guess I’ll have to add electric fence, although I really don’t want to.  However, if I want to harvest any of the miniature melons, tomatoes, and other coon favorites, I’ll have to do something besides pray.

Another bad guy is the bunny; probably the same one who ate all the parsley and violas and snapdragons while they were still in flats on the bench.  I see him occasionally hopping across the lawn.  This week in the front potager border, he bit off about half the 8″ tall zinnias just above soil level and dropped them.  What a waste!  You’d think after he tasted one and didn’t like it, he’d pass the others by and try something else, but no, he just went down the border and cut one after another.  Fortunately, I have more and I’ll give them a good spray with Plantskydd right after planting.

So far, knock wood, the deer haven’t jumped the fence into the potager, but they are browsing on the newly-planted red raspberry rows.  I finally got the posts in and berry netting over them, so that should end that.

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Another bad guy, the Japanese beetles.  They seem more abundant this year than last.  They especially like all the basils and the okra blooms, but I photographed these on the yarrow.  I’ve been hand-picking them, but it’s time consuming and not my favorite past-time.  With the 90-degree days we’ve had (unusual for June) I spent much of my time watering all the new plantings (removing spent peas and re-planting those areas) and the berry rows.  I’ve also been working on a few little projects.  (More about those in up-coming posts.)  So, dear reader, I haven’t had much time for blogging, and I do appreciate your patience.  I’ll do better!

The Good

DSC05020June is whizzing by, and before memory fades, I want to record many of the “good things” that are happening in the garden, whether a result of careful planning or happy accident.  The beautiful elder above is a happy accident, that just appeared near the utility pole between the garage and the deck garden a few years ago and just keeps getting bigger and better.  It is loaded with delicate white blooms, fragrant as one passes or sits on the deck.  Since there are still jars of elderberry jelly in the pantry, I feel free to harvest many of the clusters to make elderflower syrup, so I can enjoy “Hugo” cocktails  (elderflower syrup, Prosecco, mint, a slice of lime and ice) throughout the year! The syrup is delicious on pound cake or gooseberry tart, too, or just added to a cup of hot tea.  So far I’ve made 5 quarts of syrup and have dried 5 cups of flowers for tea.

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All in all, there’s not much I would change about the new potager.  I’m really happy with the design and the raised beds.  The plants seem happy, too, which is definitely a good thing.  It’s really filling in nicely.

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Sprinkling the Black Seeded Simpson lettuce on the snow in February was exceptionally good, because their frilly chartreuse leaves have definitely hidden the ugly ripening tulip foliage from view in the interior borders, as well as providing dozens of salads.  Anyone who happened to stop by went home with a big bag of lettuce as well.  It is getting tall now, so many plants are being pulled to allow their neighbors to thrive.  As you can see, the tips of the garlic are already beginning to brown, and the scapes are forming.  Looks like the harvest will be earlier than usual, but the stems are nice and thick and the bulbs are forming nicely in all nine varieties.

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Planting peas between double rows of shallots was a happy accident that I will definitely repeat.  The shallots make great supports and also slightly shade the peas roots, resulting in a bumper crop of snow peas, “Little Purple.” And speaking of shallots, they are terrific!  Most single bulbs have produced 5 shallots, with some like the one below, forming 8!  I planted over 8 pounds, so the expected harvest could be 40 pounds!

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Little Gem Lettuce compressed

The “Tom Thumb” lettuce  (above) and the mini-Romaine, “Little Gem” have both been terrific, performing well despite our unusually early hot weather.  Don’t they look adorable in the garden?  I almost hate to harvest them, but they are so tasty we can’t resist.

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This Red Deer Tongue lettuce is beautiful, too, and really is outstanding in the garden and adds color to salads.  Note the thickening cipollini planted to its left, along with Merlot peppers, which are already forming fruits.

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“Gangbusters” spinach (from Renee Shepherd Seeds) has been the outstanding performer of all the spinach varieties planted, with huge bigger-than-my-hand leaves, resistance to bolting in our heat, and great texture and flavor. I’m definitely planting more this fall.

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“Bon Bon” Calendula have always been a favorite, so I planted them liberally throughout the interior borders of the potager.  You can see them in some of the earlier photos in this post. Their edible petals are added to salads or sprinkled on canapes, but mostly I use them to make a soothing salve or dry them for a tea blend (orange mint, cloves, dried orange peel, and calendula petals.)

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“Lady Like” Lilies were planted in groups of three and five, and they look terrific popping up here and there through the lettuce.  I admit I haven’t eaten any of the petals, because they are just too pretty to pick. They are not quite as pink as they look in this photo, but a bit more apricot in tone.

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These gorgeous “Liberty Bronze” snapdragons are also planted liberally throughout the edible interior borders.  I had momentary panic when the buds first showed color because they were very, very pink.  I feared the seed company had sent the wrong color!  But, fortunately when the flowers open, they are various shades of oranges and bronze and I just love them.

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I’m also thinking I was very clever to choose the adorable peach alyssum to pair with “Little Hero Orange” marigolds to edge the central paths.  The alyssum is more peach than it looks (also from Renee Shepherd Seeds.) I think I need a better camera to really capture the colors.  I’m also thinking now that the rabbit eating so many flats of violas was a happy accident.  Remember last winter I’d planned to edge most of the beds with hundreds of violas?  Well, I can tell you that will never happen.  Keeping the violas that I do have deadheaded every three days takes me far longer than I want, but it’s a necessity if I want to keep them blooming.  It is worth it, but I definitely don’t want to have more.

Of course, it’s not only the beauty of the potager that is good, but the bountiful harvest. Besides bushels of lettuces of all types, there has already been aspa-broc, snow peas, shelling peas, arugula, kale, spinach, mizuna, pak choy, mustard and beet greens, loads of radishes, shallots, scallions, strawberries, and lots of herbs for seasoning and edible flowers for garnishes.  The freezer is beginning to fill, and every meal is based around healthy, homegrown, organic produce.  Can you tell that I’m loving my new garden?  It’s all GOOD!

Bulb Evaluation

DSC05013  Two of my favorite bulb catalogs arrived today, and that set my mind to dreaming.  The photos and descriptions are so tempting and tantalizing that before I got carried away with ordering, I knew I should review my notes for bulb performance this spring.  Thankfully, I took extensive notes. The tulip parade was reviewed in a prior post, “Tulip Evaluation,” so this will include the others.  I didn’t plant as many daffodils/narcissus as tulips, because there were already plenty in the gardens around the house, so only the front border of the potager needed their cheery blossoms.  Since daffodils nearly always return, I won’t be ordering many more.  However, after watching their performance, I thought you might be interested in which ones did best, especially if you are considering adding more to your own gardens.

Kedron close compressed

“Kedron” was the one I was most interested in seeing bloom, because the flower color, an amber-tinged apricot with a deep orange trumpet would best match my color scheme.  (It’s not as yellow “in person” as shown in the photo.)  The flower color is good, however the blooms are small.  What I most disliked was their height, which was over 24″  despite the catalog listing of 12″, which caused me to plant them toward the front of the border.  That, of course, turned out to be poor placement and made them look awkward.  I won’t add more and feel compelled to dig them up to relocate them further back in the border where their height is more appropriate.

“Rijnveld’s Early Sensation” was not the first to bloom, but the large 3″ golden flowers were impressive.  I put them in the Addition Garden, where their cheery color could be viewed from our bedroom window.  12-14″  If I wanted more plain gold, I’d probably order more, but I prefer the following varieties.

“Vanilla Peach” was a gorgeous split-cup narcissus.  Lightly scented, 4″ flowers that opened white and matured to pale yellow with layers of apricot segments.  Strong stems held the heavy flowers upright, which has been a problem with others of this type in my past, and they were very long-lasting as a cut flower.  16″

“Topolino” was adorable in the Fairy Garden, with it’s creamy-yellow petals and bright yellow cup.  I will definitely use more of them in the front of borders throughout the gardens, where their petite 5″ height and pretty blooms can be appreciated fully.  I think I’ll add some to my patio planters, too.

Delnashaugh daff compressed

The absolute winner was “Delnashaugh”which not only had outstandingly beautiful double blooms but easily were the longest-lasting of the daffodils.  They not only bloomed with the bulk of the tulips, helping make the border full and lush, but continued to look fresh and pretty during the gap after the tulips were gone.  They still looked amazing on May 21st.  As pictured, the blooms are 4″ fully double filled, frilly cream flowers with frilled apricot cup segments tucked throughout.  18” tall with strong stems that held up to our wind storms.  I’m definitely ordering more for the new Island Bed, and the shrub additions (more about those new areas later!)

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Another big winner were the Silverbells, Ornithogalum nutans.  Their 12″ stems of white bells with delicate green streaks filled another gap in the bloom schedule.  They grow best in semi-shade, so happily performed on the north side of the potager fence, prettily filling that area before the foxgloves took over the show.  They were also delightful  in the Fairy Garden.  I’ll order more for other partly shaded areas.

What a difference a day makes!

…especially when it is suddenly 89 degrees, after nearly a month of unusually cool 50’s and  60’s!  All through May, the cool weather crops thrived in overcast, chilly days and even cooler nights.  It seemed to rain every other day.  And then, suddenly the temperatures soared and the potager crops changed overnight!  I had to exchange my cup of tea for the camera, when I ventured to the potager this morning and saw the transformation.  My mostly green garden was suddenly colorful!  This “Frilly” Mustard looks like a bouquet!DSC04855

I guess I should have incorporated it into more meals while the leaves were tender and mild.  The “Bloody Mary” mustard also burst into bloom overnight, but it’s not as pretty as the “Frilly.”  The flowers are milder, though.  You can see I nibbled a few stalks!DSC04858

Sadly, the “Little Jade” Napa Cabbage also bolted, before it even formed “heads,” but aren’t the flowers pretty?  Tasty, too.DSC04857

The “Long Standing Bloomsdale” shown here won’t be standing long, because it has already bolted (although “Gangbusters” is still gorgeous!  I’ll be planting it exclusively next spring!)DSC04864

It appears my weekend meals will include many salads and canapes with edible flowers, and soon those crops will be in the compost bins, making room for crops that enjoy the upper 80’s that are forecast for the coming week.  Suddenly it is summer!  On the plus side, the heat wave has performed magic, turning white strawberries into these brilliant red beauties. I’ve already picked 4 quarts, so there is shortcake in my future.DSC04860

And the snow peas burst into pretty purple bloom!

DSC04859 The tomatillo are basking in the warmth that encouraged these blossoms.DSC04861 It was windy, so the yellow flowers look a bit fuzzy, but you get the idea.  This heat will cause the lettuces to bolt soon, so we’ll be eating these beautiful little “Tom Thumb” butterheads.Little Gem Lettuce compressed  However, this sudden change filled me with near panic.  My brain yelled, “The growing season is whizzing by, and I’m not savoring it enough.  I’m not harvesting enough, fast enough. Look at all this waste!”  And then, a hummingbird flew past my shoulder headed for a nearby nasturtium bloom.  A big swallowtail butterfly flitted from flower to flower.  I put the camera aside and picked up my tea cup for a leisurely stroll through the potager.  So what if a few mustard plants become compost?  We had stir-fry and salads that included them, and their pretty foliage added to the garden design, but now I can experiment with something else in their place.  Maybe something tastier and even prettier.  And meanwhile, the potager crops are being enjoyed by the butterflies and hummingbirds. And that makes a big difference.