Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Ornamental allium (onion)

Even though you might not be able to tell from this journal, I actually have gotten something done on my garden in 2012.

The center section of my potager is coming along pretty well, in spite of a lot of neglect and being under snow right now. Besides the cherry tree, I've added some brassicas, including various kinds of cabbage and kale, as well as some garlic and chard. I've marked out the outside boundaries and have planted some cabbages in part of it, but the entire thing isn't finished yet.

I have learned that plants really like rabbit litter, but it doesn't make for nice photos, which is part of the reason I haven't put up any recently. Hopefully I'll have some compost soon to put over everything and make it look a bit nicer.

As far as the front yard is concerned, I planted a row of rainbow chard plants along the walkway forgetting that a. they are not super hardy and b. that they are annuals. I think the snow might have done them in, but they looked really nice there so I'm going to replant the row if they don't come back up.

My little rosemary hedge is coming along well, but something has eaten my hostas around the crazy tree to the ground. I think it's wild rabbits, of which we have many in the area. Once that tree gets taller I think that sort of thing will be deterred, because the buns don't seem to touch anything that's lit up (we have a streetlight across the road), and it's full shade under there when it's in full leaf during the summer.

So how are your gardens? Here's hoping for a very successful 2013.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My trifoliate orange

From Wikipedia:
Trifoliate Orange, Poncirus trifoliata (syn. Citrus trifoliata), is a member of the family Rutaceae, closely related to Citrus, and sometimes included in that genus, being sufficiently closely related to allow it to be used as a rootstock for Citrus. It differs from Citrus in having deciduous, compound leaves, and pubescent (downy) fruit. It is native to northern China and Korea, and is also known as the Chinese Bitter Orange.
The plant is fairly hardy (USDA zone 5) and will tolerate moderate frost and snow, making a large shrub or small tree 4–8 m tall. Because of the relative hardiness of Poncirus, citrus grafted onto it are usually hardier than when grown on their own roots.
I'm in USDA zone 7, and I can attest that my plant (the "Flying Dragon", which is a dwarf variety) is very hardy -- it has done fine through blizzards and ice storms!

I planted this in my front yard 4 or 5 years ago, and this year it has fruit:

If you notice, the branches are "twisty", with long bendable thorns. It's a very interesting-looking plant. I've been waiting until the fruit drops to collect it, and this is what I've gotten so far. It looks like I'll get nine fruits this year.

The fruit is a little bigger than a golf ball (about 3 cm in diameter), fuzzy like a peach, and smells like a pear to me.

There are a lot of seeds inside.

I thought from the way it smelled that this might be a bit like a kumquat, but the rind and pulp taste just like a lemon.

I recommend this for anyone in a zone where you can't plant other citrus.

I decided to save the seeds -- I don't know what they will grow or if they will grow ... but if anyone would like some let me know by commenting here and I'll mail them to you.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Edible bouquets: you can grow that!

Growing edible cut flowers is as easy as growing the flowers themselves, as long as you do so without using chemicals on the plants.

It's fun to be able to go outside and cut flowers, some for your vase and some for your plate, plus it saves you the money of going out and buying them.

What edible flowers are you growing? How do you use them around your home? Do you have any photos to share?


You Can Grow That! is a campaign created by garden writer and master gardener C. L. Fornari. On the fourth of each month participating garden bloggers write about something you can grow. Stop by the You Can Grow That! Facebook page to read all of the posts.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Out and around the garden

Been busy planting and weeding ... it seems like there are more weeds than usual this year!

I just thought that today I'd post some of the photos I've taken over the past few weeks:

Prairie sage
They call this prairie sage here in Oklahoma -- I haven't been able to find the scientific name, but I'm guessing it's one of the Artemisia species.

It's native to the area and according to my wildcrafting teacher can be used in cooking. Some of the Native American tribes use this to make smudge sticks for religious ceremonies. It grows in my front flower beds, and since I don't have anything else there right now I let it do what it likes in the summer

I learned about this during the foraging classes that I've taken from Jackie Dill -- if you're in the area and want to learn about future classes you should visit her website.

Onion flower
Those of you who know me know that I'm a big fan of alliums, especially garlic.

But I love planting onions (even if I haven't learned how to get them to make big bulbs), both because I love to eat them (!) and because I really like their flowers.

This is what they call a "walking onion" or Egyptian onion (Allium ×proliferum or A. cepa var. proliferum). These have little bulblets on top instead of a flower, and when they grow large enough the plant will bend over a bit and drop them off beside it, "walking" itself down the row.

It's kind of funny looking, but fun to grow.

I took the photos of these two daylilies (which are both supposed to be the "Wine Delight" variety) on the same day, just a minute or so apart. They were on two different plants, which might explain the difference in color, but I thought it was odd.

Could the right hand one have bloomed earlier? If you know the answer to this mystery, I'd be interested in hearing it!

This is another native plant called lemon mint or horse mint (Monarda citriodora). You can identify mint family plants by their square stems.

This smells like lemons! I've never cooked with it but I guess you can, and it makes a nice cut flower as well.

It also attracts butterflies and likes clay soil, which is probably why it's native here. ;)

My lavender plant is in bloom, and also smells wonderful. This is one of the easiest plants to take care of -- I really don't do much to it other than pull weeds around it once in a while (which it looks like I need to do again).

I don't water it, it doesn't seem to need dividing, and it grows year round -- snow doesn't bother it one bit. I haven't even seen any frost damage on it, even though it's in an exposed, windy area of the yard where it's officially gotten down to 5F (-15C) but with the wind it was probably colder than that.

I planted this sweet potato (along with a lot of its friends) a few weeks ago and they really seem to like the heat!

This is only the second time I've planted sweet potatoes. They aren't too fussy -- just stick the slips in the ground and water a bit to get them established. I think the vines are a nice-looking ground cover -- I only wish I had planted them earlier, before the weeds got started.

How are your gardens going? Don't forget to enter your edible front yards in my photo contest! It runs until July 31st, and I'd love to see what you've got planted.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dallas Open Day (part 5) - the Middleton garden

This is the last of a series about my trip to Dallas last weekend to attend the Garden Conservancy's Dallas Open Day garden tour.

(click here to start from the beginning)

This home was listed as the Middleton "farm" (which almost made me not visit it), but I thought this had the most pleasant style of the entire group of gardens. I asked the homeowner why she had it listed as a farm and she said she couldn't think of what else to call it.

Let's see what you think: farm or not a farm?

Here's what I saw walking up the driveway:

You can click to make any of the photos larger.

The plant to the left with red flowers is a yucca, one of many I saw in the Dallas area. 

When I got into the backyard, I found these cheery pots of mint and flowers on the patio:

Across the pool from them was a lovely stone wall with a rosemary border.

If you keep going to the left, they have a chicken coop in the shade of a huge tree, which was where all the children were. I didn't take photos because it was too shady to do so, but their chickens seemed as neat and well-behaved as the rest of the yard.

As I continued to my right around the pool, I came to another area of the yard:

This reminded me of a hotel patio ... it was so beautiful and relaxing. Here are some closer views of the raised beds:

Behind the chairs were mounds of basil, with squash behind them (might have been zucchini) and peach trees next to the fence.

If you continue on past the chairs, you see this!

It took me a moment to realize that this was asparagus! I have never seen anyone make a hedge out of asparagus before. This was gorgeous ... reminds me a bit of weeping willows. Behind the asparagus were peach and apricot trees, and in front of the asparagus they had placed 4" wire mesh to keep it upright. The effect was spectacular -- I bet this is even lovelier when the red berries form on these in the fall.

Turning completely around you see another area of the yard:

I really like the way they used these fig trees, especially in the second photo.

Moving back towards the right, I saw yet another ingenious edible hedge:

Instead of trellising their grapevines lower, they used them to top a denser hedge and show them off at the same time. I loved this!

Next to the house they had this wonderful outdoor dining area, covered in grapevines.

Simply breathtaking.

This was by far my favorite on the tour, both for the variety of plants and the quality of the garden design.

So that was my day! I had a great time, and will definitely do something like this again. I'll leave you with the last two photos I took at the Middleton "farm" front pond.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dallas Open Day (part 4) - the Nichols garden

The fourth garden I visited last Saturday on the Garden Conservancy's Open Day tour in Dallas was at the home of Matthew Nichols (who was kind enough to show me all around).

This is another garden that I hope will be entered in my front yard photo contest next month, because it was really good.

(here's the link to the first one, if you want to start from the beginning)

The first photo I have here is of his driveway, which had a row of citrus trees going along it to screen the side of the home. I imagine that this cools off the house considerably.

 Around to the left was the front door, which had a bay tree beside the steps up to it:

This was about when I ran across Matthew, and he showed me this over on the side of his other house (he owns the one next door, too), which to my surprise was a variegated tangerine! This would make a great edible hedge:

Then he showed me his backyard, which was in two parts. This is the back of his other house:

The one on the left is of course a yucca and the right photo is of a sago variety that is endangered ... he had several there. 

This was the back of his main home (click the photos to make them larger):
Another yucca

Tapioca plant
Really nice deck with all sorts of edibles around it
Several fruit trees

If you go down some steps, you come to another little courtyard, with this off to your left: 

This is a loquat tree (Eriobotrya japonica), also known as the Asian plum. Matthew told everyone to try one, so I did ... it's a bit like an apricot in taste, but fuzzy on the outside like a peach is. The stone is almost perfectly round, not at all like a plum stone.

I went out front to look at his impressive collection of agaves before I left to see the last garden. Here are a few of them:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dallas Open Day (part 3) - the Butterfly Garden

On the third stop I made on the Garden Conservancy's Dallas Open Day was to the Butterfly Garden. While most of the action was in the back yard, they did have some gorgeous dill starts out on the corner of the front yard:

Looks like they've gotten some taro going along the left side (edible) below the pipe vine, which is for the pipe vine swallowtail caterpillars to snack on.

Over on the right was a passion flower vine! None of them were open yet (unfortunately), but I was excited to see the vine itself, because I really want to grow this and it was nice to see one in action. It looks like they put up a trellis of 6" wire for the vine to curl around:

If you keep walking along the right side, you come across this huge parsley plant which is full of caterpillars!

And if you turn to the left, there's the most amazing hibiscus I've ever seen. I have never seen one with these colors before:

Then more potted plants, a citrus and I think another hibiscus in the center ...

Off to the back of the lot was something like a greenhouse except with netting over it ... inside were the butterflies!

(you can click on the photos to make them larger)

There was a short show inside where the guy showed the caterpillars in various stages of growth, and we even got to see one going from caterpillar to chrysalis, which is I guess pretty rare to witness. This was a fun place to visit.

Start from the beginning