Thursday, March 31, 2011

hellebores are beautiful

I never really thought I liked hellebores that much but then one day a couple years ago, I saw a photo of a bouquet someone made with them and I changed my mind.  Now I realize they are a magnificent addition to my garden and I love having such a flowery sort of flower blooming here in February and March.  So every year now,  I add  two or three new plants and hope to have a thriving and packed-full-of-blooms winter-time hellebore plot in a few years.  It's a joy to get to make these arrangements from freshly picked outdoor blooms in the winter.

I really like how many of the hellebores change colour as they age.  Some start out with pink buds that open to creamy white and some start out creamy white and darken to pinks, burgundy and greens as they age....these are my favourites right now.
When I was cutting for this arrangement the other day, a bee stopped by and visited every flower in the patch.  That could be another good and practical reason to love this plant since there's not much early season food out there for the bees right now....soon tho', as more cherry blossoms open and the red flowering currents come alive.....(better not cut all the hellebore flowers and leave some for my bee friends!)

This is the hellebore called "Vancouver Medallion".....on a rainy day in my garden.  A nursery owner in Vancouver told me that it originally had another name but was renamed after it was planted all over Vancouver when the Winter Olympics came to town.....perfectly timed blooms for the event.  See how it has some creamy white blooms and then some older pink and burgundy with greenish ones?  I really like that.

This one is called "Pink Frost".  It's so pretty....wonderful for bouquets.

Next year, I hope to add some with green flowers to the hellebore patch.  I saw these on display at Phoenix Perennials  yesterday when I was in town for a day of errands.  They'll be a nice addition to a creamy white and pink bouquet.  Every year, Phoenix Perennials opens their season with an event called The Hellebore Hurrah.  Here's some really good info on their website about Hellebores.
I'm also really loving the look of the dark plum-black flowered ones...will have to add those to the patch soon!

Friday, March 25, 2011

broccoli romanesco

Oh my. Did I ever get sick last week.  A bad flu was going around and sounds like lots of folks I know had it too.  Spring Equinox is not a good time for me to be knocked out in bed......just when my annual garden panic sets in and it once again becomes painfully obvious that I've bitten off more than I can chew.  Oh well....I'm getting better now and some weeding and seeding has started up around here again.
Here's a sweet little Broccoli Romanesco plant that was seeded a couple weeks ago.
It's hard to believe that this teeny tiny plant will become this soon...
This is Broccoli Romanesco in my garden a couple years ago.  It's one of my favourite vegetables ever.  Just look at how beautiful this amazing specimen is!  It's delicious too.
It's actually a lot like cauliflower in habit, texture and taste.  Sometimes called Roman Cauliflower.  What an amazing example of nature's design with it's infinite fractal patterns.  If that seems interesting to you, check this out.
This was my original inspiration to grow this beautiful brassica...a basket full I spied at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market in San Francisco a few years ago.  It was January!  Those lucky folks get to pull these lovelies out of their ground in January.  That might work here tooo (under a low poly tunnel?) I'll have to try this year.  Don't they look gorgeous next to the brilliant ruby red radicchios?
                                          So in February when I spotted these inspiring looking seed packets from Italy, I just had to get a couple (three to be exact) because they were so  nice to look at....including the Romanesco Broccoli.  I'm also really looking forward to those nice little onions in salads this summer.  Here they are sprouting up in the greenhouse a few weeks ago....
And back to the Romanesco Broccoli....I like to time it in my garden so we can have it sauteed with sugar snap peas, red cherry tomatoes and purple beautiful and delicious and nutritious.  Hopefully, this year I'll be able to time this combo for my harvest basket customers too.
Now's a good time to start all these seeds so if you'd like to grow this dinner time experience, West Coast Seeds carries the seeds that they call Natalino and Territorial Seeds carries the purple cauliflower Graffiti and broccoli Veronica.  Graffiti is nice because it doesn't lose it's purple colour when cooked like some other purple veggies do.  Any cherry tomato (these are Tumbler) and any sugar snap pea you grow will be nice.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

daffodils and owls

Beautiful late afternoon light, the beginnings of a gorgeous sunset cast a lovely glow on the mini daffodils today before dinner....

This really does feel like spring.....and while weeding in the garden this afternoon, the owls were a hootin' and a hollerin' in the surrounding forest...a sure sign of spring!  Sounds like owl mating season is on and in this neck of the woods, we hear them all night long at this time of year.  I just love them.  They're great mousers!  Better than cats.  I've read that 2 adult owls with young can catch around 1000 mice in a season!!  Now that's amazing!  This is why they like to hang out on my garden fence posts....they're looking for mice. Thank you owl friends for helping my peas grow.  The natural world is simply awesome.

seasonal drama

Brrrrr.  Does this look as cold as it felt?  
It's that funny time of year again.  The time of transition from one season to the next when it's hard to know what the weather's going to be like.
Last week, just when I began feeling like I wanted to get my tender perennials out of the greenhouse so I could clean up after winter and make room for all the annual seeds I'm starting, it got really cold.  Luckily, we didn't get a big snowfall, just a dusting but the garden beds were frozen for a few days.

These poor little tulipa turkestanicas, my earliest blooming tulip were very sad but they've survived and are standing tall and looking happy again.  

In April, they'll be blooming like of my favourites!

So then, a couple days ago, with the arrival of March, a big wind storm.  March came in like a lion this year, which is fine with me if that means the big winds are over for the winter and March will go out like a lamb.  

A big tree came down with the wind, luckily in the forest away from our buildings.  Just little ones around the buildings with very little damage.  This one hit our deck but the pergola caught it.  It made a big noise and shook the house, but no damage. phew!

This arbutus branch just missed the garden outhouse.  We've survived another one!....lots of clean up work to do.
The cold days before the wind storm were mostly sunny so back in the greenhouse, altho' it was nippy outside, the sun made it nice and toasty inside.  I could shed my hat and scarf and get down to work.

The lemon verbena and australian mint bush (on floor) are thankful that I didn't take them outside before this cold snap.  So am I...wouldn't want to lose these lovelies.

All the baby herb plants that I'm starting for spring and summer sales this year were keeping snug overnight, after the sun went down on their heat mats under the row cover fabric.  These are some garden sage plants.

The pea shoots, sunflower shoots and microgreen trays all managed to get through the cold snap in the greenhouse too.  These are some trays of arugula that will be harvested after their first true leaves develop.  Yum, yum...arugula microgreens!  Can't wait.

All the little onion seedlings I've started for yummy salad onions this summer are fine too...they're quite hardy.

My first potato planting was chitting in the greenhouse....for really early new potatoes, I hope.  (I just planted them in containers yesterday)

The echeverias look like they'll survive another winter too.
I really hope that was the last cold snap and the last wind storm of this winter!  fingers crossed.