Monday, October 27, 2008

October 22nd in the Garden

Just a quick post to share what is still going strong outside my doors. We have our first heavy frost advisory tonight, and snow flurries fell today. We've had to pull out the muddin' and rainin' boots for the rain and wet ground we have.
Here's my oldest son sitting beside Heirloom rose.
Hot Cocoa roses is still making a great show with several blooms. I notice they smell better this time of year, perhaps b/c of the cooler weather?

Heirloom rose up close:

Sundowner Rose
Who knew that Joe Pye Weed "Chocolate" turned this lovely mocha-chartruese color in the fall? I don't remember this in the past... and I love it. I have to move this closer to the front of the border nest year, the asters beside it are covering it too much, and i think it'll be great next some other things...

The gateway to the veggie bed, where I still have some things growing (lettuce, radishes, carrots, peas, some herbs, and last week we had fresh-from-the-garden tomatos in our tacos!)
Like these carrots for example:
The back border, featuring mums, marigolds, and cosmos.
And, a last Double Delight Rose
Happy gardening everyone!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The garden I came home to: Early September

After 3 weeks away from my garden I didn't know what to expect to find. I have wonderful neighbors who cared for my containers, watering every few days. This is a thankless task, as I had dozens and dozens of containers. The ground plants had to fend for themselves though, in the intense August heat and drought. Overall, I was impressed to find everything looking alright. I did lose all of my squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers, not surprisingly given their dependance on water. A few of the perennials I had wrongfully divided or planted in mid-summer, including heuchera, and a new catmint, were just about dead. After some intense watering (the kind that makes a dent in the water bill), and some deadheading & TLC, the garden bounced back and in just a short week was giving me plenty to love.

Here are the cosmos I direct sowed (sp?) from seed in the spring:

Some fall favorites, like Karl Forester Feather Reed Grass:


Cleome, from seed sent to me by my friend Melissa in the spring:

A late season find last year, Gentiana Makinoi Blue w/a hardy mum, Katella Bronze.

Sweet Autumm Clematis gives a fabulous first year show:

The front bed is just too chaotic for me, but it sure is cottage style... changes to come in the spring.

My back bed of roses looked pretty darn good for a first year bed, if you ask me.

Brother Cadfael David Austin rose:

Scarlet Knight:

Windermere, in it's own spot in the garden, also blooms again for me. Holding it's usually arching stem up high, too!

Tons more to come; these images are from Early-mid september, and my garden is still blooming and w/o frost damage as of yesterday (October 20th).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

An August Farmer's Market

If you've been reading my blog for awhile you may have picked up the fact that I love living near the Dane County Farmer's Market. On any given seasonal Saturday morning I can drive a half hour and find just about any natural product my heart desires.
Back in August, just days after we returned from our trip to California, I took my friends from Chicago to experience the market for the first time. I took some eye-candy while I was there, that I thought you might enjoy peeking at.
The landscaping and capitol building.

So in love with the color here:

And I might paint a room in my house heirloom tomato red; I already have a side table painted this color (the paint is from Ace Hardware, and it was called something like heirloom tomato red).

These Delphiniums are so beautiful to me. I can't help but get lost imagining the garden they came out of.

Beautiful Zinnias; this year mine were plaqued with powdery mildew and just weren't impressive. I was so excited about Green Envy, and it was the moldiest of the group. My son did request to take a green flower to school on the show and tell mom day. These farmer's market flowers are beauties.

Talk about artwork:

We did bring some of these home with us, mine had not flourished at home without my care for 3 weeks. In fact, all but 2 of my bean plants died when I was gone. I sort of saw it comin'. Nevetheless, the beautiful beans we bought here were delicious.

This big guy was free; my friend and I both took home chunks. I made bread, it wouldn't be good for much else, right?

Hope you enjoyed my brief trip to the market!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

August 28th, Tomato Invasion

My family and I were on vacation for nearly three weeks in August, peak tomato season here in southern Wisconsin. I came home to find hundreds of tomatos ripe and ready to be eaten or made into sauce.

This is only a small fraction of the tomatos:

My brother's girlfriend, Alyssa, and her mom, Diane, were staying with us for a week. Diane used our peppers and tomatos to make salsa and with the help of some avocados from the store, some guacamole. We ate bags and bags of tortilla chips, and everything was so delicious. I'm kicking yself for not taking pictures of the goodness.

I also tried a few different things. I grow tomatos every year, but have never made sauce. Don't shoot me. We usually eat the tomatos in salads or salsa. This year I made something I think I am supposed to call a spread. I followed the instructions of my foodie friend Leena. I sliced the tomatos in half, and them face down in (jelly?) pan into a small amount of olive oil, and tons of fresh herbs from my garden. I tossed in rosemary, basil, and thyme from the garden. I also added some garlic salt. I left them in the oven until the tomatos were soft, and the skins just fell off when I touched them. I scooped the contents of each tomato in a bowl, and what I didn't eat right away (spread on warm french bread), I put in freezer bags in single serving quantities. I don't know if I did it right, but it tasted good. :) I'm thinking it'll be great for pizza later.

I used the remaining miz of tomatos to make sauce. I left the skin on the tomatos, and pureed them all in the blender after it had simmered for hours. I froze the sauce in freezer bags by individual servings also. Fresh onions and herbs from the garden were also used in the sauce, too.

I grew several varieties of tomatos this year, but I got the best looking fruits from Goliath, and Roma. Next year I plan to grow the same as this year, but add some heirloom varities.

I still have some tomatos outside to harvest today, despite the frost last week which affected only a few things in the garden, like the impatiens.

I'm such a dork.

During my last two visits to my hometown I've been tested. I'm really getting to know the midwestern plants well, but when I'm in southern california it's like a different language. I have trouble identifying half of what I see, despite having grown up there. I didn't commit to loving my garden until I was in my mid-twenties, and already living in Wisconsin. I did my homework this trip, and felt better. My identification had improved, and my tastes had changed. I now found an appreciation for the arid climate staples, the cacti, succulents, palms, ferns, and many plants I must treat as annuals that are growing as larger perennials there.
While working in my grandmother's garden I snagged a few divisions of clivia. I also took what I think is going to be an amarylis. She has boston ferns growing wild in her backyard, so I dug one up also. From my mom's yard I brought home my long beloved orange bougainvillea, which is now blooming in my bedroom window--where it will spend the winter.
Of all the gardeners in the family, the least obsessed is my aunt Hannele. When I arrived at her house for a party she asked me to prune her roses. I gladly took the pruning sheers and set to work. I also admired her bird of paradise, agave, echeveria, money plants, and aloe... and she promptly sent me home with pieces of each. She snapped a few pictures of me taking a division of this bird of paradise. I imagine mine will take a long time to blooms. But, I'm patient.
I put all the plants I was bringing home in the one pot with the bougainvillea, smooshed as can be, but well watered, and covered with a fleece blanket for our two day card ride, so my son sitting just a foot away would not fuss with the plants. So far, everything is alive. Not bad...

South Coast Botanic Garden

One afternoon I dragged my mom and kids to South Coast Botanic Garden. My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Bork, took our class here ages ago, and I have wanted to revisit ever since. The kids had not napped well on this day, so our visit was brief, but I loved what I did get to see.
Here's my mom and son by some giant staghorn ferns!!


The real treat of the trip? Turns out it was peak Dahlia season. Oh my goodness, folks, this place was so beautiful.

Just rows and rows of dahlias, all spectacular. I was amazed. I have a few, but nothing like this! I can, say, though, after this visit, I might have to add more to garden. :)

This one was my favorite.

Here's my mom at the entrance to the dahlia garden:

And me:

My mom loved the color of this one:

My mom and my oldest son admiring the Dahlia's.

Around the corner from the dahlia garden we found some edibles. The boys sat by this pumpkin for a pose.

I bought one of the these red succulents in Cambria. It's already inside for winter here in Wisconsin, in a sunny window. I hope it fares well, and prospers. I love it.

So sculptural:

Those are my sons walking in the cactus garden.

I thought it couldn't get any better than the dahlia garden? Nope. Roses. A whole sea of them...

Some beauties I looked at up close for a second. My kids were so tired by this point, and the sun was scorching. We really rushed. But I took a few moments to sniff and snap.

There's a massive Cecille Brunner cloaking the arbor you see here:

Hope you enjoyed my brief tour of the gardens. Bring cash if you go there, no checks, debit, or credit accepted. :)
Happy Gardening!