Monday, May 31, 2010

Nora's garden

Though we've lived in the same neighborhood for a long time, I'd never met Nora until this morning. Her husband has always been the mainstay of their backyard garden, and during my beginning days of experimentation with my own garden, he was on my list of people to one day consult. I'd see him in his garden during drive, walk, and jog bys, recognizing him from afar with his trucker's cap, work pants, and button-down short-sleeved shirt. He'd be casually working his plot, hoe hanging from the low branches of the tree that frames his vegetables.

Detailed in my (from the vault) post My Neighbor's Garden , I'd always thought it would be a good idea to seek out our gardening neighbors and learn their stories, but of course, there have been many excuses not to stop and chat. I'm working on jumping on more of these opportunities.

On my run this morning, I thought it strange to see this woman working in the garden instead of the man I'd seen working on it every other time. Nora and I met when I asked her if I could snap her photo for my blog. I commented that I'd noticed a man typically working this plot. She said her husband has leukemia and recently had a stroke. He is in a wheelchair now. These days, Nora tends to the garden, finding relaxation and peace in her work.

This morning, she told me she was working on tomatoes, and I noticed that she has moved some things around since she's taken over. Despite the changes this little garden has experienced, one thing that so obviously has carried over is the solace it provides the gardener. Join me in sending positive thoughts to Nora and her husband.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Scenes from my father's place

In the vegetable garden. Top: left side of the garden, ready to be planted. Bottom: funky scapes.

The landscaping in the circle of the driveway...

And at the end of a long day maintaining this property, one must take time to unwind...

Click here for a more detailed tour and other photos from late last summer.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Still more strawberries...

"What are we going to do with the strawberries today, Mom?"

Perhaps chocolate-covered...

Maybe topped with sweetened vanilla whipped cream...

And if we're patient and put some effort into it, we could make homemade strawberry ice cream...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Profile of a volunteer (cont'd - and MYG)

In my post about both human and flora volunteers, I described some of the stories behind why people volunteer. Here, you see other volunteers in action. Scenes from today's morning at the Washington Youth Garden at the National Arboretum...

Weeding, weeding, weeding. Many hands make quick work of this necessary chore.

Cheerfully mulching tomato plants.

Chris - one of a few WYG employees - skilled in gardening and giving orders in the kindest manner, with the ability to detect from 200 feet away with eyes closed when one of the army of volunteers is stepping in a garden bed. Chris is particularly happy today (does the energy jump off your computer screen like it does mine?). This is Chris moments before he calls out, "Who's feeling good?!!"

Volunteer gardeners wheeling mulch over and planting new rows of carrots, beets, Swiss chard, and pak choi (need info on pak choi - try this post). I should really alert people before I take pictures of their butts.

In the distance at the National Arboretum. It definitely catches your eye. Perhaps if the weather looked less ominous, it would appear less creepy.


Now for an update on the flora volunteers I posted about a few weeks ago...

The grass that sprouted on my back slope turned out to be something really pretty. It's a keeper.

The plant I thought could have been the Japanese lanterns I planted and forgot about was...not. Not a keeper.

Allium shubertii ended up being really spectacular. Their tendrils reach probably close to 2 feet from end to end. These bulbs bloomed this year for the first time, after turning to mush the past few years (late frost). Interestingly, these bulbs volunteered to live in their new spots (talk about creepy).

Poor schubertii. The good news is that the garden attracts butterflies. The bad news is that the butterflies attract the kids down the street who don't get the difference between a play area and a do-not-trample area. Allium schubertii - definitely a keeper. Neighborhood kids who trample my garden - well, I won't say it publicly.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Page 22

...there on page 22 of the June/July issue of ReadyMade magazine, is a tip that an editor happened to stumble upon from a post on trapping fruit flies from deep in the Greenish Thumb archives. Had I guessed something like this could happen, I would have jazzed up the blog photo to look a little less like an old urine sample sitting on my kitchen counter. No doubt I will need to make the fruit fly trap I described in the post again this year as I have already gotten lazy about dumping my kitchen scraps. Love to collect them, hate to walk them out.

Anyway, I wish I could have my 15 minutes of fame (or at least what's as close to fame as I'm going to get!) for something a little more attractive - and maybe for something that doesn't involve bugs, but I'll take what I can get. In all seriousness, I'm actually really, really flattered that a magazine editor would spend any amount of time on my blog, particularly one from an uber cool magazine like ReadyMade (all the blogs are great too - click here for the home and garden one).

You may not see ReadyMade magazine in your local supermarket, but can find a copy at Barnes and Noble or Borders. Better yet, get a subscription. It is completely FILLED with creative, inspiring, and doable DIY projects, interesting articles about food, travel, art, and fun stuff. I'm certain my gardening friends would love it. I don't want to give too much away, but just as an example from this issue, I'm planning to make an incredibly simple and beautiful centerpiece from an old brick, a succulent, and a votive. Imagine the possibilities...

Monday, May 17, 2010

POP! a glorious sound

The periodic pop I hear tells me another jar of Mara des Bois strawberry (picked today), blackberry, and lemon preserves is sealed and ready to be stored for gifts or for our own use long after strawberry season is over.

And for dessert? Sunday's glut of waffles with double Devon cream, and the warm leftovers from tonight's jam-making.

My adorable assistant and I have been picking a bowlful every day for about 2 weeks now. From the first batch: blackberry, raspberry, strawberry.

Five cups of crushed berries yield about 10 small jars of preserves.

Are you growing strawberries? What are you doing with your harvest? Don't grow strawberries? WHY??!!! Oooooh! Just heard another pop!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

GBBD May 2010

Garden Bloggers' favorite activity - the monthly show and tell. I'll spare you too much of the tell, since I have so much to show. See more at May Dreams Gardens...

Keys to heaven.

From the rose collection...

I got this mostly for the variegated foliage, but the iris isn't so bad either!

My favorite spring site on the stone wall out back. Blushing rosie.

A baby Knock Out. Should be a staple of every garden!

My favorite spring perennial - baptisia.

Green halo peony. Can you see the green halo?

Blooms on my favorite shrub - sinocalycalycanthus.

Blue anemone.

Finally, a challenge for you. Can you guess what this (grotesque-looking) thing is?

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