Saturday, May 26, 2018

The garden grows

Rewind to early May (because as I type, it is 87'F/31'C and humid). Spring was very late, but then it burst, like a dam breaking, with plants in the garden and the city blooming all at once, instead of in orderly succession. Above, my serviceberry is Amelanchier alnifolia, a species at home on the western side of the US and but also far north and all the way across through Nova Scotia. In other words, tough. It is a shrub form of serviceberry and consequently a good choice for containers.

I planted more Fritillaria persica in the fall, which was probably a mistake. Only the new bulbs came up - the previous season's made only leaves. Either they don't like the soil (5.4 pH), or it is too moist (four to five feet of annual rainfall too much for these Iranian natives?). I love them, but won't try again.

And while they did not do well in their first two springs, the camassias are at last happy. Camassia leichtlinii is native to North America. Known commonly as cama, or great cama, it was an edible (bulb) prized by Native Americans west of the Cascades, and down the coast. Pretty sure Lewis and Clark were sustained by various species in their trek.

The squirrels wreaked havoc among the tulips this year. Varmints. But they left this clump alone. I ordered the purple-black 'Queen of the Night', but this is what came up. I like them very much, so have not complained - but I should find out what they are.

Violets, spilling over retaining logs of birch. The back bed of the garden is sloped and I've done what I can to make some retentions to prevent a gradual downsliding.

And moving along into the mid month, alliums in bloom, with ever-lovely (and expanding - who would like some??) Solomon's seal.

This black iris is gorgeous, and came with the garden. I see it in other hyper-local gardens and community plots. The scent is delicious.

So, the milkweed (common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca). In the upcoming Forage, Harvest, Feast I include cultivation tips for many plants, including milkweed, which is a delicious vegetable. And I do make it clear that it's not going to stay where you put it. It began in a row in the rear of the vegetable plot. The spindly plants from Annie's Annuals resented being transplanted and looked peaky in their first year. But they came back. Strongly. I decided I wanted then to move to the wilder rear bed with fellow Americans like sunchokes, Joe-Pye weed and Veronicastrum. I dug deeply and transplanted the runners.

Did they come up there, this spring? No. They have been popping up all over the vegetable bed and have hopped under the paths, too. I have eaten tender shoots like these, and have left the ones that are growing where they will not be in the way. The buds, flowers and pods are all delightful.

The garlic rows are very happy. So is the wild arugula that always take months to establish itself.

The upland cress (Barbarea verna) made lots of flowers, which we have been eating.

Last spring's horseradish sent up flowers and I am about to dig the plants out. Nice experiment, but they grow too tall and fat for where I planted them, creating shade where I want more sun for the rows behind. The leaves are a hot and spicy bonus - like fresh wasabi (speaking of which - the wasabi is so dead) in salads and summer rolls. And of course the flowers are edible, too.

I love my red pea trellis from Gardener's Supply. It is extendable and also has another layer to add when the peas grow taller. The pop of colour is very welcome in the green sea. And it also folds nice and flat for storage.

The peas know just what to do!


  1. If/when you find out what your frosty magenta-purple tulips are, let me know. I, too, ordered 'Queen of the Night' and received these -- at least 15 years ago! They're still coming back each year (though fewer each season), so there's that...

    1. I wonder if it might not be something that 'Queen of the Night' sports to... That would explain the otherwise eerie coincidence.

  2. Do you have any idea which violet you have - it’s a nice shade of grayish blue (at least to my eye and judging from the photo)

    1. Hello Klaus! I inherited it... It's more lilac, maybe the lighting made it look more grey-blue.

  3. I was out of town for one week in early May and feel like I missed an entire season! As for the Solomon's seal, I'd be happy to take some off your hands.

    1. Yes, it all sort of exploded. Your SSeal willingness is noted. Now, or in fall? It can be dug now but will be more prone to shock than in colder weather.

    2. Whatever works best for you, probably fall? What's the best way to coordinate?

      It'll make a lovely addition to my native garden in the Catskills. :)


Comments on posts older than 48 hours are moderated (for spam control) . Yours will be seen! Unless you are a troll. Serial trollers are banned.