Sunday Garden Chat: Praties and Poppies

Double header this week, because our Garden Correspondents are the best, and some of them live on the left coast where the weather has moved beyond snow/slush season.

At the top, from commentor Marvel:

We had another sunny day today so we fussed over an otherwise-uncultivated area out back in preparation for the annual ceremonial/sacrificial internment of our St. Paddy’s Day Spuds. We’ll plant a well-tended bed of potatoes for eating & storage some time in May, but lore has it that one must show one’s faith in the coming growing season by planting potatoes on the Irish holiday. Since each previous years’ crop of storage taters look mighy freakazoid ’round about mid-March, this activity works out well for us.


And from commentor Scout211:

We finally have warm weather and plenty of sunshine after many winter rainstorms and “atmospheric river” events that brought us record rainfall this season. The drought is finally over, at least for the vast majority of the state.

Here are some wildflowers to brighten your Sunday.

Attached are 4 photos from March 11-13, 2017, either on our property or our neighbor’s property. The first pic [above] is of a group of popcorn flowers.

The second pic is a group of foothill poppies.

The third pic is a close-up of the foothill poppies.

The fourth pic is a group of blue dicks.


Also a mid-March tradition, the Boston Flower Show, considerably reduced since its BHS heyday, but still a good way to get into the spirit of another year’s yard-tending. Nothing like walking onto the trade-show-arena floor and being hit with a blast of warm green humidity and the smell of damp mulch! We’re hoping to get there Wednesday evening, weather and the Spousal Unit’s work schedule permitting.

What’s going on in your gardens (planning) this week?

Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Visions of Summer Ripeness


From gifted photographer & loyal garden commentor Ozark Hillbilly:

Got my seeds almost a month ago. Had to build a new germination/growing stand and it took a week to get it together. Planted my tomaters, egg plants, and peppers to start with.

Of the maters I have grown Green Zebra, Orange Icicle, Arkansas Traveler, and Yellow Pear before. Really looking forward to the Costoluto Genovese and Purple Calabash. The Solar Flair just looked fun and the Moneymakers are a greenhouse type for next winter. Also growing Amish Paste from saved seeds

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Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Shrooms

From faithful garden correspondent Marvel:

Starting to get itchy glove-hands, ready to start weeding & other yard chores. Thankfully (unfortunately?) those tasks won’t start for a few weeks — after the rains let up.

A friend of mine sometimes challenges/invites her Facebook friends to celebrate the day with haikus & photos. Being happy dwellers in the Pacific Northwest, our poetry/pix ’round these times often include, um, sufficient references to our mild-but-wet clime.

Here’s my submission from today:

Mushrooms resplendent
on Winter-watered tree trunks
a subtle beauty

Here north of Boston — where we’re expecting another 8-12″ of snow today, on top of the 4″ Friday night, after the 12″ Thursday afternoon — I’m beginning to weaken on my “no tomato garden this year” resolve. Looking at my favorite websites, thinking I can cut back from last year’s overambitious forty-plus plants to just a couple dozen. After all, last summer was an anomaly, even the professional market gardeners in the area lost most of their tomato crops (I tell myself).

Problem is, our list of must-haves grows ever longer: Paul Robeson, Cherokee Purple, Black Prince, Blondkopfchen, Japanese Trifele, Black Cherry, Kellogg’s Breakfast, Chocolate Sprinkles, Opalka, White Currant… And I always want to try a couple new varieties, for fear of missing out on what will become a new must-have…

We also have a semi-functional basement now, where the cats and dogs aren’t allowed, so I’ve been eying a modest tabletop grow-light setup for seed starting. Anybody got advice on that topic?

What’s going on in your garden(s) planning, this week?

Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Ghost in the Yard

I know, I know, but life goes on regardless. From ever-dependable garden commentor Marvel:

Last night, late, I let Sally (our beloved rescue dog) out for her final bit of business. And as usual, I turned on the porch light and the floodlights that illuminate that portion of the yard. Sally jets outside and immediately starts a furious storm of barking. She’s visible to me through the breezeway and all I can see is her angry immobilized self, hackles raised, yelling to beat the band at something. So fierce!

I was afraid she’d happened upon a raccoon (Hell, it was late and she was so furious, I was imagining a BEAR!). She ignored my first 20 “COME!” commands until finally the madness released her.

Once she came back in, I realized that what she was barking at was the highly-illuminated cotton-batting cloche I had earlier fashioned for the tree peony in the herb garden (the tender thing has grown buds & the forecast is bone-freezing in the coming week).

Poor Sal.

We too have, on occasion, smuggled new accessories into the side yard just to see how much they’d upset our three little rescue dogs. If an addition is particularly effective, Sydney the Neurotic has been known to wet himself (while screaming staccato and racing in tight circles)…

… whoops, we may be getting into political territory again

Here north of Boston, there hasn’t been any snow cover to speak of, but there haven’t been many deep-below-freezing snaps yet either. That’s predicted to change by next weekend; I’m wondering if it’s worth trying to bring some of the big pots that got missed last fall into the garage, or if it’s already too late to save those plants.

Also still considering not ordering any tomato plants this year. Last year was a total #FAIL, but I’m wondering how much I’ll find myself at loose ends come May if I don’t have any of our preferred heirlooms to look forward to nurturing. WWAPGD (What Would A Proper Gardener Do)?

Apart from the Trumpstunt fallout, what’s on the agenda for the day?

Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Winter Solstice Prep


From talented garden commentor Marvel:

I’m sending along a photo I used for our 2015 Christmas card — the older I get, the harder it is to remember to assemble SOMETHING from the garden mid-Summer for Christmas & Solstice greetings later in the year.

For this purpose this year I rescued dozens of shucked corn cobs, arranged ’em in a pointy tree shape, adorned with plenty of colorful flowers…sadly, as I look at the photos now, it resembles nothing so much as an assemblage of crisp, clean feminine hygiene products with a garden-clipping wrap. I’ll be digging through old photos tomorrow, u-bet.

Stay warm!

We’ve been a bit snowy & freeze-y hereabouts for several days. Snow’s not as deep as depicted here (circa 2013), but it’s accumulated & hanging around, u-bet.


What’s going on in your gardens — or your year-end-holiday prep — this week?

Sunday Morning Garden-Gift Chat


However one chooses to celebrate the winter solstice, ’tis the season… for buying gifts. For many of us Garden Chat regulars, it’s the season for resting / planning / stocking up for next year’s gardening.

Back in the summer (at the height of garden-photo season), Hillary sent me a Guardian link on the “Top 10 books about gardens“. The choices by Vivian Swift, the author of the article and of Gardens of Awe and Folly: A Traveler’s Journal on the Meaning of Life and Gardening, are a little bit precious for my taste, but then books about gardening do tend to be either overly technical (usually about a very limited subject) or slightly too lyrical. But books are always a ‘safe’ gift, and if you know your gardener presumably you can judge their tolerance for instruction and/or poesy…

What do you give as gifts, to the gardeners in your life?

Sunday Morning Garden Chat: A Burst of ‘Wildflowers’ in December


From gifted garden photographer and commentor Ozark Hillbilly:

Walked out of my house yestermorn and found myself standing in a field of flowers that had bloomed during the 24 degree night temps. They were soon gone with the touch of the suns first rays. For those who don’t know, these are called “frost flowers”. From Wikipedia:

“The formation of frost flowers is dependent on a freezing weather condition occurring when the ground is not already frozen. The sap in the stem of the plants will expand (water expands when frozen), causing long, thin cracks to form along the length of the stem. Water is then drawn through these cracks via capillary action and freezes upon contact with the air. As more water is drawn through the cracks it pushes the thin ice layers further from the stem, causing a thin “petal” to form.

“The petals of frost flowers are very delicate and will break when touched. They usually melt or sublimate when exposed to sunlight and are usually visible in the early morning or in shaded areas.”

This is a phenomenon that, as far as I know, occurs only once a year, if at all. The process that forms them seems to destroy the physical structures necessary. I could be wrong. I have seen much more extravagant frost flowers but these are what grew Friday morning.

Thanks, OH! Beauty, however evanescent, strengthens our souls.

What’s going on — if only planning for next spring — in your garden(s) this week?