December delights, in the garden that is…..
The crunch of leaves under my feet, I find myself shuffling through the leaves to amplify the sound, much as my children did years ago. Living in the city we would have to go to a park to find this carpet..
I refuse to have them raked just yet. The ‘Mighty Oak’ has not yet dropped its leaves….
so that’s my excuse, but really….too much fun!
French Breakfast radishes from the Potager and Spicy Baby Lettuce ready for a small salad.
Perfuming the air is the shrub “Wintersweet” Chimonanthus praecox.
It always blooms for my birthday. What a gift!!
More on Wintersweet here
MAGIC OF THE GARDEN
THE GOLDEN SEASON
The Golden Season is upon us. The quality of light has changed and there is more than a touch of nostalgia in the air.
The weather in Georgia is still fine; the daytime temps are mild with crisp early mornings and evenings.
While we cannot boast the colour changes of the northern states, there is still much to celebrate.
The early camellias are blooming……
and the salad garden is coming along….
Gardening may slow down a bit but it does not end. Still have to weed!
To see the name of the plants, hold your mouse over photos.
PIERRE, THE FRENCH GARDENER
What a great productive day in the garden. Since I am officially on the injured / reserve list, and it is such a busy time in the garden, I called for professional help; Pierre the French Gardener.
Boxwoods needed to be transplanted from the center of the Cutting Garden…
to where they will have more impact right now.
I will replace them , but right now there is so much repair and replacement to do in this area that these plants won’t be missed.
Got rid of those ugly trellis structures…
and planted the garlic.
I have to say It was a pleasure to have capable hands (other than my own) tending the garden.
This a personal recommendation for which I have received no benefit. Pierre also writes a monthly newsletter at www.thefrenchgardener.net
Where does the time go? It’s been a while since my last post.. So lets catch up……
Remember those little tomato plants??? What they look like today…
Ripe tomatoes, blueberries, and some papery hydrangea blossoms in the kitchen.
Blueberries go immediately into the freezer on a cookie sheet then into plastic bags for…you got it…the winter
Drying hydrangeas..(.we hope) for a wreath and some topiaries for the dinning room.
Keeps the garden inside for the winter,,,did I say winter??? already? Started some preserves…..
Pears & raisins in brandy….
Lunch…… Tomato Salad & Pesto Mayonnaise.
That’s where my time goes
MEANWHILE…. BACK IN THE GARDEN….
While we rush about getting the baby vegetable plants into the potager, the garlic screams for attention…it is ready….
it makes itself known by browning leaves, ( 5 to be exact) and a tendency to fall over.
Another item moves to the top of the ‘to do’ list… this is ‘ Emergency Management Gardening’. They will be cleaned when they cure.
MEANWHILE…. back in the garden… The first Hydrangea macrophylla is open..’.Penny Mac’ I can hear my friend Penny, in heaven, laughing with delight!
Next to her is ‘Madame Emile Mouillere’, a white mophead.
Hydrangea quercifolia, Oakleaf Hydrangea, is glorious…
all three types together, H. quercifolia, H. arborescens ‘Annabelle’ and H. macrophylla. ( below)
More Clematis blooming…..
Above, Estonian hybrids ‘Ruutel’ and ‘Piilu’ both raised by Uno Kivistik, the names mean ‘Knight’ and ‘Little Duckling’ respectively.
Clematis ‘Odoriba’, with its delightful little bells, ‘Carnaby’ in the corner, and below, Clematis ‘Confetti’ blooming for the first time.
Now I must rush to harvest the seeds of the mustard we grew this winter; indispensable in some Indian dishes, the recipes for which have been waiting while the seeds ripen.
I also let the lettuce go to seed.
It was a delicious mix of salad greens ( Winter Mesclun Mix) which survived the little frost we did have. The flavor improves I find, when sowing seeds that have been raised in the same soil. (Ask anyone who has tasted my Basil!)
All this to say.. I’m busy…..
as my bees!
Finally the tomato plants are ready to be planted out into the Potager.
We ‘hardened them off‘ which means exposing them to natural light gradually. (Till now they have been raised under lights.) The first day they were kept in a shady area, then we exposed them to morning sun for two days, while protecting them from the hottest part of the day. Finally they are left in full sun and watched carefully. Not a leaf wilted, so we knew these babies were ready to go.
Habitually,we would pot the plants up; that is, put the seed starting cells, as seen in photos, into a larger pot with rich compost. There was just no time this year.
We had prepared the soil beforehand with copious quantities of compost and rabbit manure.
My husband digs a hole in this rich mix. He removes the lower leaves of the plant with a pinch, and fills the soil around the stem up to the top leaves.
The plant will grow roots all along the stem and make it stronger (DO NOT DO THIS WITH OTHER PLANTS)
He inserts a toothpick on both side of the stem. This prevents the dreaded cutworm from wrapping itself around the stem and cutting the plant down at soil level.
When the soil is firmed around the plant, I like to create a small well or indentation around the root-ball to direct the water.
Finally the plants are MUDDIED-IN, the best description I know for deep and long watering, Then we place the cages around the plants….
We will mulch tomorrow; that is place a 2″ layer of shredded leaves on the exposed soil. These will retain the moisture in the soil and prevent annual weeds from germinating, I hope. We used to do it all in one day…. but we used to be younger.
BACK IN THE GARDEN
Well, I’m back in the garden and dancing as fast as I can . There is no end to the debris…..
Screaming to be pruned are the ‘ Annabelle’ and paniculata type hydrangeas*, roses, grapes… the list goes on… plus the hellebores need to be deadhead. (who am I kidding? the hellebores will not get done) This list is for the ornamental garden; right now the preparation of the beds for vegtables is proirity. This week end we turned the beds in the potager.
My friend Julieta of the incredible blog LINDARAXAS GARDEN is buildng a potager. She will be posting recipes created with the bounty of her garden; and I can’t wait! If you appreciate good food and have not yet discovered her blog, you are in for a treat.
So here is a brief outline on how to prepare your soil.
Idealy beds should be 4′ wide, so one can reach into them (from each side) without the need to step-in, as this compacts the soil. Paths between beds should be 18-24″; wide enough to accomadate a wheelbarrow.
Turning the soil is simply, a shovel inserted fully into the ground and the soil removed is flipped over. To this add a good thick (6″) layer of compost, manure & chopped/shredded leaves. (run over a pile of leaves with a lawn mower a few times.) and chop into this soil, or use a tiller to incorporate. Add another layer of compost etc. and again ‘turn’ this into the soil. This brings the amendments to where the plant roots will feed. Water well and let those soil enzymes go to work for a few weeks before planting. NOW is the time. (the above beds are not yet amended)
Lacking these amendments; I have had very good luck with NATURES HELPER and composted cow manure from DIY stores. The best brand is BLACK KOW,it comes in a yellow bag. Avoid the .99 cent variety as it is mostly pine bark and less than 1% manure. If you are fortunate to have a good nursery close by, they should stock soil amendments, buying in bulk is cheaper and it will be delivered.( the bags weigh 20 to 40 lbs.)
In Georgia, lettuce is a cool weather annual, so one grows it in the winter. This year they are maturing very quickly, due to the warm weather, Lots of salad on the menu!
**Hydrangeas DO NOT PRUNE THE BIG BLUE MOPHEADS!
The area of the garden I’m sharing now on this Fall Tour is little seen because it’s incomplete. Not that any garden is ever ‘done’ or completed, however this part
is has only ‘bones’ and is waiting for me to flesh out the details. Till now it did not seem too pressing because all the important plants were tiny (1 gal.) but over the years they have matured. So its time has come.
This green space above, divides the grapes and berries on the right from the vegetables on the left. (My husband’s Vegetable Garden is MY POTAGER)
This feature, four upright exclamation points, is one I repeat in different garden rooms (with different plants) throughout the garden. Here, Eastern Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) ‘Degroot’s Spire’ marks the intersection of several foot paths; to the right ( West) is the Rose Walk terminated by the Schiaparelli Bench….. (below)
to the left (east) lies the North Border which runs parallel to the Potager ….
and straight ahead, (south) the Viburnum / Clematis Court.
Looking back, (north) the uprights frame the putti that resides at the end of the Cutting garden…
Going forward (south) through the Viburnum Court, around the bend, Oakleaf Hydrangeas frame the path to the Main Walk and the back of the house. (note the Camellia sasanqua blooming on the right.)
This winter some garden construction is on the agenda.
Starring in the Cutting Garden now are lilies!!
Above, Lilium ‘Montreal’ and Lily
I love them with hydrangeas.
a few feathery branches of Kerria japonica and we are done. (not done yet!)
Several years ago, on a first consultation, I watched my perspective client pull together an arrangement on a grand scale in no time at all while we talked about her needs in regard to her ‘outdoor space’. I always try to emulate her. The arrangement was loose, natural & ‘happy’, the antithesis of Beverly Nichols’ ‘Our Rose’, famous for torturing stems into fantastical & outlandish shapes. I recently visited with the gracious Ms C. I will post her garden in the next few days.
Meanwhile…..harvest from the Potager…..
How fortuitous to have a coordinating bowl for Delicata squash!
© all photos 2011
HYDRANGEA, LILY, LILY……
Recently, Little Augury posted about Lilies. The Regale lilies in her garden, John Singer Sargent’s Carnation, Lily, Lily Rose, and Beverly Nichols’ love of Lilies. All favorites of mine.
Below, an interpretation with what I have in my garden now. Alas, no rose, no carnation, no children playing …. but Hydrangeas & Lilies in profusion.
Lilium ‘Touching’ above, supported by Oak leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). Below, solo, three stems in Tulip shaped vase .
This Lily is best in the vase. The flower head is so heavy it breaks the stem.
A wonderful addition to the Cutting Garden.
MEANWHILE, in the Potager, Blueberries are coming in and Figs promise a bumper crop soon. The figs are ‘Brown Turkey’ & ‘Celeste’. Tune into LINDARAXA where my friend Julieta, will devise some recipes for all that comes in from the Potager.
© All photos 2011
THE VEGETABLE GARDEN / POTAGER
The Vegetable Garden, my POTAGER…is a dream come true. I wanted to go into the garden and bring in fresh organic vegetables, the best varieties of course, and turn them into delightful & healthy meals.
Although I am a fairly accomplished cook, I get overwhelmed when the harvest starts coming in. Time and again I turn to Julieta Cadenas’ blog LINDARAXA to find recipes to inspire me.
I am excited and honored to be teaming up with her. As the harvest comes in we will link to each others blog and, she will create recipes for all of us to enjoy.
Julieta is one knowledgeable lady, a former investment banker, lifelong food aficionado, great cook and a delightful & generous friend. Check out her blog, she writes about more than cooking.
So, as soon as I saw these in the garden…
I immediately went to LINDARAXA for inspiration. Soon my kitchen will be overrun with squash. and I want to be prepared.
Last year, for winter use, I roasted and froze some squash. This year I’ll do the same. They were wonderful ! I used them with scrambled eggs, I added them to a saute of onion garlic, red pepper, and some artichokes & served with pasta. But I need to ‘do’ something NEW, and as usual Julieta has some inspiring dishes. Here is Julieta’s Squash casserole .
Enjoy, my husband can’t wait for the squash to come in! Once again Julieta, thank you. You STAR in my kitchen!