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what a mess!

You will not believe the level of chaos nature can impose on a reasonably well tended garden in three weeks. It took the plants that long to look scary and me one week to salvage the back yard from the wilderness. Five foot tall weeds, cracked nutshells, broken branches, vines grown out of control, covering pathways, grabbing onto everything in sight and smothering their defenseless neighbors. And this is the extent of my whining. Seriously, it was offensive.

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how to grow herbs

You decided to start an herb garden? Here are a few tips. Most herbs like full sun (except a few, like mint and lemon balm) and a sweet soil that keeps moist but drains properly. If your soil is acidic, improve it with lime.

If you decide to grow a perennial herb garden, it is easier to start it from seedlings rather than seed, for two reasons. First, some of the perennial herbs, like rosemary and tarragon need to be started from cuttings anyway, germination is not always reliable and very young sprouts are vulnerable to anything from a late frost to dry spells or unseasonably warm weather. Read more…

about watering

Shortly after I took this picture a powerful summer storm started, and not a moment too soon, I was a bit worried because the plants were drooping.

I take this opportunity to mention that rushing to water your plants at the first sign of wilt will keep them from developing a strong root system and will not work out well for either the plants or the gardener in the long run. When the dog days of summer finally arrive you won’t be able to drench their shallow rooted systems enough to keep them alive. Read more…

morning, sunshine!

What strange weather we’re having, with thirty degree temperature changes from one day to the next! Right now we’re in cold mode and the sixty degrees feel quite chilly after the tropical climate we experienced only a couple of days ago.
It rained a lot and the garden took on that fierce look it gets every time it is left to its own devices. More weeding, more weeding. Read more…

the makings of a vegetable garden

Even for those of us with a more relaxed attitude towards garden design, a vegetable garden demands discipline. For one, you don’t want to question whether the contents of your herb wheel are edible, and vegetable crops are energy intensive enough without unproductive demands on their resources.
The most important task in a kitchen garden is keeping it tidy: weed religiously and trim excessive foliage to encourage produce yield. Avoid diseases promoted by poor air circulation by respecting the plants’ spacing requirements. Read more…

working with herbs

Working with herbs is an art and small details in the practice of harvesting and preserving them make the difference between success and failure.

Harvesting:
Always harvest herbs in the morning, right after the dew has dried up but before the heat makes the plants release their volatile oils. Harvest fresh young leaves free of blemishes from areas away from roads and traffic. If you grow herbs for their flowers, always pick the flowers before they fully open. Never harvest plants on rainy days.

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leda the damask

On 15, May 2017 | No Comments | In plants, roses, scents | By All Year Garden

First of all, this is why the Leda rose is not red. It magically dilutes its ruby stain and pushes it further and further out towards the edges until it is no more. These roses spend most of their bloom time simply white.

Second, I was wrong, it is a little fragrant, if you really really want it to be.
I’m not sure if this rose was supposed to be trained on a trellis or a pole or something, it’s plopped all over the flower bed, kind of shapeless and crushing everything under its hefty weight. I managed to pull it out of the delphiniums and found a full grown perennial I had forgotten about agonizing underneath.

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purple queen

On 08, May 2017 | No Comments | In plants | By All Year Garden

An image for those dreary days in February or November when you can’t see the end of grueling chores, when your back hurts, your feet freeze and your hands bleed from all the raking and cleaning and when you have to fight your way out of a mound of yard debris. Today the garden turned on the love in drones.
This photo is probably going to find its way into winter articles again and again, it takes some ingenuity to come up with garden writing material when you don’t even want to get out of the house. Read more…

full spring

After the annuals and veggies were moved to their permanent location, the flower beds cleaned and the perennials spruced up, the roses pruned, the fall blooming plants divided and moved and the summer bulbs planted, one would think that the gardener can sit back with a cup of coffee in some cozy verdant nook and relax.
Guess again! Here is the list of activities for this month. Read more…

peonies

On 24, Apr 2017 | No Comments | In advice, plants, scents | By All Year Garden

The peonies would have bloomed by now, the buds have been ready to burst for more than a week, but it is so unseasonably cold, weird May weather! Temperatures in the fifties, I almost have to question the wisdom of moving the basil outside, it looks miserable.
Peonies are the object lesson for why gardeners benefit from being patient. You don’t get this cascade of blooms from a plant that doesn’t ask anything of you until you put a few years into it. Three, to be specific. Read more…