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grapevine in spring

On 14, Jun 2010 | 5 Comments | In vines | By All Year Garden

By botanical definition, the grape is technically a true berry. Surprise!

If you want to create a green outdoor room around a table or a bench, train grapevine on a sturdy arbor or trellis. The grapevine quickly fills up the space and creates welcome shelter from the summer sun. In the spring and summer it looks graceful, with springy, curly tendrils grabbing and twisting around supports.  In the fall, the grape leaves turn coppery-red and translucent bunches of grapes hang within arm’s reach, glowing in the sunlight like amber. The grapes over-ripen to a degree to which the air around them is saturated with an unmistakable honey-like sweetness. For those gastronomically inclined, grape leaves are used for the wrapping of dolmades, a Greek delicacy made of rice, fresh herbs and seasonings.

The little grapevine in the picture was chosen by my daughter, who is a natural green thumb. It is a red table grape that looks healthy and strong and grew significantly since we planted it. She keeps checking it regularly and evaluating its development. This is its second year in our yard and it’s looking good. It started covering the trellis it is growing on. More to follow.

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scarlet runner beans

On 13, Jun 2010 | One Comment | In vines | By All Year Garden

Scarlet Runner Beans are not legumes, they are a piece of history. The red and white variety “Painted Lady” was grown in the kitchen gardens as early as 1750. In the beginning people cultivated them for their highly decorative flowers and seed pods, and only later figured out they were good to eat. The flowers are beautiful enough to compete with the sweet peas. They are not fragrant, but they are gorgeous vibrant shades of red, white and purple. The seed pods turn an intense coppery purple in the fall, and inside you will find beans that range from monochrome to calico combinations of purple, red and white.

The plants don’t like the heat and will put off yielding seeds till later in the season, when the weather turns cooler. For some varieties the bean pods grow up to a foot long. The beautiful flowers attract humming birds.

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