Gardening for me is therapeutic, zen for body and soul. Something about getting dirty and working the earth. Planting, growth and reaping the rewards or lack thereof, I’ve had those too! I’d like to share with you my garden adventures here. Building stone walls, putting in new flower gardens and tending to my kitchen potager. I’ll share my tips on gardening and welcome your feedback as well.
Growing herbs is such a simple and satisfying garden addition. Most grow easily in containers and it is always nice to be able to just snip them fresh to add to summer cooking. However, many are also perennials and have to be replanted each year. As summer draws to a close, my herbs are usually lush and full. It seems a waste to let them fade away in the cold. This year I tried my hand at drying them. Just cut bunches and tie with string or twist ties. Tie tightly as they will shrink as they dry. Don’t make the bunches too large, they need air to circulate to dry evenly. Hang them in a dry place. You can cover them loosely with plastic to keep dust off, but do not close them up in the bag. In a few weeks you should have nicely dried bunches.
I snipped the dried leaves onto a plate and put them in this handy little fresh herb grinder. Now I can enjoy that fresh herb taste beyond the growing season.
It seems as soon as we’ve planted that final tomato plant in the spring, we can’t wait to reap the rewards! Then, like magic, they all seem to come at once. Despite all the fabulous recipes, after awhile we all get a little tomato overdose. My solution – I freeze them for use later during the fall and winter months. Just wash thoroughly, you can cut out the ‘stem’ if you choose, but it is not necessary. Place them in plastic bags and off into the freezer they go. They are great for making sauces, soups, chili, or any recipe that calls for crushed tomatoes and they couldn’t be any fresher.
Having points of interest in your landscape and gardens adds visual appeal and also a little bit of mystery. Something that makes you want to look closer, or see what is around the corner. A few years ago, I found a pile of rock pieces that were builder cast-offs. I felt that they should be put to some use, so I started stacking and this is my result! The pillar is approximately 4′ tall and at the edge of the woods. It truly adds a bit of the look of a long abandoned garden.
A year ago, I purchased Hollyhock seeds envisioning the beautiful flowers you see above anchoring a garden here and there. I have always admired them growing wildly against the sides of a barn or randomly bordering a beautiful farm house. So I planted and much to my dismay ended up with just low growing large leaves……so much for that. Well imagine my surprise when they just appeared in the spring and turned into these towering blooms! I don’t know too much about Hollyhocks, but I knew they were bi-annuals, meaning they come back every other year by self seeding. I don’t know what the magic was here, since I didn’t have blooms last year, but I will be collecting the seeds from the spend blooms and replanting again.
We have had plenty of rain this summer, and as a result, many of my perennials are thriving! Spiny Bears Breech is a plant I admired in a friends garden years ago. They are not a common plant you would find your local nursery, but if you can find them they are true show-offs for your garden and the blooms will last for weeks! They will continue to get bigger every year and can become a little invasive. Plant them in full sun.
A gorgeous rose garden at the base of a castle along the Rhine river in Germany
I recently returned from a trip along the wine region of the Rhine river. The gardens were spectacular. This rose garden was captivating. Note the mix of colors and perennials and the use of ‘climbing’ structures. Ideas that could easily be used as inspiration here.
My honeysuckle vine is in full bloom and the smell is intoxicating! If you are looking for a strong and quick climber this is the plant for you. Much less fickle than clematis and is very hardy winter-wise. Mine climbs close to the kitchen door and the smell actually perfumes the house when the door is open. As an added bonus, the hummingbirds flock to it and are so much fun to watch.
Summer has finally arrived (almost) here on the east coast. I’ve added a new feature to my gardens – the darling garden shed shown above. I’ve pined over it for years and finally committed to it last fall. I’m busy making a small garden to the right of the shed with perennials and low bushes. I haven’t had too much luck with roses, but am going to try some shrub varieties as well. My kitchen potager has been planted with several varieties of tomatoes, better boy, early girl, super sonic and an heirloom variety as well as cherry tomatoes, peas, beets and mixed herbs for cooking. I love this time in the early stages of summer. Planting with the hopes of seeing great results later in the season.
At the end of summer it always seems like such a shame to toss some of the geraniums that have done exceptionally well. I have successfully found a formula that works to over-winter geraniums without having them take over the living room for the winter months.
Leave your plants out until the weather starts to really turn, as in frost warnings. Geraniums actually like cooler temperatures, but will not take a frost. When it is time to take them in, place them in your basement. Near a window is not necessary. If you wish you can cut them back a little, but I usually just put them down there and forget about them. They will turn brown and drop their leaves. You don’t have to water or anything. When the calendar turns to late February, I take them up to a room where there is a sunny window. They will have grown long thin pale green shoots by now, this is your indicator that the plant is still growing. Clean off the dead leaves and cut back the plant on the stems just above where the thin green shoots are. Water well and fertilize. The plants will start to bud out. After a few weeks trim the plants back again. This will result in a lush thick plant, not the thin branchy plants that are typical of over-wintered geraniums. Once the weather is warm enough, move outside into the full sun, but not in a cool breezy spot. Be sure not to leave out if too cool or the threat of evening frost. The plant is still coming out of it’s dormancy and will not tolerate significant temperature changes. Follow these guidelines and you will have just as lush of a plant as the previous summer.
The garden is soon to be put away for the season. These beautiful beets and some scallions are the last to be pulled. I tried this variety at the recommendation of a twitter follower, Touchstone Gold. They are not only beautiful but delicious as well!
I’d never planted scallions before, but after seeing a tip on Pinterest, my curiousity was piqued and I had to try. When you purchase scallions from the grocer, cut off about 1″ of the ends with the roots attached. Just plant those pieces in the garden and watch them grow! Results above!