Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Gifts at home

Our native columbines are now in full flower. Remarkable. They seem to be on steroids after our warm winter. It's a short-lived perennial, so these must be towards the last of their resources?  We've never seen such tall flowering stalks before.  Last year's flowers suffered from aphid infestations, so it's a gift to have lovely plants now.

We had brought seeds from our Clemson garden, sprinkled them around, and now have lots of columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) in various parts of the garden, especially this side front area, which is planted with a variety of natives.

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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Nature and the garden

It was a gift and a privilege to walk along the Bent Creek pedestrian path in the NC Arboretum this morning.  All of our city parks are temporarily closed, as are the recreation areas in the National Forest nearby, but the Arboretum is still open, for now, for passholders and drive-in parking fee folks.

An unexpected sighting of two patches of planted Oconee Bells had me gasp this morning -- how lovely to happen upon them unexpectedly.

This photo was my hubbie's from a visit to Botanical Gardens of Asheville, now closed for visiting.

Oconee Bells

This was my sighting at the Arboretum.

They have a venerable and iconic story, which I won't retell now.  I shared it with a couple of other of the few fellow walkers that I was encountering as the morning progressed. Thankfully,  it was easy to climb up the slope to practice social distancing, but later in the morning or afternoon, I'm not sure how easy it was.

It was so soothing to hear the sounds of Bent Creek.  Frankly, I was in tears listening to the stream.

I'm again, thankful for the access to nature that I have.  Sending all good wishes for connections to nature that you have, or virtual connections, too.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Neighborhood tulips

Walking in the bright sunshine of late afternoon, my spirits lifted. Spring in full swing was totally a help.

This patch of tulips was a welcome sight.


Monday, March 23, 2020

Walking in local neighborhoods

We walked by this lovely gate and garden combination again this evening.  It's not in our neighborhood, but an adjacent one.

A lovely garden vignette

This pot of Virginia bluebells, with the barn wood entrance, has made me happy for two days now.  And this was the same walk I took this afternoon, when the rain stopped -- it's one of my favorite ones, looping up around the Grove Park Inn, back down, and back.

It was eerie to see how empty the Grove Park Inn was.  The front door was open but there were virtually no cars in the parking areas.  I totally get why coming to Asheville in practically shut-down mode wouldn't be attractive, but... it was a dramatic reminder of what's happening in our tourist town.

I was happy to be out, regardless, hardly seeing anyone out walking, and the few folks I saw -- well, we passed 6 feet apart.  It's a different world.

I'm including another photo of me with my Inspired Gardener hat.  It makes me happy, too.  Thanks, Botanical Interests.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

A wonderful afternoon in the garden

I woke up worried (I’m an anxious sort, which served me well in my previous work life,  being translated into a very good sense of process and time),

Happily, though, it was an absolutely beautiful day in Western North Carolina and first a walk and then an afternoon spent gardening totally turned around my state of mind, and I felt totally happy sowing beet and spinach seeds, cleaning up the pocket meadow beds of leaves covering their crowns.

The flowering Asian cherries are lovely and the Asian magnolias are unscathed with frost, so far.  A warm spring, so far.  This was on  a walk in a nearby neighborhood.                                            

This afternoon’s gardening was so encouraging. 

Coming in, in late afternoon, I saw my image in the upstairs bathroom.  I was wearing my Inspired Gardener hat, from late year’s Garden Blogger Fling, thanks to Botanical Interests.  It’s my favorite hat in windy weather, that’s for sure, and it made me happy today, to see this reflection in the mirror.

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Monday, March 16, 2020

Sorting seeds

Talking with a potential summer renter, who's a keen gardener, I mentioned that I'd look at what vegetable seeds that I had on hand, as she'd be here from June 1- Sept. 30.  Just like last summer's renter, I'll be delighted to have her start planting warm-season vegetables in my front beds, well in advance of when we're planning to leave.

A winter spinach harvest a few years back, in January

Back when I taught vegetable gardening programs much more than I do now, at the botanical garden where I worked,  I used my programs as a wonderful excuse to buy more seeds (so I could distribute them to the participants, while trying new varieties myself.

Alas, most of my seeds are getting pretty "past date" -- although since I now have plenty of time on my hands (most all of my classes and presentations have now been canceled), I'm planning to test viability of some of the older seeds.

In a previous research life, I worked with seed germination, so I thought it might be fun to test viability of 7-8 year old vegetable seed.  Of course, I've eliminated the obvious ones: onions, leeks, and spinach, which are decidedly short-lived. 

Interestingly, I didn't have any mesclun mix or lettuce, which I must have taken to Quebec either last summer or the year before, or maybe didn't have any.

But I'm going to try sprouting argula, broccoli, kale, collards, pea, and squash just for fun.  All of them are edible as sprouts.

The stay-at-home time ahead may be a welcome time to revisit posts like this one: https://naturalgardening.blogspot.com/2007/09/kale-chard-spinach-and-lettuce.html

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Year-round vegetable gardening

Doing a program on year-round vegetable gardening at a local nursery (Reems Creek in Weaverville) has given me a welcome opportunity to add vegetables to my own raised beds as well as review and talk about a favorite topic.

There were 37 people signed up (for a free program) as of Monday afternoon.  Delightful to see that much interest!

As this talk will be done more as a presentation with props (plants, seeds, etc.), I've moved my presentation images and handout links up to the top of the blog side bar for people to view after the program if they like.

So nice to think about growing and harvesting vegetables in these uncertain times.

early spring beds


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

A first native wildflower sighting: bloodroot

It’s always a harbinger of spring.  I’ve written many posts about bloodroot over the years.

Our small plant here in Asheville has been flowering over the last few days.  Delightful to see it, along with all the other signs of spring on the way.

It’s a small plant with small flowers compared to the others that I’ve posted about in the past, but it’s perfectly lovely,  nevertheless.

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Monday, March 9, 2020

Veggies to transplant

I really meant to post this first on Natural Gardening, it’s about vegetable gardening, after all. But Blogger requires me to choose which blog site each time, regardless of the Firefox link I click to access each blog.

So, here are some thoughts about early spring vegetables, posted on Places of the Spirit.


Saturday, March 7, 2020

Veggies to plant

Deciding whether to write about a reflection about corona virus to come or veggies to plant, I’m opting for veggies.

I was fortunate to have kale, collards, and spinach overwinter, so that was great.  But the older Tuscan kale was starting to bolt, and I already harvested it.  We returned last fall at the end of September, so I was hard pressed to find any transplants at all — I think I got the one I planted at the local Ace Hardware or possibly Jesse Israel.  They were definitely the last of the transplants.

I sowed spinach seeds right away, though, and have been delighted to have them overwinter without cover.  The spinach plants look great.

But, there’s lots of room for more cool season spring veggies, so I bought kale, collards, and chard at my favorite local purveyor this afternoon.

I’m planning to sow sugar snap peas and mesclun mix soon, too. I opted for now not to add lettuce transplants — lettuce did SO much better last summer in Quebec, I’m not sure it’s worth the space in my spring raised beds.

The greens may well come in handy as a source of fresh veggies, if our grocery trips become limited.  

Who knows?


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Spring is almost here

The Ozark witch hazel in our front garden is in full bloom.

It's lovely, and I'm glad we pruned the stem sprouts before we left for our winter sojourn in Quebec.  It looks much better.  And interestingly, I'm thinking, at some point, the leaves (that had been retained late), finally dropped, so the structure of this small tree can be enjoyed.

It's a focal point in front of the house, so nice to see it!

Around town, there are signs of spring everywhere:  Asian cherries with buds about to burst, Asian yellow jasmine already in flower, daffodils in flower, etc.

The sassafras tree out our upstairs window has decidedly swollen flower buds.   Revisting past posts about Sassafras confirmed flowering dates in mid-March.   Amazing that I've had so many posts about Sassafras over the years.