Good Eatin’, Soon

An early season report on the edible plants in my garden:

As I’ve mentioned previously, I felt I had to plant most of the warm-season crop seedlings early, due to extended family issues in another state. So they went in soon after I picked them up on 28 May from the farm that grew them. Unfortunately, the next week or more was cold and rainy and the plants for the most part suffered. I’ve replaced about half the cucumbers I initially planted and will probably be replacing more (photo is of replacement).


The basil plants, which had been healthy looking when I brought them home, look sad and skinny. But I think they’ll make it now that the weather is warming up.


The squash plants look uniformly fine. Squash seems difficult to kill.


And given how cold it’s been, colour me surprised that the tomatoes are progressing, even blooming.

Sungold tomato bloom
Honey Bunch red grape tomato blooms

The bell peppers (Ace) have peppers on them already!


The green beans (Provider) are blooming, though the leaves are a bit yellow (photo below). So are the leaves on the tomatoes, and I gather this could be a lack of nitrogen. But the beans are meant to provide nitrogen to the soil, so what are they complaining about?


Of course, the green and red romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, and arugula are all happy as wet, cold clams. And I’m happy for them.


first arugula harvest, 18 June


Have I mentioned the peaches yet? It’s a banner year. I’ve had the peach trees since 2010 and have had a total of about 6 peaches between the two trees, and none at all last year. This year, there are (or were) about 1,000 peach nubs on them. I say “were” because in the last week I’ve spent about four hours removing 3/4 of the nubs (with spouse’s help and two ladders during two hours of this killing spree), in the hope that culling them in this way will make the ones that remain larger and sweeter. When there are tiny nubs next to big nubs, it’s easy to cull the tiny ones; but when there are two gorgeous, fuzzy, blushing peaches within two inches of each other, it’s very difficult to sacrifice one, even though the ends justify the means.


Fortunately, I don’t feel the need to do this culling to the strawberries, though some of the plants are overloaded with green berries now — I know the chipmunks will be the primary beneficiaries of the just-ripened red berries, eating one portion of each just hours before I plan to pick them for human consumption. I planted 27 plants a few years ago and now have about 375,640 of them, in all corners of the yard.


I thought these were barren strawberries, spreading all over the garden beds and front yard, but apparently they are fertile. The berries are small, and the other side of this one is still greenish.


Blueberries have pale blue-green (with pink) nubs on them. First photo is of a high-bush in the side yard bed, either ‘Chippewa’ or ‘Northcountry;’ second is of a hybrid ‘Jelly Bean’ blueberry, in the Bushel & Berry ™ Monrovia series) in the front yard.


Raspberries — none planted by me — have flower and little nubs of fruits beginning.


think my native American hazelnuts (Corylus americana) may have their first nut! I planted two of them in 2014 and they are supposed to be able to produce in just a few years. Naturally, all manner of animals love the nuts, including squirrels, fox, deer, and basically every other animal that frequents my yard.



Besides harvesting from the arugula (I got a 2nd harvest on Thursday) and lettuce (ready to harvest sparingly now), in a week or so I should be able to eat the first shelling peas from my garden. Oh happy day! I can never decide if fresh peas or fresh cucumbers are the best product from the vegetable garden. (The best reward, for me, is knowing how to do this, having the skills to grow my own food. If I could master seed-saving, or lived in a spot where enough edibles are perennial, I’d be a self-reliant veggie grower.)


I’ll have to wait another month or two to harvest the garlic, but the two crops are looking robust.



Fennel planted in 2011 or 2012 has come back and spread every year.  Below are some of the dozen or more fennel plants, including a couple of bronze fennels.  I planted them and dill for swallowtails but I also love their scents; maybe one day I will harvest the bulb (I do occasionally use the fresh dill.)


This is a dill (Bouquet) that I bought this year, whose lovely flower stem has broken.


Lots of parsley also reseeded or resprouted from last year or year’s past.  I’ve been using it and the copious chives (more than a dozen plants) in recipes. There’s also some mint, oregano, and lots of kinds and clumps of thyme.

parsley, chives (filipendula, leeks from last year, ferns …) in the kitchen garden
oregano or marjoram in front border
culinary thyme (front border)
another culinary thyme in the front border, along with hostas, lupine, dianthus, cuphea (Large Firecracker plant) ….
mint (which was here when moved in 8 yrs ago) in the kitchen garden


There are many edible flowers (and also lots of edible wild plants that we don’t commonly eat but could), nasturtiums being one of the best. This is my first bloom of the season. I’ve also got chives in flower. Later in the year I’ll have calendula, borage. and other edible blooms.



What annual and perennial food crops are you growing?

Resist the temptation to do unnecessary things


Notes from The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times (2010) by Carol Deppe.

I read this book in 2013 with a permaculture discussion group. The gist of it is simple: The first half of the book is an overview of gardening/farming, with sections on dealing with climate change and wild weather, how to plant seeds and transplants, designing a diet around the seasons, how to preserve and store food, managing labor and exercise, water and watering, and soil fertility. In the second half of the book, she presents five staple crops that will get us through difficult times, going into some detail concerning the benefits of each crop, crop varieties, ways to grow and harvest each crop, how to save seeds, and diseases and pests. The five crops are potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and (duck) eggs.

I found the book useful, illuminating, and at times a bit controversial and personal in terms of diet, allergies and sensitivities, obesity, and health in general.

I guess I should admit that I don’t actually grow any of these crops except beans, and mostly green beans, not dried (shelling) beans, which is what she concentrates on, and summer squash (not winter squash and pumpkins). Ducks are tempting.

I’m going through the chapters one by one, bolding what I found especially interesting or useful.


Chapter One: Gardening and Reliance

Deppe — who lives in the Pacific northwest on a half-acre of heavy clay soil, and she also leases 2 acres a few minutes from her house for crops — talks about designing gardens for bad times. But she also says to plan for the future while living primarily in the present.

Her focuses are 1. contemporary personal survival – greater control over food supply. 2. surviving ordinary traumas and disasters, like drought, no water or electricity, injury, etc. 3 gardening in mega-hard times, things that might happen once in a generation: oil lack, pandemic, natural disaster, currency deflation, war.

Would your garden fail because you are dependent on electricity, irrigation, oil, or agribusiness?

She discusses celiac disease and the ubiquity of wheat, soy, and dairy in our food.

Interdependence is healthy and normal. We need skills so we can be valuable contributors in hard times.

You don’t have to own your own land; you can beg, borrow, rent land, and use containers to grow crops.


Chapter Two: The Plant Gardener Covenant: 33 Golden Gardening Rules

I won’t list all 33, but they include:

  • all gardening is local;
  • plant varieties that grow where you live, and plant varieties for different needs;
  • resist the temptation to do unnecessary things: because of side effects, doing unnecessary things leads to more unnecessary things;
  • you must thin;
  • experiment;
  • everything is connected;
  • notice everything.


Chapter Three: Gardening in an Era of Wild Weather and Climate Change

Climate change is not about weather getting warmer; it causes irregularities in the patterns of ocean currents and winds, which can have major local effects.

Volcanic activity can trump and reverse warming trends and trigger minor and major ice ages, as 72,000 years ago when humanity was almost wiped out by weather change caused by a single volcanic eruption. No modern weather models include volcanic activity.

“Global warming is happening…. It’s been happening since the glacial maximum about 20,000 years ago, so it is nothing new. There is much argument about how fast global warming is happening and how much is caused by people; that’s not a subject for this book.”

The Younger Dryas Interval – a period of about 1,000 years (in the late Pleistocene, 12,800 to 11,500 years ago) when climate “snapped all the way back to the frigidity of the glacial maximum, after which temperatures rebounded to where the overall warming trend would have taken them if the Younger Dryas had never occured.”

The Medieval Warm Period was a time (950 – 1250) that was great for Europe, with famine and disease rare, but devastating for Mexico and the American Southwest, which had horrific droughts and probably contributed to the “vanishing of entire populations.”

Drought and aridity (associated with the period of global warming we’re in) is often more damaging than a few degrees of temperature change. Pollination can also get out of sync with erratic weather.

She recommends Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. In most cases, societies fail for multiple reasons, usually not just climate change. Collapse is exponential and can occur over just a few years.

Gardens need to be ready to deal with erratic weather. The last 100 years have been very stable with respect to weather and climate, very low levels of volcanic action. Any crop or growing method that’s very fine-tuned to the ecology of of a particular weather pattern is the most vulnerable if ordinary weather patterns don’t prevail. She argues for short-season crops and crops that are broadly adapted.

She goes through the devastating effects of the Little Ice Age, which affected North Atlantic Europe and non-western America from 1300-1850. In Europe in AD 1300, about 80% of the population were farmers and 80% of what they grew were grains, which are very vulnerable to wet weather. In Spring 1315, it rained sheets for week after week, topsoil was washed away, and this was followed by 5 yrs of colder, much wetter, and more erratic weather. Famine became common; people died from disease because they were weakened, and from violence associated with food competition. Black Death took 1/3 of the population (1348-1350 and every decade after for a while). Also cholera, dysentery, typhus. Wars became the norm, due to famine and overcrowding, which led to more famine, and armies burned crops.

Eventually, farmers developed a new model for maximising resilient farming:

  • More diversity on individual farms, and regionally, including root crops, animals, fruit.
  • Crop rotation.
  • Animals more important, used on fallow land.
  • Potato became important as source of protein with good yield for low labour
  • Global markets and global transport were established
  • Grain was still important but a diversified farm could buy it if local grain crops failed
  • One or more family members developed other skills, like hunting, fishing, trapping, logging, weaving, etc.

Evaluate the resilience of your land:
Nature of soil; topography (“If wetland plants are growing all over your land, it means that the plants think you have a wetland”); limitations and marginality (e.g., short growing season, limited heat or water).

Think about: What is grown commercially here, and why? What did the Indians and pioneers grow on your land? Why have bad gardening years occurred?

How can you hedge your bets? More annuals, perennials rated for at least one USDA zone less than yours (if you’re in zone 5, plant perennials that can survive to 4 or 3), overseed, presoak seeds, staggered/successive planting, diversity of crops and varieties. Be flexible and opportunistic in your scheduling so you can do tasks when they need to be done.

“Now would not be a great time to plant a 1000-foot-long hedge of just one kind of bush.”


Chapter Four: Diet and Food Resilience

Keep a good enough supply of food (food that you like to eat) to last a few months, but none should be over a year old. Have 10 gallons of water in glass jars, 50 gallons in plastic containers. Use them regularly and restock.

We need to know how to use the food we grow. Reading isn’t doing!

Trading and swapping products, tools, skills builds network and resilient community.

Seasonal diet: Fruit and some veg in summer; potatoes, fall squash, fruit in fall; potatoes and winter squash in winter; corn and legumes in late winter/early spring; greens and duck eggs year-round.

Excellent high-calorie crops: potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, fruit (undervalued as calorie staple), nuts, corn, beans and other legumes, wheat, seeds, meat, milk, eggs, fish. Corn, grains, some legumes and nuts (in shell) can be stored for years without electricity.

She talks about asthma, allergies, and omega-3 fatty acids. Grass-fed dairy –
the only way ruminants can produce good levels of omega-3s. Americans have a huge excess of omega-6 acids in our diets (in vegetable oils, meat, and dairy). Recommends Andrew Weil’s Eating Well of Optimum Health.

Section on “Can What We Aren’t Eating Make Us Fat?” interesting (pp. 73-76). Deppe herself has celiac disease. She also shares  thoughts on obesity and the norm of feast and famine in the natural world. She says that the only safe way to eat sugar is with a fruit around it; otherwise, it’s like eating pure fat.

She also talks about salt, oils, vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals, fiber, dairy (she says that 3/4 of people are lactose-intolerant), and the vegetarian diet.

Preserving and storing methods: Natural (nuts in shell, dry corn, beans, etc); root cellar; canning, fermenting, pickling, freezing; drying in dehydrator.

She includes a chart (this is page 1 of 2) about how to store vegetables and fruits:


Some discussion of seed saving.


Chapter Five: Labor and Exercise

Optimise gardening to encourage healthful exercise and minimise inefficient, unnecessary work. Sometimes it’s all or nothing, as when harvesting has to be done all at once. But, “needing to plant everything at once creates an emergency,” and not just one emergency; it also causes us to have to water, weed, and harvest all at once. Go in stages, and slowly. Plant one bed every three weeks, as weather allows: E.g., peas one month (late March where I live), greens the next month or two (April/May), tomatoes, summer squash, and beans the next two months (May/June), brassicas the next (July), etc.

Says that restless leg syndrome is a sloth indicator, not a medical condition, caused by not walking every day.

Raised beds dry out faster, warm up faster.

Resist completionism, i.e., needing to complete one task all at once, like weeding. Vary kinds of labour; don’t do all one thing in one outing. Work bilaterally, e.g., change sides of the row, change your angle, use both arms, etc. She offers tricks for backs and knees, including tools with long handles, frequent breaks, squat and lift with knees. It’s OK to hire out.

“Most things that are worth doing are only worth doing sloppily.”

She talks to her plants and tells them to man up.


Chapter Six: Water and Watering

Get a soil survey done. Note amount and timing of rainfall, soil type and topography.

Best to water less frequently but deeper. Shallow watering encourages shallow roots.
Water in morning to avoid fungal diseases, but if you’re not watering leaves, it’s OK to water later.

Fruits and water needs: Figs, apples, grapes need least. Apricots, pears, plums need more. Cherries, peaches, nectarines need even more. Berries need a lot of water.

If drought is drastic and trees are dying, prune them back drastically (1/3 to 1/2); don’t prune it modestly, as that will just encourage growth. In intense drought, eliminate every other plant.

She thinks it will become illegal to water non-food producing crops and land. Make sure that your ornamental plants don’t need watering, or if they do, group them together.

Grass: We don’t need lawns but we do need some grass for visual openness, to walk on, and over septic drainage field.

Mulch is effective in reducing water use and loss. A 3″ mulch keeps the top 2-4″ soil from drying out.

She hates drip irrigation. She lists 11 reasons. Number 7 made me laugh:

“Plants look dusty and dirty and less lush with no rain or overhead watering. They don’t look as happy. Maybe they are as happy, but I’m not when I look at that. I’m depressed. I don’t garden in order to get depressed.”

Heirloom varieties of plants were expected to scrounge their own water.

Plowing or tilling, even once, can create hard pan. “Soil capillarity” is needed.


Chapter Seven: Soil and Fertility

Feed the soil and the soil feeds the plants.

Three ways to maintain soil fertility: Retain what’s there (don’t leave soil bare, weed as needed but leave most weeds, don’t overwater); grow cover crops, nitrogen-fixing legumes; add amendments to replace lost fertility (inoculants, manure, pee, leaves, grass clippings).

She doesn’t compost, because she doesn’t have the ingredients: food waste goes to the ducks, grass clippings and leaves go straight into the garden, etc. Practicality of composting depends on size of garden: under an acre but not tiny is best [I’ve got 3/4 acre and it works well, I think; I also practice chop and drop, cutting leaves like comfrey and leaving them where they lie to mulch and nourish].

She keeps semi-permanent debris piles of branches, vines, etc. Good wildlife habitat. [I do this, too.]


Chapter Eight: Potatoes

Benefits: most calories per square foot and hour of work; more protein than other crops except legumes; easy to grow. Don’t eat green potatoes (she goes into detail on this). Potatoes should not be exposed to light for more than a day.

She discusses potato varieties, how to grow them, harvest them, store them, and cook them, and potato diseases and pests and how to avoid them. Potatoes can keep for up to 10 months (don’t store them near apples).

She also talks about saving the best potato tubers to replant next year (“roguing” potatoes):



Chapter Nine: The Laying Flock

Benefits of ducks: They use parts of the yard that can’t be gardened; they eat grass; they give us nutrient-rich manure; they eat slugs and snails, which chickens don’t eat (she says). She is a “happier and more joyful person with ducks” than without them.

Why ducks instead of chickens? They lay better; they can range year-round in the northwest (not where the ground freezes, though); they forage for more of their diet; best for pest control; if you’re allergic to chicken eggs, you can usually eat duck eggs; they lay longer (more than 2 years); they are easier to control with a 2′ tall fence and they can be herded; the eggs are larger; they lay reliably from 4-8 a.m.; they love cold rain; they are hardier, more resistant to disease.

Downsides to ducks: They need bathing water (like a kiddie pool); they are vulnerable to predators; you can’t use a chicken tractor (which moves the flock around to reduce wear on the garden and to spread their manure around) on ducks; they need more space than chickens and want less confinement. She says that if she lived in a place with frozen ground or snow for many months, she would keep chickens, which can be confined. [But lots of people in Maine and NH keep ducks.  Some of the ducks around here include magpie ducks at Steeplebush Farms, Limington, ME; an unknown variety of ducks at Wonderwell (Buddhist center) in Springfield, NH; and Blue Swedish ducks in a permaculturist’s  garden in Nottingham, NH.]

magpie ducks, Limington ME
variety of ducks in Springfield, NH
Blue Swedish ducks in Nottingham, NH

Deppe also talks about how to choose type and breed, eggs vs. meat, how what to feed them in easy and in hard times, how to use ducks for garden pest control (don’t turn them loose in the garden or they will eat it — they are not scratchers like chickens), how to cook with duck eggs.


Chapter Ten: Squash and Pumpkins

photos showing how to hand pollinate squashes

The winter squash and pumpkin found in stores is often picked prematurely, immaturely, uncured. For prime winter squash, you have to choose the best varieties and grow them yourself.

Three major squash in the U.S.: Cucurbita maxima (need to cure for 1 month): Blue Hubbard, buttercup, pie pumpkin, Sweetmeat, etc.; C. pepo (need to cure 1-2 weeks, eat by end of December): summer and crookneck squash, zucchini, delicata squash, small sugar, acorn, spaghetti squash, Halloween (ornamental) pumpkins, gourds; and C. moschata (needs 1-2 weeks to cure; also needs warmer conditions — not good in northeast U.S.): butternut, “cheese” pumpkins.

Her favourite winter squash: Sweet Meat Oregon Homestead, Sunshine F, Katy Stokes ‘Sugar Meat,’ Buttercup-Burgess, Sibley and Flat White Boer hubbards (can weigh 50 lbs+; to open them, she suggests dropping them in the driveway from waist-height), delicata ‘Small Sugar.’

Her favourite summer squashes: Costata Romanesca, Golden Bush, Gold Rush F, and Zephyr F.

She also talks about growing squash, harvesting and drying squash, and saving seeds.


Chapter Eleven: Beans

Benefits of beans and other legumes: best source of protein in vegetable world; good low-glycemic carbs; fiber; easy to grow and harvest. She focuses mostly on dried beans.

Peas, fava beans, garbanzos, and lentils are all good cold-weather crops that can tolerate freezing temps. All the rest are warm-season crops.

She discusses bush vs. pole beans, interplanting corn and beans, bean strategies, and seed-saving.


Chapter Twelve: Corn

I skipped this chapter as I have no intention of growing corn again. I tried it for a few years when we lived in Maine and either the corn ears didn’t form well, or if they did, larval insects or deer got them first.

She talks about how “growing corn is just outrageous amounts of fun,” and she defends it as a worthwhile crop. She talks about grain corn, polenta, and saving seed. Gluten-free bread and cake recipes are included.


At the back are several pages of notes and references, and a two pages of seed sources.

June Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day

The garden is in full swing now, even though the first week of June was cold and rainy.

Usually high temps in the first two weeks of June average 74-77 degrees F. For the first week of June, we ran 10-20 degrees F below those, with highs in the low 50s to high 60s and lots of rain. That was right after I planted my cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, green bean, and herb seedlings, some annuals, and arugula, Swiss chard, and lettuce seedlings. Not a happy state of affairs for anyone except the arugula.

This last week, nature sought some sort of perverse balance, setting the solar death ray on stun. Highs ranged from 78 to 95F, which is almost 20 degrees F above average. Some years we don’t have temps in the mid-90s even in July or August. It’s been in the 80s and 90s since Saturday. This the veggies like better, but I had to mulch and water those that survived the first week to to protect them from climate whiplash. So far, I have replaced about half the cucumber plants.

Anyway, there is a lot to talk about now, and to show, including the veggies, but also the perennials, shrubs, trees, weeds/wildflowers, compost, insects, etc.

Bulbs: The only bulbs really happening at the moment are large purple alliums (shown with variegated Solomon’s Seal) …


… and scilla (aka wood hyacinth), which just seems to have sprung up in the front yard without my planting it.



So-called Weeds: Some of the prettiest flowers in the yard.

orange hawkweed
white violet
pink and purple ajuga flowers
blue violets with ‘Turkish Delight’ sedum
a veronica of some kind
large dock plant
lesser stitchwort flower (very tiny flower)


Perennials: Where to begin?

An all-time favourite of mine is Rodgersia, a plant that not only likes shade, hallelujah, but looks positively tropical. And the flower, which is about to bloom, smells heavenly. If you don’t have one, get one. Or six.



The pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) is entirely kaput, but I like it that way.



Centaurea (perennial bachelor button) always looks fabulous, with a very photogenic deep blue and purple bloom.



The geraniums are starting to bloom like crazy; these were plant sale buys whose names are lost to history.



The hostas are happy campers, except that the deer keep eating them, especially Gold Standard and So Sweet. I’ve shaved some Irish Spring into their leaves, which has always nipped this nipping in the bud, so to speak. We’ll see. They’re not blooming yet, so just a couple of photos now, with more to come in later months.

pinkgeraniumSoSweethosta6June2017frontborder6June2017 Patriothostavariegatedleaves30May2017.JPG


Next, a couple of nice ground covers, Mother of Thyme, which spreads quickly, and yellow archangel, a false lamium that I’ve read can be very invasive but it certainly isn’t in my gardens in Maine and New Hampshire.

Mother of Thyme
Mother of Thyme, close
Lamiastrum galeobdolon (yellow archangel) and Japanese lantern in the shade gardens


Baptisia and amsonia are spring perennial mainstays in my area. This year, I was given some more yellow baptisia by a neighbour, what a gift. I transplanted them less than two weeks ago and they seem to have adapted:


I also have other yellow baptisia (not shown yet), and some of the more common blue variety as well, in four different parts of the yard.


I’ve got two kinds of amsonia, ‘Blue Ice,’ with dark blooms (the first three photos), and an Amsonia tabernaemontana, with a paler, more delicate bloom (the last photo), planted in three different spots in the garden. It’s just starting to bloom now.



Speaking of things blue, salvia


and lupine



And then there are pink things, are there not?

Like ‘Pink Profusion’ Bowman’s Root, another favourite.

pinkprofusionBowmansRootbloominganemonesylvestrissideyard13June2017 pinkprofusionBowmansRootflowerssideyard13June2017pinkprofusionBowmansRootflowersideyard12June2017

And comfrey, which is sort of pinkish purple. And it needs its first chop-and drop, for instant mulch, soon, before I have to stake it.


And dianthus, in the back and front borders.

bluesalviapinkdianthusblooming13June2017dianthussedumsunroomborder13June2017 pinkdianthussunroomborder12June2017


I should also mention the woodland plants, mostly in the rock wall, but some are tucked into other spots as well.

bunchberry (with hosta)
lily of the valley
Canada mayflower with white violet
Solomon’s Seal
pink-white columbine
pink-white columbine flower, close


A hodge-podge of a few other perennials coming to life now:

a variegated euphobia
sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata), from a friend
trollius blooms in the rain
anemone sylvestris flower
anemone sylvestris leaf
anemone sylvestris — It spreads
anemone sylvestris … It REALLY spreads … I transplanted a couple of plants here two years ago.
two lady’s mantle in the rock wall


Shrubs & Trees: I planted a new umbrella pine, weeping larch, and weeping white spruce this spring, and replaced a buddleia with a small nine bark (“Little Devil”) that I bought at a local plant sale. The umbrella pine and ninebark are shown below.



This is the time when the rhododendrons make their splash. I didn’t plant these but I have been hacking away at them for seven years; it only encourages them.

part of the rhodo show
red and purple rhodos
purple rhodo
red rhodo bloom
white-pink rhodo
purple irises (from neighbours) and red rhodos
blue baptisia and purple rhodos

I also didn’t plant these cream-orange and red azaleas, but I LOVE them, especially contrasted with the boulder and the Japanese maple tree.



Lilacs are about finished — here are Ludwig Spaeth, Beauty of Moscow, and Sensation before they lost their oomph —


but the little Miss Kim is going strong.



The pagoda dogwoods have flowers now.



The buddleia, which should reach about five feet in height, is off to a slow start, but it’s growing. The photo on the left was taken on 1 June, the one on the right on 14 June.


Food Crops: Not much happening yet, though most have been planted by now.

The peas are flowering:



And the peach trees have so many peaches on them that I will have to remove 5/6 of them to get a good crop of decent-sized sweet, juicy peaches. Apparently there should be one nub the size of a dime every 6-8 inches on a branch. It’s going to be farming torture to thin them next week.



Fungi: I don’t know who, but they’re growing in the rock wall.



Compost: I am actually using compost I have lovingly handcrafted from kitchen scraps, tossed cut flowers, leaves, some grass clippings, dirt, pruned shrubs and perennials that aren’t diseased, and whatever else finds its way into the bin. It’s dark and crumbly!



Animals: You know, insects, deer, fox, bears and cubs — the usual suburban garden fare. (Some photos courtesy the motion camera.)

lady bugs mating
bee or a mimic fly of some kind
red fox
deer at 11:30 a.m.
bear with two or more cubs


I’ll finish up with a few landscape shots.

part of the sunroom border
shade garden
shade garden with ‘Ivory Halo’ dogwood
front yard with rhodos, leucothoe, hostas, baptisia, etc.


Thanks for stopping by!


More GBBD, hosted at May Dreams Gardens:

… danger garden – always fun for me to see interesting spikey things that don’t grow here

… Late to the Garden Party  (south coastal California, so exotic!)

… Commonweeder in western Mass. is more my speed

Southern Meadows (northeast Georgia, zone 8a) has great insect shots

… Dirt Therapy in Vancouver, WA

Rogue Eggplant in Maryland

Wednesday Vignette: Magic




Vetch of some species, growing in a meadow in Sutton, NH. These buds are so delicate, so full of magic.

“The world is full of magic things patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” — WB Yeats


(Wednesday vignette is brought to us by Flutter & Hum.)

Maui Buttercup, Black Brass Buttons, and Soaking Up Blood


My permaculture group visited Cider Hill Garden & Gallery in Windsor, VT, last October and again about ten days ago, in early June. It’s a small garden, owned by Sarah and Gary Milek, which sells mainly perennials and focuses on daylilies, peonies, hosta, and woodland plants.  It’s only about 2 miles outside the town of Windsor, but it feels remote; last fall, some of our group saw a bear and cubs on the road to the gardens as they were driving in. There’s also a small art gallery with really gorgeous paintings, mostly of plants, by Gary, and some metal sculptures.

The true definition of a perennial: Any plant which, had it lived, would have bloomed year after year. –Henry Beard

A note on their website says that Cider Hill, since 1983, has “practiced chemical-free, green gardening, as that is where our hearts and minds have always been. We use a custom-blended organically-based soil mix of compost, loam, leaf mold, peat, perlite, RootShield, and other organic amendments. Our young plants are also fed fish, kelp and bone meal, which they thrive on!”

I love the many varieties of hostas in the known universe — there are between 24-45 hosta species, more than 3,000 hosta cultivars registered with the American Hosta Society, and possibly that many more unregistered — so I enjoy browsing Cider Hill’s large and unusual selection.

MauiButtercuphostaCiderHillWindsorVT2June2017euphorbiaGreatExpectationshostaCiderHillWindsorVT2June2017hostasforsaletablesCiderHillWindsorVT2June2017plantsforsaleCiderHillWindsorVT2June2017columbinehostasCiderHillWindsorVT2June2017 shadehostagardenCiderHillWindsorVT2June2017 fernysedumplanterhostacontextCiderHillWindsorVT2June2017


It was peony week when we visited this time, but I didn’t get many shots of them; in fact, just one, of a flower gone-by. I’m sorry, peony lovers. (I will soon have lots of peony shots from my garden.)


Detach, detach, look away from the sun
Let your petals fall aimlessly

Don’t despair, little one, we are done

— from “Peony,” by Marilyn Chin

My attraction was more toward the woodlands plants, like yellow lady slipper, pink trillium, and a pink primula (primrose), though none of these particular species is native here.

yellowladyslippersCiderHillWindsorVT2June2017pinktrilliumCiderHillWindsorVT2June2017 magentaprimulaspiralflowerCiderHillWindsorVT2June2017


The selection of sedums is interesting, and they will dig up any you want to take home if they are growing in the ground.



I really love this little plant, the one in the front of the planter with hostas, which looks like a miniature Japanese painted fern. I thought it might be a species of sedum but research did not corroborate that theory. It turns out to be a fantastic ground cover for full sun to full shade, Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’ (aka Black Brass Buttons), said to be a “fast grower to 2″ tall” and 18″ wide.



This shrub was a mystery to me (to all of us) until someone in the Plant ID group on Facebook identified it as Sanguisorba canadensis (Canadian burnet) …


… which I should have known because I had had it identified last October from the exact same plant when it was in flower:


Although it was actually ID’d from this lower photo as Sanguisorba officianalis (Great burnet). Now I’m not sure which is correct (both can have pink flowers, though usually S. canadensis is white and S. officianalis is some shade of pink), but in any case, Sanguisorba is a name I need to remember for the next visit. (It means “soaking up blood,” because it was thought that the plant could stop bleeding by contracting blood vessels.)


We also didn’t recognise this plant:


It was ID’d as Persicaria polymorpha, or giant fleece plant, in the buckwheat family. The astilbe-like flower plumes are held about 6 feet above the ground. It’s quite a show-stopper even when not in bloom.


A magnolia shrub had lots of smallish flying insects on it. One of Facebook’s Bug ID groups came to the rescue with “March Fly.” They’re quite lovely, with a sort of black-and-white stained glass effect on the wings.



There are quite a few sculptures among the plants, including a dragonfly on a rock above the hostas, and a Buddha in a large shade garden.


In the same shade garden was a barren strawberry (Waldsteinia fragarioides) ground cover, plus lots of euphorbia that I should have taken photos of.



These small mushrooms (maybe honey mushrooms?) grew near a small inset stone inscribed “Jeb,” which I imagine is a pet grave or memorial marker.


In another area are sculpted mushrooms — perhaps made using the hypertufa process (which one of our group had used and knew all about!): “Making hypertufa is easy, fun, and requires no special tools.  … [H]ypertufa is just a fancy name for a type of concrete that contains …[Portland cement, water, and] perlite or vermiculite (natural porous rock products) and plant fibers such as peat moss or coconut coir.” It’s much lighter than concrete made with sand and gravel, so it’s easier to move around the garden.

Or these may just be the usual, heavy kind of concrete sculpture. Note the Centaurea (perennial bachelor buttons) blooming blue.



A few pieces of Gary’s art that I especially liked:



I’ll end this post with a giant allium, one of my favourite spring-blooming garden plants, so cheerful, especially when massed; though at $9-10 per bulb — about the cheapest I found them online, even in bulk — most of us won’t be massing them.



Cider Hill is open from May through Sept. from 10-5 on Thursday thru Sunday, and in October and November on Fridays thru Sundays.

I like muddling things up; and if a herb looks nice in a border, then why not grow it there? Why not grow anything anywhere so long as it looks right where it is? That is, surely, the art of gardening. — Vita Sackville-West

Is It Only What’s Visible That’s Knowable

Go ahead and ask : what principle
animates the natural : owl pink Lady’s Slipper
orchid white-tailed deer woodchuck :
is it only what’s visible that’s knowable
— from “Long After Hopkins” by Brian Teare

On the first day of June — a day among a stretch of about a dozen or fifty when it rained, often all day long — we got out on the Clark Pond Trails in New London, NH in just the slightest intermittent sprinkling, motivated to see what we knew from past experience would be dozens or even hundreds of pink lady’s slippers (Cypripedium acaule) blooming.

And we were not disappointed.



I especially like the pale yellows of the some of them, and the light shining through others, and the really dark, rich pinks. There must be more than a hundred just in one intersection of the Allen and Norman trails. And then there are maybe a hundred more scattered hither and thither along those trails and the Dancy trail.

They’re pollinated pretty much only by bumblebees, which is fortunate for them this year because until yesterday, our high temps have been in the 50Fs, when most bees aren’t active, but bumblebees can become active at temps as low as 40F (honeybees not until temps reach at least 60).

There were still a few painted (and red) trilliums around, and a couple of Jack-in-the-Pulpits.



Just starting to bloom in abundance are the Clintonia borealis (blue-bead lily), with a sort of waxy yellow flower.


This one has a white-striped black moth (Trichodezia albovittata) on it, and a fly of some kind:



The Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana) is starting to become more obvious in the woodland understory and to get buds. One was quite tall, about 2.5 feet.



Bunchberry (Chamaepericlymenum canadense, formerly Cornus canadense) is also making itself seen, with some of the flowers looking more pale green than bright white. Plants with six (sometimes seven) leaves flower; plants with four leaves usually don’t.



The starflower (Lysimachia borealis) is also blooming now.



Around the streams and brooks there are colonies of false hellebore (Veratrum viride), which, as Go Botany notes, is a plant “composed of eastern North American populations that are widely separated from western North American populations.” It’s mostly coastal, found as far west as Tennessee and Ohio and then as far east as California, Idaho, and Montana; there are none in the middle of the continent: “It is hypothesized that continental glaciation produced this distribution.”



Tiarella cordifolia (foam-flower), a garden favourite of mine, is also blooming now in the woods.



Hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides) has finished blooming here but an attractive flower head remains.



Besides the white-striped black moth, shown earlier, I also came across this dragonfly, Leucorrhinia, maybe hudsonica (Hudsonian Whiteface) …


… and this duskywing (Erynnis; possibly a dreamy duskywing, Erynnis icelus) butterfly, a kind of skipper.



I especially like the mosses (including club moss, or lycopodium spp., which are not true mosses), lichens, and fungi on these trails.


This is a Lycopodium clavatum, also called common, staghorn, and running clubmoss, and here it is, running: prostrateclubmossCPT1June2017


This yellow-needled white pine tree …


… and these sturdy striped maples (Acer pensylvanicum) are favourites.



You can see how much water there is, in brooks that are high and flowing, in water pooled on the trails.




Happy trails to you, until we meet again.



The moments when we choose to play

I’ve posted three previous field trips to Bedrock Gardens in Lee, NH, a playful place that’s art gallery and collector garden combined —  The Most EphemeralJuly 2015; 31 Days of A Sense of Place :: Day 18Oct. 2015; 31 Days of Kissing the Wounds :: Day 25Oct. 2016 — so I’m not going to go into the history and organising structure of the gardens again.  Check out my past posts or the Bedrock Gardens website if you want more info.

One new thing: They have hired John Forti as their first executive director. Forti was for many years the chief curator of historic gardens and landscapes at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH, and since 2014 has been director of horticulture and education at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in Wellesley, MA (I saw him in that capacity at the Boston Flower Show in March). They day I visited Bedrock Gardens last month, Forti was on our small 3-hour garden tour led by volunteer Hobson Jandebeur.


I saw some new plants:

Narcissus bulbocodium (Golden Bells)
Arisaema sikokianum (Japanese Jack-in-the-Pulpit)
closer view of the Arisaema sikokianum (Japanese Jack-in-the-Pulpit)
Saruma henryi (upright wild ginger) …. See how Saruma is an anagram of Asarum, the genus for European and Canadian gingers?
Podophyllum versipelle (Spotty Dotty may apple) foliage
a pink trillium
the black flowers of Asarum maximum (pansy-faced ginger)
a spikey sort of epimedium (maybe Epimedium wushanense?)
Glaucidium palmatum (Japanese wood poppy)
I think this is Schizocodon soldanelloides (reminiscent of a Soldanella sp., a snowbell) or a Soldanella alpina
Xanthorhiza simplicissima (yellow root plant) – the only member of its genus


And some plants I’ve met before but don’t see often:

skunk cabbagebywoodspondBedrockGardensNH20May2017
skunk cabbage
I have not noticed this flower bud (seed pod?) before on skunk cabbage; I’m used to seeing a dark red sort of growth.
a lovely river birch
Stewartia tree with camo bark, against tiles
paw paw flowers (Asimina triloba)
May apple plant with flower
May apple flower
bamboo resprouting
Erigeron (fleabane)
closer view of Erigeron (fleabane) flower


Some creatures:

three tadpoles
moth cocoon in a sweet gum tree
large tadpole face
killdeer (bird) in the grass
green frog
five guinea fowl
dragon or lizard sculpture
heron or stork sculptures
another green frog



woodland path
Wiggle Waggle, Garish Garden, arborvitae hedge
view from Parterre Garden to goddess sculpture
Swaleway view
Swaleway garden
large pond
axis view from large pond to acrobat sculpture
Petit Pond garden
people strolling
Pate hedge and Coneland trees
woman and girl in Grass Acre
metal sculpture by large pond
hedge with sculptures and ball
bee banner in the Swaleway breeze
another view of the Petit Pond area
four elements totem pole
acrobats sculpture and rhodos


Things I just liked:

white tiarella
rhodos and a goddess sculpture
reliquary with urchin
red rhodos and colour columns
spruce cones
purple peony bud
prayer house
pink and white rhododendron
lichen bench and insulator
labyrinth and ventilators
gnome house in the woods
chairs near large pond


Bob & Jill’s heart sculpture
bee banner and sculpture
blue globe view (“things as they are are changed upon the blue guitar”)

And one of the things I love the most of all, ginkgos:

Ginkgo tree leaves


It was a great day, with an in-depth, plant-geek tour of the gardens, followed by a fun lunch at The Holy Grail in Epping, NH.


The post title — “The moments when we choose to play / The imagined pine, the imagined jay” — is from a Wallace Stevens’ poem, “The Man with the Blue Guitar,” which I also quoted above in a caption (“Things as they are / are changed upon the blue guitar”).

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