Author Archive for joenesgarden

A Tinge of Frost

A tinge of frost adds a unique beauty to plants. It’s a fleeting beauty. Once the temperature rises the tinge of frost becomes a memory, unless drawn outside to digitally capture frost-kissed plants in the garden.

These views greeted me this morning, urging me to grab the camera and head into my Connecticut garden, even before sipping my first cup of coffee.

Leaving seed heads standing through the colder months adds garden interest even without blooms. Sedum seed heads catch the eye when viewed in front of an evergreen shrub.

Sedum seed head contrasts nicely with Ilex compacts

Sedum seed head contrasts nicely with Ilex compacta

But the beauty of Ilex compacta leaves stand on their own, particularly when kissed by frost, giving  them a variegated look.

Frost-tinged Ilex compacta

Frost-tinged Ilex compacta

Adjacently-planted rose and lavender complement each other in every season.

Frost-tinged rose bud

Frost-tinged rose bud backed by a lavender shrub

But lavender, too, is lovely on its own.

Frost-tinged lavender

Frost-tinged lavender

The holly and the ivy take on a special glow when covered in frost. Holly berries are a perennial favorite.

Frost-tinged holly berries

Frost-tinged holly berries

Frost highlights the details of ivy leaves.

Frost-tinged ivy

Frost-tinged ivy

Even lifeless leaves and buds look special draped in frost’s silvery glow. Frost transforms browning bayberry leaves,

Frost-kissed bayberry leaves

Frost-kissed bayberry leaves

and adorns a common coneflower seed head.

Frost-kissed echinacea

Frost-kissed echinacea

A reddish glow gives holiday flare to azalea leaves,

Frost-tinged azalea leaves

Frost-tinged azalea leaves

and turns pieris buds into Mother Nature’s holiday decorations.

Frost-tinged pieris buds

Frost-tinged pieris buds

 

 

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Joene Hendry

Lee May, a gentle voice I will miss.

Cancer has silenced a gentle voice, that of Lee May, a man with a designer’s eye, a sense of place, and gifted words that conveyed his vision and awareness.

I only had a casual acquaintance with Lee through our shared love of gardening and writing, and our once-shared town. But a casual acquaintance is all one needed to appreciate Lee’s gifts. His words speak to a gardener’s soul in ways that reach those of us who must work our hands in soil, who paint nature using a pallet of plants and found materials. (I use the word speak in the present tense since, fortunately, Lee’s garden writings did not disappear with him. His blog, Lee May’s Gardening Life, remains.)

As a gardener, Lee created landscapes that were uniquely him … no lawn, lots of rock of all shapes and sizes, garden rooms, and unusual features that caught one’s attention.

His Big Momma’s Garden, on the Connecticut acreage he once oversaw, exuded Lee’s love of whimsy and his southern roots. Don’t just go by the photos below or those he shared in A Tribute to Big Momma’s Garden … read his words. His descriptions make his gardens so much richer.

Lee willingly toiled in his outdoor spaces, doing much by hand and sweat-equity. He understood that working in one’s garden brings a greater knowledge of the forces at play – light and shadow, wind and water, natures creatures, the seasons – and how each force works to create space. Lee studied his landscape while outside in it and from within his home so he could create views and venues that pleased his eye in all seasons. Yet, he recognized that gardeners are merely small designers; that Mother Nature always has the last say.

I cannot speak to other aspects of Lee’s personality though, through our few shared encounters, his warmth, love of his wife Lyn, his appreciation of living life fully, and his genuine attention to each human encounter, was more than evident. I can only speak to Lee’s passion for gardening. It was a passion that spoke to me, and it is this conversation that I will miss.

Please take time to appreciate Laurrie’s view of Lee’s Connecticut garden and, do yourself a favor, read through Lee’s blog for a glimpse at his passion for gardening, and for life.

Leeks – You Can Grow That!

Being no stranger to growing plants in the Allium family – onions, scallions, garlic, chives, and many ornamentals – leeks had always scared me off. It certainly was not their flavor, which I love. It was the supposed extra care – hilling soil around the growing stalks – that caused me to leave leeks off my garden list of edibles. Boy was I wrong! Leeks are a great You Can Grow That! edible plant.

You Can Grow That! is a monthly blogging meme started by C.L. Fornari – she blogs at Coffee for Roses – to encourage anyone, novice or seasoned gardener, to stick their hands in the soil to grow something. Having grown plants for nearly 40 years, I’m still amazed by the power in each tiny seed.

I start seeds indoors, under lights, every spring. Each year, to expand my knowledge, I try growing at least one new plant or variety. Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum) were my 2014 choice; the King Richard variety offered by Botanical Interests. I started two small flats in early March and grew them under lights until night temperatures in my zone 6 Connecticut garden remained above the hard freeze level. That’s when the leeks went into the mini-greenhouse in a protected, full-sun location. They moved to their summer home, a raised-bed, sometime in late May.

I planted the thin seedlings into a six-inch deep trench dug into the soil of the raised bed, then gently hilled soil up around the small transplants, leaving some of the green ends above soil level. After watching, watering, and waiting, the seedlings had grown enough to hill even more soil around the growing stalks. This is done to obtain the long white-flesh area – the edible part – at the base of each stalk. As the leeks grew, occasionally mounding more soil around each stalk took little time and effort. Once the soil was mounded to a total of 8 to 9 inches (remember, they were planted in 6-inch deep trenches), I added 2 inches of shredded straw to help keep soil moisture even and prevent weed growth.

For the rest of the growing season I pretty much ignored the leeks. By the time I harvested a couple in early autumn, they had grown quite large. Still, I left most in the ground for later harvest.

Leeks, harvested Thanksgiving week in sough-central Connecticut.

Leeks, harvested Thanksgiving week in south-central Connecticut.

Here’s how they looked when harvested right before Thanksgiving. The center leek is actually a bit more mature than recommended. The aim is to harvest before the ends begin to bulb.

There’s about a half-dozen more still in the raised bed, which is now covered as a mini hoop house for extra cold-weather protection. I expect to be harvesting leeks well into the winter.

These beauties were so easy to grow, and took up so little raised-bed real estate, that their now on my yearly edible plant list. And … they are delicious, imparting a mild oniony flavor to foods.

Northern gardeners can start leek seeds inside 8 to 10 weeks before the average last frost. After risk of a killing freeze passes, transplant leeks, 4-6 inches apart, into a trench at least 6 inches deep. Water regularly and mound soil up around growing plants as noted above. Gardeners in milder climates can sow leeks outdoors in spring for fall harvest or in late summer for harvesting the following spring.

For more growing suggestions, head to the You Can Grow That! website and read about other great edible and ornamental plants to grow. Then sit back and dream of all you could do in next year’s garden.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Joene Hendry