The distancing requirements or the Covid-19 virus have prevented NCTV from filming “A Walk in the Garden with Liz Davey” at my home. In spite of the restrictions on all of us, all of our gardens continue to grow. I want to share a few of the things I am doing outdoors in my gardens and some of the recipes I am making in early June using produce I have picked. Since I can’t be with you live just yet, I have put together a photo scrapbook to show you what is going on in my garden and at my home.
Until just before the very end, May continued to be chilly with several very cold nights. I was slow in moving plants outdoors and it turned out to be a good decision. Even some of my perennials that are usually very hardy were nipped by the frost. The Clematis “Guernsey Cream” (left) on my front lamp post lost all of the buds on one side, but still managed in the past few weeks to put on a nice show. I worried about my tree peonies, (two on left below) but they came through the cold and had beautiful blossoms again this year, along with azaleas and rhododendrons (two right below) that are currently finishing their floral show. Now, just after blooming, is the time to prune spring blooming shrubs. If you wait until fall, you will prune off buds for next year’s flowers.
Once the weather warmed up, the gardens responded with a burst of amazing growth and the succession of blooms started throughout the gardens. That left me scrambling to get plants in the ground, the first weeding done and mulches put down while there was still space around the plants.
I added some rosemary, lemon verbena, lemon grass and pineapple sage at the end of May once things started to warm-up. Parsley, cilantro, dill, basil, lemon mint, lemon basil and thai basil have been planted as seeds in the vegetable garden and all of them have germinated. It will be some time before they are ready to use. In the meantime, we are enjoying the perennial herbs from the herb garden: chives, thyme, mint, sage, oregano and tarragon, to name a few. In the vegetable garden there is parsley from last year which is usable until it goes to seed, several large lovage plants, and also some “volunteers” - plants that reseeded from last year: dill, borage and cilantro. I have started to preserve some herbs by drying. Pictured below are the herb garden and a small bunch of oregano, held together by a rubber band and hung to dry in my dining room.
The spring flowers lasted a long time in the cool weather, but by now the foliage of the crocus and tulips has browned and can be removed. The daffodil foliage continues to be green. It needs to be left to dry and brown on its own to provide the bulb below with energy for next year’s blooms, but it can become an eyesore. One solution is to plant something nearby that can cover the dying foliage. Daylilies can work well for this purpose as they expand as the daffodils decline. Lilies are not yet blooming but I am monitoring them frequently for red lily beetles. Any found are destroyed before they can do much damage or lay eggs.
The tree peonies short bloom period is over, but many more flowers are in bloom including several varieties of allium –ornamental onions. Some are tall and some are short. Colors include purple, white and pink.They are unattractive to pests and deer.
Iris has been particularly beautiful this year. I have both bearded iris and Siberian Iris. Other plants in bloom in include early daisies, dianthus, collumbines, and baptisia. Also blooming right now is a plant that was new last year: gas plant. It is a plant loved by pollinators and said to exude a flamable gas on a hot day. I have not confirmed this yet. Canadian lilac in pink blooms later than most other lilacs.
Bearded Iris - ‘Beverly Sills’ – unknown purple – ‘Immortality’
Siberian Iris – ‘Roaring Jelly’ – unknown white
Columbines – ‘Nora Barlow’ (right above) does not have spurs on the blossoms.
left to right: Perennial Geranium ‘Brookside’, Canadian Lilac, Gas Plant
The picture to the left shows four different perennial plants. The tall blue spikes are boltonia, mid-left in the picture is miniture iris foliage. At the right is a bulb called nectaroscordum AKA Italian nectar garlic. I enjoy the tall pink bell cluster flowers and as an allium relative, it is pest free. In the lower part of the picture is phlomis which will soon bloom with yellow whorls along the stalk.
Soon to bloom are the rosed, poppys and herbaceous peonies. I have several varieties of each and they are all heavy with buds.
Early June is a very colorful time in the perennial garden.
Hosta plantings have matured in the shade garden and ferns are abundant. I continue to add slug control pellets around the plants and spray them every week or two with deer and rabbit repellent. Native hardy geraniums are currently in bloom along with the last blooms of bleeding heart. Red flowering Chestnut is a small tree for shade that has long red blooms in June.
Hosta - (left to right) ‘June’ – ‘Striptease’ – ‘Pineapple Upsidedown Cake’
Ferns: Cinnamon Fern – (left to right) ‘Northern Maidenhair Fern - Japanese Painted Fern
left to right – Bleeding Heart – Native Perennial Geranium – Red Fowered Chestnut
I continue to add natural enzyme products to the pond to help break down organic material so that the filtration in the waterfall and skimmer can remove it. The fish are now being fed regularly and requre more food on hot days. I have added the tropical plants that I overwinterd to the pond. They do not look great, but hopefully with some fertilizer for water plants and warm weather they will grow more healthy foliage. There are two species of frogs that inhabit the pond and area around it: green frogs and leopard frogs. In addition the shade garden has plenty of toads. They all help keep insect populations under control naturally.
The peas are climbing the fence and are starting to blossom. We are enjoying the early planted arugula and lettuce in salads. Repeat plantings of both will I hope provide salads all summer.
Tomatoes and tomatillos have been planted in cages in the garden and the cages have been supported with stakes. Cabbage, kale, broccoli and Brussels sprout seedlings, started indoors, have been planted along with the seeds of herbs, greens, carrots, beans and summer squash and zucchini. Once the seeds sprouted, straw was laid down as mulch to cut down on weeding and help hold in moisture.
The strawberries’ blossoms were saved from frost with Remay covers and berries are starting to ripen. Now, I have placed some fine netting over them to help keep out the birds and chipmunks, who love the berries as much as we do. Rhubarb is still fine for picking. Any seed heads it forms are removed so that the energy can go to its roots and stalks. The early raspberry bushes are blossoming, while the later variety continues to expand in height.
Most of the indoor plants have become outdoor plants! The cuttings that were nurtured over the winter are now in containers. Usually I am able to suppliment them with annuals I purchase at various nurseries. This year I have only been able to buy a few plants due to Covid’s “stay at home” requirement, so the cuttings have been particularly welcome as have been the many impatiens plants that I started from seeds. Wintered over and divided pineapple lilies are starting to bloom outside. The brightly colored Caladium bulbs started indoors on a heat mat are ready to move outside to planters and shady garden spots. They like a really warm soil, so they are one of the last plants I move outside.
IN THE KITCHEN
As I start using the produce from my garden, I’m trying a few new recipes I’ve found online and in some of my cookbooks.
Rhubarb and Ginger Jam
I made this yummy jam from a recipe I found online. Once I converted from the original metric measurements, it was very easy to make. Instead of just refrigerating the jam as the recipe suggested (and which would be fine to do!), I did seal and process it in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes for longer storage.
- 4 cups rhubarb, chopped
- 1/4 cup candied ginger, finely chopped
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Place the rhubarb and ginger in a bowl, add sugar and lemon juice and let set for 2-3 hours to get the juices flowing.
Transfer to a large saucepan and heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 6 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking. Take off heat and test a few drops on a cold plate; if it is tacky it is ready. If not, boil for 2 more minutes and repeat. Fill sterilized canning jars, seal and process for 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Makes 2 half-pints, plus some extra for tasting.
Salmon Salad with Creamy Chive Dressing and Flat Bread
I made this dinner salad on one of the hot and humid evenings we have had already this month.
The salad used a mixture of lettuce and arugula from the garden – triple washed and spun dry. I added thinly sliced shallots, chopped black olives, julienned carrots, and a little chopped parsley. Grilled Salmon was flaked and added along with half a hard boiled egg per salad. Each bowl was topped with the chive dressing. The salad was served with a glass of white wine and buttered grilled flat bread, easily made from a King Arthur Flour online recipe and cooked on the outdoor griddle as the salmon grilled. It was a wonderful summer meal!
Buttermilk Chive Dressing
The dressing recipe is from Joanne Chang’s “Flour, too” cookbook. Though this dressing uses chives, I am sure it would also be good using other herbs or a mixture of herbs: dill, parsley, thyme,tarragon, etc.
Combine in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth:
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 Tablespoons mayonaise
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ cup minced chives