Adventures in flora, fauna, food, and the great unknown.

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Tuesday tacos and Friday flowers

My fiancé has reminded me that I’ve been neglecting this blog, so here I am not neglecting it. The sedums (and vinca) are growing nicely in the window boxes, and the city is alive with new green life. I always love the contrast of dark, damp soil from April and May rains and the bright green of new buds.

I’m really pleased with the way the sedums and vinca are coming in. The vinca is already past its prime flowering time, it seems.

There’s plenty budding inside, too. Earlier this spring, I planted just over 15 herbs and other small plants into mason jars. Assuming that they keep growing well (a few have died, but many of them seem to be happy enough), these will be the centerpieces at out wedding. See my last post for details on what was planted.

The plant life that’s really been captivating my attention recently, though, has been my Friday flowers. Every Friday, after work, I’ve been dropping by the florist section of a local supermarket and picking up something from their $4 selection. They aren’t the best plants around, but they really do brighten the room. We all deserve to have nice things. Besides—we didn’t register for a fancy vase for nothing!

Last week’s selection. We had the same flower in a different color the previous week, but they didn’t last more than a week. These are still going strong, so I moved them into the smaller vase in the kitchen.

This week’s pick. Anything daisy-like seems to last for two weeks easily, so I try to get these every so often. It’s nice when we can have flowers both in the living room (as here) and the kitchen (above).

In the food realm, I haven’t had time to do much experimenting (or even bake any bread), but I have at least been attempting to give us a healthier, more well-rounded diet. (It’s easy to just default to pasta when things are as hectic as they have been.) This plus a random craving lead to what I hope will not be a one-off event: Taco Tuesday.

Who doesn’t love taco night? We kept it simple, but delicious—ground beef, lettuce, tomato, salsa, sour cream, jalapeños, and of course tortilla chips for extra munching.

After dinner, there was a bit of shredded lettuce left over. Emerson wasn’t complaining.

Taco Tuesdays: Bunny-approved.


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Say hello to the sedums!

It’s spring, which means I’ve been itching to get my hands into the dirt. Unfortunately, this will be another garden-less year for me, but that doesn’t mean that my window boxes can’t provide a bit of color and inspiration. I’d pulled the coleus out late in the fall, and the dusty miller looked so sad that I pulled it over the weekend. The poor things never had a chance under the coleus, which grew so beautifully that it overshadowed (literally) everything else.

For that reason, I figured I’d stick to two plant types per pot this year. The vinca survived just fine (with just a few dead-looking areas), but I wasn’t sure what would be it’s roommate until I showed up at the garden center this weekend. It’s early yet, so there wasn’t much out, but I did spot some sedums, which caught my eye—specifically, Stonecrop ‘Mediovariegatum’ (Sedum alborosum). I was hoping for a perennial that would survive the winter in my pots, so we’ll see how these do.

The old vinca (which is sprouting and flowering!) and newly planted sedum.

The other reason for the trip to the garden center was that I’ve been planning on growing some plants in mason jars to use as centerpieces at my wedding in September. The original idea was ivy or some other quick-growing groundcover, but I wasn’t thrilled with the large trays of ivy when I saw them. However, I did find some nice little potted plants for sale, so I picked out a little over a dozen that looked good to me. There are a few duplicates, but for the most part each table will have a unique plant. I can’t wait to see how they all grow! (As always, click for larger images.)

Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum), Myrtle (Vinca minor), Vinca minor 'Bowles', Bronze Beauty (Ajuga ?), and Rockfoil 'Purple Robe' (Saxifraga x arendsii).

Two each of Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Speedwell 'Georgia Blue' (Veronica ?), and Snow-in-Summer (Cerastium tomentosum).

As you can see, I did still end up with some ivy—a lighter-colored, healthier looking plant than what was in the larger trays.

This poor little blog has gotten the short stick lately because of my schedule, but I’ll try to post some progress pictures later in the season.

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Gardening in Massachusetts

Since I’m essentially new to gardening—unless you count years of helping out with the impatiens and rhododendrons at home as a kid—I’ve been looking into books about gardening. My initial search turned up two solid options related directly to gardening in Massachusetts, both of which I ordered: The Massachusetts Gardener’s Companion: An Insider’s Guide to Gardening from the Berkshires to the Islands (Barbara Gee) and The Boston Globe Illustrated New England Gardening Almanac (Carol Stocker). Later, I also stumbled across a used copy of The New Gardener (Pippa Greenwood) in a local independent bookstore, the Brookline Booksmith. I’ve finished Massachusetts Gardener’s Companion already, and it will definitely be a great reference for when I have the opportunity to get a community garden plot. The chapters on soil and vegetable gardening were especially interesting to me, but each chapter has tons of useful information.

The beginnings of a library.

The New England Gardening Almanac mixes short essays on various topics (e.g., designing a moon garden) with week-by-week advice on what to do with various parts of your garden. From what I’ve skimmed, I think the advice in here will be really useful, but I also see myself using this book as a source of inspiration and ideas for things I’d like to try. The abundance of pictures helps, but the chronological (rather than topical) arrangement of the book encourages a different kind of browsing.

Quite possibly the best place to start, however, is The New Gardener, which really is about as basic a book about gardening you could ask for. It, too, is littered with pictures, and the brief sections cover the basics of gardening tools, garden layout  and design, paving and path making, and growing specific kinds of plants and under specific conditions. The main reason I purchased this one, though, is the chart on growing some common vegetables and the appendix on garden pests, including what the damage looks like and how to fight back. It’s definitely the most basic of the three books I found, but some of these things will prove really valuable.

Next, I’ll be looking for books on specific types of gardening (e.g., flowers versus vegetables), and collections of plants (I do have an Audubon field guide to North American wildflowers, but I’m aiming for something geared toward selecting and growing plants rather than identifying them). I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t glad to have another reason to peruse used bookstores. There are bound to be some hidden gems.