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Archive for June, 2008

sweet

Adj.
An intensive used to express satisfaction, acceptance, pleasure, excellence, exaltation, approval, awe, or reverence. When used individually, the level of satisfaction expressed is most often directly proportionate to the duration of the vowel sound. Source: The Urban Dictionary

The cutting gardenThe cutting garden
This post’s original title was The Hanging, Cutting Garden but even though accurate, it sounded morbid, even creepy to me (and perhaps you, too) so I quickly deleted it in the second draft.

And yes, describing sweet peas as “sweet” is redundant, but I’m going to use the term because…
Sweet peas not yet awake

… it’s sweet (ie., satisfying, pleasant, excellent, I feel exultant!) to:
1) finally report on a successful gardening experiment,
2) look at the view outside my patio doors,
3) cut a few fresh blossoms every couple of days — even though I have to climb on a ladder to do this, and
4) sniff their delicate scent — and I mean deeply inhale.

Good morning, Sweet Peas

A pair of ‘Explorer’ Sweet Pea flowers

Some gardening notes to self for next growing season:

1) Try other varieties. Renee’s Garden Seeds has an excellent selection of sweet pea varieties including container varieties.

2) Grow ‘Explorer’ in pots at deck level and the trailing varieties in the hanging baskets.

3) Follow Renee’s tips for success:
Sowing seeds directly into the garden

Starting seeds indoors and transplanting

Secrets to Sweet Pea Success

4) Grow more sweet peas and fewer nasturtiums. To make room for the sweet peas, I had to give my Mom 75% of the nasturtium seedlings I started.

5) I’m amending #4 to “Grow more sweet peas AND nasturtiums and share the surplus.”

6) Immerse myself in the literature on Lathyrus odoratus, especially The Sweet Pea Book by Graham Rice. The Google Books preview includes excerpts on dwarf sweet peas (page 27) and growing sweet peas in containers (page 31). Based on the preview and rave reviews, I added this “beautifully illustrated and poetically written” book to my wish list.

Happy Green Thumb Sunday, everyone. What adjectives and other flowery words do you use to describe your favourite garden plants? I’d love to know.

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First rose of summer 2

On the way to work this Solstice morning, I claimed this blossom as my first rose of summer. This pink beauty is blooming in a back alley amidst “thorns” of debris, dirt, and the noise and rush of traffic (garbage trucks, taxis, commuters late for work). Perhaps we need and appreciate it more in this setting than a carefully tended garden so its sweet scent and lovely face can delight the senses and calm the busy, fretful mind.

Now here’s a true solstice garden for you to enjoy: Summer Solstice – from the heart, from the earth. It’s worth clicking on the link to visit this award-winning garden. Here’s an excerpt from the page’s text. I’m going to quote some these words when asked why I garden:

I conceived this garden as a living illustration of our philosophy that farming, and growing plants, leads to a richer, more fulfilling life. Cultivation of the soil puts us in touch with nature, and through nature, I think we achieve a sense of spiritual connection, too. A gardener who grows what he eats has a feeling of belonging, which is precious and irreplaceable. Being in harmony with the seasons, and respecting the soil itself, brings meaning to our alienating modern world. I hope our garden will inspire people – and especially children – to discover the feel of pushing a seed into the soil; the excitement of that first tiny green shoot; the wonderful taste of something just picked from the earth. It’s our chance to re-establish our connection with the rhythms of nature; to grow, and give thanks for, our daily bread.

Summer Solstice marks the first day of summer. It is also the longest day of the year. It is the time of year when the soil and nature work in harmony to produce an abundance of crops, fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers.

-Carole Bamford, founder Daylesford Organic

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First sweet peas

Sweet Peas 'Explorer Mixed'

Sigh, sigh and sniff. Three of my audible, if not quite verbal, responses today. The first sigh, this morning, was one of dismay: another unseasonably chilly, gray June day. The second sigh, this afternoon, was one of contentment: the sweet peas on my balcony are starting to bloom. And the sniff — well that’s me this evening, inhaling the delicate scent of the blossoms in a vase on my computer desk.

Here are sweet peas, on tiptoe for a flight:
With wings of gentle flush o’er delicate white,
And taper fingers catching at all things,
To bind them all about with tiny rings

from I stood tip-toe upon a little hill by John Keats (1795–1821)

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Cornus canadensis

Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry, Dwarf Dogwood)

Yesterday during a late morning walk in Pacific Spirit Regional Park, I turned a corner of Swordfern Trail and unexpectedly came across a bunch of bunchberries. A happy meeting between thriving, flowering plants and delighted human. We spent a few moments together face-to-face, sometimes with a camera lens in-between.

At home later, I wanted to learn more about Cornus canadensis so I consulted my favourite book on native flora and found a few new online resources. I especially like the description at Paghat’s garden:

This dogwood (Cornus canadensis) only grows to around eight inches tall. If you get down on your belly, a patch of it looks like the tiniest imaginable dogwood forest. The leaves are the same, the flowers are the same, everything about it is like a big dogwood, only teency.

A shade-loving Northwest native woodland groundcover, it can be a bit fragile in gardens if its needs are imperfectly met, but spreads by underground runners & by seeds thriving marvelously if it finds itself in the right situation.

Yes, fragile…and eventually dead. This is one of those native woodland plants I wanted in my balcony garden a few years ago. But C. canadensis needs moist, shady, cool conditions and prefers to grow near rotting stumps. So unsuitable for my balcony — like trying to grow a fern in the desert. Today I am more than content — I actually prefer — to appreciate their beauty in their natural habitat.

Here are three more excellent links for botanical facts:

Bunchberries of British Columbia (UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research)
Boreal Forest
Cornus canadensis (from Flora, Fauna, Earth and Sky: The Natural History of the North Woods)

Note: Bunchberries are edible so I can legitimately include them on this blog if not in my actual edible balcony garden.

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