Sunday, January 22, 2012

Springtime Flowers

Our weather here in Texas has been on again/off again with temperatures. Today it is 77 degrees, cloudy and windy. What I detest most about this time of year is the dreariness of it all. But today I found some color in my backyard.

This sweet little blue flower, commonly known as speedwell (Veronica arvensis) can be found throughout the US. It is native to Europe and is one of the earliest plants to bloom in the spring. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs).

Common chickweed (Stellaria media) is also native to Europe and found throughout the US. The five petals (corolla) of this flower are deeply noticed so it looks as if there are 10 petals. The fruit sticks to clothing, hair and skin thus carried and deposited everywhere. The plant is one of the ingredients of a symbolic dish consumed in the Japanese spring-time festival, Nanakusa-no-sekku.

And then there is the common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). The deeply toothed leaves give the plant its name in Old French: Dent-de-lion means lion's tooth. Each flower head consists of hundreds of tiny ray flowers. Dandelion leaves are edible and should be collected in early spring, when they're the tastiest. Harvest again in late fall. Some people eat the greens from spring to fall, when they're very bitter. Others boil out the summer bitterness (and water-soluble vitamins) in two changes of water. I guess it is all a matter of preference. Flowers are edible or can be made into wine (now we’re talking).The modern French name for this plant is pissenlit (lit means bed). Ahem, the root and leaf tea act as a gentle diuretic.

So small but so pretty - I had to use an old glass ink well for my arrangement!

Monday, January 16, 2012

It's January . . .Let's Garden

I absolutely love the cold weather . . . . almost as much as the growing seasons. I can sit by the fire, hot cocoa in hand, perusing the gardening catalogs and dreaming of gardens abloom this summer. Do dreams come true? 

I have a couple of garden journals that I kept during last year. The first is just a note pad I made that I take into the garden for sketches and notes.  The second is one I got from Gooseberry Patch which includes helpful garden hints, whimsical garden plans, lots of handy pockets for seed packets and recipes fresh from the garden. 

The last is my favorite - Ladies in the Garden. It is a month to month growing guide for the organic garden. It is even signed by the author! The journals remind me of what works well and what needs to go. 

Holly contemplates the location of the iris
Now with leaves gone, I can see the “bare bones” of the garden.  So I make big plans. Sometimes, my plans are bigger than my back can handle.

I am wondering if my idea of a garden needs to change. Gardens aren’t all about color but also about texture, movement, light and dark. I am thinking of scoping out places for a fern dell and shade garden. Maybe a bog or rain garden. . .that is IF we ever get any rain in the spring and summer.

I have already planted the onions, broccoli and cabbage. Potatoes can go in next this month as well as transplants of cilantro and dill. My Bright Lights Swiss Chard adds wonderful color to a dismal area and is good to eat too!

Now is the time I must inventory the garden tools. It is time to sharpen garden shovels and hoes. All garden implements need to be checked to see if all are in working order, sharp and well-oiled. Do I need new gloves, hoses and loppers? Does the wheelbarrow tire need air?

So much to do and so little time. I must finish perusing the catalogs; order plants, check implements, plan the garden, dream of butterflies all the while singing, “Doing the garden, digging the weeds, who could ask for more? Will you still need me; will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?” The Beatles, 1967.

Well I guess I should get off my duff, put the hot cocoa aside and get to work.