Tag Archives: plant nurseries

I slake my thirst with gardens.

Way back in October, I think, was the last time a certain one of my favorite plant nurseries was open — until Saturday, when I drove over for the reopening. The retail aspect is a small part of a larger sustainable agriculture/ecological/educational project, and is only open on weekends in the warmer months. Over the years I’ve bought lots of annual vegetables there, but lately they focus on perennial edibles and and medicinal plants.

It’s a beautiful drive, out into the more rural areas of my county. I remembered to wear my sun hat to keep my scalp from burning, but when I got into the nursery area itself there was netting all over above, which probably made it unnecessary. Passionflowers bloomed like stars up there.

For an hour I got a huge rush of excitement and energy, as I saw more and more species of perennial salvias and echinacea species that I could take home and add to my pollinator garden. Echinacea Purpurea, Pallida, and Paradoxa. Salvia hians (Kashmir Sage), Salvia forsskaolii, Clary Sage and Dune Sage. The forsskaolii, or Indigo Woodland Sage, I used to have in my “old” garden, but it didn’t survive the transition. None of the new plants is in bloom yet so I’ll show them later after they are revealed in their fullness.

There was one plant that I had no desire to bring home for my garden, though they say it is grown worldwide as an ornamental. That is the Porcupine Tomato:

Solanum pyracanthos

This flowering tree grows near the entrance/checkout. Does anyone know what it is?

In my own garden, June seems to have arrived early, and so suddenly… I guess that’s because I’ve been sitting around moping and confused; I know I am way behind in planting the second planter box. But the rest of the garden just went on doing its thing, and is ready to comfort me now that I desperately need it. When there is a lull in the strange high winds we’ve been having, I can sit out there and silently bake, in the company of other creations and creatures. For a few moments at a time I revel in just being.

The showy milkweed is over five feet high already, and in the back yard it’s a favorite of the bees, along with the lavender and the echium. Oh, speaking of echium, I saw my type at the nursery; I must have bought it there several years ago. It is not the Pride of Madeira-echium candicans that is more typical here. As recently as last week, though, I thought it was just an oddly growing form of it. If it were Pride of Madeira it would have blocked the path by now; good thing it’s more vertical!

See the bee on the left, against the sky?
Pretending to be real trees.
In a spring storm two branches broke off.
Back before spring had fully sprung.

At the nursery my kind was called Tower of Jewels, and just now I found a helpful site that explains all the different forms. Mine is also called Tree Echium, echium pininana. I never noticed before how the echium flowers resemble borage and my newer plant, bugloss. Well, they are all in the borage family.

echium Tower of Jewels

I took a slow-motion video of the bees out front on the germander (teucrium). In real time they seem very excited, almost frantic, in their buzzing from flower to flower, but when I watched the video it showed their true selves as purring bee-copters taking all the time in the world, that is, the whole day and their whole short lives, to do their work.

I’m needing to take long breaks from talking this week, mostly my own, which seems like more and more idle talk. No one talks in my garden. Even the tropical birds have been moved to their new home far enough away that I can’t hear them; now I can hear the native singers’ quieter tunes and gentle chirps.

I think I was looking for a quote on a different topic this morning when I ran across this beloved one (a beloved quote? really? Yes.) from G.K. Chesterton:

Women have a thirst for order and beauty as for something physical;
there is a strange female power of hating ugliness and waste
as good men can only hate sin and bad men virtue.

Forget for a moment the reductionist nature of these ideas — most short quotes, in order to be pithy, have to focus on one or two ideas and lay aside the complexities of the subject. Just think about what we are thirsty for… (You men also thirst, naturally.) I realized just this morning — by bathing in the the sunshine and the lavender scent, the breeze and the humming — and this afternoon, by speaking briefly about it with a wise person, that the very concrete realness, the materiality of my garden satisfies something. Maybe my garden has to do double-duty right now because of the recent lack of human touching.

How it helps me pray… I don’t need to figure out that mystery. I just want to enter in.

On Passover afternoon, ten days ago now, we had Kneeling Vespers of Pentecost. Almost everyone took part at home, but I live close to the church and I drove over in hopes that there would be few enough of us that I could participate indoors. My hope was realized! I’m sharing this picture because of the golden sunshine. May God fill us with His light!

Trying to befriend borage.

Everyone I have ever talked to about borage tells me how it self-sows enthusiastically. The several plants I’ve set into my garden in the last few years all died without reproducing, almost without blooming. So today when I stopped by a favorite garden center I bought  one more plant… I might beg some from friends again, too, but I wanted to get on with trying.

I bought pansies and poppies and kale and pak choi… last night my friend Sophia gave me seeds and gardening gloves, so I’ll have plenty to do when the rain lets up.

On my way out to the car I noticed a large area near the lot that was planted with borage, and I walked over that way to admire. Of course, this borage was acting normally; it had spread hither and yon and bees were  busy drinking from the underside of the flowers as from umbrellas. I got my first bee picture of 2019 — at least, most of a bee. 🙂

I didn’t make my exit, though, until I’d also explored as far as the two rows of apples on the other side of the lot. This part of the county resembles the fields and vineyards I’m used to, in that yellow flowers are brilliant right now, between rows of trees or grapes, or along roadsides. But instead of the usual mustard, here there was sourgrass (oxalis) blooming for miles and miles.

I knew it was a tiny apple orchard through which I was picking my way, through the mud and dripping grasses (in my church clothes), because — squish! I looked down to see that I had stepped on an apple and broken through its tenderized skin to the thoroughly rotten insides.

The next time I show you a photo of borage,
I hope it will be of a robust plant in my own garden!

Spring Plants Come Home

It was a bit of a drive this morning, to get to the spring organic plant sale at an “ecology center” I’d never visited before. My main reason for going was to get tomato plants that are grown and tested in a place that is of a similar climate to us; I don’t want another Pitiful Tomato Summer. Oh, our tri-color cherry tomatoes saved us last year, but all the space and attention we gave to the regular tomatoes was not equal to the reward.

I was a little puzzled as to why they were having their sale so early; we never plant tomatoes until the first of May. But I thought I could just keep the plants under cover for another couple of weeks. As it turns out, I won’t have to do that, because when I arrived at the sale right after it started at 9 a.m., I couldn’t find what should have been a giant collection of tomato plants. “We will sell those at our next sale, May 1st,” a staff person told me. Aha! I hadn’t nosed around long enough on the website to learn all I needed to know.

My trip was not for nought, however. I’m glad for my error; otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered going there. I’d have missed the lovely drive under clouds, along fields spotted with Spanish Broom. This plant always reminds me of a time when Pippin was a toddler and I’d pack her on the back of my bicycle in the mornings to ride for a few miles along banks of broom in bloom, our heads filling with the sweet scent as we breezed by.

Today I also saw one of the remaining fields of fava beans. I love how these grow almost secretly all winter, and then when we emerge from our winter dens they are already tall and robust. Along with asparagus and artichokes, they used to keep my former (bigger) garden busy until we were ready to plant more tender things. I forgot to take my camera, so I found the fava pic on the Internet.

Even though there were no tomatoes, I found several enticing items to spend my money on, what with so many healthy looking young specimens spread out on tables under trees.

As long as we’ve lived in our current place, I have been unsuccessful at growing New Zealand Spinach from seed. Though it’s not a true spinach, I really appreciated it in the past for the way it grows all the hot summer long and is handy to toss into any dish where you want the flavor of spinach. As I recall, I mostly used it in Creamy Green Soup, a Laurel’s Kitchen cookbook recipe. My gardener-heart rejoiced to see a six-pack of my old friends, so I snatched that up first thing.

After a friend gave me a cutting once, I had rose geraniums propagating all over the yard for several years. But they had all died; I brought this one home to parent a new generation.

I bought some bachelor’s buttons, which I don’t recall growing before, and a Hummingbird Sage, which I might plant at church instead of home.

And three little pots each holding a different type of flat-leafed parsley! In the picture you can see a fourth little pot on the left, of Copper Fennel. Don’t know what I’ll do with that, other than chew on the feathery leaves if there are enough of them.

To get back to my car, I had to hike up a steep hill, carrying my box of plants. That was a good thing; I knew at the outset not to choose too big a box, or I’d have to make two trips.

Close to the plant sale is a nursery that I don’t get to very often, so I had to stop in there, to see if they had snapdragons and stock in the colors I wanted. They did! And they had several other things that begged to go with me, which I was kind enough to arrange.

When I got home I took a picture of the whole caboodle. Oh, but that was after I stopped at another nursery closer by, just to see if they had any taller snapdragons yet, which they didn’t.

Rain was beginning to fall, so I decided to just go home and write my report on my morning. I’ve been up since Mr. Glad’s alarm went off at 5:20, and before I went plant shopping I swam at the gym. So I’m almost worn out already.

Yesterday my young church friend C. worked with me in the garden here for almost two hours, and it helped me tremendously to have a willing and diligent companion as I broke through the months-long growth of mammoth weeds.

C. carried dozens of loads of pulled weeds to the garbage can, and cleared layers of pine needles from the path and off the cyclamen and manzanita. He never stopped moving, even while he told me all about his favorite books and movies, and about cartoon characters he has created. I’m going to try to have him at least twice a month, as a concession to my aging body that hurts and slows down when I abuse it by stooping, pulling, hauling and pruning for more than a couple of hours at a time. He might help me with housework, too. But this week we stuck to the garden and even planted some lilies.