Back To The Garden

“And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden”
from the song Woodstock by Joni Mitchell
We have been away from the garden for some time. We went on a trip to Pennsylvania among other things. There has been rain in the form of thunderstorms nearly every day since we have been away. That should make the garden very happy. Let’s go check on what has happened in our absence, shall we? Above, the poke berry plants, Phytolacca americana, are flowering and setting fruit. The berries are eaten by birds, which are not affected by the toxin because the small seeds with very hard outer shells remain intact in the digestive system and are eliminated whole. This ensures the supply of poke berries for future generations of birds. In my garden, it is everywhere. I leave a few to grow to ten feet tall for them. Poke salad has been a staple of southern U.S. cuisine, despite campaigns by doctors who believed pokeweed remained toxic even after being boiled. The lingering cultural significance of Poke salad can be found in the 1969 hit song “Polk Salad Annie,” written and performed by Tony Joe White, and famously covered by Elvis Presley and the El Orbits.

On the way up to higher ground we pass the raised bed box. The grape salad tomatoes are ready for eating. The ruby chard looks ready also. The cucumber at the end on a tomato cage has given us enough fruit to make pickles. I am shopping for a canning pot today.
You can just barely see the compost bin behind all the plant material. The Joe Pye Weed, Eupatorium purpureum, tomato volunteers and tall wild sunflowers, (we have never found an ID for these) have blocked the path to the compost. Where is the machete?
The eight ball squash has gone beyond pool table size. The one on the left is like a cantalope, the smaller is like a softball. Still usuable I suppose.
Black Krim tomatoes are turning the smokey red color that gives the best flavor. They are a little cracked on top from the excess rain, but no complaints here about that.
Looking to the right is the veggie bed between the arborvitae and chamaecyparis hedges. Looks like the Golden Gem salad tomaotes will fill a bowl also.
Behind golden gem is a couple of Brandywines. Carol of May Dreams wrote about letting tomatoes ripen on the vine. I think this one qualifies. I usually try and pick the tomatoes just as they begin to turn color to save them from being pecked by the birds. The foliage of the tomato plant has probably protected this one from that sad fate.
No need of worrying about the jalapeno scare, we are loaded with them, guaranteed untainted. I am thinking of pickling some with my new canner.
Not for human consumption, too hot, the perennial pepper given as seeds from neighbors Mae and Mickey eight years ago are still growing well. I love the orange color which lasts into winter. The peppers seed themselves all over in addition to the mother plants returning each spring.

We don’t just grow food for ourselves, the large row of pyracanthas will feed many of the birds. It should be a good harvest for them this year. Click here to read the story written earlier about their abundant flowering this spring.

While in Pennsylvania we tried to inject a financial boost into the nursery economy there. We visited three locally owned establishments and made a few selections for our garden back home. In the large blue tub, I cannot say enough good things about these plastic trug/tubs, is a multi petaled white echinacea, mislabled as a pink double decker, HA, a red and orange butterfly weed and Phlox paniculata ‘Orange Perfection’. This is not what I would call orange, but what else is new? At the bottom of the photo is Coreopsis ‘Red Shift’. A daylily to the right will be featured in another post.
I also bought this nice red square pot. Inside are some green santolinas and thyme plants for the knot garden.

For the rest of this season, the coreopsis will fill the new planter nicely until I decide what to plant in there in the way of bulbs, if any.

Hey, KITTY!!!!! What are you doing outside???? That scoundrel Kitty has figured out how to open the doors that have the long door handles. How long have you been out? Bad Kitty, you better not have killed any birds! And what about Hazel? She has never been out for more that a few minutes and was terrified even then. I hope she didn’t escape when you opened the door.

Whew! Good Hazel, alarmed at what Kitty did but with enough sense, or fear, to stay inside where it is safe. That’s my baby girl, here is some love for you. Pet, stroke, scratch. Purrr.

Okay, after that little bit of excitement, on with the tour. Along the back wall the planters all have been watered by the rains and look nice and lush. The Japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ in this one, newly planted last fall is showing off for us backlit by the sun. Heucheras ‘Petite Marbles’ give a color echo to the red.

Allright! The surprise lilies, Lycoris squamigera are blooming! I love the sedum ‘Matrona’ that surrounds them. Another color echo.

Walking around to the front we see the thorn in our side at the moment, our furniture is all in these two pods sitting in the street. Argh. Double argh. A couple of weeks before our
PA wedding trip , our kitchen sink developed a leak at the shut off valve. A puddle of water on the floor and quick action by a plumber fixed the leak that night. But the oak flooring was buckled by the water standing on it, even for only a few hours. Industrial fans and same size dehumidifier dried it out, but the damage to the floor boards remained. Our insurance company decided the floor needed replacing in the kitchen and because the whole floor of the main house is continuous to the kitchen, the whole thing would have to be sanded and refinished. What a nightmare. We had to move to a hotel and are still there. The work is almost done, however, and most of our goods are back in the house. We may get to go back in a couple more days.

Here is the new floor. It matches the honey maple kitchen cabinets better than before and looks great. I have to say to anyone within hearing distance DO NOT PUT HARDWOOD FLOORS IN THE KITCHEN. Just for your information.

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48 Responses to Back To The Garden

  1. Nancy J. Bond says:

    As soon as I saw your title, I was singing that line. 🙂 Guess that dates us, doesn’t it? Everything is lush and thriving in your garden — your time away didn’t seem to be detrimental, that’s for certain. The coreopsis is stunning! One of my favorites.

  2. tina says:

    Beautiful walk thru the gardens and those floors are great. I thought the first ones were too!

  3. Frances, says:

    Hi Nancy J., HA I guess that makes us oldies but goodies, or all oldies all of the time! It's still a great song and I will always love Joni Mitchell. That coreopsis is huge although only in a one gallon pot. It will fill the container nicely and the reds are yet another color echo. ;-> Thanks for dropping by, I am always glad to see you.

    Hi Tina, thanks. We loved the other floor too, but his new color is a better match to the cabinets. The floor guys sanded a spot in the kitchen and put various colors of stain right in the room for me to choose. The lighting, etc. let me see exactly how it would look. They thinned Sedona Red with a three parts thinner to one part stain for that look. It is perfect.

  4. Perennial Gardener says:

    First off it looks like your garden survived without you. It looks great! All your veggies mades me hungry. 😉 And the blooms are looking great, good selections on new plants for the garden. I love that white echinacea with it’s multi-petals. Gorgeous! The floors look great in your kitchen, hopefully you can move back in soon. 🙂

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Oh my gosh Frances, you have certainly been on an emotional roller coaster these past few weeks. The only good thing about the floor is that the thing busted before you departed for PA and it didn’t run the entire time you were gone.

    Your garden looks so lush after all the rain. I love seeing the overviews.

    I guess your Kitty thought she needed a walk about with all the commotion going on inside.

    That trough is just to die for. I love the plants you have in it. It all looks great.

  6. Frances, says:

    Hi Perennial, thanks. The rain made all the difference with the garden, especially the containers. I was watering them everyday before we left just to keep things alive. Back home soon.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for showing the silver lining. I hadn't thought about what if that happened while we were gone! It wouldn't be just the floor replaced. That Kitty, he is too smart for his britches. Luckily Hazel is not. ;-> I love the troughs too. Maybe more could be in the making once I get caught up, if that ever happens.

  7. Gail says:

    Frances, I wish Woodstock was playing in my head, instead it is Polk Salad Annie…gatters got your Granny…chomp chomp! Thank you very much! It’s actually kind of fun.
    I think your garden looks wonderful and am I still feeling envious of your daily afternoon showers! Not in the Central Basin!

    My surprise lilies came and went last week, I do love them…do you have the lycoris radiata….it’s an intense red that I love and you would, too. It blooms a bit later…hmm, I wonder if it is starting to pop up?

    The pods photo fooled me…I thought your gardened have morphed into a contemporary with concrete planters! That was going to be a big surprise.

    The floors look super and I do like the new color….and the cutting board island is wonderful! So sorry for the hassle…a nightmare of dust and work.

    A delicious post thank you for the tour and song!


  8. Frances, says:

    Hi Gail, sorry about the song, but both are good ;-> Daughter Semi ordered those radiatas, no sign on them yet though. Put them on my list. They are later than the pink ones then? Oh those pods give me heartburn everytime I drive to the house. They are empty now so maybe someone will come and get them, you would think. The fridge and stove are not hooked up or moved into place yet, the fridge worries me with the floor, our old floor got scratched by Sears on the installation. I am at the house now unpacking my stuff, I have too much stuff.

  9. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    There is no such thing as a pepper that is too hot! We'd eat them. This is my first time growing jalapenos, so I need to know, how can you tell when they're ready to be picked? We want to eat them fresh & we want to pickle some.
    Your photo of the Pokeberries reminds me of the magnificient specimen I saw at the Morton Arboretum as part of a class. Pokeweed is one statuesque plant.
    Glad you got your floor finished.

  10. Skeeter says:

    Wow how the garden thrives with nothing but rain!
    Bad Kitty! We recently had a new front door installed complete with new door knobs. Saint wanted the European long handled ones but I knew better. My girls are way too smart for that! Hazel could pass for my Cheetah’s twin! Well, when my Cheetah has fur, she recently had her Fur Cut. Mean mommy.

    Yikes, we have wood floors in kitchen AND Bathroom! Fingers crossed here while shaking in boots, well moccasins… Hot water heater was an issue for us but we fix…

    Beautiful pictures and enjoy them as always! I bet with all the hassles, it is still good to be back home and in the garden…

  11. Frances, says:

    Hi MMD, thanks. The jalapenos are ready whenever you are, they can be picked whenever you want. They turn bright red when fully ripe and can stay on the plant a long time. I bought canning supplies today, first time for me, big pot with insert, jars, spices, salt and vinegar and a cookbook. The floors are done but we are still in the hotel. ;-<

    Hi Skeeter, it takes a large male cat to open the door, like Kitty. It would never occur to Hazel to even try. Hope you never have any leaks on your floors, bathroom is even scarier, ours are tiled as is the laundry and greenhouse. I wish we were back in the house, still in the hotel. Maybe Friday we can go back. The smell from the topcoat is strong and nauseating, that needs to be gone before I can go back for good.

  12. MrBrownThumb says:

    I’ve never seen that perennial pepper before. Pretty cool looking plant I thought it was a citrus before I read that it was a pepper.

  13. Frances, says:

    HI Mr. Brown Thumb, thanks for stopping by and welcome. I have not found an ID on this pepper, it goes from green to orange, no other color. It dies back to the ground, but I leave the stems to show me where they are. The rotting peppers become seedlings in the spring too and they are easily moved. Most ornamental peppers are too hot to eat, I have not tried them, so little flesh, so many seeds. They have returned reliably for eight years, same plant. Someone ought to sell it with a grand marketing scheme.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I hope you are getting a lot done; I know how leaving something unfinished may cause a slight adverse reaction to the type of day you have. The flowers you bought in PA are looking gorgeous. I hope you get bunches of seed to pass on to your gardening offspring.

    Pokeberries all around are thanking you for their well deserved recognition. My chickens enjoy them very much; Have I ever mentioned to you that they are a natural bird wormer
    ;-> ?

    Hope you are "all the way home" soon.

    Much Love,

  15. Dave says:

    Wow Frances, sorry to hear about your floors. That would be a huge inconvenience to have to live out of a hotel for several days.

    Those tomatoes look delicious! We’ve really been enjoying ours over the last week or so. It’s amazing what mayonnaise and a tomato (a good tomato)can do for a ham and turkey sandwich!

    That’s a nice coreopsis you found.

  16. Annie in Austin says:

    I’ve always been envious of people with beautiful wooden floors in their kitchens and dining rooms, Frances – but your post may have cured me of that envy! What an ordeal you’ve had – moving out of your house for just a leaky sink. Yipes.
    On the other hand, the new floor is absolutely gorgeous, and instead of pitiful remnants of tomato plants you’re photographing Black Krims and cute little squashes.
    Oops – went right back into envy mode. And hope you’re once again comfortable in your own home.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  17. Frances, says:

    Hi Chickenpoet, adverse reaction to my day? What a subtle way to put it. Almost done though, maybe back in by Friday. It will be interesting to see how the seedlings turn out from that echinacea. Good deal on the wormer for the chickens, yet another good reason to let it be in your garden. I wonder if it words on birds also.

    Hi Dave, we were eating tomato sandwiches before we had to leave our happy home. Now we have a huge backlog of produce. Time for tomato sauce and pickles. Don’t know what to do with all that squash. Thanks for the sympathy.

    Hi Annie, thanks for the envy. I don’t feel enviable right at the moment, but we will soon be back to normal. Boy, you don’t miss your water ’til the well runs dry. We are good in the tomato department, hope they don’t rot until we get to them.

  18. garden girl says:

    Hi Frances, I read your post during my lunch hour, and since then I’ve had all kinds of Woodstock-era music playing in my head. It made the afternoon go by so fast!

    I’m not telling my husband about your kitchen floor saga, as we debated for some time about what flooring would be going into our kitchen a couple of years ago, and I wanted wood. He wanted vinyl (ugh!) We compromised on porcelain tile. He wouldn’t budge on wood because of potential water damage. . . so I’m not telling him what happened to you. It might make him feel smug. 😉

    Your garden looks amazing. All that beautiful produce – I’m envious. Enjoy it, and the satisfaction of eating what you preserve. (That’s a lotta work – looks like you’ve literally got your hands full!)

  19. chuck b. says:

    We have marmoleum floors.

    Beautiful garden; I love every bit of it.

    Your composition with heuchera, blood grass and moss is a masterpiece.

  20. Eve says:

    Well, doggone it, everyone already said what I was going to say. I ate poke salad all the time as a veggie cooked in the same way you eat turnip greens. You do have to boil them for a while and pour off the water, then add fresh. They are really good.
    You garden looks wonderful. Mine is just winding down and I need to think about fall now. I think I am going to try those smokey tomatoes.
    Cutest black cat who looks so much like my Shad. All fuzzy and such eyes.

  21. Anna says:

    After moving 28 times with Air Force moves etc–I feel for ya. Stuff in boxes and being away from your comfort stuff is maddening. But your gardens are doing wonderfully. Love the picture show.

  22. Christopher C. NC says:

    No wood floors in the kitchen and bath you say. Ok I’ll scratch that choice off the list. Vinyl is out, too vinyly. Down to ceramic and Duraceramic.

    Oooh, you have the good Joe Pye. Ours is mostly pale pink to white. I have begun introducing the darker strains.

  23. Robin's Nesting Place says:

    Your floor is beautiful! Everything looks so lush and healthy in your garden.

  24. Frances, says:

    Hi Linda, thanks. I should have gone with ceramic tile. That is what is in the bathrooms, laundry and greenhouse, so easy to care for. We won’t tell your husband though, don’t want him to have the I told you so upper hand!

    Hi Chuck, I had to look up marmoleum and was impressed. It sounds great and very *green*. Christopher, are you listening? Thanks about the trough, it came out well, as did the others. I need to make more. The plantings are limited but fun and no maintenance.

    Hi Eve, thanks. Do try the Black Krim, they are delicious and the plant very vigorous. My poor Hazel frightens some non cat lovers with her looks. When she hisses, which is rarely, we laugh because she looks exactly like the classic Halloween cat.

    Oh Anna, I feel more for you having moved so many times. We have moved five times with a family of six, way too much stuff to keep track of. I am going to be streamlining as soon as we get back into the house. Goodwill, get ready!

    Hi Christopher, I love it when you say OOOH. Have you checked out Chuck’s marmoleum, it sounds good? I would go with ceramic tile if I could start over. The insurance insisted on replacing the wood with more wood. Our Joe Pye has a name, bought at a nursery, but I don’t remember what it is. I thought it was Gateway, the shorter one, although it is not what I would call short, about six feet.

    Hi Robin, thanks. The floor is better than before. It seems smoother, the color is better and the finish is satin rather than the gloss it was before. I love it. The garden is screaming at me to get it there and tame it, but I have so much work to do in the house it will have to wait.

  25. Jan says:

    Your garden looks wonderful. It seems to be at its peak, what we work all spring for. We have poke berry growing here, too, which the birds love. My sister in law had a similar situation with water and wood flooring, so I know what you are going through. Once everything is finished, you will find having a new floor is very nice.

    Always Growing

  26. Frances, says:

    Hi Jan, thanks for those encouraging words. The floor is beautiful, better than before and I am beginning to empty the hotel room today, hoping to sleep in my own bed tonight. Hooray! Apparently, the garden does not need me to grow. ;->

  27. Jean says:

    Fabulous trough, I must have it! Actually, it’s given me a great idea for dealing with my poor sad heuchera. (It’s feet are too wet right now.) Please send some of that rain further south. North Louisiana is starting to crackle with drought!

    Seriously, congrats on such a beautiful and lush garden.

  28. Frances, says:

    Hi Jean, thanks and welcome. You can make a trough like that yourself, just google hypertufa, there is tons of info about making them. Heucheras are a good choice for them too. We are getting lucky with the rain, here, I have sent you some. ;-> Whoosh! (The sound of the wand zipping through the air).

  29. Cosmo says:

    What a fabulous garden! It’s funny that you started with that lyric–Crosby, Stills and Nash were on the Colbert Report last night (and then Les the Tidewater Gardener had something about looking for David Crosby in his post). I’m so jealous of your beautiful vegetables–I think the jalapenos are a little better (guess I mean sweeter, but still hot) once they start to turn red. Welcome back!

  30. Frances, says:

    Hi Cosmo, how cool. I always loved that group and used to watch Colbert, bet it was a hoot. Good to know about the red jalapenos. They are softer when red I know. Thanks for stopping by.

  31. DP Nguyen says:

    I hope your pickles turn out. I finally succumbed and bought a canning pot after my first batch of plum jam. So now I have one for pickling… too bad my family eats all of the cucumbers before I get a dance. lol.

    i love the eight ball squash. how cool! I think I may grow that next year. It’s such a cool shape and I’m sure it’s delicious.

    The black krim tomatoes make me want to grow even larger varieties of tomatoes next year. they look good, and the cracked isn’t too bad. They will still be delicious!

    Oh! The brandywine looks excellent, so red and delicious! WOW, I’m so glad it has survived the ravage of the birds.

    Your cat is so adorable. They are smart little creatures. if they want out, they will get out! hehe. i hope she doesn’t get stuck in a tree… that would be bad. lol.

    Yikes about your kitchen sink problem. I hope you get back into your house soon.

  32. Pam/Digging says:

    Your garden missed you, I’m sure, as it put on such a show for you when you returned.

    I’m sorry about your floor incident. What a mess. However, we inherited wood floors in the kitchen with our house, and I love them. They’re so comfortable to walk or stand on, and they always look great. I’ll just have to take my chances on a future leak. I notice you didn’t replace your spoiled floors with tile. 🙂

  33. Frances, says:

    Hi DP, thanks. I bought all the stuff, talked to ladies who make pickles and other stuff every year for advice about what to buy and will begin once I get the household back in order. We are back in the house now, first night in our own bed. Hooray! Do try the Black Krims, they are so delicious. The kitties say purr about your compliment, thanks.

    Hi Pam, thanks, the garden looks good even though I haven’t done a thing for so many days. Thank goodness for the rain. The insurance did not give us the choice of other flooring, they would only restore it. I would have gotten something else. The thing I like about the wood is that it is warmer and softer as you say. If you drop something on tile, it is going to break and might even break the tile too. With the wood, it might not break and at worst might make a little ding in the wood if it is a heavy pot. I wonder about Chuck B.’s marmoleum. I liked what the website said about it.

  34. TuijaR. says:

    I love your pictures!
    Welcome to visit in my site… there is something for you.

  35. Jon says:

    I am of that “certain age” and can relate easily to this song, and it brought back happy memories. Great post! Sorry about your floor disaster..hope all will be back to normal for y’all soon.
    Jon on 8-1-08 at Mississippi Garden blog.

  36. Frances, says:

    Hi Tuijar, thanks so much and welcome. I need to figure out how to translate what you have written, but can tell it is an award. I have proudly placed it on my sidebar. Thank you so much.

    Hi Jon, that is a great song, isn’t it? We are back in the house now, but the smell from the floor is getting to me. Must go out into the garden!

  37. TuijaR. says:

    My blogs name is Roses and Weeds
    I will write for you more on sunday when i am back fron my cottage.

  38. Roses and Lilacs says:

    Frances, great blog, so much interesting stuff.

    Black Krim, on of my favorites. You’re the only other I’ve seen growing it. Love the trough! Your black kitty looks exactly like my Hocus Pocus. (I need to post his photo.) I like the red coreopsis, if I find some would to try it.

  39. Frances, says:

    Hi Tuijar, thanks. I will wait to read what the award is for. ;->

    Hi Marnie, thanks. I think Jodi at Bloomingwriter and Kim , Blackswamp Girl at A Study in Contrasts mentioned it as good early this spring. When I saw some for sale In Asheville, I grabbed one as did Mrs. Brokenbeat. I did plant it in the old compost pile, it is a monster and the fruit is so good. The Wayside catalog has the red coreopsis, saying it is more cold hardy than the other reds so I have high hopes for it. That's a cute name for your kitty, like it.

  40. Dee/reddirtramblings says:

    Wow, that is one busy garden. Whenever we go on vacation, I always come back to a garden that is just wild. Thanks for sharing yours. It looks wonderful.~~Dee

  41. Frances, says:

    Hi Dee, thanks. The garden was very busy in our absence, mostly due to nice rain. Thanks for stopping by.

  42. joey says:

    Luscious garden tour, Frances. The floors look lovely … love my hardwood kitchen floor that thankfully has been fine for almost 35 years!

  43. TuijaR. says:

    The award is for a nice *summer blog* and I thing your is just like it. Your pictures are so colourful and there is so much energy!
    I´m sorry, my enlish is not very good. I put the translator in my site… heh.. it´s also bad. 😀

  44. Frances, says:

    Hi Joey,thanks, good deal on the health of your floor. I wish I could say the same. Knock on wood! Sorry, it had to be said. ;->

    Hi Tuijar, thanks so much for putting the translation option on your blog. Like you say, it is a little off, but I get the idea and appreciate the award very much. Thanks again.

  45. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    Okay, I’m drooling. First the trough garden with the Japanese bloodgrass, then the surprise lilies (which my grandma calls resurrection lilies) and finally the beautiful butcher block in your kitchen! Isn’t it wonderful to be surrounded by such beauty?

    By the way, your picture of the pyracantha reminds me that mine needs some training and cleaning up. And the birds never did partake of the berries this winter like they did last year. I wonder why?

  46. Frances, says:

    Hi Kim, thanks. I am fortunate to live where and how we do. We usually have no berries left by spring on the pyracanthas, but we have never had this many either. I love to see a well trained pyracantha. We had one growing against a brick fireplace in Houston trained on a trellis I had made. It needed lots of pruning but that was fun.

  47. Barbee' says:

    Oh, my goodness, what a nightmare!!! When it rains it pours. I am so sorry about that for you. What an ordeal to go through. The new floor is beautiful, is the only consolation I can think of. I have caught a leak like that twice in this house in the 19 years we have been here. Just happened to see it as it started to come out into the kitchen floor; I ran and turned off the main water valve. Our plumber told us to never go out of town without turning off that main valve. He said especially if you have an ice maker for they are notorious for springing leaks. We don’t have one, but I remember we were away once when there was a bad drop in the winter temperature and pipes were expected to freeze. I was so glad we had turned off that main valve. But, when we got home from the trip, everything was ok.

  48. Frances, says:

    Hi Barbee, thanks for sharing your story. We had an ice maker mishap quite a few years ago when lightning came into the house. It fried the electronics and turned on the water spigot on the refrigerator door, flooding the tiled kitchen floor. It had to be replaced, but just the kitchen, not the whole house like this time. I will never have anything but a plain door in a fridge now.

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