Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Petticoat Puffs, Lavender Bundles, Tomato Structures & the First Strawberries of the Season

Étoile de Hollande, a robust, full-fragrance climbing rose, is still putting out tier upon tier of ruffled petals or to which I fondly refer as petticoat puffs.

No cancan* dancer's skirt could match this!

The spare secateurs are kept nearby the front door so my going out on the entrance balcony to snip off an enormous bloom becomes a cinch. Keeping one in a small vase near the computer allows for an instant break: all I have to do is bury my nose into its plush centre and take a few deep breaths in order to be refreshed or as the French say reprendre mes esprits (to take back my enthusiasm).

The colour in this photo shows much better how dark crimson this rose really is

The English lavender which along with some French lavender form hedges flanking the entrance path in the front garden is budding as it is the earlier bloomer of the two. For various uses, from culinary to cosmetic, lavender buds, not the flowers, are the best.

Beautiful blue-violet buds!

Leaving most of the budded stems so they can flower which will scent the air straight out to the street regaling passersby, I harvested just a few bundles of lavender, then corded and hung them in a sheltered place.

Upside-down bouquet swaying in the wind

For many a year, The Calm One has been musing about how to keep the individual, cork-screw tomato supports, tuteurs, from bending every which way with the weight of their luscious burden.

These plants as they grow will be twirled upwards around the tuteurs

Such long rumination has given forth to this: twelve tuteurs, each tucked into a hole drilled just for them within a framework of rigid plastic tubing with corners made and a crosspiece added via L or T-shaped connectors glued to the tubing. Stored as is, it will provide a template when staking in the future. To increase its stability six cords were attached to the top of the frame at various strategic points and staked into the ground. A starling resting for several minutes on it was taken as an indication that The Structure which is our pet name for it will hold its own. And it has so far including through a patch of stormy weather. Perhaps this will be the season when skipping down the path flanking the tomato beds, I won't be skewered by a tuteur.


The learning curve for growing strawberries has been sharp; in fact I can't think of one wrong thing I didn't do including growing too many. Too many strawberries, you say? Yes, too many to care for properly. Having enough room is necessary not only to afford rotation to soil that has not seen a strawberry in a while in order to avoid pesky disease but also to propagate those countless, ever-eager strawberry runners, that is, the baby plants put out by the original whose productive lifespan is about three years. So I have started afresh with just twelve plant-nursery beauties which have been carefully mulched with flattened egg cartons to keep the berries from rotting on damp soil.

Lookin' good

Just a few handfuls of berries this season, but are they wonderful, especially the Gariguette variety with its sublime flavour and convenient 'outie' belly button which can be cleanly sliced off.

Strawberry, the first of the pea pods, and dill, all from our potager

The older and larger of our two potted blueberries are developing many bunches of numerous berries.

Packaged, acid potting mix gives them the right substrate they need as our garden soil is neutral

One of my favourite spots is the northeast corner located in the front garden. Though small, it is cozy enough with two trees, bushes, aucuba, ivy, and deep shade to make me think I am in a forest.

Tall rose of sharon bushes in foreground; a purple maple & box elder whose foliage oddly is partially variegated

À la prochaine!

*When a child, I intuitively picked-up that many thought the cancan was scandalous. I concluded on my own as no one gave me a reason why that since the word can was involved somehow it was the revealing of buttocks that was considered unacceptable. I have  now discovered one of the real reasons when researching this post: the pantalettes which women wore at this time, that is, crotchless (for hygiene purposes) leggings. Hence the high kicks associated with the can-can (corruption of coin-coin=corner-corner, probably a reference to a French square dance, quadrille which inspired the cancan) revealed much more than just the energetic skills of the dancer.