Hellebores for an Early Spring Garden
March 7, 2013 § Leave a comment
I made a spontaneous weekend trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show last weekend. What you usually see at early spring flower shows are flowers and shrubs and even trees that have been heated and pampered to produce blooms long before they’d do so with Mother Nature’s guidance alone. That’s what people come for—to be inspired by what the warmer weather promises.
Flower Show visitors don’t have to wait for long to see a few of the plants that were in full bloom indoors. The hellebore (Helleborus) is a good example of that.
Hellebores bloom in late winter and early spring—some varieties as early as January. There’s been a resurgence in interest in this perennial plant over the last decade or so, and plant breeders have introduced all sorts of cool flower colors and foliage colors. The hellebore’s leaves, by the way, are evergreen – they won’t die back in winter, which is another cool thing about this plant.
Take Helleborus ‘HGC Mahongany Snow’, for instance. This variety can begin blooming as early as January in some areas. And the blooms are beautiful—dusty rose buds open into creamy white flowers. The leaves are chocolatey in color and the flower stems reddish. The whole package—leaves, stems and blooms—gives the garden some low-key color at a low-key time of the year. And they’re astounding planted en masse like this.
There’s been a push in recent years to sell hellebores as potted plants in the late fall through winter. Give them as Thanksgiving and Christmas gifts, that sort of thing. Think of them as temporary blooming houseplants biding their time until you can plant them outdoors in spring. It’s a good idea. In fact, I have had a potted hellebore ‘Jacob’ in my office window since late December. It’s looking a little weak right now, but that’s ok—it’ll be heading outside in a few short weeks.
Why you might enjoy hellebores:
- Blooms way early in the year, just when your garden needs it!
- Come in some great colors—both flower and leaf color
- Perennials, so you’ll have them year after year, and they’ll get bigger each year
- Evergreen foliage for year-round color
- A good choice for your partial shade garden, under bushes, and so forth
- Deer resistant—bonus!
- Nice as winter houseplants—another bonus!
Have you tried hellebores? How have they held up in your garden? Leave a comment and let me know.
Update on Dainty: Where’d June Go?
June 26, 2012 § 2 Comments
Hey, hi. Remember me?
Nope, haven’t forgotten about Dainty Dot. Truly have not. It’s been a bit of a busy month. And I’ve had other things on my mind. Dainty took a backseat for a bit.
A backseat to what, you ask? I’ll review in photos …
Boo – she’s growing too fast. My iPhone can barely hold all the photos I take of her.
June has so many Instagram opportunities. I can’t keep up. Pretty, huh?
I’ve been perfecting my pizza-making skills. And man, do I have mad skills with the dough.
Provincetown. Vacation. Roof deck. Water views. That really about says it.
Thanks, Martha Stewart, for the most-appropriate Ptown vacation drink—the Cucumber Cape Codder. I’ll post that recipe soon. Really, so good.
I’m slightly obsessed with yoga. Just slightly, but in a good way. Maybe I’ll talk to you about it someday. But for now, know that this mat has become a good friend of mine. And it’s fashionably orange.
So, I’m a potato farmer’s daughter. And an avid gardener. And for the first time this spring, it dawned on me: Why not grow some potatoes? And it shall be so. Technically once the flowers bloom, there should be potatoes under the ground. But I want them bigger than peas, so I’ll await awhile.
Oh, yeah, and by the way … we’re buying a brand-spankin’-new unit in a brand-spankin’-new building. New as in, this was a vacant lot last July. And it’s highly energy efficient and will have solar panels and is built like a German tank – and that’s with good reason. Obviously, more on this later.
And have I mentioned lately that I love this person? I do, and I’ll do it all again in a split second. (Ain’t she a cutie, too?)
More pizza. I might be slightly obsessed with pizza, too. Always in a good way.
But just because I haven’t been writing here doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. I’ve been taking a spin at fiction. More of a poetry-short fiction hybrid type of writing. And the cool thing is it’s fiction inspired by photos. The images are all iPhone Instagram pics taken by a friend who has a knack for knowing there’s a story behind a scene. Take this one, for instance. Who left the phone? Why? Who was on the other end? I took a stab at it—and a bunch of other photos, too—and am publishing them at The Skinny Fedora. The one above is “Hope Asked.”
So, give The Skinny Fedora a quick read and let me and the other skinny girl know what you think. Leave comments here or at www.theskinnyfedora.com.
De Kas Restaurant: A Hot Table in Amsterdam
May 24, 2011 § 3 Comments
More than a week after lunching at De Kas Restaurant in Amsterdam, I’m still dreaming of the meal. It’s one of the hottest tables in Amsterdam, and no wonder, given its fresh, bright flavors, dedication to locally grown foods and airy environment. And I mean airy environment: The restaurant is under glass in a state-of-the-art greenhouse.
De Kas is certainly in unique surroundings. The history of the property goes something like this: Back in the 1920s, the parcel of land was home to Amsterdam’s municipal nurseries. All of the plants and flowers used for Amsterdam’s municipal plantings were grown on these grounds and in greenhouses. Over the decades, the nurseries were shut down and the buildings and greenhouses became dilapidated—such a shame! About 10 years ago the greenhouses were scheduled for demolition, but a Michelin-rated chef, Gert Jan Hageman, came up with the idea of converting one of the greenhouses into a restaurant and growing area. The dining room was designed by renowned designer Piet Boon and is lovely. The kitchen is open, and there’s even a chef’s table, where guests can enjoy their meal just steps from the hot grill (honestly, not something on the top of my list to do). And the bar area, while open and visible, is tucked away and is just shady enough for any self-respecting bar fly.
As I mentioned, they believe in fresh, local food. And it can’t get more local than the greenhouse adjacent to the kitchen and the gardens that surround the restaurant. The team also has a farm that produced a great deal of their produce. What they don’t grow and raise themselves is sourced from nearby farms and the North Sea.
Enough about that, let’s move on to the food. The three-course menu is fixed; i.e. you are served what they are preparing that day (they do ask if the chef should take into account for any dietary restrictions). And they do offer a wine pairing, which I eagerly agreed to. Can’t recall the first wine, but the second was an unoaked chardonnay from Spain. Tasty!
The meal was fabulous, that’s a given. And beautiful – not something every restaurant gets right. Instead of attempting to describe the meal, I’ll just leave you to enjoy the photos.
While the municipal nurseries are long gone, the remainder of the property has retained its “municipalness”—it’s now a public park enjoyed by people and wildlife alike.
Spring Blooms in California
April 5, 2011 § 6 Comments
(Psst: At the end, there’s a contest opportunity!)
It’s cold and drizzly here in Boston, but it’s definitely spring in California. That was my conclusion after my recent 10-day business trip out there. Okay, eight days of business, two days of relaxing. But, still, the weather out there was decidedly un-New Englandish.
One of the … I’m loath to call it a perk or benefit … hmmm, okay, let’s instead say this: One of my day-job responsibilities is to travel to California each spring and drive from San Diego to San Jose (or vice versa), visiting plant breeding companies along the way. This designated week is the flower equivalent to the Detroit Auto Show, and each company displays their latest and greatest ornamental plant varieties. It’s me, my boss and colleague, and about a thousand other folks looking at flowers. Seriously, it’s actually a tough job. You have no idea.
Now, I’m not sure if I’d be revealing any industry secrets if I tell you, for a lot of these new plant varieties, it’s not that the plant is a new color or can do some sort of trick. Oftentimes it’s “more compact and uniform with better branching.” Man, if I hear that phrase one more time … It means this crop can be grown as “bench run,” or the commercial grower can grow whole benches of this stuff and ship it out all at once, and they can ship it safely (because it’s compact and well branched) without damage during transport. I.e., they’re increasing their margins. And when you sell your flowers to a big box stores, you need all the margin you can get. Think about that the next time you buy your 99-cent geraniums at Big Orange.
The real point with this post is that I did see some some unique flowers and ornamental plants that deserve a mention—even some new patio-sized veggies. Many of them won’t be available until spring of 2012, but I thought I’d share.
Now, about that contest: I have about three packets of cherry tomato seeds to give away. Feel like trying your hand at sowing and growing them? The 5th person to comment gets them!