Favorite Annuals

Or maybe I should say, ‘those that do well in my backyard that become my favorite annuals.’

We have intense light/heat in city gardens.  For us, we have a micro-climate, that can take a toll on plants in the summer.  I’ve spent 10 years trying to figure out what will thrive back there  and the proper way to pot and care for them.  Sometimes I’ve been successful and sometimes it’s been a disaster, but I am starting to learn!

One of my favorites is Lantana.  I like to snugly stuff about 4 plants into a planter with good potting soil and top with mulch.  Lantana seems to do quite well with the heat and intense sun in the morning and then is happy with the afternoon shade.  My color of choice for this year:

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Boo!

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Lone Bloom

Full confession:  I get fixated on particular trees and plants and won’t stop thinking about them until they live in my/family/friend’s yard or garden.  For a few year’s I dreamed of a gorgeous spring blooming Magnolia for the planting area between our building and the sidewalk inside our iron fencing.

After searching, I found the perfect tree – Black Tulip Magnolia.  It’s grown like crazy in the three years we’ve had it, but sadly only one bloom last year.

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Now I’m on a mission to figure out how to make this little bugger bloom.    I’ve been using Coast of Maine Compost, but that doesn’t seem to be doing the trick.  Fertilizer is my next stop – I like the Espoma selection.

 

 

 

 

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Weekend Travel: Shelburne Farms

Have you ever been to Vermont?  If you’ve never been to Vermont hop in a car/plane/train and get your butt up there!  Summer and Fall are by far the best times to visit, if you’re a skier or enjoy the snow Winter is great time as well.  I grew up in a small college town in central Vermont and went to college in Burlington.  I LOVE it up there, although something holds me back from moving my family there now.

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One of my favorite places to visit in summer and fall is Shelburne Farms.   It’s a working farm, forest and National Historic Landmark located on Lake Champlain in Shelburne, Vermont.  More specifically it was created by Dr. William Seward and Lila Vanderbilt Webb as a model agriculture estate.  Oh and Olmstead created the designs for the landscape.  You get the picture.

There’s something for everyone here – the children’s farmyard, touring the grounds, hiking trails, education programs (for children and adults), dinner at the Inn, the list goes on.

Chicken Parade - Shelburne Farms

Our last trip to the Green Mountain State included a trip with my kids to the Children’s Farmyard.  We did the usual drill, chicken parade, milked a gorgeous Brown Swiss Cow, picked up chickens, worked with wool, but the best was the most unexpected.  We happened upon the hike with two goats and a sheep up to Lone Tree Hill.  Oddly, the goats were more like dogs (except for how they just poop everywhere with little warning.)

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The hike was short and sweet, with spectacular views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks in the distance.  At this point the goats were ‘off-leash’ to the amusement of all of us.

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San Francisco Farmer’s Market

I just stumbled across these pictures the other day. I lived in San Francisco in my twenties. Although I’ve been back on the East Coast for over 10 years now (how the heck did that happen?),  The Bay Area holds a special place in my heart and someday I hope to make my way back out there.

Anyway, I’m fortunate that I still have many friends out there who open their homes to us for a yearly visit. Last year, while visiting we hit the Ferry Terminal Farmer’s Market.  I’m amazed at how the Ferry Terminal has been transformed. I can remember temping for a an event planner way back when. The place was kind of a dump, with a lot of promise, which clearly has been fulfilled.

and I love the sign and the name of this vendor…

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Weekend Gardener: Summer Trods On…

The gardens are growing like weeds at the beach! Fortunately, not too many weeds. The Fig Tree has grown tremendously and we sit around discussing when we’ll be able to harvest the fruit. We’re all novices when it comes to growing figs.  So we’ve done a few Google searches and have been asking around.

In case anyone is curious – the pot is actually plastic (so the tree will be easier to move for the winter) and we found it at Home Depot.

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Weekend Gardener: Vermont

We spent an extended Fourth of July weekend in Vermont (my home state!) We were so busy running around I didn’t get to take many pictures of my Mother’s rocking garden, but we did get to enjoy the abundance of lettuce, snow peas and radishes.

I’m so used to having such space constraints on gardening, that it is strange to have so much space and the ability to garden in so many different areas of your property. So although I do have the green eyes for all that space, I think I’m pretty happy with my space constraints, considering we have two small children and are always on a weekend adventure.

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Weekend Gardener: Figs, Figs, Everywhere

We’d been talking about this for a bit, but finally this year we went and bought a fig tree.  It’s new home is in a large pot on the patio at the beach.  Jim’s grandmother has visions of bringing it to her year round home for the winter.  Although the rest of us are in agreement that it just needs a sheltered spot near the house and will do just fine when summer ends.

When we brought it home there was just one lonely fig on the trunk, but since then it’s grown about a foot and now there are at least 14 of those tasty little nuggets on the tree.  I’ve never tried to grow one of these, but am hoping we’re successful.  With it growing in a pot, the top concern is ample water.  So far, so good, but the summer is young and the temperature is already sky rocketing.

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Beach Garden in Bloom (or at least approaching)

We’re fortunate enough to have a family beach house on the Jersey Shore, a short trip away from where we live.  Makes the heat somewhat bearable in the summer.  Over the past few years, we’ve been slowly landscaping.  Last year, we installed a raised bed vegetable garden, that provided us with a bounty of fresh edibles over the summer (heavily slanted towards tomatoes.)


And less than a month later, it’s amazing to see how everything has grown!


This year, we did a bit more work on landscaping on the property –  installing two raised beds in the front and fixing a circular bed in the back.  The upgrades did much for the curb appeal of the house and in the coming years the shrubs and perennials planted in the front should quickly fill in.  This year they look at bit small.  I’m impatient.  Acclimating the plants to their new home should pay off in the end, but I still want them to be lush and full, pronto!

Doesn’t look like much when we first started out…

and then once the planting were completed…

The hardy geraniums took a bit of a hit, but they have sprung back since this picture was taken in early June.

And then in the back of the house, we started out with this sad little bed.

That was transformed

into this…viola!

I have much more to share, but am out of time at the moment.  If anyone is interested in the details on how much stone it took us to build, just let me know.


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Potager Garden

I’m so behind the times with my movie watching, but when my mother was down visiting a few weeks ago we watched It’s Complicated.  Funny movie, but more importantly the vegetable garden of Jane (Meryl Streep’s character) was fabulous.  We were both drooling throughout the movie at not only the garden, but the house too.

Of course after a little bit of reading, it’s clear that most of the garden was staged, but it’s nice to dream.  Also making me think that if we were ever to buy a bigger brownstone, with a bigger backyard, I would definitely install a garden in this style.

So, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, run out and rent it for a little gardening inspiration.

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