garden ponderings


Alluring Artichokes

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After our share of thistle hearts (in case you didn’t already know, artichokes are in the thistle family), I let the last few buds go to flower.
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This was not the only bee allowed a last fling before I cut the flowers.
If you get a chance to feel them, fresh artichoke flower tops are very soft.
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Copy of DSCN3475A dried artichoke flower from last year is on the left and a fresh cut flower on the right.  Not only the color of the new flower base (it is green), but its shape reveal the difference in age of the two.  As water evaporates, the bud will shrink and lose weight quite a bit.

These flowers are standing in a Goddess Vase that I made.
I love to play/work in the mud – clay and flowers both live in dirt.

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One of the coolest things about artichokes, is that the mother plant that yielded delicious eating chokes and pretty flowers for drying, makes baby plants before it dies.
There are two artichoke plants coming from the ground, in the photo above.  On the left side is new growth with the mother plant’s leaves turning  yellow on the right side.


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Sea Lavender

Sea Lavender

I was disappointed to find my Sea Lavender did not bloom this year.  It is in a corner of a planting bed that catches some shade in the afternoons.  Then I remembered last spring when I found a baby Sea Lavender and moved it to a real sunny location.  And the baby was flowering!  What luck!

Autumn is coming soon, and this plant’s leaves are already starting to change colors.  In the past, I have cut these flowers and dried them to last through the winter.  Since there are not many blossoms this year, I will let the few stay on the plant.

Santolina in Bloom

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Santolina in Bloom

Yesterday, I pruned the flowering plants back, so they are not so large or plush anymore.  In my second entry in this blog, I showed a photo of this plant in January.  I thought it was pretty then, as so few plants have color in the winter. I like this perennial all year long, with or without flowers.  Although the flowers are profuse, they are very small.  It may not be known for its flowers, as the foliage is quite unusual: first of all, it is not green, but a sort of gray-green color; it sports thin, fine ‘leaves’, that emit a strong scent when brushed against.  I rather like the aroma, though some may find it too pungent and be put off by it.

The original plant was never pruned, and grew to cover a large area, about 10 feet square.  After a severe, unusual winter freeze (below freezing for 4 days in a row), a lot of the mother plant died out.  When I removed the dead plant material, what remained was a number of small plants.  I pruned and transplanted these around the house, and nursed them back to health.  Now, I notice that if I keep the mother plant pruned, it does not make more plants.  It appears the baby plants come from stems that root themselves in the ground.

Baby Bok Choy flowers

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Baby Bok Choy flowers

It was a few years ago that I planted a six-pack of Baby Bok Choy seedlings. They were new to our diet, so we didn’t eat many, as I had a lot to learn about cooking these vegies.

But they did go to seed, and have done so repeatedly. Now, it would be very difficult to eat all the baby bok choy growing in the vegetable beds. Between what the slugs eat, and how fast it bolts to flower, the window of prime harvest is small.

The flowers are really quite pretty, and the bees like them. Such a good reason to let the cycle of rebirth continue. It would probably be smart to determine when the seeds are mature, so I can save some and plant them when and where I want.