susansflowers

garden ponderings


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The Edible Garden

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Temperatures dipped below freezing last night, which makes me just as glad I have not started my vegetable garden.  Even though we have had many sunny days, spring weather is quite unpredictable.

Bok Choy flowers are very pretty, and the renewal of a crop I began a couple of years ago.  This is a sturdy plant, and all winter it has been nice to walk down to the garden and pick a few bunches for dinner whenever I want.

Strawberry flowers are beautiful for themselves, and for what they portend.  A month ago, I planted a new strawberry bed knowing it can take a year to come into full production.  It is very hard to remove the first flush of flowers that are starting already.  Pictured are flowers with developing berries on plants from the old bed.  More warm days will mean sooner fresh strawberries.  Yum-yum.
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We love our homegrown pears in the autumn.  D’Anjou is one of our favorites, and these flowers are on one of those trees.  We eat most of the pears fresh, I preserve some in jars, and make jam.  Last year I also sliced and dried a batch of pears that were so-o sweet.

Blueberry flowers look like little bells hanging from the branches.  The bushes are loaded with flowers right now.  There was a black and yellow bumble bee at these flowers while I was taking pictures, but I just couldn’t get him to hold still long enough to get his photo.


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Artichoke Flower

Artichoke flower on plantArtichoke flower in Turtle Vase

These are really quite stunning flowers, and as an added bonus they keep beautifully if dried.  Camaroon is a cousin of the artichoke that is grown for its flowers rather than the edible thistle bud.  The camaroon can get quite tall, easily 5 or 6 feet high.

I like to let some artichoke buds mature and flower, rather than harvest them all earlier in the growth stage, for eating.   Since my artichoke vegies do not grow especially large, I get tired of the ‘labor-intensive’ process to eat the small bites of the tender heart. 

Pictured is an artichoke flower in a porcelain Turtle Vase, made by yours truly.

Honeysuckle

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Honeysuckle

This photo shows three stages of honeysuckle flowers: the bud, full flower and spent flower. These blossoms are on a good-sized vine along a fence near my vegetable garden. Sometimes, when the breeze is just right, the scent will waft for a distance – such a beautiful aroma. I don’t think anyone could say the smell of honeysuckle is offensive. Quite the opposite is true and I think this plant can even stir olfactory memories.

Many years ago, I would admire the garden of an older woman (thank you, Leta). She dug a honeysuckle start from next to her own established plant. For all the gift plants I have killed by mis-timing their replanting in my own garden, I am very happy that this one survived.

What a surprise when I learned that honeysuckle blooms are edible. I grew up in a more temperate climate, where these splendid vines did not exist, and only discovered them as an adult. Nasturtiums move over – you are not near as tasty as honeysuckle.

Broccoli Flowers

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Broccoli Flowers

These flowers are growing from a crop of winter broccoli. Perhaps it was the fickle spring weather this year that contributed to the short window of time edible broccoli buds were available and the proliferation of weeds in the gardens.

This year, I observed the strong resemblance among the flowers of broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts and probably all other cruciferous plant flowers. When I checked my dictionary for the spelling of cruciferous, I learned these plants are all in the mustard family. The last few years, I’ve been trying to purchase organic, non-hybrid broccoli plants, that might come true to seed. Time will tell if the seed will produce plants that will grow over the winter and produce broccoli florets next spring.

Chives

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Chives

I love the smell and look of chive flowers. I love all the members of the allium family. I love the smell and taste of onions. This plant is right outside my front door, in view of my kitchen window.

When people who are not gardeners (think city-folk) come to visit, I love to lead them though my herb garden and invite them to taste particular plants. When my then-two-year-old grandson visited, I did the same with him, but quickly learned my mistake. He naturally thought he could take any leaf and taste it. Of course, he headed right toward a large (to him) rhododendron bush – which is poisonous.

I noticed in this photo that you can see some of the different stages of chive flowers opening.  Just got lucky, this time!

I am heading toward an art show where I will display my pottery and ceramics. The chive and armeria flowers will grace some of my vases. I saw the last tulips starting to open, and I cut some peony buds, just because they are pretty that way. The lilacs are on the down side of their blooms. Day lilies and foxglove are about to open. Stock and Jacob’s ladder have so few flowers this year.

Purple Camas

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Purple Camas

This is a native wildflower that grows along stream banks and other wet areas. On my property, it can be found during wet spring times along seasonal waterways. I’ve been hiking around looking for these flowers and have found them in two separate locations. Both areas will dry up once the weather warms enough, and are shaded by trees.

The flower bulbs were eaten by the native Americans, but only from the purple flower, the white flower bulbs are poisonous. I’ve even seen these in a nursery catalog (Territorial Seed Company, Cottage Grove, OR). Like most wildflowers, they only seem to grow where they really like the environment. Or so it seems to me.

Bittercress

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Wintercress

Is it a weed or a wildflower I asked a ‘professional’ recently. “It’s only a weed, if it is growing where you don’t want it to grow,” she replied. Of course. It’s not as though I had never heard that before:)

So this flower grows prolifically all around here, and in the yards of everyone else I ask. It it in every flower and vegetable bed, and the fields. The good news is that it is easy to pull out. The bad news is that it seed prolifically. And if you don’t put the pulled weed in the trash or compost, it will re-root where ever it is thrown. A darn sturdy plant, it is.

I did learn its name and that it is native to this area.  When I looked up Oregon wildflowers online, I learned that I mis-heard the name of this plant.  Instead of winterflower it is actually named bitterflower.   I did hear that this is an edible plant, but I venture that the name gives an idea of how it tastes.   Don’t think I will rush to try the greens anytime soon.  Besides, they are so small, it would take an awful lot of leaf picking to get much more than a mouthful. Kind of like wild strawberries, which are so tiny, one picks seemingly forever to get a small bowl full.