Friday, May 25, 2012

Ultimate springtime meal

We are off to the coast for the weekend. We arrived to bright sun and are enjoying my father-in-law Tony's "world famous" negronis while shucking our first batch of favas from the garden.

Mark parboiled the favas and lightly mushed them up with lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan, salt,pepper and a sprinkling of thyme. Spread on a piece of lightly toasted bread, these spring gems were a great start to our meal!

Also on the docket were new potatoes that were slow butter poached with leeks from our garden and time, er thyme and spring salmon slow roasted at 225 until moist, tender and delish with lemon butter dill sauce.

All followed by a fabulous strawberry rhubarb pie from pieku - yum!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Not everyone will make the team

I visited Seattle, WA a couple of weekends ago, and while I was there, my cousin's son Andrew had three consecutive try outs for a kid's community-based soccer team.

It got me thinking. Do I put the plants that make up my garden's team through such a rigorous set of tryouts?

It seems that the answer is - sort of.

We are now in our third year with our back yard, and our second in the front. While the original plans of both were mostly painstakingly planned out, they are also definitely punctuated with a spontaneously purchased plant here and there.

In addition, it turns out that our initial plans included mostly deciduous shrubs and perennials which were specifically selected for seasonal attributes - early or late blooms, exceptional fall foliage, etc.  Then winter came and the garden faded into a shadow if itself. To address this, I added vignettes of "winter interest" plants throughout the garden.

Sounds good, right? Right.

Except that I didn't remove any of the original plantings, and now it is colossally overcrowded and something must be done.

In other words, it is time to cut some members of the team.

Reason 1 for not making the cut: It's not you, it's me.
Call me fickle or, perhaps, discerning? But, some of the plants I loved for the garden a year or two ago just don't turn me on like they once did. They haven't changed, but my tastes have.Time to send them packing.

Reason 2 for not making the cut: You played a good game, it's just someone played it better.
One good thing about over planting is that you are bound to actually place some plants in conditions that they naturally will thrive in. Once a plant really starts to thrive, watch out! Everything else around it starts to pale in comparison.

In this case, it is time to find the under achievers a new home. Preferably elsewhere in your or someone else's garden, but if need be in the compost. (That last option is my least favorite.)

Reason 3 for not making the cut: Fine doesn't cut it.
We have a standard city plot of 50 by 100 feet. As a result, each plant in our garden must bring something exceptional to the game in order to be on our team. Fortunately, I find things about many plants exceptional. Some are subtle, while others are more in your face about it.

But, if I really think about it, there are several plants in our garden that are just "fine." Not bad, but certainly not exceptional. Time to cut some bench warmers.

Reason 4 for not making the cut: There is no "I" in team.
As it turns out, there are also some plants in our garden that are doing too well. You know the type, overly pushy, singularly focused on themselves, no room for anyone else? The "enough about me, what do you think about me" types? Yep. They've got to go too.

Speaking of no "I" in team, these Oriental poppies are overtaking my Chinese fringe flower shrub. Though these guys are literally perennial volunteers, they are in a spot I want something else to grow so they need to go!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Scenes of spring in the garden

It is hard to believe that most of the spring bulbs have wrapped up their vernal performance.

But, the garden is still in full swing with loads of new blossoms and lush foliage taking center stage.

Here are a few of my favorites of the moment.