Rainy Day Tomatoes

We have had the most glorious weather as of late–in the upper eighties and sunny!  Today, however, is a rainy day.  It made me feel like autumn is approaching, which makes me a little bit sad that summer is almost at an end, but I do love the colors of fall, and am looking forward to it.  (I got some sheets to turn into fall tableclothes and napkins, and have been scouring the second-hand stores for dishes and serving plates in autumn colors, plus have a few other decorations to put up–I want to have fun this fall!)  It may be a rain day, but that didn’t stop me from showing you the first of our tomato harvest:

These are all various shapes and sizes of ‘Costoluto Genovese’ tomatoes, with a little ‘Gardeners’ Delight’ cherry tomato at the far right side.  The flowers are a spray of ‘Phylis Bide’ rambling roses that grow exuberantly up the front columns of our house.

I also have basil and cucumbers that are ripe and ready now.  I grow, strangely enough, ‘Genovese’ basil–it has large flavorful leaves that are great for cooking or eating fresh, and I’ve just started picking ‘Rocky’ hybrid slicing cukes, the first to ripen for me, followed by ‘Harmonie’ pickling cukes, and the beginnings of ‘Green Slam’ cukes, another slicing variety.  I hope to experiment soon with making some refrigerator dill pickles out of the ‘Harmonie’ ones. 

My eggplant and peppers are still at the small baby stage, not nearly big enough to pick yet, so I got an eggplant at the store and made an easy but good dinner last night with some of the garden tomatoes:  Slice the eggplant, and brush each side with olive oil.  I like to make a little mix of pepper, garlic powder, and allspice  and sprinkle each side with this spice mix.  Put the oven on 425 degrees, and put parchment paper down on a baking sheet, and put the eggplant slices on.  Bake for about 10 minutes, then take the pan out of the oven.  Slice some fresh sourdough bread, or your favorite bread, brush both sides with olive oil, spread on some basil pesto on one side, and then place on baking sheet, olive oil-side down and pesto side up. Then put a slice of eggplant on top of the pesto.  Slice up some fresh tomatoes from the garden, and put tomato on top of the eggplant, and then top with thin slices of mozzarella cheese–also good with provolone.  Pop it back into the oven for about 10 minutes, long enough for the eggplant to finish cooking and the cheese to melt.  Serve with a green salad, and a slice of watermelon or nectarines and French Vanilla ice cream, and you are good to go for a fantastic summer meal!

Hope you are having fun in your garden and that it is producing well for you.  A shoutout to those on the East Coast–hope all the water and winds subside and the damage was not too great where you were at.  Heard they shut down Broadway and off-Broadway all weekend because the subways were shut down–they were expecting 5-10 inches of rainwater in the streets and subway tunnels!  Have to say we are pretty lucky out here on the West Coast, all things considered.  Leave a comment–what are you growing in your garden, and are you using it in the kitchen or preserving it in some way?  I’d love to hear from you!

Visit the garden party.


Down The Garden Path

Sorry I haven’t been posting as much as I usually do–I took a spill down some cement stairs and did a number on my foot, so I’ve been out of commission for a while.  However, I got out to the garden today, and snapped a few photos for your enjoyment.  Come with me, if you will, down the garden path . . .

The roses have made a grand appearance (just in time for Portland’s Rose Festival):

‘Phylis Bide’ repeat-blooming rambling rose dresses up the entrance to our home.

“I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille . . .”

Graham joins the party . . .

‘Graham Thomas’, a David Austin rose, on a blue arbor.  And in for the closeup . . .

As you can see, I have a thing for cabbage roses.

And now . . .

The thornless climber, ‘Zephrin Drouhin’.

I love that this rose does not scratch my arms to smithereens when I prune it.

This is a lovely single-blooming climbing rose that my mom gave to me.  I have no idea of its name or origins, but I can tell you that it is a very tough customer–it survives my parent’s zone 4b climate and thrives there.

And now hail to the chief . . .

‘Mr. Lincoln’, to be precise. 

Farther down the garden path . . .

A vibrant, summer blue delphinium with allium heads about to bloom nearby.

Persian Jewels in a pathway consisting of gravel and bear-paw metal stepping stones left by previous owners.

Three sisters, probably a singing trio like the Garland Sisters, the Boswell Sisters, or the Andrews Sisters, holding court in the golden creeping  jenny.

‘Romantika’ clematis gets in the mood with Golden Hops.

Getting tired?  We can sit for a bit . . .

Just the place to be for flower and bird watching.

Is it time already?  As the lyricist said, ” Ah well, we’ll catch up some other time.”

The garden fairy says goodbye.


Clematis ‘Princess Diana’ Starting To Bloom

I have a clematis ‘Princess Diana’ that is just starting to bloom in amongst the Roses ‘Zephrin Drouhin’ (flowers about the same color as the clematis) and ‘Golden Showers’ (yellow flowers).  It has very healthy foliage low on the plant, and it also blooms rather low on the plant at about four to five feet, and these qualities make it a good companion for the bare bottom stems so common on climbing roses.  The flowers on Diana are approximately one and a half inches long and bell-shaped.  They are a rose color, with white to soft pink around the edges of the sepals.  A very pretty clematis that does well here in gardening zone 8 in Southwest Washington state.  This is a member of the C. texensis grouping of clematis, meaning that they all tend to have flowers in the red color, and Diana likes a sunny spot with ample water and good drainage–put a good shovelful of gravel into the planting hole to help with this.  It blooms on new growth, which means that you will want to prune this clematis back to eighteen inches tall or so when it is dormant, usually in February or March in this area.  Fertilize it once a month starting in April and continue through the growing season.

And more of a close-up of the flowers:

Please feel free to leave a comment–have you grown clematis ‘Princess Diana’ in your garden, and with what other plants do you combine it?

Gorgeous Weather=Happy Gardener!

Sunny and in the 80s here this past weekend.  I saw my first dragonfly of the season yesterday, and had our first raspberries of the season as well!  I got a lot done in the garden, most notably got the eggplant and pepper starts all planted.  I planted ‘Marconi’ Sweet Italian Frying Peppers and ‘Nadia’ Eggplant starts that I grew from seed under lights.  These are the steps I took:

  • Weeded and redug the bed
  • Added several buckets of homemade compost and about 2 quarts of complete organic fertilizer to the bed and dug it in
  • Planted the starts:  I just dug a hole bigger than the rootball, put the start in it, took about half a quart of compost tea and poured it around the roots, then quickly backfilled the hole with the dirt so that  mud forms around the roots, to reduce transplant shock.  I also made a little well around each plant in the dirt to hold in water.
  • I then watered all the plants in.
  • Because its still way below 60 degrees at night, I took the extra precaution of covering the bed with PVC pipe hoops and clear plastic held down with rocks.  This will help to bump up the night time temperatures a little bit, and will just get them off to a better start.  If the weather gets over 70 degrees, the plastic will need to be opened.

Baby ‘Nadia’ Eggplant (top picture)

Baby ‘Marconi’ Sweet Italian Frying Peppers (bottom picture)

So that’s it for that–this planting method with compost tea I learned from Steve Solomon’s book Gardening When It Counts, and it works very well.

I also prepared another nearby bed and planted bush beans.  My pick is ‘Royal Burgundy’ bush beans, and they have lovely purple-red flowers and delicious beans.  Very simple–Weeded and redug the bed, dug in some compost and complete organic fertilizer, then took the handle of my rake and pressed it down where I wanted the rows to compact the soil, then placed two seeds for every one plant that I wanted along the row, covered the rows and watered them in.  Should have some beans to eat in about 60 days from now.  I will also be planting some runner or pole beans but will wait a couple of weeks to spread out the bean harvest.

As far as the flowers went, I just had a lot of tidying and clean-up duty.  After all the heavy rain we had, it dissolved a lot of the flowers and made the branches of the roses come down–a lot of tying things back up into position.  We got the tabletop done in the pergola (for previous pictures of this area, see this), plus put the outdoor chandelier up, so that is fully functional and ready to go.

We made a side table to go with the barbecue out of a half-French wine barrel and a large piece of flagstone on top–it looks great and I love it!

I hope you had a good weekend as well, and got to work and play out in the garden!  Leave a comment–how is your garden growing?

Roses Supreme

The roses are in full bloom right now.  I have a particularly nice combination on the front stoop of the house.  There are columns that are completely covered with a wonderful Old Garden rambling rose named ‘Phylis Bide.’  This rose is a shrimp-color at first, and then fades to more of a pink.  Growing with it are two clematis in containers, one being ‘Daniel Deronda,’ a dark purple beauty, and ‘Louise Rowe,’ a lavender clematis that produces double and single blooms at the same time.  Lavender and peach colors look very good together.  Along with these, I have an abutilon, or a flowering maple, with chartreuse leaves and orange blooms.  It all is looking quite fetching together at the moment.