Saturday, August 18, 2012

Farm and Garden Report - August 18

From Wikipedia:
The cottage garden is a distinct style of garden that uses an informal design, traditional materials, dense plantings, and a mixture of ornamental and edible plants. English in origin, the cottage garden depends on grace and charm rather than grandeur and formal structure.

And that certainly describes the garden at Windy Poplars Farm.
Informal design - definitely. It is 'homely' in the English sense. Nothing really planned. If there's a space, we'll plant something there.
Traditional materials - this is surely true because we grow plants that have grown here since there were people on these acres. Nothing fussy. Just 'plain speaking' vegetables and flowers.
Dense plantings - probably too dense to some people's way of thinking.
Mixture of ornamental and edible - oh yes. Those hollyhocks I've raved about are between corn and tomatoes.

I took some photos which illustrate the 'friendship' between flowers and vegetables.

Tomatoes amongst the hollyhocks


You've already seen those panolas which fill the aisles between the raised beds. In addition to them, some mallow has popped up and grown very cozy with the zucchini leaves.



Yellow beans stretched out and tangled in the tomato plants - the bean flowers are pink and the tomato flowers are yellow. This was taken a while ago. Just today I pulled the beans down. Next year I'm going to plant fewer. I'm the only one who eats them, and I couldn't eat them fast enough this year. I think I'll plant them along just one of the bean poles, and plant sweet peas along the others. I didn't have any sweet peas this year and how I missed them.



I also have milkweed growing with spiderwort and globe thistle. All three have gone by now and need to be cut back. I'll wait till the milkweed pods 'pop' out the lovely silky down. I read the most remarkable information about milkweed here.



It has been an uneven year in the vegetable garden.
The failures: carrots and cucumbers. One carrot came up, and no cukes. Who knows why? And the peas were very spotty. We had only a couple meals of them.
All the raspberry plants died, and we have no idea what happened. It is a two-year cycle, and the dead old canes from last year were there, but no new ones came up. Same thing happened with the Queen of the Prairie out by the barn. There are mysteries in nature.
The successes: hollyhocks!
Potatoes that came from organic store potatoes that had sprouted in the warm weather. We put a few in one of the raised beds and got a lot of delicious potatoes. We've always bought organic seed potatoes through the mail, at quite a high price. We won't have to do that anymore!
Tomatoes have never grown so well or been so prolific. We started them inside, and used Chickity Doo Doo on the seedlings, and they just went to town!
Yellow beans - there were zillions. The poles Tom put up last summer stayed through the winds and snows of winter.
The best corn ever!



For the first time this year I planted Egyptian Walking Onions. If interested, you may read more about them, and order some here. We are leaving ours to grow this year.



We didn't get garlic planted last fall, but it has been ordered and will arrive in October.

For years we've had two peony plants. They've been on the blog several times. They are out by the terrace steps, and can only be seen if we are in that area. I've ordered six plants from White Flower Farm (one called Nancy Nora) and they are going in along the fence so we'll see them all the time. Peonies are so nice because the leaves are lovely before and after the short-lived beautiful flowers.

Years ago we decided to plant bushes alongside the kitchen garden area to draw more birds. We now have lilacs, honeysuckle, mock orange, and the tall William Baffin rose. The birds flit around all through the spring and summer, sometimes nesting in those bushes. Tom says he thinks of them as companionable.

The woodpile is coming along.


This is the log length wood which arrived last summer that we didn't use up in the winter. We also use trees from our own land that have blown down, or that are safe for Tom to cut.


This is a pile of 'junky' wood to be used first when the weather cools.


Just as, 'in the midst of life we are in death,' so in the midst of summer we are in winter. When you live here, and burn wood, you have to prepare in the warm season for the colder season.

And I can't end this without more hollyhock photos. We love these flowers.

This is a little blurry, but can you see all the pollen on the bumble bee? Happy bee.






And I don't need to pick flowers for the house when this is the view I have out the kitchen door!

34 comments:

  1. Just perfect as a cottage garden should be. Everything is so green and healthy looking and I'm amazed by the thick dark green pines that surround you. They look foreboding and dangerously beautiful.

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  2. They are too many pines. I'm on a mission to get rid of them and let the maples grow! There is more of a mix than shows in the pictures, and they are further away from the house and garden than they look, but still, too many!

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  3. Marvelous Nan. I even had a decent hollyhock this year. It got so talll. I couldn't believe it.

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    1. I'm amazed they don't tip over when they are eight feet tall!

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  4. Cottage gardens are definitely my kind of thing and it's the style of my garden too though I don't have vegetables only fruit trees. Your hollyhocks are gorgeous, it's a plant I really like but have never grown. Maybe next year!

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    1. Fruit trees seem a little miracle to me. We are too cold for any but apples, and though we have some on the land, it would be so great to have a little orchard.
      I hope the 'secret' of starting the hollyhocks from seed under the grow lights will continue to work next year.

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  5. You really do have an English cottage garden, I've just spent a while wandering round its loveliness. I would love to know what a typical North American garden looks like as all the blogs I visit seem to have English style gardens. Can you tell me what the difference is?

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    1. I considered doing a whole post answering your most interesting question. I would say there is no 'typical' North American garden. Some people have no gardens, per se, but have a bunch of dayliles in front of the house. Some people have just a vegetable garden. Some might have a formal garden with perfectly edged borders. Some have mulched gardens with spaces between perfectly weeded flowers. Some have no outdoor gardens, other than some annuals for the porch. Our garden suits a farm life out in the country. I imagine my grandmother's was much like it. A woman with 10 kids and a farmer husband who loved flowers and planted some when she had the time. I think our gardens reflect who we are, just as our houses do.

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    2. Thank you, Nan. If you were to write a full post on the subject, I would love to read it. I think that last remark about our gardens reflecting who we are is the same here, too, possibly the same all over the world. We are restricted by climate and resources but I imagine that we all like to put our personal stamp on our homes and gardens.

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    3. I am so pleased you came back. I like what you wrote, and think it is true. Some will live within their 'restrictions' and others will push the growing climate and try more exotic plants.

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  6. Your garden is lovely! I love the Mallow it's such a beautiful blue.

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    1. The mallow is in the second photo - it is pink!

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  7. I love your posts and always leave with ideas!! The hollyhock are gorgeous and I think I need to add raised flower beds to my yard because it's mostly clay!!

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    1. Oh, thanks! The raised beds have been great.

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  8. We have a pile of junk wood too! In fact, I'm waiting for my husband to get up so that we can start cutting down all of the dead ash trees in our yard. Have to plump up the wood for the winter!!

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  9. Thank you! I feel like I've just wandered through your backyard with you!

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  10. Nan, I very much enjoyed the pictures of your garden and your comments on them. I live in the city and have no garden any more, and so I am very grateful that you bring your garden to us in your blog. In view of what you say and the comments of some readers, I think you might enjoy a book by a friend of mine: James Raimes, "Gardening at Ginger: My Seven Year Obsession with Designing and Planting a Personal Landscape" [Houghton-Mifflin]. James is an Englishman, now an American, who has created his garden in upstate New York. English and American gardens appear in his book, and his own garden is perhaps uniquely Anglo-American. As is his book!

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    1. Thanks so much for the recommendation! I've put it in my little 'books to check out' book. Right up my alley (or street as the English might say).

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  11. I always love seeing your garden photos and You LAB header is precious:)

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    1. Well, the LAB is half right. :<) Sadie's other half is Rotty.

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  12. Yes, your view re-defines the term "picture window" -- just so lovely. Your garden reports are so lovely; honestly rivaling your literary garden-writing role models, Gladys and Rachel.

    I forgot about sweet peas! (I've told you how I miss spring blooms (in both senses of the word) and I don't know how I could have forgotten these beauties -- they are the first things to be planted in the spring here in Oregon. I hope you plant some next year and I hope you post pictures.

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    1. You know, I've found myself missing those monthly readings. Am looking forward to beginning the new seasonal adventure with Gladys and Susan Hill on the first day of winter.
      I've had sweet peas other years and missed them this summer. There is nothing like them in beauty or fragrance.

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  13. You'll never get rid of those mallows, writes someone who has spent hours trying to dig them out. Massive tap roots.
    I love to see other people's gardens. Have you read Gardening for Love: The Market Bulletins, by Elizabeth Lawrence? It's an American book, I had to order it specially years ago. Absolutely delightful, about how the author acquired slips and seeds from country women, all through correspondence. There was a website about her, called Through the Garden Gate, run by Allen Lacy. Not sure if it's still up.

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    1. It does pop up all over the garden, but I think the cold winters keep them from becoming invasive. I am really fond of them.
      I have read the EL book, and so enjoyed it.

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  14. Dear Nan, I wondered how you got my Argyle, named for his beautiful socks, on your header. Like your Sadie, Argyle is Lab/Rotty mix. Your farm is so beautiful. My grandmother mixed flowers and vegetables in the same beds. She was a magician with edible flowers. Nasturtiums? It was a walk down memory lane. I wish you good fortune in finding more trees for your orchard. We had apples and plums in Washington state. Have a wonderful day.

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    1. I'd love to see a picture of Argyle!
      I've had nasturtiums some years. They are beautiful.
      I don't know if we'll ever have an orchard, but my daughter and her boyfriend who live down the road are interested in growing apples.

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  15. Nan, I love this post
    your garden sounds like mine.
    But Woodhaven only 3 years old so it has a way to go.
    The walking onions overtook my garden
    pulled up many and they are still surfacing.
    I envy your hollyhocks
    so damp here by the woods they did not do well.
    Love the old fashion flowers.
    You make me smile this late afternoon :)

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    1. Do you think yours took over because you are in a warmer climate?
      There are a lot of plants you can grow in a woodsy, damp area that I could never grow on this sunny, exposed, windy hill.

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  16. I always enjoy "strolling" through your garden. Thank you for posting this F&G report. The hollyhocks are so pretty. They're an annual here and I've never grown them, but maybe next summer... I popped over to White Flower Farm (used to get their catalog years ago) and looked at the peonies. I have two in the backyard and would like to have some in the front. I'll let you know what I order!

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    1. Thank you!
      I ordered one Duchesse de Nemours; one Moonstone; three Sarah Bernhardts; one Nancy Nora (how could I resist?!).

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  17. Oh, Nan - I am so envious of your talents. I'm absolutely useless when it comes to gardening. I'll be using you as inspiration though - planning to put in some spring bulbs next month so we can have a bit more color.

    Wish I could plant more flowering bushes for the birds to rest on - but Baby Belle is much too efficient at catching them. We've even taken down the bird feeders..

    Summer's almost gone - soon the leaves will be resting in the grass...

    - Jeff

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    1. Do NOT be envious! I am not a 'real' gardener. I don't put in all that much time. There is no fuss about this farmhouse garden. What grows, grows, and what doesn't I give up on. It's a windy hill that gets cold in the winter so lots of stuff won't make it here. I grow hardy things which I love.
      Our cats haven't gone out in years because we lost four to coyotes and fishers over the years. No more.

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Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations.
Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.