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Years ago I bought a cook book titled “Glorious Garlic” and it has some terrific recipes. Little did I know when I bought it that Mike and I some day would seriously grow garlic. Mike refers to us as “Garlicteers.” Not only do we love to eat garlic (Mike makes delicious garlic mashed potatoes), but we also enjoy growing garlic in addition to our roses.

It all started a few years ago when we planted a few cloves of garlic around our roses because we wanted to determine if garlic is really a deterrent against black spot. Since we planted it among our sustainable roses which don’t get black spot, we couldn’t tell if it helped or not. But it didn’t hurt and provided us with some delicious fresh garlic that summer.

Garlic Bed

Last October we got serious about planting garlic. Mike prepared a garlic bed, amending the soil, and we mail ordered Hardneck garlic, better for the cold New England climate than Softneck Garlic, from Green Mountain Garlic in Vermont.

According to Green Mountain Garlic, there are 3 types of Hardnecks: Racamboles, Porcelain and Purple Stripe. When we ordered our garlic the end of July 2014, we were a little late and the only garlic available was the Porcelains. We ordered ½ pound each of 2 varieties: Music and Romanian Red, which gave us 3 bulbs of each variety, about 13 -15 cloves of each bulb. Along with our harvest from the previous year of 2 unknown garlic varieties that we were given by friends from the Connecticut Rose Society, we had about 50 cloves to plant.

Digging up Garlic

Garlic is easy to grow and once it was planted at the end of October 2014, we had nothing left to do but wait. By the end of March 2015, after most of the snow had finally melted, we saw the garlic pushing up through the still-hard soil. In early June the curly garlic scapes appeared and we followed Green Mountain’s instructions and clipped them off and used them like chives. Quite tasty. By the first week in July, just as predicted, the garlic leaves turned yellow, a sign that they were ready to harvest. We dug up a few heads to see if they were ready to go then decided to wait 1 more week before we harvested them all in the middle of July.

Harvested-Garlic

Mike bundled them up by variety and hung them on our patio under the awning – the only place we had that was warm, dry, out of the sun with good air circulation. We let them cure for 4 weeks until the clove wrappers were dry, then we trimmed the stems and the roots, cleaned them off and stored them in mesh bags.

Hanging-GarlicThe difference between fresh and store-bought garlic is amazing. I could tell that as soon as I chopped up my first Romanian Red which just oozed out pungent garlic oil. I added chopped garlic to our home-grown green beans and the garlic flavor was just amazing. We tried Music next and found it was a bit milder. What I liked about both, besides their freshness and intense flavor, was the ease in peeling, unlike some of the garlic I bought at the market.

Our yield was almost 100%. We lost 1 clove to a curious squirrel who had dug it up and discarded it on the grass when she decided it wasn’t an acorn. Mike plans on expanding our garlic patch and I’ve already ordered a 3rd variety from Green Mountain Garlic called Spanish Red, a Racombole variety that is described as having a rich, robust flavor. I can’t wait to try it!

Garlic and roses, great companion plants!

Stanley-Park

We knew we had arrived in Vancouver when we caught sight of the tall glass towers with rounded corners that dominated the dramatic downtown skyline. Since we only had four days to spend here, our agenda was packed with plans to visit Stanley Park’s Rose Garden, Granville Island, the Museum of Anthropology and a drive to Whistler.

Along the Sea to Sky Highway

Along the Sea to Sky Highway

Originally, we had wanted to include a foray into the Canadian Rockies but our schedule only allowed time for a day trip to Whistler via the famous Sea to Sky Highway. While the drive time from the Lion’s Gate Bridge in North Vancouver to the town of Whistler was only two hours, we planned on a whole day to include time for scenic stops and breaks.
The Sea to Sky Highway is a much improved upgrade from the old Highway 99 which had been a harrowing twisty two lane road carved into the steep cliffs along Howe Sound back in the day. The road received a major makeover for the 2010 Winter Olympics and offers a spectacular panorama of Howe Sound at sea level segueing into stunning mountain vistas as we climbed toward Whistler in the Rockies. (You know this a serious mountain road when there are frequent turnoffs cautioning drivers to install tire chains for winter travel.)
Oympic-RingsAfter this amazing morning drive, Whistler was anticlimactic. After a so-so lunch, we walked around a bit. We half expected an intimate alpine ski village but found a busy upscale ski area with lots of dining, trendy shops, and galleries. Visitors were mostly interested in eating and taking selfies in front of the Olympic rings in the village square.
The return trip in the afternoon exposed different vistas and was just as rewarding as the morning’s drive. The trip did take the whole day and could have gone longer. The Sea to Sky Highway has been described as one of the top drives in Canada and we can attest to that.

A bed of Julia Child roses

A bed of Julia Child roses

The following day we went to Stanley Park in North Vancouver to see the rose garden. This 80-year-old garden has 3500 rose bushes planted in large beds surrounded by lawn. Most beds consist of many bushes of the same variety creating a dramatic color palette when in bloom. Unlike the rose garden in The Butchart Gardens in Victoria that we had seen the week before, this garden displayed lots of color even though peak bloom was supposed to be two weeks away. One section of the garden had a long arbor with climbers scrambling up and over both sides and beds of seasonal plantings of annuals, perennials, and spring bulbs planted along the side – perfect companion plants for roses.Stanley-Park-Arbor
The garden is maintained by a professional staff and looks it. The bushes are fertilized and well-pruned; the beds are clean, attractive and weed-free. We chatted with a gardener who told us that the garden is organic by design and no pesticides are employed. They even create their own garden soil with a park-wide composting system.
Municipal rose gardens are intended to display the color, fragrance and beauty of the genus rosa to the public and the rose garden at Stanley Park does just that.

Ballerina Rose

Ballerina Rose

Before leaving, we meandered through the park, stopping at the gift shop with an impressive array of locally carved totem poles displayed outside.
Totem-Poles-in-Stanley-POn our final day in Vancouver, we headed over to Granville Island, a one-time industrial area now gentrified with a huge indoor public market as the main attraction. It features local produce, seafood, baked goods, interesting arts and crafts, and lots of eating. With over 10 million visitors annually, we had expected numbing congestion with little parking. But on the drizzly Tuesday morning in May we arrived, the crowd size was modest and the parking plentiful. While smaller, Granville Island is somewhat akin to Pike’s Place Market in Seattle but with more open space and a little more subdued.

Granville Island

Granville Island

After lunch we drove to the UBC Museum of Anthropology 20 minutes away. This museum is well known for its collections of art and culture of the Canadian First Nations of the Pacific Northwest. The Great Hall displays an impressive number of totem poles, canoes and other carved sculptures. However, the center piece in the museum is the iconic wooden sculpture titled “The Raven and The First Men” carved out of yellow cedar by Bill Reid. The museum collection is massive, too much to digest in one visit, but an ideal way to spend a rainy afternoon. We left Vancouver the following day returning to Seattle and the long flight home.

The Raven and the First Men

The Raven and the First Men

As New Englanders, Angelina and I travel to faraway places out of broad curiosity of the world beyond home plus a keen sense of adventure. As in past trips, after months of planning, this one came and went in a blink. The Seattle and British Columbia trip was satisfying and we are glad we went. Now we’re looking toward 2016 and our next adventure.

Garden of Glass Chihuly Garden and Glass

Garden of Glass
Chihuly Garden and Glass

When we traveled to Seattle Washington last May, we had planned an active itinerary of what to see and places to go. High on our list was Pike’s Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Woodlawn Rose Garden. Of course, the list included the Space Needle – the iconic symbol of Seattle – and while we were there we were also eager to go to the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition that was located right next door

Pike's-PlaceOur hotel was within easy walking distance of Pike’s Place Market, so the day we arrived in Seattle, we decided to have lunch at Pike’s Place. However, visiting on a Sunday turned out not to be a good idea, since it was so crowded that we could barely move, let alone find a place to sit down and eat. But we did enjoy watching the crowds swarm around the big fish stalls and especially liked the very busy flower stalls that were absolutely packed with a never ending supply of inexpensive floral bouquets. Every one we saw seemed to be carrying a bunch of these colorful flowers.

Flower-Stall

Fish-StallWe find it helpful to go on a city tour early in our trips in order to get a sense of the layout of a new city. Mike had chosen Shutter Tours, an excellent small-tour company that brought us to some out of-the-way places we would have missed on our own. As a bonus, the tour guide provided welcome tips on taking photos. So on the day after our arrival in Seattle, we were driven through the city of Seattle then a ride out to Snoqualmie Falls. Then it was on to a stop at the Fremont Troll under the Seattle highway overpass followed by a look at Ballard Locks and Fisherman’s Terminal. The Locks were particularly interesting since it was Memorial Day and we were able to see the traffic jam of pleasure boats queuing up in the locks to get home.

Troll

Ballard-LocksThe next day we took the hotel courtesy car out to the Space Needle with plans to view Chihuly Garden and Glass. We were a little disappointed to find out that most of the indoor exhibits, like the Northwest Room, Sealife Room, and the Ikebana and Float Boat room we had seen at the Chiluly exhibit at Boston Museum of Fine Arts a few years ago. But we were fortunate to arrive just in time for a fascinating demonstration of glass blowing.

Glass-BlowingThe most impressive part of our visit was the Chihuly Glasshouse, a 40 foot tall structure where a colorful display of glass flowers hung above and around us, part of a 100-foot long suspended sculpture. It was an amazing piece of art and as I looked up, juxtaposed above the sculpture was the iconic Space Needle.

Greenhouse

Space-Needle-and-GreenhAs impressive as the Glasshouse was, I think the Chihuly Garden outside was just as striking, not so much for its live plantings but for the monumental glass sculptures and colorful installations of glass art displayed artfully among and around the trees, shrubs, and plants. The bright colors – blues, oranges, purples, reds – were truly amazing.

Chihuly-GardenIf you visit Seattle, put the Chihuly Garden and Glass on your ‘must-see” list. This Garden of Glass is a garden like no other and one you’ll never forget.

Show Time

Peak Bloom

Peak Bloom in Our Garden

Each spring we wonder when peak bloom will occur in our garden. We consider the current spring’s weather and the harshness of the previous winter and then venture a guess. Ideally, peak bloom happens a few days prior to the Rhode Island Rose Society’s annual rose show which this year was held on June 20. While our garden actually peaked on June 15 (this is purely a subjective judgment on Mike’s part), many of our shrub roses had gone-by. Regardless, the garden was still full of other roses that we could take to the rose show.

RI Rose Society Rose Show Awards Table

RI Rose Society Rose Show Awards Table

Rose Shows serve several purposes; the first is to display the genus rosa in all its glory to the public – the show is free and open to all in the afternoon. There is a class in the show for every type of rose and the gardening public can see them all under one roof. The second is to satisfy the competitive nature of local rose gardeners who vie for ribbons and bragging rights.

Unlike last year when we cut roses in the rain the night before the show, this year the weather was perfect – sunny and dry. Mike and I went from rose bush to rose bush, cutting and labeling roses. One of our favorite ways to exhibit our roses is in English Boxes which means we need 6 fresh blooms each the same size and stage of bloom so they all match. So we keep an eye peeled, looking for these possibilities as well as other sprays and single blooms. After selecting the best stems, we place them in vases of cold water and store in a dark, air-conditioned room overnight so we’re ready to go first thing in the morning.

Queen of Show

Queen of Show

The morning of the show we arrived at 7 am and started prepping our roses. The first rose we prepared was Smokin’ Hot, a new hybrid tea introduced in 2014 by Weeks Roses. Since we don’t have many hybrid tea roses in our garden any more, this variety was an exception. We got Smokin’ Hot in early May and it was still in its container because we evaluate each new variety for one season before giving it a place in the garden. Well, Smokin’ Hot lived up to its name and gave us a fiery orange-red bloom with perfect hybrid tea form which won Queen of the show. Needless to say, Mike awarded it a coveted spot in our garden a few days later.

Cherry Parfait

Cherry Parfait English Box

Another rose we like is Cherry Parfait, a grandiflora rose that we planted in 2005. It’s aptly named because of its color – white petals with lipstick red edges that swirl around the bloom. In an English Box, each rose looks like a bowl of cherry ice cream with ripples of whipped cream. We brought 2 large sprays to the rose show and entered it in 2 different classes: English box and Grandiflora spray. Both won blue ribbons and Best of Class.

Cherry Parfait Spray

Cherry Parfait Spray

Day Breaker, a peachy-apricot floribunda that produces sprays of 5-7 blooms and glossy immaculate foliage had bloomed perfectly for the show. Like Cherry Parfait, we entered Day Breaker in 2 classes: Floribunda spray and English Box for Floribundas where it won Best of Class in both classes. The Day Breaker English Box also was voted Best English Box in show.

Day Breaker Spray

Day Breaker Spray

The June bloom is over and it was one of our best ever. Mike thinks it was due, in part, to all the snow we had last winter that was beneficial to the garden, a new meal plan he developed for the garden, plus a little help from Mother Nature.

Day Breaker: Best English Box

Day Breaker: Best English Box

One thing I’ve learned over time is it’s pointless to worry about whether we have roses for our rose show; that’s out of our hands. If we do, that’s great, if not, we still have them to enjoy all season. But we can’t complain this season, our roses arrived on schedule and we were able to enjoy exhibiting them as well displaying to the public the beauty of America’s National Flower.

The Butchart Gardens

Angelina and I had arrived in Victoria, British Columbia on the second leg of our recent trip to the Pacific Northwest. We had crossed the border into Canada the day before and drove to the ferry landing at Tsawwassen, just south of Vancouver, for the 90-minute boat ride to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island followed by a short drive to Victoria. The BC Ferry was huge and we were amazed at how quickly they unloaded and reloaded hundreds of cars and trucks in less than 45 minutes. The weather was perfect and the island scenery was stunning, an unanticipated benefit to the trip. Since we only had a few days to spend here, our primary goal was to visit The Butchart Gardens.
The Butchart Gardens are located 14 miles north of the town of Victoria on the Saanich Peninsula. Here is where Robert and Jennie Butchart settled in the late 19th century. They built a home and constructed a factory utilizing nearby limestone deposits to manufacture Portland cement. It was the quarry left from mining this limestone that would become the fabulous Sunken Garden, the premiere garden at Butchart.
Hanging-BasketAs we entered the parking area on the morning we arrived, we noted that the parking lot was paved with thousands and thousands of pavers, not asphalt or concrete, the first indication of the standard of quality we would see throughout the gardens. Once inside, we saw hanging baskets, flower boxes and large beds of annuals, perennials and flowering shrubs everywhere; even the trash containers had pots of blooming flowers on top – the garden was a tsunami of color. Planter
We headed to the rose garden first, hoping there would be at least some bloom – this was mid-May and still early for roses in BC. Arches of ramblers provided a dramatic entrance but unfortunately were still in bud stage. This was the case with most of the roses with only some varieties of shrub roses in bloom – peak bloom was still two weeks away. I noticed that a handful of alfalfa pellets were spread about the base of each rose and a gardener said this was to add organic content to the soil around each bush. The pellets quickly break down when wet and add some nutrients as well. I may try this in our gardens next season. (But I wonder if this might attract unwelcome rabbits.) Rose Arches

Another interesting feature here was the “tree roses” established throughout the rose garden. These standards were supported by wire frames that looked like big inverted “baskets” atop the four-foot interstems where the grafts were made. This allowed City of York, a white climber, to be trained by wrapping its long canes around and around the baskets creating an unusual pyramid shape when the laterals bloomed. We did enjoy the purple, blue and white delphiniums in full bloom planted among the roses that added early color to this garden.

Rose Standard

Rose Standard

The path from the rose garden led to the shady cloaked entrance to the Sunken Garden, the signature garden at Butchart. This amazing garden was created in the limestone quarry between the residence and the cement plant. Serpentine paths wind around bed after bed after bed ablaze with seasonal color that almost defies description. Each bed was freshly edged and surrounded by immaculate lawn. (One bed featured jet-black petunias. I had never seen this color before. I inquired about them at the information booth but no one could ID the variety.) The tall grey quarry walls have long-since been covered in ivy. This garden alone was worth the trip.

Sunken Garden

Sunken Garden

Black Petunias

Black Petunias

We wandered over to the Italian Garden, a former tennis court, transformed into a formal garden of symmetrical beds in a paved courtyard. These beds changed seasonally with an outstanding tulip display in springtime. Next to the Italian garden was a perfect lawn, a salute to turf, a meticulously mowed green sward that looked like Fenway Park.

Italian Garden

Italian Garden

Afternoon-TeaNow it was time for lunch or should I say Afternoon Tea at the Dining Room Restaurant in the Gardens. This was our first experience with a formal Tea and we had reserved the meals weeks in advance. The best part was they had a gluten-free version of Afternoon Tea which meant I could have some too. In fact, my Tea was much the same as Angelina’s as the kitchen staff had developed excellent gluten-free substitutions for the bread and pastries. We enjoyed both the food and the experience in an elegant setting surrounded by beds of flowering shrubs and annuals.

After tea we roamed through the Japanese Garden and then stopped by a life-size chess set where Angelina played a game. The large gift shop was our last stop on the way out to buy something to bring home. Chess
The Butchart Garden was on top of our bucket list of must-sees for the trip. Based on our research we had high expectations and we were not disappointed. The gardens were fresh and immaculate. A small army of gardeners patrolled the property – each with a rake, pruners and a wheelbarrow – weeding, raking deadheading, and chatting with visitors. The structures and hardscape were well maintained and we were especially impressed with the lofty standards of cleanliness reminiscent of the pristine environment found in Disney properties.

Climbing Roses

Climbing Roses

The Butchart Gardens in its own unique and special way was the equal of the best gardens we’ve seen both in Europe and the United States. We hit the road back to Victoria by mid-afternoon well satisfied with our visit.

The McCartney Rose

The McCartney Rose

A few days ago we returned from our trip to Seattle and Vancouver where we visited some fantastic gardens (posts about them to come later). The climate in the Pacific Northwest is milder than ours here in southern New England and those gardens, while not at peak, displayed more color than we had when we left home in late May. At that time, nothing was in bloom in our gardens except a few irises and we were curious about what we’d find when we returned home. We weren’t disappointed. The gardens were in fantastic shape thanks to the cool, rainy weather and the care of our brother-in-law Ray who watered while we were away.

Garlic

Garlic

Garlic Scapes

Garlic Scapes

The garlic had grown by inches and put out its curly scapes and our sky blue delphinium had flowered. Most importantly, our roses were on the cusp of blooming with swollen buds that were cracking color and ready to burst – some of which we hoped would wait for our Rose Show in two weeks.

Clair Matin

Clair Matin

It was no surprise to find that big Clair Matin was in full bloom since it’s always the first to bloom. We also expected to see Super Hero in bloom, although I was surprised to see so many flowers.

Super Hero

Super Hero

We were pleased to see that The McCartney Rose (see lead photo), which Mike had pruned quite hard due to significant winter kill, had come back as good as ever with strong new canes and lots of buds.

While I won’t know which rose was the absolute first to bloom this year, I took photos of the garden so I’ll have a record of which roses bloomed while we were away.

As we approach mid-June, our gardens are blooming right on schedule despite last winter’s never-ending bitter cold, snowy, weather. Just as they always do.

Campfire Roses

Campfire Roses

Mike and I are always on the look-out for hardy, disease-resistant roses we can recommend. While these sustainable roses are not hard to find, we like varieties that are more than landscape roses and offer interesting color.

Photo Credit: Cornhill Nursery

Campfire Rose Photo Credit: Cornhill Nursery

Enter Campfire, one of the Canadian Artists series from Agriculture Canada’s rose-breeding program. What sparked our interest in Campfire, aside from it being winter hardy to USDA Zone 3 and its disease resistance, is its color. Each bloom begins with yellow and red buds that open to yellow with deep pink edges. What’s unique about this rose is that the flowers that bloom early in the season will be yellow with pink edges, but later in the season, the pink edges becomes more pronounced. The bush has been described as harlequin-like with a display of yellow, red and pink flowers against a backdrop of glossy green foliage. Another plus for Campfire is its compact growth habit that doesn’t overwhelm the home garden. It also blooms all season up until the first hard frost.

Photo Credit: First Editions Plants

Campfire Rose  Photo Credit: First Editions Plants

Unfortunately, Campfire is not available locally. We searched on-line to see where we could find this rose and while it is advertised on Bailey Nurseries’ web site, it wasn’t available. Mike called a rose wholesaler in St. Catharines, Ontario who listed it in their catalog, to find out where in New England we could find Campfire. They knew of only one garden center in New England who carried it – Lake Street Nursery in Salem, New Hampshire. We called Lake Street twice. The first time Mike was told they hadn’t received their shipment from Canada yet. The second time he found out the order had arrived the day before and they had 10 Campfires in stock. We drove up to New Hampshire that afternoon and brought home two Campfires.

The research we did on Campfire yielded some interesting facts. One is that it is a hybrid of My Hero and Frontenac. My Hero, an Easy Elegance rose no longer available, was the predecessor of Super Hero, one of our favorite Easy Elegance roses that is extremely disease resistant.

Artist Tom Thomson & Campfire Rose Photo from canadianartistsroses.com

Artist Tom Thomson & Campfire Rose
Photo from canadianartistsroses.com

The other interesting back story to this rose is that it was named to honor renowned Canadian artist Tom Thomson’s painting called “Campfire” which shows a camp fire burning in front of a tent. (See photo below). Ironically, this masterpiece hangs in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, a museum Mike and I visited a few years ago. Unfortunately, we were unfamiliar with Tom Thomson’s work at the time and didn’t get the chance to see this painting.

Campfire by Tom Thomson

Due to some horticultural sleuthing, good luck and timing, we now have the rose named after his painting and we’re looking forward to seeing the kaleidoscope of yellow, red and deep pink blooms all season long. We’ll let you know if Campfire lives up to its reputation.

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