How to Find Great Plants, Issue #4
So… did anyone see my giant spring todo list? I’m not going to be writing as often for a bit, but when I do it will include lots of garden transformation photos (and probably some mushrooms since morel season is coming up). Many thanks to those of you who were on top of your entries for How to Find Great Plants in spite of the inactivity following my bat white nose syndrome post.
This month’s submissions are some of the best I’ve seen!
FOOD: Averrhoa bilimbi (Cucumber Tree or Tree Sorrel): Orchid de Dangau
I love it when y’all make me exclaim, “WHAT on Earth is that?!” Sometimes I can get around the temperature barrier by putting tropical goodies in a pot. Has anyone grown this one with that method? I wish I could try the recipe that Makarimi included in her post at Orchid de Dangau, perhaps I can find some of these fruits at an ethnic grocery. This tree has a close relative I am familiar with called Averrhoa caramboa (the starfruit) but it doesn’t sound like these would make a good substitute. With a name like A. bilimbi I’m going to pretend it is something that Luna Lovegood would grow in her garden — alongside the dirigible plums with gulping plimpies standing guard.
ORNAMENTAL: Gardens Eye View: Native Plants
Who needs a fussy meconopsis poppy when you can grow sky blue flowers this easily?! (Yeah, we know some of you actually live where meconopsis poppies thrive, but for me it’s just a teasing photo in a catalog). Amsonia clusters are so tightly packed with blooms that from a distance it looks like a giant ball of color. That’s not all you’ll find on Donna’s entry about “going native.” Though her post at Gardens Eye View is packed with plants found in the wild areas of central New York I noticed that many of them overlap in my region of the south.
FOOD: The Bok Flock: Malaysian Curry Plant
My boyfriend has been very excited about the idea of naming one of the chickens we’re getting in May “Mrs. Bok Bok.” He was very surprised when a pre-existing Mrs. Bok from The Bok Flock entered a delicious plant for this month’s issue. I really enjoyed the anecdote describing her mother’s solution to the drive-by theft of curry plant branches by elderly Chinese women. I’m sold on owning a Malaysian curry plant, too. Can’t wait to get one and put it in the window next to my wishlist’s kaffir lime.
ORNAMENTAL: Experiments with Plants: Flowering Quince
Really, this one could be listed as a food but few people realize it. My mother has one that used to fruit but I think it has been too stressed in recent years (after an unfortunate “haircut” by some paid yard help). Maybe this will be the year that it fully recovers. At Experiments with Plants b-a-g says that seeing these beautiful shrubs bloom in late winter or early spring can cause broodiness (and trips to the garden center in cold weather). Now I’ve managed to talk about chickens twice in a row!
FOOD: Mark’s Veg Plot: Chili Peppers
I would have thought that Mark liked his food blazing hot based on his Mark’s Veg Plot blog header (the photos there are yummy). Turns out he likes his food a bit milder but it hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for chili peppers. I don’t blame him, I’m nuts about them too. His post convinced me that the best use for all our excess peppers is as a dried garland draped from our kitchen’s center beam. I feel so relieved to have a purpose for the mayhem… er, I mean harvest (my chili-harassed friends and family will likely share this sentiment). I also want to thank Mark for my recent Chilli Award!
ORNAMENTAL: The Garden Roof-Coop: Zinnias
I bought a few packets of these today (just barely stopped myself from getting ‘Envy’ and ‘Purple Prince’ too). The shortest varieties are my preferred pollinator beacons to plant among my vegetables. I have the opposite problem from Rebecca at The Garden Roof-Coop — whereas she has an easier time direct-seeding her zinnias, I have to start transplants so that once they reach my garden they are too big to be munched by roly-polies. I’m glad she told me they are deer-resistant! This year I’m going to try milk to remedy powdery mildew, which seems to be this flower’s only weakness.
FOOD: Allotment Heaven: Leeks
John’s leek history lesson on Allotment Heaven would make me want to grow and eat these veggies even if they weren’t unarguably tasty. There’s also piles of useful photos and planting tips in his thorough post. In addition to the mental image of soldiers marching around with leeks on their head, I was interested to discover that the “most common” varieties in John’s region were completely unheard of for me. Veggies in the USA are usually named for their looks or flavor… except that our leeks tend to be patriots like ‘Lincoln’ or ‘American Flag.’
ORNAMENTAL: Appalachian Feet: Roses
I didn’t pull off pruning my roses (or anything else) prior to Valentine’s Day this year but I’m sure they will survive a late haircut. The roses I grow are sturdier than the silk flowers often seen at Along Life’s Highway, the Yard Art Game (no fading and fraying!). Roses are one of the few non-food plants (if you aren’t counting hips) that I’m still a sucker for collecting. Mine have to be no-fuss! I’ve got no patience for spray regimens or tea roses that look like anorexic giraffes. Anyway, check out Appalachian Feet’s favorite roses here.
In other news, I’m going to Organic Growers School next weekend. Cannot wait!!! The classes look amazing and Anna from The Walden Effect has offered to meet up there with a generous gift of her extra bramble starts.
The next How to Find Great Plants is scheduled for June to accommodate my aforementioned todo list. I’m looking forward to the collection of entries I’ll get to read for the June 24th deadline (with publication on June 27th). No excuses not to make the next issue’s due date even if you are gardening as much as me!