Free Union Wood and Garden Journal

Location: Free Union, Virginia, United States

Monday, May 11, 2009


From the past weekend...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Herb Garden in, 2009

I have no pictures (it's raining steadily tonight) and less to write about, but suffice to say the herb garden is in for this year (mostly) and a hunch tells me it's significantly and perhaps, better in the long run, that it's sooner than last year. Everything has gone in (including mulch and compost) over the past ten days, and the mulch was from the trees we took out about 2 years ago. I'll report as things develop, but we've had good rain so far this season and it looks like things are taking nicely, except for one Basil plant that took a hit from some dog frolicking today.

I also transplanted the two audacious grass plants that were overpowering the walk to the door. One required a machete to get to the house through those. It was tough work but I won out in the end, relocating two of the plants to the fence gate and the backyard, taking the remaining two to the center of the triangles at the front of the walk. So far, so good, and I'm sure the current rains will help with their abrupt, but well-timed relocation.

One flowering plant (from the location, I'm thinking it's the Dame's Rocket) and perhaps one Lavender Provence survived the brutal woodstove ash avalanche we unfortunately gave the garden this winter. Hope springs eternal, but after some research, lesson learned on that one. As in all things, judiciousness is key.

As I sat down to write this, The Nightfly came up on iTunes (New Frontier, no less), so that bodes well. I think.

More to come.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mid-Summer Garden Update

Lots of rain this summer has made the herb garden more successful than I could have imagined for a first try. Not everything has been a winner, and I had to make a few emergency changes (note the mint is now OUT of the garden and in a pot on the bench - it was taking over everything)but on the whole I'm really happy with the reults:

The only thing that really didn't work out is the Chives; I got a few small salad's worth out of them , and they've just languished since. Perhaps I went in on them to early.

The big winner has been the Silver-Edged Thyme. Every Harvest seems to encourage new growth, and while the plants still aren't huge, there's always more than I need available.

The other big winners are the Mint, which went so crazy I had to replant it outside of the garden, it was taking over everything, the Agastache "Blue Fortune" (Anise Hyssop) which is now flowering and attracting bees like crazy, and the Lavender. Here's the Anise flowers, close-up and busy:

And a better look at the mint - which I lazily potted in mulch and has only had coffee grounds for fertilizer:

So, in two month's time I'd say not a lot has changed, but I am trying to take not of what is working and what is not. The tomatoes seem to be going OK right now BUT there are only three 'matos on the vine right now and I'm not sure what to make of the fact that although the plants look beautiful, there's just not a lot of fruit coming forth:

Maybe I should have taken everyone's advice and used Miracle-Gro; however it's been nice to keep the entire thing organic. Nice unless we don't get any tomatoes, that is!

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Friday, June 06, 2008

first tomato, last Peony

the first 'mato has appeared at the crown of the plant, less than one-half inch across. The last peony flower is holding out. We'll miss those beautiful, fat flowers when they're gone

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Timing is Everything

peony in the rain
Rain In Summer
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain!
How it clatters along the roofs,
Like the tramp of hoofs!

How it gushes and struggles out
From the throat of the over-flowing spout!
Across the window pane
It pours and pours;
And swift and side,
With a muddy tide,
Like a river down the gutter roars
The rain, the welcome rain!

The tomatoes, as well as a few new perennial flowers (Blue and Red Veronica, AKA "Spike Speedwell" - who names these things?), went in today. Despite my fondness for the traditional Saturday siesta, some clouds came in and without checking the forecast I decided it was time to plant these babies, having bought them earlier in the week. The skies opened up for a long, beautiful summer shower just as I was placing the final bits of mulch, and everything got a perfect soaking with no effort on my part.

The tomatoes went in to the old mint field on the edge of the deck - I was torn between placing them in planters and fixing them in the ground, but thought it would be better to have them along the path of the soaker hose - I'm a big fan of working smarter (not harder) and if the success of any of these plants relied on my own personal motivation, it would be a sad sight out there indeed.

And now, the Veronica Sisters:

pink veronica

The pink flowers are nearly neon.

blue veronica

the blue is about half as tall as the pink on planting

Guidance from

Veronica spicata is a herbaceous perrenial. 'Sunny Border Blue' produces erect sturdy spikes of tubular, dark violet-blue flowers from early summer to late autumn. This is a clump growing perennial with lance-shaped, crinkled, toothed, glossy dark green leaves. This species needs good drainage, moisture and full sun, good for sunny borders and rock gardens. Keep dead flowerheads removed to prolong the bloom time.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Dame's Rocket

Dame's Rocket

The Dame's Rocket is in it's second bloom, after a a series of storms blew off most petals a few weeks ago. Some mild pruning after the storm seemed to kick it into gear and I should note that it's recommended to prune as soon as the flowers begin to pale.

This just in - Dame's Rocket is a member of the Mustard Family, and a WEED! But a beautiful one:

Hesperis matronalis at the University of Wisconsin

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Heirloom Tomatoes

Meet Mr. Stripey, and the Green Zebra:

2 matos

Tomato CU

I picked these up from the nursery on Rio Road - it was harder to find heirloom tomatoes than I expected but these look very hardy, thick stalks and smell SO good. I'm still debating whether they will go in planters or in the ground, so you know there will be an update after I make that decision this weekend. In the photo above you can see they are already starting to bloom.

Tomato solo

Both plants are about 3 feet tall.

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Peonies in Bloom!

Going for about a week now, the look big, pink and beautiful. Unfortunately, half the plants have not bloomed, so we'll have to look into putting some new bulbs in next year, not sure if they are just tired or played out entireley (I recall a few didn't perform that well last year). The blooms, however, look great:


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