Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Glaring Blog Color Issues and My News

Oh the horror!!!
To my horror I discovered some of you have been suffering with having to look at a glaring electric green and a purple, which I understand is more like a purple crayon purple.  (ugh...why is this so challenging???)

My deepest apologies!  I am working on finding some solution for this issue.  It is frustrating for me as I spent a lot of time getting those colors just right, which they are on my computer...but unfortunately they are not on your devices, so just know I am working on finding a solution and let you know.

On my computer I see a lovely softer muted chartreuse and a yummy eggplant that go well with the tones of the photograph.  I am resisting the urge to change as the next one may be as bad if not worse...the colors may totally clash!  When I find out what it is that makes my screen different from yours in the color I will let you know here and on facebook.

Its been a nice ride but its time to say goodbye to Birds and Blooms Magazine

The other news I have is that this coming Sunday, July 31st is my last day working at Birds and Blooms Magazine as a regional blogger/reporter.  Its time to move along and focus on a few other irons I have in the fire.  I hear they have a new blogger so if you will, go make her feel at home after I'm gone.

You guys are the best.  Thanks for reading my blog and putting up with my wordiness...but I guess I should never's just who I am and I kind of like that about me.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Little Pink Mutant

Along the brick path of my dooryard garden, a little lavender blooms, Lavendula officinalis 'Blue Cushion'.  Its lovely soft blue and pink flowers have been filled with butterflies and bees for several days now.   And no I am not pulling your leg when I said blue and pink flowers...there are indeed two colors of flowers growing on this one plant.

My little mutant

The flowers of 'Blue Cushion' are normally powdery lavender blue, but a couple years ago my little plant showed up with an identity crisis of sorts and it's personality split as one of the newer branches mutated, sporting soft pink blooms.  I've grown a lot of lavender in my day and had never had this happen before.  If you have ever had something like this happen you know how exciting it is...if you haven't, just trust me, it's exciting!

A closure look reveals the very light pink flowers and a happy bee.

If this had been a variegated plant that had changed back (reverse mutated) to a single color, or a dwarf plant that suddenly grew a very long branch as dwarf Junipers often do,  I could say that it had reverted back to its original form, but this is something all together different.  Once in a while a plant produces a mutation that sports a brand new and different character from the rest of that plant and sometimes different from the species.  This is called a "plant sport".  It is an exiting moment for horticulture buffs like me, as this is basically the birth of a new plant variety.

Isn't it just amazing!

Flower color mutations are seen frequently in roses and carnations, but not often in lavenders.  Other types of  mutations will produce things like, gold leaves instead of green, wavy petals or leaves instead of smooth or leaves that are serrated instead of smooth along their edge.  Sometimes it is in the form of completely different growth habit like weeping or contorted instead of upright.

Secretly I have hoped that my little pink mutant will be something worth propagating and begin a whole new line of Lavenders.  Wouldn't that be something?

As I write this I am reminded how amazing this creation of God's is and how His creative capacity is well beyond what you or I could ever imagine.  It is discoveries like these pink flowers that remind me too of how He delights in loving us by giving us sweet surprises that delight the soul.

May your garden be blessed.

Copyright © 2011 by Patty Hicks
All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I Still Can't Grow Dill

A few months ago I wrote a blog post on Birds and Blooms Blog about how I just can't seem to grow dill.  Honestly I have done everything I know how and this is what the results end up being...and this was a good year.

Well when I fail at least I'm consistent.

It seems some things will never least not this year.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Salad Never Looked So Pretty

After my classes yesterday I headed straight out to my garden where I checked in on our spuds, tomatoes and garlic, picked a few Sugar Snap Peas and a whole array of yummy things for our evening salad.  As I washed it all and piled it in the bowl I couldn't help but sigh at this beautiful sight.

About the prettiest mix I think I've ever gathered.
This salad consists of fragrant soft yellow Daylily blooms, sweet blue Borage and bright gold Nasturtium flowers, ruddy red Bijou and delicate Salad Bowl lettuce, baby Scotch Blue Kale leaves and Mizuna mustard.  I topped the salad with fresh basil and parsley which were chopped fine and sprinkled atop the other ingredients just prior to dressing,.  All it needed was a drizzle of olive oil, good quality Basalmic Vinegar, some fresh ground pepper and a pinch of sea salt if desired.  What a delight to be able to grow such beautiful things as a feast not only for the eyes but the dinner table as of this gardeners favorite rewards.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gnome Villages???

My brain is just a bit tuckered from all the new information it is being forced to process after a social media class I participated in today so you all get a break from my usual wordiness.  Heaven forbid not a Wordless Wednesday wordless...never!    Instead of Weedy Wednesday here is a photo that is close to my heart...the weirdest pruning job I've seen to date.

Almost gave myself whiplash when I drove past this the first time.  Possibly the future site of our area's first Gnome Village.
Wait...that's not all folks!
If you have a strong aversion to garden gnomes stop here!
If not, grab your popcorn and enjoy.

 (Those folks at Utah State University Extension are so creative!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Weedy Wednesday: Is That A Real Dandelion?

Welcome to another Weedy Wednesday post. Today I thought I would focus on how to properly identify two very similar weeds, Dandelion and Cat's Ears or False Dandelion.  We all know the Dandelion but I'm guessing that some of you may be unfamiliar with the fact that there is an imposter afoot...the False Dandelion.  It came by that name for good reason as it is very often improperly identified as Dandelion.  I would put together a little quiz with eight images to help you see how much you really do know about how to tell these two plants apart.  Keep track of your answers and when you get to the bottom you can see how well you did.

Is this Dandelion with the nearly smooth stem...
or is it this one with clearly ridged stem?

These smooth serrated leaves...
or these hairy lobed leaves?

This common weed is actually one of the most beneficial plants in our garden when we take a closer look.  That long taproot we find impossible to dig out with one try is able to bring up nutrients for plants with shallower root systems and adds minerals and nitrogen to the soil too. It is one of the earliest flowers to bloom, attracting beneficial insects to the garden.  It is also a food source for some moths and butterflies.

Not only is Dandelion good for the garden but it is also to us for food and medicine as well and it's not just one part of the plant but the entire thing that is edible. It's flowers are turned into wine, leaves become a salad and the root become a coffee substitute.  I am guessing that may be the reason it is now found on every continent on the planet.  If you keep track of which image you think is what it will teach you more than if you don't and get some won't know what you didn't see that you may need to if you want to gather flowers for wine or leaves for a salad.

Whose petals appear to some to more of a point?
Who has these squared off petals?

My parents did not have the affinity for Dandelion that I do.  Their only interest was in how to be rid of them in the lawn.  I remember my brother and I being sent out to dig Dandelions out of lawn using a Dandelion fork and a big screwdriver.  I never liked doing it as I much preferred being able to gather up the pretty yellow flowers for bouquets and watching bees gather nectar and pollen from the blooms.  And who doesn't like to blow on the puffballs and make a wish?  The Germans call these puffballs "Pusteblume" which means "blowing flower".  Personally I like calling the parachute filled puffballs "Wish Flowers" and by the looks of our yard this year we must have made a lot of wishes last year because the Dandelions are everywhere!

I just picked these flowers.  Can you tell which is the Dandelion and which is Cat's Ear?
Which plant has a clean white seed head and which has this dirty white seed head?

Okay, are you ready?  Lets see how well you did...
In all the photographs the top image was of the Dandelion and the bottom was the Cat's ear, including the one photo showing the freshly picked stems.  So how did you do?

By the way, there is a clue in our English name "Dandelion" that will always help you identify this plant and it comes from the French who, thinking the sharply serrated leaves looked like the teeth of a lion, called it dent-de-lion. So I hope you enjoyed the little tutorial quiz today.  It was a lot of fun putting it together and if you ever forget, you know where to come look for the answer.

If you have weeds that you are having trouble not confusing with other weeds let me know and I'll see if I can put together a quiz like the one I did here and we'll see how everyone fairs trying to tell your weeds apart.

Copyright © 2011 by Patty Hicks
All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Supporting Julie Bass And Her Front Yard Vegetable Garden

Here's what all the fuss is about.
Usually I try to steer clear of controversial political subjects whenever possible but the news about Oak Park Michigan taking Julie Bass to court over her putting a vegetable garden in her front yard was something I have to speak up about.

Julie is someone who by all accounts, performed her due diligence before she built this front yard vegetable garden and now, because a neighbor complained, suddenly finds herself battling the city for the right to keep it.   She states in an interview that she would never would have built it if the people she spoke with at the city had told her it was illegal and from what I have seen the regulations set by the city only state "suitable plant material" may be used in front yards, failing to define what "suitable" is.  Because of this lack of clarity on what "suitable" meant, Julie said she asked more than once if vegetables were considered "suitable" and both individuals she spoke seemed to think they were fine and supported her plan.  That was until someone in the neighborhood saw what she was doing and filed complaints against her.  This complaint suddenly seemed to clarify the definition for the city and now it seems that edibles are not "suitable" for anyone to grow in their front yard.  (Gee if it's that easy to mess with city regulations I think I need to file a few complaints of my own.)  Personal taste should have nothing to do with what is suitable, if it did I could file a thousand complaints.  What I want to know is how is growing vegetables any different?  That is the biggest question here.

It seems the epitome of foolishness for a Oak Park, a city that is under a lot of financial stress right now, to make Julie's garden a crime when it already has become a place the children love and neighbors gather. They claim Julie is the one forcing the issue, which would be a non issue if they had bothered clearly defining what "suitable" meant in the first place. It makes me wonder if the complainant is the type that would rather see people just stayed inside their homes and were only seen driving away in their cars, the type that would rather live where there were no sounds of children playing and back yard barbeques.

Another thing is that Oak Park it seems, like most all cities, has blighted properties they are having trouble getting landowners to clean up, but are Julie's neighbors complaints getting those issues cleaned up?  It seems because it's not right next door or across the street from their homes these obvious violations are easier to ignore. This whole thing sounds like the typical government double standard to me and unfortunately this one pits neighbor against neighbor.  Thankfully Julie as set out to stand her ground and we gardeners are standing with her.  One thing for sure, this is shaping up to not be a typical court battle for the city of Oak Park and the future of vegetable gardening in the city of Oak Park will be decided on this decision.

Personally it saddens me when neighbors think they have the right to control what their neighbors do on their property because of their own personal taste.  Even sadder when these complaints are the result of callousness and pure ignorance.  I say pure ignorance because as it was reported in one of the interviews, one person's complaint was followed by the statement that they felt the placement of Julie's garden would invite animal pests into the area.  (And her back yard won't???)  This shows how ridiculous such complaints often are.  It is clear to me this person is clueless as to what animals will be drawn to or not and in fact Julie's retort to this complaint is the educated voice here (see the interview linked above as reference).  Now they just look like absolute fools.

Oak Park would have better served their city by cleaning up their own back yard and the blight of negligent landlords first and just left Julie alone.  It begs to wonder who is really running that city.  The true crime here has to be that Oak Park is serving busy body neighbors who are so selfish they will force their ideals of what their neighborhood should look like on everyone no matter what it costs.

This is my garden. Better than weedy dry lawn and a couple shrubs wouldn't you say?

Just so you know, I ripped out the grass in our front yard, planted a garden and because of that, many otherwise ugly and blighted yards are now planting gardens and wonder of wonders...neighbors are actually in their front yards getting to know one another which helps to keep our neighborhood safe...and yes I do grow edibles in my front yard.  The biggest critter problem we have not from vegetable gardens but is from the ignorant people who leave cat and dog food outside drawing rats and raccoons.

Michelle Obama, where are you when we need you!!!
So there I've had my say, now its your turn.  Please share this blog post with others and join in this united effort to send a message that vegetable gardens are beautiful and worthy of front yards!

Please sign the petition to help support Julie's Garden.
Julie is now blogging about this whole issue.  Stop by and give her some love and let her know you support her cause.