Monday, January 26, 2009

Edible Flowers

I found an interesting article today on
Whats Cooking America about edible flowers. Of course it made me think of summer and wish for spicy nasturtium petals to sprinkle on my rather dull winter salads. Nasturtiums are so pretty and full of sunlight. Daylilies are also edible and I think they are fried in batter in Japan for a special delicacy. I know the coneflowers in this bouquet have medicinal value (echinacea) but I am not sure they should be eaten. They are not included on the Whats Cooking America list.
Even a dandelion would be welcome in January. Dandelion and their greens are also edible and I have even seen seeds for large dandelions being offered in seed catalogues. I don't need any special seeds, the ones that sneak into my garden grow into monsters in the rich garden soil.
I am actually fond of these bright yellow weeds. We are not lawn people and my husband only mows the lawn when there aren't any wildflowers blooming in the grass. Since this is not a favorite task it works out well for him especially in the spring when the lawn is full of violets and ajuga.

Find of the Day:
It may be hard to find nasturiums in January but you can still eat a flower today. I love cupcakes and this orange chiffon cupcake looks like a peony but surely tastes much better. And you don't even have to bake it (I at least could never make this pretty a cupcake) you can order it on Etsy from Suite106Cupcakery.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another Valentine

I don't think there is a flower more closely associated with Valentine's Day and love than the red rose.

I don't have many roses in my garden, many are not hardy here and even the very hardy rugosas suffer a great deal of winter kill on my west facing hillside garden. And then there are the rose chafers and Japanese beetles. I do have a few old fashioned roses, the ones that don't need much care.

But I do love them and buy myself bouquets (or try to get my husband to buy them for me) often.

The top picture is one of my Valentine cards. The second a mosaic of roses which was a pleasure to make.

Find of the Day:

I think this is the prettiest soap I have ever seen. A perfect gift for your valentine, a ruby red bar of soap sprinkled with rose petals.

The soap is handmade by Swanmoutain Soaps on Etsy. An unbelievable buy for $6.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bleeding Hearts for Valentines Day

It was 8 below zero last night and it is supposed to be colder tonight. Instead of thinking of the cold I will think about Valentines Day and spring Bleeding Hearts.
Bleeding Hearts are an old cottage garden favorite and a perfect flower for a Valentines Day card. They grow easily in the shade garden and look particularly nice on a bank or the top of a stone wall with their flowers hanging down.

The old fashioned bleeding heart is a native of Japan but there are native bleeding hearts as well. The individual flowers are simpler and less dramatic but they bloom all summer and have pretty foliage that does not die back in summer heat. They also like shade.
The little pink flowers on the bottom of this locket are native bleeding hearts. (The locket can be found on my Etsy jewelry site, Beaded Wire.)

Find of the Day:
I think these woven thread earrings look like hearts. I have no idea how she does these but I think they are lovely. They come in many colors, these are called Ruby.
Available from the Etsy shop, SincearJewelry.


I wrote about the three plants I would take to a desert isle yesterday. The third was tulips. I must admit that one of my criteria for flowers is how photogenic they are, and tulips are perhaps the most photogenic of all flowers. They come in many shapes and colors and forms and are all beautiful. Parrot tulips, like the pink parrots in this photograph are wild with color and frilly form. But the simple singles like the reds in "Tulips in Snow", the second photograph, are also striking flashes of color.
Tulips are not hard: you just put them in the ground in the fall and the next spring you have beautiful blooms UNLESS they are eaten first. Unfortunately they are choice food morsels for the little animals that live below our gardens. My friend Mary and I once stood in my garden amazed watching a tulip being sucked down into the ground for someone's lunch. There are a number of ways of dealing with these critters. I plant my tulips in the big rubber pots that you buy shrubs in at nurseries, sunk into the ground. I leave the tubs in the ground and replant them each fall. During the summer I fill them with annuals. Other possibilities are soaking them in Ropel before planting or putting each in a little plastic mesh bag (like you buy sacks of oranges in). I used to do the latter with lilies before the red lily beetles came to New Hampshire.
I replant my tulips each fall because they don't come back well the next year, the bulbs split and the blooms are smaller and weeker each subsequent year). Expensive annuals but who can resist?

Find of the Day:

Aren't these origami tulips astonishing. I have tried origami but always given up in frustration.

Think of the talent and work to make this lovely everlasting bouquet.

These are made by an artist in Cork, Ireland and are available for purchase on her Etsy shop ArguingTheMobius.
Only $20 for 15 blooms on bamboo stems.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Three Plants for a Desert Island

I was visiting gardening blogs this morning and came across an interesting idea on ShirlsGardenWatch: choose the three plants of all the plants in the world that you would take with you if you were stranded on a desert island.
Looking at the beautiful posts answering this challenge with their wonderful rare and often exotic choices I thought this would be very difficult, if not impossible. How to choose just three plants from all the plants I love?
But it turned out to be fairly easy. First I knew my plants would have to be flowers. I love foliage in my garden but I could not live without flowers, everyday all year long. And the queen of all flowers for me is the peony, I don't think I could live in a place where I could not have peonies. Don't ask me to choose a particular cultivar however, I love them all.
And I must have irises, irises in every form, bearded iris, Dutch iris (like in the picture here), Siberian iris, Japanese iris, the little bulbous irises of early spring. I want them all.
My third choice was more difficult. Tulips or poppies? They are both so extraordinarily beautiful. but I finally decided on tulips which come in such an endless variety of colors and styles.
As you can see I have some of these flowers with me even in the dead of winter. Along with seed and bulb catalogues and beads they get me through til the spring.

Please visit Shirls blog to see all of the wonderful ideas from other gardeners.

Find of the Day:

Wahoo, since this is a day for spring and summer flowers, this shimmery chartreuse skirt shouts sunny days. Young and fresh as a day in May without the black flies.

The skirt is handmade by VigilanteLabs in Brooklyn and is available on Etsy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Old Fashioned Mums

Writing yesterday's post on Autumn reminded me of one of my favorite fall flowers, the old fashioned tall chrysanthemum. I like the pretty potted mums that are sold everywhere in the fall but they are not hardy in my cold garden. However, the simple tall mums are very easy and very hardy and grow quickly into large clumps. They don't seem to mind frosts and I have had them blooming at Thanksgiving when we did not have early snow or ice storms.

I think there is some confusion about their precise botanical name. I have seen them listed as Chrysanthemum rubellum in some catalogues but in others they are not chrysanthemums at all but Dendranthemas. I have been dreaming over the Bluestone Perennials catalogue today and there they use both names.

I have two varieties in my garden 'Clara Curtis' with deep pink flowers and 'Sheffield' which is a warmer, peachier pink. Both have simple daisy flowers. The first picture is Sheffield, the second Clara Curtis., taken with my Polaroid SX-70 camera.

You may be able to purchase them from a local nursery or even better take some slips from a friend. They are available from many mail order sources including Bluestone.

Find of the Day:
Wear flowers in your hair any time of year. This hat is stunning with its beautiful flowers and elegant flapper cloche shape. It is hand crochected and available at Mellisam4715 on Etsy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Autumn Memories

Watching the inaugeration yesterday filled me with pride, seeing all of America's promise and potential; America renewed as a beacon of hope throughout the world.
Thinking back over the campaign I also remember the spectacular foliage season we had in New Hampshire this fall, the most brilliant, long lasting color we have seen in many years.
Prior to this fall we have had several disappointing seasons. There is much speculation and little agreement about the reasons. I do know we had a few early frosts this year which some say are necessary for a burst of dramatic color. Without these early frosts the leaves just seem to fade to brown.
The first photograph shows foliage reflected in the Ashuelot River. The second shows the 200+ year old maples along the west side of my old homestead. My house was built in 1796, and I think the Maples must have been planted at about the same time. How thoughtful of the original settlers to plant these trees for us to enjoy hundreds of years later.
Planting trees along the western edge of your homestead was common in New England, a protection from cold winter winds from the west and a cool canopy for the summer.

Find of the Day:
Isn't this scarf spectacular? As glorious as a perfect Autumn day. The rich colors are hand painted onto velvet: available from MelissasMelange on Etsy.

Monday, January 19, 2009


A night without snow. I still need sustenance from the cold and noticed that my amaryllis bulbs are beginning to send up their stalks. I never tire of these amazing voluptuous blooms. They are now available in dozens of colors from the pure reds to pale greens and whites, stripes and variegations, singles, doubles and even miniatures. I have never seen an amaryllis that was not beautiful.

Amaryllis are very easy to grow when you start with a new bulb. You just pot it up in normal potting soil with the throat bare and give it a little water occasionally. Not too much water or you may get leaves but no flower. A little bottom heat can help too.

On the other hand there are many different ideas on how to hold the plants over to the next year and get them to flower again. The most common approach is to water regularly and fertilize heavily after flowering and through the summer. Then in the fall withhold water and let the bulb die back. Then begin watering lightly til the new flower bud emerges. This approach works but I have never had the bulb produce as many big flowers as the the first year.

I have also read to put the bulbs into the ground in late spring when frosts are over and repot in the fall to get big fat bulbs and many flowers. I tried this one year but forgot to dig them up in the fall so all I can tell you is that amaryllis are definitely not hardy through a New Hampshire winter.

Find of the Day:
Wow talk about dramatic and elegant, who would want to wash with this soap? I just want to look at it.
But it is made with olive oil and other natural oils to make your skin soft and healthy. Scented of black licorice.
From Savor on Etsy.

The Fragrant Path

It snowed again last night, just a few inches this time. I am continuing to ignore winter and dreaming about next year's garden. Seed catalogues are a great help but also a terrible temptation.
One of my favorites is The Fragrant Path, a work of love by Ed Rasmussen in Nebraska. There is a web site, Fragrant Path Seeds but you must order by mail. The catalogue is old fashioned, no gloss, no pictures but a wonderful variety of flower seeds and detailed, interesting, and honest descriptions of the flowers.
The emphasis of the catalogue is fragrant flowers, mostly old fashioned open pollinated varieties. The seed packets are inexpensive ($2.00 or $1.50) and very generous.
The first picture here is Dianthus Superbus an old fashioned perennial pink that is gorgeous to see with its feathery, deeply cut petals in many colors and equally beautiful to smell. I bought the seed from Fragrant Path which offers many varieties of these lovely flowers.
Dianthus are supposed to like a limey soil but I have had no problems growing them in my acidic New England garden. I do throw on a little lime once a year or so. They are not long lived perennials, I think they flower themselves to death. But they are easy to grow from seed so are inexpensive to keep replenished.
For those like me who love to read about gardens Louise Beebe Wilder's classic book The Fragrant Path is a must. You can find it on Amazon.

I think everyone loves the fragrance of old fashioned lilacs. The hybrids also have the lilac aroma but I don't think it is as strong or pure as the species. The newer lilacs do have some advantages, a range of purple colors, bigger flowers and more compact, tidier bushes. I like the huge old gnarled lilac bushes but with fifty acres I have room for them.
Lilacs are easy to grow, they like a little lime scattered at their feet every few years. Be careful when pruning or deheading lilacs, it is easy to cut off the bud for next years flowers. Some people prune out one third of the growth each year to keep them controlled and to encourage flowers on the lower limbs. Only do this with mature plants.
I call the second photograph French Lilac because when I was a girl we called all of the dark purple lilacs French lilacs. By any name it is a gorgeous, mysterious flower full of scent.
Both of these photographs are from my series Botanicals, simple photographs that emulate old botanical prints.
You can get a copy of the Fragrant Path catalogue for$2 from the Fragrant Path, P.O. Box 328, Fort Calhoun, Nebraska 68023. Even if you don't want to buy seeds this is great garden reading. If you buy seeds you will get it for free the next year.
This carnation (pink) may not be fragrant but it is very pretty and it will not fade. It was crocheted by Suili. Her Etsy shop, Suili, is full of gorgeous crocheted flowers if you want to make an everlasting bouquet. Far more elegant than the usual paper or silk flowers.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It's White Outside

It's snowing again, a very soft powdery snow that is easy to shovel though not quite as pretty as the heavy, wet snow that creates the most magical snowscapes.
The gardens are safe under their blanket of snow but I am worried about my Oakleaf Hydrangea. You can see its flowers in the fall bouquet featured on the Jan. 13th post below. This past summer the blooms were spectacular but last winter it barely went below zero. I suspect the recent nights of 12 below zero weather have killed the flower buds, at least the majority which are above the snow line. Many summers we only get blooms along the bottom edge of this shrub. Where is global warming when you need it?
Last night was almost warm, with a low of 9 above zero.

Snowed in I like to bead. This bracelet is crocheted with thin silver wire and silver seed beads in different sizes and tones. You string all of the beads onto the wire before beginning and then pull them into the stitches as you crochet.

You can see more of my bracelets in my Etsy jewelry shop, Beaded Wire.

Find of the Day:
I am completely enthralled by Heather Knight's ceramics and had a terribly difficult job chosing which piece to feature. The forms are organic and elegant, mostly white with an occasional splash of color. There are pears and fungi, ripple bowls and petal plates. Visit her Etsy site Element Clay Studio and be astonished.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Orchids are Forever

A relatively balmy night, it only went to 9 below zero. Snow is predicted for tomorrow.
So my thoughts remain in warm places with tropical flowers.
These wonderful orchids are tropical and have a special warmth for me since they were a gift from my best friend Elaine (since high school!) who has sent me orchids for my last three birthdays.
The first photograph, "Out of the Mist" is a reflection in an old mirror, the second shows the same orchid under water.
I cannot give much advice on growing orchids, I am not very good with potted plants in general. However, they flower for months if they are not overwatered or totally abandoned.

Here is my little toy poodle Rory in a sweater Elaine knitted her for Christmas. Warm and frilly, I think she is so elegant with pearls and ruffles across her rump.

Find of the Day:
I am amazed by this woman's art, these are real orchids, immortalized in resin. She is a Brazilian designer who sells her work throughout the world including her Etsy shop Bella Brazilian Design
All of here jewelry is made from real flowers, many from orchids and roses. Astonishing and beautiful.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Exotic Plants for New England Gardeners

When I got up this morning it was -12 degrees outside, though it has gotten warmer throughout the morning and it is now close to 0.
But yesterday my Brent and Becky's Bulb Summer-Flowering Bulbs Catalogue came so my mind is full of exotic flowers.
Brent and Becky's is the most complete source I know for fabulous, unusual bulbs starting with several pages of Alocasia, the giant elephants ears in blacks and chartreuse and strips. These extraordinary plants grow leaves that can reach 2 feet across. They like wet conditions to do their best.
The bulb listings proceed through the alphabet to Zantedeschia, the elegant calla lily. I think I will purchase Cameo, which is a soft blend of pale yellow and rose or perhaps Pink Persuasion another blend, this one in shades of dark rose and burgundy. (Callas also thrive in wet ground.)
On the top of my list however is a plant I haven't dared try yet, Gloriosa superba "Rothchildiana', also know as climbing lily. This is a vining bulb with incredible recurved red petals with a tiny yellow edge.
Of course none of these exotics are hardy to 12 below so they have to be dug up and wintered over in the house or greenhouse.
Another exotic and tender favorite is the datura which I grow from seed (seed the first picture on this page.) because it is hard to find plants, especially of the more unusual varieties. Seeds are available for many wonderful forms, huge pure white trumpets and white trumpets edged in violet, big double yellows, deep purples. Once started these plants grow easily into big lush bushes with soft velvety leaves. Germination can be tricky. Freshly picked seed seems to germinate readily but otherwise I use seed treated with GLA, Gibberellic Acid-3. J.L. Hudson Seedsman has wonderful varieties of pretreated Datura seed.

Find of the Day:
I was planning on featuring an item with daturas or callas or some other exotice flower but came across this beautiful oil painting. What could be a more wonderful comfort in your home on an icy winter day than this ode to spring? The painting is by Kristina Laurendi Havens of Georgia. It is available for purchase from her Etsy shop, Krystyna81.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


We are really in a deep freeze today. It is -2 degrees outside. But we have a deep snow cover so I am not worried about my garden. One January we had a major thaw and I found little violas that had been blooming away under the snow.
This week I hung a new show at our local cooperative gallery. The show is called Whispers and features flowers, bouquets and local landscapes all printed with just a hint of color, several with a draping of lace.
A few of the new images can be purchased from my Etsy shop, many more can be seen on my Flickr page.

Find of the Day:
I love this whisper of a flower. This pretty peony flower is a brooch, pin all hand sewn in organza by MGMart.
Go see her shop, it is amazement of feminine frills.

Baby It's Cold Outside

We are having another severe winter in New Hampshire. December's ice storm was very damaging to trees (not to mentions the 1000s of homes including mine without power) and shrubs.
There is always the temptation to try to rescue precious shrubs and small trees from the ice. But trying to free small branches will only do more harm. Branches that may survive the ice will probably snap from any attempt to loosen them.
I think Henry Mitchell's advice in the Essential Earthman is the best:
"Whenever there are ice storms, pull the window shades down."
Of course ice can be beautiful, snow magical. So perhaps just a peak outside. My old apple tree is always lovely in winter.

Find of the Day:

One way to stay sane through the long winter is to fill the house with little plants: foliage plants, flowers and herbs.

Here are some lovely planters from my friend Virginia Wyoming. They are available on her Etsy shop, VirginaWyoming. Just $24 for the set.


I love cosmos, I think they are beautiful massed in the garden or as cut flowers.
January is not a great gardening month in New Hampshire but it is a wonderful time to dream and fantasize over seed catalogues. I used to order hundreds of packets of seeds each winter and have 50 or 60 trays of seedlings reading for planting in the spring. Then the hard work of finding room for all of these little plants would begin.
I have slowly learned that I cannot have every plant in every seed catalogue and only allow myself a few choice selections each year.
Topping my list this year is the new Cosmos 'Double Click Rose Bonbon'. I am fond of simple single flowers but must admit to a weakness for lush, over the top double flowers. And these new cosmos are just sumptuous.

Garden Resources:

You can see (and buy if you'd like) the new Cosmos 'Double Click' at Thomas and Morgan Seeds.
Thomas and Morgan has one of the most extensive lists of flowers seeds. There are great pictures of all their listing. I use it as my flower bible.

Find of the Day: What a beautiful little painting of a cosmos by Coleen Olson. It is gouache on watercolor paper. A 5 x 7 print of this painting is available for only $20 on her Etsy shop Parrish.