Walk with me back through the yard and field as I pan around the tree line, focusing on a few spots and ending with a distant barn...
Dave at The Home Garden has a great project going: bloggers post pictures of autumn in their area, send him the link, and he posts them so people can see autumn all around the country - even the world! (northern hemisphere, anyway!) I think Southeastern Pennsylvania can hold its head high when it comes to autumn color. These pictures are from a couple weeks ago, before the peak - I've seen amazing views since, but I've been driving! Ah well, there's always next year! These shots are all around Lake Nockamixon. This is what I caught with my dinky little one-step, so imagine how much better it was in real life!
As I drove around the last couple of weeks, running my children around and doing my errands, I swooned at many beautiful sights, wishing I had my camera. But one beautiful day last week, when I had a chance to work in the yard, I looked back behind my own house and saw beautiful scenes literally right in my own back yard! Funny how sometimes we look for beauty farther away, and forget to look close to home? I think there's a life lesson in this...
Walk with me back through the yard and field as I pan around the tree line, focusing on a few spots and ending with a distant barn...
I hope this wasn't too long! I enjoyed it so much that I am going to do another, with close-ups on the beautiful flowers autumn is still giving me in my gardens. (Kathy at Cold Climate Gardening just did this, and it was lovely!) It is a bittersweet season, since it ends in gray and cold, unlike spring which ends in green and warmth. But this project has helped me focus more on what this beautiful season offers than what it does not. Happy Autumn!
Just a little note to encourage people to check out my oldest daughter's blog! She is spending the semester in Rome, and has been posting some neat things. She is artistic and philosophical, and has a terrific writing style. Check out what she has to say about Rome, scorpions, and life at her blog, Art, Truth, Crime, and Me.
Well, the gardens are not always wonder and awe for my children, because sometimes I have to conscript them to help me! This past week, when I started digging up the front gardens, I called the girls out to help me. Though none was thrilled with the idea, they all came out, but with differing levels of acceptance. "How long do we have to stay out here? What do you want me to do? Can I take a break? I have to get ready to go out soon! Look, now it’s going to take me so much longer because I’ll have to do my nails over! I don’t even know if I can get the dirt out from under them!" Most of the complaints came from the same indentured servant, after which I announced, "The more you complain, the longer you stay out here!" And I did it, too. The youngest wasn’t really able to do much, but she tried. (Why is it that the most willing are usually the ones least able to do much?) She got an early break. The next two were silent after my announcement and diligently completed some important jobs. They were dismissed after about an hour. The fourth stayed for a good hour longer, until she had gotten the point. I mean what I say. Help around the house. They have inside chores, but they need to help outside sometimes, too. All play and no work makes a spoiled child, and if my children act spoiled or whiney, they get more work. (If they complain about dinner, they get more dinner! They’ve learned not to complain…)
We recently watched the absolutely beautiful and moving film, Captains Courageous, made in 1937 (Spencer Tracy got an Oscar). That was one spoiled boy in that movie! Good hard work is what turned him around, and the satisfaction of a job well done. This, too, is something that I want to teach my children. Not only will they experience awe and wonder at the beautiful world, but grow in maturity as well. We can learn great lessons from the soil.
This is an embarrassing picture - ugh
We have begun the renovation of the front of the house! I have struggled with this garden for twenty years. Pestered by a truly pernicious grass infestation, soil that is not acid enough for the azaleas and rhododendrons I planted years ago, old and broken concrete and an unattractive porch, and the fact that it does not point quite due east, so one side gets full sun and the other shade, has made this a most challenging garden. Not to mention the voles! Ugh! I hope I am not setting myself up for more disappointment, but I am trying again.
This time I think I’ve learned enough over the years to get it right. I finally gave up on the garden on the hill this spring, pulling up all the plants that gave the voles cover and a 24-hour buffet. I have determined to put edging between the garden and the grass, to slow down its approach. Since I am overwhelmed with the lovely but excessively eager lamb’s ear in a different bed, I am transplanting some to either side of the steps down to the mailbox, and on the sides of the porch. I certainly won’t have to worry about weeds when that fills in! Which will be by next year!
I’m tearing out the azalea that are so sick they are growing lichen. Boo hoo, they are so pretty when they bloom, but the rest of the year they look pretty terrible. I’m going to give the rhodies a little more time to prove themselves, since they’re not as bad. The monster-plant I will chop nearly to the ground! If it dies, I won’t mourn it, but I don’t think I will have such luck. Next year, as it comes back cheerfully (some might say spitefully) I will try to shape it to my will! And I have chosen some evergreen bushes of various shapes, daffodil bulbs (voles don’t like them) and several perennial flowers to fill in the front. It’ll be a good start. Over the winter I’ll evaluate for color in the different seasons, but at least it will be attractive during the winter. I want only no-fuss plants out front, since I never go out there and usually forget about it. I’ll keep you posted, and I hope it gives you some good ideas about your own garden!
We have examined the nutrition in amaranth seed, but the leaf is also a highly nutritious alternative to domestic greens. As with trying to compare the nutrients in amaranth seed to other grains, I found many sources but few matched perfectly. Nonetheless, the evidence indicates that amaranth leaves are as nutritious as our most nutritious domestic greens, and more nutritious than most of what we eat.
I compared the leaves of the lowly amaranth weed that grows in our gardens and along the roadsides to the cultivated spinach, swiss chard, kale, and romaine lettuce. Of the five, kale proved to be the real superfood, and romaine the distant loser, but amaranth leaves were superior to spinach and swiss chard in a number of areas. Comparing the numbers for the raw vegetables, amaranth has twice the calcium as spinach and three times as much as swiss chard. Iron, phosphorus, and B-6 are similar in all three, although spinach edges out slightly ahead in iron, but amaranth wins in the categories of potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K. The only nutrient in which amaranth runs last is in vitamin A, but it still provides a full day’s supply. The numbers for the cooked greens show similar ratios to the raw, and who needs to read a million numbers? I think the point is clear. If we replaced some of our romaine in our salads with freshly picked amaranth leaves, we would be dramatically increasing the nutrients in our salads, and serving a mixture of spinach and amaranth would increase the nutrition of the greens. (But I must say, this research will have me serving more kale! I have had Russian kale volunteering itself all over my gardens since I first planted it years ago. I love it, as does my youngest, who rips it out of the garden and chomps on it like candy, but the rest of the family has mixed feelings about it. Yet it was significantly higher than the other greens in every nutrient I checked, except for B-6. So amaranth leaves and kale will be gracing our table more often!)
primary source: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/
Today's collection, still in the bucket
The autumn garden is still providing lots of bouquets – smaller, perhaps, and every week there are fewer varieties, but one can still find plenty of blossoms. But, ask yourself, how do the gardens look? Vibrant and colorful, or sad and struggling? Well, I admit, most of mine are the latter. So, now is the best time to evaluate! Then we’ll have winter to research, and spring to plant. Here’s what I’m doing.
First, I’m taking pictures of every garden. I already have garden maps, laid out on grid paper (which are particularly handy when I need to remember where I put dormant bulbs!), which will help me as I plan, but if you do not, now’s the time, before the plants disappear. I am also looking at gardens as I drive around. What looks good? What doesn’t? Not surprisingly, few people have particularly nice gardens. Most people just stuff some newly-purchased mums in a row like soldiers, and think that looks nice. Well, better than weeds, but I prefer a more natural look. Some people have nice BIG mums, which grew throughout the summer and are cascading onto the lawn and walk. Now THAT looks cool! (Nonetheless, mums should be cut back in the summer to control their growth and delay blooming until fall.) Some annuals still look nice, as well – impatiens, marigolds, alyssum… but few people have taken the time to really design beautiful autumn gardens. That’s what I hope to create.
So, now I am beginning the research, which will continue into the winter. Some bushes I intend to remove this fall, and some I decided on over the summer will be put in. I WILL make the front of the house look nice this fall! But most of my new garden decisions will take place over the gray winter months, bringing color into my heart during a generally drab season.
But for now, I still have flowers to play with! (Click on the pictures to see them larger.) These are the bouquets I made with today’s collection: with one I went with a cool color theme, and with the other I used warm shades. I am of the philosophy that, like a story or a poem, a bouquet should have a plan and purpose, but also an unexpected element. In the cool bouquet, I have added touches of red to create spark, and sprigs of the silver foliage of lavender. For the warm bouquet, several old sunflower seed heads add an unexpected twist. Flower arranging is so much fun!
Before all your edible flowers have died for the season, make this elegant omelet! This recipe appears in Kathy Brown’s exquisite book, The Edible Flower Garden.
2oz young runner beans
2 T milk
2 nasturtium seeds, green
2 young nasturtium leaves, sliced
4 nasturtium, petals only
salt & pepper to taste
fresh grated parmesan
1 T butter
Slice the beans in fine long strips and parboil four minutes. Drain. Beat eggs with milk, crush the seeds with a fork until they are broken into pieces and add with the leaves and petals to the egg. Melt the butter in the pan, and when ready add the egg mixture and beans. When omelet sets, sprinkle with parmesan, fold, and serve with nasturtium garnish.
My variation: I used tiny hyacinth beans and their buds rather than scarlet beans, and I didn't par-boil. I thought the flowers would burn if they were added to the mix, so I laid the flowers and leaves on top of the egg mixture while it set. (Keep in mind that the larger the leaves, the pepperier the flavor! I only used nickel-sized leaves.) I like to flip my omelet so no egg is uncooked, so I quickly flipped when fully set, sprinkled with parmesan, folded and removed. I was not quite ready with the parmesan, so I could have flipped faster to retain more color, but it came out looking lovely and tasting great! Enjoy the end of your summer flowers!
Hello, friends! Just wanted to post a quick note to let you all know that today is my husband and my anniversary! Twenty-two years of wedded bliss (most of the time!) and six wonderful children (most of the time!) - what more can one ask for except more of the same? (yes, even more children, but we're too old now!) We have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, clothes on our backs, and love in our hearts - and a loving God Who gave His life for us, rose for us, and watches over us with loving care. We are truly blessed, and I will pray tonight that all my readers will also be blessed. Have a wonderful night!
The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree.
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.
by Robert Louis Stevenson
The autumn rains have come, and with them cooler weather. This is soup season, don't you think? I love soup. I used to be really lousy at making it, because I was trying to make soup without adding salt. I tried lots of odd seasonings, but nothing was quite right. Since we eat soup several times a week in the cool months, the older children can remember my first miserable attempts. My son, then maybe 7 years old, expressed his displeasure in a most decisive manner: "When I grow up, I'm gonna ask a girl, 'What do you cook?' 'Soup.' I'll say, 'I don't want you.' Then I'll ask another girl, 'What do you cook?' 'Spaghetti.' 'I want you.'" OK, OK! I gave up trying to make soup without salt. Since then I have developed the skill of making Friday's "leftover soup" tasty and special every time. I just pull everything out of the fridge left over from the week, figure out what else I need to make it taste great, put it in a pot, and, voila! Good food.
While making your soup, don't forget to add some friendly "volunteer" garden greens. Lamb's quarters, amaranth, and dandelion can still be harvested, chopped, and thrown in the soup. Let them simmer for a while, and no one will be able to tell them from spinach. Their fabulous nutrients will permeate through the broth and enhance the overly-processed, overly-hybridized supermarket fare we are forced to use, turning your soup into 'soup-er food!' (sorry, couldn't resist!)
Our little pond is a delight, as you can see from this image of my youngest daughter last year. For us it's like a fairy world! One of the best things I've ever done with my gardens.
When I began to research water gardening a few years ago, I read and referenced many library books. This exhaustive work helped me understand the many aspects of water gardening: the different kinds of gardens, how to create them, and the work involved in maintaining them. My research also helped me determine what kinds of plants I wanted and the potential pests that can create problems. I went through many different books to find this information, but few covered all these aspects, let alone in a concise and engaging manner. I wanted to find a single resource that would be both thorough and beautiful, and I searched both bookstores and online to find one. Then I discovered The Practical Rock and Water Garden, and I knew I’d found a treasure. I ordered it immediately, and it has become one of my favorite resources, not only because of its wealth of information, but for its inspiring photography.
This book by Peter Robinson really has it all. After a brief introduction, Robinson helps the reader choose his or her own style through the use of exquisite photos and informative explanations. He even lists the plants used in the pictures for each style! Garden styles include natural pools and raised pools, shade pools and bog gardens, even gravel gardens and dry river beds, and a wide variety of water features, from bubbling pots to full-size falls. He next shows examples of various extras, like bridges, islands, decks and more, explaining how best to incorporate them. Then comes the real meat: how to actually design and construct every conceivable water or rock garden. With the many step-by-step photos and clear information Robinson provided us, we were able to choose, design, and construct a beautiful water garden that has captivated not only our family, but visitors and neighbors as well. The book finishes with an exhaustive plant directory, fish information, and a thorough care and maintenance chapter.
Everyone enjoys our water feature, and there have been so many benefits to adding the pond to our property: the wildlife that the children are able to experience up close, the soothing sound of the waterfall as we sit on the patio, the variety that it adds to our landscape and more. If you have a water garden, or are thinking about adding one (and I hope you do!) this is the best book to guide you through this terrific addition to your gardens.
(Unfortunately Amazon does not have an image of this beautiful book. There are several copyrights available, but it does look like all the copyrights have the same information in each. And remember, anything you buy at Amazon through my website provides me with a small percentage. So if you would like to help me upgrade to more features on this website, please place all your amazon orders through me! Thanks!)
Welcome to Growing Goodness! This website is dedicated to growing good things, both plants and children. It's a gardening blog with maternal overtones, as I discuss the goodness and value of plants, both wild and domestic. In the process I hope to help you pass a love of nature on to your children. Happy Gardening!