Fruit Juicy

This is a very good sign.  Earlier in the Spring, we planted two miniature citrus trees with plans to put them on the patio during the Summer and hopefully harvest some fruit.  I think we might get our wish!  After planting the shipped trees, there was about a month where it appeared there was little, if any, growth.  Then all of a sudden and at about the same time, both trees erupted in a mass of blooms.  There was a little bit of fragrance from the blooms, but not too much.  Towards the end of June, the trees were placed outside where they receive several hours of direct sun.  The blooms stayed intact for about a solid month and now many of the blooms have turned into baby fruit.  Above is a picture of the Meyer Lemon tree and below is a picture of the Calamondin Orange tree.  Both are packing some serious baby fruit!

So we’ve already talked about marmalade making with any oranges the Calamondin tree produces (with the help of regular oranges to make up any shortfall), but this is my vote for the Meyer lemons.  It is one of my new favorite Summer drink recipes.  Don’t worry if you don’t have Meyer lemons because regular lemons work just as well.

Meyer Lemon Drop

Ingredients:

  • Sugar, for rim of glass
  • Powdered yellow food coloring (optional)
  • Lemon slice, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1 teaspoon Cointreau
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar

Directions:

Tint sugar with powdered yellow food color, if desired.  Place sugar in a saucer.  Moisten the rim of a martini glass with a lemon slice.  Dip rim in sugar.  In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, Cointreau, lemon juice, and superfine sugar with ice; shake well.  Strain into prepared glass.  Make another, and another and then fall over.

So here’s hoping we get to harvest our lemons and oranges by the end of the Summer.  We don’t want our marmalade jars and vodka to be lonely if the fruit doesn’t make it, do we?  That’s the one thing with gardening…fruit today doesn’t always mean fruit tomorrow.  A bad storm or a big bug can ruin your plans (and crop) in an instant.  However, if they do make it and you see us walking slightly unsteady with lemon-scented breath, you know why.  Do you have any lemon or orange recipes that you can share with us here at Acorns On Glen?

Reunited With An Old Friend – Our Clematis Back From the Assumed Dead

This is an old friend.  It is our Clematis Bonanza vine which was one of the very first plants that we planted when we moved to Glen Road.  That first Spring and Fall seem so far away.  One of the reasons we bought the house was the big yard and many gardens that were dispersed around the property.  Some gardens were nicely planted and others were vast mud holes.  I knew that I could revive my gardening skills put away when I moved out of my childhood home in Iowa at age eighteen and make the gardens plush with vines, plants and flowers.  Little did I remember that taking mud to plush meant a lot of blood, sweat and tears.  That first year I lost almost as many plantings as ones that grew.  Eventually, I realized that to make a dent in the mud, I would need to envision what I wanted in a certain area, research what grew in our area of Connecticut that looked like my vision and then utilize that particular plant in my garden.  In other words, just because something was pretty didn’t mean that it was going to survive the hot Summers and freezing Winters that Connecticut has to offer.  From my studies, I found the Clematis as the perfect flowering vine to cover my backyard fence.  It did not prove me wrong and flowered there for the last five years.

Then I thought we had destroyed it.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we did some construction to our home over the Winter and Spring here on Glen Road in an area that was heavily planted.  We worked very hard with some landscapers to relocate many plants that we knew we could use after the renovation.  However, we were told that the Clematis would most likely not make the move so we just left it where it was.  I figured it would be driven over, built upon and then destroyed and we would need to start fresh with new plants.  To my surprise this Spring, a large section of it rose from the ground and attached itself to the new fence that we had installed around the backyard, two feet from where the old fence once stood.  It did what it had done for the past five years.  It was amazing given the amount of construction work that went on in the area where it grew and prospered.  When I noticed it this Spring, I got a wide smile on my face and laughed.  It was if it was saying to me ‘ha ha ha, you can’t kill me off that easy’.  I’m so glad that we didn’t.

Clematis is a genus of about 300 species within the buttercup family Ranunculaceae.  Their garden hybrids have been popular among gardeners beginning with Clematis jackmanii, a garden standby since 1862.  More hybrid cultivars are being produced constantly.  They are mainly of Chinese and Japanese origin.  Our Clematis Bonanza was introduced at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2006.  This free-flowering Clematis blooms from midsummer into September.  We have let Bonanza, with its purple-blue blooms up to 3 inches wide, grow along our backyard fence with much success.  It is a hardy and vigorous vine and generally shunned by deer.  This is always a good thing for our deer-ravaged part of Connecticut.  Our only concern at this point is around the amount of sun the Clematis is receiving each day.  Most Clematis prefer the full sun with some shade around its roots.  Our new construction shades the Clematis for most of the day.  We will need to keep an eye on it to make sure it can survive with only a few hours of direct sunlight.

So hats off to you Clematis Bonanza and your ability to survive against even the hardest of times.  We are so glad you did.  Here’s hoping you have enough sunlight so that we can bring you some new brothers and sisters in the Fall to help you fill in that backyard fence.  What are your favorite ‘children’ living in your garden?

Our Virtual Garden Show Continues – What’s Blooming

This is a transition period in our garden.  The spectacular blooming of the more tender plants of Spring is over and the vast majority of the gorgeous blooms are just memories now.  As we start Summer, the new wave of bloomers tend to come from more hardy plants and shrubs that are better able to take the hot temperatures and small amounts of moisture that Summer offers.  The plants of Summer are a tough bunch.  They can stand up to the brutal 100 degree days and seem to not mind too much if the raindrops are far and few between.  You can just tell by looking at them.  They actually look tougher than their Spring cousins.  Hardier and thicker, their flowers seem to stare at you and say ‘what are you looking at?’  Remember when you were growing up and the ‘tough’ kids would hang out together and taunt other kids by saying thing like ‘come over here and we’ll punch you’ or ‘what’s your problem?’ or ‘what are you looking at?’.  That’s these bloomers…the tough kids.  They know how to get along with little help from others.  They are scrappy.  They need to be to make it through July and August.  Enjoy our latest virtual garden tour and see what’s blooming on Glen Road.

When it is all said and done, we’re glad the tough kids are out there growing during the Summer.  From now until the end of August, the days get so hot that it makes it difficult to spend a large amount of time working out in the gardens.  Some light weeding, deadheading and evening watering is about all you can do without major heat stroke.  Even though we stay indoors or by the pool more, it is still a great feeling to look outside and see that you still have flowers blooming.  Raises your spirits even in the hottest of times.  What are some of your favorite Summer bloomers?

Deadheading Has Nothing To Do With The Grateful Dead

This is the only nice part of deadheading in the garden.  Every once in a while, as you are cruising through the garden and cutting off spent flowers, you see the occasional moth or butterfly trying to hold on to something that was once so plush and gorgeous.  It happens every Spring.  Your garden flowers come on hard and strong.  You get such a magnificent display of color in all the blooms that open.  All the beauty makes you proud to be a gardener.  Then in a few short days for some flowers and a few short weeks for others, it is over.  The blooms wilt and die.  The dead flowers become a grim reminder that Spring is leaving.  As a gardener, you then move into the next phase of gardening and what I officially think of as the start of Summer.  The dreaded deadheading.

This was once a peony.

There are a lot of chores that a gardener needs to do during the growing cycle.  There is none that I hate more than deadheading flowers.  I like the chores that are about encouraging growth.  I hate the ones that make me deal with the dead.  There is no amount of songs on my iPhone that I can listen to that keep me motivated enough for the task of snip, snip, snipping dead flowers.  The dead flowers are everywhere and the chore never seems to end.  You can go through your entire garden and end up at your starting point and will still see dead flowers that you’ve either missed or they have died since your last trip through.  It’s depressing!

A spent allium.

So why do I do it?  Because dealing with the dead helps bring back life.  If left to their own devices, many flowers will bloom heavily for a short period of time, then set seed, thinking they’re done for the season.  Deadheading interrupts this cycle.  You’re actually fooling the plant, forcing them to send out another flush of blooms to try to complete the reproductive cycle.  The blooms in the second or third display may not be as large or as numerous as the first, but they are certainly worth the effort.  This is especially true for roses, day lilies and flowering annuals that inhabit a large section of my garden.  For the bulb population like alliums and tulips, deadheading flower and stem down to the ground helps keep the energy in the bulb versus having the bulb send it to the flower to produce seed.  Deadheading these perennials helps to strengthen the bulb for next year’s growth.

A rose that has seen better days.

So if you ever see me in my garden with a sad or bored look on my face, you will know it is deadheading that is what is bringing me down.  Please try to distract me….it won’t take much.  I know I’ll be happy when the next round of rose blooms come around, but in that moment, I would give anything to be somewhere else.  What garden chores are your least favorite? 

Apples Of My Eye

This is a very good sign.  There has been a lot of work getting the espalier apple trees in order this season.  We’ve spoiled the trees in every manner imaginable.  We started with two trees, noticed one was not doing well, removed it and replaced it with a new tree, built a support system to secure the branches and gave them a haircut.  With all this work, we have kept saying one thing.  “We better get some apples this year.”  The good news is that it appears we may be in luck this season.  The trees are producing apples for the very first time.  There aren’t a lot of apples on the trees.  Probably 20 at the most.  However, it is just nice to see your hard work pay off, especially in the garden where sometimes the harder you work results in some of your worst harvests ever.

The trouble we are facing now is how to take care of the fruit over the remainder of the Summer.  The last thing we want to do is have disease or insects take away our apples.  We try to garden in an organic fashion as much as possible.  Many of the established gardeners here in Connecticut are telling us that organic is not going to cut it as these apples continue to mature.  We will have to use some limited amounts of chemicals on them to keep them safe.  Do you have any recommendations on how to care for the apples over the Summer using the least amount of chemicals possible?

Estate Sale Stewartia To Honor ‘Now, Voyager’

This tree is to pay homage to our favorite movie, ‘Now, Voyager’.  Have you ever seen ‘Now, Voyager’?

The 1942 movie stars Bette Davis and Paul Henreid.  Charlotte Vale (Davis) suffers under the domination of her Boston matron mother until Dr. Jaquith gets her to visit his sanitarium where she is transformed from frump to elegant, independent lady.  When she goes off on a South American cruise, she falls in love with Jerry (Henreid), already married.  Back home she confronts her mother who dies of a heart attack.  Charlotte, guilt-ridden, returns to the sanitarium where she finds Jerry’s depressed daughter Tina.  Tina achieves happiness through her attachment to Charlotte and the two move back to Boston.  When Jerry sees how happy his daughter is, he leaves her with Charlotte.  What about marriage for Charlotte and Jerry? Davis utters one of her most famous lines, “Don’t ask for the moon when we have the stars.”

One of our favorite parts is when Jerry says that Charlotte looks like a camellia in a white dress she is wearing while on their cruise.  When she returns to Boston, Charlotte receives a corsage of camellia flowers from Jerry and then she continues to wear camellias on her dresses as a reminder of her love for him.

Two weeks ago, I was contacted that there was an estate sale in the area that included garden plants from the estate.  I have never heard of that in my life.  The estate actually dug up mature trees, bushes and shrubs and sold them.  In looking at the plant list, I saw that there was a Stewartia Pseudocamellia that was over 10 feet tall.  While not a true camellia, the flowers are so close, I knew I had to have it in our yard to pay homage to ‘Now, Voyager’.  I won the auction for the Stewartia and had it planted in our backyard.  Here’s a little background on our Stewartia:

Stewartia Pseudocamellia is a plant species in the genus Stewartia in the family Theaceae, native to Japan and Korea.  It is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree, often with multiple stems and/or low branching trunks.  The bark is smooth textured, exfoliating as the plants age and has a camouflaged or mottled appearance with patterns of dull orange and green with grey mixed in.  Because of this, it has great Winter appeal as it displays its bark against the snowy landscape.

The trees are pyramidal to rounded in shape with deep green colored foliage.  Young stems have a zig-zag shape with flattened, divergent buds.  The leaves are arranged alternately on the stems with an elliptical shape and finely serrated edges.  In the fall the foliage turns yellow, red or purple. 

The flowers have five white petals with orange anthers and are shaped like Camellia flowers, round and flat to somewhat cupped.  They are produced in Summer, generally in June until the end of August.  Each flower is short-lived, but many are produced that open over many weeks.  The fruit is a brown capsule, triangular in shape with four or five angles, persistent on the trees but not showy.

We’ve often said that we like plants in our garden on Glen Road that are unique in nature or have a story behind them.  So the Stewartia fits right into what we like in the garden.  So now you know that on a clear night when the moon and the stars are shining bright, we will be outside standing by the Stewartia talking about ‘Now, Voyager’.  The two of us and the Yorkie….let’s consider her our Tina.  What are your favorite old-time movies?

Another Post About Legal Pot

This is another legal pot here on Glen Road that needs to have plants placed inside of it.  It is one of a set of planters that are new to our collection.  I had to have this set because I am in love with faux bois finishes, which is French for “false wood”.  A fitting name for items that appear plucked from the forest, but are actually made of cast stone, cast iron or cement.  Faux bois items can also be painted to have the same woodsy look and feel.  We were struggling to come up with the perfect mix of plants to put inside the pots, but once again, our friends at White Flower Farm, www.whiteflowerfarm.com, were there to help us with our decision.    On their website, White Flower Farm has a large assortment of annual collections for sale.  All you need to do is find the assortment of annual plants that you like and they will send them to you along with relevant planting instructions.  Their instructions even tell you where to position each plant in the pot that you will be using.  There is little room for a mistake when you purchase one of White Flower Farm’s annual collections.  Since our faux bois pots are going along the swimming pool, we decided to select a collection that is a little more on the exotic side.  Something that contained some large, tropical looking plants mixed along with more traditional plants like begonias or coleus.

Our first selection is named the ‘Sunny Summer Annual Collection’.  In this collection, the plants include an Ornamental Grass (Pennisetum purpureum ‘Princess’), a fancy-leaf Geranium (Pelargonium ‘Indian Dunes’), some unusually colored Coleus, Henna and Lancelot Velvet Mocha, a dark-leaved Ipomoea ‘Blackie ‘, a long-blooming Calibrachoa superbells saffron and a trailing Sweet Potato (Ipomoea sweet heart light green).  Here is a copy of the detailed planting instructions, what the collection should look like at maturity and what the collection looked like after we finished our planting.

Our second selection was the ‘King Tut Annual Collection’.  Ancient Egyptians used the leaves of Cyperus Papyrus to make paper, but here that sedge’s foliage creates a sensational display, rising 4-6 feet tall above the trailing blooms of Begonia Dragon Wing Pink and Calibrachoa Cabaret Deep Blue.  Again, here is a copy of the detailed planting instructions, what the collection should look like at maturity and what the collection looked like after we finished our planting.

So, as you can see, there is a lot of growing that needs to get done in a rather short amount of time.  With some regular watering and fertilizing, we should be able to grow these pots into some eye-catching arrangements just like the pictures above that show the collections at maturity.  Nothing is guaranteed, but gardening in planters and pots is pretty risk free….and legal.  What are you planting in pots, planters and containers on your patio, yard or garden?

More Flower Power – Our Virtual Garden Tour

This is an update on what’s blooming on Glen Road.  The big news this week is that it is peonies and roses that have opened their buds for all to see.  While there are a few other bloomers out in the garden, it is easy to lose track of them due to the utter beauty of the peonies and roses.  This year there are more peonies open than ever before and the roses that we have are full and lush in their blooms.  So sit back and take a virtual garden tour with us and take a look at what’s blooming in the gardens here on Glen Road.

Hope you enjoyed our little virtual garden tour.  The weather is very hot here in Connecticut now so it is time to start watering during the early morning and later evening hours.  Even then it is hard to keep everything looking so fresh and lush.  Let’s hope we can squeeze a few more days or weeks of beauty out of these gorgeous peonies and roses.  It will be a shame if we can’t.  What’s blooming in your neck of the woods?

Flower Power

This is an update on what’s blooming here in the garden on Glen Road.  It seems the early Spring bloomers are already spent and so now it is time to move on to our early Summer/late Spring group.  This group is led by the beautiful peonies that are just starting to pop open after some warm weather and plenty of rain early in their growth.  There are also some plants that are blooming that we can’t name.  They have been here at Glen Road longer than we have, so if you know what they are, let us know.  So sit back and enjoy our gallery of late Spring bloomers.

We hope you liked our little garden tour.  Seeing these beautiful blooms makes all the effort seem worth it.  Again, we wish someone could invent something that makes these flowers last year round.  Seems like such a waste for them to be around for such a short amount of time.  What’s blooming in your neck of the woods?