Saturday, August 30

Note to Caroline-Off the Subject of Gardening 2014 update

I don't know about Maine, but rents have skyrocketed here. Portland's a popular place with people moving here from other parts of the country constantly. I think I know 2 people that are born and raised here. Everyone else is from somewhere else. I mentioned rents because I have decided to keep my business at my current NE Broadway location. It is a short 20 minute walk from my house and is a great area.

I am very excited about the balcony that is attached to my treatment room. and the prospect of gardening on it. It is shady, but has lots of possibilities. I just got confirmation that a London garden design company will be providing ideas for the design of the balcony soon. I am hoping to start blogging about the project soon. One major business project I have been working on is re-designing my website and adding my new Ayurveda Services. You can check it out here

One of my treatment rooms

Here is the balcony attached to it
Talking of Ayurveda, I graduated from the school I have been going to in Rhode Island for the past 2 years. I am now an Ayurveda Health Counselor. I can now do treatments like Abhyanga which is like a massage, but involves the application of warm oils to the body in long soothing strokes. I will be adding Shirodhara soon. That is the treatment that you might have seen pictures of  where warm oil is dripping from a pot onto someones forehead. I can't wait! I am also doing health consultations with people that are not feeling well.

My focus is on women with fibromyalgia, depression, chronic fatigue and anxiety. I like doing these consultations because I can not only do them in person, but on the phone/skype. Here is a link to my school in Rhode Island, the Seaside Academy of  Massage and Ayurveda.

View from my school, Seaside Academy of Massage and Ayurveda

Here is my class

My mom came to visit a few months ago from Michigan. She just retired at at age 75. She has been busy setting up her new Reiki business. I was able to help her to re-design her website too. Yes, it has been a busy summer with all these internet projects. Here are some photos of her visit and a link to her business for you to take a peak at what she is up to.

One of the many waterfalls we visited during her trip

RC and Chloe are doing fine. RC is obsessed with the goats next door and monitors their every move. I made a video of the goats. They are not scared of him and I think they think he is a strange little white goat. There are 9 of them that live next door. I love the fact that I can weed and throw the weeds over the fence for them to eat. They are more picky than I would have thought. They were not too crazy about my beans, but loved the leaves. I have been practicing making videos as we discussed trying to incorporate our own videos with the blog. Well, there is tons more to update you on, but this post is getting way too long. Here is the video on the goats.


Tuesday, August 26

The Gardens of Hamilton House Part 1

Nestled in the small town of South Berwick in Southern Maine, not far at all from the New Hampshire border, is one of the prettiest gardens in these parts-the gardens of Hamilton House.

On a recent visit, I couldn't help but take photo after photo of the beauty of this spot: from the house itself to the formal gardens, to the smaller cottage garden, to the stunning view of the Salmon Falls River.
I'm so excited to share this garden with you in this series of posts so those of you too far to visit can take a virtual tour. For those of you within driving distance, this is a must see destination for garden fanciers.
I love the tiger lilies in this perennial border. We visited at a time when the blooms were stunning, drawing the attention of many butterflies.
This is a view looking down through the formal gardens to the cottage in the distance. 
    It's a great place for both humans and dogs to take a walk.
Another perennial border overflowing with ageratum and black-eyed Susans.
This is the quaint walled garden outside the cottage. It's filled with all sorts of lovely plantings. In this little garden, I always feel as though I've stepped back into another century.

Part II coming soon........

Tuesday, August 19

Pumpkins in August-Portland Garden Album Update

On the way to my Community Garden is a street arbor made from a tree and telephone pole. 

Another tree lawn planted with sunflowers

Here is a pumpkin from the community bed

My kale. I am working on adding vegetables that will over winter

An exotic tomato my neighbor Carol is growing

Another tomato my neighbor is growing. It looks black in color

Moths are already eating my cabbage 

The tomatoes are growing very close to the ground this year

Sunday, August 17

Sambucus Canadensis 'Adams' Elderberry Bush

For some time now I've wanted to plant elderberry on my property. I tried transplanting wild bushes with no luck. When I saw this bush on sale at a nursery, I brought it home. The variety is "Adams." It was the last one. Elderberry bushes are becoming popular in native landscaping plans.
 This elderberry will spread so my hope is to have a nice supply of elderberry outside my door in the years to come.
 I love elderberry as it's packed with nutrition and so versatile. It can be made into jelly, syrup, and wine. I've dried and frozen the berries to preserve for winter. Even the spring blossoms can be eaten. In addition, elderberry attracts and provides food for birds.

The wild elderberries are ripening, so stay tuned for more elderberry posts in the coming weeks. In the meantime, click here if you'd like to read a previous Sprouts post about collecting elderberries.

Saturday, August 16

Collecting Collard Seeds

Last year, my collard greens were doing well into the fall. Even as the temperatures dropped, the collards stayed green. Finally, a killing frost did them in...or so I thought. I didn't get around to pulling them out so in the spring I was surprised when I saw the seemingly dead stems bursting back into life. It's a pretty tough plant that can survive a Maine winter.
So, I let the plants go to seed. Early in August, I pulled the plants out and hung to dry- the results of which you see in the photo above. I spent some time snipping off the little seed pods with scissors and collected them in cups. Each bean-like pod contains a great number of tiny black seeds. The seeds look similar to poppy seeds.
 I left most of the seed in the pod to continue to dry on a high shelf in my kitchen. Those you see in the cup below I sowed to test the viability of the seeds. In just a few days, I had a pot full of collard sprouts, so my experiment was a success.
 I have found collard greens one of the easiest, not to mention nutritious, veggies to grow. Collards can be started inside during the winter for spring transplanting or directly into the ground in the spring. Because collards are cold hardy, August is also an appropriate time to sow collard seeds for a fall or early winter crop, which is what I intend to do with some of my seeds. And I'll be saving some for spring as well.

Monday, August 11

Wildflower Identification: Evening Primrose?

I noticed this pretty wildflower while walking my dog tonight. Since I didn't recognize it, I did a little research when I got home but still not certain what it is. Could it be Evening Primrose?
 It looks similar to the photos I found but not exactly the same. If any of our readers know what type of wild flower this is, please do tell us in the comments.
Here's a good wildflower website that has a wildflower identification tool. According to the tool, the closest thing to this flower is Evening Primrose (but still not totally convinced)

Check out the My Wildflowers website here.

Sunday, August 10

Oxalis: The Easiest, No Fail, Houseplant Ever

If you are looking for a low care easy to grow no fail houseplant take a look at my Oxalis. Sometimes these plants are called Shamrock Plants because of the leaf shape, but if there wasn't already a plant known as resurrection plant, I'd suggest that as the most apt name for this little beauty. It's next to impossible to kill this plant.  
 I've had mine for years. I can't tell you how many times I was certain I had neglected the poor thing to death, and yet, it always revives.
This pink Oxalis is a personal family plant. My grandmother had this plant as long as I can remember. It's so easy to divide, every woman in the family has a piece of Grammie's original plant. I have no idea where my grandmother first got her Oxalis, but I'm going to ask around and find out the history, if anyone remembers.

When my aunt gave me this one, she told me if it dies back absolutely, positively, DO NOT throw it out! She said it will look as dead as dead can be, the leaves all brown and dried out. She emphasized the plant will always come back. And it has.
This white Oxalis was a gift from my mother one Saint Patrick's Day many years ago. It, too, will die back just like the pink Oxalis, but it has always revived to bloom again.
Many times my plants' dormancy has been part of its natural cycle, and then, admittedly, times when I neglected the plant. It doesn't matter. This plant has been so good to me and given me pretty little flowers and shamrock shaped leaves to enjoy no matter how ignored.
 In the summer, I put mine outdoors in a shady spot and they thrive. I think it's nearly time to re-pot them into a bigger pot which I'll tackle this fall. In the winter months, I keep them on the bathroom vanity.

So if you are in the market for an easy and pretty houseplant, give Oxalis a try.

Oxalis bulbs can be purchased from Easy To Grow Bulbs and Vermont Wildflower Farm. Check out the links below:

Thursday, August 7

Portland Chinese Gardens

The official name of the garden is Lan Su Chinese Garden. Expert Chinese artisans built the garden using traditional materials and methods. Completed in 2000, the garden is considered the most authentic Suzhou-style garden outside China.Most of the buildings materials, including 500 tons of rocks, came from China.

Sixty-five artisans from Suzhou lived in Portland for 10 months while they assembled and completed the structures that were crafted in China. The garden features more than 300 plan species found in traditional Chinese gardens.

The name Lan Su Chinese Garden represents the relationship between Portland and its sister city Suzhou.Suzhou was China's most sophisticated metropolis from the 14th through the 19th centuries.

The garden is often rented out for Weddings. Capacity for weddings is 150 seated an 300 standing. There is also a traditional tea house in the garden and seats 50.During peak season the garden rental rate for a Saturday is $3000 for the garden, and $1000 for the Tea house.

For more information about the garden you can click here Portland Chinese Garden

View of the Hall of Brocade Clouds

Pretty pink waterlilies 

More buildings in the garden

Ornate windows without glass on the outer garden walls

A Scholar's Study

Rock Mountain & Waterfall

One of many unique pathways

Sunday, August 3

How Low Maintenance is a Low Maintenance Garden? I ask Kay & Marlin

Kay and Marlin's beautiful Pacific NW Garden is located in Vancouver, Washington a short drive away from Portland, OR. It is a fenced, woodland themed garden that was designed with low maintenance in mind. I don't think anyone would miss having a lawn in this garden!

Pretty Hydrangea hug the house walls
It is a beautiful combination of native plants, strategically placed moss covered rocks and a stunning water feature located in the center of the garden. Is there ever any weeding to do in a low maintenance garden?
Kay chuckles when I ask this question and reports that if I had come just a week earlier I would have seen the waist high thistles growing in the garden. I see no evidence of any weeds on my visit.

A Pacific NW Moss variety was chosen to adorn the rocks
This revelation leads me into my next question. Are there any other problems with a low maintenance garden that you did not anticipate? Kay tells me that they did not realize how quickly certain plants and trees would grow. They were faced with moving trees and dividing shrubs at the 5 year mark. Kay brought up a good point for those interested in this kind of garden. Growing dwarf varieties of trees and shrubs does not mean you will have no growth at all. They had several dwarf varieties that outgrew their space quickly.

The beautiful water feature which is a bird favorite
Marlin and their son Andrew are installing new garden lights while I am visiting. The lights are one of  three projects planned for this summer. One of these future projects is the installation of a round stone patio to put their fire pit and to add extra seating in the garden.

There are several rock formations to add interest to the garden
While I was there  I  note that I have seen several different species of  birds frolicking in the water fountain. On a break from installation, Marlin tells me that yesterday he saw 10 different birds playing in the water. I spot several bright yellow breasted birds and a green hummingbird.

More Pacific NW plants

Gravel and Stone Pathways

View of the left side of the garden

A different view of the garden
Lucky me, after our tour I join the family for a meal on one of the two patios in the garden. There is a wonderful breeze as I enjoy the fine meal that Kay has whipped up for us. This concludes my tour of  Kay and Marlin's garden. My concluding thought is that a low maintenance garden is a wonderful option, but still requires some work and remember to be prepared for adjustments due to rapid growth.

What to do when it is just too Darn hot to Garden?

It has been a very hot summer everywhere. From what I have been told it is normal to get 100 plus days from the months here from  May to Oct...