I’ve been on a sort-of break from work in an attempt to unwind from a year of madness, although so far most of my break has been spent painting, framing art, and doing the work of making this place feel like a home. Our move-in was thrust right in the middle of writing my third book, which at the time meant setting things up as best we could and then getting back to it quickly.
We are not minimalists. We’ve collected an assortment of strange things over the years, and I find comfort and inspiration when I am surrounded by those things. I am visually oriented — my eyes need to dance around a room. I hate plain walls.
Unfortunately, my neck and shoulder is acting up (again), which says to me that it is time to take this whole down time thing more seriously. No more trying to attempt to take a break. I need to take a real break. For REAL!
On that note, I leave you with a selection of garden pics. I’ll be back posting regularly when my neck/shoulder/arm permits it.
‘Rocoto’ hot pepper flower.
‘Plum Frost’ Coleus.
I wrote about the cosmos recently when the flowers were just starting to open. Well, they’re coming up full force now and I’m loving them even more. The soft, double blooms have begun to poke through a false roselle (Hibiscus acetosella) plant that is growing alongside — it has proven to be an unexpected combination that I would repeat again.
Eventually, if all goes well, the false roselle will bear its own soft pink blooms. It’s a long season tropical — I started the seeds underneath lights back in January with the hopes that the plant would have enough time to make flowers before the killing frost comes. I am loving this plant in it’s own right, even without flowers. I first encountered it in St. Lucia where my friend David was growing a stand of them. Here it is a struggle to get 7-foot-tall plants — mine are not there yet and may never make it, but even still, it’s been beautiful at every stage. Both the flowers (if they ever come) and the young leaves are edible. They taste a lot like their namesake, sorrel (Rumex acetosa), and have that slightly acidic bite.
They’re here! The slicing tomatoes are here!
Yeah, sure, we’ve been enjoying the bite-sized determinates since June, and they are good. I won’t deny that they have been swell. The first two Caprese salads of the season were dynamite. I will never forget them. But in all honesty, what started this weekend is The Show.
This is what I’ve been waiting for. I’ve intentionally held back on buying tomatoes these last months. Not at the supermarket and not even at the farmers’ markets. I wanted to make sure that the feeling of tomato deprivation was so great, that when the first slicers made their appearance, I would appreciate every bite. And they have. And I did.
The very first treat I made was a homemade bloody mary. That was good. So fresh and tangy. This afternoon I popped a bunch into the oven to roast. Tonight we’ll have roasted tomato soup for dinner. I’ve been dreaming about this for weeks.
And for lunch, I had my very favourite summer sandwich: Fried Egg with Basil and Tomato.
The cosmos are sizing up now. Their stalks are thick and strong — it must be the duck manure that I worked into our sandy soil this spring. The seeds were started late this year since we didn’t have a garden at the time that I should have been direct sowing them.
Better late than never.
Ever since I publicly declared my love for this delicate and delightful weedy menace [oops... breaking my own rule here], I have resolved to grow more of them in my garden, the caveat being that I would go with unusual forms and/or double varieties and steer clear from the single pink and white varieties.
I know. Cheese-y. I couldn’t help myself, although I think it aptly reflects the gleeful delight I feel each morning when I go out to collect the day’s garden offerings.
The top two squashes are Benning’s Green Tint Patty Pan from the Hudson Valley Seed Library. This is my first time growing it. The middle zucchini is ‘Nice de Rond’, a French heirloom that I have grown on and off for years. The pea pod is ‘Dwarf Grey Sugar’, a short-ish variety with pretty flowers. I tried that one in one of the raised beds this year, after years growing it in pots. To be honest I didn’t notice a difference. The sign of a truly good container plant.
The Hudson Valley Seed Library website describes ‘Benning’s Green Tint’ as a “compact bush”, but that hasn’t been my experience. Mine is absolutely mammoth — possibly the largest bushing zucchini I have ever grown both in size and productivity! I did not provide well for its aggressive expansion and it is beginning to take over the space that was meant to be shared with two other zucchini plants. It has also spilled well over into the walking path. The plant keeps growing and has taken on what is close to a trailing habit!
Meanwhile, the ‘Nice de Rond’ remains as compact in the ground as it has been in pots. I love this one in small spaces and the round, cue ball fruits are tender and unique.