Wednesday, July 7, 2010


This morning, I opened to the door to put the Netflix envelope in the mailbox, the air smelled like summer. Warm and dusty. Don't you love the way scent takes us back to a time and place in such clarity?

Starting from age 11, I worked for local farmers. We picked strawberries: pole beans; boysenberries; and thronless, evergreen blackberries. We also weeded newly planted fields and 'trained' the blackberries. (Training blackberries consisted of grabbing a cane, bending it under the first tension wire, tying it to to the top tension wire, and clipping off the end of the cane about six inches above the wire.)
Farmer Robert C grew the berries and hired a group of us junior and high school girls to weed and train as well as pick the berries.  Other farmers used squads of boys or hired migrant workers.  Bob just said he got his monies worth with the girls.  We laughed, sang, flirted with the irrigation boys, told jokes, got into arguments and in the end.......GOT THE JOB DONE!
Mom was our boss.  She ran a tight ship.  You goofed off too much and she would just have a talk with you and you didn't goof off anymore.  She knew when we needed a break from the work and would set up a surprise with Bob of some pop or ice cream at the end of the day.  She was fair, even, and furnny to work with.
I earned enough money to buy a nice school wardrobe and set aside a growing savings account. Good memories and times.
Cherries are available now.  That means boysen, marion, and young berries will be available very soon.  Yum, cobblers and pies!  I've got the get Mom's recipe for 'Tar and Rocks' from Debbie, I've misplaced mine.  I'll post it over on Cooking in Nana's Kitchen in the next day or so.  You will love it!
Summer's here and I'm keeping cool!  Hope you are as well.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What's Blooming This Week

Victorian Poppy, Papaver paeoniflorum
Yes, this is also called Opium Poppy, Papaver somniferum, but this is the variety grown by the Victorians in their gardens.  This plant was here when we moved in.  Over the years, this annual, has shown up all over the yard and garden.
About 25 years ago, we saw a program on how to harvest the opium and process it.  So we tried it, short of actually ingesting the product.  I harvest the seeds for poppy seed cake, poppy seed bread, poppy seed muffins, etc.

Oriental Poppy, Papaver orientale
My Aunt Vi used to grow these.  My step-mom Dorthy gave me the start for this.  If you want to transplant these, do it in August.  Otherwise, it's a crapshoot for the thing to survive.

Love-In-A-Mist, Nigella damascena
This is 'Miss Jekyll' after renowned English garden designer Gertrude Jekyll.

I have no idea what this grass is.  It has a pinkish cast to the flower head and I like it for that reason.  Being allergic to grass pollen, I decided not to get close enough to the flowerhead to identify it.  Yeah, Plant Taxonomy was a bitch when the professor pulled out the grasses!

Borage, Borago officinalis
These flowers will turn pink as they mature.  It's a fun herb.  I just allow it to bloom all over the garden since bees just love it!

Subterranium Clover, Trifolium subterraneum
A lawn weed.  I like them because the plant fixes nitrogen and that nitrogen is released to the soil when the plant dies.  Hey, it's cheap fertilizer!

Yarrow, Achillea millefolium
This came in my eco-lawn seed.  I would recommend not getting a seeding mix with yarrow, it creeps into the flower beds and is highly invasive.

Mole or Gopher Plant, Euphorbia lathyris
This plant does not work against moles or gophers.  It does work against me.  I am severely allergic to this plant.  The only reason it is growing this year is because of the foreclosure, we are not doing anything in the garden, at all!  Usually I would have hit it with Round-up when I first found it growing.

Mop-head Hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla
These flowers will slowly turn blue, then fade to yellow, then dry on the plant for winter interest.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Think Wildflowers

We took a trip to the Coast Saturday. It was glorious, sunny and no wind. I had wanted to give my new camera an outing. Unfortunately, the traffic was too heavy to stop for wildflowers along the roadside.

So, we went on a short, less than an hour trip Sunday. There were many plants in bloom.

I love to use our native wildflowers in the home garden landscape. There are all the usual reasons: drought resistance, beauty, forage for native wildlife, and pretty much no-fail plants.

I tend to see the roadside plants as both weeds and wildflowers. So many of what we think of as a wild plant are just those that have escaped cultivation or come in with imported agricultural products.

I took a slew of pictures, so here are just a few of the best ones:

Wild Rose, Rosa nutkana
There was a Wild Rose growing at the corner of our lot on Hembree.  The rose hips were tart but tasty.

White Oregon Iris, Iris tenax
This iris may be any shade of white, blue, lavender, purple, or yellow

Wild Iris and Teasel heads, Dipsacus fullonum
Teasel is an European import.  It was used to 'tease' the wool before spinning.

Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum
At first I thought this weed had been hit by an herbicide.  On closer inspection, the white veins are natural.  This is an European import and considered a noxious weed here in Oregon.   It looks vicious.  By the way, say the name out loud, "Silly Bum."  Those old biologists did sometimes have a great sense of humor.

Mule's Ears, Wyethia amplexicaulis
Scott's eagle eye saw this plant.  I didn't see it until he pointed it out!

Scotch Broom, Cytisus scoparius
This plant is highly invasive, as are all brooms.  The seed heads are spring-loaded.  When ripe, the seeds are flung far from the mother-plant.  They make a 'popping' sound.

The One and Only Real Trailing Blackberry, Rubus ursinus
You will find male and female plants.  Don't ask which this is.  All other blackberries: Himalayan and Evergreen are invasive imports.  (I used to work on a farm with Thornless, Evergreen blackberry fields.  I thought the flavor was okay.  Himalayan better, and Trailing the best ever!)  If you are lucky to come upon a patch of these natives in fruit, stop and pick.  You will have a blackberry pie that will spoil you forever.

If you are doing your own scouting for wildflowers in the wild, here are some books I recommend: 


There are great botanical tomes on Plant Taxonomy, but I feel those are best left to the botanist.  Since wildflowers are sometimes quite regional, it is best to check with your local bookstore, Extension Office, Wildflower Societies, community college or university botanists for their recommendation of identification books.