Friday, April 10, 2009

The end of a love affair. . . and a potager update

During our first winter here in Seattle I noticed a large shrub with rose-like flowers that began blooming in February. I had met my first camellia, and I was head over heels. How can you not love something that brings so much color to a dreary, gloomy, rainy Seattle winter? And when I found out that there was one of these flowering shrubs right in our own yard, well, I was downright ecstatic! Now, as it turns out, I don't get to see our own camellia very often as it is located around the side of the house that has no windows. Whose brilliant idea was that, I wonder? But in winters past I've enjoyed visiting the camellias all around our neighborhood. They seem to be very popular here.


Alas, my love affair with camellias has soured a bit since its first hot pink blush. Camellias are less than graceful in their fading. I've found that how a plant fades is as important to me as how it blooms. Camellias fade about as gracefully as overripe pears sitting in the fruit bowl, fermenting, forgotten, and fuzzy.


This is the cleaned and amended bed where we plan to set up the second cloche. You can see the first cloche there on the right. Last Friday, under marvelously sunny skies, we sowed carrots, beets, spinach, orach, mache, lettuces, radishes, mizuna, and pac choi. Today we were hoping to set up the second cloche and sow some more. There is just one itsy-bitsy problem.




The love affair is definitely over. I foresee some serious pruning in this shrub's future.

In other parts of the potager, things are just bursting up and out. A few days ago, the rhubarb had only a few red-tinged leaves.


Look at it today! Guess what kind of snack the attendees at next weekend's SAGBUTT meeting will be getting. We've already found a recipe for rhubarb bars, from Folk Art and Foodways of the Pennsylvania Dutch, and Wing Nut is in the kitchen experimenting as I write.


Keeping the rhubarb company at the far end of the potager are the peas, cabbages, and broccoli.








All the way at the other end of the potager, near the patio, are the shallots and garlic. The bigger ones were fall planted. The areas that look a little bare have sets we planted last week.


Finally, a sneak peek at the baby lettuces under the cloche.


Quick, close the closhe before any slugs get in!


Karen said...

I think you need to rig up a diaper for that camellia... :) Wow, you gals are really on it this spring! I am so far behind, it's not even funny. Oh, rhubarb bars! With a crumble top, perhaps? My mom has a good recipe if you want to add another to the cool-sounding one Wingnut is trying. Can't wait for the meeting, thanks again for organizing! This month has gone by SO fast!

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

Yep - hard prune that camellia - I have just done mine it is so freeing (lol)
Your potager garden looks great, I think I am seriously behind with mine this year
the other k

Daphne said...

I guess my Boston slugs are smarter than yours in Seattle. They get under the remay all the time. Then again maybe it is my ineptitude about keeping the edges down flat.

our friend Ben said...

Ha!!! "The camellia keeps crapping all over the potager!" Gotta love it (well, not "it," as in the camellia, but you know what I mean). I feel exactly that way about flowers: They'd better look okay going out. Or else. Your potager looks fabulous! Now I have to run out and take a look at my rhubarbs. And go Wing Nut! I love that book (and rhubarb bars), too.

Phoenix C. said...

This made me laugh - I love the way you describe the camellia! Maybe that is why it is planted out of view!!

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

It really looks great there, so neat and organized. Yes, camellias do have a way of making a nice mess around them. Pretty in bloom but those dried up flowers on the bush and all around them isn't very nice.
I'm afraid I won't get to enjoy the rhubarb bars, I don't think I'm going to make the meeting. Maybe you can at least show us a picture of how yummy they are!

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

Looking good. Sorry about camelia. Looks like it needs a bib.

Karen said...

PS Maybe the camellia thinks that "potager" is the French word for potty! :) Sorry, I spend way too much time with a 5 year old, obviously.

Anonymous said...

I totally understand the love/hate camellia courtship. I've got my 'Mrs. Tingley' in a container (she's small) so I can move her when she begins her uncomely "pooping" as you so aptly put it. How a plant "descends" as the show declines is a huge factor when we've got smallish gardens and can't hide the culprit. Think of the psychological therapy as you whack away. :)

Curmudgeon said...

Karen, a diaper would probably be more kind than what I have in mind for that shrub.

We were thinking WE were seriously behind in terms of the potager, Karen. Last year we had the cloche up and seeds sowed by mid-March.

LOL Daphne! I'm perfectly happy to have less than smart slugs.

Hey OFB! So how is your rhubarb coming? We applied manure back in early March and the thing has just exploded out of the ground.

Yes Phoenix, I think that is exactly why it was planted out of sight. LOL!

We'll miss you at the SAGBUTT meeting Catherine! I've made a note to self to post mouth-watering photos of the rhubarb bars.

Thanks Aunt Debbi! It only looks neat because the weeds haven't caught up yet. LOL!

I totally agree Grace. In a small urban space like ours, each plant is "on" all the time, even when it is off-peak. Our criteria for planting perennials has gotten much more demanding and rigorous--fading gracefully is the latest on the list. Whacking therapy will commence shortly.

Vancouver Isle Doug said...

Wow, you women are so practical, planting all that edible stuff. Us guys up here in BC, on The Island, are busy doing flowering shrubs - Ceanothus and Leather Leaf Viburnum to name a couple. Sowed a BUNCH of CA Poppies on the lower 'wild' part of the yard and they are coming up like crazy! This is our second growing season on the property and we are moving/cleaning/planting, after taking a wait and see attitude the first year, just to see what would come up. I'm still discovering lovely things all over the yard! But it sure is a lot of fun. And the greenhouse is up and running,with tomatoes and green and hot peppers.

jo said...

i agree whole heartedly about the "how it fades" philosophy. I used to think I wanted a white "moon garden" but nothing fades uglier than a white flower no matter which plant it is attached to. They turn all poop brown and nasty. I like the diaper idea UP above.