Monday, February 27, 2012

NYT Article: Much to Savor, and Worry About, Amid Mild Winter's Early Blooms

Interesting article on the New York Times website about the mild winter NYC is experiencing and the effects on local gardens.  Read the article here.  The following photos are from the article.  What's going on in your area?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I Blog {heart} You!

Yesterday, my friend Hans of Svana Tradgard posted on my blog to let me know that he nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award.  I want to thank Hans very much for considering me and my blog.

If you haven't already, make sure you visit Hans's blog where he details his gardening life in Norrbotten Sweden (yes, waaaaaaay up there!).  If you think your days are short, gardening in northern Sweden will give you a new perspective.  More importantly, Hans works wonderfully with the environment and weather conditions to create a lovely garden (see his summer-time posts).  My recent favorite post on his blog includes photos of LOTS of snow.  Considering that we haven't had an inch of snow in NYC this year, Hans's post was especially welcome.

Now its my turn to nominate blogs to receive the Liebster Blog Award and my nominees are (in no specific order):
  1. Les at A Tidewater Gardener.  I love Les's fantastic photos and he's such a knowledgeable gardener.  He also hails from my hometown in Virginia.
  2. Henrik at Min Franske Have.  French gardens with a Danish twist.
  3. Jim at View From Federal Twist.  New American gardening at its most sublime.  Read about Jim's progress on the redesign of his urban garden.  Impressive photos to boot.
  4. Martin at Ernie & I.  One of the most intrepid garden visitors I've come across in many years.  I do some of my best "virtual" touring at Martin's blog.
  5. Gary at The On Going Adventures at Fox Paw Lodge.  What can I say, Virginians love gardening!

Why Don't You... Grow Citrus?

I spent the day yesterday preparing jars of preserved lemons.  This condiment is delicious with Moroccan foods, fish and chicken.  You just need a little and the tangy lemony/salty taste has an interesting cooling effect on the tongue.  Let me know if you want the recipe!  At any rate, it got me thinking how wonderful it would be to grow my own citrus trees, if only I had some sun and an orangery.  I think the ability to cultivate winter citrus in northern climes has to be one of the most elegant gardening feats.  The beauty of the rich glossy leaves, the scent of the fruit....but I digress.

I found this bit of historical information on winter citrus growing on the NYBG library site:

"Despite the harsh winters of Northern Europe, resourceful and ingenious gardeners were able to develop protected environments amenable to the growth of tender and exotic plants. Although oranges were said to have reached Europe as early as the thirteenth century and were being raised outdoors in Italian Courts during the fifteenth century, it wasn’t until the last quarter of the seventeenth century that the Dutch enthusiasm for citrus had spread throughout Europe.
The Dutch excelled in citrus cultivation and worked to improve growing conditions and to provide methods of keeping the plants over the winter. Citrus trees could be planted in the ground and protection built around them or they could be planted in containers and carried indoors for the inhospitable winter months. Structures such as the stovehouse, fruit wall and orangery were developed for this purpose.
Versailles Orangerie
The orangery began as a temporary building structure with removable parts that was often placed over the trees when they were planted in the ground, but for aesthetic and economic reasons, the building soon evolved into a permanent structure. By incorporating windows on the southern side of the building, to maximize the amount of sunlight reaching the growing plants, and using advanced forms of heating such as the ‘stoove’ to replace an open fireplace, tender plants could be over-wintered with improved results.
Schweriner Schloss Orangerie
In 1703, Hendryck van Oosten, the Leyden gardener, published The Dutch gardener: … in which he wrote an account of the nursing of lemon and orange trees in northern climates saying."there is not a Plant or Tree, that affords such extensive and lasting pleasure; for there is not a Day in the Year when Orange-Trees, may not, and indeed ought not, to afford matter of Delight: whether it be in the Greenness of their Leaves, or in the Agreeableness of their Form and Figure, or in the pleasant Scent of their Flowers, or in the Beauty and Duration of their Fruit." 
Those Dutch...ever resourceful. Equally resourceful was Nancy Astor's head gardener, Frank Copcutt, a man after my own heart.  Lady Astor adored citrus trees and sometimes insisted that fruiting orange trees from Cliveden's greenhouses be used at receptions and parties at her St. James's Square home.  Here's what Frank had to say when Viscount Astor complimented him on the orange trees:
"His Lordship: "Wonderful orange trees you've got there, Frank, a pity we can't have them in the house at Cliveden."
Frank:  "Why not, my lord?"
His Lordship: "Well, the fruit's bound to drop when they're traveling."
Frank:  "I don't think so, my lord, we'll take it off before we move it, and put it back on again at the other end."  And [Frank] showed him how [the oranges] had all been attached with wire.    [From Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor]

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Does This Garden Make My Butt Look Big?

Apparently, one of the big style trends for Spring 2012 are floral and botanical prints (duh!).  Designers from New York to Paris featured floral prints for both men and women. I'm not a print person myself, but anyone swathed in a profusion of daisies and other flora really brightens my day.  I guess if you can't take your garden with you, wear it!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pines & Needles

While these magnificent specimens are, to some, simply background at the height of Spring and Summer, come Winter they take center stage.  And rightly so.  I just started exploring the various conifer forests at the NYBG as part of a conifer identification class I'm taking this month.  Also on tap were blooming crocuses and snowdrops.  At this rate, we'll have daffodils in bloom in the next two or three weeks.  Hope everyone is enjoying their Winter respite.  Are you chomping at the bit to get out in the dirt again?

My nephews Kellan and Braiden....not coniferous, although, at times, odoriferous.