Where the heck have I been?
Well, I thought logically, that if we were stuck in the house for a portion of this heat wave that Ottawa has been having, we should be doing something constructive.
No, I said ‘painting’ not ‘panting’!
It’s been so hot and dry that lawns are looking like this. The only bright spot here is the chicory, with its luminous blue flowers, not showing any ill effects from the lack of water.
You would think that our allotment would also be showing signs of serious thirst. We visited in the middle of the drought and found that the annuals and biennials that I grew from seed were looking no worse for wear.
The zinnias and clarkia are stealing the show, but the borage is also looking stunning.
The allotment so far has produced some really beautiful produce:
This ‘Bright Lights’ rainbow chard has been harvested several times for an excellent vitamin-rich vegetable. I saute it with garlic and onions, and serve it alongside a broiled salmon filet. Yum.
And these beets are a variety of jewel-toned specimens – red, gold and candystripe! I’ve harvested a few (haven’t found the gold ones yet), cooked them up and had them in a lovely beet salad with locally made goat cheese that I purchased at our local farmer’s market from Clarmell on the Rideau in Manotick.
Many of the veggies I’m growing in the allotment are from seed I obtained from Renee’s Garden, a seed producer in Felton, California.
Renee Shepherd has been in the seed business since 1985. After completing a PhD and teaching Environmental Studies she opened Renee’s Garden in 1997. Through her work with Shepherd’s Seeds (1985 – 1996) and Renee’s Garden Seeds, she has made many ‘exotic’ varieties of vegetables and herbs just a phone call or email away to us gardeners around the world. She says:
This seed line is my personal selection of new, exciting and unusual seed choices of time-tested heirlooms, the best international hybrids and fine open-pollinated varieties. I harvest and use the vegetables and herbs in my kitchen to choose the most delicious, and cut the flowers for bouquets to select the finest colors, forms and fragrances. Our varieties are tested and guaranteed for every major US climate zone.
We have been clearing more and more of our allotment as time and the weather allows, making space for some new shrubs that I am trialing (more on that later) and a spicebush (Lindera benzoin) that I obtained from Connons Nursery from my friend Dan Clost (who along with working at a very large and well-known nursery also happens to be an excellent tale spinner and writer). It is a native shrub that is the host plant for the caterpillar that transforms into the swallowtail butterfly and is a great alternative to the comparatively loud forsythia – if you can find it, that is!
Of course the other imperative necessitating finding space to grow large shrubs is to provide shade for said companion, Skye-dog:
For our allotment has none. And Skye spends much of her time while we’re there sitting in the car :c(
So, the painting is complete, the heat wave has subsided just a tad, and more work in my own garden (and those of my clients) beckon.