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Spring at Last in the Vegetable Garden

Ready for planting

Ready for planting in  the vegetable garden

Dear Friend and Gardener: Even  though I have planted seeds in the vegetable  garden, and a few seedlings that I started in the guestroom a few weeks ago, I can never resist  buying a few starts at the garden center.  I can never have enough parsley in the summer, and I don’t need very much chard, and I just want a headstart on the tender basil – so purchased starts are needed. Tomorrow should be perfect planting weather with clouds and showers predicted.  I also bought ‘Evolution’ an annual blue salvia, my traditional edging around the Shed Bed which holds the roses Belle Amour, Mary Rose, Leda, and Mrs. Doreen Pike. The rose are very slowly coming out of hibernation so it is too early to tell how much winter kill there has been.

Early garden for vegetables in  front of the house.

Early garden for vegetables in front of the house.

I did plant seeds (and forgot to note the date – Earth Day?) which  are starting to come up in the bed closest to the house – Early Rapini, Purple Top White Globe turnips, Patty’s Choice lettuce and Ruby and Emerald Duet lettuce – all from Renee’s Garden. I can see tiny plants coming up in rows so the variable weather did not deter these cool season crops.  I also planted a few cippolini onions from Dixondale Farms. The main vegetable garden  and onion beds are down in the Potager. A neighbor  is running a kind of one man coop and he puts together  a bulk order of various kinds of onions and leeks.   On Saturday I planted more seeds – DiCicco broccoli, Bloomsdale Spinach and more lettuces, again from Renee, in the more southern bed.  Those planting take me beyond the crest of the bank where a collection of daylilies is planted. I’ll plant Renee’s Garden Vanilla Berry nasturtiums as the transition between vegetables and daylilies. Nasturtiums act as a really good groundcover, keeping down the weeds, and lots of biomass in the fall to put in the compost pile. In addition, I can eat  the flowers, leaves and seeds.

Pansy studded salad

Pansy studded salad

Then in the summer my salads might resemble this one. Today was the day we priced the  1000 perennials that will be sold on Saturday at the Bridge of Flowers Annual Plant Sale. Lynda Leitner who has been giving the plants tender loving care and watering over the past month put our little subcommittee in a good mood with a beautiful lunch that included this charming salad.

This is my first post as a new member of Dear Friend  and Gardener,  the virtual edible garden club started by Dee Nash, Carol Michel and Mary Ann Newcomer. I have had a vegetable garden for many years, but I am planning to learn a lot from the other members!

Five Plant Gardens by Nancy J. Ondra

Five plant Gardens by Nancy J. Ondra

I’m just starting to read Five Plant Gardens by Nancy J. Ondra and I find it such an encouraging book.  The book is divided into two sections, one section for sunny gardens and one section for shady gardens. She begins with one color gardens like the Bright White Garden for a sunny location. She suggests ‘David’ phlox, ‘White Swan’ coneflower, ‘Snow Fairy’ caryopteris, lambs ears, and candytuft, but gives alternatives and a planting plan.  It is her planting plans that make Five Plant Gardens a really useful book. It is all very well to know tall plants in back, and short plants in front, but that doesn’t take into account plant spread or the differences of foliage.

White gardens are beautiful in the moonlight, blue gardens are peaceful, but should be closer to the house, and yellow garden are pure gold!  Nancy beautifully illustrates the many ways of looking at color in the garden and the myriad ways of arranging or expanding a flower bed.  I’ve just started, but you will be hearing more about this book soon.  I’m ready to think about flowers! And Nancy is the person to give me some new things to think about.  Nancy also has an excellent and very informative blog at

All About the Bridge of Flowers

Queen of the Prairie

The Queen of the Prairie looks more like the Queen of the River in this photo. She is attended by hundreds of handmaids and courtiers.

As a member of the Bridge of Flowers committee many people ask me about when it is open and when is the ‘best’ bloom time.  Those questions are easy to answer. The Bridge of Flowers is open every day, all day from April 1 to October 30. There is no ‘best’ season. The Bridge is in full and glorious bloom all year long. Of course, some people might prefer the earliest perennials and bulbs, while others prefer the late summer garden with dahlias and asters  and other fall bloomers – but it is always beautiful. And always FREE!  There is no charge – although you are invited to leave a donation. And please do sign the guest book.

I love rose season, which is long and beautiful on the Bridge of Flowers.

The path is universally accessible on both the Buckland and Shelburne sides of the Bridge.

A beautiful garden is about more than flowers. The Bridge of Flowers includes handsome shade and foliage plants like these ferns.

Mosaic by Cynthia Fisher

The Bridge of Flowers is immortalized in  this mosaic by local artist Cynthia Fisher who created eleven other mosaics honoring the other towns in our area.  This is one of the things I tell visitors about when they ask what else to see in town. The mosaics are mounted on the walls on town buildings on both sides of the Bridge.

Of course, there are also the Glacial Potholes, beautiful crafts made by the skilled and talented local artists and artisans, and good eats. You can even dine while overlooking the river and the Bridge.

How do you get to the Bridge?  Unfortunately GPS systems do not seem to have found the Bridge, but if you get to Bridge Street in Shelburne Falls, which is on the GPS, you will see the Bridge. You can’t miss it!



What’s Behind the Lion?

How many times have you driven on High Street in Greenfield and wondered what lies beyond this pair of lions? I will tell you – beautiful gardens. You can see the woodland garden up the hill, but you’ll have to go on the Greenfield Garden Club’s Garden Tour on Saturday, July 9 from 9 am to 4 pm to see the rest including sunny perennial borders and a unique solution to a ‘dead corner’. Eight other gardens are on the tour. Tickets will be sold at the Club’s garden at the corner of Silver and Federal Streets from 9 – 1 pm on July 9. Happy touring.