Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

Annual Pollinator Post

Every year I post about pollinators, and it’s always a thinly disguised excuse to post pictures of poppies.  So this year I will just say again that planting flowers that bees like is one of the kindest things that you can do for them, and there is no flower that bees like more than the common Shirley poppy.  Buy a packet of seed in late winter, sprinkle it over fertile ground while the weather is still cold, water regularly, and in late May or early June the show starts. I have started planting a bed of carrots in early March, then sprinkling the poppy seeds over the planted bed. You can’t see it in this picture, but underneath the poppies are carrots, and they are growing quite happily.  So it is quite possible to get a crop of flowers for the bees and for your viewing pleasure, and still harvest food from the same bed.  After they bloom the poppies die back and the carrots can take over, or if you gave the flowers the bed to themselves, you can dig up the bed at that point and plant something else.

The last few weeks have been filled with work obligations, sad things in the news, and a friend’s urgent medical issue, but I have tried hard to pause and notice the poppy bed every time I walk past it, and listen to the humming of the bees inside the blossoms. Poppies in June are a good reminder that we too are in bloom only a short time and need to revel in our time in the sun.

Passing Pleasures: late summer flowers

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Part of the joy of seasonal living is the lavish abundance of late summer. Tomatoes and eggplants are sunkissed and beautiful, a wide variety of fruit is available, and meals seem to plan themselves. But even if you aren’t a cook-it-at-home sort of person, this is the time to fill your house with flowers. Local flowers are beautiful, and they don’t cause ground to be poisoned, workers to be exposed  to toxins, and refrigerated trucks to be filled with petroleum to haul them around. They are a pure and good thing, and in a few more weeks we’ll have the first frosts and they won’t be here any more, so run to your nearest farmer’s market and indulge. I buy flowers at the downtown market at Central and Eighth and at the Corrales market. I’m sure that other markets have similar offerings. If you go to the Downtown market, see Chispas Farms for zinnias and Majestic Farms for sunflowers. Get there early, because the flowers sell out fast.

   A writer whom I admire once described buying flowers at a French market, then carrying them while meeting friends for lunch at a cafe’. The waitress fussed about the “mess” and pointed out that artificial  flowers would last much longer, to which a gentleman at the table replied “But, madame,  you too will wither and grow old, and you too must be appreciated and loved while you are in bloom.” Exactly.

The Jewels of Summer: flowers and local food

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Now that the idea of local food is popular, a backlash is detectable. I’m beginning to see comments and articles attacking the  idea of obtaining all your food locally. I’m familiar with the debate technique of building a straw man and knocking him down, so this doesn’t especially surprise me; caricaturing your opponents’ views is a way to make them seem ridiculous. All I will say in this context is that few of us obtain all our food locally, or want to. Coffee, chocolate, wine, and olive oil are among the foods that I love dearly and will happily buy from other areas. On the other hand, local fruits and vegetables are fresher and superior, and we have some truly superb grass-fed local meats available. If you aren’t ready to make a big lifestyle change, try shopping at one farmers’ market a week and cooking what you find. If you want the cooking done for you, try one of the prepared foods, cheeses, or breads.  Don’t go there with strong notions about what you should eat. Instead, look around and see what you want to eat.  Local farmers and artisans will benefit, and so will you.

If you don’t want to try any  local foods, buy some local flowers. One of the greatest pleasures of my gardening  lifestyle is eating my own food on my patio among my own flowers. Beauty feeds the spirit as surely as vegetables feed the body, and our local seasonal flowers didn’t require greenhousing, pesticides, fertilizer, petroleum fuel, or poorly paid labor to reach us. The flowers are the fringe benefits of  growing locally, and sometimes they are beautiful enough to stop you in your tracks, which can only be good for your health.

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Passing Pleasures: sage blossoms

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Sage is a useful culinary herb which loves our climate and grows with unbounded enthusiasm. My own specimen has been grown in a container for three years with no care or attention other than periodic watering and has reached 3 feet across and seeded itself around, providing a number of nice plants to give away. A major advantage to growing your own is that you can enjoy its lovely Delft-blue flowers, both in your yard and on your plate. The flowers also taste of sage, but the flavor is softer, sweeter, and more floral. They are lovely on salads. Pick them just before you use them, toss them on top of the dressed leaves, and enjoy. This is one of the ephemeral pleasures of the garden, to be enjoyed for a week or two and then let go. But, like most such pleasures, it makes an impression and leaves a memory of a pure and lovely thing enjoyed in its season.
You can buy a sage plant nearly anywhere. I suggest avoiding the variegated or variously-scented ones unless you have space to spare. Common culinary sage is the most useful in the kitchen.
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