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Spring

Patience

b.story 12.04.26 Patience Tulip Magnolia

They tell me that with patience comes rewards.  Be they to your spirit, your treasure or your community.  Or to your garden.  However, I don’t tend to be the patient sort.  When I work I want to see progress made.  If it’s not immediate then I would like it to be at least incremental.  At the end of the day I like to have something to point to so I can say “I did that.”  It’s one of the reasons I went into the design profession.  It’s one of the reasons I love to cook.  And it’s one of the reasons that I tend to purchase plant starts rather than seeds for my vegetable garden (that and the extremely small size of said vegetable garden!) 

 As March draws near I begin to itch to start my Spring planting.  I have been thinking of the things I’d like to change and the new things I’d like to try since putting away the Christmas decorations.  Last year was my first year to plant seeds for my spring vegetables.  Carrotsradishesscallions and sugar snap peas were all planted as seeds, the old fashioned way. Their reasonable success (I wasn’t a big fan of the carrot variety I planted and so rather than Bolero Nantes Carrots, this year I will try planting King Midas Carrots) gave me the inspiration and confidence to try again.  According to our frost date I should be able plant the most tolerant of these in early March and the rest mid-March.  But, this year, Mother Nature had other plans.  March rained and rained and rained and rained.  My self-pity was rewarded with the declaration that the month was the wettest March Portland has EVER seen.  The sky was grey, the ground was sopping and the air was a bone chilling cold.  I looked out my window impatiently longing to get muddy in my garden.   

Finally, March ended and April dawned.  The new month brought with it, not only blue sky but a warm sun.  It was such a fabulous change!  The first thing I did was rush out, clean out my sunniest bed and plant the first round of spring seeds.  I feared how long it would be before I could pull my tender seedlings for fresh Spring salads.  Last year, after eagerly planting my seeds as early as I possibly could, their growth was slow.  It seemed to take twice as long for the prescribed growth to occur.  Last year I watched my vegetable beds impatiently from my kitchen window, wondering why it was taking so very, very long for anything to happen.  But this year, growth was immediate and fruitful.  It seemed as though the first shoots nearly burst from the ground.  Perhaps there is something to this patience thing.  Perhaps, waiting for optimal growing conditions means not only that the ground is warmer, the spring rains are gentler and the sunny days are longer but that patience is amply rewarded. 

Enticingly tender you see my baby radish sprouts in the foreground and a few carrot sprouts behind.  In the background you see my overwintered arugula… I received many winter salad cuttings and have now let them flower, which I find to be equally pretty (and tasty)!

 

 

 

 

 

And remember those buds I wrote about a couple weeks ago?  Feeding the promise and eager anticipation of spring and sunnier days.  Well, during my walks I’ve noticed that patience has again triumphed and we are rewarded with a patchwork of magnificent blooms.

Magnolia stellata – Star Magnolia
I incorrectly labeled this little tree a Tulip Tree.  However,  now I believe it to be a Star Magnolia.  With delicate white petals and a smaller size this tree makes an excellent Spring focal point for a small yard.  It will grow to a height and spread of about 12 ft and its multiple trunks will create a lovely screen for the urban yard.  The pussy-willow-like buds will open to a delicate flower in March or April for about six weeks.  They will do well in anything from full sun to heavy shade and do best in climate zones 4-8.

Magnolia soulangeana – Saucer Magnolia or Tulip Tree
Here are the blooms of the Tulip Tree… truly extraordinary.

 

 

Camellia japonica – Japanese Camellia
The blooms of a Camellia are truly magnificent and boisterous for any Spring Garden.

 

 

Helleborus orientalis – Lenten Rose
The nodding bloom of the Lenten Rose requires closer attention and draws the passerby in. 

 

A Ray of Sunshine

b.story 12.03.12 daffodils miniature
My daughter got in the car the other day and announced, “It smells like summer.”  The day had been one of those extraordinary early spring days where everything is warm and feels of promise.  The car had that earthy warm smell that comes from sitting in the sun after transporting two active children.  Perhaps it…

Week 23 – Strawberry, Mint, Goat Cheese Salad

b.salad 11.06.13 strawberry goat cheese salad
You know how you go through life and there are these random phrases or images that stick with you? Well, a number of years ago, my cousin made a statement about how she loves salad with fruit (as opposed to fruit salad)… just loves it. I had never considered it before… but she was right.…

Week 21 – Radish, Pepita Green Salad

b.salad 11.05.30 radish pumpkin seed salad
I was finally able to harvest some radishes! Spring in the Pacific NW has been unseasonably cold… I’ve heard reports that the average April temperature has been one of the coldest on record. The effect has been felt in my little vegetable garden. The quick growing radish has taken twice as long to grow to…

Week 20 – Asparagus Ribbons

b.salad 11.05.23 asparagus ribbons
I just can’t get enough asparagus.  Since writing my last asparagus salad entry,  I have served steamed asparagus with lemon and thyme, grilled asparagus with balsamic vinegar and  roasted asparagus with parmesan.  The thing about seasonal vegetables is, they are here for such a short time, you really must make the most of it.  I served…

Week 18 – Asparagus Salad

b.salad 11.05.09 asparagus
The asparagus is here! The asparagus is here! I look for local asparagus beginning mid-March… I eagerly await its arrival. For me, the arrival of local asparagus is like the New Year. With the onset of asparagus, the clock starts for all the local fresh fruits and vegetables. Pretty soon we will have radishes and…