The Farm, Flowers and Friends

The last few wonderful days I have been off of work spending time with one of my dearest friends who came to visit from California. We hung out at Chickadee Gardens, ate farm-fresh eggs every morning, worked in the veggie garden and generally relaxed. What a treat. We wandered around a lot and, of course, I took pictures. Here is a look at the farm or veggie garden, some blooming flowers and, most importantly, friends with whom to share the garden.

The veggie garden this year is coming on strong. The broccoli and cauliflower got off to a rocky start, but they will soon catch up. I don't think I'll have a successful crop of celeriac this year as the starts were too small when I planted them out into the ground. Live and learn.

We have an abundance of small artichokes this year. They are tasty but a little tough, even after cooking for a long while. Maybe I am harvesting them too early. 

Rhubarb is perpetual.  

 Chick peas! They are so pretty. New to me, I'll report back on how they turn out.

Here is one of the peas. So . . . now what? Do I dry them, eat them fresh, pick them now? No idea. It's all an experiment.

Sweet pea 'Winston Churchill' purchased from Kew Gardens (in London) last fall is a fun fragrant flower for some color in the veggie garden.

The dill is happy this year. I have been adding it to lettuce for salads lately, fresh - just-cut fine pieces right into the lettuce bowl. I do the same with chives and tarragon. 

 The raised beds are pretty successful. The one in back with the dark compost, my friend Mary and I planted up with carrots and basil seeds.

'Vulcan' Swiss chard, first time to grow this. At least it's pretty.

The lettuce is awesome this year. Best yet. My favorites here are butter lettuce and 'Flashy Trout Back'. Quite a name, but it tastes divine. 

We let the asparagus go to seed for the last year. After this we will be able to actually harvest some and enjoy it. You do this so the tubers can fatten up and store up reserves. You are supposed to wait three years before harvesting and it's KILLING us. 

 A beautiful corn - 'Striped Japonica' has variegated leaves. We are also growing Oaxacan green, 'Maiz Morado' black corn and, of course, 'Glass Gem'.

Facilities Manager is great at growing his corn! 

 Horseradish in a pot. I was advised not to put it in the ground for it proves to be a bit too exuberant. I have yet to harvest some, but soon. I will report back.

Also in the veggie garden are a few flowers for cutting. This is Calendula 'Strawberry Blonde' from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. 

 The gooseberries are producing for the first time! This is 'Captivator' and they are pretty tasty, I must say!

 Helenium 'Mardi Gras' with a horizontal bumble bee going round and round.

 The second year this has bloomed for me, Dierama 'Plant World Jewels' was a half-price plant a few years ago. I had no idea what color the flower would be. This is soft and lovely, although I would have welcomed a bright vibrant color, too.

Penstemon heterophyllus 'Blue Springs' has been flowering for several weeks. Here it mingles with Festuca 'Beyond Blue', a harmonious combination. 

Asclepias speciosa, showy milkweed for the monarchs. It has a lovely fragrance and many pollinators also appreciate its nectar. It's a runner, so give it lots of room if you plant this.

I bought some clarkia seeds this winter and sowed them soon after. I have never grown them before, so did not know what to look for in a seedling. I thought this was going to be an evening primrose, but I am delighted to see this.

A second clarkia in pink shades. 

Two santolinas or lavender cottons. These are the ones I cut back hard in late winter. They really do respond well to a hard prune, I will do it every year from now on. On the left is Santonlina 'Lemon Queen' and on the right is Santolina virens or S. rosemarinifolia

Mimulus auruntiacus, sticky monkeyflower. This one is a seedling in the garden. I actually have several seedlings, the parent plants long gone.

 A delightful surprise, Monotropa uniflora, also known as Indian pipe or ghost plant. It just showed up in the woodland garden and we are thrilled. There are several clumps of it. It was thought to be a fungus, but it is indeed a flower - a parasitic one, but a flower.

Eryngium 'Electric Blue' 

Eryngium bourgatii.

Parahebe perfoliata

 I have to throw in one tiny before and after. Here, a Halimium ocymoides (the yellow-flowered plant), is splayed across a large area. I planted it when it was small in 2016 and that winter, the heavy snow and ice flattened it out. It survived but took on a ground cover habit. I left it as it was but it kept dying out in the middle. It had to go, which was a tough decision.

Here is the area after it was removed. This will give the thyme on the right a chance to heal and spread inward. It's not always easy letting a plant go, but sometimes it has to be done. 

The chalkboard door to my garden shed usually lists what we are growing at the farm. I changed it for my dear friend Mary, affectionately known as "Furry Murry". Let me explain. She is the cats' fairy godmother (in case something happens to us, the kitties go to her), but instead of fairy, she's the "furry" godmother. Her nickname is Murry so...Furry Murry. She left her own note on the door right before she left to go back home to California.

And while she was here (Mary on the left), our dear friends Danita and Julie came to visit and we all had a lovely day at the farm together, eating quiche (because that's what you do with a bazillion eggs), farm salad, wine, talking plants, family and sharing stories. What a treat!

And eating gooseberries.

Murry knew our dear Lucy, she was her furry godmother, after all. She left this sweet bouquet on her grave. Thank you, Mary. xo

The parting shot this week will be one of the beautiful bouquets Mary made for our luncheon from garden flowers.

There you have it, a look at what's important in life to me: farm, flowers and, most importantly, friends. It's why we do what we do, farm and garden on this piece of land, to share with friends and family.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, and happy gardening everyone!


  1. Your vegetable garden is as pretty as the rest of your landscape, Tamara. That striped corn is incredible. A few days in the garden with a good friend - it can't get much better!

    1. Thank you, Kris :)

      I can't wait to see the striped corn when it gets large. So cool!

  2. What a nice treat to have friends visit! They look so happy picking gooseberries. I love it when bees do that thing where they go round and round the flower. They do that on my California poppies and I think it's so funny. I should try Clarkia again. I grew it from seed when I first moved here, but it didn't self-sow much and eventually died out.

    1. Those gooseberries are from you! I love the "roundie-roundie" thing funny to watch.

      Clarkia are new to me, but they look pretty cool so far. I am hoping for reseeding. If I get lots, I'll save you some.

  3. You are certainly blessed as are your friends and family. I would love to show up during next years asparagus harvest. ;) Your garden is beautiful as usual, including the veggie garden. Wow.

    1. Blessed is a great word to describe how I feel. You are most welcome to come out and help me pick asparagus! We shall have a royal feed!

  4. Well that’s just fabulous! I’m so glad you got some quality time at home with friends!

  5. Anonymous5:36 PM PDT

    We missed you at work but you will come back refreshed and with stories to tell, right?

    1. Refreshed - I hope so! Stories? Of course ;) Tales of Sweet Pea and Mary's new friendship - among many others.

  6. Looks like a slice of heaven. Do you have any problems with rodents eating your veggies?

    1. Thank you, Hans! No problems with rodents (knock on wood) - but I do spy the occasional bird eating a few berries. We also plant sunflowers in the veggie garden for the birds, they tend to keep the insect population down. Now if you ask me about moles.... (grumpy face)

  7. It was fun to meet Furry Murry - although I do think you introduced her as Mary - last week. Your garden looks as lovely as ever, and as one of the grateful beneficiaries of your generosity, I'm looking forward to it all ripening. That corn leaf is fantastic!


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