Late May in the garden

We’re in the garden’s annual purple phase, dominated by the Siberian irises. I’ve spread them out so there are many clumps. I wish I could be as successful dividing the amsonia (or finding more). I need to thin out the black-eyed Susans and hope that will let the Walkers Low take off.

purple 2016

This year we have some white Siberian irises in one spot as well as lots of purple ones. I can’t remember where those came from, but I’ll be looking to spread them out over the next few years.

white and purple siberian irises

The first red-hot poker is blooming. (Yes, those are more Siberian irises behind it, and some yellow irises of some kind to the left.)

red hot pokers may 2016

Last weekend it looked like this:

red hot poker almost in bloom 2016

The next plant to bloom is likely to be this peony. Yes, more Siberian irises. You want some?

peony about to bloom

Some alliums that I thought had disappeared are back. But just some of them. I want to move these out of an ignored far-back bed:

alliums

We’ve also got these alliums:

alliums bells

These dianthus along the front walkway really look much more pink. I want to extend their section of the border (and get them off the walkway):

pinks

 

A glut of hostas

I feel like I turn around — and another clump of hostas has expanded!

I just dug out one giant clump of hostas and gave all of it away. But today I looked in one bed by the house and it looked like this:

hosta clump1 may 2016

Everything is a bit squished, and the ferns are getting to be too much.

And then it keeps going (the variegated clump in the first photo is also in this one):

hosta clump2 may 2016

I love the range of hostas we have, but it’s time to thin these out!

Oh did I say range of hostas? Here are some in another bed today. I love the lime-and-blue-green combo and hope it takes off (move the ferns!), and the giant blue seems very happy (did I move it there last year or the year before?)

hosta lime and blue

hosta giant blue

 

Adding to the garden

Our flower beds are packed… but that doesn’t keep me from thinking about additions.

So far I’ve kept it pretty much to just an idea — except for this Weigela “Prince Red” that is supposed to bloom all summer long. Love the burgundy! We’ve put it in the backyard where we are thinking of creating a private “room”, and this could be a wall. We’ll see what happens as it expands. And yes, it’s not a deer favorite.

weigelia red prince

I’d like to add more red to the front garden — blanket flower or helenium or … I’d have to subtract a bit first to make room. Or maybe the red day lilies will be more prolific and visible in their new home (at least I think I moved them out of the sea of black-eyed Susans last year).

Amazingly, the lenten roses are still blooming in May. The daffodils unfortunately are long gone.

lenten rose in may

And we’re starting to plant the vegetable beds. One of the leek containers imported from Indiana went in this weekend (about two dozen seedlings), as did the Yukon Gold seed potatoes I found there. Got to put in the other leek container in the coming days.

Carrots, kale, lettuce are in. Lemon basil is ready for planting.

Tomatoes will go in soon too. We’ve snared one of the new Rutgers 250 variety, and we have a mystery variety from an Indiana friend. Sun golds are growing … and who knows how we’ll fill the remaining space? We are limiting ourselves to no more than 10 plants this year. Famous last words!

Just how early are the daffodils this year?

I’ll leave it to others to debate fluke mild winter vs. global warming. I’ll just point out that I spotted five daffodils blooming in our yard on Thursday, and two days later the number has quadrupled. I shouldn’t be surprised — we had them peeking up through the ground at Christmas, and temperatures hit 70 again this week.

Here’s what the blog tells me about when we first saw daffodils in other years:

2010 — March 19

2012 — March 2

2013 — March 21

2014 — April 1

Obviously my record-keeping is a bit(!) inconsistent.

Here are three of the blooms spotted this March 10:

Daffodils bloom early in New Jersey

This is winter??

Going back a week: 70 degrees on Christmas Day and the daffodils think it’s spring. Weeds too:

xmas daffodils

We still had food to harvest in the garden (and there’s more to cone!):

xmas harvest

And the birds seemed equally confused about where they should be. Watch hundreds of — crows? –as they moved in a pack, lifting off almost simultaneously with a big whoosh and moving from yard to yard. They’re now gone.

birds preview

Heck, I was confused! The state shattered the record for warmest December ever by more than five degrees.

Jam from my neighbor’s pear tree

sonia's pearsA neighbor has a dwarf pear tree (Keiffer semi-dwarf, to be precise) that has been pretty prolific this year, and she kindly told me to help myself.

I tried not to be too greedy, but I did get enough to make this pear ginger jam and then share it with her. She pronounced it awesome, so I guess it’s one I’ll be making again (especially if she keeps offering up pears).

Here’s the recipe for pear and ginger preserves, from “Canning for a new generation; Bold, fresh flavors for the modern pantry” by Liana Krissoff:

3 pounds pears, peeled, cored and diced (about 7 cups). I can’t remember my neighbor’s variety, but it’s not the usual kind you find at the store. And they were pretty hard.

3 tablespoons finely diced fresh ginger (I’m lazy — I just grated a big chunk, more than 3 tablespoons)

grated zest of 1 lemon (oops, I skipped)

3 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice (I cheated and used bottled lemon juice)

1 1/2 cups sugar (I liked that it was so little)

Put a small plate in the freezer.

Prepare jars.

Put all the ingredients in a wide preserving pan (ok, a big pot). Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pears are very soft and translucent (these pears were so firm that I took a potato masher to them, leaving some texture) and a small dab of the jam spooned onto the chilled plate becomes somewhat firm (it will not gel), 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat, stir gently for a few seconds to distribute the fruit in the liquid.

Ladle the hot jam in the jars in the usual way, water-bath for 5 minutes, make sure seal pops… Done.

I just discovered Liana Krissoff has a blog, though it looks like she struggles to keep it going. Just like most of us.