Front Garden: First Year

When I moved into my new home in the summer of 2015, it was a blank slate, save a dangerous, dying weeping willow that I had to pay $2000 to remove lest its decaying branches were to come crashing down onto my roof or children.

Building a garden from scratch has been gratifying but has proved more time consuming and costly than anticipated. The process has been made cheaper with the help of friends willing to divide and share their perennials, and my penchant for seed starting, but it's still far from being the fertile green haven of my dreams.

Still, there have been some high points. The front garden is lovely, I've planted blueberries and a 'Celeste' fig, and next year our butterfly garden should be complete. It's on its way.

Vegetable Containers (Barrel-O-Watermelons)

Having just finished a Black Gold garden blog about successful vegetable gardening in containers, I feel the need to brag about my beautiful pot-o-watermelons. My daughter wanted watermelons, so we filled a big half-barrel-sized pot with potting soil, added lots of food, and planted our seedlings. My oldest followed up by sticking sprouted potatoes in the pot and I threw in an extra pepper that I had on hand. The result has been grand. Each plant is doing well, and the 'Little Baby Flower' watermelon has lots of little fruits, and the potatoes are literally erupting from the pot. The girls are overjoyed!

 Watermelons growing from our half-barrel pot. Potatoes are growing on the other side.

Watermelons growing from our half-barrel pot. Potatoes are growing on the other side.

Well-Sweep Herb Farm Visit

For years I have meant to visit Well-Sweep Herb Farm, a charming, 47-year-old, family-owned herb farm in Port Murray, New Jersey. Yesterday I finally made the two-hour trek from Wilmington, and it was well worth the long, scenic drive. What an amazing place!

Well-sweep carries nearly 2000 exotic herbs and spices from across the globe. They even have their own plant selections and introductions, which are carefully chosen by the owners. It is a plant-lover's paradise, and its many homey feel and pretty gardens made the visit even more welcoming and enjoyable. Their specialties are unmistakable. Just consider these numbers: 34 basil, 81 lavender, 47 rosemary, 99 thyme, and 76 scented geranium varieties. They even sell Arabian Frankincense at $80 a start. It's hard to be frugal when you want to buy everything in sight!

Some of my better purchases include a Chinotto tangerine tree (Citrus aurantium 'Chinotto'), variegated Gotu Kola (Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides 'Variegata'), Thai ginger (Alpinia galanga), and a fuzzy, silver-leaved Dittany of Crete (Origanum dictamnus).

Next May I plan to round up more plant geek friends and visit again!

 Well-Sweep Perennial Beds

Well-Sweep Perennial Beds

 Well-Sweep's gentlemanly Onagadori (Japanese Long Tailed Rooster).

Well-Sweep's gentlemanly Onagadori (Japanese Long Tailed Rooster).

 Some of the many plant offerings at Well-Sweep

Some of the many plant offerings at Well-Sweep

 Frankincense tree

Frankincense tree

 Chinotto tangerine, Dittany of Crete, and Variegated Gotu Kola

Chinotto tangerine, Dittany of Crete, and Variegated Gotu Kola

Edible Seed Growing

The garden changes a lot after vacationing for 10 days. I just a short time, everything exploded and all of my dill, coriander, and breadseed poppies had begun to set seed. This is timely--having just written a piece about growing, harvesting, and saving edible seeds for the Black Gold blog. All three herbs beautifully self-sow and co-mingle to create a planting that looks much like wildflowers in a field. Within only a couple of short weeks their beauty will pass, and the summer's heat will turn them brown, dry, and ready to harvest. During harvest, enough of the seeds fall to the ground for next year's crop. It's a pleasingly reliable cycle.

 Dill and breadseed poppy heads

Dill and breadseed poppy heads