Growing loss

This time of year, I long for the Cherry trees. White blossoms tinged with hint of pink in March, a sweetly scented confection, attracting all sorts of bees to a drunken pollen orgy. Often their legs so full of pollen, they cling to the branches lazing in the successful harvest as if dead to the world.

April brings a snow flurry of petals, lazily drifting down covering paths & driveway, exquisite organic snowflakes that melt as quickly under the warm spring sun. The leaves now emerging large, soaking up sun and rain, camouflaging shelter for birds.

Next emerge the delightful bulging fruits, in an array of Spring Greens as the begin to plump. The chatter of baby birds fledging… Flying here & there following their parents’ calls.

May oh, sweet May, fruits change from green to pink to deep dark plump red jewels glistening in the sun.

Robins, summer tanagers, bluebirds, cardinals, grosbeaks, jays, mockingbirds, and woodpeckers flock to snatch a fruit, or snack on insects attracted by the bounty.

When my future husband found the 7 acre wooded property back in 1983, there was a clearing in the woods with 3 Cherry trees in bloom. A shaft of light hitting them like a message from God “Thou shall build your home here!” And so he did.

He designed the house & garage around those Cherries.

For years, he & his young daughter picked cherries every Memorial Day weekend. The bucket of the large Green John Deere would be fitted with a seat, with a seat belt, and up, up Katherine would be lifted with a bucket to harvest, giggling with delight.

Other years when I joined the family our vintage red pickup would be backed up to the hill and ladders lashed securely to climb up to into the canopy. Buckets and buckets of cherries would be harvested.

These Cherries were not sweet like Bings sold in groceries stores… These were a tart variety. Freshly baked pies with lattice tops were made, dusted with cinnamon sugar. Pies, or tarts, or cobblers and buckets of cherries in cute blue plastic pails would be delivered to lucky friends and neighbors.

Cherries would be pitted, then frozen for a taste of Spring later in the year or made into creamy Cherry ice cream.

Slowly the trees began their decline. Life expectancy is only 20 to 25 years. One by one the were removed as the remaining tree languished!

I miss those trees at Entwined Gardens. I miss the anticipation, the picking, pitting, baking & sharing. Most of all, I miss Katherine’s excitement of bringing new friends over well into her twenties to share the joys of picking cherries.

Figs bursting with delight.

Bursting point… We all get to this point… when the blood starts to boil – the emotions swell – so full of stress our juices ready to burst like a fig after a fresh rain.  This morning I was so ready to burst that I called my sage friend  Helen Yoest – she reminded me that sometimes it is just better to “let it go”…

I took a deep breath and ventured outside to find solace in Entwined Gardens.

To my delight, I wasn’t the only one having a break & snack.

Sevensons against a
Carolina Blue Sky

The Heptacodium miconioides  (Sevenson Flower, Autumn Lilac) tree was a buzz with pollinators.  As I looked up at creamy white puffs against a Carolina Blue sky my angst began to vanish lost in a swirl of bees, wasps skippers & butterflies.  My thoughts turned to my delightful 2009 quest to find this tree – an Entwined Gardens expansion – to create a new border adding fall interest near our parking area.

Yes, a crazy Dr. Seuss – like plant that gets far too large for the chosen location.  But the fragrant creamy white flowers appearing August – September, turning into small rounded fruit with a cherry red to rose purple calyx  – ShaZaam! There’s no such thing as too Big as the sweet scent welcomes us home each day.  This small deciduous tree growing 10’ –12’ tall x 8’ – 10’ wide also valued for exfoliating bark in warm hues of light brown, does not disappoint, especially if you don’t mind unpredictable plants with fall winter interest! For those of you who cringe at the word ‘Prune’ – one can’t make a mistake on this wildly branching structure.   Within a year of planting this tree was a showstopper in my new themed border of plants for fall interest and ready for the 2010 Garden Conservancy Open Days Tour!

A lovely butterfly perched upon a Cana ‘Phaison’ or Tropicana Lily, caught my attention. I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo – then it was off in a wisp of a wing – up and circling overhead.

Table for Two –
Red Spotted Purples
dining on Celeste Fig

My mind clearly engaged as I watched the Zen motion as the butterfly fluttered up and around higher & higher then caught a glimpse of pink in an unexpected place.    One of the out of reach Celeste figs had burst open and the scent of soft flesh fills the air. Another Butterfly lands and enjoys the fleshy sweetness – talk about table with a view.

The usual suspects at the Fig Café – humans with morning coffee in hand, disrupting the quiet feast of squirrels & birds who quickly disappear, thinking of another way to enjoy these fruits, of course tasting for inspiration.  Wasps & butterflies throughout the midday, lingering like the folks at an Internet cafe; Possum and Raccoons – the nocturnal clientele leaving debris like twenty -somethings in a college town, so although unseen, we know they’ve been & enjoyed.

Who are these diners
at the Hibiscus Cafe?

Drawn further into the garden – some yet to be identified colorful visitors snacking on Hibiscus coccineus – Red Star Hibiscus pod.

Further down the path another snack has been consumed and another life form swells, 

slowing down progress, almost paralyzed to move forward.  I snap a few photos – in this the moment of truth.  By the time I can summon my husband and run back he has slithered into the safety of foliage.

I am reminded of the lesson to let it go.  Had I not taken a break, made room to breath, I’d have missed these whimsical delights, sweet smells and delicious figs.

Joy!

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

It’s Red, White and Blueberry Time – in the NC Piedmont!

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time to beat the birds and deer to the bushes… to harvest the sweet baubles in varying shades of green, purple, mauve and blue – victory. Yes, it’s Red, White & Blueberry Time in the NC Piedmont!

At Entwined Gardens we grow Premiere, Onslow, Garden Blue, & Yadkin blueberry varieties in our heavy clay soils.

I attended a lecture a few years ago by NCSU’s Jim Ballington

And here Dr. Ballington’s notes* for fool proof Blueberries – But for us I would rather be tasting so here are a few recipes and more information below.

Premiere is our earliest Blueberry – about 3 mm round  Blue pearls of sweetness.

Our first pick yielded about ½ cup…perhaps a Blueberry Tart for dessert.

Simply use premade tart shells, a dollop of Lemon Curd and top with Berries can’t be any easier!

When I get a cup we’ll grill up some wild salmon and top with fresh Blueberry salsa.

Blueberry/Kiwi Salsa

1 cup blueberries or more for color

4 Kiwifuit, peeled & chopped

½ cup thinly sliced red onion,

2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 Teaspoon honey

  • Green Pepper Tabasco (jalapeno) to taste or cut up a jalapeno!

Mix ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and set aside.  Great with chips or grilled salmon

Summer Fruit Salad in Glasses                                                 

  • Mango – diced
  • fresh ginger shredded
  • Avacado – diced
  • Vidallia onion siced – Or Green onions sliced
  • Green Seedless grapes cut in half
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries (sliced) or Blackberries
  • Cilantro – chopped
  • Poppy seed dressing – drizzled to coat
  • Arugula
  • Cracker bread or bread sticks

–         Ahead – Combine everything together except Arugula & cracker bread.

–         Serving time – but arugula in botton of glass, add fruit mixture add a little more arugula

–         Garnish with bread.

–         Fruit keeps for a couple of days in Tupperware.

–         I like to mix in a few other textures and colors of lettuce for color… the arugula gives it a nice spicy flavor to balance the sweetness!

–         Serves 8-10

Enjoy!

Jayme B

Entwined Life

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

Some of my notes:

Check with your local extension agent for your area.   Blueberries provide great fall color too, so tuck one into a sunny border!

*Note: For Zone 7 – all recommendations  are Rabbit eye

A. Large Fruit, high quality

Premier (2) – early, self-pollinating (last week June)

Columbus – midseason, not self-pollinating

Onslow – Late, self-pollinating (3rd week July)

B. The very best quality

Yadkin (2) – midseason, self pollinating, medium size, medium to dark blue color

C. The Toughest Plants for red clay

Premier – early, self-pollinating (last week June)

Ira – early-midseason, not self-pollinating

Garden Blue (2) – midseason, not self pollinating – sweet

Tifblue – midseason, not self pollinating

Powderblue – late, not self – pollinating

– Full sun is preferred, but performance will be satisfactory with 50% sun.

– Soil -Acidic (pH 4.0 – 5.5) well drained soils

– Recommends roto tilling in 3 cu. ft of pine bark at the site where each plant is to be established.

– Surface mulch recommended pine bark, pine straw, aged pine sawdust or rye straw.

-Supplemental irrigation will be needed when rainfall is less than 1″ / week.

-Two year old nursery plants are the preferred planting stock.

-Pruning is required to maintain vigor and production of high quality fruit

-Young plants sensitive to fertilizers

-On young plants application of one TBSP of 10-10-10, or one handful of cottonseed meal spread thinly over the root zone several times during the first growing season will usually be beneficial.

-Double the amount the second growing season

-Pests – Japanese Beetles (treat with Sevin), climbing cutworms, fruit armyworms,

-Birds – Netting

-Deer – Wire cages

Now is not the recommended time to plant…. Make a note to plant in Feb./March.