She turned to the sunlightAnd shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor:"Winter is dead."
- A. A. Milne, When We Were Very Young
|You've gotta love clove currant (Ribes aureum) leafing out in mid-February! This is reliably the first deciduous plant to leaf out in my garden. And are these copper-tinged new leaves beauties or what!|
|Another shot of these stunning new clove currant leaves.|
|Don't get too excited -- I didn't grow this whole bowl of salad goodness. The bulk of the green leaves came from the amazing organic farmers at Bloomsbury Farm. But the Shin Kuroda carrots, Rouge d'Hiver lettuce and corn salad (all grown with seeds from Sow True Seed) came from the backyard and were pulled about 10 minutes before they made their way into this bowl. I think I would have gotten bigger and better veggies if I had sowed my fall crop a little earlier and thinned a bit more (or at all), but overall, I'm pretty happy with the harvest. :)|
|Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) doing what it does best - covering ground. |
Photo by Patrick Standish
|I will admit that wild strawberry foliage can display some excellent, vibrant colors in fall and winter. Photo by Joshua Mayer|
|The wild strawberry fruit is tiny (compared to the typical commercialized hybrid berry that you find at a grocery store, farmers market or pick-your-own farm). Notice all the wiry, red stolons that connect the strawberry plantlets. Photo by espie (on and off)|
|Considering hanging up my indoor seed-starting hat forever...|
|This might just look like a hot mess, but it's actually hundreds of daikon seeds ripening on some of my biggest roots. The pods themselves are edible when green and younger, but now I think they're probably only good for seed-saving.|
|Cowpeas looking good so far!|
|Grow strong, little hibiscus!|
|The bumblebees fly up into the partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) flowers and then vibrate with a high-pitched buzz... presumably to harvest the pollen? It's fun to observe!|
|Pollination results in the formation of these long seedpods. When the pods ripen, they turn a dark reddish color and split open to release their seeds, some of which will ideally sprout to create next year's partridge peas.|
|I scattered ~ 130 seeds outdoors in autumn 2015 from Kansas Native Plants. Last spring, I only had a few plants germinate, but this year I have dozens of plants. I harvested some of the seeds to scatter around the garden and let other seeds fall naturally to the ground beneath the plant. Some seedlings have sprouted in the lawn too, but they don't seem to flower (so far) with regular mowing and are easy to pull, so I'm not too worried about this plant becoming a lawn weed.|
|Partridge pea is native to Tennessee and throughout much of the rest of the Central and Eastern U.S.|
The only place I've seen it growing wild (and it might actually have been planted there) was alongside a parking lot in a South Florida nature preserve.
These plants are growing in full sun on unamended, compacted clay soil with very little supplemental irrigation. (I think I've watered them by hose a few times so far this year.) As you can see, they appear to be thriving.
|The goldfinches have feasted on these seeds.|
|Sunflowers are cheerful bee magnets.|
|All of the sunflowers in this post are volunteers from seeds the birds missed last year.|
As you can see from the photos above, some of their blooms have already faded to the seed stage, but other buds have still not opened yet.
To keep the party going longer, I added some 'Velvet Queen' sunflowers from Southern Exposure.
Those are still in the seedling stage, but they are growing fast and strong!