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Overwintering Rosemary Topiaries

Rosemary Topiary

After selling topiaries at my shows for a number of years I’ve learned something… people are nervous about purchasing Rosemary plants for indoor use. And I’ve also learned… there is no reason to be! With a south facing exposure and a little attention you can have fresh rosemary on your windowsill all year long even in colder growing zones. I kid you not. It’s -12 wind chill here today. Eegads.

Shown above is one of a pair of rosemary standards that I brought home after the Devon Horse Show in May of 2013. The pair spent the summer planted in the potager providing garden structure as well as culinary deliciousness. This photo was taken soon after they were dug and potted up to bring indoors for the winter. I would recommend polyfoam or ceramic containers… terra cotta drys out much too quickly in a heated environment.

I LOVE the shape of these filled-out standards! They are gorgeous on either side of the fireplace. Generally they are kept in a south facing window with lots of natural light.

So, after some trial and error and a little “dried” rosemary over the years- here is my secret to overwintering Rosemary topiary.

  • Wait.
  • Soak with warm water.
  • Soak again.
  • Drain thoroughly.
  • Full sun.

Repeat.

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I know, right!? Wait to water them until their new growth starts to show signs of wilting. They are a Mediterranean herb and the soil will need to dry out but they WILL give you a sign of when to water. When you perceive the new growth start to droop take them and soak them with WARM water. They need to be watered deeply, twice, drained and then given full sun.

I will admit- Rosemary is not terribly forgiving and you DO have to pay attention to them. But it is so worth it. The only time that I have ever killed (gasp!) a plant (I think) was when I put it in a place that I was not constantly buzzing in and out of. They all tell you when they are ready to be watered.

RIP my sweet bonzi ficus- though you looked so Zen by the bath tub I could not support your daily watering needs. If only you could have fit on the window sill in the kitchen- because we all know those dishes are a never-ending daily nirvana.

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Do you have a south facing window in a place that you frequent? A perfect place for a Rosemary topiary! Looking for a yummy recipe to put those trimmings to use? Look no further! Tuscan Herb Seasoning one of my FAVORITE ways to use fresh Rosemary- perfect for meats and soups.

Do you have a favorite recipe that includes fresh Rosemary? Please share!

 




A Garden Tango

IMGP6424 My garden and I have done an awkward dance all summer long. Never on the same beat… our tempo completely off. A spastic horticultural tango if you will.

And then this past weekend… I finally had the time, energy and proper shoes that brought us together like the partners that we are. I spun from bed to bed in my red farm coat as the wind blew mightily. Probably a good thing we don’t have neighbors within eyeshot.

Earlier this summer I decided to exhibit at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair in Devon, PA. Normally at that time I would be caught up with orders from the Flower Show, excited about spring, winter sowing and getting ready to plant. This year I was in full production mode for my business and then away for a two week duration.  So much happens on a farm, with children, and animals in two weeks. My “away” time limit was reached and I learned that it was too much at this point, at this time in our lives. I never got caught up… all summer long I was one, or two or three steps behind- in so many areas. My garden went in late… some things didn’t go in at all. Then the rains came. Seedings were washed away while the organic weeds that I cultivate so beautifully grew and grew.

My focus never zeroed-in out there. I was away dancing with other loves like children, family, friends and art. I even flirted with running and taking better care of myself. Gasp! Every now and then the sprinkler was turned on when I could remember.

So Saturday I had the opportunity to stand back and appreciate what happens when I’m not paying attention… when I am not in control, when someone else is leading.

# # # # Newsflash # # # #

It still grows and it produces what its supposed to. Even with my full dance card this summer my partner kept up the beet. (snicker). We could easily have scored a 30 on Dancing with Your Vegetables that blustery afternoon, in my opinion.

 

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IMGP6432A little olive oil, salt and pepper then into the oven… carrots, onions, blue and red potatoes. Delicious.

 




My Daily Visitor




Toonces in the Potager





Morning Chores in the Kitchen Garden

 

 




The Potager in July


The view from the studio.

My how fast the summer is going… I can’t keep up. The potager is growing nicely this season although I have been rather inconsistent regarding watering. I can’t believe how parched the ground is. Let’s hear it for the sprinkler! I live on the gardening edge and water from ABOVE… gasp! Please don’t notify the gardening police, thank you.

I made a few planting changes this year. The entire back row of the design has been planted to asparagus and I’m looking forward to having a perennial section that will not need replanting next year. Thankfully this family loves fresh asparagus and I must admit that growing up I had never seen fresh asparagus. My only memories of the vegetable were once a year on Christmas Eve- a mushy, smelly substance out of a Campbell’s soup can.  Eegads. Imagine my delight at lightly seasoned blanched stems with lemon and butter. Ahhh.

Two sour cherry trees were planted this spring on either side of the bistro set. Farmboy loves a sour cherry pie and I FINALLY found two Dark Star cherries locally. They produced the most wonderful fruits this year. Maybe enough for a couple of pies but they never made it inside the house. Let’s just say between Farmboy, me and Gracie the dog (yes, Gracie) the pies didn’t stand a chance. Maybe next year…

Today I had our first tomato of the season in a tomato and basil sandwich. I should have photographed it… but I ate it instead. I believe the variety is Crimson Cushion. Delicious. Nice color, low acid and velvet-y flesh.

Hey, I did photograph it with today’s harvest! Broccoli anyone?

I think this post will get me over the blogging block that I have been experiencing. So much to see, do, paint, plant, cook and draw its hard to stay focused. Needless to say- lots to blog about- so come back, pour a glass of wine or iced tea and stay awhile with me and Toonces. Tell us what has been keeping you busy this summer!

Toonces doing his best to look sophisticated.




Summer is ramping up… and I’m already worn out.

Whew.

May was a whirlwind of activity.

Will one of you sweethearts remind me of this next year?

All of those snow-filled days last winter amounted to one very pent up gardener who was ready to dig up the entire yard this Spring just to enjoy being warm, outside and being active.

I now understand why Farmboy loves the winter so much. It represents rest. As soon as the soil wakes in the Spring the rush for planting begins. The crops getting in are the biggest priority for the month of May. Farmboy comes in from his IT job, changes clothes, grabs and bite to eat and then heads out. Numerous nights during the month we would meet in bed at midnight- exhausted from deadlines, orders and planting.

Just as we breathe a big sigh of relief and a prayer of thanks that the crops are finally in… albeit late, it’s time to cut hay, cultivate, mow as well as pack the trailer for my next show (Allentown Art Festival this weekend) and do three nights a week of lacrosse practices.


The potager layout… before.

This year I decided to splurge and purchased one of those handy Mantis garden tillers for the vegetable garden. It is very light-weight and its narrow width works well in the small beds of my potager. Speaking of which, the potager is almost completely planted… I’m thrilled! I think this year it will be a delight for the eyes and the tastebuds.

Getting started with planting.

I always “plan” to put a “plan” on paper before I start planting… but I never do. It feels like painting when I am out there planting on the fly- thinking about lines, shape, color and repetition. At least this year I do have rows marked and I plan to do an “after” drawing of what is there for next year’s reference. I have threatened everyone that they will “rue the day” if they touch my plant markers as this is the first year that I am actually using them to keep track of which varieties grow/taste better than others.

The Mr and Mrs.

I’m thrilled this year to have an Eastern Bluebird family in a nesting box right under the studio windows on our rose arbor!  It has been such a joy watching the coming and going of those busy parents. The male will come right out to the potager when I am there and perch on the pea trellises or tomato stakes. After years of never even seeing a glimpse of the elusive New York State Bird… its wonderful to have a family of them living here next to the garden.

Outside the studio window.

So friends, thanks for stopping by. I will soon be posting some recent paintings that I’ve been working on, a great list of vegetable gardening references, potager progress, and a fun French-themed dinner menu you will not want to miss. Now let’s all get to work on enjoying the upcoming LAZY days of summer as demonstrated by Pongo the cat.

Pongo taking his afternoon nap.

 

 




It’s great to give!

Hi Friends! I wanted to post a quick note about AmpleHarvest.org and encourage those of you who have grown extra produce in your gardens this summer to consider finding a local food pantry and donating some of your excess produce to families who have been hit hard by the economy.

I did a quick search by entering my zip code on their website and found 3 food pantries within 12 miles of me. Pretty neat. So when your family has had enough of those zucchini, squash or whatever… go here and find a place where your excess will be greatly appreciated!

Big thanks to my twitter friends at TheSoilSisters.com for posting info about AmpleHarvest.org and reminding me to share the blessings! Check them out… you will be glad that you did.

Have a great day!

Michelle




Potager Progress

My vegetable garden expansion took place last spring. Farmboy was busy farming, the ground was workable and I had the skid steer! My exisiting vegetable garden was a series of 9 raised beds about 3 ft wide by 5 ft. long running north to south. My sister kindly pointed out that it looked like a graveyard. I’m not a rectangle with rows kind of gal. I need paths. A destination. It needs to charm me, enchant me… maybe I just wanted a place for the kids to play without stepping all over everything. I needed paths. I digress.

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View of old garden raised beds (early spring). Note playset in background… picture two-story state of the art chicken condo in a couple of years. Don’t tell the kids.

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New area to the left.

I started my expansion by layering composted horse manure from the barn and topsoil. Hmmm. If I had planned it on paper I wouldn’t have made a giant raised rectangle. It was supposed to be left until Fall but I COULD NOT leave it alone. I had to see structure, shape, green plants… and paths. Out of that huge rectangle, I dug out my little paths. Ahhh. Structure. Geometry. A destination. I worked like a crazyperson. It had to be done. I couldn’t garden in half of that space and watch the weeds take over the other half.

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I added a bench to sit and rest from my path making madness. On Mother’s Day I was given a lovely birdbath/fountain to add as the focal point of my emerging potager. I added an apple tree to each side of the bench as well as Little Gem globe arborvite to mark the entrance and termination of the two main paths.

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View to the west through the pea trellises.

Once the paths were established I added landscape fabric and mulch to keep the weeds at bay.  Along the raised edges I planted nasturtiums to keep the weeds down. They were very prolific and effective. Note to self: plant dwarf varieties next year.

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View through side perennial garden and arbor into the potager (towards south).

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View of potager (mid summer) from house.

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View to east through center axis.

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View to west from bistro set.

The bistro set was a welcome addition to the potager. La La and the Bean enjoyed breakfast out there on numerous occasions. Junebug (my mom) and I contemplated life, gardening and much more while watching the sunset and having a glass of wine. LaLa often brought us appetizers of chives, broccoli, mint and fresh green peppers.

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Mid summer view to the south with oats in background.

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View from studio in late fall.

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First snow 2009. (view from studio)

Next year I hope to add two more fruit trees. One on either side of the bistro set as well as some type of fencing. I am entertaining the idea of a picket fence. One day perhaps the paths will be in some sort of stone. I think I’m ready to add permanence to the shape. My main quandary at this time is where to hide the compost pile.: )




ABOUT

Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.

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