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blossoms

My home kitchen garden is livelier this year than in any other November. That’s because I set up hoop tunnels over my lettuce and pak choi, and my salad patch is growing strong. All the other annual food plants are down for the count.

Still, wanting to participate in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (read about Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens), I searched every corner of my yard for what’s still in bloom. There’s not much. The photos tell the story.

chrysanthemum

Through spring flower-appropriate holidays, a family in my neighborhood sets up huge tents in 12 department store parking lots throughout central Pennsylvania and sells lilies, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, daffodils, hyacinths, and other potted plants. When the season ends, the family collects whatever didn’t sell, sets it all out on their driveway, and invites passersby to take what they want. This one sat on my front porch all summer and still doesn’t know whether it’s going into a planting bed. Mums generally survive winter here, but they’ve failed to woo me into giving them the chance.

late season rose

Amazingly, even after several 26 degree nights, there are still viable rose blossoms in my new rose bed. Because most of the blossoms have frozen and look terrible, the rose patch is pretty sketchy. I might best to have harvested the few undamaged blossoms and set them indoors in a vase.

dandelion blossom

I expected to find a few dandelion flowers in my yard, but it took me one and quarter turns around the house before I spotted this one low in the grass. I eventually spotted another, but how many dandelions have already appeared in Bloom Day posts over the years?

heath aster in autumn

As long as we’re looking at weeds, I included a shot of this one. I believe it’s a Heath Aster, and it hasn’t noticed the cold. Meadows around here naturally fill up with asters, thistle, and goldenrod. Of course they all wish my yard and garden were a meadow, and they often try to make it so.

holly flowers

While the other flowering plants in my yard are shutting down, the decorative holly bush is just starting to flower. Clumps of blossoms seem particularly abundant this fall. It makes me wonder whether the number of blossoms relates to the severity of the coming winter. If more blossoms equals more winter, this winter should be a doozy.

 

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crocus at your home kitchen garden

The last crocus flower in my yard apparently hasn’t noticed that all ther other blossoms have faded. Finally, spring is creeping in!

It’s mid-April, and I’ve planted nothing in my home kitchen garden! I’ve many seedlings literally dying to get out off their planters, but it has been cold and rainy, and working in the garden means wading in mud.

That said, today is Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Carol, over at May Dreams Gardens, came up with this idea that one day each month garden bloggers would showcase their flowers. I try to post photos of whatever food plants are in bloom in my garden, but today there are none. So… I stepped over the garden fence and shot photos where the ornamental plants grow. I hope you enjoy the results… and jump over to Carol’s blog to find other garden bloggers. You’ll find all kinds of blogs that post awesome flower photos on Bloom Day!

Pachysandra Blossoms

Pachysandra came with the house. These seem to be blossoms, but it’s hard to imagine wanting to pollinate such things… then again, pachysandra probably isn’t trying to attract me as a pollinator.

Daffodil in Front Bed

The main ornamental planting bed in your front yard opens the season with a modest display of crocuses which is finally giving way to daffodils and hyacinths.

Daffodil with Orange Center

Every daffodil I saw as a kid was yellow. Now daffodils are all about fancy color combinations. I like!

Forsythia Fringes

I once heard an artist suggest that you can improve your ability to draw objects by focusing on the empty spaces. If you draw all the empty spaces, what you didn’t draw will be the object. I was thinking about that when I created this photo in a forsythia bush.

Backlighted Forsythia

Sure, it’s another forsythia photo… and there are plenty more. I like the way this one makes me feel as though the forsythia towers over me… though I know the blossoms are quite tiny and unimposing.

Hyacinth

So many colors of purple! This hyacinth becomes surreal when I enlarge it to full screen.

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christmas cactus flower at your home kitchen garden

I don’t mean to mislead in the post’s main text; there are actually more than a dozen blossoms on my Christmas cactus. This shot captured just one blossom aglow with sunlight against the backdrop of my kitchen garden under snow.

It’s Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (read about it on Carol’s blog over at May Dreams Gardens), and my Home Kitchen Garden is under snow. When I limit my definition of “garden” to that plot of land where I plant stuff in the spring, I have nothing to share on this winter Bloom Day. However, I’ve always defined my garden as the entire collection of plants that I tend—wherever they may be.

So, this bloom day, as did Carol on her blog, I present my Christmas Cactus. This plant started as a cutting from my daughter’s cactus back in summer of 2008. So far, the only care it has received is watering. Oh, and I turn the pot from time-to-time. It’s kind of a practical joke. I imagine the plant when sunlight comes through the window the next day: “Hey! I thought I had my leafy stemmy things all pointing in the right direction, and now this?”

I love that you can see the anti-rodent fence that surrounds my vegetable bed in the background of the photo… and snow on the ground in front of it. The snow provides insulation for a thick layer of autumn leaves my kids raked onto the soil. The leaves will break down a little quicker now that there’s snow on them.

While there are no other flower blossoms in my home kitchen garden in January, I snuck in two other photos that were begging for attention. I hope you enjoy them.

 

pampas grass at your home kitchen garden

All I know about the names of ornamental plants I learned from designing golf courses for the old Mean 18 game back in the 1980s and 90s. Drawing on that extensive education, I can say with authority that I have always liked pampas grass… and this stand of it looks pretty awesome even so far into winter. If it’s not pampas grass, please drop a note to Accolade, the company that produced Mean 18.

 

ornament at your home kitchen garden

The sun sometimes streams through our living room window in late afternoon. One day last week (I know: not a true Bloom Day photo), it lit up this handmade ornament, and I captured a few shots. This one makes me think of flowers in someone else’s garden. Today I stowed the ornaments in the garage and started thinking seriously about spring gardening. Still 2 months before I should start seeds. Sigh.

 

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basil blossoms in a home kitchen garden

Opening once again with basil blossoms! My porch basil started flowering over two months ago. This is a small habit plant intended for container gardening, and I’m done with it. The plants were tiny, the leaves ridiculously small, and I’ve had way more satisfying results planting regular old basil plants in containers. Even a standard-sized plant, stunted, provides a better yield than the container basil did. Still… pretty flowers.

Yikes! Summer blew through my home kitchen garden while I was writing a book about preserving produce. The book is on its way to the printer, and I’m still getting a grip on the blogging I failed to do.

Here it is Garden Bloggers Bloom Day in October, and I’ve been preparing blog posts about what went on in April and May. Despite the book-writing distraction, I did plant a kitchen garden—in fact, I expanded my garden this year. And, while we had our first frost two nights ago, even the basil survived in relatively decent shape; much still grows out there, and there are flowers… though my photos for this bloom day show little different from the past two Bloom Days.

It doesn’t matter! There are flowers in my home kitchen garden, they’re beautiful, and I shot them. Please enjoy.

 

late season broccoli in a home kitchen garden

The broccoli I started from seed indoors last February produced poorly at first, but it eventually put up side shoots and other growth that extended some plants as tall as eight feet. The floret production was too sporadic to keep my interest, so I’ll be trying a new variety of broccoli next season. Flowers from the unharvested side shoots attracted all kinds of interesting insects from July through today (notice the cluster of insects on the left side of the main stalk; I don’t know what they are, but they weren’t particularly energetic on this 48 degree day.)

 

cilantro blossoms in a home kitchen garden

A small stand of cilantro has just started flowering, so it’s not likely to produce seeds before cold stops it. I’ll be curious to see whether the plants overwinter and try to produce seeds next spring; I’ve had younger plants over winter very well, but I’ve never had mature and growing cilantro plants at the start of winter.

 

dill blossoms in a home kitchen garden

There’s dill in every stage of growth in my home kitchen garden. The stems, leaves, and flowers look exotic to me, but having such fine-textured leaves and flowers, they are challenging to capture well in photographs. Several giant dill heads already dumped thousands of seeds in the garden, so I doubt I’ll need to plant this herb in the spring.

 

neck pumpkin blossoms in a home kitchen garden

Several overly-optimistic plants simply don’t understand what all the recent cold means. The neck pumpkin plants put on a secondary growth spurt, and there have been nearly a dozen new fruiting flowers. This one almost certainly wasn’t pollinated: no insects flitted about in the cold as I was taking pictures today. It seems pointless for me to pollinate the flower manually as any fruit that sets now will just freeze and die within three weeks.

 

chili pepper blossom in a home kitchen garden

Many of my pepper plants continue to flower, and examining them reminded me that I need to harvest the ripe peppers before we get serious frost. I’ve delayed because peppers keep very well on the plants; they may be full-sized and ready to eat green in July or August, but they can continue to ripen for months until you’re ready to use them.

 

tomato blossom in a home kitchen garden

Even the tomatoes continue to try to make fruit. I’m guessing, but I believe I’ve handled over 400 pounds of tomatoes this season. At peak, I harvested an average of 15 pounds per day. Even now I’ve 30 pounds of ripe tomatoes awaiting attention on my dining room table, and there may be 15 to 20 pounds still on the vines. Thank goodness today’s flowers have no chance of producing viable fruit before a killing frost shuts them down.

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basil blossoms in a home kitchen garden

The basil plants growing in a pot on my deck have flowered. OK, herbs. Herbs flower too.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day today, was very wet in my home kitchen garden. That’s a good thing for the garden, but not so much for the photographer. Thankfully, for the first time ever, I shot my Bloom Day photos a day early. It was heavily overcast yesterday, so there wasn’t a lot of contrast, but the photos reveal a garden very much trying to produce more food before the season ends.

What is Bloom Day? Carol over at May Dreams Gardens started this monthly celebration of flowers. Garden bloggers the world over participate by posting photos of whatever’s abloom in their gardens. I manage a home kitchen garden with the philosophy that I don’t want to expend energy planting stuff I’m not going to eat. So, my focus is food, but happily, fruits and vegetables start out as flowers. Here are the August babies in my home kitchen garden:

dill blossoms in a home kitchen garden

So… I have a bunch of dill blossoms in my garden. I didn’t plant dill this year, but last year’s volunteer dill plants seeded themselves aggressively, and I’ve had three or four plants in bloom at any given time for the past six weeks or so. It’s reassuring to know that several large seed heads have already produced hundreds of seeds which now wait on the soil to sprout new dill plants next spring.

 

tomato blossoms in a home kitchen garden

If things are abloom in my garden, at least some of them are probably tomato plants. I’ve more than 80 tomato plants in the garden this year, and have canned 45 pints of tomato products. There are about 100 pounds of tomatoes on my dining room table, and the plants hold, perhaps, another 100 pounds. These pretty flowers may produce fruit, but it won’t have time to ripen before this autumn’s first frost.

 

bean blossoms in a home kitchen garden

I grew climbing beans for my first time last year and enjoyed their behavior so much that they have become “must haves” in my home kitchen garden. This spring, a woodchuck munched a lot of my plants, but what’s left is producing enough for my family of five to have about four servings a week.

 

lima blossoms in a home kitchen garden

My lima beans are two experiments in one: 1. I’ve never grown lima beans because I’m the only person in my family who likes them. 2. I’m growing eight plants in a single windowsill planter… way too little root space. So far, the plants are flowering abundantly, and there are dozens of bean pods. The pods are just starting to fatten up, so I have some hope of gathering enough lima beans for at least a few servings.

 

cuke blossom in a home kitchen garden

Yet another first for me: I’m growing cucumbers. I planted two varieties, and nearly all the plants have been destroyed by vine borers. Still, I’ve harvested three cucumbers, and there are many more at various stages of near-readiness.

 

squash blossom in a home kitchen garden

Closely related to cucumbers, my winter squash plants are crazy in bloom. Vine borers have killed or weakened nearly all my blue hubbard plants, but neck pumpkins and butternut squash are growing strong. Oh, and it looks as though kobocha squash don’t know how to make female flowers; my plants have grown many dozens of male flowers, but not a single fruiting blossom.

 

broccoli blossom in a home kitchen garden

My broccoli didn’t produce well this year, and I’m shopping for better varieties for next year. If you have a favorite that produces large heads, please leave a comment to tell me about it. I’m still harvesting small broccoli florets from the side shoots, but I think I enjoy the flowers more than I enjoy the tiny servings of broccoli.

 

pepper blossom in a home kitchen garden

While I’ve more than 80 tomato plants in my home kitchen garden, I also have about 60 chili pepper plants. This one’s visitor, I think, is confused. These bugs usually stuff themselves into squash blossoms; this may be the first time I’ve seen one on a pepper plant.

 

 

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Tomato Flower in a Home Kitchen Garden

If you’ve read my blog this season, you may be shaking your head and thinking, “Please, not another tomato flower.” This one is amusing to me because it’s on a tomato plant in my deck-rail basil planter. I filled the planter this summer with a mixture of compost and soil from the garden bed. Somewhere in the mix, there was a tomato seed left over from last season, and it decided to sprout. It put out its first flowers in time for September’s Bloom Day… far too late to produce meaningful tomatoes.

It seems only a month ago that it was August 15th in my Home Kitchen Garden. That’s significant because the 15th of each month is Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. The tradition, started by Carol at May Dreams Gardens is for garden bloggers everywhere to photograph and write posts about what’s blooming in their own gardens.

I don’t deliberately grow flowers, but they’re a necessary step in the growing of vegetables and fruits. I like the flowers because they represent food I’ll be eating three to six weeks from blossom time… that is, assuming the plants in bloom don’t freeze to death before they produce fruit or vegetables.

Unfortunately, the growing season here is trending toward conclusion. I imagine we’ll see frost before the next Bloom Day so I’m trying to enjoy the flowers for flowers’ sake. But I feel a tad melancholy knowing that most of the flowers in my home kitchen garden have come too late to add to my larder.

Pepper Flower in a Home Kitchen Garden

Also on my deck, the pepper plants have completed one fruiting cycle and have started a second. The first time around, my pot-bound pepper plants produced plenty of pleasing but piccolo piquant peppers. If peppers from this second round of flowers look good enough, I might move the planters indoors when frost threatens.

 

Butterfly & Rosemary in a Home Kitchen Garden

Sheltered from prevailing winds by our house, a small rosemary plant has survived two winters. Its delicate purple flowers had lured critters besides me to get close.

 

I liked the idea of capturing some bean flowers alongside a developing bean… didn’t really like any of the photos, but I still like the idea. The upside is that I discovered the climbing bean plants entwined with the kids’ play set had developed another crop of beans since last I’d looked; we had very fresh green beans with dinner today.

 

Oregano in a Home Kitchen Garden

Yes, the oregano is still in bloom; it has been in bloom since mid July, but it looks as though the blossoms are about done. I’m guessing there are a lot of seeds tucked away in the petalled stalks holding the flowers.

 

A Home Kitchen Garden Squash Flower

A few branches of my winter squash vines have grown through the garden fence and they’re still putting out flowers. I haven’t found female flowers in a few weeks, so I don’t anticipate more squash fruits to develop. However, this male flower is cleverly trying to conceal a ripening squash that has remained safely inside the fence.

 

Broccoli Flowers in a Home Kitchen Garden

The bees were abuzz on the broccoli flowers this morning. No, I don’t grow broccoli flowers… I grow broccoli buds, and we eat them. However, like so many kitchen gardeners, I eventually tire of keeping up with the broccoli. After harvesting the central bud cluster, I revisit the plants for many weeks, cutting off the side shoots and feeding them to my family. At some point, I overlook those side shoots and some of them flower. Then, judging the “ready” clusters from the “too old” clusters becomes a chore rather than a task… and soon I’m growing broccoli flowers.

Many people tidy their home kitchen gardens by pulling plants in which they’ve lost interest. I encourage you not to hurry: you do a great favor to pollinators when you leave plants to flower. At least six large bees, two or three butterflies, and another half dozen insects I couldn’t identify flitted from blossom-to-blossom as I tried to capture an image that screamed “BROCCOLI!”

 

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