Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kitchen Gardens


We are always tantalized by a taste of spring in late February here in the Northwest.....and then our hopes are dashed in the wet muck of March, and yes April, and well quite honestly, May....and gosh darn it, June......and for god's sake, july...yiminy..!! so sorry...went a bit downhill there...

Let's get back to those nice thoughts of spring in February and early March... because really, truly the days are getting a smidge longer, buds are plumping up on the early flowering trees, and bulbs are pushing up.  It's amazing how quickly winter seems to be gone and the gardening bug gets me out of hibernation.  My pink camelia in the back of the house has the loveliest  blossoms.  Once I get my gardening gloves out, all I want to do is make garden plans.  Truthfully, I don't necessarily work in the garden much yet, but I do make very good plans:). 

For a few years after we moved into our new house, I couldn't make even the simplest decisions in the yard--  paralysis by analysis.  I didn't know how to garden, I didn't know which plant went where, there was too much shade....excuses excuses!  Finally, I read a comment by one of my favorite amateur gardeners, Pierre Berge, who was YSL's business and life partner, and he said something to the effect of....(total paraphrase):
"Do not be fussy about gardening.  Jump in and have an adventure.  If plants need to be moved, move them.  Just start experimenting and you will learn." (I'm sure it sounded terribly sophisticated in his french accent.)
Well, I can't say that the results have been consistently spectacular - I've redone the front beds twice and I'm not satisfied's a work in progress- but it sure has been fun and I have learned a great deal by reading about plants, putting them in the ground, nearly killing them, resurrecting them, definitely killing them, and starting over now and again.

Remember this fabulous kitchen garden(above) in the movie "It's Complicated?" It was beyond delicious- and it might appear too complicated for you....but it's not!  I was slobbering over potagers, tearing out pictures for ages trying to decide how to do it, should I have raised beds?  should I border them in crushed gravel?..... One day, my friend Andy showed up and I gave us each a shovel, we made some basic measurements and then we started digging.  Four squares.  Right into the lawn.  Dug in some compost, put boxwood on each corner for structure, and began adding plants.  Here's a picture on the left  from a couple years ago when I was growing cucumber.

It's been a wonderful project and it's so easy to change the context from season to season.  Sometimes it's full of tulips, sometimes vegetables, cutting flowers, herbs and often I just haven't had time so it's clean and tidy waiting for me to reappear and be creative.  I added a similar garden potager (above) when I realized how much I enjoyed puttering in the dirt.  You can see a little corn in the terracotta pot that we tried for fun...we had an amazing artichoke plant one season....I go for a rustic mish-mash....whatever suits my fancy and is not too fussy.
Anywho, I urge you all to put your gloves and boots on! okay, not those cute green boots there...those are Gucci...grab some tools...well, not those stylish pristine tools- those are Hermes..
(who buys that stuff??? Prince Charles?
uh, it just gets dirty, you know...)

and get digging in the next few months.  Even if you just have two pots to fill or a small patch of can create a kitchen garden with immediate satisfaction.
Brooke and Josie have MAJOR garden

projects planned so we will share before and afters with you soon!
Don't let the rain stop you....there is a great sense of accomplishment when you are soggy and dirty, as if you are a farmer who has done a hard day's work.  If you garden in the sunshine, well, there is just peace and you never want to go back inside.  I can't wait for the longest day of the year....outside digging until ten o'clock- heaven on if I could just hire a gardening crew to come wheel the lemon trees in and out of the orangery seasonly....

More to come,
Annie and Team Blue Box

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