Flowers Galore

The more I farm, the more infatuated I become with growing flowers. Not only are they lovely in themselves, but they also have the wonderful added benefit of attracting a great array of birds and insects to the farm, adding to the biodiversity of our plot. One of my favorite flower-bird combos happens when the sunflowers start to bloom. The gold finches are never more than a few days behind the first flowers emerging on the sunflower plants. I always have to stop and admire these brilliant yellow birds and would happily plant sunflowers every year for no other reason than attracting the finches.

Sunflowers blooming behind the cold frames
Sunflowers blooming behind the cold frames

The Garlic’s In!

This week, the first of the garlic was harvested, and just in time for a planting of fall carrots and beets to go into that same bed! It’s now hanging from the coach house in order to fully dry out. Otherwise, the heavy summer harvest continues.

Garlic Curing
Garlic Curing

And sorry for the late post this week- my internet was out yesterday!

The Big Bed Transition

Yesterday, weather forecasts initially called for up to three-quarters of an inch of rain throughout the day, but instead no precipitation showed up until after 7 in the evening! The upside of this is that Maggie (this year’s Home Farm assistant) and I were able to undertake one of the most grueling bed turn-overs of the year: transitioning the spring pea beds into the fall kale and collard beds. The down-side was that we ended up completing this task under scorching sun with temperatures in the mid-nineties and what felt like as close to 100% humidity as you can get without it raining!

This specific bed turnover is one I always dread. Not only does it take place in the hottest part of the year, but it requires not just pulling out the pea plants, but also dismantling the trellises they grew on and pulling the weeds that have gradually accumulated in the beds over the 3+ months since the peas were planted! It is always satisfying, though, to see the final product- a beautifully prepared bed waiting for it’s next crop.

Fall Kale & Collards growing on my front porch.
Fall Kale & Collards growing on my front porch.

Spring Goes; Summer Comes

This week, an exciting surprise waited for me on Monday morning- the first of the cherry tomatoes were beginning to ripen! For me, like many people, tomatoes really mean that we’re getting to the height of the summer season, something that it’s hard not to feel with temperatures regularly hitting 95+ degrees.

First cherry tomatoes ripening
First cherry tomatoes ripening

With summer underway, asparagus, one of the earliest spring crops, has turned from being harvested for food to being harvested for decorative purposes. Once the spring harvest ends, the asparagus shoots up into beautiful, tall, fern-like plants, the fronds of which I cut to use as filler in our flower bouquets throughout the rest of the season. I cut them sparingly, however, to ensure that the asparagus will continue to grow and photosynthesize and complete everything necessary to produce it’s tasty food crop again next spring!

Asparagus in July
Asparagus in July

Summer Update – Longwood/Wyck Collaboration

As the hot days of summer begin to descend upon us and the rose season largely came and went, I find that days in the garden are very different from from earlier in the season, but no less beautiful and gratifying. Pruning of the rose beds has begun; the appearance will be changing a bit from what we have seen in previous seasons. In an effort to give the beds a more manicured and managed look, roses will be more clearly separated by species, pruned back harder to create more sturdy shapes, and labels made more clear and abundant. I am very excited about the changes we will see in subsequent seasons, and hope our guests will be, too! Here is a look at two of our later season bloomers, both climbers and arranged in beautiful fountain formations in the center parterre where our historic magnolia stands.

Rosa setigera, an aggressive but lovely climbing rose.
Rosa palustris ‘Scandens,’ a cultivar of the Swamp Rose.
Rosa setigera, an aggressive but lovely climbing rose.
Rosa setigera, an aggressive but lovely climbing rose.

Though we have reached the end of the road this season for many of our rosey blooms, the heat of summer is beginning to usher in the flowers of many of our other perennials and shrubs. Here is a sampling of what is currently in bloom.

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Aesculus parviflora, the bottlebrush buckeye, and its attractive, abundant blooms.
A closer view of the elegant spire of Aesculus flowers.
A closer view of the elegant spire of Aesculus flowers.
Acanthus spinosis, also known as Spiny Bear's Breeches, one of my all time favorite perennials.
Acanthus spinosis, also known as Spiny Bear’s Breeches, one of my all time favorite perennials.
Lychnis coronaria, or rose campion.
Lychnis coronaria, or rose campion, and its fuzzy leaves and stems.
An unfortunately blurry image of Larkspur, abundant in our beds.
An unfortunately blurry image of Larkspur, abundant in our beds.
Large, lovely flower heads on our Hydrangeas.
Large, lovely flower heads on our Hydrangeas.
Our native Geranium maculatum.
Our native Geranium maculatum.
A lovely lily.
A lovely lily.
More lilies!
More lilies!

In other exciting news, and as the subject line suggests, we have a fabulous collaboration underway with the Longwood Graduate Fellows Professional Outreach Program (POP) of Longwood Gardens. This summer, Wyck was selected as the site for the graduate students’ summer POP, and how grateful and excited we are. The fellows will be redesigning signage on the property, redesigning and installing new mixed rose and perennial beds on the perimeter of the rose garden along the fence line, and helping to strategize fundraising and grant opportunities. The fellows are so talented and bright, interested and interesting,  and I am thrilled to have them with us! More updates to come!

Next Saturday, July 12, is our Community and History Festival from 12-4 featuring local music and food, free house and garden tours, and talks from local experts on ornithology and the history of women in Philadelphia horticulture. Come out and join us for some fun!

-Denise

In the Heat of the Summer

This week ushered in not only a new month, but also the hottest weather we’ve seen this year, inconveniently for me because the first week in July is always a big transition period on the farm! Despite the 95-degree heat today, 4 beds were transitioned from spring crops to crops like beans, carrots, and salad mix that will be harvested late in the summer and into the fall. Hot weather also means that more and more summer crops are ready for harvest. Today I picked the first cucumbers of the season, as well as several quarts-full of black raspberries!

Tasty Jade Cucumbers
Tasty Jade Cucumbers