Monthly Archives: March 2014

March 29, 2014

Baby demonstrates...

Baby demonstrates…

One can never have too much leopard print.

Baby in the...

Baby in the…

forest.

forest.

Stepping over a branch...

Stepping over a branch…

finding a fossil...

finding a fossil…

...a fallen tree...

…a fallen tree…

...feeling the soft, springy moss.

…feeling the soft, springy moss.

What do you hear?!

What do you hear?!

It's the Spy and his friend.

It’s the Spy and his friend.

A sure sign of spring, no one huddled next to the warm fire!

A sure sign of spring, no one huddled next to the warm fire!

Smoochie revamping the corner office.

Smoochie revamping the corner office.

The asparagus waits for a warmer day to shoot up.

The asparagus waits for a warmer day to shoot up.

Maybe tomorrow? It’s supposed to reach 70!

Spy Garden March 29, 2014

Spy Garden March 29, 2014

Some Seedlings

Seedling Setup in Babyzilla's Room

Seedling Setup in Babyzilla’s Room

This picture was taken from an angle that included part of Baby’s chandelier in the composition, and I just love how the photo turned out. Very glamorous seedlings!

Spy Garden Tomatoes

Spy Garden Tomatoes

We’ve planted the tomato seeds! The descriptions (from http://www.rareseeds.com) of the varieties…

Flame (also called Hillbilly)

A huge, bi-color heirloom: brilliant yellow color with red marbling. Very large with a rich, sweet flavor. Beautiful when sliced. An heirloom believed to be from West Virginia.

Purple Calabash

May be the most purple of all “purple” tomatoes; a deep purple/burgundy and very colorful! The shape is also exciting, with the 3″ fruit being very flat, ribbed and ruffled. Flavor is intense, sweet and tart, with a lime or citrus taste. A most uniquely flavored tomato! The plants give huge yields. This tomato resembles tomatoes pictured in 16th-century herbal diaries.

Gypsy

Named for the Gypsies who live in Russia, this is one of the deepest, purplest, maroon tomatoes we have ever grown. It has a gorgeous color and good taste. Perfect, medium-sized globe fruit make this one of the nicest dark varieties. A lovely and colorful introduction from the great Soviet plant breeders.

Morning Sun: no longer sold on rareseeds.com so I don’t have a description, but we grew this last year and is a prolific yellow cherry/grape tomato. The description of “Egg Yolk Tomato” seems accurate of Morning Sun…

The fruit are a lovely yellow color, being the shape, size and color of an egg yolk. A tantalizing taste treat just bursting with rich, fruity flavor and all of summer’s sweetness. The extra-long vines really amazed us with their productiveness. Developed by Larry Pierce from a sport he found growing in his garden.

Sioux

One of the best-known historic tomatoes, the medium-sized fruit are early. Productive plants and great flavor made this one of the most popular Midwestern tomatoes in the late 1940’s. In 1947, Oscar H. Will & Co. stated, “It out-yielded all other varieties in South Dakota trials.” Per Henderson & Co., in 1951, “Two weeks earlier than Marglobe or Rutgers.” This tomato was one of our most requested, as people love the smooth, beautiful fruit and heavy yields. Introduced in 1944 by the University of Nebraska.

We have loads more varieties planted (of greens, peppers, eggplants, herbs…) but we’ll save those descriptions for another day.

A pepper seedling touching a water droplet on the plastic seed cover. I like the optical illusion this creates!

A pepper seedling touching a water droplet on the plastic seed cover. I like the optical illusion this creates!

Marie-Antoinette, Gardener

My mom sent me this pretty book,

From Marie-Antoinette’s Garden: An Eighteenth-Century Horticultural Album by Élisabeth de Feydeau

From Marie-Antoinette’s Garden: An Eighteenth-Century Horticultural Album by Élisabeth de Feydeau

…probably because when I was in first grade I did a “Night of the Notables” project where I dressed up as Marie-Antoinette. The hairstyle and costume I donned has always been a fond memory.

For the record, that is my real hair.

For the record, that is my real hair.

In my own words...

In my own words…

For the record, it was 1793, not 1893. Guess the teacher missed that opportunity for a correction (though note that she did correct my spelling of “Ouch”). I still think “OOwch!” may be more appropriate. Note the guillotine drawing hahaha.

In reading...

In reading…

…we were surprised to learn that Marie-Antoinette was quite the passionate gardener. Marie-Antoinette is often described as having decadent and opulent interests. It certainly wasn’t cheap to redesign her gardens and she did spend a lot of money having plants shipped in and in making major changes to the landscaping, but usually…

The queen flitted about the gardens in a white percale gown…and a straw hat, going from her farm to her dairy, leading her guests off to drink her milk and eat her fresh eggs, luring the king away from his reading beneath a clump of trees to take tea and a picnic on the grass…It was rumored that the queen had taken to dressing like a ladies’ maid, and the silk traders of Lyon accused her of willfully seeking their financial ruin.

Most portrayals of Marie-Antoinette (including that ghastly movie with Kirsten Dunst) follow the clichéd and ill-informed notion that wealth and privilege equals evil and pretention. She’s often portrayed as a rich, self-indulgent and careless elitist. This book paints a much different picture of the Queen as a mother who is passionate about gardening and other arts of the home.

She writes of her four year old son, “I think it would be best to let him play and work the soil on the terrace…” Agree, Marie! Wholeheartedly! Just call me Marie-Antoinette. Or maybe Marie-Antoi-Internet.

Petite Dauphine de Spy Jardin

Petite Dauphine de Spy Jardin

The braid...it's French ;)

The braid…it’s French ;)

Petite Jardinier

Petite Jardinier

The book features various varieties grown in her gardens, a few of which are near and dear to Spy Garden…

Staghorn Sumac

Staghorn Sumac

Black Walnut

Black Walnut

(I wonder if Marie-Antoinette ever tried to make ink from the husks?!)

I especially enjoyed this highly entertaining story of the potato…

In 1785, at a loss to know how to tackle the famine sweeping the country, Louis XIV ceded fifty acres of land…to the botanist Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, for potato planting…French peasants were suspicious of this strange, exotic vegetable…To support the botanist in his efforts, and to encourage potato eating, Louis XVI slipped one of the flowers into his buttonhole. Marie-Antoinette set a similar example, wearing a potato flower in her hair when she visited Parmentier’s plantation that same year. The people’s suspicion was undimmed. Parmentier decided to whet their curiosity, and mounted an armed guard around his potato fields (which were now ready to harvest). The guards left their posts at night. Mightily intrigued, the people of Paris hurried to steal the closely guarded “treasure” within. The root vegetable conquered the public…The tide of public opinion turned, and the exotic root vegetable became that staple European favorite, the ‘humble’ potato!

Imagine? No pommes frites!?

Marie-Antoinette was made the Queen of France at barely 18. It’s often said she “played” peasant in her gardens and private home. But I question the notion of “play”. Was it really pretend? Was it wrong for her to defy the politics of the court of Versailles and frolic in the flowers with her kids? Was dismissing the culture of the court more than a personal preference? A conscious political statement? Surely anyone who is so fond of gardening can’t be all bad. So far as I know, Robespierre was no gardener…While Marie-Antoinette cut flowers and ribbons all he seemed to cut off were heads!