mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: Spring

starters . . .

a group of morning glory seedlings

a group of morning glory seedlings


morning glory seedlings planted near the clematis

morning glory seedlings planted near the clematis


Spring has been optimal for growing this year: alternating sunny, dry breezy weather interspersed with showers and soaking rain, sometimes for a couple of days. I am often surprised why people object to rain when it is so important to the natural cycle of things. Our Sassafras trees have the most graceful leaves when they unfurl in May.
lush white and pink in the front triangle garden

lush white and pink in the front triangle garden


in front of the barn

in front of the barn


For at least a decade, we have had a planting ritual for “Heavenly Blue” morning glories right around Memorial Day. There’s a nursery in Framingham, about a half hour’s drive towards Boston that grows and sells morning glory seedlings that are about four inches high when I purchase them. The seedlings are not that easy to find and while I’ve tried growing them from a packet of seeds, they don’t seem to want to sprout for me. So I buy a flat of seedlings and place them in the shade under the rhododendron bush to keep cool until we have a chance to plant them. I cluster a four-pack together and plant them in the ground. Then G. measures out fresh twine from the decking above and anchors the string to a brick which nestles in the earth right next to the seedlings. As they grow, they wind themselves around the string and climb. This year, I planted clusters near the purple wisteria vine and the white wisteria vine in the front, thinking that by the time the morning glories bloom, the other flowers, roses and such would have gone by. One new place was near the clematis arbor (see photo above) where there is a wrought iron trellis that branches out in both directions under the stained glass window. I thought that they might take and clamber up the trellis to grace the house sometime in late Summer, early Fall.
"Before" planting wildflower seeds

“Before” planting wildflower seeds


Finally, there’s a very rocky, poor soil area in the front near the street where G. pulled up the weeds and crabgrass, brought some compost over from his mother’s house across the street and the guys put in a stone pathway, sprinkling a mixed assortment of Northeastern wildflower seeds throughout. Afterwards, it rained for about two days, sometimes a heavy downpour from Hurricane Andrea in the middle of the night. Then, the sun came out and for the last couple of days, it has been temperate, sunny and dry with a light breeze: perfect weather for sowing and growing!

All of this is just to belabor a little bit the plantings that we made last week.
What’s most fun is to see what comes up and how they flourish as the Summer and Fall gently roll by. Later, that is.

In the meantime, here are some photos of early roses and right-on-time peonies.

apricot roses by the barn

apricot roses by the barn


climbing roses

climbing roses

peonies along the driveway

peonies along the driveway

Note: to enlarge photos, click once; to magnify, click again.

spring flowers . . .

DSCN5078We’ve been lucky this Spring with daffodils and narcissus blossoming all over the garden. There are many varieties of flowers–doubles, tinted centers, white ones, bright yellow ones, orange fringes, all beautifully fragrant. I usually leave them all outside but a few of them had flopped over and so I cut them and put them in a shino pottery vase by the kitchen window.
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spring! . . .

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japanese farm food . . .

DSC_0819Are you as interested in cooking asian food as much as I am? Some rhetorical question, huh? I walked by my bookshelf this morning and the book, “japanese farm food” by Nancy Singleton Hachisu caught my eye. I had purchased it for myself before Christmas but hadn’t really sat down with it to savor its contents as much as I had meant to do.

It’s a thick volume about Nancy’s Japanese life, having met and married a native Japanese farmer named Tadaaki and raising a family of boys for the past twenty years. She comes from hearty New England stock, it seems, after reading her descriptions about her independent mother, who was a professor of medieval English at Dartmouth.

The cookery described in the book is very un-restaurant-ish and there’s no glib food network host lurking anywhere nearby. Instead, what is so refreshing is its very country and home-made approach with simple, robust flavors; e.g., a recipe for Japanese mayonnaise. There’s a recipe for fresh white turnips, pickled in vinegar and salt. Tonight, I’m going to follow her instructions to wrap fresh fish (haddock) in serving sizes, with a sprinkle of Japanese rice wine, slivers of green onions and fresh ginger root. Coddled in their aluminum foil packets, they’ll be steamed in the bamboo steamer for twenty minutes. I already have my favorite sticky rice humming in the rice cooker and will choose between making some sauteed yellow squash with onions or plain cabbage.

What I really enjoy about this book are the many photographs of her home, scraps of old blue indigo fabric here and there; rustic looking pottery and cookware in her kitchen. The only incongruous thing seemed to be her stunning malachite countertop (I wonder what might have happened to provide such a luxurious stone in such a simple setting!) Maybe it’s a reflection of other cooking experiences that Nancy’s had, for example with folks cooking at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California before she ventured to Japan. Whatever the influences, this book is a rare look inside a Japanese farmhouse, vegetable gardens and barnyard animals with appetizing recipes, an inspiring story about a woman’s transplanted life in Japan.

It’s also keeping me good company on this Spring day with the sun shining outside. And it’s helping me to edge inch by inch into a more simple, even sparse, cooking lifestyle which I feel drawn to in spite of myself. There’s some Yang to this Yin, though, because tomorrow, I’m finally going to try out the recipe for popovers made with black pepper and chunks of gruyere cheese. But that’s okay since opposites make the world go round, right?