Tuesday, March 31, 2009


It's spring inside the conservatory...Now that we have heat in our conservatory, it can be any season we want inside! the limiting factor is paying for the heat of course, which is where that short, 30' wind turbine I am dreaming of comes into play...The big dream I am moving towards, is turning this into a true conservatory, heated year round with citrus, figs, nectarines...this is a-way down the road mind-you. After we are physically unable to pull off Living in the Garden we will slide into Sitting in the Conservatory.
To accomplish this I need a few things. A heat source that does not eat fossil fuels. I am thinking now of a combination of solar thermal and wind power. Wind generated electricity to run the in-floor heat system. Solar thermal to pre-heat the water for this system...We added 2' x 2' square tiles this winter as our floor, these can be lifted so we can later add the heating system.  
Right now we have so many beautiful perennials and bulbs in bloom in looks and smells  like Manito Park to me! Weather permitting we will pick up our roses on Wednesday and Thursday a big order of perennials will arrive.
No matter what the weather is like outside....... IT' SPRING INSIDE....

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Scotty shot this yesterday. A vernal spring from all the rain.  It will dry up soon, but I love the way it pulls your eye around the corner. Don't we have wonderful clouds on the Palouse. We have been busy unloading trucks full of perennials, pansies, violas and vines and..........I wish I had more energy to take photos of all that's come in and write about it...but the end of the day brings dinner-bath-movie or book and then bed by 9:00 to watch Charlie Rose and fall asleep after a good days work.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Oh my!  From the Barn House blog I just found this blog:

Minna is a flower photographer and stylist. In her words "I want to share my love of flowers and inspire people to find beauty in everyday life"
This site is written in Swedish and English but if you scroll down the on the right, Google has a translation widget and you can select English and it will translate the whole site to English... if it matters! Her photos are so so beautiful! This is why I need to set a timer when I sit down to work on my blog...
....one can get lost in translation...........


I just received this press release for a sculpture workshop at the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown. It sounds great, I wish I could go.... but it's April so you know where I will be..... 

Dahmen Barn Presents " The Rhythms of Stone"

Award-winning sculptor DJ Garrity, will lead a fascinating exploration of the art of stone sculpture at the Dahmen Barn this spring. The Artist, who served three tours of duty as Sculptor-In-Residence at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, has established an international reputation with his innovative workshop. The use of simple hand tools with a focus on the expressive qualities of the human face has allowed his students to finesse compelling images from stone and wood. The artist who lives on the Oregon Coast, will be conducting the sculpture workshop from April 24-26, 2009. Space is limited and registration information is at the bottom of the calendar page at www.ArtisanBarn.org or by calling 509-229-3414.  

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I subscribe to the Word for the Day from the web site gratefulness.org
Todays quote is:

Beauty seen makes the one who sees it more beautiful.  
~ David Steindl-Rast, A Listening Heart

Isn't that just wonderful!   (this site also has a cool virtual labyrinth)

Saturday, March 21, 2009


photo courtesy www.publicdomainpictures.net
This week we received our order for "small fruits".  This is what the industry calls strawberries, raspberries, blueberries.  I haven't offered berries before but the timing seems right. Strawberries and Blueberries are ready for sale, Raspberries and Rhubarb are planted and need to grow a bit.

Here's what came in:
Strawberries- one crop sometimes called spring crop
Strawberries- everbearing= one in spring and another in fall
Raspberries- one crop and everbearing

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Rose... would still smell sweet

One may live without bread, not without roses   ~Jean Richepin

Julia Child

This year we are carrying roses from Northland Rosarium. These are own-root roses, meaning they are not grafted and are grown from a cutting. I know, what does that all mean?  Most roses in the trade are grafted (desired rose grafted on a hardy rootstock) The problem with grafted roses is if we have a hard winter, the desired rose may die back to the graft and while the buds may grow from below the graft, you will end up with, ah, not the rose you wanted.  If own-root roses suffer winter damage, any buds that are still viable below ground will come up looking like the rose you planted. 
I ordered mostly Climbing roses and some rugosas and floribundas, focusing on cold hardiness and fragrance.  
They will be in THE SHOP April 2nd but in the mean time here is the list to drool over....

Felix Leclerc-  Pink climber, very hardy
Amedeus- Dark red climber, continuous bloom.
John Davis- Old fashioned soft pink climber, spicy fragrance
Night Owl- Purple climber, fragrant, tall 10-14 feet
Full Moon Rising-Cream yellow climber continuous bloom, fragrant
High Flier- Rich dark red climber, continuous bloom
Jasmina- Violet pink climber, strong fragrance, in and out of flower
Jeanne Lajoie-Pink climbing Miniature rose, up to 8 feet.
Polareis-Pink Ice in color, very fragrant rugosa
Zephirine Drouhin-Bourbon climber, rose pink with a strong fragrance
Roseraie de L'Hay-Large magenta pink rugosa, with incredible fragrance, 
Darlow's Enigma- shrub rose or climber, pure white perfumed flowers
Little Chap-Short ground cover rose with bright pink flowers
Scabrosa-Single Magenta blooms and huge hips. Very Very hardy rugosa
Wing Ding-Brillant scarlet polyantha, blooms all summer
Julia Child- Butter gold floribunda, strong spicy fragrance

Wing Ding

Night Owl

 all photos by Gene Sasse (c) 2007 used courtesy of Weeks Roses
thank you.

Eat the View

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Farmer Julie Vases

From her blog, I found these incredible vases. Hand made by Julie Thomas of Boise Idaho. These vases are clearly designed by a floral designer. They are THE perfect size for cutting a few blooms from your garden.  All are a pure white crackle glaze.
( p.s. her website is gorgeous! )

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ketzel Lavine

Ketzel Lavine had to cancel her appearance at the Arboretum Associates Meeting in April. Stay tuned for the announcement of the new speaker...

no words...Scotty's images

Sunday, March 8, 2009

busiest day EVER!

We have never held an event in spring before so we were not too sure what to expect. Last Saturday our Sweet on Spring event was  so well attended - THANK YOU EVERYONE!
I suppose it's no surprise that others are just as anxious for spring to arrive as we are. It was a overcast morning that turned into a snowy afternoon but we cranked the heat in the conservatory and it felt and looked like spring.  It took a lot of hard work to pull the thing together and the night before the big event I told Scotty, "I'll never do this again" only to ask at the end of the day, "what are we going to do next year?" (he's mighty used to this reaction from me so he took it all in stride)  

I think everyone had a good time and we were just thrilled with how well it all came together. Cowgirl Chocolates were a big hit as everyone was carrying one of her bags filled with chocolate or brittle or cool cowgirl tea towels.  Miss Carla recreated her sewing studio along with her pillow display and it looked so wonderful- Her polka dot pillows went spectacular with Calamity Jane's black metal garden set with polka dot seats. ( If anyone out there is looking for a great priced metal/glass top dining table with 6 chairs and polka dot pillows
it is amazingly still here) I think no one is thinking alfresco dining when there is 3" of new snow on the ground.

I now have 3 days off,  I NEED IT !  did I say off ha! - finished plant delivery Monday, Plug delivery Tuesday and then there is the weekly paying of bills.... oh yes, spring is here!

pics from Sweet on Spring

In the Conservatory

In the Studio
Connie getting  a "head-start" on spring
Scotty and his creation ( what a guy!)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

sneak preview-

As we get ready for Sweet on Spring, I could not resist a sneak preview of the sweeeet makeover Scotty preformed on our old outhouse.  The conservatory is filled with primroses, pansies, cut tulips and flowering branches..... I could spend all day in there....ooops I do!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Eat your own...

Below is an article from Richard Dorian of Kitchen Gardeners International. There have been much buzz about a White House Gardener since Michael Pollan's open letter to the President Elect in November's issue of New York Times Magazine. 
I have enjoyed following the group that started it all, Eat the view

Dear Kitchen Gardener,

What’s a home garden worth? With the global economy spiraling downward and Mother Nature preparing to reach upward, it’s a good question to ask and a good time to ask it. 

There isn’t one right answer, of course, but I’ll give you mine: $2149.15. Last year, my wife Jacqueline suggested to me that we calculate the total value of the produce coming out of our garden over the course of the growing season. Initially, the thought of doing that was about as appealing to me as a recreational root canal. I remember replying something like: “OK, so let me get this right: in addition to raising three busy boys, managing two careers, volunteering in a school garden, and growing most of our own produce, you’re proposing that we weigh every item that comes out of our garden, write it down in a log book, and spend a few leisurely evenings doing math?” Jacqueline, an economics major in college and a native French speaker, answered with a simple "oui" and so the project began. 

There was a lot of work involved, mostly for Jacqueline, but as with gardening itself, it was work with a purpose. It didn’t take long for our log book to start filling up with dates and figures. Although we started eating our first garden salads in late April, we only began recording our harvests as of May 10th, starting first with greens and asparagus. Our last weighable harvest was two weeks ago in the form of a final cutting of Belgian endives forced from roots in our basement. 

By the time we had finished weighing it all, we had grown 834 pounds and over six months worth of organic food (we’re still eating our own winter squash, onions, garlic, and frozen items like strawberries, green beans, and pesto cubes). Once we had the weights of the 35 main crops we grew, we then calculated what it would have cost us to buy the same items using three different sets of prices: conventional grocery store, farmers’ market and organic grocery store (Whole Foods, in our case). The total value came to $2196.50, $2431.15, and $2548.93 respectively. For the other economics majors and number crunchers among you, you can see our crunchy, raw data here

There are things we didn’t include like the wild dandelion greens which we reaped but did not sow, the six or so carving pumpkins which we ultimately fed to our compost pile, and the countless snacks of strawberries, beans, peas, and tomatoes that never made it as far as our kitchen scale. There were also things we forgot to weigh like several pounds of grapes which turned into about 12 jars of jam. As with any growing season, there were hits and misses. The heaviest and most valuable crop was our tomatoes (158 lb/72 kg for a total value of $524). In terms of misses, our apple tree decided to take the year off and very few of our onions started from seed made it requiring me to buy some onion plants. 

On the cost side, we had $130 for seeds and supplies, $12 for a soil test, and exceptional costs of $100 for some locally-made organic compost we bought for our “This Lawn is Your Lawn” frontyard garden (normally, we meet most of our soil fertility needs through our own composting). I don't have a scientific calculation for water costs, but we don't need to water much and, when we do, water is relatively cheap in Maine. Also, I mulch my beds pretty heavily to keep moisture in and weeds down.  Let's say $40 in water.  So, if we consider that our out-of-pocket costs were $282 and the total value generated was $2431, that means we had a return on investment of 862%. The cost of our labor is not included because we enjoy gardening and the physical work involved. If I am to include my labor costs, I feel I should also include the gym membership fees, country club dues, or doctors’ bills I didn’t have.

If you really want to play around with the data, you can calculate how much a home garden like ours produces on a per acre basis. If you use the $2400 figure and consider that our garden is roughly 1/25th of an acre, it means that home gardens like ours can gross $60,000/acre. You can also calculate it on a square foot basis which in our case works out to be roughly $1.50/ft2. That would mean that a smaller garden of say 400ft2 would produce $600 of produce. Keep in mind that these are averages and that certain crops are more profitable and space efficient than others. A small garden planted primarily with salad greens and trellised tomatoes, for example, is going to produce more economic value per square foot more than one planted with potatoes and squash. We plant a bit of everything because that’s the way we like to garden and eat. 

Clearly, this data is just for one family (of five), one yard (.3 acre), one garden (roughly 1600 square feet), and one climate (Maine, zone 5b/6), but it gives you some sense of what’s possible. If you consider that there are about 90 million households in the US that have some sort of yard, factor in the thousands of new community and school gardens we could be planting, this really could add up. Our savings allowed us to do different things including investing in some weatherization work for our house last fall that is making us a greener household in another way. Some might ask what this would mean for farmers to have more people growing their own food. The local farmers I know welcome it because they correctly believe that the more people discover what fresh, real food tastes like, the more they'll want to taste. In our case, part of our savings helped us to buy better quality, sustainably-raised meat from a local CSA farmer. 

The economics of home gardening may not be enough to convince President Obama or UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown to plant new gardens at the White House or 10 Downing Street, but the healthy savings their citizens could be making and then reinvesting in their local economies could.

In the end, it might come down to the language we use. Instead of saying "Honey, I'm going out to the garden to turn the compost pile", perhaps we should say "Honey, I'm going outside to do a 'green job' and work on our 'organic stimulus package.'”  I bet that would get the attention of a few economists, not mention a few psychologists!

Happy, healthy March,

 Roger Doiron

image and text reprinted with permission  www.kitchengardeners.org