Garden Visitors

Today as I write this, it's 71 degrees outside. That probably means we're in for a blizzard in a few days, but for now, it's most welcome. I moved the black pepper plants outdoors to soak up the warm air, and hopefully some little flying pollinators will find the flowers and we'll have some peppercorns setting on.

We had visitors to the garden this week. First let me introduce you to Chad Wilt, from Creation Gardens in Compton, Arkansas.
Chad Wilt, Creation Gardens, Compton, AR

Chad called a few days ago saying he and his family had been away over the Holidays. They'd left their greenhouse in the care of neighbors. The greenhouse contained all of their stock plants that Chad takes cuttings from, to grow on for their spring plant sales. They sell at the Baker Creek Spring Festival and at the Herbal Affair in  Sand Springs, OK, places we also always attend. His greenhouse is heated with a wood stove and the neighbors had filled the stove too full of wood. The stove overheated, setting a wood pile just a few feet away, on fire, too. Well, actually the greenhouse is so tight that air didn't get in, so the hot stove and the lack of air flow, turned the wood pile into charcoal! That was a lot of heat and a wonder the greenhouse didn't burn, too. All of their stock plants were just baked to death.

Chad called to ask if he could come up and take some cuttings from my plants. He got several kinds of sage plants, a couple of varieties of rosemary, some Mountain Mint (Pycanthium), both Mexican and Sicilian oregano, a honey eucalyptus (which hadn't been hurt by the cold) and a few others. Then we went over to our friend, Brent's, who had a African blue basil for Chad. Then on up to Ozark, MO where our friend, Olee at Spring Fever Greenhouse had a small stock plant of Vietnamese cilantro, which is always a good seller for Chad. Olee had special empathy for Chad even though they'd never met. Olee's greenhouse burned down a few  years back from a similar issue.
In case you want to email Chad to see if there are other herb plant starts he's missing, his email is chadwilt2@gmail.com. I'm sure he'd appreciate any unusual herb cuttings you might have to share. You can mail them to him at Creation Gardens, HC 33, Box 75, Compton, AR 72624.
Austin Jones, heading to Florida to capture oysters.

Our second visitor this week was Austin Jones, a young man who has a passion for antique fruit tree varieties. He's been running a trial of about 100 heirloom fruit varieties at Bear Creek Farm (which I've written about before here - they're the ones doing the experiments with acres and acres of grafted tomatoes). He works there on their 11 acre produce garden. They sell to Whole Foods in Kansas City and at area farmers markets.

Austin stopped by for a visit and tour of the garden, on his way south. He's not been here before and we enjoyed getting to visit. He's off on an adventure, hoping to learn about oyster and shrimp harvesting off the coast of Florida for the next month or two. He doesn't have any contacts there, just plans to head to the coast and offer his labor in exchange for learning how oysters are harvested. We told him we expect good stories when he comes back.
Lamium amplexicaule
The henbit is blooming in the garden. It's not bothered by the cold and blooms at any opportunity. By spring it will be big clumps where it will burst into bloom and you'll see lots of it. For now it gives the bees something to graze on. Some people hate it in their lawns, I prefer it to boring green grass, plus the chickens are always happy when we weed the garden and throw bunches of it over the fence to them.
Bluet (Houstonia caerulea)
The bluets, too, are in bloom. You can see they're pretty small but it's almost my favorite color of blue and they're scattered all over the lawn and garden. They're another plant that isn't bothered by the cold weather ahead.

For today at least, we have fabulous weather and the garden thinks spring is on the way!


Anonymous said...

Jim, I feel for the guy who lost his plant stock. It is always tricky to trust someone else to take care of plants and pets. I lost a cat using a pet sitter once as the cat slipped out the door I suspect was left open carelessly. When you have treasured, unusual plants, that is a killer to lose them. Oh, I see you have the same weeds as we in the Okla. City are do. I always thought that bluet was a wild kind of veronica, so now I know its name. It really is a beautiful tiny flower. I think the henbit is going to be the worst ever in my yard this year - really large patches everywhere. Wow, you are 76! I don't think we have been quite that warm so far in the last couple of weeks. It is 64 in the shade today. I am already worn out from working outside a few hours today. Resting up now. It is scary wondering if a horrible blizzard is going to blow in next week as this recent weather is unbelievably wonderful so it is time for the shoe to drop. Sharon Beasley (GWA member too)

Anonymous said...

It is nice to see the first plants blooming each year! The plant labeled "Bluets (Houstonia caerulea)" is actually Corn Speedwell (Veronica arvensis), as Anonymous suggested. Corn Speedwell is non-native, but as one of the early bloomers it is welcome in my garden paths!