April 17, 2016

Running around in spring circles

So we're having the decoy weather: high-70's, low 80's, to be followed I would bet by one last hurrah for snow.  Tonight the flat of rosemary pots on the front porch may stay out all night their first night; no worries the elk will climb on the porch for them (like they have done for basil) and I'm still loath to close the windows, though with various hibernators waking up out there this time of year, I think I had better.  Bears in the living room = NO.  Ditto skunks under open windows.

The Forsythia has been a golden dream this week, and my species tulips; the peonies are erupting and the scilla around back in the shade are in full flower.  What a lovely time of year (I keep saying that, but I do get bowled over by the beauty).  And the violets!  I walked around a corner and the fragrance lifted me back to my childhood, lying in the long grass and sniffing the flowers, Mom's violets.

Down the hill in what is now a shade garden there are some species peonies that I may (against all my own advice) move, as they're in an area where I will be deleting the fence (yay less mowing and weeding).. it's either that or build potato-basket type cages and pin over them until September.  As Market is coming up fast, that might be the answer, though I would rather be done with both tasks sooner.  I have displays to re-do, a banner to get re-done, tablecloths to choose, and a thousand other details to take care of.  I did find a good shipping app, and a notetaking one I can use on my rambles (so the bird pics and the recordings of birdsong don't just get lost), and I marvel at how useful that thing I call a 'phone' is.  But that took too long to find and as always, I get antsy sitting at the computer paging through pages of apps.  I think of how antsy my parents got with computers and now I get it.

You will too, someday :)

One of my favorite seed catalogs is doing the slow walk into retirement, and I am scuffling to make a list of the things I want one more time; funny how we get attached to people we will never meet.  If I can still get them, I'll post about the catalog... wish me luck :)

April 2, 2016

Spring 2016 (!)

(Sporadic is hardly the word for it, is it?)  Paradise Gardens Rare Plant Nursery is still here, but continues to undergo changes as I deal with time constraints, running two businesses and the farm, and (sigh) aging. 

This year there are roses (Primula, R. damascena, and with any luck, 'Mom's Rose'), Dianthus, some Delphiniums and sages, and a few other things as time permit.  The sudden warm spell this week caught me off guard, the freshly dug plants and I are a bit stunned.  So, lashings of water for them and a rest in the rose propagation area while we wait for the spring dampness to come back.  I'll post detailed updates on the availability page as soon as the plants are ready to ship.

The USPS has played 52-card pickup with shipping, and once the roses are sized and weighed for shipping, there will be some new options as I have a scheme for changing the shipping boxes.  Photos may follow if I am really proud of my work.

Photos will follow for certain though of the birds and creatures here; I am humbled and excited to report that the bald eagles have made a nest and appear to be setting!  We were over the moon the other day to come down the hill from a ramble and see their beefy structure in a poplar near the water.

Frogs are singing every night with gusto (I had to close the windows last night as they were keeping me awake)-- as it is freezing every morning when I wake, I marvel at what their life must be like.  Hmmm I should see if I can upload a recording of them to the blog.

Market starts the end of the month, this is my 18th or 19th year I think, another thing my life has been firmly entertwined with.

Happy Spring ;)

May 22, 2012

Shopping cart issues resolved (I think!)

The shopping cart on my availability page has been glitchy... maybe it's the post office shipping estimator (they keep fiddling with things) or--sunspots? ? ;)  At any rate, it was seriously underestimating shipping charges, more than I can absorb.  I *think* I have a fix in place, that forces it to calculate correctly; test orders came out looking good and I hope that is the last time I have to muck with that for a long time!  I'd rather be weeding than taming shopping cart code.

And I hate weeding! ;)

So, if your order's been queued, with a request for additional shipping charges, now you know why, and I am sorry for the snafu.

May 6, 2012

New plants for 2012: mints

I have several new mints this season, and am really pleased with three of them; this variegated peppermint is a much nicer strain than the one I had years ago, with bolder coloration and a richer, deeper smell.  There's almost a hint of chocolate to it; not a big surprise I suppose as that is a Mentha piperita variety as well.

The English Mint!!  (Really needs the capitals and exclamation points; it's so very vivid.)  This spearmint relative is bold, sweet, clean, crisp, and green.  The foliage is large and bright green to match; it's my favorite mint while I am transplanting.

Mojito mint--a slight fruity undertone, subtly citrusy, and a nice minty flavor.  I can see why this is the mint used in the Cuban drink, rather than something as assertive as English mint; this one works well with others instead of demanding center stage.  The fruity notes make you want to come back for more.  This one is also featured in a new soap this season; I may also make some mojito mint jelly... wonder how rum stands up to canning?

Mail order catalog update

The shopping cart/plant availability list is installed and working!  Still probably have some tinkering to do with the code for font and layout (why yes, I am a constant tinkerer! :P) and more photos to take and upload, but it's online, it's searchable, and reflects what is available for shipment NOW, vs what might really be sold out, or now moved to a larger size.  I do miss the print catalog, being a person of the book, but not using all that paper is enough reason in itself to stop printing it.  Being able to add color photos and expanded descriptions is something of a dream come true, as well.  The shipping module calculates options for you, so you can tailor time in shipping/cost to your liking; if the estimate is too much off (still getting size averages tweaked for potted items) I'll notify you of any difference.  So far this has not been necessary, I'm happy to say.

Shopping Cart/availability page for Paradise Gardens Rare Plant Nursery

February 2, 2012

Catalog changes coming

This year's catalog will be out later this month..... in .pdf form, on the nursery site for downloading.  I've done a papersaver .pdf each year for a while now, and this year, unless specifically requested, there won't be a print version.  Subscribers/those who have ordered recently will get a free copy mailed to them upon request, but otherwise there will be a charge for the paper version.  This will give me another week to transplant, write tags, and take care of seedlings instead of printing, folding, stickering, sealing, stapling and the like, and the printer can go back to its intended use (plant tags).  Nobody, not even me, wants to try to read tags I write, and while my wrist is much improved after the Great Board Fence Collapse Incident, I'm saving my fingers for transplanting.


The soap site shopping cart is working well enough (translation: I've got the training wheels off) that I will be installing a streamlined version of a cart on the Availability pages of the nursery site, which will only feature up to date inventory, thus streamlining that part of the process as well as saving more trees. 

Subscribers and recent orderers will receive a postcard notification reflecting the change, soon; and I'll post the link to the finished catalog when it is uploaded.

September 11, 2011

A fragrant treat: rose petal jelly

This year's rose crop was excellent (even the deer thought so :P ); it was a very good year for rose petal jelly.  I took photos this year during jelly making, as the transformation is fairly striking.

The roses I use are primarily 'La Ville de Bruxelles', my favorite of my Damasks:














I remove the petals from the calyces, measure,









soak to rinse and remove rose beetles if there are any (none this year; the beneficial nematodes were a success!),
  and simmer. 













When the color and flavor have been extracted,


 (and how glorious the house smells while this is happening!),







I strain the petals, pressing the marc to extract the flavor.

and add lemon juice which revives the roses' color and corrects acidity for jelling.













There is a merest shimmery rainbow of essential oil floating on the surface, I tried to catch it in the photos but my camera (my mp3 player!) couldn't see it.

Then I finish the process with pectin, sugar, lids and rings, water bath and when cool, a pretty topper and label.  This year I found little satin roses to add for a whimsical touch, and to help color code my jams and jellies. 
As I believe gardening, and life really, should be about joy, and this was a great rose jelly year, I kept a couple of jars for my own pantry and for gifts; the rest I'll sell at market.