Posts

If you have been following along with my last couple of posts (Part 1 and Part 2), then you know that I have been showing some of the highlights of this year’s Arcadia Edible Garden Tour.


Well, here is the last installment, showing some of our favorite highlights from the last few gardens we toured.



I was looking forward to visit Caroline’s garden.  She blogs about growing and cooking great food at Boho Farm and Home.


The first thing you notice as you enter her back garden is that you start to feel relaxed amidst the beauty and shade.



Who wouldn’t want to spend time enjoying a beautiful summer’s day in the shade?



Galvanized tubs are all the rage for planting vegetables gardens, flower, etc.  I may need to get one for my garden…



I love the wire mesh arch connecting both of these raised vegetable beds at Boho Farm.  I can just imagine growing Scarlet Creeper vines up and over this arch.



The vegetable beds were full of delicious vegetables, which Caroline serves to visitors.



I like her fence, don’t you?



Her apple trees are espaliered along the fence.



Throughout the gardens at Boho Farm were artichokes mixed with ornamental plants.  Artichokes are a beautiful plant, so why not combine them with the rest of your garden?


Our last stop was a home where I was inspired to create my own trellises…

This scarlet creeper vine, which are very easy to grow in the summer, is growing up a vine made up of rebar and wire mesh.  


How simple would that be to make?  I think my husband and I are up for it.


Rebar is the hot trend in garden art right now.  I love trends that are cheap – you can’t get much cheaper then rebar.



Of course, we saw more apples growing.  They won’t be ripe until mid June.


Which reminds me – it is almost time for me to haul out my canning supplies and get ready to make peach, plum and strawberry jam.  You can read about my adventures in canning hereif you like.


Of course, I will also make some applesauce too using apples from my mother’s trees.  My apple trees are too young to be producing apples yet.  I’ll probably have to wait a few more years.


As you can see, we had a wonderful morning together and I came home with some new plants and a few new ideas for my garden.




Would you like to go on this tour next year?


The Arcadia Edible Garden Tour has been held the past 2 years in early May.  Tickets sell out quickly, so start looking for them on Sweet Life Garden’s blog in early April.

Who knows…we may bump into each other next year!

Well, after a delayed start yesterday – we finally began our newest road trip adventure.


Charleston, South Carolina was our first destination.



For those of you who have been to Charleston, you know what a beautiful city it is, steeped in history with beautifully, preserved buildings.

My mother and I are fairly independent when traveling and took our own tour of the historic downtown district of Charleston – armed with a map and guide, which explained all of the historic sites.


Many of the buildings dated from the 1700’s.  There were beautifully decorated gates that led to narrow walkways, which ended in secret gardens…



I love learning about history and particularly liked the story behind the cobble stone streets…


These stones are from England.  They come over in the 1700’s on ships where they were used as ballast.  Then the stones were taken off of the ships and made into streets.


There were beautiful window boxes filled with an assortment of ornamental plants.



Window boxes are a novelty to me because in our dry, desert climate – it is almost impossible to grow plants successfully in windows during the summer.


Charleston is also known for its many steepled churches.


My mother spent time going into the churches, exploring their history (she is a former pastor) – while I would take photos of plants outside 🙂

This church really struck a chord with her with its history of its bells.  This is St. Michael’s Episcopal Church and its bells were made in London in 1764.  After the Revolutionary War, the British stole the bells and took them back to London.  

Later, the bells were returned and hung back up in the steeple.


The clay tiles of this old home were made by molding them around a man’s thigh.


Visiting the Slave Mart Museum was very interesting and informative, yet heartbreaking at the same time.

The museum is located on the site of where slaves were sold back in the 1800’s.


I had heard of these beautiful, handmade baskets before I came to Charleston.  These are Gullah Sweet Grass baskets.  The art of making this type of basket originated in Africa, long ago.  The slaves brought over this basket-making ability with them to the states and have handed it down to their descendants, who continue to make them today.


The baskets are made out of sweet grass, bull grass, palmetto palms and pine needles.  This kind woman took time to explain to me how she learned how to make these baskets from her mother and has taught her children how to make them.  

One medium-sized basket takes 2 1/2 days to make.


My mother and I saw this historic home for sale – but figured out that a home built in the 1700’s might be more of a ‘fixer-upper’ then we wanted to handle 😉

One of the best parts of traveling, is to taste the unique dishes of the region.


Now, I am not what you would call an adventurous diner.  In fact, I can be rather picky.

But, I had to try this ‘Southern Sampler’, which had fried green tomatoes (I tried one bite), corn bread topped with bacon, pulled pork and cole slaw and fresh potato chips.  It was delicious, especially with sweet tea – another Southern staple.

We had a wonderful day in Charleston and then traveled onto Georgia.

Come back tomorrow and see what new adventures we encounter.

To tide you over, here are a couple more photos of window boxes…



Do you like prickly cactus?  

I have a few favorites, one being santa-rita prickly pear (Opuntia violaceae var. santa rita). The color contrast of their blue-grey pads and the shades of purple are so striking in the landscape.  

This cactus makes a beautiful accent plant for the landscape. Both the pads and fruit are edible, (but you might want to remove the spines first ;-). Cold temperature and drought intensify the purple color.

Santa-rita prickly pear is native to the Southwest regions of North America. They can grow as large as 6 ft. X 6 ft., but can be pruned to maintain a smaller size.  Pruning is done carefully, by making pruning cuts at the junction where the pads connect.


Lovely yellow flowers appear in spring followed by red fruit in the summer months.  Javelina, rabbits and pack rats will sometimes eat the pads. Pack rats use the pads to make their homes.

The pads of the prickly pear are covered with clusters of 2″ spines as well as tiny spines known as glochids. Glochids are incredibly irritating to the skin and detach from the pad very easily. Their tips have a small barb, which makes them difficult to remove from your skin.  If you need to handle them, use a few layers of newspaper or a piece of carpet. Do not make the mistake of touching the pads with gloves because the glochids will attach to your gloves and render them useless, (I ruined a perfectly good pair this way). 
 
 **There are different ways to remove these small spines, including applying Elmer’s glue (letting it dry and then pulling them off), but many people have reported greater success using duct tape. 

 

 
USES: In addition to serving as an accent plant in the landscape, this prickly pear species can also be used as a screen. Some may be surprised to learn that they also make excellent container plants, just make sure they are not near any foot traffic areas. They do well in full sun or light shade in well-drained soil.
 
MAINTENANCE: Prickly pear is very low-maintenance plants. I always use tongs to pick up the pads that I have pruned, or you can use newspaper.  
 
Although they are incredibly drought-tolerant, watering once a month during the hot summer months, in the absence of rain, will be appreciated and will improve the appearance of your prickly pear. Shriveled pads indicate acute drought-stress.
 
 

Many people believe that the appearance of white, cotton-like areas on the pads is a sign of a fungal infection. However, it is caused by a small insect that secretes the white cottony mass, called cochineal scale.  Control is straightforward – simply spray off it with a strong jet of water from the hose – that’s it!

 
PROPAGATION: Prickly pear can be planted from seed, but there is a much easier way. Just cut off a pad that is at least 6 inches tall. Put the pad upright, in a shady, dry place for at least about two weeks. This allows a callus to form at the bottom.  
 
Plant with the cut end down, do not water for the first month because the bottom is susceptible to fungal infections. After the first month, water every 2 – 3 weeks until established.  If planted in the summer, provide shade until established (about three months). *I generally do not recommend planting in the winter but encourage waiting until spring when the soil warms up. 
 
If you have a large prickly pear, you can prune it, or you can start over by taking it out and cutting off some of the pads and plant them in the same place. Many of my clients have done this and been happy with the results.
 
INTERESTING HISTORICAL FACT: The Aztecs would cultivate prickly pear cactus infected with cochineal scale because the insects secrete a dark red dye with crushed. This was used to dye cloth. The Spanish exported this dye from Mexico back to Europe where it was used to dye royal garments and British military uniforms. The dye was highly valued by the Spanish, next to gold and silver. It takes 70,000 insects to produce 1 pound of dye.
 
*This is but one of many beautiful prickly pear species available to the home gardener.   Do you have a favorite species of prickly pear cactus?