When does digging potatoes go from being a chore to a score? When you involve a 3 year old, of course. Hailey came for her weekly visit this past Thursday and I told her we were going to the neglected garden to dig the potatoes. This statement was met with a bit of a blank stare and a bit of reluctance since the swing seemed like a better choice to her. Once we got to the forgotten row of potatoes which did grow despite mid-season neglect I pointed out to Hailey that we had to look for the now shriveled remnants of the vines among the nice green weeds. In went the fork, over went the soil, down went Hailey to her knees. She really loves to have soil under her nails. By the time I reached the third hill of potatoes and turned the soil I heard her shout 'Score' as the tubers tumbled forth. Hearing a 3 year old cheer at the sight of potatoes just made me laugh right out loud. Who taught her 'score' and in what context? Certainly not finding potato treasures but that is perfectly in keeping with my thoughts on the subject. Sports hold little allure for me and other than my kid's forays into a bit of high school competition I have rarely cheered for a team. I am a rarity in a family of siblings whose lives revolve around the successes of the Boston Red Sox and the Patriots. I am content to hear the cheers of a 3 year old as the meager bounty of the potato patch unfolds. We all pick our passions. Or maybe they pick us. Have you dug your potatoes yet?
The garden is a constant source of surprise. Even when you remember planting an ephemeral it is always a treat to see color where there seemingly was none just a day before. Colchicum fits the bill for this surprise as do the rain lilies which have yet to appear in my garden this season. This colchicum came to me from Kathy of Cold Climate Gardening. Gardeners are always generous. I think of Kathy every time it blooms and is there a more pleasant memory of a person than that which comes from kindness and generosity? Mushrooms also sprout up overnight heaving their shoulders through seemingly impervious driveway gravel as well as shifting upward from the soft pine mulch. This orange mushroom is a member of the Boletus genus, I think. I am no mushroom expert and I would never eat any of those that grow in and about the garden. Mushrooms may contain the perfect poison. Eating a poisonous mushroom can result in a lingering death. It can take up to ten days for symptoms of mushroom poisoning to ensue. Symptoms include: nausea, sweating, diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting and hallucinations. Not a pleasant way to go. I will restrict my mushroom intake to those on the shelves of the grocery store. Still, I wish I could identify at least a few. Perhaps a mushroom ID course is in order. Are any of you experts? For now, I will just enjoy these 'here today, gone tomorrow' garden treasures.
The common name for Boehmeria platanifolia is Female Bush Hemp or False Nettle. That first title should elicit quite a few search results but it is a rather unfortunate name for an interesting perennial. This perennial is an understudy, no show girl here, but it does have unique features which give it character which can benefit any shade border in Zones 4 - 8. Anyone can plant a hosta but it takes a true plant lover to search out the unusual. False Nettle or Bush Hemp will satisfy the most discerning plantsman. A member of the Urticaceae or nettle family, it grows four feet tall by four feet wide (so far). This plant has large leaves, up to six inches across. They have a bit of a sycamore shape to them, hence the species name, but with oh, so much more interest. The edges are serrated and they are borne opposite one another along the red stems. Yes, red stems. Flowering in August, the blooms are along a spike or catkin. Nothing so common here as an ordinary aster like flower. This plant will tolerate shade. It has not blinked during the dry, hot spells of this summer although a bit of compost added to the soil has probably helped retain moisture. False nettle may be overlooked by some of your garden tourists but true plant geeks will certainly notice this beauty. This plant hails from Japan, Korea and China and grows along the forest edge. I will work to plant something a bit more interesting at its feet. The rounded leaves would look great with a sedge or carex. Have you heard of Boehmeria? If so, what is your experience with this plant? If not, would you consider giving it a spot in your shady border?