Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gardens To Come

The First Lady and her daughters recently broke ground for an organic garden at the White House. Check out this picture, it will make you smile. (1)

In many ways, we have Alice Waters to thank for this. Well done, Alice.

I live in the Pacific Northwest and local gardening expert Marci Degman advises that the cold ground makes germination impossible until May, at least. For a California girl used to working in her garden from late February through November this is both disquieting and sad.

As I write this, it is 60 degrees and sunny in my old neighborhood. Here at my new home we have snow flurries, very cold weather (to me, anyway) and rain. When I work on our property I wear about four layers and I have learned the truth of the old saying that "A hat is a second coat". I am, as they say, cocooning; waiting, wrapped and trapped in layers, like a nascent butterfly. l long for warmer weather when I can break out of all these clothes and warm my wings in sunlight.

Pendletons and Hoodies:

Whenever I take dog to the park I can always tell who's who. The native Oregonians take the rain, damp cold and occasional snow flurries in stride, while those of us who moved here from sun-kissed Western states like California or Arizona are freezing. You can tell who we are because we're bundled up to our ears. Whenever I hear someone at the park say, "I love how mild and warm it is here in Oregon" I know they moved here from Canada, Minnesota, or Alaska. The shorts they're wearing are also a clue. Whoever said "Things are not the way they are, things are the way we are" had the right of it when it comes to Oregon weather.

Right now, I'm jonesing for sunlight and warm, dry (yes, please, dry) weather. I may have to take a run south to get through this spring, but so far, so good. After three years in Oregon I'm am learning, as they say, to be a duck.

Bowls of Sunlight

Oh, but I miss (like a piece of my heart, I miss, I miss) my sages, my herbs, my native plants, and my citrus trees, especially my Myer lemon tree. Have you met the resplendent and versatile Myer? Imagine putting sunlight in a bowl or standing with your eyes closed in your garden breathing in a heady, sweet and woodsy scent while all around you bees buzz and dance with joy. Myer flowers are sexy and bold; and they will make your head swim with their rich perfume. And the color, well, their color is yellow on Prom Night.

Here is an excerpt from an NPR story titled The Meyer Lemon: More Than A Pretty face

A cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, the Meyer lemon has smooth golden skin the color of a fresh egg yolk. It also has a thin edible rind, a high volume of juice and none of the tartness of a regular lemon — yet its potential in the kitchen went unnoticed.
Today, the Meyer lemon is a darling of farmers markets and beloved by chefs and home cooks. Its aromatic, slightly sweet quality brightens desserts, sauces, salads and roasts. In fact, Meyers may be substituted for regular lemons whenever you want a burst of lemon flavor without the acidic bite.

...Cut thin slices, remove the seeds and roast them with root vegetables, chicken or fish. Or combine them with dried fruit and white wine for a quick savory compote.

Another delicious way to enjoy the flavor of the whole fruit is in desserts. Cut a Meyer lemon into chunks, give it a rough chop in a food processor, and add to muffins or tea cakes. Meyer lemon bars showcase not only the sweet, aromatic juice, but also the slightly sour punch and intense lemon essence of the peel.

Meyers may be used anywhere you want to add pure lemon flavor with none of the burn. Squeeze the juice over fish or add to salad dressing. Grate the zest over risotto or steamed vegetables. In sweet foods such as marmalade, lemonade or lemon bars, the lower acid level means less sugar may be required.

- check out the link above for some recipes at NPR

Gardens to Come:

I am compensated for a cold spring by living in a verdant forest and by my daily encounters with the abundant wildlife we have around us; a far change from the life I knew in the concrete covered, car laden, work obsessed place that is Silicon Valley. Today, the birds are singing from the fir trees, and I'm longing to get out doors and get my hands in some dirt. I may not be able to garden as I'm used to, but I can get out my Seeds of Change catalog and update my garden book list. So, while I plan news gardens to come, I will point you to a lovely article/radio program from NPR titled London's Gardens: Allotments for the people from the ever wonderful Kitchen Sisters.

Check out the recipe for Wanderer's Soup.


Who is currently reading:
Month By Month Gardening In Oregon and Washington and
The American Woodland Garden: Capturing the Spirit of the Pacific Northwest

Related Articles:

Fruits of Labor: How to Grow An Edible Garden

Beauty and Meaning: Gardening Like a Green Witch

Obama Restaurant Watch

It's Personal: One Pagan's Views on the Environment


(1) My thanks go out to Lively Earth to that link and to the link to an open letter to the Farmer-In-Chief on Food Policy by Michael Pollan.

Art: The Goddess Pomona, by Nicholas Foche, 1700
Pomona is the Roman Goddess of Fruitfullness, Orchards and Gardens

Photo: Bowl of Myer Lemons, found at NPR


Anonymous said...

Ooooh just yummy. Live a bit north of you in the PNW and it does seem like a normal march but if it helps at all, I'm still wearing my woolens and scarves.

For me, I find that this climate in particular helps me feel closer to the seasons and the solar festivals are always the transition times between them.

Bright blessings!

Dj Connell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dj Connell said...

So true. California seasons as subtle at best. This is the closest I've come to "real" weather and it is a revelation. I must say that this experience has informed and changed my rituals, and I'm greatful for the growth. No....really.

A noted plus: My guy thinks I look hot in a pendleton, w/ jeans and boots. Go figure.

I'm watching the weather across the nation and in Canada and realizing that no, I really don't know cold. But for me...this is cold.