Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are the smallest member of the onion family. An herbaceous perennial herb, chive is easy to grow. Plant in full sun in well-drained soil. From mid-May to June, chives have pretty, little cluster-like purple flowers.

The hollow, tubular leaves grow 30-50 cm in height. Cuttings can be made 3 times a year (cut close to the ground). My patch of chives is over 10 years old and requires minimal care. The mild, onion-flavored leaves can be used fresh or dried.

My favorite way to use chives is freshly snipped and added to scrambled eggs. I also like fresh chives on baked potatoes with sour cream and in vegetable soup.

Punctuating the Garden

Gardening is a pursuit of both the physical and the aesthetic. I enjoy a good workout in the garden especially at planting time. I also enjoy weeding and watering as it puts me in a Zen-like state. Pausing to take in the sweet fragrance of my flowers and gaze upon their form feeds my need for beauty.

Here and there, I try to punctuate my gardens with tiny vignettes. Sometimes, the vignette is whimsical, sometimes practical. Here is a practical piece made for me by my sister, an avid and accomplished gardener. See more of her gardening delights at http://rusticranch.blogspot.com/


Pansey Faces

Pansies are a hybrid annual which will reseed. A cold hardy viola species, pansies come in a variety of colors. This year, I bought a cheery yellow - my favorite color - to compliment the purple plants already in the bed. I also made up 3 pots for my small deck.
What I like best about pansies is that they have 'little faces.' For me, these faces give pansies a charm and English cottage garden feel.
Easy to grow in sun or partial shade, pansies prefer well drained soil and can even survive freezing. Pansies are an economical and pretty flower for zone 5.

The Young Apple Maiden

Young compared to the multi-trunked old apple tree, the "young apple maiden" leans over at a severe angle. The strong west winds that sweep through the back acreage have bent her more than any of the other trees on our property.
She produces very small, red apples. Too small to be used. In early fall, yellow jackets feast on her fallen and hanging apples. Migrating birds, thankful for rest and a little nourishment, peck at the ripe, soft fruit.
Though my husband derides her unproductive state, I defend her. I am after all, the grounds keeper!
For me, the pretty little flowers in spring are her glory. I am content with that.

The Old Apple Tree in Spring

Beautiful in winter. Beautiful in spring.
Here is the old apple tree decked out in her floral splendor in April of this year. Lots of fragrant white-pink blooms. Hoping for a bumper crop this fall!

The old apple tree produces small, sweet apples. I do not know the variety and I think there actually might be two different kinds of apples. Mom and I collect the apples and with our paring knives, we prepare the apples for freezing, drying into apple slices, canning apple butter, and making fresh pies and strudel. Mom is German. She makes the most amazing strudel from a recipe she learned from her landlord back in the 1950's.



Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) is an evergreen perennial ground cover that grows well in poor soil as long as the soil is well-drained. Candytuft is a member of the mustard family.

One large, low growing mound is at the sunny front leading border of the narrow bed between the foundation and the deck. The candytuft is in the same bed as the grape hyacinths.

Hardy to Zone 5, candytuft is slow spreading and grows from 8 to 12" tall. In mid-spring, its small, bright white blooms open up and last for weeks.

In many ways, Candytuft reminds me Edelweiss. It is one of my favorite plants.

Shades of Lilac

Lilacs are a fragrant, easy care deciduous shrub in the olive family.
I have three shrubs and each is a different shade: pale pink, light violet and a dark Byzantium violet. The shrubs were planted by the previous owner, so I do not know how old they are - they are at least 20 years old. All of the bushes are in the front yard and in direct line with the westerly winds. They are very hardy to Zone 5.
The only care I have given my lilacs is some watering during the hot summer months and pruning to cut back the spent blossoms.
The shrubs bloom in mid-spring to early summer. I like to bring in sprigs of the lilac to enjoy their beauty and gorgeous scent - it is a heavy fragrance that can fill a room.