Saturday, April 14, 2007

Things Are Blooming

Our garden is in its second year now and clearly some of the plants that we started last year from seeds are very happy. What a great thing to see them coming back so vigorously and in such good health.

At left are rock cress in full bloom. They make perky little purplish flowers in a great profusion. We planted the rock cress to surround our new crape myrtle trees in large, concrete planters situated in the corners near the entrance to the garden. I remember last summer when the sun was so hot and the garden was driest it wasn't clear at all that the rock cress would survive. There were just small clumps of it here and there, hiding from the blistering sun it seemed. But this spring they've come back in full force and we are really glad.

Last year we had good success with our strawberry plants. Every morning, the kids would come to school excited and asking if they could pick the latest strawberry they'd found on the verge of ripeness. We harvested quite a few.
These plants bear moderately size berries in the spring only. Some other strawberries bear fruit all through the summer. Our farmer friend Mike Klein, who owns and operated a food subscription service from his truck farm in Prince George's County, allowed us to dig these plants from between his strawberry rows. Strawberries like to spread by sending out "ruuners" that then make new roots. Earlier this year we divided quite a few of the plants--enough to start another crop of strawberries in one of other big containers in our garden.
Yesterday the After 4 gang took a walk around the garden and the whole school property to try and identify the things that are growing. We found blossoms on our pussy will and lots of lush new leaves on the butterfly bush, or buddlea. The witch hazel that bloomed so beautifully in March also is sprouting leaves, so we know it is healthy. We have lots and lots of thyme and parsley and bronze fennel. Also a salad herb called salad burnett that tastes like cucumber.
Over in the flower boxes, the black-eyed Susan plants are big and bush. The pinks are starting to bloom and it looks like we have many purple coneflower plants that we thought had died during the winter. The crape myrtles also look a little dead, but now they have leaf buds all over.
On the other side of the school building is one of our favorite trees around. It's an old red bud that is just now covered with tiny purplish blossoms. Did you know that you can eat the blossoms of the red bud tree?

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