Mortgage Lifter Mobile

Have you noticed that vegetable gardening is hip again? I love this trend that Americans of all ages are experimenting with growing their own food. Whether their vegetables and fruit are being grown to supplement food from the grocery store or if the intent is to eat mostly from the garden, vegetable gardening (and horticulture) is having its day in the sun. Some may argue that this is not true ornamental gardening while I will counter, “Hello! This is what we have been waiting for!” Grow your own is climbing in popularity as the next generation of gardeners wants to see where their food comes from.

Mortgage_Lifter_2005

One of the vegetables that I love (or is it a fruit?) is Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter tomato. Almost every American loves a fresh tomato from the garden in the middle of summer. Better yet, make that tomato an heirloom tomato. Have you ever grown and eaten an heirloom variety? People talk about how it tastes differently and they are correct. In our Pennsylvania vegetable garden, we grew Brandywine tomatoes which were fabulous. The flavors are deep and intense because the fruit have not been overbred for size instead of taste. The Mortgage Lifter tomato is one popular heirloom that combines a big, meaty plant with good taste. The entire story of this tomato can be found here. The notion that one guy, Radiator Charlie, can turn a hobby into a breeding program that pays his mortgage is a remarkable story.

Learning Garden

With the popularity of vegetable gardening and farm to table eating growing exponentially, the more plants with wonderful stories like this tomato, the better. Even here on the coast of Maine, where small cherry and plum tomatoes do better because of their shorter maturity time, we are going to try growing the Mortgage Lifters this summer. They have an 80 day maturity period so we should be able to produce a few substantial fruits. Along with the ripe, plump, Mortgage Lifter tomatoes, one of our friends raises hogs so maybe we can get a few packs of locally raised bacon. Combine with this some of my wife’s homemade bread and I am already dreaming of late summer, farm to table, Mortgage Lifter BLT sandwiches.

What do you think of the vegetable gardening and farm to table movement? Do you think it will still be a big movement in 5 or 10 years? More specifically, what are some of your favorite tomato varieties?

-Rodney

Images: William Cullina, Rutgers, Mobile Botanical Gardens

cherry blossom

I hope you’ve had a great weekend.  Mine was nice, even if it was completely taken over by an elementary school production of Mulan.  We’ve had 4 shows since Friday night and I am just tired.  I’ve done a lot of makeup, handed out programs, stack and un-stacked chairs, and pushed around a ton of large school furniture.  I think I only have the mental capacity to park myself on the sofa in front of an episode of Parks and Rec and wait for my the roast chicken (in the oven) to be ready for dinner.  Ahh…. and it is spring, I’ve got the fever and I am ready to get things done.  These are things that have been hanging around on my desk this week.  I hope you enjoy them!

 xo 

Rochelle

 image by Chris Waits (CC 2.0)

 

 

Unlike last summer where I sweated out writing a book, this summer I intend to enjoy my garden and coddle myself.  I’m feeling deserving and like I’ve earned the right to try and make up for last year’s lost moments.

Our family likes to spend quiet moments in the hammock that stretches between two oak trees in the shady back area of our property.  Inspired by this picture of a similarly quiet area at La Bastide de Marie in France,  I am interested to take the hammock area to a new level.  A serene white garden where I can extend the long day into a casual evening are what I am craving and am gathering the pieces to make it happen.

La bastide de Marie

I bought and hung a new hammock  (the old was falling apart) as well as a few packs of bulbs that I am planting.  The taro root bulbs and the Star Gladiolus will take center stage in containers and provide for that lush green but with elegant white flowers back drop.  (I am starting them now so that they get a jump on the season indoors).  A cast iron plant stand that will be put to use in the winter months as an actual plant stand makes for a perfect outdoor side table in the summer. Add in edison bulb string lights and a few Boston ferns and I pretty sure little else is needed in the setting. cultivating summer serenity www.studiogblog.com

Now all I need is a great new summer drink recipe…..suggestions?

-Rochelle

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Lowes.  This is a series that I am doing through the end of the year.   I am not an employee of Lowes and all opinions are my own.  See the other posts in this series. 

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before, after, makeover, porch, patio, stairs, corner, landscape

Just a quick before & after for your reading pleasure…this makeover project was finished by Johnson’s Landscaping Service out of Maryland- the company traces its roots all the way back to 1933! Wow! Anyway, I always love a great corner makeover project, so I thought I’d share this one with you. This corner started out as a space that probably looked great at some point, but I really do love the transition…

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This weekend was something we have been waiting on for a while. After a pipe broke in our ceiling in January, we have been living in a nearby summer cottage while our downstairs was being renovated. For two months, we lived in someone else’s home. We are extremely thankful that we had somewhere else to go but still, it was a bit unnerving to know that a continuous stream of contractors came in and out of our home each day. We are back into our home and it is better than ever. We have the most wonderful contractor who renovated the downstairs into the home we have always wanted.

Saturday was moving back in day and boy, was it beautiful! We had temperatures in the low 50′s with sunshine here along the Maine coast. It has been months since the air was so warm. This teaser for spring had everyone out, excited to know that longer, warmer days are in our future.

Clematis Roguchi Easton

Then, today, a friend sent me a picture from New Orleans. They wanted to know if I knew a flowering vine they had found on a fence near their winter home. Ok, several things to rub in this cold winter: 1) winter home in New Orleans and 2) they already have flowering vines! The flower looks like a gorgeous clematis. Now, if mother nature could get back to business up here in Maine, we could have some flowering vines before, say, September.

Seeing this picture of a clematis reminded me of a striking and unusual clematis that we grow in our Alfond Children’s Garden at Coastal Maine Botanical Garden. Growing on an arched trellis is Clematis ‘Roguchi.’ During my first summer at CMBG, I had several guests pull me by the arm and show me the puckered, bluish-purple flowers and ask “what is it?” Without fail, when I told them it was a clematis, they would respond, “No!” The nodding, bell-like flowers are a deep purple. Since we have a fairy village at CMBG, I like to imagine that these are the skirts that the fairy ladies wear to their summer, formal events.

clematisroguchi

Clematis ‘Roguchi’ is a hybrid of C. integrifolia and C. durandii. The growth habit is that of a perennial, dying back to the ground each winter. Once spring comes, Roguchi clematis twines out of the soil to reach a height of 4-6′ by autumn. In Maine, our plants start to flower in mid-summer, just as most of our guests start to visit. We have our plants growing in full sun in rich soil amended with compost.

Here’s to spring! Here’s to the changing of seasons and getting back to the business of life and gardening. I optimistically know that all of this melting snow and rain is going to provide ample moisture to give us a summer full of clematis flowers. Are you growing clematis in your garden?

-Rodney

Images: Val Easton, Portland Monthly Magazine

Bouquest by the green dandelion via www.studiogblog.com

I have been meaning to share this arrangement for days now – but it (once again) has been one of those kind of weeks.

The Green Dandelion designed this and it has me planning to rip up some grass to plant huge rows of rare marigolds that we can use in similar farmers market arrangements later this summer.  Arrangements that will also use all the inevitably gangly volunteer seed grown tomatoes that will pop up in the garden this spring. In all my spring optimism, I can assure you it is going to be perfect.

I just can’t work out what those cat tail like things are and the dark purple cosmo-like flowers.  Ideas?  I want to plant the whole thing  in my garden.

-Rochelle

image: The Green Dandelion

You may remember the amazing Before & After from Michael Muro that I posted a few months ago, and I’m excited to share another transformation he completed. For those of you who might have misssed it, Michael works out of Seattle, Washington and do a lot of really great transformations- big and small. This particular makeover appears to have been taken place in the homeowner’s backyard.

michael muro, backyard, transformation

As you can see, a lot of the elements were kept in place but just cleaned up a bit. It’s pretty cool what you can do with a tired space, isn’t it? The pavers look great and the little plants dotted throughout add the perfect amount of color and variety. I love how much impact such a small yard can have! If you want to see more of Michael’s designs, you can visit his website and poke around. -erin

If you have a great transformation that you’d like to share, send us an email and a few photos!

Images by: Michael Muro