I saw it from afar, as I was watering the bitter melon- a bit of red peeking out from between the leaves of one of the Momotaro tomato plants. We’ve been eating tomatoes for a couple of weeks already, but I’ve been waiting for the Momotaros. It’s a Japanese hybrid that is apparently a popular market variety. I saw it in the Territorial Seeds catalog back in 2009, and somehow ordered them too late to plant them last year. So it was very exciting to be growing them at last. The plants have gotten huge, with enticing clusters of hard green tomatoes. We ate that first tomato for breakfast with a bit of olive oil, and I’m pleased to report that it was very tasty and, as the seed catalog had promised, very sweet.

We’ve more or less eaten all the corn on this bed, and for some reason it didn’t grow all that tall. I planted some beans under them, though, so I’ll leave them standing for a while. The nicest thing about this bed is all those morning glories- three different kinds. It is one of the many spontaneous eruptions in the garden that so often outshine plantings that we have carefully thought out.

Black currant fizz…

… is the name of this lovely opium poppy, being scrutinized here by Baki and my mom:

The seeds were from Thompson & Morgan; I picked them up in London in December. They always tell you on the seed packets that poppies hate being transplanted, so you ought to direct-sow them. We sowed these in paper pots and then transplanted them; there are so many weeds, we rarely sow flower seeds directly. Anyway, I believe that there isn’t a plant on Earth that relishes being transplanted. It’s like babies, though- some plants let you get away with it and they don’t complain, while others make sure they get exactly what they want (if that makes any sense at all).
Here is a closer look:


Cut flowers


“You guys don’t know what to do with cut flowers,” my mother said when she saw some cut snapdragons in a glass with no water in it. Ali had cut them so that I could smell them; they were supposed to be scented and it turned out they were.
She’s right- we love to grow flowers, and we really enjoy them in the garden, but we hardly ever cut them. I also possess an uncanny ability to take any bunch if flowers, no matter how lovely or well composed, and make a complete mess of them. So it is really lovely to find little arrangements of cut flowers everywhere. My mother is keeping well on top of cutting the sweetpeas before they can set seed, which means more flowers for longer, and lovely scented corners in every room
And on a completely unrelated note, here is Kaya charming his daddy.


Peony madness

In 2009, I went to Sheffield to visit my aunt Georgina. One of the conditions of my going on the trip was that I bring back plenty of plants. My aunt recommended the online nursery, Crocus, which is truly dangerous- whatever we looked at we wanted. In the end, I brought back, among others, the amazingly scented red rose that now scrambles up the side of our house (Etoile de Hollande), asparagus root crowns, and a peony, paeonia lactiflora “Duchesse de Nemours,” that was apparently both snow white and scented. Well, it flowered for the first time this year, and all that and more: it is just an impossibly beautiful thing to behold, with a scent like lily of the valley and vanilla ice cream. I think it says, “Look, the world is a beautiful place after all,” but Ali thinks it’s saying to us, “You’re ugly and you smell.”

It’s got a cage around it for two reasons. One is a little lesson that I learned last year: if you want to have free range chickens, you can’t have free range plants. The other, more pressing reason for this particular plant is that we are having another house built, and the peony is right behind it. Lest this sound very grand, let me point out that the entire footprint of the house is 15 meters squared, and the interior of it is 9 meters squared, so it is more accurate to think of it as another room, with a terrace. Still, it’s a welcome addition, and it’s almost finished.

Shameless hussy


Some girls just don’t know when to quit. This iris was a gift, in the form of a rhizome, from my mother. It did very little last year, but seems to be making up for lost time. I want to say, “relax, we loved you even when you didn’t flower.”
Meanwhile, with one week left until my due date, I’ve come to see the virtues of slowing down. I’d been a bit concerned because my whole body was so creaky every night. How can I give birth, I thought, when everything aches so much? Then yesterday I had no gumption whatsoever, so I took it easy and even got some knitting done; I finished a pair of leggings for the baby that I’d started months ago:

Last night, I was amazed to discover that my body ached not one bit, and I woke up feeling wonderfully rested this morning. So, with apologies to the vegetables and the flowers, I think I will let the weeds have their way with the garden for the next few days.