1 House 100 Years

Preparing For The Centennial Of A Place That Matters

Month: September, 2012

More to the history than just the house

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With rather slow, detailed projects going on in the house, it’s nice to take some time to look at what’s going on outside of the house. This is especially critical for the house and landscaping to have unity, and an important part of a house’s history is often its landscaping.

Another plant that has been growing in my yard even before I bought this house is called “flossflower.” It usually goes mostly unnoticed until it begins blooming. Honestly, I haven’t done my best at weeding, but if I had, I would be missing out on this interesting late summer bloomer.

It has done well in partly shady spots like this with a vinca ground cover, and if left alone, it remains in the background until it is time to bloom. For a few places in my yard where I’m unsure what to plant, these are welcome to claim those spots.

This photograph was taken September 2012.

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Centennial sweet potatoes

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Saturday I dug some sweet potatoes, a bit early since I normally wait until the end of October before the first freeze. Nevertheless I was getting eager and wanted to check on their progress, at least that was my excuse! They were nicely sized and not too large in diameter.

I bought a bag of these Centennial sweet potatoes last October from Storybook Antiques in Boykins, Virginia. It was their First Annual Pumpkin Festival, a great event in my first ever hometown that has been experiencing a kind of “renaissance” in its own way as it adjusts to new times.

I wanted to try this locally grown variety to compare them with my favorite Beauregard that I had been growing from slips sold at Norfolk County Feed and Seed. These were great, so I saved a few and this spring I grew and then planted my own sweet potato slips.

This photograph was taken September 2012. You can get about four good slips from each sweet potato, and this photograph shows sweet potatoes from just one of twelve slips that I planted. This is a nice yield for very little work and totally organic! (That is a large variety of ajuga, also known as bugleweed, to the right. It makes a great ground cover.)

From the most amazing little seeds to 5 feet 7 and 1/4 inches tall garden giants

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This is Japanese Shiso. It was my “try something new” package of seeds this year, and it has pleased me just as much as the Thai Basil from last year and the Lemon Grass from the year before. Needless to say, I really enjoy trying new foods with interesting flavors.

The shiso seedlings that I started indoors drooped as soon as I started transplanting them, before they were even completely transplanted. Their first full weekend in the garden there were huge rains that wiped out most of my tomato transplants, sadly leaving the shiso seedlings plastered to the garden soil.

I was ready to resow seed, but that soaking didn’t deter them. These are plants on a mission! This past week they began to bloom, and I can see now why they are called Japanese Basil at times. The flower structure is very similar to Italian Basil and Thai Basil.

The main thing that has awed me about Japanese Shiso is how tall it has grown! Those little droopy fragile seedlings grew into plants with a somewhat woody stem and measured 5 feet 7 and 1/4 inches tall. They branch beautifully when trimmed as well and demand little attention.

The overall impression of the half dozen or so plants is eyecatching, almost as if it was a well-tended shrub. The bees are loving all of the blossoms too! The fragrance of the leaves is difficult to describe. It is herbal, spicy, exotic even, though in a subtle way.

I made tea by steeping about 2 cups of loosely packed leaves in 2 cups of hot water mixed with 2 cups of regularly tea. The taste is familiar yet different that way. Although I doubt that I will ever become wealthy selling Shiso tea, it’s been a great experiment!

This photograph was taken September 2012.