Seeds! and Inspiration

Neither snow nor rain nor icy slush kept my hardy mailman from delivering a much anticipated package yesterday – my seeds! During the winteriest weeks of February, I’ve been happily planning out my garden for the spring. Although I had planned to keep things simple this year and concentrate on growing tried and true vegetables and flowers, I ended up getting a little carried away picking out flower seeds.

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I got most of my flower seeds from Botanical Interests and my vegetable seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds. I also splurged a little and ordered some fabulous looking dahlia bulbs from Eden Brothers. I’ve been starting my dahlias from seed, but I can only find the more gaudy, showy flowers as bulbs and with a name like “Bora Bora”, how could I resist.

All this planning for Spring and warmth and flowers had me inspired. I went back to a photo I took of my seedlings a couple of years ago that I’ve always loved and have wanted to work into a design.

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This design has turned out to be one of my favorites. The touches of green and celadon hint at the promise of spring among the brown tones and blue highlights. It has a fun but sophisticated look.

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The groundhog has predicted six more weeks of winter and this would be the perfect print to liven up my tired winter wardrobe. A fresh print on anything but wool would be fabulous right now.

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All Hail the Humble Leek

Behold the beginnings of greatness:

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This is my second year of growing leeks from seeds. Last year’s attempt resulted in rather puny specimens, but I’m determined that by the end of this summer I will have nice big fat leeks. In researching how to grow them successfully, I came across some interesting information, the humble leek has a rather distinguished history.

The leek  appears on the Royal Badge of Wales and is worn proudly on the cap of  The Welsh Guards

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And, as a symbol of one of the countries of the British Commonwealth, leeks also appeared in embroidered and beaded form on the coronation gown of Elizabeth II, along with the thistle, shamrock and maple leaf – the thistle represented Scotland, I don’t think I need to explain the shamrock or maple leaf.

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According to the gospel of Wikipedia, Norman Hartnell, the queen’s dress designer, asked if he could replace the leek with another symbol of Wales, the daffodil. He was denied. Maybe that’s why he placed the leeks right where it would be hidden in most pictures, behind the queen’s folded hands. He clearly never had the pleasure of a delicious and comforting bowl of vichyssoise.

It’s now been about two and half weeks since I sowed the seeds and my little leek seedlings are coming along beautifully. They are flourishing under flourescent lights that Mark and I set up on a shelving unit in the corner of our apartment’s living room. We had put up the removable shelves and lights last spring after the previous year’s debacle of attempting to start seeds on the very uncertain climate of my windowsill.

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This year’s seeds are growing in my own seed mix combination of compost tea, vermiculite, perlite and coir – coconut husk fiber. (Note to self: Next time you order coir, do not order a giant brick of it. A coir brick has the consistency of a cement block and all attempts at “chipping” away at it with a knife or saw are nearly impossible and will only result in coir dust all over the kitchen and some very undignified swearing and sweating.)

By August, we should be sitting down to a nice leek tart, or potato and leek galette or a simple bowl of vichyssoise.

Take that Norman Hartnell.