March 30, 2010

New Ewa in the Garden - new Blogger Template Designer

My blog is 3 years old. All this time more or less same template - it is like wearing same dress all the time - right?
When I saw the new functions of new Blogger Template Designer, I jumped over without hesitation. It finally possible to make real changes in the template according to preference, without any problems. No bugs, no scrambled codes, no problems. Lot's of choices and lot's of colors - finally.
Did you notice this new function in gmail inbox? Not yet? Look here at new Blogger Template Designer here. Good luck!

March 29, 2010

Malvern Spring Gardening Show 2010 (UK) will host International Garden Bloggers’ Convention

If you are a garden blogger – like I am – what can be more exciting than meeting in real life people you know only from their blogs and shining love for Nature and gardens? When I started blogging about gardens, I never thought it will bring real people to my life.

This year in May thanks to VP and Patient Gardener who organize the event, and also Yolanda, who was the happy messenger, I am going to meet YOU FOLK in Malvern (UK)! Wow! I think I still can’t believe it.

I have been to UK many times, but only in London and only for business trips. So this will be the first time I will visit different part of UK which is Birmingham and Malvern.

When I learned about Malvern Spring Gardening Show – the great gardening show and exhibitions, I got even more excited. The amount of inspiration this event brings is enough for entire season, as they write on “The Malvern Spring Gardening Show offers innovative, inspirational and creative ideas. From stunning show gardens to a spectacular Floral Marquee, the event is full of exciting features to help you indulge your passion for all things green.

It has the fame of “friendliest gardening show of the year” as Royal National Rose Society says.
This year is even more special - no wonder - 25th anniversary is a good reason to celebrate. What else we will see? Show Gardens, RHS Floral Marquee with displays from over 100 nurseries PLUS People's Choice Award, stylish 'Circus' themed gardens from the Chris Beardshaw Mentoring Scholarship and garden designs from the candidates with the winning scholar being chosen at the show.

At the Floral Marquee over 100 nurseries will be exhibiting, including Bob Brown's Cotswold Garden Flowers nursery – if have a chance to read Gardens Illustrated – he is the guy behind monthly plant selection column this year. BTW he will not be exhibiting at Chelsea.

So, if you decide to join us and go to the Malvern Show – hop over to Meet at Malvern blog where you read more details and catch up with others who are going.

The Malvern Show takes 4 days 6-9th of May 2010. For garden bloggers there will be special place ready, where we can blog live and let you know our first impressions.

If you decide to go, please let me know by leaving a message here, so we can meet. I take short holiday to get some rest and will stay at Malvern from 6th to 9th.

A big thanks goes to VP and Patient Gardener for caring to put things together!

March 19, 2010

Vegetable orchestra

Vegetable orchestra is an awesome project. It grew in Austria and I am sure it will entertain many of you. Just have a look and please don't tell me you don't admire human's creativity: 

March 16, 2010

Top 10 most beautiful rhodo pictures

This hand picked collection of rhodo pictures is unique selection to admire. Under each picture you will find the link to author's gallery - where you can see even more rhodies to get inspired.
What strikes me while looking at the gardens is the sea of patience.

March 14, 2010

My biodynamic calendar says I missed tomato and pepper sowing dates again

My biodynamic calendar tells me, that I have missed again the dates of sowing tomatoes and capsicums. I really regret it - next preferable time will not come before 20th of march. For tomatoes in my zone it is fine, but it will be little late for capsicums - but not too late. Last year, at this time my Scotch Bonnet hot pepper sprouted already.

But if I want, I can still sow leafy vegetables and annuals that produce above ground: lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, sweetcorn, cucumber, grains.
I made it one week ago on my windowsill, so no need for that.
I started cabbage Dietmarscher fruher, the earliest cabbage I could get - it is ready to harvest after 50-55 days - and card (Cynara cardunculus).

As probably you know I garden naturally - without pesticides - in such gardens biodynamic processes are more visible - in the gardens where "cannons are used against sparrows" the difference will be difficult to spot. "Cannons against sparrows" - this way described, you may visualize the impact of pestides to your garden.

I made 2 gardening resolutions for 2010:

1/ This year I will spend more time in my experimental vegetable garden and grow more edible plant - this is really exciting to grow food by yourself! And I will use biodynamic calendar to follow the dates of sowing, maintenance and harvesting.

2/ Current plants in my garden will be closely watched and examined if they follow the rule of having more than one use in the garden. If they don't, they will be first to consider for replacement. OK guys, I didn't decide to turn my garden fully to orchard and vegetable garden, I only want to have better blend of planting.

Recently I found really inspiring videos on youtube that are worth to see. Youtube is full of crap, but among this huge pile of videos, there are real pearls to find. See the pearls I fouund:

Do you grow food in your garden?

Winter picture in march - mom was right...

In January she said "we will see snow in mid March" - when I've heard it I really really had hope that she is not right. Mid March? Hell! There should be already some flowers arrived in the garden. But NO... no...
See the picture? I took it 5 minutes ago - if you pay little more attention and take a closer look, there is one clear sign that it was taken in the spring: color shades are different.
Look, the brown parts of the trees and shrubs are not so dark like usually in the winter - its color is more brownish warm. Green of evergreens is also more warm - can you see it too?

March 6, 2010

Polish monk - clematis and daylilies breeder honored with The Order of Polonia Restituta.

Stefan Franczak would be 92 today and his achievements are amazing – many clematis and daylilies he bred I can see on the pictures, in the gardens all over the world.

Last year in March 2009 this humble monk - Polish greatest clematis breeder was honored with The Order of Polonia Restituta - one of the highest Poland's orders. He died 4 months later, on 13th of July 2009, buried in Warsaw.

His plants were awarded many times by The RHS (Royal Horticultural Society in Great Britain).

The RHS awarded "Blue Angel" ('Błękitny Anioł'), 'Polish Spirit' and 'Warszawska Nike'.

Four clematis were awarded with medals at biggest european nursery exibition Plantarium in Holland: 'Kardynał Wyszynski', 'Blue Angel' ('Błękitny Anioł'), 'Westerplatte', 'Emilia Plater' and 'Warszawska Nike'.

Clematis 'Emilia Plater' was awarded by British Clematis Society with "Certificate of Merit 2002" in recognition of its health, pest resistance and beauty .

He is breeding clematis and daylilies for over 50 years, from 80 new clematis he has bred, 68 are registered. In the world register there is 115 his daylilies.

Not all of his plants survived. Many disappeared. There are some people in Poland that still search for it - maybe you have in your garden clematis Black Madonna or Julius Slowacki?

He used to name his plants after important people or events in the Polish history e.g. John Paul II, Cardinal Wyszynski, Frederic Chopin, Westerplatte, Monte Cassino, Warszawska Nike or Emilia Plater.

Clematis and daylillies bred by Stefan Franczak are loved for their beauty, long flowering period and - what's most important - health and pest resistance.

The monk was used to live in Warsaw in the garden of jesuits at Rakowiecka street, but he was awarded in Gdynia (300 km North of Warsaw) - this means that he moved away from his garden in Warsaw. In the news they wrote, he is very sick, since few years retired and lives in Gdynia (Source: Gazeta Wyborcza Trójmiasto).

Few years ago, the news spread that Stefan Franczak will be moved away from his gardens in Warsaw. Jesuits wanted to remove all the plants from the garden and replace it with lawn. How the story ended I don't know - I am planning to visit this place as soon as it gets greener around.

Here is the list of best clematis bred by Stefan Franczak - according to Polish University of Life Sciences

'Blue Angel' ('Błękitny Anioł') - light blue flowers with silky, frill-edged petals. Flowers long and prolific from mid June to mid August.

'Cardinal Wyszynski' - bright scarlet flowers, blooms from June to September.

'Warszawska Nike' - purple-violet flowers with contrasting yellow stamens. On sunny spots starts to flower mid May, on shaded end of May. Flowers long and prolific.

'Polish Spirit' - flowers seem to be velvet, in blue-purple color. Blooms from end of June till beginning of August, and then again from September until October. This is most popular of all clematis bred by S. Franczak.

'Westerplatte' - red flowers. Prolific bloomer from June to August.

'Emilia Plater' - Blooms from July to September. Grows well on every spot and has very modest requirements.

'Kacper' - big flowers up to 25 cm in diameter, violet. Peak of flowering in June.

'John Paul II' ('Jan Paweł II') - alabaster white flowers with light pink stripe through the middle, that gets darker during autumn blooming. It grows strong and high, so it can be used behind lower plants.

'Mother Ursula Ledochowska' ('Matka Urszula Ledóchowska') has pearl white flowers with contrasting red stamen. It usually starts the blooming in the garden from mid May till beginning of June.

'Baltic Sea' ('Bałtyk') - violet-lavender flowers. Flowers early from mid May till beginning of June.

'Dorota' light violet flowers, with light frill-edged petals and violet stamens. Blooms from June till August.

'Monte Cassino' dark purple flowers, velvet yellow stamens. Flowering period: June-August.

'Frederick Chopin' nice in shape, big, blue flowers and beige stamens.

'Matka Siedliska' this one is amazing - on previous year's growth flowers are white and double, on current year's growth flowers are single, white with pink stripe.

For those of you interested how Jesuit monk became a famous breeder you may read more detailed story below.

Stefan Franczak was born 3.08.1917, in Jeziorna as 12th kid of 14 brothers and sisters in farmers family. In 1938 he graduated from Agricultural School in Kepno and 1946 from Animal Husbandry School in Lisków (n. Kalisz). For two years he was working as teacher at Agricultural School in Jaranów.

In 1948 – 3 years after WW2 has ended - at the age of 21 he joined Jesuits in Kalisz without taking order. After 2 years he went to Warsaw, where he became in charge of 15.000 sqm of grounds belonging to Jesuits. At that time Jesuits wanted to built a church on these grounds, but communist regime didn't want to give a permission.

In order to end up any discussion, communists wanted to take away entire piece of ground for so called "important social cause".

Just to prevent that action Jesuits decided to transform fruit and veggie garden into beautiful garden open for public. That was the assignment given to brother Stefan.

In the monastery's veggie garden there was many palings and stumps - this is why brother Stefan has chosen ivies to cover them.

Entire international Jesuits community have helped to create that garden by sending different kinds of clematis. Brother Stefan was growing them, propagating and also selling to raise the funds to expand the collection.

With time the garden became famous in Poland with its collection of over 900 kinds of clematis, irises and daylilies. After John Paul II was chosen as pope, communist regime was getting weaker and in 1980 Jesuits got permission to build the church. Garden was minimized to 5.000 sqm and church proudly built in 1996.

Every self-seeded clematis was watched carefully by Jesuit, especially those which showed special features: either flowers, flowering period, health or hardiness seemed to be interesting. It took dozen of years before he named any particular clematis and decided to register.

First clematis got the name "John Paul II" - it was shown first at Chelsea Flower Show in 1982. Brother Stefan was invited to UK and he and his clematis were presented in BBC.

From 1960 Stefan Franczak had bred Hemerocallis of which 100 different kinds were registered.

He became honored member of International Clematis Society, member of British Clematis Society and American Hemerocallis Society.

"Brother Stefan have bred more kinds of clematis than any of the living breeders, he is 5th most frequent clematis breeder in the world. Some of his clematis are most beautiful kinds ever and at the same time they are healthy and pest resistant" - said Victoria Matthews, the RHS International Registrar for Clematis, author of many books and articles, UK.

Picture courtesy of great Polish Clematis Nursery

March 3, 2010

Galeuse d'Eysines heirloom squash – surprising taste and color – seeds to swap

Last year I got 2 seeds of this beautiful squash from a friend living in France. One of them managed to grow few fruits, but only one managed to ripen, because I was at least 1 month late – shame! shame! shame! - to start the seeds. Believe me or not, I am so happy that I managed to grow at least one of them.

This is really beautiful, elegant, unusually looking and tasty winter squash which is old, heirloom veariety introduced in France 1883. Galeuse d'Eysines squash is slightly flattened, having slight ribbing.

It gets unusual look when you let it ripen long enough, then on the skin you will see peanut-sized warts – this makes it ugly, but also beautiful at the same time. If you don’t like warts on your Galeuse d’Eysines squash, harvest them before they start to form. Look at mine, almost no swellings/warts at all. Best harvested time is before surface is entirely covered in warts.

Galeuse d'Eysines squash grows fruits 4-11 kg (10-25 pounds) of weight, has very tasty and orange flesh. Plant is vine type.
Storing well in winter for approx 6 months. Look at my squash - it was harvested in October – stored in bright cellar, approx. 14C, cooked yesterday (March).

I found great recipe in Italian cuisine. You only need squash, some flour to scatter on the squash before frying, garlic, olive oil, mint, salt and pepper. You fry the squash for 7-8 minutes. When it is ready place it in the bowl, add salt and pepper, mint and garlic. Recipe says ‘let it wait for 3 hours after adding spices’ – yesterday I didn’t, but today I will check the difference on the yummy leftovers.

I got seeds of Galeuse d'Eysines squash to swap. This year I plan to make more room for edible plants in my garden, so I am interested in heirloom vegetable seeds. So if you are interested please let me know.

More seeds to swap: Spaghetti Squash.