It's early spring, the little hens have moved on to a another veg bed to scratch about in, and I'm planting the vacated veg bed. I've looked through my home-collected seed and decided that this bed will be white, pink and purple: with soft green lettuce (seedlings from the compost bin), pale-stemmed chard and green (dwarf, curly) kale at the start of the path, leading to pink chard, deep pink-flowering broad beans, `red' kale (a lovely mauve, probably `Redbor'), and at the end, those attractive purple peas (with delicious pink flowers as a terrific bonus, above) on rough tripods, with purple broccoli (below) at their feet. The mauve flowers of chives would work well here, too.
In another bed, a purple carrot, with pretty umbels of flowers, is, hopefully going to set seed soon. I can toss these seeds about in the newly planted bed - but the leaves don't seem to show the colour of the subterranean bits. However there's satisfaction in knowing that these plants will fit into this garden patch, even if no one else can see, or know about the fact of the carrot colour.
How much of the happiness we derive from our gardens is in our minds? (Those shrubs will hide the sheds soon, or those dull plants have superb flowers in winter, or those tiny flowers have a superb fragrance, for example.)
I've `done' pink and purple edible patches before, but not with white (and green) veg on either side of the start of the path. I'm looking forward to seeing how this one turns out!
I'm loving my other veg beds: the lemon, yellow and gold bed (complete with yellow broccoli); and a fairly new bed of orange, red and black (with black kale, of course).
Those ones have pansies - edible flowers - along the path edge. But...while they are pretty, and emphasis the colour beautifully, for some reason I'm changing my tack. For one thing, it's hard to get the shades I want, of pale pink and good pink-purple pansies to show the gradations of colour (although white, then pink, then purple ones might work - but would not show subtle changes). And I get so tempted to buy pansies in pots, not the cheaper punnets. I should be patient, but while vegetables generally grow well, there's just a little too much shade from the growing gum trees to the north and north-west. And...let's see if I can make the garden work without the obvious (pink) traffic lights.
We have 7 (yes, 7) compost bins and I'm finding that a globe artichoke - all glorious, tall silver leaves - is half-hiding one of the plastic bins, and hopefully distracting the eye. In go a few more to soften the look of the others. I'm adding dwarf lavenders too (I was given 2 plants), but I don't anticipate year-round attractiveness from these...which are therefore on probation.
Having fun in the edible garden means I've definitely neglected the orchard. Finally, last weekend, I picked the last of the apples, and began picking tangelos and limes for muffins and marmalade (below). Yum!
(My chef-sister gave me the mouth-watering citrus muffin recipe which is so easy:
Simmer 2 oranges (or varied citrus to ~ ½ kg), just covered with water, for an hour (or 3 tangelos for ¾ hour in our case), drain and allow to cool. Cut into quarters and remove pips. Add 6 eggs and purée. Add 250g of castor sugar and 250g ground almonds and 1 tsp baking powder & stir. Pop into muffin cases, cook for 10 - 15 minutes in a medium oven and voilà!)
Maybe I'll make apple pie with those old apples. Double yum.
Jill Weatherhead is horticulturist, writer, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, and works throughout Victoria. (www.jillweatherheadgardendesign.com.au)