Saturday, February 4, 2012

Earth Laughs in Flowers and Books

A few weeks after Christmas, on one of those woebegone days when you think Spring will never come, I crunched through the icy snow in the back yard, snipped off an armload of forsythia, brought it inside, and waited for the magic. The living room now has a blast of yellow as it's centrepiece; joyful abundance. Forsythia's my go to shrub for forcing in winter although there are many others you could try...plum, apple, quince and more. But I love yellow; it makes my heart feel good deep inside. White won't do, or pink. It has to be yellow.

I only noticed when downloading this photo, our cushion in the back, "Earth Laughs in Flowers"..Emerson. Today, I laughed a lot, a good thing to do in February...on those wobegone days mentioned previously. Shared were garden conversations with old friends...and best of all, new garden friends. It was, a most uplifting day, like the blooms on the forsythia giving me a boost, an afternoon at Halifax Seed attending the book launch of Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, made me appreciate my veg garden even more. Quite frankly, I think this book will change how gardeners grow food in our area and anywhere else for that matter.

It's been an experiment for many, like myself, for about four can we push the envelope..what will germinate and stay alive under a cold frame so we can harvest through the colder months. Niki followed our garden through 2010; Joe her Storey book Photographer, arriving each season... and so, we became part of a garden book as did other local gardeners, neighbours and friends, including blogger Thomas.
Niki Jabbour at her Book Launch Today
I've been waiting about five years, for a book like The Year-Round Gardener, referring to Eliot Coleman's Four-Season Harvest to help extend our growing season up until now. Niki Jabbour's book just speaks to me, as a woman, as a gardener, as a mother ... it's full of encouragement and advice. The Niki's piks on the vegetable sidebars are exactly what I was craving...I don't have to keep trying to see what works any more..she's done the research. By that I mean home grown research. Also, the planting calendar at the foot of each veg page..tells me when to direct sow in the garden, direct sow in cold frame, germinate inside to transplant outside, timing perfectly with last spring and first winter frost.

It ended up, while we were spending those past few years, trying to figure out what vegetables would take our minus 22 C degree temperatures, this young woman was diligently working on her book, not four exits along the highway from where we lived. One day, after starting my blog, I googled Nova Scotia vegetable gardeners, found her and followed. About a month or so afterwards, she realized I didn't live too far away and came by for a visit. A garden girl friendship evolved..and, like she does in her book, she encouraged, enthused, advised, cared and shared. That's what you will find in her writing, that same kind of personality, sharing lots of information you will reference time and time again. She's done the leg work, grown the seeds, trialing them so she could share her favourites and best performers. Most important to me, she dispels any fear of insecurity, regarding extending your season.  You can do it! Absolutely.


  1. Another fabulous post my friend. You have no idea how much I look forward to them.

  2. What a good idea idea bringing the Forsythia into your living room for that touch of early Spring.

  3. Sounds like a really good book, written by a charming person... So, have you decided which vegetables are going to be the ones to survive the -22C temps? I could do with a few of those right now.

  4. Forsythia was one thing I remember having in our classroom when I was in primary school.

  5. Bren you are too kind! It was a lucky day when you (and hubby) came into my life! And, I'm so pleased that you were a part of this book. Your garden, your blog and your lovely poetic way has been so inspiration to many gardeners, including me! Thanks again and thanks for sharing yesterday with me!

    I'm just sorry you didn't get to meet fellow garden blogger Marguerite from PEI!! I was so happy to see her! :) Next time..

  6. The sunshine color is a great one for lifting the spirits! How fortunate that you live so close to and have developed a relationship with a gardener who has learned to push and defy the limits of a short growing season.

  7. Well said my, friend. Niki's book is deserving of praise for all the reasons you expressed. It was a wonderful event yesterday. Great to see you and Rob. It has been too long.Not enough time to get truly caught up though. I don't have forsythia to force so witch hazel will have to do. It is yellow so I expect you will approve.


  8. Ooh, we have HUGE Forsythia in our garden - so how do you force it to flower early? Is it just cut and bring indoors?

  9. I have been meaning to pick some forsythia and bring it indoors, but just haven't gotten around to it. After reading your post, I am inspired to stop procrastinating and get out there and cut some branches. I wholeheartedly agree that yellow is so cheerful that it gladdens the heart.
    You have written such a lovely tribute to Niki and her book. I just got a copy and can't wait to start reading it!

  10. Thanks everyone for all the wonderful comments. Erin, sorry for your tumble but glad you are okay. Glad also you are enjoying Niki's book as much as I am.

    For those that asked further questions on forcing Forsythia..yes, just cut it and bring inside to bloom. I look for stems that are all nubbly, which means lots of flowers. If there is only a bud here and there on the stem, they are likely for leaves the coming year, and not flowers. Pick a huge bouquet, it makes a great statement and makes the heart sing. My vase is a tall columnar clear glass one, with water only about three inches deep at the bottom, so the blooms actually bloom inside the vase as well and you can see that through the glass.

    Mark W, I am just putting my full seed order together now, but have placed one already to Baker Creek. Perhaps a blog post on that is in order heh! Thanks for inspiring. I must say, I particularly enjoy that you blog often, as I enjoy your garden posts a lot...and your food posts, and the photo posts ;-)))

    Niki, it was just a thrill attending the Book Launch (huge thank you), and also meeting some of the other gardeners and catching up, especially with you Donna, as your garden and raised beds in the book are so inspiring and beautifully crafted by D. Wasn't it fun to be part of this book!

    Jennifer..this is your year...can't wait to see your veg garden as it unfolds. Love your blog, your photos and ahem..that lovely white picket fence.

    Mark, hope you do force forsythia and, I expect one of your beautiful ceramic pots will do it justice.

    Sweetbay, thank you. I have so enjoyed your last few posts, a window into a spring that can't be too far away for us.

    Sue, you actually had flowers in school...clearly you didn't grow up in Industrial Cape Breton BIG GRIN!

  11. Despite the frost our Forsythia is already brightening up the (sheltered, dark) end of our garden - outdoors!

    Great write up!

  12. Great Post Brenda! Forsythia is a favorite of mine! As a child, a very wild, overgrown forsythia grew outside my bedroom window. I remember laying in bed and looking above my head, out the window and thinking those yellow flowers were soooo pretty!

    I love that you brought some in already. I never think of it till around Easter time. I think I will go out and cut some this week. (And I will let Miss Katie know that they are not meant for her!! hee hee!!)

  13. Brenda, finally getting back to blog reading after our trip. Again, I'm so sorry I missed you. What a wonderful event it was with so many people out to support Niki. I can see already how this book is going to change gardening for me and I'm terribly excited. As you point out, it is so amazing to have this book where Niki has done all the legwork for us. I've had some difficulty in figuring out planting times in this new zone and it's wonderful to see it all spelled out for me. A wonderful pleasure too seeing all the fabulous photos of you and your garden!

  14. So you just need to bring a dormant branch inside and it will bloom?? Do you need warm water?


  15. Hello again Brenda, a great idea on the forsythia indoors. I can see how that would be a delight to watch come into flower in the vase. One of my early successes in propagation was with this plant. I don’t have it now but it still lives on in my neighbour’s garden :-)

    Although I’m not a veggie grower, I can completely see how valuable this book will be to you. Wishing you an Oscar performing garden in 2012 :-D

  16. Forsythia is good to see, shows that Spring is trying!!
    Has the parcel arrived?