Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October Plants of the Heartland Harvest Garden

The fall garden season is upon us so come see the plants that thrive in the cool nights and occasionally frosty mornings. Many vegetables are at their prime in this season including: lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, arugula and carrots.

The Menu or Potager Garden at the entrance to the Heartland Harvest Garden has 4 different beds of veggies: this one depicts 'Nagoya Garnish Red' Kale, 'Golden Frill' and 'Garnet Giant' Mustard Greens.

Heartland Harvest Garden staff have some home made signs to help visitors understand what they are seeing. Yes, Jack Frost is not always something to fear, it adds a delicious sweetness to many leafy vegetables! Stop and read the signs and you will get a quite a bonus of information that will enhance your visit.

Jack Frost did visit areas of Powell Gardens on Monday morning as the low was 35F but only in open locations of the garden. Much of the garden did not have frost so tender plants like this okra still look stunning.

Purple Hyacinth Beans are getting many questions from visitors now as they have both purple flowers and purple beans showing off their purplish leaves. This bean is also frost tender but was not harmed by Monday's frosts.

Perennials like Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) are still blooming: these edible flowers taste like licorice. The whole plant has this anise-like scent and can be used to make teas. The plant is most valuable as a nectar source that attracts all sorts of bees and other pollinating and beneficial insects. It does self sow but not obnoxiously so and is native to the Northeastern United States.

Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) is also a fall bloomer with the most tasty sweet flowers. The whole plant emits a pineapple-like aroma and also makes a good tea. This is a tender perennial -- often surviving our winters if planted in a sheltered site. The golden-leaved plant depicted is the cultivar 'Golden Delicious.'

This Rose in the Apple Celebration Court is a seedling of Njnveldt's White Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa) and is our best for hip (fruit) production with bigger and slightly sweet fruit. Its bloom is pristine white and probably our best edible rose flower too -- a wonderful floral taste with no bitterness.

Prairie Rose (Rosa setigera) has abundant fruit studding its spiny arching canes. All rose fruit are known as "rose hips" and are great for a vitamin C rich preserves or tea. Prairie Rose is a beautiful native shrub "wild rose" and is planted as a companion plant to the apples in the Apple Celebration Court.

Some roses don't produce hips but all have edible flowers. This unique climbing Rose 'Red Cascade' graces the salvaged barn doors that form the entrance to Rosalind Creasy's Author's Garden. The abundant but tiny (1" diameter) miniature roses make this disease resistant climbing rose the perfect companion to the classic red barn doors.

The pomegranates (Punica granatum) in the Vineyard Arbor have caused many reactions as most folks from Greater Kansas City never knew what kind of plant these fruit come from. YES, we have a long enough hot summer to ripen fresh pomegranates outdoors with no special care.

Here's the whole plant, pomegranates and all! The shrub (or small tree) is not quite hardy enough to make it through the worst of our winters so we have them in pots and take them to a cool greenhouse. They can remain outdoors until temperatures as low as 20F or even colder make them go dormant. You too can grow them at home in a sunny locale and bring them in to a cool garage, basement or bright, cool room and bring them back outdoors in early spring. The spring flowers are very showy and bright scarlet. Fruit will ripen by fall and can give you fruit filled with those beneficial anti-oxidants!

The gorgeous 'Taylor' Junipers (aka redcedar Juniperus virginiana) around the Vineyard Arbor have become nicely established after just one year. We chose this Nebraska variety of our native Redcedar because it looks the most like the elegant tall Italian Cypresses which give a Mediterranean "paradise" feel but are not hardy in our climate. Special thanks Marvin Snyder for donating these plants to us and to Dale Goetz for going to pick them up from Taylor Nursery in Nebraska. They are now becoming available at local nurseries too as it is such a great plant for our region. Junipers are either male or female and Taylor is a female cultivar so does produce the beautiful blue edible "berries" (they are actually modified cones). The berries of Taylor are a bit sweet with a strong gin after taste -- yes true gin is flavored by Juniper berries!

Behind the "wall" of Taylor Junipers are Korean Pines (Pinus koraiensis) also provided by Marvin Snyder. Korean Pines are probably the world's most productive nut pine, similar to the better known Pinjon of the American Southwest. In future years we should be able to collect an abundance of delicious pine nuts from the cones of these beautiful trees.

This lovely pyramidal small tree is a Trazel. What's a trazel? It's a type of hazelnut that is a hybrid between the European Hazel (Corylus avellana the shrub that produces the popular nut) and the Turkish Hazel (Corylus colurna) which is a actually a tree! The combination creates a small, multi-trunked pyramidal small tree that so far has been a real nice landscape plants to the west side of the Vineyard. This hybrid also DOES produce good nuts and ours were all gathered up and served on Sunday night's Under a Harvest Moon dinner. Delicious!

The trunks of Trazel are already starting to show the corky ridges that are so indicative of the Turkish Hazel tree. We think this hybrid has much potential as a superior edible landscape plant and it is available from a few mailorder sources.
On your next visit to Powell Gardens be sure and check out these and other inspiring edible plants in the Heartland Harvest Garden. With its nearly 3,000 types of plants, there is no finer place to learn about where our rich variety of food originates! It's not the grocery store but from these marvelous plants that are as beautiful as they are delicious. The garden is designed and planted to be colorful and productive at least through Thanksgiving so there are still nearly 8 more weeks of productivity to inspire.

1 comment:

Ron Mylar said...

These all paintings are really fantastic such they can be liked by anyone. And I also like these beautiful painting related with nature.