The idjit gardener strikes again

In between the Hibiscus and the Rose of Sharon stand the offendersThis idjit gardener was starting to get a little cocky about her new found gardening acumen until the recent weed incident. Early in the summer, as I tilled the dirt patch next to the deck, I came across a discarded empty Delphinium seed packet. How lucky, I thought, that my predecessor had made the effort to gift me some delphinium.

Soon afterward, some green sprouts in the area of the found packet began to reveal themselves. They had multi-pronged leaves, which -- to the idjit gardener's untrained and suggestible eye -- looked to be the delphinium I awaited. In no time, there was a booming bounty of them popping up in a haphazard array. So, I subjected them to my innate orderliness, and transplanted them into two neat, tightly-spaced rows. I watched over them carefully for a few days, saw that they were thriving, and went on my merry way.

Next time I took note, they were about 18 inches tall and topped with short spikes of little lightgreen buds. But wait, that's not what Delphinium are supposed to look like, are they? I googled "Delphinium images," and doubt set in. Things got worse when I spotted the same Delphinium impostors among weeds in a town parking lot. Oh no. I dispatched photos of the impostors to friends and family who possess plant identification skills light years beyond the idjit gardener's. In reply, I received diplomatically worded emails about how something is only a weed if you don't want it, and that perhaps my impostors possessed an unsung worthiness. Well, they didn't.

This morning I removed the offenders with somber resolve. In revenge, they set my fall allergies into overdrive. But I would not be deterred. Now they rest curbside in a yard-waste bag. The garden looks a little bare in their absence, and, though I mourn the Delphinium that might have been, I've already transplanted some Hollyhock seedlings into the sunny spot the offenders so enjoyed. Perhaps the idjit gardener will next learn that Hollyhocks do not tolerate being transplanted in early fall. 'Til then, there's always another adventure for the idjit gardener.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Web tour: Container gardens

For the first year in many, I'll actually have a small cottage garden to cultivate. It's a big leap for an idjit gardener, so I'm inclined to start with baby steps. I figure container gardening may ease me into the wider world of gardening in the actual ground.

Of course, there are many sources of inspiration for container gardening, but I found a favorite in Design New England; it's a whimsical early spring container designed and created by Trent Lloyd Design of Newburyport, Mass. It taps into the fun of the miniature, mini, and small -- favorite topics here at House Enthusiast.

If you like the Trent-Lloyd-Design container garden, you'll probably get a hoot out of artist Judy Robinson-Cox's work, especially her Lilliputian Landscapes, and this image in particular. So fabulous.

Humor in the garden is win win.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Reading musings: Easy Edible Garden

Broccoli I grew in last season's idjit, square-foot garden. (Who knew that broccoli blooms if not harvested in a timely fashion? Not this idjit gardener who thought the flowers were pretty.)I picked up Sunset's Easy Edible Garden special-interest-publication at my local supermarket when I was shopping hungry. You probably know better than to shop hungry, but, sometimes, it can't be helped. The Easy Edible Garden title and cover shot of a breezy, mozzarella, mixed-tomato, and basil salad appealed to both my appetite and my idjit gardening skills.

Inside Easy Edible Garden, I found a fount of accessible gardening information for the gardening-challenged (my term, and a more PC way to describe idjit gardeners such as myself). There's a section about different garden bed sizes and styles suitable for the urban, suburban, or rural gardener -- complete with basic, edible plant recommendations. And, best of all, there's a lengthy section which focuses on 20 of the "easiest veggies, fruits, and herbs you can grow -- and dozens of delicious ways to enjoy them." The recipes are the clincher. They're always my favorite part of Sunset magazine. (I know, I know, it's a west-coast magazine, and I'm a New Englander, but who couldn't benefit from a touch of the other coast? Plus, fresh edibles are fresh edibles.)

I'm looking forward to using some of this season's idjit-garden bounty in "Cilantro chicken," "Sauteed Swiss chard with pancetta," and "Spicy eggplant, pork, and tofu stir fry" -- among other Easy Edible Garden recipes. Pick up your copy on newsstands before May 18.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast