Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Celebrating a Lifetime's Growth of a 60+-Year Old Seedling

During a now infamous interview, the great actress Katharine Hepburn once told Barbara Walters that in her old age she felt very much like a strong tree, and when pressed, said she hoped she was an oak, rather than an elm, which would have suffered from Dutch elm disease.

Yesterday I celebrated my 62nd birthday, and I figure I'm a sugar maple (Acer saccharum) -- a New England native, full of sweet sap and occasionally rather colorful.

I came downstairs and discovered this birthday card waiting on the kitchen island for me. The night before, Nigel had waited till after I went to bed and then snuck downstairs to put it there for me to find, along with a bar of dark chocolate from Theo's.

I'll get him for that, when he least expects it.

I had a very quiet, pleasant birthday, that included lunch out at my favorite local restaurant Mama Stortini's. I had one of my favorite meals, salmon -- an old reliable. I used to be driven to try new foods, new restaurants, etc., especially for a celebration such as this, but nowadays, I prefer a small, quiet, local place where I've eaten many, many times, where I know what I'm going to get before I even go through the door.

My parmesan-crusted salmon with rice pilaf and zucchini

Nigel's Ziti Bolognese with meatballs

Dessert -- Fried Oreos with ice cream

Alison saccharum as a sapling

When I returned from lunch, the mail had arrived, and in it were lots and lots of seeds that I had ordered recently! From Johnny's Selected Seeds, Swallowtail Garden Seeds, and Chiltern Seeds (in England).
This year's seeds

Many of these are meant for my new cutting garden. Here's a long, boring list of what I ordered.

From Swallowtail:

Salvia 'Rose Queen'
Salvia 'Blue Queen'
Salvia 'Merleau Blue'
Agastache 'Globetrotter'
Agastache 'Bolero'
Celosia 'Dragon's Breath'
Shasta Crazy Daisy
Calendula 'Solar Flashback'
Giant Imperial Carmine King Larkspur
The Seven Dwarfs Larkspur
Dahlia 'Black Beauty'
Ornamental Millet 'Copper Prince'
Ornamental Millet 'Purple Majesty'
Sunflower 'Red Wave'
Bronze Fennel
Seeker mix Statice
Giant Double Black Peony Poppy
Seriously Scarlet Peony Poppy

From Johnny's:

Benary's Giant Deep Red Zinnia
Queen Red Lime Zinnia
Senora Zinnia
Red Spike Amaranthus
Cramer's Burgundy Celosia
Midnight Blue Statice
Ruby Red Orach
Dara Ammi
Double Click Cosmos
Double Click Cranberries Cosmos

From Chiltern's:

Stipa capillata Lace Veil
Lupinus polyphyllus 'Band of Nobles'
Arisaema consanguineum
Arisaema sikkokianum
Arisaema triphyllum
Verbascum olympicum
Agastache 'Astello Indigo'
Centranthus ruber
Eryngium maritimum
Benary's Giant Wine Zinnia
Lysimachia atropurpurea 'Beaujolais'
Salvia lyrata 'Purple Volcano'
Tropaeolum majus 'Black Velvet'
Salpiglossis sinuata 'Black Trumpets'
Knautia macedonica 'Mars Midget'
Linum grandiflorum var. rubrum
Amaranthus 'Hopi Red Dye'
Angelica sylvestris purpurea 'Vicar's Mead'
Erysimum cheiri 'Sunset Red'
Erysimum cheiri 'Blood Red Covent garden'
Coreopsis tinctoria 'Mahogany Midget'
Scabiosa atropurpurea 'Black Knight'
Delphinium consolida 'Blue Spire'
Lathyrus odoratus 'Windsor'
Lathyrus odoratus 'Matucana'
Zinnia 'Jazzy mixture'
Zinnia 'Queen Red Lime'
Ammi majus 'Graceland'

You may notice there's a lot of red, purple and black. I've got plans for a new "Ruby Bed" next year. That's a lot of seeds, too. Many of them will get sowed into the soil of the cutting garden, right after Christmas, under cloches.


  1. Well, the food looks great, that kid is very cute, and that's a whole bunch of seeds that should provide a whole bunch of color. Happy Birthday, you youngster.

  2. Happy happy birthday, Miss Alison, it looks like a perfect day in my book. I'd like to see the card you get for Nigel next...hee hee (evil laugh).

  3. I can't wait to see all the beautiful "in a vase on Monday" creations the plants that grow from those seeds inspire. Happy Late Birthday!

  4. Best Wishes to you and your garden, Alison!
    Sugar maple is also called rock maple... Nigel should be aware...
    Very interesting list of plants! Agastache refuses to grow in my garden. Statice is still blooming now, in December! And, some names are new for me. I am curious to see all these plants in bloom!
    Have a very Merry Christmas, dear blogging and gardening friend!

  5. Happy Birthday, Alison. That is a lot of seeds !

  6. Never let it be said that those of us in our 60s aren't ambitious! You're going to have a fabulous cutting garden. Your birthday celebration seems just perfect to me - I'd have ordered that salmon too. Best wishes! May the coming year be your best ever.

    BTW, are you growing dahlias from seed rather than tubers? If so, I really want to hear how that goes.

  7. Congratulations with your birthday Alison, the lunch was obviously delicious. Love that long list of seeds you ordered, enjoying is looking ahead they say, so I am looking forward to see the photos of your flower garden next year.
    Wish you a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2018!

  8. Happy Birthday miss Sugar Maple!
    I remember the post when you were preparing a bed for a cutting garden. You are so dedicated: I can't wait for update post, not to mention the IAVOM posts that would follow.

  9. Happy belated birthday, Alison saccharum! Glad your day was special and you enjoyed your meal at Mama Stortini's. Hey Nigel, 62 is young for a maple! Can't wait to see what comes from all of those seeds!

  10. Happy birthday, Alison! Or should I say A. saccharum? (Are there any other species in the genus Alison?) Your birthday dinner looks delicious, and I love your plant list!

  11. I hope you had a lovely birthday. Wow, your seed list is longer than mine. You are going to be busy. I love to see what other people are sowing. I grew Zinnia Queen's Red Lime last year, it's fabulous.


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