Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dusk at Colonial Williamsburg

I made an evening trek to Colonial Williamsburg earlier this week.  I was interested in seeing some of their gardens, particularly the vegetable garden across from Bruton Parish Church and also the gardens behind the Governor's Palace.  Unfortunately the Governor's Palace was closed so I wasn't able to see everything.  I still took a few pics to share, but be warned --  the quality of the pics isn't great.

Deep cold frame bed.  Looks like peas?  It's amazing how early (and late) they can grow veggies in these things. 
Late summer veggies with Bruton Parish Church in the background.
Large pomegranate trees loaded with fruit.  The orchard has 4 or 5 of these and they are about 15 feet tall.
Hanging gourds and muscadine grapes on a massive trellis/arbor.  Sometimes they dry the gourds and turn them into birdhouses.  
Small kitchen garden behind one of the historic buildings.
Fig trees that were cut to the ground about 2 years ago.  Now they are appx. 10 feet tall.
Hidden path flanked by amazing old boxwoods.
Governor's Palace.  Bummer...the best gardens locked behind the gate!  I'll have to return this fall.
Kitchen garden at the Governor's Palace.  Tiered beds prepped for fall planting. I managed to snap a few pics over the brick wall.  
A different view of the Governor's Palace kitchen garden.
You can walk for miles and miles at Colonial Williamsburg and see something new each time.  And if you wear out your shoes in the process make sure you swing by this place on the way out of town.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Partners in Crime

What happens when a wayward bird or greedy squirrel wanders into the yard in search of an easy meal?  The Brute Squad chases them away!  That's right, this fearsome dog duo handles all the wise guys in the yard.  Their reward?  A few cherry tomatoes and berries (and figs if I'm not looking).  They earn their keep.

The Brute Squad.

Monday, August 2, 2010


I'm a fig junkie.  Right now many of you are probably rolling your eyes thinking about grandpa's nasty dried figs.  But if you haven't eaten a fig plucked FRESH from a tree, you don't know what you're missing. I eat them whole, sliced, chilled, and even grilled.  And yes, also dried when not in season, but it's like comparing apples and oranges.  There are many tasty varieties that do well in southeast Virginia.  Right now I'm growing Violet de Bordeaux, Black Jack, Celeste, and Peter's Honey.  I've been growing them for a few years and they are still relatively small.  Violet is definitely my favorite, Black Jack is so-so, Celeste is old reliable, and Peter's Honey is a green fig that hasn't done very well this year.

Unripe Violet de Bordeaux figs.  They are very dark and droop when ripe.
Ripe Violet de Bordeaux figs.  Notice the distinct change in color and size when ripe.
It's actually quite easy to propagate figs by rooting dormant cuttings.  I took cuttings of my uncle's Celeste fig tree late last winter and rooted them in perlite this spring.  Then I moved them to 1 gallon pots and now they are growing like weeds.

2-3 feet tall rooted cuttings from a mature Celeste fig tree.
I'm also growing an espalier fig against the corner of my shed.  I'm training two long branches very close to the ground (much like a stepover) and growing two more branches a few feet up, similar to a traditional multi-tier espalier.  It will take a few years to train the fig for the right appearance, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.  Notice the growth from the left picture (early June) to the right picture (early August).  The tree currently stands about 5 feet tall and is developing nicely.