Pulling into the driveway on Saturday I expected to find my garden all turned to black mush after the predicted freeze. Instead I found the garden much like I left it, only a little more mellow from autumn's first chilly weather. And other pleasant surprises...
The rampant Virgin's Bower had draped the William Baffin roses and Tollymore spruces with thousands of white star-shaped blooms. That wine-red dahlia finally flowered.The PeeGee Hydrangea panicles had taken on more of that soft shade of vintage rose. The zinnias were still blooming and taller than ever, and without any deadheading, lots of those spent flowers with that yellow corona to lend interest. Best of all, Monarch butterflies fluttering all around them.
With frantic cross country instructions for my husband to pick all the tomatoes left, I had a counter full of Costoluto Genovese, Cherokee Purple and Clear Pink heirlooms.
Down in that low spot where the Heritage raspberries thrive on benign neglect I spied ripe berries, enough to fill a good-sized bowl.
If you've been following the great strawberry growing challenge of the summer, you know no one can pick a strawberry without keeping count. Even though the contest ended, my husband reported 30 more smaller berries from the three, now tattered and exhausted Stark Tribute plants. Enough little gems to combine with the raspberries for a rustic berry tart.
And...speaking of the Corona Tools Strawberry Fields Project, the most pleasant-est surprise was the small white box waiting for me. YES! I won the iPad. I found out at the GWA conference but was afraid to say anything until I saw it. I can't wait to get it "initialized" and start exploring all of its iPadian wonders.
I thought for sure my formidable competition, fellow garden blogger, Shawna Coronado would be the winner. With her winning smile, abundant energy and huge following, she is a force to be reckoned with. The Corona Tools people tallied all the criteria and found us in a dead heat. They flipped a coin and I got lucky. So here's a tip of my gardening hat to Shawna.
Thanks so much to the good folks at Corona Tools. What a fun challenge, I learned a lot myself while teaching others to grow food in the smallest of spaces.
Thanks to Stark Bros for donating the Tribute strawberry plants as well. For many years I drove past Stark Bros in Louisiana, MO on my way to visit family. On the hill is a white barn with a painted black bear, proclaiming Stark Trees Bear. That's so true.
And damn, if those strawberry plants don't have a dozen more larger berries (and many babies) ripening as I write!