Garden Friday–Summer’s Stars

Montbrecia - Guenette photo

Dirty hands, iced tea, garden fragrances thick in the air and a blanket of colour before me. Who could ask for more? (Bev Adams – Mountain Gardening.)

Our garden star this week is Montbrecia. We were given bulbs for this plant a few years ago and had retained no memory of what it was or how it would bloom. (Though I’m sure we were told.) Last year, these amazing fronds appeared drooping with gorgeous, flute-shaped, brilliant, orangey-red blossoms. This summer, the plant is even more of a show-off. The hummingbirds are in love with it and the whole patch is like a war zone as the buzzing little creatures zoom in and out.

I resolved to find out what the heck we had growing out by our bean trellis. Many thanks to Maggie Flostrand. She gave us the bulbs as well as reminding me of the name. Lovely in flower arrangements but invasive. Her words – I was always very brutal with keeping them cut back. Lucky for us, we have the space to push bits and pieces of invasive plants to the edges. Point in fact – our hearty little (so far) patch of bamboo growing on the cliff.

And here’s another tidbit that I picked up from a Facebook contact. Montbrecia is considered quite a pest in Australia. Maybe their version of Broom? Thus proving the point that any blooming thing can take on weed status when it grows where it shouldn’t.

pattypan squash

Sharing the spotlight with the Montbrecia, is the Patty Pan squash. (I got this picture from Google because we ate ours too fast to photograph.) These little summer squash had Bruce and I reflecting and lamenting on lost gardening knowledge. We have one plant that is filled with patty pans. A few had fallen off and we wondered if they could be eaten that small. Going off to trusty old Google, I discovered that one is supposed to pick Patty Pan Squash when it is between one to four inches in diameter or in other words – small. Dah … our parents and grandparents would have been well aware of how to deal with this colourful vegetable. Thank you Grandma Google.

Last night we had steamed Patty Pan Squash with butter and fresh, chopped basil. In a word – delicious.

Yearlling bear - Guenette photo

And, of course, what would a Friday garden blog be without a picture of our regular visitor. She (arbitrary gender assignment since I referred to last year’s bear as he) is a newly independent bear, fairly small and innocent looking, but still managed to tromp on a small rhodo the other day in her relentless pursuit of salal berries. Wow betide us when the blackberries and apples ripen.

17 comments on “Garden Friday–Summer’s Stars

  1. Yum! The squash sounds delicious, Fran. What a great photo of your “regular visitor.” I think you need to give her a name.

    • Lacking imagination (when it comes to wildlife names), I may go with Billy Jean as our other bear was named Billy Bob. The squash was great – we are avidly waiting for the next batch of little gems.

  2. I love that bear! I have never seen one in person.

    • Some summers, I want to be able to say the same as checking windows and perimeter before going outside gets tedious. But it is something to see bears in their natural habitat (and we always remember, we are parked in their backyard not vice versa).

  3. evelynralph says:

    Montbrecia, as soon as I saw the photograph. BeAr, in the garden?!!!
    Will read ll soon.
    Evelyn

  4. evelynralph says:

    Reblogged this on evelynralph and commented:
    Wonderful Montbrecia and a garden bear!
    Evelyn

    • Thanks for the reblog. I caught the comma castigation comments on Facebook – how is that for alliteration 🙂 I don’t treat blogging the way I would a manuscript for publication but perhaps I should. One way or the other, commas are always getting misplaced, aren’t they?

  5. Those are beautiful flowers, Fran. And I’m slightly jealous of your visitor! I’ve never seen a bear and thought I’d catch a glimpse of one when we were in Yellowstone last year. But, alas, no. Squash sounds delicious!

  6. Gallivanta says:

    Montbrecia is pesky here, too, even though it is very pretty. Is the bear willing to share the salal berries with you?

    • Salal berries have a very unique taste – hard to describe. Sort of pasty almost. The natives in this area would make a dessert treat (consistency of ice cream) by beating some type of fat with salal berries until smooth and thick. It is the high calorie content of the berries that the bears are crazy about. They seldom bother anything else in the garden because they are so crazy for the salal berries which grow in such abundance all around the place. We actually use that love to our advantage by attempting to clear the bushes away from where we garden. But since salal is totally indigenous to this area, it is hard to be rid of.

  7. Behind the Story says:

    I’ve seen Patti Pan squash in the market but have never known its name or tasted it. I like the idea of a small squash. And I’ve seen Montbrecia but never heard the name. I hope you and the bear can live in harmony.

    • I was calling these squash sunburst because I didn’t know the proper name. Last year we had a plant and we let the three or four squash it produced get about the size of a small pumpkin before picking them. They were woody and not so great. Now we are on the right track. The bear and I live in great harmony because I always yield the right of way. If a bear is out and about, I stay on the upper deck or inside and enjoy the view.

  8. Debra says:

    I’m not familiar with Montbrecia at all, Francis, but it is so striking! Everything about your garden is very appealing to me, including your little visitor! I don’t think I’d know how to go about my business if she were too close by, but I’d be fascinated. And if there is some garden damage I’d say the responsibility falls to you. If you didn’t have such a beautiful and welcoming garden she wouldn’t be interested! 🙂

    • And there in lies the secret to gardening in the wilderness – our garden fits in. The bears are mostly interested in the outlying salal – for the berries and the convenient coverage – and as long as they have that, they don’t venture too close to the actual garden structures. But this is our first year to grow thornless blackberries so close to the rest of the garden and that might prove to be a mistake. We’ll see. I just commented on how I achieve harmony with the bears – yielding the right of way. I do not go out and about when a bear is around – period. They pass through and then I go outside. Careful observation is key.

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