Thursday, April 24, 2014

April Showers bring a case of the soggies.

Welcome back to another fine spring episode of lost in the farmer’s market where we seek out the great truths of urban farming and present them here for your beneficial usage. As you might figure we have a lot going on this week in Fayetteville as we are rapidly approaching the dogwood festival and as such it’s a heavier than average week for yours truly. Today’s episode will feature an abbreviated discussion about color in plants and an equally abbreviated Market list since the list has to cover more than one market day.
Color is often one of those things that acts as a criminal accessory to impulse buying. We know that with the right colors in the land scape you can causes more whiplash injuries then a spontaneous topless carwash. The fact is we live on color, our perception of it literally colors our lives and the way we see true color sets humankind in apart the rest of the animal kingdom. So of course I have to unravel one thing those of you out there who read this may not realize, colors can lie too. Take for instance the presence of the color black in terms of plants. Typically we associate the color as a desirable trait in a flower, as tulip mania and some of the latest orchid breeds will attest. Likewise true blues in some species are very hard to come by, and attaining such a color for instance in the rose family is somewhat of a holy grail. The question is, is that bloom really the color we think or is it so close we refuse to see the truth? To prove that colors can lie I bring to you the first example down below.

 [Picture coming soon, original turned out to be blurred]

Petunia  - ‘Crazytunias’ Black Mamba 

Now that’s a nice petunia isn’t it? This series of petunias came in several varied colors and bicolor blends yet this was most striking. A black petunia is something to see as the foliage is that usual medium green, the foliate is still a bit sticky as is the norm for the petunia family and yet these large flowers…would they even still attract pollinators? I mean pollinators go by color too don’t they? The answer is yes and no in that order, pollinators will still find the flower regardless of color because they do not expressly rely on sight. Additionally even if they did most fo them will probably perceive the flower in a differing color then we do. This is of course where our eyes lie to us consider a picture of the same flower but this time with the camera’s flash turned on to reveal more color information

Petunia  - ‘Crazytunias’ Black Mamba  (Flash On)

            Yep, and there it is, the flower isn’t actually black at all, in fact it is an incredibly dark purple that really is only perceptible up close or with sufficient illumination. How about that, your eyes just fooled you. Not that it matters because the real truth is that there is no true black in the living members of the plant kingdom, which in turn makes say the search to produce a black orchid or tulip really just a sort of long term hoax. Yet we as gardeners fall for these sorts of color-frenzies all the time. Upon closer examination you might find whites aren’t strictly white, either which throws the other end of the spectrum out of whack. In fact one could say that there is no black and white in the plant kingdom but rather a spectrum of hues in between covering what we can perceive. Or in a nutshell something like this petunia below…all at once.

Crazytunia? Youbetcha!

There is always the option of setting your own illusion, rigging things to fool the casual passerby that yes you have plants in impossible hues. The method behind this is simply to combine textures and color contrasts to strengthen those primary perception colors into the illusion of being a pure color. Going from rough to fine foliage textures with some intermediate foliage can also strengthen the effect and further improve the overall presentation. Take the example of two plants growing side-by-side in my own test gardens as pictured below.

Black Fennel & Common Sage – Foeniculum vulgare purpurea / Salvia officinalis

The sage is a silvery-grey color that can pass for white to the casual observer, while the fennel as lush as it is appears to be a black mist of foliage. The Rhubarb in the background serves as a “normal” green to counter the other two plants.  The overall effect is that as you can see the sage practically glows in full sun while the fennel serves as a background to enhance the effect. I might add on the botanical side, the sage is more comfortable in a colder climate and it tends to get too humid for sage here in the Carolinas. The fennel is acting as a partial shade for the sage so that it gets less heat. The sage is actively keeping competitors from coming up beneath the fennel and so we have coincidental companion planting. So in short sometimes bringing out the color in your planet selection isn’t as much the actual color of the plants but how you place them with their neighbors that can sell the effect both physically and psychologically.

So with our short topic covered and considered it’s time to talk market, As you well know this weekend is that of the dogwood festival and as part of somehow the event organizers wrangled the Marshal Tucker Band for our Fayetteville Festivities. Downtown Fayetteville will be a hyper ultra-crazy madhouse on Friday and Saturday. If you’re planning to go get moving early, and in that light we will be present for Fourth Friday this month in the usual spot from 4:00 pm until 9:00 pm. Yeah that’s right selling plants by flashlight! We also will be present on Saturday morning between the hours of 9:00 am and 1:00 pm.  All of this is at the Fayetteville Transportation Museum on 325 Franklin Street in downtown Fayetteville. Contrary to normal procedure I will not be posting a detailed plant list because of the two sale day’s back-to back. Also as some of you have just found out I will have a Wednesday Market presence at the city market for now and at the end of May in the FSU market, more on that as time passes pending research. Without further ado here is the plant list for Friday and Saturday.

Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening ($25.00 & signed)

Asparagus, Gallon pot ($6.00)
Bloody Dock, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Eggplant, Casper , 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Pepper, Sweet Banana , 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Pepper, Pimento, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Pepper, Habanero, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Tomato, Tlacolula, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Tomato, Brown Berry, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Tomato, Blue Berries, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Tomato, Amana Orange, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Tomato, Black Krim, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Tomato, Paul Robeson, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Tomato, Hillbilly Potato Leaf, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Tomato, Cherokee Purple, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Strawberry- Ozark Beauty, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Strawberry- Ozark Beauty, 36” pot ($4.00)

Angelica, 6” pot ($4.00)
Basil-Sweet, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Basil-Thai, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Borage, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Horehound, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Hyssop-White, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Lamb’s Ear, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Marjoram, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Oregano, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Oregano, Bristol Cross, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Sage, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
Tansy, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Well, this brings to a close our last episode of April 2014, although it is a compact episode I hope it got you thinking about both the topic and some of your garden choices. As a final thought…if April showers bring may flowers….what’s all this colorful stuff in my yard brought from March showers? As always folks Keep ‘em growing!

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