Spring is really here.
We passed the 12 hour mark for sunshine in the last few days. (I always thought that was on March 21. What do I know?)
And there has been sunshine.
It has been rather glorious the last 2 days, particularly after the dusting of snow earlier in the week.
The early spring bulbs have been blooming for a while.
The 11 degree temperatures on Wednesday night toasted a few little flowers. Mostly everything else is fine.
I cannot say enough about the aconite. I transplant a few to new places in the garden every day.
Here is what the flower looks like. There must be thousands of the little seedlings of this flower coming up all over the place.
Imagine a carpet of these little flowers. Once they are planted they coexist with perennials like hosta. The hosta have not thought about emerging yet. The aconite can crowd right up to the hosta's base.
They can also coexist with bluebells, which will be a second carpet in a month. Essentially the aconite will be all done in a month. They will disappear until next early spring.
Gardening is all about sequences.
In last week's voting you picked the cactus to move into the finals. The Columbine was just nosed out. I keep waiting for that one vote to come in the last few days that would yield a tie vote. But no. We had a winner.
The final voting was
Red Coneflower 5
This picture was taken on September 17.
This picture was taken on July 28.
This picture was taken on July 1.
You make the pick.
They are really all winners.
This amaryllis decided it was time to bloom.
The yellow crocuses are one of the early bright colorful ones.
This crocuses shows you its wonderful subtile color.
These aconite have jumped the fence trying to capture the path. This year it was hard to hold them back in places.
This is a yellow hellebore just about ready to bloom.
Purple is good.
Here you have a stripped crocus in with the many generations of aconite.
Almost every day you can wander around and find something new. Here is a little lupine plant bursting forth.
Our old friend Laura came for a visit last weekend, with her family, and so I made no-knead light rolls, so named in the Joy of Cooking. I have made these rolls on all festive occasions for many years, all the way back to our collective days in the farmhouse in rural Poweshiek County. I think what first attracted me to the recipe was the no-knead part. My grandmother (who was still with us in the Poweshiek County era, and who had opinions) thought that I suffered from a tight fist. This meant that I did not have a good feel for yeast dough, and it was a sad thing. No-knead light rolls worked anyway, and gradually I got better at bread-baking of all kinds. Whew.
I made a double-batch of rolls (what with company coming), and this recipe can be halved for about 18-24 rolls or doubled for about 72-90 rolls. On several occasions, I have doubled again for 150-200 rolls. But I digress,
I started by putting 1/2 cup of hot water from the tap into a 2-cup measure, along with 2 tablespoons of yeast and 1/4 teaspoon of sugar. I buy dry regular yeast from the Stringtown Grocery in bulk and keep it in the refrigerator in a jar. You can use 2 of those little yeast packets from the grocery store. I do not use instant yeast, as I am old-fashioned and I am not sure how it works. The little bit of sugar is to encourage the yeast to start bubbling, which it should do over the space of 5 to 10 minutes. Don't use boiling water which will kill the yeast or cold water which will permit the yeast to continue sleeping. Warm tap water.
Then I rounded up all of the accumulated scraps and made rolls from them. The scraps were a bit easier to work with as they were not sticky. But it was the same process - pat the dough into an oblong shape, about 1/4-1/2" thick, cut out circles, fold them in half, place on cookie sheets. I let the rolls rise on the cookie sheets (under tea towels) for about 30 minutes. By the time the last rolls have been formed, the first ones had risen and were ready to bake. I baked them in the 425 degree oven for about 12 to 15 minutes. I often bake two sheets at once, and flip them around (top to bottom, front to back) half-way through baking.
Here is a picture of rolls in the oven. Pizza pans work just fine if you are short of cookie sheets. We were in the middle of doing a very large jigsaw puzzle at the time I made these rolls, and some of the cookie sheets had been pressed into service in that project.
These rolls are very light. You can put butter or jelly on them. Or use them to make little sandwiches. Or you can just eat them warm from the oven. As an extra bonus, your house will smell wonderful while the rolls are baking and thereafter.
If you have more rolls than you can eat, they freeze well in a plastic bag. I reheat them by putting them in a 9x13 pan with a little oven-safe dish half full of water. Then I cover the pan (containing the frozen rolls and the little dish with water) with aluminum foil and heat the pan in a 300 degree oven for maybe 15 minutes. The rolls are ready when they are warm and smell good. They will be a bit less soft and pillowy (if that is a word) than originally but still very good indeed.
It is the time of year when I can start potting plants, perhaps for a spring sale. Yesterday I started with the first bluebells. If you dig them when they first emerge from the ground they will transplant into pots without much difficulty. Bluebells grow from roots, that look much like carrots. The bulb can be 5-6 inches long with an established plant.
You can place your orders now. They are $3/each. I will plan on having maybe 50 for sale.
I think I may pot some hellebores this year.
Potting is one way to keep plants under control.
Some clumps just get bigger. Taking chunks from all around the outside controls the size of the clump.
I just planted my replacement double bloodroots. They were marvelous replacements from Joe Pye Weed Garden in Massachusetts. They were enough for clumps in three places in the garden. One is down by the curb on Fairview, all the better for your viewing pleasure.
There are weeds already. It is a good time to dig a few. I do have to be careful for the next month as you do not always remember where those late arriving perennials live.
That's it for this week.
I will look for the first daffodil in the garden this next week.