Sunday, April 30, 2017

April 29, 2017-What happened to spring?

From April 16, 2017 to April 26, 2017 the high temperatures in Iowa City ranged from 59 to 80. Spring was in high season. The sun was shining.

On Thursday of this past week, I wore my winter coat. We had turned on the heat in the house. We are now in the middle of a weekend when the highs will be in the mid 40's and there will be rain.
It is not exactly the best weather to garden.
We even had a fire in the fireplace Saturday afternoon.

But it is great weather if you are a lupine.
You just always need to have some plant/flower that will like whatever the weather happens to be.

As for the rain, we actually needed some rain.
As for the cold, there is no snow here.
There are also no frost warnings for our part of Iowa.
It was 17 degrees in Estes Park, Colorado this morning.

In the garden we are approaching sort of an in between time. Most of the spring flowers, including the bluebells are finished or fading. It is not yet time for the colors of summer. In fact there is a lot of spent foliage at the moment, between the squill and aconite and the bluebells.
The hosta are exploding, in a good way. This is the time of year to consider which ones need to move a little.

But there is still color, with opportunities for pictures.  The little iris are blooming. The late spring bulbs have begun.  There is so much work to do.

As I put the finishing touches on this post I can hear the wind blowing. It is going to be another mostly inside day.

Last week's voting

What an interesting change in voting. Voting for two. Did you find that easier than voting for one? The most votes were for the Monsella tulip. It really was able to stop the most pedestrians the last several weeks.

I am reminded of the voting method recently selected by the State of Maine. They actually will do this for all their voting. It is called "rank choice voting". You can (but I assume you do not have to) vote for who you prefer, and in addition you select your second and third choices. If no one gets a majority then the lowest candidate gets eliminated and the second place votes from that candidate get distributed amount the rest. If there is still no majority the next lowest candidate is thrown out. I hope you get the picture. In the end someone gets a majority. For an explanation you can see this article.
In Maine this was designed so that some nut would not again be elected with 40% of the vote, when the other 60% clearly would have favored a nonnutty candidate. (I like the word "nonnut". )
So here is how your vote broke down last week on the blog.

Monsella tulip       13
DeCaen anemone  11
Epimedium      11
Daffodil           9
Yellow tulips   7
Dwarf Iris        5
Yellow fritillaria 4
Red and white tulip 2

This week's pictures

#1 Dwarf Iris Lime Pixie
This is one of the little iris I ordered last fall. It is a beauty.
Some of these little iris have wonderful color combinations.

#2 Rue Anemone
This is a little rue anemone. It is a wildflower that grows in the woods. I have been pleased that they come back quite well the next year, as long as they do not have something planted right on top of them.
They will then clump up in a few years. The picture of the clump is in the bonus section.

#3 Dogwood blossoms
I can't get enough pictures of these wonderful flowers.

This is an enlargement from a picture taken from about 30 feet. I still have not gotten out the ladder to photograph the flowers close up.

#4   Pulmonaria
also called lungwort.
I really like the color combination. The plant really is quite large. The full picture is in the bonus section.

#5 Euphorbia patterns.
Sometimes beauty can be found just in the patterns that you see,

#6  Tree peony rescued from the elements

This lovely tree peony would have preferred to bloom on the plant. A branch and the wind and rain had other ideas Saturday. I rescued the flower. It is now over our kitchen sink, the most visible place in the house. Once it came inside it started to open. What a glorious color.

That is all for this week. The rain and cold sort of closed the garden down these last few days.
Let's do that vote for two again. 

Bonus pictures

This is hosta Liberty. I could imagine an entire garden with just Liberty hostas.

Here is the group of Lime Pixies.

I like the colors on this flower. If it had not been in the voting last week I would have put it in this week.

I love the yellow and orange.

Trillium Grandiflorum.

The Rue anemone clump.

Note the colored straws. I use them to mark where I have special plants that may disappear by summer.
I really do not want to plant something right on top of them.

This clump is about 4 years old.

More little iris. Some are really quite little.

Sometimes the lack of color can be attractive.

Here is one of my lupine seedlings. It will likely not bloom this year, but will be ready to make a large clump with many flower spikes next year.
I love the water in the center of the leaf, just like a big diamond.

I enlarged this picture up because there are so many wonderful things to see. There is Liberty the hosta. To its right is my tree peony, with a white flower that will open with the first warm weather. Below that is one of the clumps of double bloodroot. Continuing around the circle there is that wonderful and very full pulmonaria.

Dogwood flowers.

A dance of 3 tulips in the cold and the rain.

Hosta patterns.

Say hello to the pink dogwood.

Julia's recipe this week

Philip and I lived on a farm with a bunch of other young folks in the 1970s, in rural Poweshiek County Iowa, down the road (Highway 6 and then gravel) from Grinnell College where we went to school. We were an earnest bunch, although not without our amusements and frivolities. Of course, we made and consumed granola. It was a thing. Then we grew up, as people do, and we communards all went our separate ways. Somewhere in the transition to adulthood we lost track of granola. Until some years later when Alton Brown (the Good Eats guy) reminded me about granola. And so I started making granola again, simpler than in earlier days, but very good. This recipe is largely A. Brown's recipe, and I am grateful to him for bringing it back. I am also grateful for his sock puppets.

Here is the assemblage of all of the components. I measured 6 cups of uncooked regular (not instant, not steel-cut, not thick) rolled oats in a big bowl. I added 3 cups of a combination of sliced raw almonds, raw cashew pieces and unsweetened coconut, If you only have sweetened coconut, go easy and reduce the brown sugar, which I will talk about below, or else your granola will be too sweet.

My mixture had more almonds than either cashews or coconut, because I had more almonds and I like almonds. If you don't like coconut or cashews, leave them out. If you don't like almonds, what's wrong with you? You can substitute walnuts or pecans - chop or break them up a bit because walnuts halves or pecans halves would be kind of big.

Here is the bowl with the oats and the nuts and the coconut. And I added to the mixture: 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Table salt would be fine. I then mixed these ingredients with my hands to make sure that any little brown sugar lumps broke up and were thoroughly mixed in.

This bowl is actually a big, wide earthenware crock used, I believe, in past times to let raw milk separate and cream rise. I have several which I use to mix big batches of dough or to make apple butter in the oven or to make granola.

After mixing these ingredients up by hand, I added 1/4 cup of coconut oil (which I measured in a chunk and then melted over low heat) and 1/4 cup of maple syrup, first measuring the melted coconut oil and then the maple syrup so that the oil would coat the measuring cup and the maple syrup would slide right out. I have coconut oil, which works well in granola. If you don't have coconut oil, use mild or unflavored vegetable oil - no olive oil here. I stirred up the whole thing with a big wooden spoon, to work in the wet ingredients. And it was ready for the oven. I had remembered to preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

I used two half-sheet pans with silpat type liners. You will want some kind of liner on the pan, and you will want the baking pans to have rims. If you have smaller pans, you'll need to used more pans. If you don't have silpats, use parchment.

I baked the pans in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, then I took the pans out, stirred the granola around, rotated the pans (top/bottom, front/back) and put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Your kitchen should start to smell granola-y. The granola should just be beginning to turn light brown. Do not overbake!

I let the granola cool in the pans for a while.

Then when the granola was cool enough to work with, I poured it back into the crock. Then I added about 1-1/2 cups of raisins and worked the raisins in with my hands.

If you don't like raisins, but you do like craisins, use craisins. Or dried blueberries or currants or maybe dried cherries. If you don't like dried fruit at all, then leave it out altogether. Your granola will be delicious.

It is surprisingly filling. I eat it as a cereal with milk. I know folks who eat it with yogurt. Sometimes folks just eat it by the handful. This recipe, including the raisins, made about 11 cups, enough for a bunch of breakfasts or snacks.

Odds and Ends

This amazing article and video were in the NY Times this week. It is about the desert blooming. Scroll down in the article until you find the video of all the cactus flowers opening using time lapse photography.

Since I was inside the house on Saturday afternoon due to the steady  rain,  I planted a tray of California poppy seeds. I could plant them outside but I do not know at the moment where I will put the plants.
I also moved my blackberry and candy lily seedlings into bigger pots.

The leaves have all come out on the trees this week. Actually there are still a few holdouts like the walnut trees and the some of the oak trees. This is important to me since I hang plants from the trees. I need a leaf cover before I can do that. Otherwise the plants will sunburn, if the sun ever shines.

I like to work on the blog in the early morning before it is light out. That is getting earlier each day.

Whatever eats the columbine this time of year has started eating them. It is rather disturbing. Rabbits was my first guess. If any of you have ideas let me know.

Even though it is cold out, I do believe we will get through most of April in Iowa City without a frost. The record keepers this year say the last frost was on April 7.
If you look around outside, it is amazing that it is still April.

Enjoy the week and the arrival of May.

1 comment:

JustGail said...

Thank you for the link to the NY Times article, esp. since I could read the whole thing and watch the video. Cactus at the Artic Circle!?!? Wow, I knew some can stand more cold that most of us realize, but did not know they could handle that much cold. It's sad that so many are poached for sale to landscapers.

Your garden is looking great!