How can I list these "bests" in some order? How about a top ten list?
There are flowers everywhere.
A lot of them are blue.
There are no bugs.
There are not many weeds.
There is so much to anticipate. (baby tree peonies)
There is plenty of time after work to play outside.
All the garden paths have been refreshed with new wood chips.
There is no frost in the forecast.
I can start taking plants outside.
The woods are coming alive with spring wildflowers.
My replacement double bloodroot is coming up, in all 3 locations.
I know. I know. That is more than 10. (Did you count?) That is how good it is.
In last week's team competition team yellow won.
The full voting was
#1 Purple wind flowers
#2 Yellow hellebore
#3 Star magnolia
I really like the white against the blue background. There are not many flowers where that is possible.
#4 Little white trillium
I just got this little guy this spring and here he is. He has 5-6 friends. I love trillium.
#5 Single Bloodroot
This bloomed in our front parkway yesterday. It does not last long.
Here I am, early on Friday morning. The early sun on such a crisp morning (32 degrees) was magical. It was so very bright with that early light, perhaps because it comes in at such an angle.
Here are the back yard paths all cleaned up.
Here are more squill or scilla. The squill have had a better spring than I can ever remember. Part of that is that it has been in a 45 degree stasis for the last ten days or so.
All over town there are lawns that are blue. The ravines by the law school, just west of Riverside Drive, are blue.
Squill spreads. It flows.
Early in the spring you can see many little sprouts which will be squill.
I actually just found this little feature I can use for my pictures.
Here is one of my favorites in the garden, all year. It is a lupine sprout. I have reached the critical mass with lupines in this one part of the yard. While I find the plants to last only a few years, they do self seed. I have to be very careful in the spring where I weed.
Here is a mature lupine. I love how the dew makes jewels in the center of the leaf group.
These windflowers did make a large clump over time. Since they will disappear by June you do have to remember where they are and not plant something in the very middle of the clump.
Here is a nice white hellebore. You could actually hear the bees when you are close to some of the hellebore clumps.
How warm was the winter? This kale was planted last July from seed. It made it through the winter. Unfortunately it is right in the middle of the the Louisiana Iris bed.
Here is another nice trillium.
We have had nice orchids at the office this last month since we brought some back from Chicago.
Another orchid from the office. Connie gets the thanks for taking the pictures with her phone.
Here is Julia's recipe this week. I did just post an index for all of her recipes.
One way you can get to that post is to just scroll down below this post.
I started by cutting up one stick (that's 1/2 cup) of butter and dumping it into the bowl of my stand mixer (the other handy tool). Then I measured 1/2 cup of shortening in the tube and dumped it in. Then I measured 1 cup of peanut butter in the tube and added that. I mixed the butter, shortening and peanut butter until they were blended.
Next I added about 3 to 3-1/2 cups of King Arthur gluten-free flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Somewhere in the middle of the flour additions, I added 1-1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of regular (not kosher) salt. I kept adding flour because I wanted the dough to be substantial. Robust even. I may have added about 3-1/4 cups. I was not being as precise as one would like.
I took it off the paddle (the mixing attachment) and rolled out and cut 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Parchment paper or waxed paper or aluminum foil would be fine. I scooped about one-half of the dough onto each piece of wrap, patted the dough into a round shape, sealed each little packet up and put them in the refrigerator for about an hour, to firm up.
Two pictures of me cross-hatching cookies.
I baked 2 pans of cookies at a time, setting the timer for 6 minutes. After 6 minutes, I rotated the cookie sheets, front to back and top to bottom.
After 12 minutes, I took them out and let them cool for about 5 minutes on the pans so they would set completely. Then I moved them to cooling racks.
I plan on mailing some cookies to a couple of gluten-phobic relatives. I certainly hope no one has peanut issues.
Speaking of peanuts, I used organic peanut butter. It worked but it was more work, because of course the oil had all floated to the top and had to be stirred back in. Stirring is not quite the right word. Less virtuous grocery store peanut butter is a good choice.
If you are not gluten-phobic, you can make these cookies with all purpose flour. You will use less flour. Probably something like 2-1/2 or 2-3/4 cups. Techniques are all the same. Product is a bit more tender. The gluten-free version is crisper than the AP flour version. And I would advise (especially for the gluten-free version) using both shortening and butter, although you may be tempted to use all butter. Butter makes cookies crisp; shortening makes cookies soft. (Try making batches of chocolate chip cookies with all butter and then with all shortening and you will see what I mean). Since gluten-free flour seems to have the effect of making these cookies crisper than usual, I would advise against all butter as I think it would make the cookies even flatter and crisper, which would be okay but not peanut butter cookies as we know them.
And by the way, if you are tempted to use almond butter instead of peanut butter, don't bother. Almond butter is not strongly flavored enough to carry the dough (or the day) and the resulting cookies are blah. Take it from me; I tried it. Happy baking.
My caladium arrived on Saturday. Ron and I got 2/3 of the 75 potted by the end of the day. They will not break dormancy until the soil temperature is 70 degrees. Sometimes that can be in June in Iowa.
So they go in pots and come inside. Actually they might spend a few warm says outside.
Here is the first primrose to bloom. Primroses are in the group of "you can't have too many".
I will have to get some of those primroses with the vivid colors that appear at the grocery stores in January. I do not find the hardy but they last a few months.
Daffodils mostly are as not splashy as some other spring flowers.
They are cheerful.
Here is the clump of the little trillium, pusillium 'Roadrunner' developed by the people at Joe Pye Weed's garden. I got several really nice plants this spring from them. They are in Massachusetts. They specialize in Iris.
It has been a busy weekend. Spring just accelerated a bunch. I expect the flowering trees to be blooming almost immediately. I am glad that the stiffness at the end of the day mostly disappears the next morning.
Come by and see us some time.
Philip and Julia