Sunday, May 21, 2017

May 21, 2017- up and down, up and down

Hot. Cool. Rainy. We had a little bit of everything this week. I guess that is what these in between months are like.
Early in the week the temperatures spiked to almost 90. It was uncomfortable going out to the garden after work. I was reminded of those stretches in July-August where you just did not like to go outside at all.

Then some weather came through on Wednesday afternoon after work, knocking out the power to our part of town. Not having power makes it difficult to make home-made pizza, which was on the menu. We went out. The restaurant had power. Lots of people sat around looking at the radar on their cell phones.

On Friday, the high temperature was only in the mid 50's. We are wimps so we turned on the heat in the house.
Now, as I write this on Saturday, we have a steady but gentle rain.
Nothing in the garden needs watering. I have not had the hoses out since 2015. Amazing.

Here was the top vote getter last week. This is Iceland poppy yellow. As you will see this week, the Iceland poppies were only getting started.

In last week's voting here were the results
Yellow Iceland Poppy  15
Orange Iceland Poppy  12
Allium Fireworks   9
Little stars   7
Water on Hosta   6
Amaryllis   1
Tall Bearded Iris   1

This week's pictures

Here are pictures this week I really liked. You can vote for two. I do that for at least two reasons. First I have more than 4 pictures. Second I want it to be a little different than the winter contest.
As I said several weeks ago all these pictures have come in this last week. That is why there is more than one Iceland poppy.

#1 Pink Lupine
The lupines started blooming this week. I only have 4-5 blooming sized plants this year. I have about 15 seedlings. If they can make it through the heat of the summer next spring should be really good.

#2 White Iceland Poppy #1
There are a couple of knock-your-socks-off pictures this week. I will let you be the judge of your socks.
I expect Iceland poppies will be well represented in the next winter contest. I really like the black background and the waving white petals.
I wish I understood how and why I get the black background.

#3 Peach Iceland Poppy
I have three basic colors of these Iceland poppies. White. Yellow. and Red/orange. Then some are white with a little color. This is almost peach.

With the steady rain some of these little poppies get beaten down.

They are so delicate.

#4 Deep purple Siberian Iris. After all that pastel in the Iceland world this deep purple is really striking.
I believe the variety is Jeweled Crown.  While it looks a little like the regular tall purple iris, if you look at this flower you just think it has extra chromosomes.

#5 White Iceland poppy #2
I had to include another white Iceland poppy. I do have two socks. This picture is not the same flower as White Iceland poppy #1.

The first picture was almost straight on. This off center photograph is attractive in a different way. Please see the enlarged picture of this in the bonus section. As I have said before, I sometimes have a difficult time deciding which picture is best.

#6 Columbine called Winky
I do not make the names up.
We continue to have rabbit problems with the columbine. I guess it is rabbits. Something is eating them and only them. It mostly leaves the flowers alone. Maybe they are too high up. I guess columbine foliage must taste good, and taste different from the other plants.

#7 Gas plant
Its more formal name is Dictamnus.
It is called Gas plant because in the summer it is flammable, with a whoosh. (Most plants are not.)
More pictures of this plant appear in the bonus section.

Bonus Pictures

After the petals start to drop you can get some good pictures. This picture has the flower that is finished next to the bud that will bloom.

You can see the theme here. This is not the same flower but it is also an Iceland poppy.

Chaos come to mind.
This picture is how I feel some mornings.

Here is another side by side shot. The one on the right is the spent flower, on its way to becoming a seed pod.
For the moment I am deadheading to encourage more flowers.

Here are more Stars of Bethlehem.

I have started taking the orchids outside. They really do prefer the wind and rain to being stuck away in some corner of the house. This is particularly true this time of year as I sometime forget about the plants left in the house.
This is cymbidium Yellow Elf.
I have had the plant for 8-9 years. When it has bloomed, it always blooms in the fall. I noticed the spike 2-3 weeks ago, while it was still inside. Now that it is blooming I have noticed two more spikes coming.
Sometimes there are just plant mysteries. Sometimes there are just plant surprises.
Some are good. Some not so much.
It is a mystery why this plant would decide to bloom at this time of year. It is a good surprise.

Here are several phalanopsis that are enjoying the outside.

Another phalanopsis.

This is a little Siberian Iris. It was a gift maybe 15 years ago. It is still appreciated. Thank you Kathy.

Here is the gas plant, at different stages of enlargement. I have always liked this plant. I find it slow to grow. I should buy some friends and make a play group. I have seen one neighbor with a clump of two different colors of this plant. That is nice.

Now it is time for more Iceland poppies. You might want to sit down. They are rather amazing.

These are all different flowers. These are the closeups.

There can be no more socks. They have all been knocked off.
This is the closeup up of one of the white Iceland poppies.

I would really like to get a 12x18 picture of this, maybe with a black background.

Here you can see the very center, with all those hundreds of stamen. No wonder there are so very many seeds in one pod.

Julia's recipe
Rhubarb Crisp, or Rhubarb part II

I have already talked about my fondness for rhubarb and its seasonality. So here we are in high rhubarb season, and I decided to make rhubarb crisp. This is a cousin of apple crisp, a recipe from last fall and is also very tasty.

I started by washing and cutting the ends off a bunch of rhubarb. I had 6 good-sized stalks which were about 16" long after trimming. I sliced the rhubarb into 1/4" slices. One really can't chop rhubarb because of the string-y part on the outside of the stalks. At least I can't. Maybe if I had a really sharp knife. So I sliced and ended up with about 5 cups of rhubarb which I put into an un-lubed 8" x 8" pan. I don't know why one does not lube up a pan to make crisp. One of the mysteries of the universe.

A pile of 1/4" rhubarb pieces. I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. It has been cold here for the last 48 hours so the heat from the oven was just fine.

Here is the rhubarb in the pan, at which point I sprinkled it with 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. Salt makes things taste more like themselves. Or maybe taste brighter. Better, at any rate. Just a bit of salt.

Then I mixed together 3/4 cup of flour, 1-1/4 cup of white sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and another 1/4 teaspoon of salt. I cut 1/3 cup of butter into little pieces and added that, then used a pastry cutter to work the butter in until the butter was in little bits.

After the topping was done, I poured 1/4 cup of orange juice over the rhubarb, sprinkled the topping on and baked it for 50 minutes.

And here it is 50 minutes later, bubbling around the edges and nicely done. Serve it as is or with ice cream.

A bonus: say you find yourself with some extra rhubarb. Cut it into 3/4" to 1" pieces. If you have 4 cups, put the rhubarb in a saucepan with 1/3 cup of water, a pinch of salt and about 3/4 cup of sugar. If you have more cut up rhubarb than that (or less), do some math to figure out how much water and sugar you need. Always a pinch of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for 20 or 30 minutes (keeping an eye on it so it doesn't boil away to nothing and burn), until the rhubarb has completely given up and lost all bodily integrity. This is rhubarb sauce. Great with plain yogurt or over ice cream or all by itself. Happy rhubarb season.

Odds and ends

It is peony time. I get tired of going around town and seeing big peony plants with their flowers knocked down to the ground by the rain. Peonies were developed for the cut flower market a hundred years ago. The plants were not designed to hold the heavy flowers. They would get cut while still in bud. In that condition they can last for months.
If you have some of these great plants, please pick them for the table. I understand if you let them sit on your porch the ants will mostly disembark. (I know this is an advertisement for bringing them inside.)

Peony singles are another matter entirely. Most of the plants around town have those big double flowers. Project Green has been doing the landscaping of Ashton House, the place down by the river, off Normandy Drive. They have planted a whole bunch of single peonies that are blooming right now. They were standing up late in the afternoon, despite the steady rain for much of the day.

The caladium are not really going yet. About 8 pots out of 70 are up. The ones that are up are all white. I should try one of those heat mats under one tray of the rest.
I thought about throwing most of them outside earlier in the week. Then I looked at the forecast. It doesn't look like the 80's will be back for a while.

Almost all of the orchid cacti are out in the trees. Many have buds. They would probably like the hotter weather.

The hosta are really amazing at the moment. They really dominate my garden. Some are so big. I will work on my top ten list and maybe feature it next week.

Have a safe week.


Pat said...

I tried to vote for the gas plant but my vote failed to register. I've always loved gas plant. When we lived in CT we found that we had to plant a bunch of 5 or 6 to get a really satisfying crop of blooms.

philip Mears said...

I do believe that your vote counted. There is just a delay in it registering.
I will do a test vote and let you know.

philip Mears said...

I did the test. The vote registered after I closed the site.