Sunday, June 25, 2017

It is now Summer, June 25, 2017

Check your watch.
Summer is here.
Right on schedule, Saturday morning I needed to put on a jacket to go out to the garden at 6am. For the next few days the temperatures are in the lower 50's in the early morning, and 70's during the day. "Springlike" was the word used by the weather people. "Perfect" is the term used by the rest of us.

In Iowa we are used to swings in the weather. It is hot one day. Cold the next. I guess that is better than being hot one day, and hot the next day too.

Summer also means the garden is going into overdrive. It helped to have had some rain last week. The backyard hose is spread out across the backyard paths, sort of as a warning.

I think we may have had some new visitors to this cite last week. Viewership as measured somehow was way up. Welcome to anyone who has not been here before. I would like to think we have some fun and there are some nice pictures.
In the winter we have a full blown contest as a way to get through the long winter. For the rest of the year I give you pictures, and those of you who want to keep voting, can do so.
Voting is certainly optional but is appreciated. So are comments. There is a place for comments, which we all can read, at the end of each post. I do like to know what you think about any of this.
For almost the last year we have had a weekly recipe included. Julia  is the person to thank for those recipes. She often tries to feature food that is available locally, such as the wonderful Farmer's Marker in Iowa City.

For old and new visitors I call your attention to the archive feature of the blog. There are blog entries going back to July 2007. There was a particularly good post just one year ago, the end of June, 2016. That will show up if you go to June, 2016 spot in the archive. The garden was just about where it is now. There was a day by day show, featuring some of the gems of the summer garden.

Last week's voting

The top vote getter was Japanese Iris #2. Amidst the many flowers at this time of year the Japanese Iris seem to have the most  "oh wow" flowers. Some are at lease two feet tall.

The vote totals were
Japanese Iris #2   9
Coneflower          7
Red Poppy           6
Coconut orchid    5
White poppy        3
Japanese Iris #1    2
White orchid        1

Here are pictures from this past week in the garden.

#1 White waterlily
The waterlilies are starting. The foliage is taller than usual. That means that some of the flowers just peak out.

#2 Pink Waterlily

For whatever reason there was an unusual amount of foliage this year. That meant the flowers are kind of under the leaves.

#3 Annual ascelpias

Here is this wonderful combination of red and yellow. I liked this picture as it had the opened flowers and the buds. I am hoping these great colors will last until frost.

#4 Yellow Orchid cactus
Sometimes I have to make the pictures bigger so you can see the details. This is one of those pictures.
The orchid cactus have been blooming the last few weeks. It has mostly been one at a time.
The light was just right for this picture.

#5 Japanese Iris
A picture does not capture just how big and tall these plants are. I am really going to make the effort to feed them and make them into big clumps.

#6 Pink Orchid cactus
OK OK another big picture comes your way. And I know that is unfair competition.
This flower is one of those which stands out across the yard.
Did you remember that orchid cacti are related to the Christmas cactus we see all the time in the winter.

#7 Margaret Seawright- the daylily
This is one of my favorite daylilies. It is one of the rare daylily for me in that I actually got two of the plants originally.

That is it for the voting choices. All these pictures came from this week in the garden. Stop by when you have a change. It is another one of those times when I say it cannot get any better.

Unlike the winter contest you can vote for two.

Bonus Pictures

Daises are a nice contrast to the riot of color elsewhere at this time.
The clump in the back is really too big. If anyone would like some daisies let me know.

This very nice smaller yellow yellow cactus is newer than the rest.
It is not in last year's class. I bought about 10 new ones then. They all may still be a year away from blooming. I will soon need more sky hooks.

This is an Asiatic lily. They really have been spectacular around town this year. You drive by some and say to yourself for the tenth time this month, I should get more of those for next year.

The buds are starting to form on the cactus.

Here are more cactus shots from a different angle. From behind it is really nice.

I needed to recruit Maggie so you could see how tall this one oriental lily is/will be. It must be between 7-8 feet tall.

This is a very old daylily for the garden. I think the name is Tangerine Ice. It was one of the first ones we got, maybe about 1990. We would all go to Fred McDowell's wonderful daylily garden on Court Street. Each member of the family would get to pick one out. He had thousands and would sell them in the fall. That would be one way to control the size of the plants.

Here is a little phalanopsis. I have really been pleased with the number of blooming orchids this summer.

Cherry Pie
by Julia Mears

I was going to make strawberry shortcake last Saturday, but as we walked through the farmer's market on Saturday morning, one of the vendors had sour (pie) cherries, so there was a menu change. Cherry pie is about the best pie there is, in my opinion. Certainly the best fruit pie, although I am fond of rhubarb and strawberry rhubarb. But there's something special about cherry pie. It is more work, but it's worth it.

We bought two pint-ish boxes of cherries, which looked a bit light so we decided to make an 8" pie. Step one was to get hold of an 8" unbaked pie shell. Philip made me one using a recipe from Martha Stewart that is all butter (no shortening) and ice water and is made in the food processor. He makes a fine pie crust. Get someone to make you one or make it yourself or buy one pre-made. No shame in that.

Then I pulled out my grandmother's cherry pitter, the antique crank device to the right. I am sure she did not bring this from Europe on the boat - for one thing the patent info. is in English, but I am also sure she acquired it sometime in the early 1930s probably second-hand. It's old. But it works pretty well. One rolls the cherries into a little cavity and turns the crank and a sharp thing stabs out the pit and then both the cherry and the pit fall into the bowl below. Philip helped by separating pits from cherries. And we did a pretty good job - we encountered only two pits in the entire pie. But this does raise a note of caution - a cherry pit can do damage if you bite down unawares. Be careful.

The pie crust part and the cherry pitting part were the most work, and I did not even do the pie crust. The rest was easy. I mixed 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water, whisking until it was smooth. Then I mixed 1 cup of sugar in with the cornstarch and water.

At right is a food joke. The bigger red things are cherry tomatoes.

I gently stirred the cherries into the sugar-cornstarch-water mixture, and added a bit of almond extract. Just a few drops. And a tiny pinch of salt.

Pie filling getting introduced to pie shell.

As you can see, the filling (about 3 cups) filled the 8" pie shell nicely. I baked the pie in a 375 degree oven for about an hour. I always bake pies on a rimmed pan with a silpat thing underneath.

I do not do top crusts on pies, as I think they are a distraction from the filling.

It takes longer to bake a fruit pie than you'd think. Really it is about an hour. By the time the pie is done, the edge crust will be golden brown and the pie filling will be bubbly. As the pie cools, it will firm up nicely and you will be able to cut it (when cooled) into nice wedges. Some serve cherry pie with ice cream. I think it is not needed.

Please note that the non-gluten community can have this nice pie so long as a non-gluten pie shell is obtained. The thickening is cornstarch, which is not a problem. If you do not have a cherry pitter or do not want to do that work, buy frozen pitted sour (not sweet!) cherries. You can have a lovely pie with hardly any fuss at all.

Odds and Ends
Amidst all the color and the daylilies that are just starting, the caladium are about to take their place in the summer garden. I got about 80 of these tender bulbs wholesale this spring and will sprinkle them around the garden for color. They do well in shady places, and will provide that color until October.
This year they are very slow to grow as it has been cooler than usual. The instructions say the bulbs will not break dormancy until the soil temperature gets to 70 degrees.
I get them in April and start them inside.
I actually still have maybe 15 that have not  come up.
I hope to have pictures next week.

The daylilies have started. I forget each year the time it takes to deadhead the spent flowers each morning.

On the lookout: I have these orchid cactus that hang in the trees. They get very big, and heavy. I need heavy duty hanging baskets, preferably with metal hangers. Ideally I would like just the metal hangers. I have enough hanging baskets. I cannot find any of the metal hangers locally. If anyone knows of a source let me know.

I am redoing a bed by the walnut tree in the front yard. This is the first time for that bed in a long time, if ever. Mostly I just plant things.
It really is a good idea to reset a bed every 10 years or so. I am taking most of the plants and even the bulbs out of the bed. Then we will add composted manure and maybe some peat, to the entire bed, probably raising the surface 3-4 inches. It had sunk over time.
Then when it is all prepared I will replant it. Hosta will go back in. This is the corner people see first. It should have some nice hosta. Maybe I will put some hellebores in the front of the bed. Maybe there will be room for an epimedium. A very nice one was there 5 years ago. A bad winter took it out. As a final matter I will put back many of the bulbs I took out and dried.

At that point I may go on to think about another bed.

Compost wait- The Iowa City landfill makes wonderful and very inexpensive compost. But they run out. They were suppose to have some more "mid June". The message on their phone saying it would be available "mid June" has been running even though it is now past mid June.

Ruby Spider, one of the best daylilies, bloomed for the first day yesterday, Saturday, June 24. Last year the day of its first bloom was June 20.

The windows are open. It will be good sleeping weather.
I need to be in the garden by 6.



Anonymous said...

Hard week to pick a favorite, but I went with number 4. Those extra ruffles won out over number 3. Thanks for the recipient blog! Great addition.🌺🥙 Jane

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