Sunday, June 18, 2017

We are home - June 18, 2017

We got home last Sunday night, flying in from New York City. We came home by way of Atlanta. That piece of efficiency says something about our times.
Because of our travels this is the first blog in three weeks. There is a lot to tell.

We had a really good time. Here is my grandson, Christopher Philip.  I met him for the first time. We spent the week in Maine with him and Katie and Elisabeth. Then we all were in New York City for his baptism last Sunday. joined by Maggie We have been promised pictures from that event. I will share when they arrive.

I have two posts for you today. This one will be about the Iowa garden. The second one will be about our travels, including the Dale Chihuly installation at the New York Botanical Gardens. The second post should just follow this one, if you scroll down far enough.

During the ten days we had been gone I watched the weather forecast for Iowa City. It was not a pretty picture. We were going to get home to have it be in the mid 90's for days.

The reality when we got home was as just as I had feared. It was hot, and dry. We had not had measurable rain for going on 3 weeks.

It was also that time of the summer when the temperature does not cool off much in the evening. If I had thought about it, I would have had a neighbor turn on the air conditioner the Sunday we returned. As it was, we got home tired and hot. Our bedroom was close to 90 degrees at midnight. Old houses do not cool off that quickly.

It does not surprise me that I have spent the week being tired.

Tuesday - I got the backyard hose out for the first time since 2015. I then spent the rest of the time trying to find the watering wands. The sprinkler also seems to have rusted. It only goes in one direction.

Wednesday - I think there will be rain today. I even have a window open to listen to that wonderful sound. Mostly it rained just when we went home for lunch. We wore different clothes when we went back to work,

Saturday - A really good rain last night. It was probably over an inch. The weeds pull easily. I have my cans mostly filled with yard waste by noon. The weekend has barely started.

Since I really have three weeks of garden pictures to sort through I have some nice pictures. You can do that voting thing for a good group.

Actually I must tell you about the voting from the last set of pictures way back for the Week of May 28.
The top vote getter was the purple stars from the allium.

The full voting was
Purple stars 12
Pink Oriental poppies 10
Lupine with rain 8
reddish Oriental Poppy 6
Orange Iceland poppy 6
Blue Siberian Iris 5

Here are the pictures for this week.
#1 Red Oriental Poppy
There really needs to be little commentary. Oriental poppy season was short. There are always good pictures that find their way to the contest in the winter.

#2 Japanese Iris called Gracieuse.

This is the first Japanese Iris of the summer. In all the pictures of this iris it always appears that the iris was just pasted on to the background. I think it looks like a drawing, rather than a picture.

#3  This is royal Wedding, a great white Oriental Poppy.

#4 A pack of Asiatic lilies They really do best in full sun. They will grow but not multiply in less than full sun.

 #5  The coconut orchid

This little flower is so fragrant you walk by it and have to stop. It really does smell like a coconut.

The picture below gives you a better idea of the size of the flower.

#6 Japanese Iris number 2-

These iris are just stunning. They should bloom for the next two weeks.

I liked them so much that last August I got 12 more. None of them survived the mild winter. Sometimes things happen.

#7 Coneflower

I love some of the new hybrids.

#8 A white cattleya orchid

I always thought that orchids would bloom in the winter. It turns out that many of my orchids do bloom in the summer.

Bonus Pictures

The Iceland poppies did not like the hot weather. This one did show up this week. It stood out
from across the yard.

This flower was interesting because it had that stripe. Even more interesting was that another flower from the same plant had the same stripe. If I was more organized I would have saved the seed. Oh well.

This is one of the first daylilies.
The daylilies should make their show over the next 4-6 weeks.

Sometimes a daisy fits in with its louder playmates.

Another early daylily.

More Asiatic lilies
I really like the yellow one, and plan to get some more.

Julia's Recipe for
Lentil Salad

I never ate lentils as a kid at home, not in soup and certainly not in salad. I got acquainted with lentils in the 1970s when we lived on a farm with a bunch of other hippie-types, an era I have mentioned before. At that time and in that setting, I found lentils a bit too earnest, a bit too they're-good-for-you. So I have come upon lentils only in more recent years. Lentils turn up in Indian cuisine (sometimes yellow or pinky-orange) and also in more palatable less militant non-Indian recipes. I make lentil soup in colder weather, as it is a soup which can be made from scratch (if you have stock on hand) in less than an hour. Now it is actually summer-like here in the Midwest and so our thoughts turn to salad. This recipe is taken from From Tapas to Mezes by Joanna Weir. The cookbook covers soups and salads and sides from the Mediterranean, all around the coast.

I started by cooking 1 cup of French lentils in about 4 cups of water, to which I added 2 bay leaves, 4 whole but peeled cloves of garlic and a bit of dried oregano. It took about 25 minutes for the lentils to cook. I fished out the bay leaves and garlic, drained the lentils in the sieve, run them under cold water to cool and then drained them again.

You could use green (they're actually tan) lentils. I like the French ones for this dish because they seem to hold their shape better.

Next I diced some red onion - it came to 2/3 cup and some red pepper - it came to 1 cup and put all those things in an attractive bowl.

Here is the salad with the red onions but before the red pepper was added.
I chopped up some mint leaves (about 1/2 of one of those little containers of mint from the grocery store) which came to about 1/4 cup.

It pains me to buy mint, which is a weed basically, so we grow it in a pot to keep it from taking over. And while we were gone, it died. Too hot, not enough water. We will buy a plant and put it in a pot and then we will have our own mint again.

I made a vinaigrette dressing with 1/3 cup of olive oil and 1/3 cup of wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of fine (not kosher) salt and 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin. I mixed that up, poured it on the salad, mixed the dressing in gently, let the salad sit on the counter for about 20 minutes so everything could get acquainted and then refrigerated the salad until shortly before dinner.

Just before serving, we grated a little block of feta cheese over the top and added a few (maybe a dozen) pitted kalamata olives, cut in half. Colorful and tasty.

Odds and Ends
I do hope you will find the second post with flower pictures from our travels. It should be right after this one.

I am still waiting for many of the caladium to wake up. I should be about time to start sprinkling the ones that are up around the yard.

I found the first tiny bud on the night blooming cereus. I think it takes 2-3 weeks.

I did find something chewing on a few hosta. Bugs. Remember when there were no bugs. Raise your hand if you would like to go back to April?

No comments: