Sunday, July 2, 2017

July 2, 2017 It is just about the best

Summer is here. Lilies of all kind are blooming. The hosta are enormous. The buds are forming on the cactus and the night blooming cereus. The nights have been cool. There has been timely rain. The garden is good. It is another one of those times when you say "it does not get any better than this".

But before we get to garden pictures there is an announcement.
As you know this blog has featured a weekly recipe from Julia for just about a year. I have posted an index periodically.  We have been interested in a better way to keep track of these great recipes. Just this week we asked ourselves if we have we done a post for Kashi salad? We had.
Our daughter Katie has just created a separate blog just for those recipes. Here is the link:
Check it out. They are organized so you can, for example, find all the desserts in one place.
The weekly recipe will continue here. It will just be posted there as well.

In last week's voting, the picture with the most votes was this yellow orchid cactus. I expect you will see this photograph in the contest next winter.
The orchid cacti are certainly a presence in the high summer. I believe I will have to arrange for more sky hooks.
I keep waiting for the second year plants to do something. They are all still mercifully small.

The full voting was
Yellow cactus    13
Pink Cactus   8
Annual asclepias   5
Margaret the daylily   4
White waterlily   3
Pink waterlily   1
Japanese Iris    1

Here are this week's pictures

#1 Kyoto Swan, the daylily

The first five pictures are all daylilies. It is their time.

This is another daylily that is sort of a spider. It has long petals. Pink and yellow is a good combination. This plant is located in the center of a bed that had way too many phlox in it. They were pretty but were crowding out the lilies.
I ruthlessly pulled most of them out about a month ago. Hopefully this will give these daylilies some room to grow.

#2 Primal Scream, the daylily

I love the names of some varieties.
This was a daylily I first met at Fred MeDowell's house in the mid 90's. Professor McDowell lived up on Court street and had a nationally known daylily garden.
Primal Scream was in his special area, with other varieties that were not for sale.  I think he called the area his Michigan Avenue.
I found a Primal Scream for sale and I do not tell what I paid for it. It grew nicely for years, but then began to fade. As time goes on in any garden, the sun/shade patterns change. Trees die or get bigger. Primal Scream was near the pink dogwood tree, that just kept getting bigger. Finally I moved most of the daylilies that were in that area, including Primal Scream. That must have been about 2 years ago. Last year, its first year in the new location, it became deer snack food, right after the buds had formed. There was no bloom at all last year. This year there are at least ten scapes (stems) and the plant is growing very nicely.
It still has a distinct shade time of the day. This means the flowers mostly face west, away from the path it is on. I think it will have to move again. Turning it around to face the path is not an option.

#3 Breed Apart, the daylily

This is another favorite of mine. I like the subtile colors, with the little ruffle. Like Margaret Seawright from last week, I got two plants of this variety, when I was getting plants 20 years ago.

#4 Spiritual Corridor, the daylily

Speaking of ruffles, here is another great daylily with ruffles.
Here is the trio blooming this last week.

Here is the closeup. Most of these clumps are now over ten years old. This is one of the ones along Fairview St.

#5 Ruby Spider, the daylily

To appreciate  this next daylily, Ruby Spider, you have to see the single flower. You then have to see the clump. I think we counted over 20 scapes, each with 4-6 buds. You can do the math.
This is one of those center piece plants. I have it on the corner on Fairview, where the driveway meets the street. We can see it every time with go in or out.

#6 Lilium Triumphator

This gaudy hybrid from an Oriental lily, appears several places in the garden. Several are five feet tall, after maybe ten years. One feature of the lilium is that they last more than one day. If the temperatures are not too hot, they might last a week.
All the lilium are just starting in the garden, right now. This next week will be the best time.

7. A Wild lily

This is a wildflower. It is listed for sale some places as Lilium michiganense.
This one plant is over five feet tall. It seeds itself so there are 5-6 of them. This was a good year for all of the lilium.
They are sometimes called a Turk's cap lily.
It hangs down.
This one was sufficiently tall that I could photograph it looking up at the very blue sky.

#8   Pink Trumpet lily

This is relatively new variety to the garden. It is so new that I can not find the name. I will work on it and try for a name tag.

I have these nice labels I get from a company near New Orleans. The labels get lost.  I also have a large group of labels that are lost from their plants.

I just know it is lovely.
It might be someone called Blushing Angel, or it might be Pink Perfection.

#9 The Rudbeckia

This is a volunteer this year. It is wonderful. You would want a big one for your wall.

I am interested in seeing the variations with later flowers.

That's it for pictures from this week. There were so many.
Vote for your favorite(s). You can vote for two.
The winners will likely find themselves in the winter picture contest.

Bonus Pictures

The waterlilies continue their strange behavior. They hide under the foliage that is just way taller than usual.

Here is another lilium.

This is the one hosta I ever bought, mostly for its name. The mother plant was Blue Angel. It is a large hosta.
Various angels have been developed over the years. I have an enormous Guardian Angel that has a bed all to itself.

So this is Confused Angel.
It is a beautiful streaking hosta. It was originally planted somewhere that did not work. I moved it to the front of the house. So far it remains small but looks good.

A friend just sent me this little air plant. Actually it was one of four. When I saw the bud it was one of those exclamation moments. "Oh wow" I could be heard to exclaim at 6:15 am when I opened the package.

Maybe you can see the tiny bud on the night blooming cereus.
I figure in about 3 weeks.

Julia's Recipe
Beef and Potato Casserole with Onions and Paprika

Sometimes one cooks what is on hand, and this week I had some leftover beef. I had bought a brisket, which was new for me, and it turned out to be quite a project (or maybe better, ordeal). Last weekend, I cooked it in the slow cooker for about 8 hours, without having any discernible impact on tenderness. Then I baked it for about 4 hours. Philip suggested that if that did not work, we should run over it with the car. Mercifully, it did not come to that. After 12 hours of relentless cooking, the meat gave up. We ate about one-half of the brisket, leaving a slab of meat to do something with. Kind of like pot roast, with long meat fibers. So I made beef and potato casserole.

I started by peeling 3 russet potatoes, not red potatoes, not yukon gold potatoes. I sliced the potatoes into 1/2" slices and then cut across the slices. I ended up with about 4 cups of cubes.

I put the potato cubes in a pot of cold water with about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and put the pot on high heat. When the pot came to a boil, I turned it off and let it sit while Iworked on the onions.

Next I sliced some onion into half-moons. I had about 2 cups of onion, which I sauteed in 2 tablespoons of butter with 1 teaspoon of salt.

Meanwhile, I cut up the leftover beef and put it in the bottom of a casserole (which I had sprayed with no-stick spray). I had about 2 cups of beef cubes.

If you find yourself with leftover pork or lamb, that would work just as well as beef. As would actual leftover pot roast.

I used a ladle to reserve a cup of the potato cooking water and then drained the potatoes and put them on top of the beef cubes.

And I added 2 teaspoons of sweet (aka regular) paprika to the onions. And a bit of black pepper and a couple of shakes of half-sharp paprika (optional). I added a little of the potato cooking water - maybe 1/4 - 1/3 cup.

I happened to have some of the liquid from cooking the brisket left over as well, probably about 1/2 cup, which I also added. If you have something of that kind, add it by all means. If not, taste your onion mixture and decide if it would benefit from more salt or a splash of wine or stock or broth. Add 1/2 cup of some liquid.

When the onions were soft and everything had cooked together for a few minutes, I poured the onion mixture over the beef and potatoes and put the casserole (covered) in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes until the potatoes were completely tender.

I know it is now summer, and this is a dish more suited to colder times. I agree, but there I was with a chunk of beef needing someplace to go. And so here you are. Potato and beef casserole is very nice, a bit substantial, and pleasantly paprika-y.

Odds and Ends

We now have compost. The City turns our yard waste into black gold. They then practically give it away. This pile, and the four recycle containers in the garage probably cost less than ten dollars.
I refuse to consider any complaints from the City that they are short of money, when they set the price for compost so low. Contractors particularly get truck loads, for peanuts.
I will use this to refresh beds, and to be an ingredient in my potting mix. I have lots of plants that was bigger pots.

Particularly with hosta, one of the challenges facing a gardener is continually thinning the plants. Hosta, and other plants too, look better if you can see the entire plant, rather than have it run into its neighbors. Of course with hosta one day you learn that the plant grew so much that it completely covers some of the neighbors.
At this time of the year ,when arguably the hosta have grown about as big as they are going to get, I find myself wandering around, thinking which plants have to go.
Imagine if you had to get rid of 20% of your plants, or anything else. Let me add that you can choose which 20%. That would be so much better.

I have reset 3 beds in the last month. The beds sit there with fresh dirt, with lots of nutrients. The dirt is so dark. I just want to dig around in it.
I am reluctant to plant things in it.
I would prefer to have the available place to put things. If I plant things in the spaces, that luxury will be gone.
This is silly.
I will plant hosta and caladium and impatients. In the fall I will put in lots of bulbs.

Have a good week. Some of us will work Monday. That is how it goes, when you are saving the world.

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