Sunday, July 23, 2017

July 23, 2017- Summer ups and downs

We were in Springfield, Missouri last weekend.  Springfield is in southern Missouri. It is a long drive to get there. (380 miles) We have not visited there much in July. We are usually there earlier in the year. We discovered last weekend that southern Missouri is a place where crepe myrtle grows. Do you know crepe myrtle? We have always liked crepe myrtle in Virginia when we visit there. It blooms very much like lilacs, only later in the year. This time of year it is about the only blooming tree around. It is actually a welcome bit of color in the heat of the summer.
Here were pictures.

You should note the green grass. Southern Missouri has had 150% of their normal rainfall for the year.

Here is Iowa it is raining again. My neighbor has a rain gauge. He tells me there was over 4 inches this week. It seems like one storm after another lined up and came through. Tuesday afternoon a storm took down a big part of one of the pink crabapple trees in the backyard along the street. This picture is after I did what I could to clean it up. I had to wait for the tree guy to get the really big limb removed. He came right away.

The crabapple trees are 40-50 years old, which I gather is old for a crabapple tree. They were decent size trees when we moved in 35 years ago.

          One year, a long time ago (maybe 25 years), a storm took out a large limb from the big elm tree in the front yard. As we surveyed the damage, including a little damage to the front porch gutter, I commented that there would be more sun for daylilies. Whether it is because I am older, I am just not as positive about losing a chunk of the crabs. I would like to replace them where there are now gaps. I have been discouraged in doing that by local tree guys. They say the problem is not enough sun.
I would like to find a nice little dogwood, maybe one of those late blooming ones. We will see.

The next night, probably weakened by the wind from the day before, a very large limb from the aforementioned elm tree fell from the sky. Fortunately there was no car or person under it at the time. It managed to land right in the parkway.

Did I mention it was also hot?
And the daylilies are almost over.
And the days are getting shorter.
The nights are filled with the noise of the cicadae.

But here come the caladium.
This week the first cactus bloomed, as did the night blooming cereus. There will be more.
My friend from Florida sent me some Spanish moss. We both understood this was a summer only thing. I am not going to bring it inside for the winter. Well, guess what? It is doing very well.

Actually it is early on Saturday morning as I write this part of the narrative. The rain is about over. For the moment there is a cool breeze from the south. The birds are chirping away. Maybe I will go pull some weeds...and do the next most productive thing. I will pick up sticks.

In last week's voting there was a tie. The little air plant, and Banned in Boston had the same number of votes.
Here they are.

The full voting
Air Plant    9
Banned in Boston   9
White Cattleya   8
Magic Amethyst    7
Ruby Spider    6
Gingerland    5
Hellebore  0

This week

I had wondered if I could find enough pictures this week. I did.

#1 Cactus
This is the first cactus flower of the summer. I have way to many of these plants. They make side shoots and I pot them up. The problem is that they are so well behaved in the winter. They take no care. Put them on a window sill and ignore them.

There will be many more flowers.

#2 Pizzazz, the Orientpet

This is another cross between a Trumpet lily and an Oriental Lily.

This is one my my favorites.
I have this big group of these lilies that have not really been touched for probably 8-9 years. They are too crowded. That is a refrain even for the lilies. I need to just transplant the bulbs in the late fall. I should move every other one, someplace else.

#3 Orange lilium, not otherwise specified.

Just as I have lost labels for the daylilies, the labels for the lilium were never really that organized to begin with. There was a nice orange late lily called Elise. This might be it.

#4 Conca D'or

This is a well know late yellow Orientpet. It is listed as 4-5 feet which is about right. It flowers in late July to August.

#5 Night Blooming Cereus

This also bloomed for the first time this summer. Just 3 flowers this time. I am spoiled after last years massive blooms at one time. (Maybe 10-12 flowers on one night.)
Moreover it did not open all the way. Now I did not stay up until midnight. This picture was taken about 10 pm. It had not opened anymore really since about 8. Last year the flower opened all the way. Who knows? I closeup is in the bonus section.

#6  Cascade of lilies

More lilies where I have lost the name. I have stacks of invoices from 15 years ago and many pictures. I just do not have the time to sort them out.

#7 Black daylily, with rain

I have always said that a little rain makes for great pictures. Saturday morning was no different. The daylilies are ending at this point. That makes the ones that are left more special.

There you have this week's pictures. You can vote for two.

Bonus Pictures 

Speaking of too many lilies.
How about this tower of yellow, reaching up to maybe 8 feet.

Here are more pictures of the cactus plants.

The crotons are in their element at this time of year. The new leaves come out green.  They have now started turning all sorts of colors. This is four potted plants which, when placed next to one another, make for one giant display.

Here is the progression of the night blooming cereus. These pictures are taken over several days. The bud hangs down. Then it curves up. Then it begins to open. It got as open as it was going to get by 10pm. It was all limp by morning.

This was as open as this one got. More buds are growing.

The pond got a little makeover this month. I still worry a little about small children walking around the edge. Actually I have never fallen in the pond myself. I need to say that quietly.

I hope to solve the water lily mystery by next year. Why was there so much foliage this year that the flowers were mostly covered by the leaves.

Here is the big yellow clivia at the beginning of the week. As if Saturday, after the storms, it is just about finished. It has been blooming for almost 3 weeks. With nine bloom stalks and lasting that long, it could be the plant of the summer.

This is one of the ghost pepper plants, that I overwintered. Anyone who is interested in this very hot pepper let me know. There will be many this year. I think we might actually try one of the them this year.

One of the nicer coleus.

Coneflowers are so nice.

I do begin to like the almost yellow hosta.

Julia's recipe

When it is hot and humid, as it has been here this week, one thinks about non-cooked things to eat. A classic summertime soup is gazpacho. I started making gazpacho years ago because Philip's mom made it and Philip liked it. Good enough for me.

Here are the ingredients, or at least most of the ingredients.

I used canned tomato juice as the base. I keep a 46  oz. can of tomato juice in the refrigerator at all times during the summer to facilitate impromptu gazpacho-making. You could use V-8 juice or some other tomato vegetable juice blend.

You could also use tomatoes but I have never had so many tomatoes on hand to make that an option: I'd rather eat tomatoes in the summer.

I started by cutting up about 1 cup of onion, 1 cup of cucumber (peeled first) and 1 cup of red/green peppers, all into chunks. Also 1 medium-sized jalapeno pepper, which came to about 1/4 cup.

I poured about 1-1/2 cups of tomato juice into the blender, added the onion, and blended on the puree setting. I poured the resulting mixture into the attractive bowl shown at right. I repeated the process twice more, once with the cucumbers and once with the assorted peppers.

I still had about 1 cup of tomato juice left. I poured that into the blender and added 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (red or cider would be fine), and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. More blending and then pouring into the attractive bowl. Then I stirred the contents of the attractive bowl with a big wooden spoon to make sure the different little batches of blended material were mixed together, and I put the bowl in the refrigerator. I had about 8-9 cups of soup.

Jalapeno preparation. Wear gloves if you are sensitive to the peppers. I always forget and then rub my eyes which you'd think would be enough to make me remember to wear gloves the next time, but I never do.

If you don't like hot (although jalapenos are not really that hot), leave the jalapeno out. The soup will be delicious without it.

Then I prepared a bunch of bowls of things to sprinkle on the gazpacho: chopped up onion, tomato, green pepper and cucumbers. Also sliced black olives and croutons. Philip made the croutons by toasting a couple of pieces of bread, then cutting the toast up into cubes and and sauteeing the cubes in a little olive oil on the stove in a small frying pan.

We have a lazy susan (the round item in the center of the picture at left) which makes condiment sharing easy.

A close-up of the above-mentioned lazy susan with the little bowls.

Here is an adorned bowl of soup. Colorful and tasty.

When dinner was over, some of the condiments were left over. So we added them to the leftover gazpacho. Not the croutons, however, which would turn to mush. Not good eats, as Alton Brown might say.

We had grilled cheese sandwiches with our gazpacho. BLT's would be good or tuna salad or egg salad. Any sandwich really, except maybe not PB&J. Stay cool.

Odds and Ends

This is odd.
This year the only fish I knew about in the pond were little ones that I purchased in early June that were minnow size. This fish must have been at least 3-4 inches long. Where did it come from? How fast do fish grow?

In the cactus pots there are squash plants growing. The novelty is about done.

Speaking of odd, I discovered that something seems to be eating the ghost pepper plant. The ghost peppers? I looked closer and there it was. It is a manduca sexta, which is also known as the tobacco hornworm. I took it to the far end of the garden from the ghost peppers. Maybe it will eat some daylilies.

I can hear the cicadae through the walls. I understand that cooler weather is around the corner.
Have a good week.

1 comment:

Mary Greer said...

I think it would look best on a black t-shirt; like the photo.