Sunday, July 9, 2017

July 9, 2017 Too much of a good thing?

Someone once said that too much of a good thing was just about right. (Actually when I look up the quote  it appears to have been "too much of a good thing can be wonderful.") Do you remember who said it? It was Mae West.
She actually has many great quotes.  Look them up.

The garden has a lot of the good things this week.
I would have used up many roles of film...if film still came in rolls.
Daylily season is really something else.
I particularly enjoy it though the ritual of dead heading the spent flowers, every day. This gets you around the garden, literally touching almost every plant. You can see time pass as more and more plants begin to bloom. At this point the first ones are at their peak. That is the best time.

In last week's voting  the daylily Breed Apart was the fan favorite.

The full vote was:

Breed Apart  11
Ruby Spider  8
Spiritual Corridor  6
Lilium Triumpeter  3
Primal Scream  3
Pink trumpet lily 3
Rudbeckia  2
Wild Lily 2
Kyoto Swan  1

Here is the cream of this week's pictures for your voting pleasure.

#1 Pink Orchid Cactus
This lovely orchid cactus led off the week, blooming on Monday. The orchid cactus flowers have had a tendency to bloom one flower at a time this year. The particular flower also blooms only for one day. You either see it that day or it is gone.

#2 Red Ribbons
Here is another spider daylily. The spiders were an early development of daylilies. They were developed before the tetraploid revolution in the 80's. This one was credited to the developer in 1964.

#3 Yellow Clivia

These flowers are from the enormous clivia plant I have keep alive for years. The yellow ones seem less susceptible to the bugs. Mealy bugs and/or white fly really go after my orange ones by the end of the winter.
This picture shows one of the 9 bud stalks at the moment. Pictures of the big plant appear in the commentary below about Tuesday.

#4 Red orchid cactus, with purple tint.

I have had this plant for a while. It blooms occasionally. I do not know its name.  One time, in order to remember it was a wonderful flower, I stuck a label  in it. The label said "really pretty."

#5 Hoya

I love hoyas. I would get more but where would I put them. Well usually that does not stop me. I have a source. Maybe I could get one or two.
The flowers grow in clusters. I love the five pointed star and then the five little points inside the star. There is a real closeup in the pictures for Saturday.

#6 Orientpet Anastasia
This cross between an Oriental Lily and a trumpet lily is now about 6 feet tall. I can comfortably stoop just a little and get the picture of the down facing flower.

It seems like I mostly have yellow lilium. At least those were the ones that have been blooming for the last few weeks. This pink is a nice contrast.

I should get some more non yellow lilium.

#7 Blackberry lily
These late blooming distant cousin of an iris come in several colors. I have the orange, the yellow and this dark maroon.
They seed quite prolifically. They also seem to do well in part shade.

They can  add color in August if they are first year plants.
I have been able to successfully grow them from seed.

There you have it. Remember you can vote for two.

Bonus Section
This week I thought I would do that daily notes thing as something seems to be happening all the time.


Some people had the day off. Not us. Saving the world takes much time.
In the morning, before we went to work, as an after thought, I took the ten minutes needed and planted some seeds. The Iceland poppies are almost done. That is that space that last year had some great tall late zinnias. They lasted into November last fall. We certainly cannot count on that late a frost every year. So I planted a mix of shorter zinnias, cosmos, and California poppies. Why not.
Then, as they say, out of the blue, there came a good shower, giving us over one half an inch of rain, in about an hour in the afternoon. Who needs a watering can.
I can tall you however that a good rain like that, pretty much ends the daylily display, for that day. It literally can wash the pigment right out of a flower. (Do flowers have pigment?)
Here were two daylilies after the rain. The one on the left is actually black. I will try to get a picture without water damage.

Of course daylilies only last one day. Hence the term "day"lily. The ones for the next day are usually not damages by the rain.

Here are two of the almost black daylilies. The one on the right is Bamboo Blackie. It is the one that lost the pigment in the picture before these.

Each day, particularly on days when you think there will be more foot traffic coming by the garden, there is dead heading. With many flowers you remove the spent flowers to encourage more to grow. With daylilies, it is all about display. This can take 20-30 minutes by the time you get throughout the garden. Sometimes I use scissors. Sometimes I just use my fingers. I can grow a good thumbnail that works just fine. However, there is nothing quite so discouraging as breaking off buds by mistake. (That's why some people always use scissors.) This makes weeding the daylily beds tricky. You really have to do a good job getting the weeds out before the bud stalks have developed.

Here is one of the little air plants that a friend sent from Florida. This is the picture on Monday. I will show you this again so you can see the development by Saturday.

Tuesday- No work today.

I am up with the birds before 5am. I made my to-do list for the garden for the day. Transplant, weed, pot, repot, and be sure to take some pictures.
         Near the top of the list was to mix up a batch of potting mix. I use the city's compost, some professional dirt, and some peat moss. Just having it available allowed for the impulse potting of the daylily that was pulled up by mistake.
         A long time ago I grew some daylilies we call ditch lilies. They grow in the ditches in the country. A long stretch of ditch lilies can be quite impressive. Well, the ditch lilies have never completely left our garden, despite their invitation having been withdrawn a long time ago. They come back from any little piece left behind, like the broom in the Sorcerer's Apprentice. So one task each year is to cull out the much taller ditch lilies from the rest.

Another task this year is to try to identify many lilies who have lost their labels. I have pretty good records from 1995-2006, the golden years of daylily growing in my garden. Then I just ran out of room. During that time I labeled them. I took pictures of them. I noted how many scapes they had each year, and when they first bloomed.
Now I am  just trying to identify the lost ones. Some of those list, with pictures, are a real help.

So here are two different dayliles. The one on the left turns out to be Black Eyed Susan. The one on the right is Fooled Me. It turns out that  that Fooled me has a little bit of color on the edges.
Does anyone care?

I am finally planting out the caladium. All but 7 have come up. (By the end of the week it was down to 5.) I obtained three varieties this year. The white ones came up first.
Here is a bed I planted this morning.

Here is another daylily to note. This is Siloam Double Classic. Siloam is Siloam Springs Arkansas, where Pauline Henry lived. She developed many daylilies many years ago.
Double Classic is the best known of the 490 daylilies that she registered, over 37 years.
Here is a link you might find interesting, with many of the pictures of her legacy.

One of my garden tasks today (Tuesday) was to move the very large yellow clivia plant into a place where more people could see it. Clivia send up side shoots. I can remember some time ago (maybe 15 years ago) I would carefully repot every little side shoot. Before you knew it I had 15 plants. That was too many. So I let this one pot just get bigger.

Here are the shoots coming. Please see the picture from Saturday as many of those bud stalks have opened.

There are nine bud stalks coming.

This is the lilium from last week. The rain washed the pollen down and stained the bottom of the flower.
Lilium pollen will stain. One gardener joke is to tell a person to smell the flower up close. With any luck the person will some away with a yellow nose and will not know it. Someone will later ask the person about it.


This was a very short garden day. Julia had to see a client at the office at 7. I made myself a short list. One thing I did was repot  two of the cactus plants. They apparently need plenty of room to bloom. (Don't we all.) Three of them with enough room are budding up now.
It is a task to repot those thorny plants. I double gloved my hands and still managed to feel thorns in my finger for most of the day. Those thorns are particularly bad since they are so small you can't see them to remove them.

Thursday- another  short garden day, and hot too.

I watered a few things.  I weeded behind the pond. I have begun to remove the Japanese anemones from a few places, such as behind the pond.  The anemonies are great plants, which bloom in the fall. But they take over. Since you like them you don't realize they just ate the epimedium. Hosta can do the same thing.

I am potting up the anemonies with the large tap roots. I have no idea how easily they will pot up when it is July and they are so big.
This is in contrast with hosta that apparently can be moved at any time. I should add that moving is easier than dividing. Moving can be done without disturbing the roots that much.
I am slowly starting to fill up the places where there are holes waiting for hosta.

As I weed I am also pulling out phlox. These beautiful flowers make great companions for dayliies for eample. But once again, and here is the theme, they don't leave much room for the lilies to grow.
Sometimes gardening can be  brutal.


The weather has gotten hot again. It was about 75, even at 6am.
There were two Wow moments this morning. The first was the appearance of the wonderful dark red/purple orchid cactus. It is picture number 4 above. When I took this picture it was still the time of morning when the colors had not really come out yet.
When this kind of moment happens I want everyone to know it. If they don't notice it on Friday it will be too late.

Here is a closeup of that flower, later in the day.

While we are on closeups here is a segment of the hoya cluster.

The second Wow moment had to do with the seeds I planted Monday morning. There had been a decent rain that afternoon.  I looked at the bed on Friday morning. They were coming up. Four days. Four days is all it took. In this picture there are zinnias and cosmos. The California poppies will not be far behind.


Many things to do, including writing much of this down.
I worked on the cactus shelf, including repotting a few more.

The cactus should begin to flower about the time the lilies are finishing. Gardening is easy in April. It is not that hard in May through July.
After the lilies are over however, the challenges begin. The cactus certainly play a roll during that time.

Here is the Clivia plant Saturday.

These next  3 pictures celebrate the many many flowers in the garden this week.

You have seen all three plants last week. This Ruby Spider picture is one you might see in the contest this December. Wouldn't that be nice to look at on your wall on a cold grey day in January?

Here is Breed Apart. Daylilies do clump up, offering many flowers spread out over several weeks.

Then there is the Rudbeckia.

Finally here is one of the four air plants that joined our merry band at the beginning of the week. The bud is opening.

Julia's recipe
Skordalia also known as Garlic Sauce

Remember there is now a separate webcite with all of her recipes in the last year.
It is at

I do not remember having skordalia as a kid. My Aunt Julia (married to my mother's brother, Uncle George) did the Greek cooking in the family, and I remember her cooking lots of delicious Greek food on special occasions, but I do not remember skordalia. We had it first, I think, at a Greek restaurant in the Chicago suburbs maybe10 years or so ago. We were all out to dinner, and we decided to have an appetizer of grilled zucchini with skordalia. It was delicious and we had it every time we ate there. I could not figure out what was in the sauce, other than garlic, which was white and smooth and spreadable (rather than pourable).

I set out to find a recipe, which I tracked down in my professional Greek Church Ladies Cookbook, published by the St. Helen's Philoptochos Society and the St. Constantine and Helen Parent-Teacher Association in Detroit, Michigan and sold in the book department at Marshall Fields department store many years ago.  

I had assumed the sauce had a dairy base, like the yogurt sauce that goes with gyros. But no, the base is mashed potatoes.

I peeled 3 russet potatoes and cubed them up. I had about 3 or
3-1/2 cups of cubes, which I cooked in a pot of water with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.

When the potatoes were soft, I ladled off about 1/2 cup of potato water for later use and drained the potatoes. I put the potatoes back in the pot with a towel over top and a plate on top of that to facilitate the evaporation of the last of the liquid. The potatoes need to be dry.

I started mashing the potatoes with a hand masher because I have a hand masher (see at right). Then I added 1/4 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of butter and used my hand mixer to finish the job.

I ended up with a bit more than 2 cups of mashed potatoes. I measured 2 cups and ate the rest.

Here you see 2 cups of mashed potatoes, cooling on the counter in a bowl.

Next I added 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar (red wine vinegar would be weird), 6 medium-large smushed cloves of garlic (probably a good tablespoon) and 1/4 cup of the potato water.

I mixed it up with the hand mixer until it was smooth. The goal is a spreadable mixture. Judge for yourself if the mixture needs a bit more of the potato water.

And here it is, in an attractive little bowl in the shape of a red pepper, a gift from my sister. Serve it at room temperature, not hot, not cold.

This recipe made about 2 1/2 cups of garlic sauce. This might be a lot or not a lot depending on your household and what's cooking. It would be easy to make a one-half recipe. The math is not even that hard.

We put skordalia on grilled slices of zucchini (biggish but not ridiculously large zucchini sliced longways, brushed with olive oil  and grilled for 2 minutes per side, which you can see below). It would be good on grilled slices of eggplant or tomato or on asparagus or green beans. Any kind of grilled vegetable.

Odds and Ends
Simplification continues.
I pulled out an underperforming hosta. We made the area ready for something better.

If you should cull out 20% of your plants, this time of year is a good time to make some decisions. Particularly with hosta I find I have many wonderful plants that could take the place of under performing plants.

It is time for it to rain again. Things are starting to be dry.

Have a quiet week.

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