Sunday, August 20, 2017

August 20, 2017 A star in the night

            There are two themes to this week's post.
             First there is the star in the nighttime. The Night Blooming Cereus bloomed. It bloomed on Tuesday and again on Wednesday. There were 6 flowers the first night on the front yard plant. There were 3 flowers on the second night. They made quite an aroma. The back yard plant had several blooms the same two nights.
            They also bloomed right about on schedule. I looked back at when the plant had bloomed in previous years. The first bloom was in 2012. It was on August 20, 2012. I realized that I have had blooms each August. Sometimes there is a flush of flowers in late July. Two years ago there were many flowers in late September. This picture was taken on September 22, 2015.

I had been trying to figure out why it blooms when it does. The answer was rather obvious. It blooms when the days get shorter.
I am watering the plant now that it has bloomed. I will try to induce another set of flowers in a month. I also cut off the spent flowers. Leaving them on will just divert energy to seed production. I do not need seeds.
I also think I may have figured out the mystery of why the flowers did not open all the way on July 19. This was all the far they opened at the time.

I think it is possible that I just did not stay up late enough. On July 19 sunset was at least an hour later than this past week. This week the flowers were fully open by 9:30. They do not really start to open until sunset.  Sunset this week was about 8:02.  The flowers were open when it is pitch dark. This week that was at 9:30.
Both nights this week the air was still and the cicadas were loud. And the aroma went all around the front yard. It was interesting. The small was stronger away from the plants.
The two pictures I liked the most are in the voting section this week. More are in the bonus section. Some of those pictures are pretty good too.

The second theme was Siberian Iris. Siberian Iris are good. They bloom in late May/early June. Many are the traditional purple. I have some that are purple. I also have some white, some yellow. and some blue. I really paid attention to them 15-20 years ago. In 2016 I started resetting them.
This week I got in a new shipment. Joe Pye Weed Gardens in Massachusetts, operated in part by a Grinnell graduate, has some iris that make you realize that the times have changed.
So I got in and planted my shipment of new iris. I continued resetting the old ones. Now we just have to wait. Sometimes that is what gardening is about.

I will put a set of Siberian Iris from the past into the bonus section.

In last week's voting the winner was the Lantana.

The full voting was
Lantana  15
Coleus  8
Lilium with Butterflies   6
Spotlight on hosta   5
Yellow candy lily   3
Waterlily   3
Hosta flower 2
Purple candy lily  1
Buds just buds   1

Here are your pictures this week.

#1 The fully open NBC. The flowers the first night were low to the ground. The flash picked up the color in the hydrangea. I liked the effect.

#2 This much more muted picture was taken with a flashlight, not with the flash attachment. The flashlight allowed for much more light possibilities.
I really liked this picture.

For other pictures from the two nights see the bonus section.

#3 Red Flash, the caladium. There is only a little contrast between this picture and the last. This backlit flower positively glowed first thing on Saturday morning.

#4  Orchid rhynchostylis  coelestis

With many orchids I just accept the fact that I will not remember the name.This pretty orchid reliably now blooms for me in high summer. It is about a month later than last year. It will bloom for 2-3 weeks.
The bonus pictures will give you a better idea what the plant looks like. This is a closeup of an individual flower.

#5 Pink morning glory

You saw the blue one a few weeks ago. Here is pink. There will be many more next year.
Actually I hope there will be many more the rest of this year.

#6 Croton color.

I love crotons. What had started out as new green leaves in the spring has now become this riot of color. I have four of these large plants. The variety is called Petra. When the four plants are pushed together they make a wonderful continuous statement. Each leaf is so unique.

One again you can vote for two. Comments are also very much appreciated. Tell me something about why you liked particular pictures. Tell me about your own garden.

Bonus pictures

Here is the orchid.

Here is a closeup of the stem with the flowers.

More caladium.

This white caladium had a nice hint of color in it.

This is one of the last daylilies. This is interesting in that it is over six feet tall.

Now for more NBC (Night Blooming Cereus)

This is the backyard NBC. It is still rather unruly. I do have to wonder what would happen if I just stayed up later. Would it open any more if I gave it a chance?

There were these two of the backyard NBC's.

Here is the front yard plant that first night.

It is almost like an X ray.

This is the next morning at 5am. They really bloom for less than 7 hours. Who knows. Until I get up at 3 we will not know how long they bloom.

This is about 8:30. It was fully open at 9:38.

This picture almost made it into the voting. It almost looks like there is a spider behind a curtain. Enlarging it like this makes for unfair competition.

Another closeup of that spider coming out of its cave.

Now for those Siberian Iris pictures. These are historical. These were all taken the second half of May. Please note that these pictures are all quite pedestrian compared to the ones recently developed.

Julia's recipe
Peach chutney

I am a relative late-comer to Indian cooking, which I like a lot, both meat-based and vegetarian. One thing I like is that Indian cuisine allows for personal garnishing at the table. One can put out little bowls of peanuts, coconut, raisins, chopped hard boiled eggs, chopped scallions, chopped radishes and chutney, and diners can decorate their food as they please.  Chutney requires more planning than the other garnishes, which can be put together at the last minute. But chutney is good, and peach chutney is the best, a lovely combination of sweet and sour. Philip says he would eat it on toast if we did not have curry from time to time, but he's always saying he'd eat something on toast. This means he likes it.

I started with about 4 pounds (13 actual medium-sized peaches) of peaches from the grocery store. They were Missouri peaches which are good here. The first step was to peel them, which is pretty easy, if the peaches are ripe (or ripe-ish). I put a big pot of water on the stove, about half full. When it was close to a boil, I added about one-half of the peaches and cooked them for just a minute or so. Then I took them out of the pot with a slotted spoon and put them in a colander until cool running water. And I put the rest of the peaches in the pot. While the second batch of peaches were in the pot, I peeled the first set. The skin peeled right off with my fingers. Then I pitted the peaches with a knife like an avocado (that is, by cutting all around and then twisting the halves in opposite directions). I chopped the first peaches up while Philip peeled the second batch of peaches. We had free-stone peaches. Clingstone peaches are a pain because you basically have to carve the fruit off the pit like a mango. Freestone peaches are better in all ways.

When all was said and done, I had about 11-12 cups of cut-up peach pieces. Next I chopped up a big onion, and I had 1-1/2 cups of finely chopped onion.

I put the peach pieces and the chopped onion in a big pot (as shown at left) along with 4 cups of raisins, 1 cup of chopped up crystallized ginger, 3 cups of cider vinegar, 5 cups of white sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of pickling salt. Pickling salt is salt without chemicals (chemicals like iodine). Regular salt or kosher salt (a bit more kosher salt) would work too.

If you do not have crystallized ginger, the chutney will still be good. I like to eat crystallized ginger so I always have it around.

I put the pot on the stove and added 3 2" sticks of cinnamon. I also got out a tea ball and put 18 allspice berries and 9 whole cloves in the tea ball and added it to the pot. I put the little whole spices in the tea ball so I could find it later and remove it. You do not want whole spices in the finished product. If you don't have a tea ball, get yourself a piece of cheesecloth and make a double thickness square and tie the spices in the little bag with twine. Or go get yourself a tea ball. (It is not hard to find and fish out the 3 cinnamon sticks at the end of cooking.)

I stirred the mixture up, brought it to a boil, turned down the heat and cooked it for about 2-1/2 hours at a simmer. During this time, the house smelled good.

At the end of cooking, we had about 10 cups of chutney, thick and dark and syrupy. I canned it in canning jars, using canning lids and everything. I also processed the finished jars in the pressure canner to make completely sure it was safe, because some members of the family worry about that kind of thing. You could also freeze the chutney in glass canning jars or in little freezer containers. It will keep for a long time in the freezer or on the shelf.

Odds and Ends
I thought I would share how I order plants now. The computer figures into the process.
At some point I scan in the invoice for each purchase from a mail order place.
With plants like Siberian Iris or Hosta I make a table using Microsoft word before the plants are delivered.  In that table I list the plant, add the price, and then add the catalogue picture. After the plant is in the ground I add the location. The following year I will add notation as to how the plant is doing and maybe a picture from that year.
An advantage of this technique is that it helps locate stray plants. I try to put out labels. I operative word there is "try". Labels also can get lost. You wind up with unidentified plants or missing plants. This kind of a list should help.

As I plant my new Siberian iris the beds look like this.

(There will be more iris in this bed before I am done.)  After the iris are put in I put down some mulch. Then there is the space in between.  But the clumps will grow over time.  This fall I can put little somethings between the iris. One possibility is annuals. Right now I am thinking about small spring bulbs. What fun. Maybe crocuses or windflowers or perhaps snowdrops. I think daffodils or tulips would not work. Their foliage would be tall and would get ragged about the time the iris was blooming. The little bulbs would mostly die back my mid May.

So much work.
We have a short week this coming week. We are going into Chicago for a wedding reception. Maybe there will be a nice nursery on the way home.
I have a major project at work before I leave. I am not sure what kind of post you will get next week.


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