Sunday, August 6, 2017

August 5, 2017- a change in the weather

Something happened a few days ago. Cool weather arrived. This is nice. It has been in the 50's at night for several days. On Friday morning, it was 51 degrees. All of a sudden the 7 day forecast has overnight lows in the 50's everywhere.  There will be hot days ahead. But this current temperature range is so enjoyable.

It also rained this week, for two days in a row. The first rain was a little strange too. It rained in Iowa City. We got almost an inch, in less than an hour. I measure the rain in my 5 gallon weeding buckets that are scattered around the yard. Five miles away in Coralville, it hardly rained at all. I saw the radar at the time. It was not this big line of storms that stretches across many states. There was just this one little red dot, that appeared out of nowhere and came right through our neighborhood.
Particularly after the rain the air was so clear, so crisp.

It is now good weeding weather. As I write this on Saturday morning, a little before five o'clock, it is still dark. There is the muffled sound of an owl somewhere in the neighborhood. It was a very busy and stressful week at work. I look forward to a day outside. The only stress will be figuring out which bed to tackle first.

The riot of color, and I mean that in a good way, is over. The daylilies are mostly finished.
Garden cleanup has begun. To no small extent this means bringing order to chaos. That can be satisfying. Once the flowering is over it is possible to cut the plants back, and weed all around them. Once I add some fertilizer and/or some mulch, and the beds really look tidy.

The process of planning for the future has also started. This means ordering plants from the catalogues. It is all part of the garden progression. August is when to order Iris. I ordered some absolutely wonderful Siberian Iris the other day. September is when to order lilium. October is when to order spring bulbs. Ordering and cleanup do meet. If you order plants you should have the places to put them when they arrive. I have 10 days to have the space ready for the Siberian Iris.

In last week's voting  Tiger Kitten just edged out Summer Hymns.

Here was the full voting.
Tiger Kitten  11
Summer Hymns 10
Waterlily  9
Delmar Twins  7
Coneflower  6
Frizzy Night blooming cactus  4
Phlox  2

This week's pictures

#1 Pink Orchid cactus
I was worried that I might not have enough interesting blooming things this week. Along came this flower. It is a beauty.

#2 The hardy cyclamen

One part of gardening is being surprised. This little cyclamen is by the garage in back. It just keeps on living. It then presents this bloom for most of the fall.

The computer tells me that growing hardy cyclamen  is not that hard. Don't believe it. I have tried and this one plant is the only survivor. I am on something of a five year cycle. Every five years or so I try again. It is time for that try.
I would love to have a nice good sized patch.

I will put a closeup of the leave in the bonus section. The pattern is amazing.

#3 The morning glory

This is the first flower of this season for the morning glory. It is a nice none.
I have a trellis at the end of the front porch. It would be ideal for growing morning glories. It is harder than you think. The end of the porch, down on the ground, is one of those mostly ignored places in the garden. Even when we remember to plant the seeds, remembering to water is difficult. Rain sometimes does not get right next to the house.
Out of sight...out of mind, they say.
It was rewarding to walk around the corner this morning and there was this flower.

#4 This is Lady Niva, the spider day lily.

It is a very late lily. It also does not get enough sun. It leans so much sometimes the flowers fall over.
It is on the list to be moved this fall.

#5 The annual asclepias

These are the annuals I wintered over, taking cutting all winter. They have begun to bloom. So far one monarch butterfly has come.
I like this picture since you can see the progression in the flowers.

#6  Flames of Hades
This bright and very late blooming orange daylily was moved a few years ago because it was leaning too much. (not enough sun) I wondered where it was. It bloomed on Saturday.
But what is wrong with this picture? Can you guess?
There are too many petals. This is the six fingered man, actually the six petalled daylily. The flower does not usually have that many petals. Most daylily flowers only have six. I will have to wait for the next flower to see if this mutation continues. I doubt that it will.
I remember that in April there are wonderful color combinations between anything and bluebells. Phlox work the same way.

#7 Gingerland

This caladium has just about the best patterns in the garden.
I would love to find a way to back light them.

This leaf would do well on an all back t-shirt.

They will last until October so there will be plenty of time for more pictures of Gingerland.

There you have it. More pictures than I thought I could find this week.
Remember you can vote for two pictures.
I do like comments about the pictures. Have you tried caladium in your garden? What do you do in August when the daylilies are done?

Bonus section

The biggest Night Blooming Cereus has 11 buds, all this size. I think in 10 days or so there will be a great display.
We wait for it for a month. Then it blooms just at night for one night.

There was another nice waterlily this week. With the cooler weather the blooms last  for two days.

I love all the agaves and other succulents. They do have to come inside. With this plant it would be so easy to divide it. Then you would have seven plants.

Here are two big red caladium leaves together.

This is another picture of Confused Angel. It has about the brightest strips in the hosta group.

There is one last nice red daylily.

I discovered this celendine poppy blooming this weekend. It mostly blooms in April. Give it some rain and cooler temperatures and there will be lots of spring growth on many plants.

The Japanese anemones have started. This pink one is the mass bed along Fairview Street. They do make a dense cover, of just about anything in their way.
I actually have been pulling them up in other parts of the garden. Let me know if you want one. They seem to go into a pot just fine.
I looked at last year's August pictures. The first anemone bloomed just about exactly one year ago.

Here is the closeup of the cyclamen leaf.

Julia's recipe
Corn thoughts and corn salad

Late July through early September is prime sweet corn season in Iowa. We are very fond of sweet corn, and we buy a dozen ears every week at the Saturday farmer's market. Yes, there are only 2 (sometimes 3) of us, but who buys only 2 or 3 ears of sweet corn? Nobody I know.

We cook all of the sweet corn on Saturday, and then work with the leftovers on Sunday. We have a very large pot (and a really very large pot) which we bought some years ago at a restaurant supply store. Such pots come in handy to make chicken stock or turkey carcass stock after Thanksgiving or to cook 12 or 13 (sometimes we end up with a bakers' dozen) ears of corn. We put the pot - about 1/2 full of water but no salt - on the stove, covered to heat up faster. When the water is boiling, we put in all of the shucked corn, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Corn does not actually need to boil.

You don't actually even need a stock pot. Years ago, we were in Chincoteague, and there was not a big pot in Miss Elsie's kitchen. But there were two enamelware oval shaped wash basins. We boiled water in the biggest available pan, put all of the shucked corn in one wash basin, poured the available boiling water over the corn and covered the wash basin with the other wash basin. Five minutes later, perfect corn. The moral: work with what there is and don't overcook your sweet corn.

I cut the kernels off the extra ears on Sunday afternoon, after the corn has spent the night in the refrigerator in a big plastic bag. I freeze some of the kernels in quart yogurt containers for the winter, and yes, the sweet corn you freeze yourself tastes better. I usually end up with about 2 quarts of corn for the freezer (depending on where we are in the season - early season corn is smaller) and 2 - 4 cups of corn with which to make corn salad.

I think Katie first made corn salad for us. Why didn't we think of it? Corn salad requires some fresh sweet corn, cut from the cobs, and red onion, cucumber, and red and/or green pepper, as shown at left.

Other ingredients can include cherry or grape tomatoes, jalapeno or other hot pepper, olives or fresh parsley or maybe basil. Also (if one is feeling like making a more substantial salad) a can of drained and rinsed black beans and/or cold cooked short or medium grain rice. (Cold long grain rice is too hard to be palatable.)

I started with about 3 cups of corn kernels. I added about 1/2 cup of finely chopped red onion and 3/4 cup of cucumber. My cucumber was seedy so I both peeled and seeded it before chopping it up into 1/4-1/2" cubes.

This is a picture of me with plastic bags on my hands, contemplating a ghost pepper. (I never have rubber gloves when I need them.) They are supposed to be a jillion times hotter than jalapenos. Philip received a gift of ghost pepper plants last year, which he wintered over, and now we find ourselves with two healthy, beautiful and highly productive ghost pepper plants. Yikes.

Here is the ghost pepper in question. I cut it open, scooped out the seeds with a grapefruit spoon (well adapted for this task), cut it into tiny pieces and added it to the bowl. I also added about 3/4 cup of chopped red and green bell pepper pieces (about 1/4-1/2", much like the cucumber). The ghost pepper bits added a kick, but not too much. I have since made salad with 2 ghost peppers, which was too much. Be careful when dealing with hot peppers, in all ways.

I made a salad dressing of 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lime juice (Really. Substitute white wine or cider vinegar if you must, but not lemon juice), 1/2 teaspoon of table salt, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin. I used most of the dressing, but I suggest you start with 1/2 of the dressing and then see if you need more. You do not want a soupy salad. Also you may need more salt.

Last, I added 1-1/2 teaspoons of cumin seeds for crunch and flavor. If you are feeling fancy, you can toast the seeds before you start the salad (so the seeds will be cooled off when you add them). "Toasting" means heating the seeds up in a dry skillet on the stove until they begin to be fragrant. Watch them so they don't burn. I usually forget and add them untoasted. That's good too.

Odds and ends

This is odd.
I was doing some editing of the asclepias flower picture when this electrical glitch somewhere happened. I have no idea how to replicate what I did. It made a rather interesting picture. The right side of the picture is from the orchid cactus picture.

We went to Wilson's orchard last Sunday and got blueberries. They ship them in from Michigan and sell them in 10 pound boxes. It is one of the summer treats to have that many blueberries.
We freeze them. We eat them. We made a blueberry pie last night.
We also got this little t shirt and sent it to Christopher Philip in Maine.

That's it for this week.
Enjoy August. There really are many things of interest in the garden.
There are also so many things to do.


Judith said...

had to vote for the morning glory, sentiment. I used to grow them as a kid; they did entirely too well for my mother's taste, lots of blooms, lots of seeds. Haven't done as well since.
I now have a fine bed on the front of my house (west side), need to find something to make the bed useful and the house less stark. Shade tolerant, clay tolerant, and survive the drip that comes in a line off the roof with heavy rain.

Carolyn Johnson said...

Do you know that day lillies are edible? I learned that this summer and started topping my public food offerings with a few blooms. A simple dish becomes exotic with these beauties.

philip Mears said...

West side can be half day sun. How much sun makes a big difference. You have to start with the decision of whether to do shrubs.
Clay right next to the house can be difficult. Clay can be worked with. Adding composted leaves or peat moss can start the improvement. Mostly I recommend trying stuff.
If there is not much sun you can put in big hosta. Another thing to try would be something like zinnias. I have zinnias doing quite nicely in less than half day sun.

philip Mears said...

I guess I sort of knew about daylilies. I have never done it. I think you can eat hosta too. Does that mean it is edible if deer like it?
So what do you put them with? Salads? Are you chopping them up first?