Sunday, July 8, 2018

July 8, 2018 Garden bloom, at its best

Breaking News-Monday- I think the night blooming cereus will bloom tonight. Come by about 9:30-10. It is hanging right by the street in our front yard.

I usually write about the garden very early on Saturday.

It is another early Saturday morning. While I suppose the days are getting shorter, one would hardly notice. The birds are up before 5, as am I. This is such a wonderful time of the day. There is just enough light to be able to see a little bit. It is still too dark to start work in the garden. It has cooled off. At 60 degrees it is almost light jacket weather. Last night we were able to sleep with the windows open.

I can write about the garden while I listen to all the bird sounds. There is the harsh calls of the crows. There was just the faint sound of an owl. There is the trill of the wrens. Of course someone just set off some fireworks, probably left over from the 4th. I guess we live in town. In the technology of the future maybe they will include a feature for garden blogs where you can include garden sounds.

For all that rain in the last month, those hot days in the last week can really dry out the garden. Annuals are the first to suffer. I watered some of them last night for perhaps the first time in several weeks. I had planted a lot of annuals because of the garden tour.

I sometimes wonder when will the garden be at its best for the season.

Early April is the first of those "best times." There are the early spring flowers, cool weather, and no weeds or bugs.

Then there is early May when it is still cool, and the bluebells dominate for a week or two. The hosta  are emerging. The hosta and all the flowers dance in all that blue.

And then there is this time of year, early July. I remember now, today, this week, why a gardener can get lost in the glory of daylilies. In addition there are the sights and smells of all the lilium, blooming mostly at a different level. Actually they are blooming up there at about 5-6 feet. The aroma is strong in parts of the yard. It seems to pick up in the evening, if the air is still. You just don't get that at any other time of the year.

So let me share some of this glory with you, in pictures.

This week's best pictures

Not forgotten are the waterlilies, struggling this year as the leaves have been enormous. I do keep waiting for the frogs to emerge. The farm tadpoles arrived about two weeks ago.
There were four waterlilies blooming yesterday, even if you did need to move a leaf to see one of them.

Ruby Spider is back. That is a daylily. I counted 33 scapes this year. A scape is a flower stalk. Each flower only lasts one day. But there will be 5-10 flowers per scape. The math gets you to several hundred flowers that will bloom over several weeks.
I have a piece of this plant in the front sidewalk bed. It bloomed nicely this year. But it is nowhere the size of this plant on the corner by the house garage. This plant is one of those "focal point" plants in the garden.

The lilium are good this year. They all seemed to come out on the same day, about a week ago.

I do come back to the daylilies. Each morning, particularly on the weekends, there is deadheading. Since each flower only blooms for one day, the spent flower needs to be removed, for optimal viewing that day. You have to be careful doing this. All to often, if I do not use a tool, I will break off buds that have not yet bloomed. So mostly I use scissors. This entire process can take a good 30 minutes. I actually takes longer because inevitably I will get distracted by something I see that must be done right then.
But there is a certain pleasure in deadheading.  I have to go around the entire garden getting to every daylily plant. This gives me an opportunity to actually look at most of the corners of the garden, where there may be hidden wonders. Of course this daily routine also can reveal the plant that desperately needs something, such as a good watering.
After a round of deadheading I sometimes make the same circuit, only this time with the camera.

Towards the end of the week this orchid cactus bloomed. This one plant blooms regularly right after the first of July. The plant usually will produce multiple blooms at the same time. There were 4 flowers blooming yesterday, with another two coming today. These flowers may last  into a second day.

One almost overlooked gem this week was this yellow clivia. It is special as it is a plant from friends, friends we do not see very often. It is a constant pleasure to have particular plants linked to particular people.

Back to daylilies. They do come in all sorts of shapes and colors. Here is one that is close to black.

There are so many of these yellow lilium blooming at the moment. When all the flowers come out at the end of the stalk, that is when staking is really needed. It seems that as much as I put out many stakes, I always need more. And they need to be taller. Otherwise they just break off above the point where they are tied. Of course in that case we have flowers for the dining room table.

But perhaps the best picture of the week, and certainly the most colorful, is this little afghan that Julia just finished and sent off to our grandson Christopher. Julia makes several of these each year. The small ones for small people go quicker.
The patterns have become more intricate over the years.

Bonus pictures

Here are just a bunch of daylily pictures.

Here are pictures of parts of the garden, pulling back from the individual flowers.
As you may remember if you click on a picture you may be able to create your own slide show.

Here is a picture of a hiding waterlily.

Julia's Recipe
Black Raspberry Custard Pie

Here is the link to all of Julia's recipes that have appeared on the blog.

Our neighbors, Cindy and Dennis, brought us some extra black raspberries the other day. This is an act of great kindness, because who really has extra black raspberries when it is possible to eat them by the handful? So I decided to make a pie. The recipe for this pie only appears in my 1978 Joy of Cooking cookbook, as an alternative way to make rhubarb pie. I do not know why this recipe was not in the earlier editions or why it failed to make the cut for later editions: it is good and easy and works with berries as well as rhubarb.

For starters, you will need a 9" pie crust. I asked Philip to make me one, and he did. As you can see, it was lovely. If you are not able to ask Philip to make one for you, do your best. Or buy a ready-made pie crust at the grocery store. When making (or eating) pie, one focuses on the filling, so any serviceable pie crust will do.

Here are the ingredients: 4 cups of black raspberries already in the pie pan, with a sprinkle of salt. (No need to pre-bake the pie crust, by the way.)

Plus sugar, flour, milk, salt and 2 eggs. That's it. I put 1-1/2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of flour, 2 eggs, a pinch (say 1/8 teaspoon) of salt and 1/4 cup of milk into the little bowl and stirred it up.

Then I scooped the topping (which was kind of thick) on top of the berries and smoothed it out with a spatula.

I put the pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet to guard against spills, and I baked it in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Then I lowered the temperature to 350 degrees and baked it for another 20 minutes or so. I used a bamboo skewer to test for doneness: the skewer encountered no resistance from the berries. And the skewer had moist crumbs from the topping (not goopiness).

Here is the pie, fresh from the oven. We let it cool completely before cutting into it. The topping was firm and sweet and the interior of the pie was moist and berry-ish. The pie served up in perfect wedges. No oozing, no running, no weeping.

I have made this pie with rhubarb, in which case I increased the sugar to 1-3/4 cups. With rhubarb, you could sprinkle some grated orange rind over the fruit. You could do the same with berries, black raspberries or red raspberries or blackberries or blueberries. Or with berries, you could use grated lemon zest instead of orange. Maybe 1/2 to 1 teaspoon.

If you want to try a gluten-free alternative (assuming you have gotten yourself a gluten-free pie shell), I would suggest using tapioca flour instead of white all purpose flour. I think that the flour provides some thickening for the filling in addition to structure for the topping, and I know that tapioca is a good thickener. Maybe it would work as a substitute. If you try it, let me know how it goes.

The cookbook says to use 3 egg yolks instead of 2 whole eggs and to use the egg whites to make a meringue. I am conservative with meringue. I like it on lemon pie and French apple cake, which I will probably make in apple season, and that's about it. I did not like the idea of a meringue on this pie and so I changed it up. If you wanted to go further in embellishing, I would suggest whipped cream or a bit of vanilla ice cream. Now go find some berries.

Odds and Ends

We will see if this video works. If not, I will take it down. It is of course Ruby Spider.

The night blooming cereus is close to blooming. I think that will happen in another day or two. It will open in the evening and be done by dawn. If you would like to come by when it blooms, check this cite. I will put up a notice at the top of the page the day I think it will bloom. You would then want to come over about 9:30. I will be out there with my flashlight and camera.
Here is how you notice it will bloom very soon. The bud, which had hung straight down, begins to bend upwards. This is happening now.

Here are orchid cactus pictures from yesterday.

The cactus buds are forming. There are 3 so far. I expect many more in the coming weeks.
The one on the right has the bud. The one on the left just had a side shoot arrive, on top.

Deadheading daylilies does have the feature of allowing you to watch time pass. The first day you deadhead a plant, you will snip off one spent bud of the 5-10 on the stalk or "scape." There are all the other scapes with many buds going strong. After a week, you will snip off the last spent flower on that scape, leaving others still going. Finally you will snip off the last flower for that entire plant for the year. There are still the late lilies, just like there are late every things.
But finally the the last one will be done, and the season will be over.
Daylily time will have ended for another year.
We are now in the middle of the season. It is high summer. This will not last.

But there will be wonders to come.
There will be another season.
In the meantime let's enjoy where we are now.


Jane said...

It was fun to see the video. Now we need a time lapse of the night bloomer��. I want a piece of pie, please ��

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