Sunday, January 6, 2019

Week #6 January 6, 2019

January 6, 2019
It is 2019
A new year.
How long does it take you to write "2019"? When I take notes I always write the date at the very top. I am still learning to  write "19."

The new year so far feels like March. It has been 50 degrees the last few days. I got a load of wood chips yesterday for the garden and we have started working on my garden paths. I put down new chips almost every spring. The old chips have broken down by then.  I am trying to add that broken down wood/dirt to some of the beds to lift them up a bit. I am just top dressing the beds a little, which should not interfere with the stirring spring bulbs.

In Iowa they say if you do not like the weather, wait a week. We will see what next weekend is like. So far it is a quite mild winter. There was one winter in the last ten years when we had blooming aconite in late January. They lasted  into February. The entire garden year was about a month early.

The contest

In last week's voting the pink waterlily was winner. It was one of the most lopsided contests to date.
With 48% it was a bigger winner than the purple iris which won in week 2 with 45%.

The full voting was:

Week 6

I have, in my opinion, one of the strongest fields yet this week.

#1 Daylily Kyoto Swan (July 4, 2018)

I really like this daylily. It was planted in a bed in the front yard that had been somewhat neglected for a while. I cleaned it up the last two years. That meant resetting part of the bed at a time.
When I reset a bed I dig it all up, including any bulbs planted between perennials. I then replant it once I have refreshed the soil with compost/peat/manure.
It then takes a year or two to recover.

I think I like the color on this daylily. I am not even sure what that color is. Pink? Orange? Yellow? Well I guess it is all of those blended together.
Daylilies only bloom for one day. (Hence the name) But each plant will have multiple stalks with multiple flowers on each stalk.

This bloomed on July 4. That was after the garden walk in the yard which was on June 23. Because we had a late spring in 2018 the walk mostly missed the daylily bloom.
I guess that is how it goes sometime.
I have suggested that there be gardens that are open to the public over the entire garden season. That way people can come see the sequence of blooming things.
But wait...Our garden is always open to the public. All you have to do is come by.

#2 Hosta with bluebells (May 7, 2018)

I find the combination of hosta and bluebells to be about the best. The hosta during bluebell season are still young and fresh looking.
I do not think there is a better time in the garden year than this.
Can this picture compete with the splashy color of the other flowers? I guess you will answer that question.

#3 Beauty of Livermore Oriental Poppy (May 31, 2018)

I try each year to capture the color of some of the Oriental poppies. This comes real close to doing that.
We saw this poppy up the street about 30 years ago. The color was remarkable. We could not find it in the garden stores. Finally we discovered the name, Beauty of Livermore. That helped. We got the plant. After a few years it is now established. I would prefer more sun. So would a lot of plants.

I could imagine this picture blown up on a wall.
If you could make clothes out of that color I would certainly line up to purchase them.
Maybe it should be on a T-shirt.

There are so many ways to describe how this picture is wonderful.
It looks like a dancer spinning around.
The color contrast between the red and the black works so well.
They were the colors of Grinnell, where we went to college.

#4 Lupine (May 20, 2018)

If I had to pick my favorite perennial it might well be the lupine.
I love them from the moment the first foliage emerges in early spring, all the way until they have finished blooming months later.

They like it cool and wet. It was a good year for lupine in 2018.
I love how the water will adorn the leaves.

Once the stems begin to bloom you do not want a thunderstorm. A heavy rain will interfere with straight up stems.

Each year I start a few dozen plants from seed and add them to the garden. I now know where the plants will do well. Those new seedlings supplement the new seedlings that come up on their own. New plants are good, as this is a rather tender perennial. It comes back but will only last 2-3 years.

Inspired by looking at all the pictures of lupine for the bonus section I will go get some lupine seed today. It is about time to start planting seeds for the Spring.

#5  Asiatic lily- Forever Susan (June 18, 2018)

This was a new addition to the garden in 2018. It is Forever Susan, and Asiatic lily.
A picture of the clump appears in the Bonus section. There was quite a bit of color in just the first year.

I found the name of this plant  from my saved list of the lilies added in 2017. When I place an order from a particular company I make a table on the computer. I have one column for the name of the plant. one column has the picture of the flower and one column has the place where it is planted. Usually this works if I actually follow through with all the information. I cannot enter the location until I get the plants which in some cases can be months from when I place the order.

There you have the great contestants for week 6. The contest rolls along, as does winter.

Bonus Pictures

I may have shown this picture last week, showing where the peony was blooming. That is the same bed along the street as the lupines.

Here you can see the great patterns made by the rain/heavy dew.

This is the emerging plant in early April.

Here is another poppy picture. I let you see this to show the incredible color contrast with its neighbors.

Here is the closeup.

Forever Susan was in full bloom for the garden walk on June 23.  It put on this show in its first year. I purchased 3 bulbs which added this much color.
These lilies do bloom for several days each.

Julia's recipe
Speculaas or Speculoos: a Dutch cookie

Here is the link to the blog where all of Julia's recipes appear, and are organized.

I got this recipe from an Advent activity calendar for families and children (and also adults, really) put out by a local Episcopal church several years ago. The recipe was attributed to a girl from Pella, Iowa (a town settled by Dutch folks) who adapted her father's recipe (her father, a professional baker of traditional Dutch sweets) and won prizes at both the Marion County Fair and the Iowa State Fair. Some pedigree. They are good - crisper than short bread or ginger snaps with a mildly spicy flavor. I have started to make them at Christmas time and to include them in the assortment of sweets we give to our neighbors. I have no idea about the origin or meaning of the name, and Wikipedia was no help. 

The players: 1-1/2 cups of butter (3 sticks!), 2 cups of brown sugar (I used light brown, dark brown would also be fine), 1 egg, 3-1/2 cups of flour (maybe a bit more), 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt (3/4 teaspoon if you use unsalted butter) and spices (all ground): 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon cloves, 1/2 teaspoon EACH of allspice, ginger and nutmeg. Grate your own nutmeg. It actually makes a difference and it's fun.

I started by creaming the butter and brown sugar in my big mixer until they were one substance. Then I added the egg. That is the stage pictured.

Next I added the spices and salt and baking powder and mixed them in. Then I started with the flour, in 1/2 cup increments on low speed. This is a stiff dough and if you add flour in too large of increments or on higher than low speed, you will have a flour blizzard. Not good. After 3-1/2 cups of flour, I had a pretty stiff dough.

I took the mixing bowl off the mixer stand and here it is. Next, I measured off a biggish piece of parchment paper to work with the dough on the counter.

I kneaded the dough to make sure that all of the flour was really mixed in. I did not want  the dough to have any pockets of dry flour. The kneading did not take very long. Then I divided the dough into 4 pieces and worked each piece into a cylinder, as if it were play-dough I wrapped each cylinder in a piece of Saran wrap, put all four cylinders into a plastic bag, and put the bag in the refrigerator overnight. This was convenient for me. A chill for 1 to 2 hours would be fine.

I took the cylinders out and sliced the dough into pieces about 1/4" thick, using a small knife with a serrated blade. A serrated blade, while excellent, is not necessary. You will need to sharp knife. I put 12 cookies on each cookie sheet and baked them for about 14 minutes (maybe 15 minutes), rotating the pans (front to back) after 8 minutes.

I let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for about 5 minutes and then transferred them to wire racks to cool completely.

And here they are on a stacking set of wire racks that I got from my sister plus another big rack for the overflow. I ended up with 94 cookies, maybe 1-1/2" across. The wise men (on their journey from the living room to the creche) stopped to admire.

I understand that Dutch people make these cookies by pressing the dough into flat molds and then knocking the molds on the table or counter so that the molded cookies fall out. It sounds charming and also potentially troublesome. I do not have an cookie molds, so I use the cylinder method. Enjoy, whichever technique you use.

Odds and Ends
We are getting deer in the garden again this winter. Julia saw 2 bounce away the other morning when she was just getting up. I see their heavy tracks in the ground beds, which are not that frozen at the moment.
Iowa City proposed to have a controlled shoot, as they have done before. The meet would have been given to a locker to prepare and give away.
The State DNR would not approve the idea. Instead they said we should have a bow hunting season. Really? Within the city limits?
I guess I will be out early with the deer repellent.

The days are really getting longer at this point. Each day now sunset is about a minute later than the day before. Sunrise however is lagging behind.
We can tell the difference at the end of the day.

Stay warm and enjoy the warm time in January. The warm time will not last.
But official Spring is only 74 days away.


Pat in Florida said...

The color of that lily is peach. With a teeny shade more of yellow, it would have been apricot. Just sayin' ... Pat

Judith Crossett said...

I think we have the same creche set--I will send you a photo of my wise men as arranged by Peter a few years ago (there was also a time they were accompanied by a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, but I'll spare you that).
ps, I've been looking for a refrigerator cookie to try with Peter, maybe this is it.