Sunday, April 27, 2014

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Looking at my flower bed brings me pleasure knowing I don't have much to do to maintain it. Each year there is less to do with the bed because most of the plants are perennial. There is little space for annuals. I'll add 1-2 more perennials and there won't be space for anything else unless something dies like the sweet broom I planted last spring. It was beautiful and hardy in my zone but with the exceptional winter we had, it din't make it. Neither did the lavender. I haven't seen my echinacea yet. I had 2, one pink and one yellow. Balloon flower also has yet to show it's face. I like them so I hope they didn't die. Perennials can possibly live for years. I hope this is not the year mine don't come back.
The purple plant is catmint. I've been wanting one and was surprised to see it at the garden center. It takes the place of the sweet broom srub. Sedum is starting it's annual spread and will soon flower. The coreospis is up as well as the other type of sedum on the right. 
Nothing like red tulips. I pulled most form last year and planted more. I noticed that the older ones flop and have huge leaves the second year. It seems wasteful to throw them out every year and plant new ones unless of course they stop blooming.
Poppies still growing and coral bell increasing in size. I really need to know the name of the shrub.

I planted these 2 years ago. This is the first year they actually look like grape hyacinths. The large leaves of last years tulips could not stop it's show.
Last years home grown lamb ear.
Sorry the pictures aren't good. I really didn't come out for a picture taking session but when I saw all the colors and blooms I went to get my camera but I didn't take the time to capture what I could have if I took my time. When I take a picture, I want to capture what I see. The beauty of the flowers. How the light shines on them, a droplet of water, a resting insect. If I take my time the flowers look spectacular with the right light and positioning and I can look back and see them as I saw them with my eye. The camera can actually capture it. I am still amazed what an inexpensive digital camera can do. This year it would be nice to get a good camera. Maybe with monetary gifts for my birthday.

The trellis and 2 blue sky seedlings will go here as soon as these have finished their show. I also have a helenium from a bare root waiting on my porch to plant. It's already growing nicely.
I still have to top off the flower bed with some fresh soil and manure and finally mulch.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Crocus, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Now Tulips

Home on the Range. I will eventually remove the cover on the air conditioner, it's time. Air conditioners in the window don't look pretty. 
The sweet broom shrub and lavendula I planted in the flower be from last year appear to be dead. I am trying to give them time to show some green but I don't know. I am disappointed because they were both large and healthy last season and new purchases. They are both supposed to be hardy in my zone.
Three views of the window box. I planted lots of bubs in this window box but you can see what came up. Of course the squirrels ate well or raccoons. Do they eat bulbs? I have one that uses my tree as a ladder to the roof and the larger tree in a neighbors yard. One night I came home and he was looking at me from the tree. He didn't move and of course I couldn't go inside for a while because he wouldn't move. I actually like raccoons, they're pretty but in the city you have to worry about any wild animal having rabies. I will plant more bulbs in the boxes in the fall they're pretty. My next project after they bloom is to take all the soil out and line the box with a plastic liner to hold in some of the water so it doesn't all drain out. The box was so dry last summer.

You wouldn't know that at least 20 bulbs were planted in each container. Is this what happens when you plant them in February? I think the frigid temperatures on the porch got to them.

I have to do something with these shrubs. A severe pruning is in order. These are last years tulips. They didn't look like this last spring the leaves are huge the second year and aren't as tidy and upright. They will be pulled after they bloom.
The coral bell sure looks better. I have work to do.
A cozy bed, good reading for tonight. They all came in the mail today. The only thing missing is a warm fire and a cup of coffee. If I were sitting in the living room I would have one because it's cold in the house. Crisp and windy outside and expected to go do to the 40's I think. I'm trying to get better with orchids and I bought the Bulb Forcing for Beginners and the Seriously Smitten to see what I can possibly force this Fall and Winter in the house. I'll let you know what I think of the books. They both had good reviews.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Beautiful Day In the Yard

It's a beautiful day. A cool breeze, just enough warmth in the air and the sky is a vision of blue with no clouds. Going into the yard today was not planned but looking through the kitchen window made me curious to see what has broken ground and returned from last season and what hasn't. I also had not smelled the hyacinths. That was enough to get me out there. How can anyone not love hyacinths?

Last years tulips that I pulled because I planted them in the front of the flower beds and they had to be moved because last year they were so tall. Sometimes tulips don't bloom as well the second year. I put them here to be able to cut them to bring inside. Now that they are up I don't want to cut them. 

The first tulip that bloomed.

I believe these are some type of Lilly my mother gave me. I'm not sure until it blooms.
Last week the sedum was just small buds.
This rose bush has been here for years. Growing in the shade. I haven't been able to dig it up to move it. This year I will get some man power to dig it up for me.
My greatest surprise was to see 3 astible I planted last year return. They disappeared when the heat of July came last year. I didn't think they would come back.
It's amazing what can happen in one week. When I was in the yard last week the heuchera looked dead. All three are looking better.

Another heuchera. I really thought this one was dead.
I looked out the window one day and saw something in the planter with the pansies but I didn't plant anything else. I forgot that the bleeding heart, fern, and canna are also still planted here.
A closer look.
Fern fronds in the planter.
I bought this hosta when I didn't see any of the ones I planted last season come up. Today I saw some. I will wait until everything comes up and then See where I can plant it. I'm going to separate it because there are 4 hosta in the container and I will have more plants. I like the green and white ones to add some color to the shade areas under the Maple trees.
Winter sown seeds. I don't even know what it is now. I wrote the name of the seeds on tape and the ink faded. Real smart. Two of six containers came up. I think poor quality seed starting mix in the other 4 was the cause they they did not germinate. The soil medium was always dry and seeds need moisture to germinate. The other container not shown is foxglove. It I get one I will be happy. If I get two I might do a dance. That would be a sight to see.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Why I Garden

This morning I prepared a salad to take to moms for Easter dinner. Of course one was also made for home so I have no excuse about what lunch will be tomorrow. There's nothing like a fresh salad to encourage me to eat better and work on decreasing my weight. Haven't been too successful on the "loose the weight part". Living a healthier lifestyle is important for all ages but seems more important to me as I age with grace. What is healthier than going outside the kitchen door and picking vegetables for the meal. No pesticides, organic, healthy, deliciousness. I will try to keep this in mind when I need to possibly pick worms and water in ninety degree weather. 

First I have to start the vegetables, that would help. I did buy seedlings of tomato, chives, pepper, and broccoli, and Swiss chard. Shouldn't be to late to still start cucumbers and tomatoes. I will have to do my research. I have some for containers that stay compact and I would like to try them. The ones purchased are not looking too good on my porch waiting for better weather. I guess I should plant the broccoli out now since is doesn't mind cool weather. Hopefully all frost is past. It's a new week with 4 day predicted in the 70's. Lets see how night time temperatures do.

Next, pineapple pound cake! Didn't I just talk about healthy eating? Well I love to bake but I don't bake often because I also like to eat it. I remember as a child sitting in the kitchen watching my mother bake. This is how I learned. She taught me to clean up as I go, get all of the ingredients measured first, and keep the sides of the mixing bowl clean while you beat the cake. I still try to do this but the kitchen was a wreck when I finished. I realized that my daughter had eaten the can of crushed pineapples I had for the cake. They had been there for a couple of months when I planned to bake this cake before but decided I didn't need a cake in the house. Today is the day. She went to get me another can of pineapples. I like a recipe I use from Country Cakes a book my mother has and I keep forgetting to order myself a copy. When in need the internet is excellent. When it comes to traditional pound cakes they usually are mostly the same with some slight differences. I used this recipe before and like it for the cake.
Neon pothos in the kitchen window.
I set up my computer so I can look at the recipe as I go although since I've been baking for so long I kind of remember that butter, shortening, and sugar are creamed first. Followed by 6 eggs, then flour with baking powder sifted together and milk. And last, pure vanilla and crushed pineapples.
Some southern products I like. I buy the corn meal for fish and corned bread stuffing. I like the Martha White for this cake. My mother prefers White Lily. I use them both.
Ingredients gathered.
Cream butter, shortening, and sugar together.
Can you see the mistake. I started to add flour and then remembered all six eggs get mixed in first. The cake will survive.
Add 3 cups flour and 1/4 cup milk.
Crushed pineapples and vanilla last.
Did you take your finger and scoop up what was left in the bowl as a child?
I use a tube pan with a removable insert. I line the bottom with wax paper first then spray the pan with Pam or oil with shortening followed by dusting with flour.
Try not to get the mix on the sides. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes until cake pulls away from the sides.
Now to get the tube out without further tearing up the cake.  The cake gets a glaze while warm with pineapples, powdered sugar, and butter. This won't happen today because I need to get dressed for dinner at moms. Sorry that the last couple of pictures were blurry. I was rushing.