Friday, July 5, 2013

In the Garden: what's blooming in June 2013

close up of Clematis 'Roguchi' - tons of flowers and a fast grower
more photos of the clematis below

An update on the garden we planted last summer. Sadly, many of my favorite plants from last year have died. Apparently all of my lavender (sob, one of my favorites!) and my pretty Gaura lindheimeri 'Whirling Butterflies' are both gone...I also think at least one Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan) has died but we'll see later in the summer when they should be blooming. You can what the garden looked like last year, a few months after planting, in my post from last summer.

Here's what's been blooming during the month of June...

first, apropos of nothing...rainbow! We had a huge rainstorm
the other day and afterward an enormous double rainbow came out...
sadly, this photo doesn't really do it justice, it was beautiful!

these Pulsatilla vulgaris (Anemone pulsatilla) or pasque flowers go from
this, in bloom, to...

...these, adorable seedheads. Don't they look like something
from a Dr. Seuss story? So whimsical.

Nature is interesting because the pasque flowers, above, were originally white when I planted them last year. This year however, some were this more maroonish-reddish color, some were purple, and some were the original white! I wonder what caused them to change color...

a tall, white columbine (sorry, I don't have the Latin name)

a close-up of the columbine

two flower buds of the Geranium Rozanne

beginning to bloom

the Geranium Rozanne filling out

The Geranium Rozanne is another of my favorite flowers - it blooms all summer long. We've been having heatwave after heatwave so far this summer, and this amazing flower just keeps going. It also has a great spreading habit (but isn't invasive) so it looks huge the year it's planted. I just can't recommend it enough!

another white columbine, smaller flowers,
shorter and rounder in habit than the first one above

the short white columbine in the right foreground corner
Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster,' Feather Reed Grass,
on the left and back right

the 'Karl Foerster' grass in bloom

the bud of a Paeonia lactiflora, peony 'Festiva Maxima,'
you can see the tiny ants who drink the nectar and help the peony buds open

more buds...and more ants
peony 'Festiva Maxima' in bloom

Astilbe chinensis 'Visions in White,' before blooming

buds forming on a Liatris spicata Kobold

both the astilbe and liatris are almost ready to bloom

and, voila, the astilbe and liatris are now fully in bloom

More photos of the Clematis 'Roguchi,' another favorite (I know, aren't they all favorites?). I love clematis and this one is wonderful because it has the easiest pruning schedule (3) which means it grows on new wood and dies in the winter, so you can just cut it back hard in the spring. And, the best part? Look at these gorgeous deep purple flowers! The flowers bloom all summer long; I have it growing up my white wrought iron stair railing which provides a nice contrast. It would also look lovely growing with some yellow flowers.

even the buds are pretty with their arching "necks"

another angle

look at how many flowers it has - and this is only 1/4 of the plant!

blooming Lychnis coronaria (rose campion). This flower seems to follow us from
house to house. I don't think we've ever planted any but it's always there!
Kind of reassuring, I suppose :)

and now, time for a bird break!
A female cardinal and a sparrow, resting on the birdfeeder

Echinacea purpurea 'Virgin' about to bloom

the echinacea in full flower

a red rose with the lychnis in the background

a cute fern hiding in the background

Veronica spicata (AKA speedwell)...blooming pink and purple at the
same time...very mysterious
The Veronica (above) are another flower that seems to have changed colors since I planted it last year. I remember planting a deep purple Veronica last year, but most of the plant this year flowered with these pale pink flowers. Very strange and interesting...

daisy time! Leucanthemum x superbum, a shasta daisy...
not sure of the common name on this one

Leucanthemum x superbum 'Ice Star,' another shasta daisy,
basking in the sun

daisies and geranium Rozanne

Hakonechloa macra 'Naomi' (Japanese Fountain Grass)
a slow grower so not much bigger than last year

Bye for now...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Christmas cookies 2012

Very late in getting these posted, but here are the Christmas cookies I made for my co-workers and neighbors last Christmas. The recipe is from Cookie Craft: From Baking to Luster Dust, Designs and Techniques for Creative Cookie Occasions by Janice Fryer and Valerie Peterson.

I absolutely love, love, love this book. If I had to choose, I think I like the nutty cookie recipe best, but the plain/lemon is great too. The cookie dough recipes are incredibly easy to make and makes a good number of cookies. No chilling of the dough is required before you roll out the dough and they bake up beautifully. Seriously, rolled cookies with no chilling of the dough - can't get much better than that! They keep their shape so you can use really detailed cutters and the cookies themselves taste delicious. I hate when baked goods are gorgeous but taste like cardboard or weird, artificial flavors or textures.

I don't think I'll ever make cookies as intricately decorated as the ones in the book - I'm more of a pipe on some icing and then cover with shiny sugar sprinkles kind of gal - but they provide lots of inspiration and motivation...and the photos are wonderful to look at. Here are my photos from last Christmas. I've always been obsessed with cute wrapping paper and ribbon, so I love to package up baked goods in cute or funky boxes, bags, or food-safe wrapping paper. You can see some adorably-packaged baked goods here that my sister and I made to donate to a bakesale for Japan to raise money after the Tsunami. For these cookies, I bought some small gift bags when I gave them to my co-workers and neighbors. They got rave reviews!

You can see more pictures and a longer post here (with step-by-step photos) from Christmas 2011 when everything I gave was homemade. I made these cookies, homemade vanilla, lavender eye pillows, and body butters and scrubs. It was so much fun making and packaging everything with cute jars and labels...not to mention gifting all of the various homemade items!

a plate of snowmen cookies

Christmas trees

a tray of raindeer

all bagged up and ready to gift!

Bye for now...

Mixed Vegetable & Red Quinoa Stew

I get a weekly delivery from Boston Organics so I've been trying to find - or make up - recipes to use the contents of my boxes. Sometimes it can be difficult and I wind up with tons of potatoes or kiwis or something. But, for the most part I really love getting fresh fruit and vegetables delivered right to my door, and having the surprise of not knowing exactly what I'll get.

Here is a vegetable and red quinoa stew I made recently. I made up the recipe based on what I had in the delivery: carrots, kale (or any other green would work), onions, zucchini, summer squash, and garlic; olive oil, salt and pepper, and some hot sauce, with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice added at the end complete the dish.

ingredients - use what you like!

cooking down the carrots and onions in some olive oil

while the carrots and onions cook, I started the quinoa.
I love quinoa - so easy and very healthy!

the chopped garlic and kale are added to the carrots and onions mixture

after the kale softens, add the zucchini and summer squash
which don't need to cook for too long

done! How easy was that?

the quinoa is done when the germ (the yellow spiral bit) separates from the germ

mix the vegetables and quinoa together, squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the top...
and voila!

time to enjoy a bowl


Bye for now...

Hiking in the Middlesex Fells

I'm still trying to catch up with a bunch of partially written posts from the last year. Reasons why are detailed here. In short, I'm in grad school now - in addition to working full time - and have just been so busy with going to class, studying, and writing papers...lots of papers!

Here are some photos from a hike last fall in the Middlesex Fells. We are so lucky to live in a place with such varied outdoor activities only a short ride (or walk!) away. We live near ponds and lakes, walking and biking paths. I am also a total New Englander and love that no matter the season, there is somewhere in my own - or a neighboring - state that is lovely to visit.

I'll let these photos speak for themselves. Enjoy!

Bye for now...