Friday, July 23, 2010


My grandmother had an old metal glider on her porch. It was always my favorite place to sit when I was a kid. I've long wanted one of my own. But first I needed a place to put it. My patio has been in shambles for as long as I've been here, and I really wanted to have it redone before I got all furniture-y. Then there's the whole issue of coordinating the pieces when I do get around to outfitting the space. What kind of look do I want there? I have no idea; I'm no decorator.

As a result, I've had zero outdoor furniture since I moved here 5 years ago. What had been a patio table and chairs at the old place has been my (well-used) sunroom furniture here. I rarely spend time just relaxing outside - is that because I always see something else that needs to be done, or simply because I've had no place to sit? It's time to find out. So much with decorating, I need to sit down!

For my recent birthday, I picked out a glider of my very own. Shipping time was perfect and it arrived on the special day. Shipping itself left something to be desired:

I hope all the pieces are still there!

"Some assembly required."

Fortunately furniture assembly is a bit of a specialty of mine (just one of my many oddities), so I thought this task was a fine birthday gift.


(pardon the weeds, but they do make a nice blanket over the uneven patio bricks)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Blooms

This week I've spotted three never-before-seen blooms in my garden. Not that they are rare, they are just new to my yard. Very exciting (to me) all the same.

In the upper garden is Joe-Pye, which I installed last fall. I didn't expect it to bloom so early. I don't know whether this is normal or if it's being early like most everything else in my yard.

I'm very happy with it so far. It doesn't have much room to spread where I put it, but I have other places it can go when (if) it outgrows this space.

Also blooming for the first time is Rudbeckia 'Henry Eilers' in the front walkway bed:

It's not fully open yet, but you can see it has really skinny petals. Not at all like the other rudbeckia I have blooming:

And here's a coleus on the patio terrace. I've never had coleus before, but have admired the brightly colored foliage. I had no idea it would have pretty flowers, too!

It's been a floral week here at the Crest!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

July Blooms

Mid-summer is the time my garden stalwarts shine: echinacea, rudbeckia, gaillardia. Why now, when they bloom all summer? Because just about everything else takes a break in the heat of the summer. Oriental lilies are just finishing, daylilies are done, save a few rebloomers to come, balloon flowers are nearly finished popping, butterfly weed is showing off its seed pods, .... But the steady three keep on going in summers heat. You've seen them all before, so what's left?

I've always thought coreopsis should be the fourth leg of the summer table, but as I posted last month, they just don't return. They are beautiful for a year or so, then disappear. Here's a courtesy shot of my 'Zagreb' - still beautiful because this is its first year in my garden:

Isn't it pretty with a backdrop of curly kale that I really should have harvested weeks ago?

I do have one coreopsis that has not only survived, but thrived. This is its third year here, and rather than shrinking it has actually expanded (a little). Could this be the one to prop up my summer garden? Introducing Coreopsis rosea:

And a closeup:

Thanks to my color-altering camera, you can't see that it is actually quite pink, with lavender undertones. The centers match perfectly with the neighboring orange butterfly weed, tying together two plants I wouldn't otherwise want to put so close together.

Heres hoping I can still sing the praises of C. rosea next year!

To see what is blooming today in other people's gardens, visit our lovely hostess Carol over at May Dreams Gardens for links to more Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day posts.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Birthday Blooms

My very first daylily, purchased ten years ago and labeled simply "Orange", is still my favorite. Partly because it was first, partly because it is orange, partly because of its large blooms. But also because it blooms on my birthday. Every year.

This year I was concerned because all the daylilies were blooming 2-3 weeks early. Would "my" daylily, which usually starts blooming on my birthday, last that long? It did. It saved the very last three blooms (I only got 2 in the picture) for my special day:

Also blooming on my birthday (last week, by the way) - my first dahlia of the year (and likely the only, since something chomped the other one down to a stalk yesterday):

Balloon flowers full of bees:


Glads - I love this white-trimmed purple one:

Also the usual echinacea, rudbeckia, tradescantia. Coreopsis rosea is in full swing, a few butterfly weed still hanging on, some geranium, asters(!), assorted cucurbits,...

And inside:

Sunflowers! From my sister and BIL. The florist had to come find me in the backyard to deliver them. He almost didn't walk around, but I'm glad he did - he wouldn't have left them out in the heat of the day.

I love flower-filled birthdays!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Harvest Page

I picked my second cucumber last night (just as yummy as the first), but didn't think cucumber #2 warranted its own post. What to do, what to do? Aha! I decided to make use of the blogs "pages" to make a harvest list. I hope to remember to keep it up with a list of what I pick, when I pick it, so next year I'll have a point of comparison. Let's see if I actually remember to keep it updated.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Garlic Breath

When I got home from work on Friday, I noticed the garlic in the the herb garden (producers of the great garlic scapes) had turned completely brown.

Wait, wasn't I supposed to harvest this when it was only half brown? Well, it turned brown in a hurry, so I figured it would still be okay. The danger of leaving garlic in the ground too long is that the heads will split. I think the garlic would still be edible, it just wouldn't keep. I have only 7 (was supposed to be six, but one clove must have planted itself) heads of garlic here in my first, experimental, garlic bed, so I'm not planning to store them.

Out they come!

I brushed off the dirt and set them in a shady spot in the porch to dry. I set aside the best-looking one to plant again in the fall, and chose three to prepare immediately. I had an hour or so until a friend's cookout, and I knew exactly what I would contribute: roasted garlic spread with a baguette.

I peeled off the outer (dirty) layer of skin, making sure I left enough to keep the head together. I cut the tops off, low enough to expose the cloves.

I drizzled olive oil over the tops and wrapped each clove in a double-thickness of aluminum foil.

Roasted in a 375-degree oven for about 45 minutes. Here's what a head of roasted garlic looks like (I've already split it apart):

Pretty much like a raw head, but a pretty golden color. It's deceiving, though, because those cloves go to mush at the slightest touch. I like to see how may cloves I can extract whole, though one can just squeeze the garlic out of the head.

I mushed up this garlic and mixed it with olive oil and freshly grated parmesan.

I took it to the cookout with the baguette. It was a hit!

Warm as a Cucumber

Cucumbers are my favorite summer vegetable, but I have difficulty growing them successfully. Either the vines wither and die from this disease or that pest, or the fruits are so bitter even I won't eat them.

This years cucumber vines are looking pretty good so far, though the lower leaves are yellowing, which makes me think they may be short-lived this year. Fortunately there are lots of little cucumbers growing, so maybe I can get my fill before the plants give up the ghost. I have the vines growing up my new trellis arbor into the upper garden. The vines on one side are almost to the top, and the ones on the other side are runts.

But I have cucumbers!

Yesterday I declared that the one in the back was ready to pick, so off it came. It's a beauty:

I took it inside, wiped off the spines, and began to peel. I started to get nervous - we've had some hot, hot, dry days lately, and I haven't been home to water. Would it be too bitter? No, it was perfect. But warm! The first taste of cucumber always surprises me. I think of cucumbers as being cool and refreshing (others must, too, since someone out there coined that "cool as..." phrase). But a cucumber straight from the hot garden is warm. Still refreshing, but warm. Makes sense, but it gets me every year.