Sunday, August 30, 2009

Who Could It Be?

Mystery Flower #1

Was wandering aimlessly around the garden very early this morning. Sipping coffee and working on a flimsy excuse to skip an upcoming birthday party.

Mystery Flower #2

When I was stopped dead in my tracks by this strange thing in the photo above. Hey! Is this a Stargazer Lily? Did I plant this? When did I do that?

Mystery Flower #3

Perhaps this forgetfulness is a direct result of me inching ever closer to the 5th decade.

Or, maybe I've become scattered as my gardens grow by leaps and bounds. Whatever the reason, it's a little worrisome when I'm the only gardener around this joint and I haven't a clue what things are or where they came from.

Now the upside to all this confusion is that I've found my flimsy excuse to skip the party. I'm having a senior moment and I plum forgot.

Mystery Flower #4

Last but not least... who is this little darling?

They grow wild, in tiny bunches, in the grass.

This is me taking the photo. :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Do You Need Another Flower?

Discovered this delightful perennial Phlox at the farmer's market. I need another flower like I need another hole in my head, but this beauty queen somehow found her way into my car and later into my garden...

So, I'm pacing around the barn yesterday, marveling at how a horse will stand still while she's getting a new pair of shoes. Did you know that they nail horseshoes right onto their feet??

I'm a cowgirl wannabe. I know just enough to be dangerous when it comes to horses though I gotta say... whoever first experimented with the idea of nailing shoes onto a horse's foot must have been a real, true psychopath.

And, the first horse to ever get shoes? Well, she was far too obliging, if you ask me.

Annuals aren't in the budget but when it comes to flowers, I have no pride. I can't remember how I suckered Wunx out of these Geraniums. I'm just glad I did.

The horse shoe guy (as you would probably expect) is kind of an oddball. But I had to laugh when I read the front of his t-shirt: "I don't need another horse. I don't need another horse. I don't need another horse..."

Wild Asters and Goldenrod signal the change of seasons.

Plug the word flower into that statement and I suppose you've pinpointed my passion.

I was emailing an herb gardener this morning and that got me thinking about all sorts of new excuses to dig in the dirt ~ when just 2 weeks ago I announced I was done for the season!

False Sunflowers (perennial Helianthus) and Baby's Breath are lovely, late season bloomers.

So, back to the matter at hand...
Do you need another flower?

Let's approach this rationally. If there is a spot left in the yard where you have not yet dug a hole do you really need me to enable you on this subject? :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Early Birds & People's Markets

“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.” - John Gunther

Let's take a poll! What makes you more jealous?
1) The fact that I scored a picture-perfect heirloom Brandywine tomato?
2) Because it only cost me 50 cents?
3) Or, because said tomato is resting nicely on my very own 'souvenir of Wyoming' dinner plate? [Oh, yeah! Am I cool... or what?]

Crawled out of bed at an unheard of hour ~ 6 a.m. ~ on a Saturday!

I run a lazy household. So lazy, in fact that when I grabbed the scissors and bee-lined it to the gardens that early in the morning I knew I'd be heading out there alone.

Bad Dog is not that co-dependent.
He glared at me with one sleepy eye, rolled over and went back to bed.

I scored that simply fabulous heirloom tomato at Mitchell's Market.

Meet Mitchell, prince of the heirloom tomatoes. [Mitchell's Mom is Queen.]

This early morning, scissor-happy, frenzy was on account of bloggers, Needles of Iron and sister, Just-A-Mere coming to town, to celebrate the birth of granddaughter, Bebe Bean. I was madly snipping a little bit of every pink flower blooming to make them one of my ultra-special (as in 'geez, that's kind of weird looking') Big Rock Garden bouquets.

It was looking pretty good, if I do say so myself, right up until I hopped in the car and raced down the mountain to meet my blogging friends for breakfast. You see, the top was off the Jeep Wrangler and now I know why it's a bad idea to transport fresh-cut flowers in a convertible.

Rose petals were flying everywhere!

This was such a fun morning because I've been 'virtual friends' with Iron for several years. That's the wonderful thing about blogging ~ you cross paths with so many great people you would never know, were it not for the blogosphere.

Through my blog, she met Wunx, a local friend of mine. Through Iron, we met her sister. And, so the 4 of us met for a yakety yak breakfast, lingering at Ruth's Diner for the better part of the morning.

Murry Market (not heirloom, why bother? :) Tomaters

Afterwards, Wunx introduced me to the famous Mitchell's Market fresh-picked veggie stand.

Then we headed to the Murry Farmer's Market to arm wrestle the natives for sweet corn and other homegrown goodies.

Attn: Salt Lake City Locals!
Find Mitchell's magnificent heirloom tomatoes a half block east of Foothill Blvd. on the corner of 1300 South and Laird Way. On Saturday mornings.

Or! Find them at the People's Market on Sundays: International Peace Garden, 1000 South, 900 West in Salt Lake City.

Friday, August 21, 2009

2 Ways to W(h)ine

“Gardening is how I relax. It’s another form of creating and playing with colors.” - Oscar de la Renta

Mom's Old-Fashioned Hollyhocks are bloomin' up a storm.

While standing in the checkout line at the wine store, I let loose with a deep sigh. Too deep, so everyone got the impression it was one of those passive-aggressive harrumph sort of sighs ~ to indicate I was mad about something.

My New-Fashioned Double Hollyhocks are going hog wild, too.

I sighed simply because I was tired. It has been a long week and a weird one, at that. I don't know why people always assume there is more to a situation than first meets the eye. And, I really don't get why they think it has something to do with them...

Mallow, or miniature Hollyhocks, bloom in tight spots, where big ass Hollyhocks don't fit.

Because, you see, it's all about me!

My ex-husband was in town. (Eek!) My business partner wants to do a spa weekend. (Eek to the tenth power!) I'm not a comfy, exhibitionist-type naked person. I don't handle those nude sea salt scrubs very well.

Plant Baby's Breath amidst the Roses and gardeners will call you a rock star.

And, then Bad Dog ran away.
Well, he didn't exactly run away. He ditched me and the horse because he was bored with our ride. But, he zigged when he should have zagged and ended up returning to the wrong barn. (Perhaps all barns look the same to dogs?)

I was fairly frantic by the time the people, who's barn he was lounging in, realized my phone number was on his tag and gave me a jingle.

Wine Cups are exceptionally tough, drought-tolerant sun lovers.

While I was anxiously awaiting word of Bad Dog's whereabouts, I deadheaded the Wine Cups. Which gave me a grand idea for the evening. And, that's when it occurred to me... There's more than one way for women to w(h)ine.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fresh-Picked Raspberry Muffin Recipe

My hard gardening work is finally paying off.

The raspberry bushes in my garden are producing enough fresh fruit that I can actually make something with them!

Oh, I can't make much... I could probably make a whole lot more if I refrained from eating them. But, that's sort of the whole point of fresh berries, isn't it? You don't really need to cook 'em. They are pure perfection straight off the vine...

Fresh-Picked Raspberry Muffin Recipe:
* I make no apologies for this far too high in fat recipe. Stir it up and prepare to be dazzled.
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
* PLUS! 4 pints of fresh raspberries. You'll need about a cup of raspberries for this recipe. The extras are for you to nibble on. (See? I'm always thinking of you....)

Melt the butter.
Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Combine eggs, butter, oil, and milk, add to dry ingredients.

Use a non-stick cooking spray or line muffin tins with baking cups.
Fill the muffin cups to about 2/3 full.

Last but not least! Sprinkle fresh raspberries on top of the muffin mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. I like to sprinkle the berries on top because they're so darn fragile. This way you get a big burst of raspberry flavor when you chomp into these yummy muffins.

Fun Facts to Know & Tell:
There are 2 basic types of Raspberry bushes for backyard gardens: Summer Bearing (Floricane) and Everbearing (Primocane). Just as it sounds, Everbearing produces fruit over a longer period of time. Summer Bearing overwhelms you with all fruit ripening at approximately the same time. Since I cannot imagine a situation where one could have too many Raspberries, I'd recommend planting a whole bunch of both kinds.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Nibbling on the Heirlooms

Battalions of grasshoppers and other smug bugs are marching across my gardens, consuming pretty much everything standing still.

Lucky for me, the cats move quick. Bad Dog is probably too big to become dinner.

I don't understand why these pests gobble the greenery and leave the tomaters behind. That's the best part!


When I first moved into this house, it was kind of like living in the country.

Now I have highly productive neighbors who live very close, though that hasn't messed with my early morning ritual of strolling the gardens, in my jammies, nibbling on this and that.

(May I just say? As a neighbor, you should NOT feel morally obligated to call out a happy good morning to me when you're in your business suit and I'm in my bathrobe. Because that makes me think I should go get a job and I can do without that guilt trip, thank you very much.)

So, I'm standing out there, munching on a Mr. Stripey heirloom tomato. Glaring at my neighbors, grumpy about the bugs... When I looked down and noticed that I'd eaten almost everything I'd planned to toss into the scrambled eggs.

And, that's when it dawned on me. The biggest pest messing with my tomato production is probably me!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Splendid Days @ Albion Basin

"Heaven is overrated." ~ Coldplay

This week's Friday Afternoon (hiking) Club took place on Monday morning... because that's just how wildly unpredictable we are.

We set our sites on the Cecret Lake. No... I didn't spell 'secret' wrong. Some other weirdo spelled it wrong ages ago and it's been driving people crazy ever since.

Especially me since, at one point, I had strongly considered becoming a high school teacher. Then I did my student teaching where I was forced to interact with real, live, high school kids.. and... well... say no more.

I'm NOT thinking about high school kids because I have an ounce of fondness for them. Quite the opposite! Oh, they're cute and all ~ if you happen to be the parent of one of them ~ but I'm a Mom who survived those teenage years.

May I just say? 'Lock 'em up, throw away the key' is not always a bad idea.

To get to Secret Lake you hike up and up and up a little bit more. You don't really notice all the walking uphill because you're traipsing through expansive fields of wildflowers every step of the way.

When we reached the actual 'Cecret Lake,' [Argh! That name drives me nuts!] we were confronted with hordes of teenagers.

On a Monday? How fair is that?
When will we see the shift to 12 months, every year, kids in school? Because that would be good for the nation as a whole and especially me!

We walked to an out of the way giant rock where we could eat our lunch and observe the teens as we do monkeys in a zoo. (It's really not all that different.)

Then, I looked down to see one enterprising teen rock-climbing his way to the top of our own personal boulder! As teenagers go, the kid was fairly well-trained. (Good job, Mom!) He said, "Thanks! I just wanted to see if I could do that!"

I was dying to be all sarcastic and demand: Do what? Spoil my lunch? But, I couldn't. Because, you see, I'm only allowed to be a bitch once a day.

And, I'd already hollered at some poor Latvian tourist for picking the wildflowers...

Reason #9 for not picking those wildflowers: They are COVERED with bugs. Vicious, nasty, carnivorous, creepy crawlies that will eat you up from the inside out.

Okay, fine, maybe that's stretching things a bit but I still wish you would just lay off picking the wildflowers. It doesn't do me, or you, any good.

* Wildflower identification! Are you dying to know? Me, too!

From top photo to bottom photo:
  1. Damned if I know!
  2. Damned if I know.
  3. Damned if I know :(
  4. I just take the pictures. Perhaps you're smart enough to identify them.
*Albion Basin is renowned for having a broader variety of wildflowers than any area of similar size in the USA. At 10,000 foot elevation, with plentiful snowfall, this basin is a unique experience of alpine and sub-alpine wildflowers that bloom in a compressed, 3 - 4 week, period of time.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

A Breath of Cold Air

A break in the weather! When I woke this morning it was a chilly 51 degrees. (And, I was quite delighted.)

Vintage Cabernet Double Hollyhock*

My most prized possession weathered the high winds. She is, without a doubt, the most impressive double Hollyhock I ever did see. I stroll out there to have coffee with her in the mornings and I can attest that this gal is tough as nails! [Even the sight of me in my cowgirl jammies and scary hair has not frightened her out of opening up more flowers.]

A blurry afternoon:
Dust storm coupled with smoke from wildfires.

Ever get that feeling trouble is brewing? I get that all the time. And, some day? Well, I just might heed those warnings.

I went riding alone ~ which after last year's concussion, busted ribs, yada, yada is a blinky no-no ~ but it's not like I'm going to get in trouble because I no longer tell people I'm doing such things.

Anyway... that first cell phone storm photo was from high on the hill as we were heading back to the barn. This second one is after we made it home without a hitch. Though... if ever a horse could say, 'I told you so,' this should have been the day.


"Why don't you ever blog about your veggie garden," demands my good friend Haze, veggie gardener extraordinaire.

What's to say?

Vegetables are delightful to eat, slightly boring to grow.

They just sit there quietly ripening on the vine. I'm glad they're doing so well this year.

When the high winds hit, my tender little veggies started blowing up the hill toward the neighbors. So, now I have something to say. Goodbye, wonderful to have known you!

Perhaps I should be personable about this whole thing and go visit the neighbors. Will they understand? Or, will they think I'm tossing heirloom tomatoes in their direction?

Whatever the case, the horse and I survived the storm.

And, so did these little weirdos:

* We don't know the real name of the Vintage Cabernet Hollyhock. We might have been drunk when we gave her that nickname but we still think it's kind of cool...

Monday, August 03, 2009

Sweet Signs of Summer!

Luscious Pears ripen on my trees...

Peppermint Phlox prepares to show her pretty face.

Rose Campion* picks up the slack as Johnson's Blue Geraniums take a well-deserved break.

Rose and I are BFFs. I adore everything about her! Including the silvery grey foliage that sets off her show-stopper fuchsia blooms.

John Cabot Roses will flower all summer long, if you're nice to them. [Half the summer if you're not.]

It is no hotter today than it was last Friday or earlier in the week. There's just something about it being the month of August that works like a charm.

When the pinks grace my garden in full force.

And, I get permission to slack off on pretty much everything.

Except moving the sprinkler from here to there.

What's left to be done in the garden will not get done. Certainly not if it's left up to me.

August spells the beginning of the... end. As in the end of my energy. Because when it hits 95 degrees outside there's really only one thing to do.

Spirea and Perky Sue

Hoist myself into a swimsuit and head to the beach! :))

Buckets & Buckets of Pink Evening Primrose

Rose Campion is a stunning heirloom perennial that's been around since the 1300's. Thrives in zones 3-9. I've discovered she's considerably more drought tolerant than nurseries claim.