Thursday, September 24

Random Cuttings

Lately, I keep finding myself with random little snippets of posts, and no good way to tie them all together into a coherent bundle. Weeks later, I log into Blogger and find draft after draft cluttering up my account... so I end up just deleting the drafts to clean up the mess.  In addition to wasting any effort I've put into writing, I don't always remember to go back and chronicle the items in the deleted drafts for posterity.  This may not seem like such a big deal at first glance, but it is, because the primary function of my blog is to serve as a gardening journal.

As a result, I've decided that I'm going to just cull these little post snippets into an occasional post seriess called Random Cuttings. I hope that they turn out as nicely as this little scrabbled-together garden bouquet:

Garden bouquet, September 2009.
Plants include 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth, 'Sweet Kate' tradescantia, Russian sage, Japanese bloodgrass, and coleus.

I like to take random cuttings from the garden and put them into various vases around the house throughout the season. Some don't live up to my standards and are either revamped or sent to that big compost bin the sky--er, the backyard. But others really work for me, and I'm very happy to have brought the garden inside on days when I can't go outside into the garden.

Remember those apples from the last post?  The ones Steve and I picked off of his grandfather's tree? I'm still whittling down the pile, slowly... but here's how the Apple Pie with Walnut Streusel looked while it cooled:

I'm not sure how the apple crisp turned out, because we dropped it off at Steve's grandpa's last night and haven't heard any reviews.  I used a new topping recipe and made it gluten-free for Steve's uncle (who often eats dinner there) so that makes me a little nervous... but as Steve pointed out:  "It has yummy apples, cinnamon, sugar, butter, oats and oat flour in it. Really, could it have turned out that bad?"  Good point!

The edibles had a really rough year in my garden--and it's all my fault.  I got everything into the ground so late this year that I can only hope for the cold temps to hold off long enough for me to harvest some tomatoes.  My lemongrass hardly grew, the birds got all of my grapes, it was a not-unexpected "off" year for the blackberries, and so on.  But the worst was finding scale on my potted, 3-year-old bay laurels!  I immediately cut the whole plants down below the infestation and harvested the salvageable leaves.  They look pretty drying on my dining room table:

I have no idea whether cutting the bay back will work, by the way.  Since I don't spray, it was just a gut-instinct action as an alternative to throwing out the infected plants.  I keep watching the branch stubs for signs of scale, or for signs of additional leafing out... and see none of either, yet.  I'll keep the blog updated on their progress (or lack thereof) as autumn progresses.  Please keep your fingers crossed for them!

Saturday, September 19

7 Things, Plus One Box of Possibilities

A while back, Carol from May Dreams Gardens tagged me for a meme. I know that I've done this "Seven Things About Me" meme before, and frankly I'm not a very exciting (drama-finding, larger-than-life) person, so coming up with seven interesting things is going to be a struggle.  But I like Carol, and I really don't feel like doing anything productive right now, so I'm giving it a try. Here goes:

1.  I play a lot of volleyball.
I started playing volleyball in adult leagues a few years after I got married, and have kept playing through the years. In the summertime I play 4's, 6's and even a lower-level (upper intermediate/BB, as opposed to open/A/competitive) women's 2's league. My favorite team is my Thursday indoor competitive 6's team, though.  We have a good team (including my boyfriend Steve) and great chemistry, and I can't wait until we start playing together again next week. 

Speaking of Steve...

2.  Here's something scandalous, after all:  I'm dating a younger man. 
Okay, it's not really that scandalous.  I'm not dating Steve because he's younger... in fact, all of the guys I've dated previously have been my age or within a year older than me.  I'm dating Steve because... well, because he's Steve.  :-)  And outside of a few amusing comments from various friends, and a few cultural references from our childhoods that we have to explain to each other, I never really remember on a day-to-day basis that he's 26 and I'm 33.
 (But I have to point out--just in case Steve is reading this--that I may be older, but he has WAY more gray hairs than I do already! ;-) 

3. Speaking of gray hair, I am NOT going to be one of those women who constantly colors and touches up her hair when it turns gray.  
I hope it turns the pretty, silvery-white color that my Mom's is... but if it isn't, then I will probably just cut it short and choppy and punky, so it has some attitude.

4.  I have a deep love of architecture.
I seriously considered going to school for architecture, or at least art... and still wonder whether I shouldn't have done so.  Regardless, I definitely appreciate both.  And part of what I love about Cleveland is that many of its beautiful buildings were created during the Art Deco period, which is one of my favorites because it's a mashup of contrasts (like opulence and modern efficiency.)

5. I hope that I never, ever, EVER have to eat meatloaf again.
I know, this is a silly one. But once when I was a kid my Mom made me sit at the table until I ate every last bite of my meatloaf. (This, by the way, is the worst thing I can say about her... she is an amazing mother, and I consider myself extremely lucky!)  I didn't like meatloaf all that well prior to this particular evening... and after choking down numerous bites of cold, icky meatloaf amid tears, I downright hated it.  Ugh!


6.  I love cooking.
So I don't ever have to worry about having to make meatloaf for lack of recipes and ideas. My friend Jessica and I like to trade recipes, and when we get together we are known to indulge in making ridiculously gourmet epicurean feasts. During my visit to Cincinnati chronicled in the photo above, she introduced me to Jungle Jim's (heaven!) and I showed her that roasting a whole chicken is so easy that someone who makes her own delicious ice cream doesn't need to be intimidated by it at all.

Almost done with this meme!  So I'll end with one more confession:

7.  I have a secret admiration/envy of Martha Stewart.
Okay, it's probably not such a big secret given how much I read her magazines.  And people who know me and have seen my messy, eclectic house are probably laughing right now.  But I aspire to cook as well as, decorate as interestingly as, garden as efficiently as, and generally housekeep as amazingly as Ms. Martha.  Maybe some day.

And that brings us to the end of this meme... so it's time to show you the "Plus One Box of Possibilities" from the title of this post:

Apples! Steve's grandfather has a huge old apple tree in his backyard, and we stopped by there for a quick visit and some apple-picking today. I filled up the big, old (trashpicked) antique trug shown above, plus another bag... and could probably go back for the same amount again, there were so many fruits weighing down the boughs.

It's a great old tree, missing some limbs but perfect for a little climbing nonetheless. And these apples are heavenly--firm and crisp, with a really good balance of tart and sweet in the flavor. Could they be Gala? Macintosh?  Nobody has any idea: According to Steve's uncle Mike, his parents had actually purchased a crabapple tree for planting, and were surprised when it started bearing regular, full-sized apples in subsequent years.

It doesn't matter what kind they are, really... they're going to be an apple pie with walnut streusel, an apple crisp, and probably some apple-clove butter, too, by the time I get done with them. Anyone have any other all-time-favorite recipes that they would like to share? I certainly seem to have enough apples to give them all a try!

Tuesday, September 15

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - September 2009

I'm out of town this week for a work-related seminar, but I took a few photos before I left so that I could put up a quick GBBD post.  So here, without further ado, are a few snapshots of what's blooming in my garden--including a BIG September surprise:
Portulaca blooming alongside lavender, hens and chicks, and bronze carex buchanii
Variegated sedum in bud at the base of sorghastrum nutens 'Sioux Blue,' which is currently in bloom
Sun Parasol, a bright crimson mandevilla
(very cool, but not the surprise)
Spent flowerheads on red groundcover sedum are still showy against my 'Golden Sword' yucca
The first blue caryopteris flowers emerge amongst the bottlebrush flowers of a pennisetum that I bought as 'Hameln'--but which I think flowers too darkly to be that cultivar.
'Albury Purple' hypericum, which has sported berries for months now, is again throwing out occasional buttery yellow blooms
(Again, cool... but not the surprise!)
Purple Heart, Purple Tradescantia, Setcreasea Pallida... no matter what you want to call it, this lilac-flowering beauty always reminds me of my lovely sister-in-law Amanda
(A story too long to explain right now)
Some annuals still beating the heat with blooms: 'Yubi Red' portulaca and a dark blue angelonia in the tile planter
'Sweet Kate' spiderwort putting up a second wave of color
The twisty onion: allium senescens subspecies glaucum
HERE is the surprise:  A pot-planted Christmas amaryllis bulb in rebloom!
Magenta snapdragons, seen through a veil of 'Black & Blue' salvia. The feathery plant on the left is 'Golden Rain' rosemary
And to close this post?  Not a bloom at all, but instead a rather gratuitous photo of the puppy I've been missing so much this week. (I am also surprised at how many times I have thought that "I wish Steve was here to see..." or do something with me during this trip. Interesting...)  In a few days, I'll be back in town to see whether the next few tomatoes have managed to escape her notice... or whether she's been picking up the "harvesting" duties while I've been gone. Expect a full report!
In the meantime:  Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is one of the many brainchilds of Carol over at May Dreams Gardens.  To see what else is blooming around the world on the 15th of September, check out Carol's latest GBBD Post here.