Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blueberry-Basil Granita

Blogger still isn't letting me post pictures for some unknown reason, but here's the recipe for a pretty awesome Blueberry & Basil Granita that I made a couple of nights ago.  The recipe was on a sign in the basil patch at Atlanta Botanical Garden, and I made it exactly as the recipe was written.  Rave reviews from all of the dinner guests!

1 Pint Blueberries
1/2 cup water
8 basil leaves
The juice of one lime
4 tsp. honey
1/4 tsp. salt

Blend all of the ingredients until smooth, and freeze in an airtight container until slushy, about 2-1/2 hours.  Serve in a glass garnished with additional basil leaves for garnish.

I served this with a lemon pound cake and ginger snaps.  Pretty great combinations!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Atlanta Botanical Garden

I had a couple of meetings this morning with other people from the gardening world, and Atlanta Botanical Garden seemed the perfect place for morning coffee.  I haven't been there since The Inspired Gardener syposium in February, so it was wonderful to see things in their full late-summer glory.

This first shot is of the water wall at the entrance.  Unfortunately the water doesn't show well in the photo.  The top planted area is a bog garden, and you might be able to see the wall of water spilling down over the granite.  The sound is very effective as you're entering ABG.
The iconic Dale Chihuly fountain in the middle of the Parterre Garden is one of my favorite installations at ABG. 
"Frog Baby" is officially on loan from the High Museum of Art, but it's been in this little frog pond for at least the past five years, so it's seeming pretty permanent to me.  It's another favorite piece of mine in the garden, and it looks even better at this time of year surrounded by papyrus, cannas, and other water lovers. 
The lotus blooms are just exquisite in an almost bizarre way.  I always expect water to start squirting out of the middle like the flower on a clown's lapel. 
This new vertical herb garden is very cool in the edible garden.  This section to the right is actually a vertical rill of water (several of them, in fact), so the sound of running water is really spectacular, particularly in such a hot spot where all the edibles are growing.
The current sculpture exhibit contains pieces by several artists in several different media.  This one is, I think, great fun in the long border.

More photos from ABG later.  If you're in the Atlanta area, definitely a spot worth visiting!

Fat Free, Cholesterol Free, and I Grew Most of It Myself!

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili from Sunflower Cafe

1 large onion, roughly chopped -didn't grow that
3 bell peppers, roughly diced (I used one red, one yellow, one green, since that what I had) - grew those!
2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced - grew those, too!
1 T. chopped garlic - grew it!
1 T. chili powder
1-1/2 t ground cumin
1-1/2 t. dried oregano - grew it!
1 t. salt
1 t. ground pepper
1 c. cooked white beans
1 c. cooked black beans
1 c. cooked pinto beans - didn't grow the beans.....
1 lb. chopped fresh tomatoes - grew those!
4 ounces tomato paste

Use a nonstick spray in a heavy pot, and saute the onion over medium high heat until it's starting to color.  Add the peppers and garlic, continue cooking five more minutes.
Stir in the spices and incorporate well.  Add the balance of the ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and allow to cook 15 to 20 minutes.

When it's done I typically stir in 4 cups of cooked brown rice.  Freezes beautifully, and a great recipe for a winter lunch while working in the garden.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Little Side Trip on the Way Home from the Beach

This first picture is demonstrating the most strenuous thing I did over the past couple of days.   Since this is the time when we have a slight break in the gardening in Atlanta, it was the perfect opportunity to visit friends who live at the Sandestin Resort on the Gulf Coast.  Having grown up in a beachfront community, there is nothing quite as wonderful for me as waking up and walking across the street to nap in the sun for a few hours. 

The bad part about going to the Florida panhandle from Atlanta is "you can't get there from here."  On a map it looks to be relatively close, but in reality it's about a six hour drive through the backroads and fields of rural Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
Since we were already in that neck of the woods, it was a no brainer for me to stop at Petals From the Past, petalsfromthepast.com, one of my favorite nurseries anywhere, on our way home.  Fortunately I was driving, and Frank has no sense of direction, so my comment that it is "just slightly out of the way" didn't get any objections.  And after the drive from eternity, even Frank agreed that it was a pretty fabulous place!

A few of today's treasures are here.  First there is a pink brugmansia.  I absolutely adore Angel's Trumpets, and this is a color I don't have.  The plant I bought is really a baby in a 1 gallon pot, so it may not flower this season, but they're so easy to chop up and overwinter, I'll have a few for containers next summer. 
Salvia greggii "Raspberry" is one that I have for really great color in the Stepchild Garden, but not in any clients' gardens.  I bought one for the walled garden at the Big House, and may split it for other places, as well.  It has thrived in the Stepchild Garden for three years with absolutely zero attention, and comes back every year in spite of being totally ignored. 
The rose below is called "Peggy Martin," and is a survivor of Hurricane Katrina (there is another post about this rose many months ago here, but if you click that tag, it should come up).  This baby is like a pink version of Lady Banks, and is just as exuberant in its growth and blooms.  I planted two on the black iron fence at the Big House two years ago, and they have grown like weeds.  I'm going to add this one to another area of the fence, and then try to root some cuttings this year, as well.

Lastly, I got two LSU Purple Figs.  Again, they're both pretty small, but both have fruit on them this year.  I'm going to try them against a brick wall at the Big House, where they should love life!

Off to do laundry, since tomorrow's a work day!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Three Plants I'm Loving This Summer!

Here are three very different plants, with three very different uses, that I am absolutely loving this summer.  Each of them has weathered this summer's crazy weather admirably, and each is entering August looking incredibly good. 

This first one is Lythrum virgatum "Morden's Pink," and it's now in it's second season.  It's not getting as much sun as it typically likes, so it's getting off to a slow start, but that's not such a bad thing.  Lythrum (Loosestrife) can sometimes be invasive in the South, though this particular cultivar is supposed to be much better behaved.  I have had it in the Stepchild Garden now for four years, and it's perfectly controlled.  This photograph doesn't show it well, but we planted it along the length of this very long fence (about 150 feet), alternating with Russian Sage (Perovskia), behind yellow daylilies.  Since the daylilies have pretty much ended for the season, this combination of the pink and soft blue will fill in some of the empty space left behind once the daylily foliage gets cut back.

Hibiscus x moscheutos 'Robert Fleming' is a great plant for some pretty tough situations.  This is its second year of being used in a container at the pool, in full blistering sun.  The flowers are almost 10 inches across, the foliage stays clean and fresh (it looks almost like Hydrangea macrophylla foliage), and the plant itself doesn't get much more than 3 feet tall.  It is winter hardy to something crazy (like Zone 4), so at the end of the season we throw it into a nursery pot and overwinter it behind the greenhouse.   
"Snow n Summer" is an Asiatic Jasmine that I first saw in Vince Dooley's garden in Athens about five years ago, and just fell in love with it.  This might be pushing the ticket just a little, but where we have it planted it's getting more sun than at Coach Dooley's house, and I think it's doing better!

It is like most Asiatic Jasmines, which are very "exuberant" growers in the South.  In this particular spot, the ground is like cement, since this brick walk goes between two massive retaining walls, and there is a ton of mechanical work under the surface (drainage, lighting wires, etc.)  Prior to planting this last year, virtually nothing would grow in this spot.  It gets blistering sun for about four hours a day, and is then in full shade the rest of the time.  Monrovia had recommended cutting it back to keep the new growth (pink and white) coming, but we haven't had to do that at all.  The colors are beautiful, and ultimately the white goes to a variegated green with pink and white.  The only drawback is that we really MUST use a pre-emergent here, since weeding becomes next to impossible if we don't stay on top of it.  (What you see in this photo was planted as eight 1-gallon plants two years ago.)

One of the best things about these three plants is availability.  Each of them is readily available at this point, I haven't seen a pest issue with any, and I can't say enough good things about them!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Colocasia esculenta "Elena"

The sunlight was really incredible this morning, coming through the leaves of Colocasia esculenta "Elena."  According to Plant Delights Nursery, this baby is hardy to Zone 7B, and is a hardier version of "Lime Zinger."  These all came from one original bulb three years ago (there are about 8 big clumps now).  I've not tried overwintering it outside yet, but think I'll leave a couple of them out this winter to trial.  They are in dappled sun, with irrigation, in potting soil, and loving life!

The photo below isn't great lighting, but I think it will show some better perspective.  This little chapel in in an ocean of Camellia japonica and Delaware Azaleas along a creek, so the Elephant Ears in the window box planters give a great change in texture to the scene.  The photo above was from a seat inside the chapel.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Syncing My Hub......I Think Not!

I got a message today from my phone.  The message was a reminder that I need to “sync my social hub,” and did, in fact, come FROM my phone, not VIA my phone.

My first realization was that my telephone is directing me to do something I don’t know how to do, with something I didn’t know that I had….after all, what is my “social hub?”  And how does my telephone know that I need to sync it, whatever that is?

It was at that moment that I realized I am officially in technological overload, and I need to handle it.  Much like that moment when you realize you’ve created a monster of a garden that is no longer bringing you pleasure, I am at that point with technology.  As much as I like hearing from lots of people and staying in touch with those that I tend to lose track of over time, I am clear that technology in my life has created a whole new set of aggravations.

When I investigated my “social hub,” I discovered that I have a Twitter account that I’ve never used.  I can say with some certainty that I never want to be tweeted or twitted or whatever is done when I’m in the garden!  That’s the first thing to be removed from my hub.  I also have a Tumblr account, which seems to be a hybrid form of blog that is for more pretentious Pinterest pinners.  Oh, yes, I do have a Pinterest account, to which I pin like a maniac, only to realize later that I’ve been sucked into a pattern of pinning anything that creates a thought of “oh, that’s pretty” in my brain.

I am reminded of the dieting woman with the Johnny Bravo haircut on television some years ago screaming, “Stop the madness!”

I am clear that I enjoy adding to this blog (although I’m still not sure what people find interesting about my posts), so this will once again become the priority.  I also delight in reading the entries of other bloggers I follow, and feel a real sense of attachment to them.  I can’t say that I feel warmly about any tweet, twit, or Tumbl (no “e”).

So for the time being, let me thank you in advance for your patience while I regroup a bit, and go through all of the dust that has settled over these past few months.  I am looking forward to catching up with your blogs, as well, and hearing about your adventures. 
The magpie in the photo seems a perfect companion for me…intense, somewhat smart, quite clever, and easily distracted by any shiny thing put in its path!  The magpie might become my new mascot!