Archive | October, 2012

itea and witch hazel

22 Oct

The itea bush is being very slow about developing its color, possibly because it doesn’t get much sun. My back garden faces north, with lots of small trees and bushes, so very few parts of the yard get sun for more than a couple of hours a day. In full sun, this bush would be bright red. Even so, it’s a nice color addition, especially compared with the modest flowers of last spring. Also developing some color is witch hazel. It’s one of the first things to bloom in the spring, but its late season color is just as pretty.
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late season color

13 Oct

Just when you think the garden is just about finished blooming for the year, a few plants decide to put on a late season show.  The knockout roses planted along the front walkway are coming to bloom again.  They’re still small.  They were only installed last year and I suspect that, like many plants, they won’t reach their mature size until the third year.  The clematis near the gate leading into the back yard is trying to rebloom.  Only one flower so far, but there are a few small buds and, if the cold weather holds off a bit longer, there could be more.  This is Virginia Creeper, essentially a weed that I battle continually.  Clearly, I missed this one, proving that even weeds can be pretty.

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white honeysuckle bush – lonicera

10 Oct

I’ve never had much use for white honeysuckle bushes. They pop up everywhere; I try to get to them as early as possible when seedlings can be pulled up and not have to be dug. They grow very quickly and can easily take over an area. Their white flowers in spring are pretty and very fragrant, but they only last a few days before they fade to a dirty yellow color. In fact, there’s only one that I leave alone and that’s a large one that grows behind a wooden bench on the west side of the back yard. These red berries show why I keep it here. The cluster of berries that form all along each branch will last for a time after the leaves have all fallen and will look even prettier than the bush in full flower.
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end-of-the-garden relish

9 Oct

Inevitably, at the end of the season the vegetable garden contains some green tomatoes plus a bit of this and that, none of which is enough to do anything with.  This recipe comes from my friend Lucille, not only a great gardener but also a good friend, willing to share her considerable knowledge of gardening with a novice.  I believe the recipe was originally developed to make use of the many green tomatoes that form at the end of the growing season but don’t have a chance to ripen, but it’s good with just about any combination of fresh, finely chopped vegetables.  It calls for about 6 3/4 quarts of vegetables, but the recipe can be easily adjusted for larger/smaller amounts.

End of the Garden Relish  (yields 7 pints)

4 qt. peeled, cored, and chopped green tomatoes (about 32 medium)

2 qt. chopped cabbage

2 c.  sweet red peppers, chopped

1 c. onions, chopped

1/2 c salt

Sprinkle salt over vegetables; mix thoroughly and let stand 3 or 4 hours.  Drain, pressing to remove liquid.

In a large saucepan, combine:

1 1/2 c. brown sugar

2 T. mustard seed

1 T. celery seed

1 T. prepared horseradish (optional–I usually skip this)

4 1/2 c. vinegar

Simmer 15 minutes.  Add vegetables and heat to boiling.  Pack hot into pint-size jars and process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.

The result is a slightly sweet, slightly tart relish that’s good on hot dogs and burgers, as an accompaniment to a roast, or as a topping to dress up a plain torn lettuce salad.  For a finer chop, put vegetables through a food processor rather than chopping by hand.

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toad lily – tricyrtis formosana

1 Oct
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Toad lilies, named for their spotted flowers, can grow up to 2′-3′ tall, although this one is only about 12″. The flowers are small, just over 1″ across, and will continue to develop from buds located at each leaf joining all along the stem over time. They need soil that doesn’t completely dry out and prefer the shade, although a little morning sun is good for developing flower buds.                                                                                           (Click on any photo to enlarge it to screen size.)