Monday, August 21, 2006

Dog Days of Summer Potpourri

Well here it is, yet another Monday, and it's been a while since I posted anything new. And given that I'm still capturing pics for the long-promised Summer Sports series and mulling it all over in my head, I thought I'd just put up a late summer potpourri of things going on around the IVG garden spaces instead. I'm sure that Family Man would agree that some pics are better than no pics, so here we go ...!

First off , for you morning types, we have a couple of shots of Grandpa Ott Morning Glories (ipomoea sp.), a beautiful purple variety I really like. (P4 are you digging these??) Yet another example of how I love to work purple into the garden wherever I can ... and though C is disappointed that so far we have not seen any of the Heavenly Blues we usually plant, I've not given up hope that they will appear sometime soon on the fence. FM, this is an especially 'geezerly' variety, since they require little attention and the only way you can truly mess these up is by feeding them or planting them in too rich a soil. Rule #1 of growing morning glories is to never feed them! If you do, you will be delighted to see absolutely huge leaves, but absolutely no flowers! The same rule of thumb also goes for Cosmos and Nasturtiums ... the poorer the soil and more neglect you give them once they are established, the more they will bloom profligately for you! Notice the ethereal glow emanating from the centre of the second shot ... I was trying to play with the light when I took these and this one rewarded me with one of those Come into the light! type effects ... yeah, I'm easily amused when it comes to photos of our flowers.

Next up on the Sunday browse around the garden is a "Harlequin" Caterpillar ... we've seen a lot of these furry little guys coming around of late, and though we're not quite sure what they'll grow up into (and we suspect they will overwinter, since we're not accustomed to seeing caterpillars this late in the season), we have embraced them and hope they flourish in our garden. Why? Well if you're astute, you might notice that he's feeding on a particularly noxious vine known as "bindweed" around these parts ... it grows everywhere, particularly in the hottest, driest periods and will strangle almost anything in sight unless you can keep it at bay ... which, like many garden pests, is a crap shoot at best. Needless to say, we're delighted that these caterpillars have taken on the task of eating their way through the stuff, so no matter what they metamorphose into, we're glad to welcome them to our garden!

For those who are regular visitors to this site, our next luscious specimen should be no stranger ... another example of the Hibiscus sp. "Brilliantissima" that has made previous appearances here. There were five blooms open today, and given the sunny conditions we had (not to mention the absolutely perfect late summer weather!), I decided to try my hand at some more light catching experiments with this stalwart bloomer ... I ran these by Olivia and asked her for her favorite, so here it is ... make sure to enlarge the photo and revel in the decadent detail of the pollen and the anthers on this bloom ... Of all the photos I take of our flowers, I think I like shooting Hibiscus the best because they are so naturally photogenic, and just varying angles and the time of day of the photo, it seems one can capture the truly magical aspects of these transitory one day flowers ... Obviously, I'm irretrievably hooked on Hibiscus, but for sheer intensity of hue and exotic tropical appearance, I can think of few other flowers that can begin to rival them.

Now for the inevitable "Pink Corner." Though we've tried to eliminate these pink Morning Glories from the fence, we inevitably fail, and they continue to volunteer from a mix of seeds we planted years ago ... much to C's dismay, they return every year, though I've softened a bit in my attitude about them, since they do display a nice shade of red in the "star" area of the bloom, so if for no other reason than to make Olivia swoon in delight, I had to include an example.

And finally, one of my other favorites (ok, so I quit counting how many "favorites" I have!) is a fiery orange Nasturtium. In the past few years, I've slacked a bit on how many of these lovely edible blossoms I've planted, and every year I vow to plant them everywhere, but as gardens are wont to go, sometimes that just doesn't happen. This one has just recently begun to bloom, and I hope it will work its magic right up until frost, which if conditions are right, they usually do ... spilling out from where they are planted, crawling around sinuously, and perfuming the afternoon air with their subtle, yet spicy aroma. It's hard for me to leave them alone, because I love the flavor of them so much ... which is another reason to plant many of them in your garden (see #1 Rule cited above!) so you can have enough to enjoy their sheer beauty as well as pick them to grace your salads or just as a pretty garnish on a summer dish you may be serving. Nasturtiums have a slight peppery flavor to them, which for those so inclined to such tastes, cannot be rivaled. The entire plant is eminently edible, however, the leaves are much stronger, so if you're not especially fond of their slightly "hot" flavor, perhaps the blossoms are best enjoyed instead.

If you have Nasturtiums in your garden and have never eaten them, here's one way I love to enjoy them. A few years ago we had a bumper crop of both yellow and red Roma tomatoes, and I liked to make a salad with them by slicing them into thin rings, arranging them on a salad plate, then sprinkling a light chiffonnade of fresh basil and dressing them with balsamic vinegar, then topping the whole plate off with a few freshly picked Nasturtiums. Now that's a delicious way to begin a meal on a balmy summer evening, followed by grilled meat from the grill and some fresh sweet corn grilled along with the meat ... follow that with some fresh fruit or a peach sorbet, and you have one light, healthy meal that will instantly lodge itself in your mind as the quintessential summer repast. At least in my world, that conjures up images of a nearly perfect way to end the weekend! And when the romas are more plentiful in the next few weeks, and as the Nasturtiums bloom more proliferously, you can count on us doing exactly that.

Once again, sorry to be lax again in my postings, but given the hectic past few weeks around here, and the influx of more rain than we really wanted the past week or so, it's rewarding to see that despite the weeds, we are getting our floriferous rewards after all.

So as my hero Keith Olbermann would say, I'll end this entry by echoing ... Keep your knees loose. And good night, and good luck! Happy gardening, and enjoy the late summer bounty, my friends!


Family Man said...

Good Morning IVG. What a great thing to wake up to. Just in time too. I was starting to get the IVG jitters and the foot was going to start tapping. :)

I really like the second from the top Morning Glory. It looks like light is pouring out from the center.

olivia said...

Good Morning IVG! Good Morning FM!

MGs are in my favourite plant column b/c they are beautiful, delicate, come in may colours, bloom daily, some cling and twine (I'm partial to vines!) ... Your photos really capture the glow from the centre they seem to have ... and the complimentary colours. And you caught the inner bits in the first pic! Beautiful IVG!

The hibiscus are stunning! Five blooms at once would be a sight to see I think ... :) You capture the colours and the details so well ... and they do seem exotic, like something that shouldn't grow anywhere that has snow ... ;)

The power of pink prevails! Go little pink MGs go ... hehe ... ::swoon::

Your tomato salad w/ nasturtiums sounds delish! Will you take some pix of it when you make it ... please!

FARfetched said...

I'll have to point Mrs. Fetched to your blog, IVG. She has a nice little flower area out front, and would probably get a few ideas.

I didn't know you could eat nasturtiums. But if you wind up with extra Romas, they dehydrate wonderfully — two pounds ends up fitting comfortably into a sandwich bag. I keep some at work to use in whatever.

Now that I'm here, I can add your feed to my blogs menu....

d said...


edible eh...ims, day lily's are also in that category.

i would posit that if you were to add medallions of fresh mozzarella, a touch of fresh garlic, some thinly sliced rings of red onion, just a hint of oregano...and maybe some very thinly sliced prosciutto; plus a drizzle of olive oyl in addition...your salad would turn into an enjoyable summer evening meal.

a nice batard w/ "real" butter would be nice...and maybe a nice bottle of french white burgundy.



Puget4 said...

Ah, yes, lovely purple. What could be better? Both MG shots are incredible. I love the inner bits in the first one and that heavenly light in the second. Wow!

I can't see the "inevitable Pink Corner" picture. Did it go away?

I have eaten nasturtiums and daylilies and chive blossoms and also, surprise, surprise, Red Bud (Cercis canadensis) blossoms. Great fun.

I never see nasturtiums without hearing (in my head) a Johnny Cash rendition of Tiptoe Through the Tulips which ends with the phrase "STOMPING the Nasties With Me." Uproarious! (maybe you had to be there).