Wednesday, July 17, 2024

MORE FROM MEADOWLARK GARDENS ON 6-30-24

 I found this pretty little red flower very easily. It really popped out against the vibrant lush green fauna as I was walking along the path. It is the Florida tasselflower. I have never heard of it and if I have seen it before, have never noticed. It is also known as Cupid's shaving-brush, Red Florida tasselflower and one more, Flora's paintbrush, with a botanical name of Emilia fostbergii. Thankfully non-toxic to humans and pets. 

A member of the sunflower family, it is a common yard weed. Although many dislike seeing these pop up in their lawns, the pollinators are very attracted to its small bright red flowers. It reseeds itself easily with dandelion-like fluffy seeds and can become invasive if not removed. Unusual for me, I only took one photo instead of my usual dozen or so! Who shouts "Hurray to the digital age?" My one photo will have to do this time, I am blaming it on the heat.

I enjoyed seeing the Cardoon. Its other names are globe artichokes, Prickly artichoke and Cardy, with a botanical name of Cynara cardunculus. I have shared it before but maybe I missed some information. I would have to check with previous posts to find out, so at the risk of repeating myself: It was first brought to the United States by Spanish and French settlers in the middle of the nineteenth century. It was popular in ancient and medieval Greece, Rome and Persia, and appears in written records from as early as the 4th century BC.


They are edible but I have no clue how to prepare them and I am going to have to go to bed soon as it has been a long day. Next time I photograph them I will delve into that side of things more thoroughly, but there is plenty of information online if you want to do a search. I did learn that they are an ingredient in one of Spain's national dishes - cocido madrileño - and have long been an important part of the Christmas meal in Spain's northern regions, and at least one Italian region. Also, Cardoon flowers are used as a vegetable rennet in some traditional Spanish and Portuguese cheeses.


You have to be careful when handling them because of those nasty looking spines, so it would be wise to wear gloves. There is lots of information in the link below my first photo of the Cardoon, if you would like to find out more. They towered above me, are said to grow 3 feet to 6 feet but these seemed much taller. In the winter finches eat the seeds and then when spring appears, if any of the soft down remains, it may be used to line nests.


When they bloom, bees and other pollinators will visit them. The bees were very busy when we were there. The flowers produce lots of pollen and nectar between June to September.  I certainly enjoyed watching the bees for a while. I always find them fascinating little creatures. There were two types of bee, the smaller one remained elusive and the bigger of the two was easier to photograph.


One last little bee plus the tiny insect in the top middle of the photo.  That's as close as I could get.


And finishing off with a photo of the two of us (at the beginning of our walk). We didn't take our usual long one around the garden because of the heat, but even so we had a very enjoyable time. We just have to pace ourselves more and know when to quit!  Me and the mouse in my pocket that is, as Gregg is a Virginia boy and can take these high temperatures. I on the other hand wilt like a lettuce, and that hasn’t changed since we started married life at our apartment in Alexandra, Virginia. The following year when my family visited in the height of summer, they were the same. How about you, can you handle humidity?


I always have more photos to share from the garden, but I will give this one a rest for a while. It is also getting late and it's time to put my laptop to bed. 

Thanks for looking everyone, 
and have a great Wednesday.





Tuesday, July 16, 2024

ODDS AND BODS

Oh dear, what did they hang around your neck?


Well, we all have flaws sweet Little Pup but never you mind! All you have to do is wake up the next day, and say to yourself, “I am going to try again. This is the day I will know the difference between a poodle and a sheep.” Just keep going and never give up. And always remember, don’t be so hard on yourself. This picture is for you Little Pup! The animal in the center of the picture and the other animals that look like him, are the sheep. The animal on the right is a poodle! He is agile and graceful and smart but is not judgemental. He realizes we all were a little confused at one time. A mistake makes us humble, an achievement that we work hard for no matter how small, will show us to never to give up. And tell your humans not to hang that sign of shame around your neck. Sheep and poodle do not approve. 


And…


Now, I am…


while Grandpa Pup is remembering the old days. Wake up! Listen to Grandpa. He has some great stories to tell. 


And one for the kitty lovers out there. 


As for me…


If you would like to see another dog post I made, there is this one from a trip to Williamsburg a couple of years ago.  

I hope you have enjoyed my touch of whimsy, and remember not to be so hard on yourself. 






Monday, July 15, 2024

MONDAY MORNING RECIPE - STRAWBERRY, SPINACH SALAD WITH POPPY SEED HONEY-LEMON DRESSING - SERVES 4

It is a great time for salads with all the hot weather we have been having. I am also adding our 10-day forecast, occasionally, not all the time. Just a reminder for us to look back on. Here's ours starting tomorrow (I am writing this on 7-13-24). Happily we have some rain ahead. Good news for our farmers and good news for our gardens.


This recipe comes from Julia's recipes, hosted by Julia, who lives in Colorado, USA. Thank you Julia for this wonderful recipe. Great photos, great recipes if you would like to take a look, and the original recipe is at this link. She also has a lot of suggestions for other recipes to be served with it.


Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppyseed Honey-Lemon Dressing 

Serves: 4

Calories per serving: approximately 370


Salad dressing:

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoon honey

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons poppy seeds divided


Spinach Strawberry Salad

6 oz baby spinach

12 ounces strawberries cleaned, hulled, and sliced (about 3 cups)

½ cup feta cheese crumbled

½ cup pecans toasted


Make salad dressing:

Combine olive oil, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, honey, and 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds in a mason jar. Whisk well with a fork for 1 to 2 minutes until well blended. Add more (or less) honey or mustard to taste. (Denise’s note: I would also say go sparingly until you have added enough dressing to your salad for your own taste.)

Putting together:

Combine spinach, sliced strawberries, and toasted pecans (some whole some chopped) in a large serving bowl (or in 4 individual salad bowls).

Add salad dressing and toss to combine.

Top with crumbled feta cheese and sprinkle with extra poppy seeds.


Julia's Notes:

Toast the pecans on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in a preheated oven at 350°F for 7 to 10 minutes, until they turn slightly darker (be careful not to over-toast them). Toasted pecans are crunchier and have a fresher taste.

Other nuts that complement a strawberry spinach salad are walnuts, toasted pine nuts, or salted shelled pistachios. Candied nuts are also great additions.

For a nut-free version, simply substitute sunflower seeds.

Alternative leafy greens include a spinach/arugula mix or butter lettuce.

Nutritional information can be read at the original recipe.


I am adding the full address if you prefer to copy and paste instead of clicking on any links.

https://juliasalbum.com/strawberry-spinach-salad-poppy-seeds/


Make ahead tips (Denise’s note: it was a lot of prep work and I would do all this for next time):

Toast pecans up to 2 days in advance. 

Toast them in the preheated oven at 350 F for about 7 or 10 minutes (Denise’s note: I have had trouble burning nuts, so I was cautious and took them out at a little past the 4 minute mark). Once they are cool, keep them in a ziploc bag at room temperature or in the fridge.

Make the salad dressing in advance:

You can make it up to 5 days in advance and keep it refrigerated in a mason jar. Bring it to room temperature before serving.

Assemble quartered strawberries, spinach, and crumbled feta cheese up to 5 hours in advance before serving.  

Add the nuts and the poppy seed dressing only when ready to serve. This will prevent spinach from wilting and will keep the nuts crunchy! (Denise’s note: I had added the dressing already for our meal. When we ate the two remaining meals the next day, it resembled a wilted lettuce salad, though we still enjoyed it. However, I wouldn’t make quite as much next time, and only enough for just two people to eat on the day of making.)

Storage Tips:

It's best to serve strawberry spinach salad right away, so it is recommended making just enough so that you have no leftovers. (See my note above.)

If you do have leftovers, the salad can be refrigerated for 2 days. It's best to refrigerate the salad and the dressing separately. 


What did we think? It was delicious and we enjoyed not only the ingredients but the salad dressing. You can play around with it if you think it is too sweet. We thought it was excellent, except I thought maybe to go easier on the poppy seeds as they seemed to be overboard on those. My advice for us next time is to use them sparingly until we have enough for them not to look too much. The following is a photo of what we thought was too much. That being said, it did not detract from the deliciousness.


Thanks for stopping by and as always, 

I hope your day is a great one. 

Bon Appétit!



Sunday, July 14, 2024

HAPPY SUNDAY EVERYONE!


A few weeks ago we went to Walney Pond Visitor center, not to go into the visitor center but to see what they had growing in their garden. There were several young children who had been taking nature classes. They were finished and outside under the supervision of an adult, presumably their teacher in all things of nature. 


Bypassing the happy, excited little darlings who were waiting for their parents to pick them up, we headed for another bench that we call 'our' bench. In all the time we have visited this area, we have never seen anyone else making use of it. From where we sit we can see the garden and we use this vantage point to watch the activity at the bird boxes not too far away. One time in a post dated June 9th, 2021, we watched blue bird parents going back and forth to feed their young. You can see that post at this link. There is another one here that will show you the actual garden. You may have seen these before.


We sit under a very simply built arbor with grapevines trailing around the poles, and look at the overhanging grapes above us and on the side. Here you will see the arbor when it was first erected, and there were no trailing vines to give it such a pretty look. The arbor is rustic in appearance and as it is now, I find it charming. It is very peaceful once more and we take everything in around us. I am guessing that the poles originally came from the surrounding woods, where supplies are plentiful from naturally fallen trees. We stay there for quite a while but eventually walk back to the car. More photos to follow eventually. 
Thanks for looking and 
I wish you all a very happy Sunday!





Saturday, July 13, 2024

SATURDAY MORNING AT THE BIRD FEEDER

 








Tell that to the toxic thumb, it needs all the encouragement it can get!








And so it goes on a Saturday morning at the bird feeder.
Have a great weekend everyone, and thanks for stopping by.





Friday, July 12, 2024

THE DAYLILIES AT MEADOWLARK BOTANICAL GARDEN ON 6-30-24

 I am sharing many, many Daylilies.  I identify if an ID is shown but please let me know if you think any are misidentified. It might be a simple case of one marker being too close to another with different names. Some are very similar to each other, or I might not have seen a marker at all. Feel free to jump in if you have a positive ID, one in your garden perhaps. I am learning as I go along.


I am including this website as it has eight interesting facts about this flower. For instance, it says that there are over 80,000 varieties.


Did you know that Daylilies are not actually lilies? I read, "Daylilies are in the genus Hemerocallis, which is a member of the family Asphodelaceae, and subfamily Hermocallidoideae."

True lilies, on the other hand, are in the genus Lilium, family Liliaceae, and subfamily Lilioideae. So when you are shopping for daylilies, you will notice this. All of the botanical names will start with that genus name "Hemerocallis," no matter the type. You know you are looking at a true lily if the botanical name starts with "Lilium."

There is a very nice pdf file for reading on the garden and the daylilies here. Also I was very curious about the origins of the Stout Garden and found the following information at this website. I read:

"We owe the modern fame of the daylily, Hemercollis, to a single man whose work at The New York Botanical Garden birthed an industry. Arlow Burdette Stout (1876-1957) was a research scientist, geneticist and daylily hydrbidization specialist. His career at the New York Botanical Garden spanned nearly four decades (1911-1947) where he served as Director of Laboratories and later Curator of Education and Laboratories."

"Dr. Stout was internationally known for his achievements in plant genetics. His research at the NYBG led to important advances in the development of daylilies. Before Stout, a habit of self-sterility in daylily species (an inability for a flower to pollinate itself) made it difficult to propagate them without failure. Nearly 50,000 cross-pollination experiments later, stout had all but reinvented the flower. He developed over 100 registered daylily cultivars of lasting horticultural value."

Above Webster's Pink Wonder.










As you can see, there were several I couldn’t name. If you have them in your garden, please would you let me know?  Thanks in anticipation.







The ID marker with this beautifully colored daylily is called H. 'Bess Ross' - Claar 1951 - Stout Silver Medal 1962.






The marker for this one above and below read "Daylily - H. 'Little wart' - spalding 1964"




Above and below, "Daylily - Frozen Jade"


I was happy to find out that daylilies are drought tolerant, each one said to having "low" water needs. It has tuberous roots and these can store enough nutrition and moisture to get it through periods of dought.






Above and below, Daylily Peggy Jeffcoat.


Probably a daylily overload but I wanted to get them all in one post.