Thursday, June 24, 2010

What's Bloomin' Around Here

The gardens are just a total gift from heaven right now.  Many, many things are in bloom and bring me joy daily!  The Swiss chard "Bright Lights" was a new veggie tried this year.  Might you believe that we haven't even TRIED eating chard until now??  I just grew it because it was beautiful.  Isn't it?? There are red, yellow, orange, and white stalks--all topped by HUGE green leaves that resemble spinach or beet tops.  We have tried eating them several different ways--but have found that we really like them plain, as a salad.  It tastes much like fresh spinach; and J prefers to top his with Feta cheese and a little olive oil and vinegar.  We just harvest the outer leaves, leaving the inner ones to mature.  I read that you may repeat this cycle all summer.  If it gets bitter with the heat, they suggest just pruning off the edge leaves throughout the summer until the weather cools again.  It was worth it's $2 price tag a hundred times over.  I also like it on a sandwich for roughage! It has a huge stalk, much like celery--the first recipe I tried called for sauteing the stalk, which was just OK, but I wonder if there is some other way that people eat that--it seems wasteful to chunk it all out--but the compost pile likes it! Sounds like this will be a plant sown in the greenhouse for winter consumption!!

The tomatos are growing well, though it will be weeks yet before we eat them.  Surprisingly, the pumpkin patch has survived thus far, and looks promising for something fun in the fall!  Fingers crossed and prayers up!  I am TOTALLY going to turn Jeremy into a gardener yet!! He has actually been the one to monitor the watering of the veggies, and I am just lettin' him!!  Soon we should have several pepper varieties, tomatoes, onions, okra, cucumbers, and watermelon.  The corn is PATHETIC, but we have a few stalks.  The chard will continue, and the strawberry plants have lived--most of 'em anyway, as have the rhubarb plants given to me by a friend who LOVES my rhubarb pie!
So, on to a quick tour of my favorites. .the pretty stuff!! My butterfly weed, all started by seed last year, with some scrawny ones started by seed this year-survived the winter and were spectacular--I expect next summer's show to be even better! I first discovered this in Indianapolis. My mom and I were wandering through some public garden area while I was conferencing a few years ago.  It caught my eye. .but I had no idea it grew in Kansas until I spotted some on our geology trip 3 years ago.  I love the vibrant orange!! And so do the butterflies.  It was especially striking in contrast to the purple larkspur self-seeding behind it.
This was my first day lily to bloom.  No idea now what variety it is--but it came in some collection that I bought (have you guessed that I am a sucker for "collections?") This was taken last week, and since then, several other varieties have bloomed, but none quite as vividly colored as this!  My neighbor has some different kinds of daylilies that we are planning on swapping around this fall!
The white lily came from Brecks.  It is a lily tree.  I had never heard of such a plant--but they looked cool.  It came as part of a. . .collection!  They are to get 8 feet tall (probably in some place where rain isn't an issue) and be just LOADED with blooms.  The three of the 5 bulbs that have bloomed are magnificent--better than I imagined.  I do have them labeled, so I will know which is which.  I was thinking about doing some photo logging in a journal to remember!  The first of the cosmos are starting to bloom as well.  One of my favorite plants!  They were all self-seeded this year. Hee-haw!! No fuss!
This is a new-to-me coneflower "Rubinstern" from High Country Gardens.  I got a free one with my purchase last fall, and I ordered an extra. . .just because!  I'm in LOVE with the richness of the color! And it's tall--which I like--lots of stem--just right for a bouquet.
And to complete today's flowering tour, my hollyhocks.  I planted one--years ago--go figure how I ended up with all these colors!!  They are on the north side of my house, in the garden that desperately needs worked on!!  They will never go away completely--if I decide they have to go from here, I hope to replant some of them along the tree row, visible from the kitchen window!
But for now, they are old fashioned, space fillers, and just downright heart-warming to me!
So, enough for right now!! Hoping everyone has a warmish, summer weekend--don't forget your sunscreen!


  1. Your photos today are just stunning! We've never eaten swiss chard either but it sounds easy and good. I forgot you have a greenhouse. You lucky gardener!
    I really need to get butterfly weed.
    Your daylily colors are great.
    What is with holly hocks? I've had pink ones forever and last year, while they were all still pink, I suddenly had light pink, pink, mauve, salmon, etc. So far just pink this year.
    Stay cool out there!

  2. Wow that chard is pretty!! I love your hollyhocks, but the butterfly weed makes me sad. Mine was sadly eaten. =-( I'll have to get more from you next year.
    I didn't get your blog comment till this morning, but T's ear got worse yesterday so I called the clinic and talked to Dale. (Thought about calling you, but didn't want to be one of THOSE people that bugged you when you weren't' working. hehe) He called him in some antibiotic drops as well as some drops that help with pain, so hopefully he's on the mend. There must be an epidemic here as there was someone else at the pharmacy asking about Swimmers Ear cures!! I wonder just how many times a season that guys heres that question! See you soon!! Got some goodies for your kids!!

  3. GonSS--Go figure on the hollyhocks--if you find out--let me know--not that I am complaining about the variety of color--just wonderin'. Funny thing tho, the larkspur do the same thing. The first time I grew them, I had two little purple ones transplanted from a friend. When they reseeded the next year, there were all colors!! For some reason they all died out, even the reseeding a few years ago. This time I just planted a packet of seeds that had a mixture of colors. Freak of nature?

  4. Gardner on Sherlock Street: Let me throw in my little bit or lack of of wisdom here....quickly before it disappears back into the depths of my mind forever. Plants have a long history of cross-pollination (intended and accidental) and intentional grafting of two plants to create a new survice a particular climate or simply to make a new, beautiful plant. In my DNA courses and classes....we used animals and plants to study as well as human DNA work-ups. This occurs in mammels as well such as cross-breeding cattle. However, at times with a "blurp" of nature....a plant will grow that is a total revert back to one of its parents. Look at a wheat field sometime and every now and then you may see a small clump of wheat in the middle of the field that is a little different and taller than the rest. They have continually generated new strains of wheat to make it stronger and shorter for this climate. little seed may be a convert back to one of the parent plants and DNA. I won't get into the chromosome and how it works in all of this....but in short.....some of your hollyhocks may be reverting back to a parent plant somewhere down the line. My simple minded science lesson for the day!!! :-) Beautiful pics truly have a gift from God for growing things!!

  5. Michael,
    Thanks for the explaination. I knew it was something like that just odd that it was the same for years and one year--party!!! Let's have a lot of hues! Woo hoo! It's part of what keeps gardening interesting.

  6. You are very welcome!! I can tell you how to create a new species or variety........but I can't grow a garden to save my soul. Both my wife and I are "garden/green thumb challenged"!! :-) My mother could and my oldest daughter can grow something just about anywhere!! Me?? I have trouble growing moss on the north side of a rock!! :-)

  7. Beautiful pics!

    I just recently began eating Swiss chard myself (although I don't grow it myself). I like it briefly sauteed with olive oil and garlic (leaves and stalks) and a little sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Have you tried kale? It's similar, but I like kale better when cooked.

  8. VERY interesting about the chard. Have never tried it! Now I'm curious. :)

    Beautiful flowers! All of them! That day lily is gorgeous. And I was glad to see the hollyhocks - just don't see them very often any more. We used to have some in the back yard when I was younger. Thanks for sharing the photos! Hope everything keeps growing well. :)

  9. Mike, thanks for the info on plant genetics!! I giggled when I read your conversation with GonSS--Ain't technology great!!