Monday, October 31, 2016

YES...They are Toad Lilies is my excuse for taking so long to answer the What is it Wednesday Question.....
Visitors over the weekend and who could stay inside and write?

Anyway...this one was no fun! Everyone guessed it correctly. It was Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis hirta)

These first photos are of the common Toad Lily. It is an easy to care for, slow spreading, clump forming perennial

The leaves alternate along many stems about 30" to 36" long and produce an orchid like blooms. These bloom from late summer well into the fall. (They are still blooming now)

The blooms are very intricate and special. They are either white or pale yellow to a pinkish color but the coolest thing are all the spots. Each flower boost hundreds of dark purple to burgundy colored spots.  Get it....the toad part of the name!!

There are several different varieties, all very unique. These little gems like a moist environment with partial shade of full shade.  The leaf damage on the last picture, I believe is due in part to the dry late summer and fall we are currently experiencing.

I have never tried to grow these from seed, but has been one of the easiest shade plants I have grown. I love anything that blooms late.....well worth a try!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Where Cotton is King!!

Yes... So many of you  guessed the correct answer.   The "What is it Wednesday" was cotton.  I had picked up the stem at the Athens Georgia Farmers Market.

Interesting enough this corresponded to a visit to Waco Texas. I am a big fan of  "Fixer Upper" on HGTV and been watching the progress of the Magnolia Farms Store and Silos. So while in Dallas with my husband, I took the opportunity to drive on down.  Wow is this a super place. Plus it seems that they have many fans and the whole area was swamped.  I was struck by the details and the obvious unbelievable level of personal energy Chip and Joanna Gaines have put into this project. All the employees were so friendly and helpful. Here are some photos:

I think the Gaines's style stirs a sense of calm, family and better times. When life was just a bit simpler and we all slowed down more to enjoy each other. It certainly appeals to me. 

Oh yes....back to the cotton. It was everywhere in the decor. 

So if you are anywhere near Waco Texas or not this is a great place to visit. I left feeling very relaxed and excited about the future for a once deserted downtown.  Way to go Gaines!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What is it Wednesday .....the wait is over.

Time to end the suspense ….It is Japanese Perilla or Shiso (Perilla frutecens).  This purple, leafy plant used most commonly in oriental cooking. People often looked at it and think it is Opal Basil or Coleus. But it is not. I must admit, it is very pretty and adds nice color to a garden. 

 However, I do want to attach a very strong warning with this plant. It is definitely invasive. It reseeds readily and will quickly fill a space with pretty purple and green plants and blooms. I actually pull it like weeds and only plant it in a pot. After all it is a member of the mint family. 

Shiso also  known as beefsteak plant or purple mint, is a valuable herb to many and a problematic peak to many other. It is toxic to grazing animals and even deadly to coast, sheep, cattle and horses. 

This plant is defiantly part of the “If You Can’t Beat it, Eat it Family”  Personally, I have not used it culinarily but keep collecting recipes to give it a try.  It must be tasty since it is used in Japan, China, Korea, Laos, Vietnam and South Asia  cuisines. 

So give it a try, if you are adventurous but be ready to weed!!!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Digging and Dividing....and eating Orange Basil Cookies!

Thanks to all the great folks that came out to my gardens Thursday night. I enjoyed sharing why I feel the fall is one of the best times to dig and divided perennials. 

Although many feel this is a time when the gardens look as if they are dying back, I feel the crisp cool fall days plus the potential for more rain makes fall gardens yearning for a new look. 
Here are just s few basic tips for Fall Dividing:

  1. A general rule of thumb is that it is best to divide spring and summer blooming plants in the fall and late summer and fall blooming plants in the spring. (There are always exceptions to the rule, like lilies or some non-picky plants such as BlackEyed Susan's that always like an adventure)
  2. If possible pick a cloudy day with rain in the forecast. Might as well let Mother Nature help with the work. If a warm sunny time, be sure to shade the transplant and keep well watered. 
  3. Be sure to dig around the plant to get all the roots. Lift out the mom and divide. Careful examination of the plant will help you determine how best to divide. 
  4. Replant the strongest ones, allowing enough space for new growth.  Don't allow the transplant to dry up during the move. 
  5. A good feeding of compost or organic fertilizer, is a nice extra. 
  6. More than enough?   They make great gifts as Pass A Long Plants.

Last night I made one of my favorite cookies!! Orange Basil Cookies. I had several request for the recipe.Enjoy

1/3 cup butter (softened)
8oz cream cheese (softened)
1egg yolk
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 Box Orange Cake Mix
1 teaspoon orange zest grated
1cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
2 tablespoons dried basil

Mix together the butter, cream cheese, egg yolk, and orange juice.  Add cake mix  then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Chill dough.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; butter cookie sheets, Roll chilled dough into 1/2 inch balls and place on cookie sheets. Flatten each ball with a fork. Bake about 10 to 15 minutes. 


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