Archive for June, 2014

Hibiscus Heaven

Hibiscus is a favorite of mine and I get one just about every year. I love the continuous blooms and the shiny foliage, and so do the hummingbirds. I usually go for the intense reds or pinks, but this year I was intrigued by a stunning golden yellow with a burgundy center. There were only a couple of them at the nursery in the midst of dozens of more traditional varieties, all of which were larger and more lush than this one, but I went with it anyway. I’m so glad I did. It makes up in splendor for what it lacks in size. Each of the blooms is 5-6″ across. What a joyous sight on a cloudy morning, and on a sunny day I feel as though I’ve been transported to the tropics. Margaritas and island music are optional but highly recommended.

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Summer Solstice

What a bittersweet day. Starting tomorrow, the days get shorter. Sunrise 5:23am, sunset 9:03pm. Now that’s a day!

We planted a tiny clematis plant last year. It took most of the year to establish itself and didn’t get much larger by the end of the season, and with our horrific winter, I wondered whether it survived. Well, it’s covered with gorgeous blossoms. This is at least the third clematis I’ve tried over the years, going all the way back to the little house in St. Paul I had before I was married. I’ve never been successful with one before.

My pots are all planted, save for a few small ones I’ll add on impulse. Since I’m always trying new combinations and rarely repeat, every year there’s always one I like more than the rest – the balance of color and texture just works for me. This year it’s a purple, red and orange/yellow combination I’m really happy with.

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Rhubarb, lovely rhubarb

I always try to experiment with my rhubarb crop every spring. Last year I gave rhubarb scones a go, which was a success except they weren’t rhubarby (??) enough. This year I did them again, but put in more rhubarb and cut the pieces much larger. It was definitely an improvement and rhubarb scones will surely be part of my spring baking in the future.

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This year’s new offerings included a coffee-cake like treat with large crumbly topping that, although good, wasn’t enough of a rhubarb whollop for me, and rhubarb muffins. The latter are still warm on the counter and were very nice muffins with a surprise of rhubarb every so often. These might go the way of the scones: they were good but need more rhubarb and I’ll probably try them again next year. I also made a rhubarb pie for the first time, which was delicious but pretty runny.  Since it was so wonderful except for the extra liquid, I’ll be researching how to correct that.  The final entry was a rhubarb-oatmeal upside-down cake which was a disaster. Five minutes into the baking, we lost power in our neighborhood.  It had just begun to rise a bit.  A couple of hours later when we regained the juice, I put it back in the oven but it came out a gooey, gunky mess that could charitably be described as an oatmeal rhubarb pudding.  It was edible, but not cake.  It was pretty sweet for my taste, and with the shadow of disaster hanging over it, I’ll probably not give it another go.

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