What’s Blooming!

I didn’t think there were going to be many pictures this week as the garden is moving towards late summer, but I ended up with a good amount of new things.

The irises that I divided and transplanted last week have started to put on new growth. They all look like this:

It’s almost as if they are giving me the finger because I ripped them out of the ground 😀

New bloom this week is an heirloom lily:

I thought these were going to be taller. They are about 2 feet tall. Maybe they will get tall next year as this is the first flowering year for these from the bulbs I planted last fall.

The passion flower is putting out all kinds of buds now.

The blooms only stay open for one day so you have to catch them fast to take a picture. The flowers look a little different than they did last year. There was more green to them, I think. Still pretty neat, though.

Potted plant in the back:

For the life of me I can’t remember what it is. It’s some sort of annual.

A bit more of the butterfly weed blooming. This sent out a second flush of blooms:

The last few days there has been a zebra swallowtail coming around. He looooves this flower.

We’ve definitely seen more butterflies than last year. Yay!

More zinnias:

Again, an outlier color from the salmon. John mentioned this was pretty much in the middle of the path through the garden. Well, yes it is since I spilled the seed packet when planting. Ooops.

My black knight butterfly bush is still pretty small, but it’s flowering:

I moved it last year and I think it will just take another year for it to be established. I hope.

Lots of Black-eyed Susan:

You know summer is nearing the end when these are blooming around here.

Another sign of approaching fall is the Autumn Joy sedum:

You can just see a hint of color on the bud tips.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago about how the hydrangea tree was looking great and hadn’t flopped over. Well, we had hard rains and there it went:

These blooms are enormous and heavy:

I swear it almost weighs a pound.  That’s why the branches flop since the flowers are already heavy and then when they get water logged, it’s just too much to support.

This bush has responded so well to severe pruning the last 2 years. I’m going to keep doing that in late winter from now on.

We have a beautiful weekend coming up. Those of you in the Gulf area stay safe from Harvey!

Saving the salamander

As you know, Wednesdays are Bagel Days!  We take this day to do a long ride as well — about 7 miles prior to breakfast and then 10 or 11 miles after breakfast. Gotta work off that bagel:

 

We were on the post breakfast ride. John was riding in front of me and he looked back a couple of times. He said he saw something orange  in the shoulder and it was moving. He wanted to go check it out. We turned around and I spotted it in the middle of the road! There were cars coming and I thought for sure it would be squished by the time we got to it.  However, fate smiled on the little guy and I scooped him up.

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Turns out this is a juvenile Eastern red spotted newt (salamander).  The adults end up larger and green.

He was pretty active and unafraid:

Look at him strutting his stuff! LOL.

I learned more about this newt via the DEC website:

  • This salamander is native to NY.
  • This guy can live 12 to 17 years! Provided he doesn’t get run over by a car…
  • They eat mosquito larvae. Now we just need 100 of them in our back yard right now.
  • The babies excrete a poisonous toxin. Yikes! I was thinking I was more worried about salmonella, but okay. The color of the juveniles warns away predators.

Pretty neat! It’s always fun to find wildlife.

On a side note, I will share some of my business stuff. Normally I don’t get much time to experiment and the like just because of everything that needs to get done, but I am trying to do more with our products to showcase what they can be used for.  Activated charcoal is one of the new “in” things. I see people brush their teeth with it, use it for masks, etc. It is also popular in soap as an acne bar. Of course, you are not supposed to make a medical claim about your soap because then it becomes a drug and the FDA can go after you. I see too many soapers making claims on their soap.

At any rate, I am working on a tutorial for activated charcoal soap and this is the end result:

The top design is made with a spoon if you can believe that. I don’t do this with my regular soap bars because they won’t fit into my boxes if I do that. But this batch is just for show so I wanted to have some fun.  It’s all shiny because it is fresh soap (also called wet soap) and at a very thick pudding stage here.  This will be ready to try in about a month.  Soap is a very creative medium.

Mohawk Hudson Bike Hike Trail

It’s time for something different! On Saturday, we put our bikes in the car and headed south to the Mohawk Hudson bike hike trail.

This trail is part of the Rails to Trails Conservancy, which is an organization that is pushing to get unused railroad tracks made into trails, which when finished will allow people to bike, walk or hike many, many miles.

This section of the trail is about 35 miles long. We only did part of it out and back. While the temperature wasn’t too high – about 80, it was quite humid. There had been a lot of rain the day before and it felt pretty swampy at times, especially when the sun came out.

The trail was really nice to be on.  Taken while on the bike (not recommended):

I just kept remarking at how green it was. This summer has been somewhat wet and everywhere is just so green still considering it is mid August.

This was one of the high elevation points of the ride.

Quite the view!

It was a real treat riding on this wide paved path.

My pictures don’t show it, but there was a fair number of people out on the trail.  We stopped for some lunch at an open bench and wouldn’t you know the sun made an appearance while we were in the open.

I was slathered up with No Ads 50 SPF sunscreen for the day. That stuff works, but I will say that dust and dirt sticks to me like I am flypaper or something. Makes for a bit of a grimy ride.

The path follows the river quite a bit, which makes sense since it is on the old rail lines.

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It was flat for most of it, but some very challenging hills periodically.

This is an old depot.

I couldn’t quite tell what business is in here. It was closed at the time. This would be a super cute cafe, I think.

Another moving picture 😀

We biked just about 30 miles. We definitely want to come back again. It’s only 45-60 minutes away, so not that bad to get there.  Highly recommended for local peeps to go check it out!

After we finished, it was time for our snack. There were no stops to be had on the trail like with our usual long rides so we had to wait until we were done and headed to Mocha Lisa’s in Clifton Park.

They didn’t have any cupcakes, but I did spy a raspberry twist that looked good.

Paired with an iced coffee and this was a nice ending to a good ride!

What’s Blooming!

Welcome Friday!  This week was iris division and planting week, but first a few blooms.

My beautiful heirloom lily.  When it finally blooms, it has a long bloom time.

Zinnia.

There are a bunch that haven’t opened up yet and all were seeded at the same time. Go figure. This one is Giant Salmon Rose. Not really giant, but remembering from last year these could grow a lot later.

Now for some irises. Unlike most planting times of spring or fall, irises get done in mid August or so – about 8 weeks after they have finished blooming.  I had ordered a few rhizomes early in the spring (on sale, of course LOL) and they arrived this week at planting time. How convenient!

I’m trying a reblooming iris for the first time. It’s name is Immortality , which brings of visions of vampires for some reason.  It’s a pure white flower.  That is going in the front bed.

In the back, I am moving one of the irises, Night Ruler (black), because it didn’t bloom this year and the clump isn’t big enough for size to be the reason it didn’t bloom. I think it just didn’t get enough sun.

You can see it leaning into the direction of the sun here and kind of being crowded by surrounding plants.

I know some gardeners like to trim  down the iris fans each season, but IMHO it’s not necessary and stresses out the plant for no reason. However, when digging them up I will cut them so they aren’t trying to pump food into leaves when they need to be putting down roots.

I just put a shovel under the clump and levered up. Then I basically just pulled up the rhizome clump. Unless they are really overgrown, irises come up pretty easily.  The dirt pretty much falls off the root as well. It really is one of the easiest plants to move around.

Two years ago I planted one rhizome – the big middle piece – and now I have three.

Just simply cut or break the rhizome off the mother bulb. You can toss the mother bulb as it will likely never bloom again.

Replanted the three rhizomes in new spots and I put two of the newly arrived rhizomes along with them. I got Edgefield Glow, which is orange, and Wild Irish Rose, which is a rosy orchid color. Should be fun!

In the front, it was certainly time to divide these irises!

These ones are super prolific, much more so than my larger bearded iris.  The batik iris is to the left of the picture and you can see how different it looks. When we moved here 3 years ago, I cut off a hunk of these rhizomes and divided them into 4 plants. Look at them today.

This was from one rhizome! Multiply that by 4.

 

All nicely planted. It’s a little bare now, but these will start showing growth pretty quickly – I hope.

After replanting what I wanted – I am left with over 40 rhizomes!  40!  That’s after tossing any that had bloomed already.  Message me if you want some. It’s this iris:

Have a great weekend!

Volunteer work

I’ve been doing my volunteer work at the Chapman museum in downtown Glens Falls for a year now. It doesn’t seem like that long, but that could be because it’s usually one shift a month. Most of the volunteers work the reception area.

 

The museum recently installed a local information kiosk of sorts. It’s free to anyone to come in and learn about local history. Some interactive displays

And there are about 8 informational panels to read.

 

It’s really a well done display. The idea is that it could function as kind of a welcome center for visitors since our city doesn’t have one, but it hasn’t been made official.

The museum also has a great selection of books about our area and history.

 

I asked the director where he gets the books from and there is a specialty publisher that deals in local history. Who knew?

Anyway, that’s just a snippet of my volunteer duties.

We also got in buttons:

It’s the 100th anniversary of women’s voting rights in NY this year. The education coordinator at Chapman is also on the planning committee for the suffrage events, so we see a lot of what’s coming up, including this:

 

The speakers will all be acting in period costume. I’ve got this in my calendar.

On a side note, I’m sure that I am not the only one with this problem. Cat gets on the couch when you do and snags your spot. Then I’m too much of a sucker to make her move and I perch at the front.

I want to come back as a cat in my next life.

Things You Can Do

Like many of you, I’m sitting here today wondering what the hell is going on in America.  Things need to get done.  Even though you may feel like you can’t make any change happen, there are larger groups with more infrastructure in place that can.  Join with them or donate.

  1. Southern Poverty Law Center. Mission: “The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality”
  2.   Anti-Defamation League: A national organization devoted to fighting anti-Semitism and bigotry in all forms
  3. Speak out. If you hear racist/bigoted/hate comments, call them out. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Try to do it respectfully and engage in conversation to help someone understand the problem, not just name calling. Violence is not a solution. Open a dialogue. This is the most important thing, IMHO.

It’s on all of us to work this out. We can’t wait for someone else to do it for us.

What’s Blooming!

Today is snapdragon day. As I said before, I have platoons of snaps this year. So much so that I’m not going to deadhead into the garden this year, but into my compost bucket.  Here are the lovely colors this year:

Pink:

White:

Yellow:

Multi – hiding under my bird bath:

Hot pink with an interesting single color bloom in it:

Almost red. That one I might collect some seeds from to see if the offspring turn a full red.

The Calycanthus bush:

It’s a nice size bush now. I do have to trim stray canes as they will shoot out really long on occasion. This has been flowering for a couple months now:

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This is a short version of a butterfly bush:

It’s a little overwhelmed by the cosmos so I will probably remove most of that since the butterfly bush is the main plant there. Like all the BBs, this one smells like honey.

Some of the zinnias have popped open.

This one is called Giant Salmon Rose. I don’t know what it is about me and zinnias, but they never come out like they are supposed to on the package. This is only about 15 inches high and it’s supposed to be twice that.  I just can’t win.

Potted heliotrope looking pretty:

This is really a keeper. I am going to try to bring it inside and overwinter it. I definitely will get one next year again if it doesn’t make it – and maybe get another anyway if it does!

The wave of Japanese beetles seems to have died down and now my coneflowers are being left alone. This is Milkshake:

The globe thistles keep on going:

So many bees this year – it’s wonderful!

My Joe Pye is just starting to open up and the bees have discovered it:

Our tree hydrangea looks really good this year. I gave it that massive haircut early last spring and last year and this year it has just taken off:

So far there hasn’t been a heavy enough downpour to make the branches bow down like they did last year.  I love the tree form. You can see Joe Pye in the background and how tall it is.

Happy garden this year!

Photo fun

I grew up in a photo family. My grandparents owned a photo developing business and so I’m sure you can imagine the number of photos our family has stored in boxes upon boxes.

Transferring those photos to digital either requires sending out the negative and not getting it back or trying to take a picture of a picture, which doesn’t yield the best results. Enter google’s app PhotoScan and now I can get these pictures in a digital format. It’s available for iOS and android. Maybe it’s been around for a while, but it’s new to me.

You just put the photo in the viewfinder and match up the 4 circles. Here are some photos I did today:

That’s a wallet photo of my dad. The app removes any glare, too.

This was the photo that got me looking for a solution. I wanted a copy of this pic of my sister and I.

Not really sure why because that santa looks completely bored Lol ?

Finally getting the technique down a little better. Not getting too close is the key.

This is young me:

I’m having a tea party and no one came! Not quite sure how old I am here, but suffice to say it would be in the very early 1970s.

Of course, these pictures will never be crystal clear and the age discoloration isn’t going to go away. Anyway, this wasn’t any kind if sponsored post or the like. This is just a great tool for those of us with a lot of pre-digital age photos.

John’s birthday cake

Gratuitous food post here! John’s birthday was Friday, but the cake party wasn’t until Sunday when everyone could get together.  Since he did such an amazing job with my birthday cake, I had my work cut out to make one for him. He sent me this recipe from King Arthur Flour for a chocolate cake with mousse and raspberries as a starting point.

He wanted strawberries instead of raspberries and I decided to use my standard chocolate buttercream frosting recipe instead of the one that was listed on the recipe.

Here was the start of assembly:

There were 3 layers of cake and a chocolate mousse filling between the layers (with mini chocolate chips) and fresh strawberries. The mousse used Clear Jel to help set the mousse, which is a vegetarian option instead of gelatin.

The cake ready for frosting:

This went into the fridge to firm up before frosting with chocolate buttercream. I also made some white chocolate decorations on parchment paper.  I tried my hand at piping as well.

I was pretty pleased with how it came out! This stayed in the fridge until everyone got here so it would be firm for cutting.

Ta-da!

I think everyone enjoyed the cake. John did, which was the most important thing!

This cake did make a lot of dishes and took a bit of time, but even just the mousse is a keeper to have as a dessert all by itself some time. We have now really upped our baking game for birthdays. Where to go from here??

What’s Blooming!

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since Sunday. I’ve kind of lost my blogging mojo a bit. Maybe it’s time to start posting food again.

Today is John’s birthday. Lucky John having a birthday on Flower Friday and all that 😀  There will be dinner tonight and then a cake party this weekend.

On to the garden! Lots of snaps:

A new flower opened up. This is an heirloom lily:

It’s actually held up by a shepherd’s crook. It’s about 5 feet tall and quite a statement plant.

I have a couple blackeyed Susan plants, one in the front and one in the back. At our old house, I had planted some and they overran the place! I was hesitant to put in more, but these have been very good.

They go nicely with the hydrangea:

Balloon flowers:

I gave them a good deadheading only I got a little carried away and snipped off a bloom.

I stuck it in the mum cluster 😀

An area that is still struggling a bit is the newest bed we put in last year. I have a several small shrubs growing. Last year I put in foxgloves and they looked good. This year, I got a ton of baby foxgloves, but now they look kind of tired and brown:

Just to show that not all of my gardens are A+  😀   This bed will need a couple of years to get established.

More Cheyenne Spirit!

I’m going to have some baby ones of these to share in the fall, I think.

Hostas blooming in the shade bed. I did not plant these. They came with the house.

Potted plant which I cannot remember the name of now:

Lots of globe thistles going.

If you look close you can see a bee butt in there 😀

Here is a full look at them:

Behind is the Joe Pye Weed. I really like this plant, but it sure is tall.  This is eye level:

The flowers haven’t quite opened up yet, but when they do, they will be covered with bees and butterflies.

Hope you have a great weekend!