I first came across this species of gladioli at our local nursery only I wasn’t sure what type or variety they were. Initially I thought they were a hybrid but later on I found out otherwise. In fact it is a species plant instead of a hybrid, originally from tropical Africa. It was at the Mercer Arboretum March Mart Plant Sale where I bought the plant that ended up in our flower bed. It was modestly priced, right up my alley. Hopefully the plant will send out extra corms that I can spread around in the bed for next spring. Gladioli are one of my favorite bulbs so having a small collection of varieties would be perfect for me. In fact, I’m really stoked to see the variety of species in this genus! Yes, I’m pretty much drooling over these! Check out the first one, the orchid-like Gladiolus ceresianus!
The collards were starting to bolt and I decided that I wasn’t in mood for boiling up lots of collards for dinner one night and instead wanted to do something different. In passing on a blog somewhere I’d remembered reading about collard green pesto. Sure enough there were a lot of recipes and I decided on this one to experiment with. I modified it using walnuts instead of pecans and eliminating the olives, but for the most part I followed the directions. Pesto is forgiving and very pliable, I think you could use any kind of green for a different result.
All of the collard leaves were not picked, but I did get a giant handful of them. Once you blanch the greens, they soften up quite a bit and easier to blend. Note, I also took the ribs off of the leaves.
That bunch of collards and the rest of the ingredients only made six little tubs! I think I could probably get three more with what is left outside on the plants. I’m trying to let the plants go to seed so I can save seeds for fall use.
I definitely recommend trying some pesto made with collards sometime; I think chard or kale would be nice as well!
Our 5-in-1 peach/nectarine tree flowered earlier this spring and now has a few fruits on it. I think there is one nectarine but the peach limb has produced the most fruit so far. Technically I think you are supposed to pick the fruit off the first year in the ground in an effort to get the tree to have better growth but with only three or four fruits we decided to leave them on.
I shared the View From The Potting Bench last week, but here’s what is actually going on *on* the potting bench.
This potting bench was actually here when we arrived. It really needs to be rebuilt and fixed. The legs of the table are bent in a few areas and it isn’t quite stable. I miss the potting bench we had in Florida. I found it via Freecycle and picked it up from someone else when we lived in Pembroke Pines. They had two at the time, a small and large one, but I was only able to take the larger one as it would only fit on our little porch at our townhouse there. Then we sold the bench when we had our great plant sale before we left Florida. It was a little bittersweet to get that go so I was definitely happy to see the potting bench stayed when the people who sold our house to us moved out.
I started the sweet potatoes a week or two ago and they had been residing on the floor of our porch. However, the feral cats had been drinking from the cups and I would come home each day to find them knocked over. I figured they would have better success if I moved them to the potting bench, but I’m pretty sure the cats still jump up there too.
Chris found a place online that sold jack-in-the-pulpit bulbils and bought a bunch. Now we have a flat of jack-in-the-pulpits that will eventually be planted in the new section of our flower garden when it gets built. It should also be noted that the deer love the greens from these.
I really love the light surrounding this potting bench, particularly in the winter when the leaves are off the trees.
Gaillardia pulchella, aka: Indian Blanket or Firewheel, is one of my favorite natives. It blooms for much of the year in warmer parts of Texas and other areas of the south. They’ve been blooming very well for the last few weeks and another patch of them we put in our main garden is about to start blooming as well. We just bought a hybrid variety that is mostly yellow at a nursery. I could probably get into Indian Blanket hybrid varieties and become a collector of these flowers like we have with Salvia.
I’m over at Sprout Dispatch today showing off what is growing in the vegetable garden. Come over and say hello!
Last night I spent an hour or so working around the potting bench, cleaning up seed trays and 4″ pots that hadn’t sprouted or that had already been transplanted. I started a round of more seeds from our stash, trying to germinate some old seeds in an effort to get some new plants for the garden but also an effort to get a fresh batch seeds from that too. Some of that effort is probably futile as some of the seeds are many years old and are likely not going to germinate at all. Oh well.
I find myself outside until 8pm these days, working until almost dark and then coming in for dinner if I can stand waiting until that late. Right now I feel semi-caught up, if there is such a thing, but of course next week will come along and there will be another round of weeds to pull, seedlings to transplant, and deer to curse at for eating some new blossom.
I’m just waiting for that fig tree to fruit so I can eat dinner outside.
The ‘Kiowa’ blackberries gave me two tasty little snacks on my way through the yard as I took photos last night. The deer have been doing some light browsing too I saw. Doesn’t the spines hurt their mouth? I guess that still doesn’t stop them from eating my roses!
Last weekend Chris and I met up in Lufkin, Texas to attend at Zoo Brew fundraiser at the Ellen Trout Zoo. Chris has been working in Beaumont again and one of our field coworkers lives in Lufkin and his wife was part of the Zoo Brew committee. It sounded like a great event and diversion for our weekend so Chris and I went and enjoyed ourselves. We didn’t get to see a lot of the zoo animals as most were put away to avoid being stressed too much. However, we saw and heard the zoo’s many peacocks. I’m pretty sure they need to invest in some peacock birth control; peacocks were everywhere and they were loud. If you’ve never heard a peacock they sound a bit like a distressed cat.
The following day our feet were itching for hiking so we headed for the Upland Island Wilderness in Angelina National Forest. Somehow we both ended up not bringing our laptops, each assuming the other would have theirs so researching the forest with a map and where to go was a no-go. However Chris knew where the sign was on the highway for the entrance to this particular area and so we drove down there and hoped for the best.
I know government agencies are spread thin these days, particularly lesser utilized parks, but is it that difficult to put a map of the forest service unit at the trail heads and campgrounds? We checked several places that we found display boards to see where we might find a trail or to even differentiate between some of the private inholdings that border the forest service lands, and found maps were nonexistent. Frustrating!
We came in from U.S. 69 and turned on what Google is calling Jasper County Line Road. We looked for somewhere safe to drop off my truck so we could ride together in Chris’ truck and found a small parking area maybe a mile or two down the road. I was a little bit skeptical of the site, a sort of parking area/campsite, but at least at the end of the day my truck was still there with tires in tact and no broken windows. After I jumped in his truck we first tried going down one road that headed south towards the Neches River only to find ourselves facing private property signs. There was a two-track that appeared to be on forest land that we could have hiked down but decided against it.
Back on the main road we came to these pitcher plants on the side of the road where a seep was flowing from the side of the hill. We had encountered a few more no trespassing signs here and there along the roadway and at this point we didn’t see any signs so we decided to get out and walk up the hill a bit and scope out the pitcher plants.
After our short excursion into the woods we got back into the truck and kept on driving down the road. The road teed and ran into more private lands, hunting clubs warning trespassers their area were wired with cameras. Chris and I had walked through a few hunting club lands on the Florida Trail. While the trail officially goes through these areas and we were ok to be there, there’s an uneasy feeling whenever you run into hunters because you never know how they will react to hikers. Needless to say I wasn’t interested in being anywhere near hunt club lands.
We took a right down the road towards the river again hoping to run into a forest service sign. Finally we saw the ubiquitous brown and tan forest service sign telling us we were entering the Bouton Lake Campground. Quickly we found a message board and a few campsites but again we were thwarted with no map or more information other than something saying the Sawmill Trail was closed in a few areas with bridges that were out of service. Well, that was a start, there was a trail somewhere if we could only find it. Finally we found a big open field on the east end of the lake with a few campers (including one guy who reminded us of our backpacking friend from the AT and FT, Speaker). I got out to investigate the possible trailhead and indeed it was the Sawmill Trail! Score!
Since we had no idea how far the trail went and where we might end up we just walked until we couldn’t find the trail any longer, which happened to be at a clear cut area bordering private property. Suddenly the trail became so thick and any signs of people following a path disappeared. Shot gun shells along the path insinuated the only people who really used the trail were hunters.
Found an interesting gall. Someone really needs to come up with a gall identification book. Of course only like the nerdiest of nerds, like us, would probably buy it, but still. Someone publish a gall book!—-or better yet publishers, I’ll be more than happy to team with with an expert in galls and take photos of galls. *hint hint* (For the uninitiated into insect galls)
We found a patch of green dragon, Arisaema dracontium. One of the plants had a spent flower and Chris was planning on coming back to take photos of it but we must have passed the patch of plants on our return back to the truck.
There were several beech trees that had been marked upon. Apparently this place does get a bit of activity from time to time, probably not recent times though. Some people need to learn to leave what you find.
The trail got confusing in one spot on the way back; we’d detoured around treefall and other debris on the way in but forgot how we’d approached going around it so we made a bigger detour and went to check out a slough nearby.
Once we returned to the truck we weren’t sure where we were going to go and just followed the GPS to see what roads we could take, also checking for private property signs along the way. Eventually we came to a two track that didn’t have a gate and no signs were posted so we decided to take the chance and get out. A creek was nearby and Chris was looking for azaleas.
And more galls!
It was getting towards late afternoon and we both had two hour drives back to our respective end points for the day—home for me, and Chris’ home-away-from-home hotel.
I would definitely love to go back through here sometime with a map to scope out a few more interesting and rare habitats.
(yep, still working on these posts from August….)
When Chris and I left Leprechaun Lake we decided to go to the north end of Perfection Lake at the trail junction to Prusick Pass. I wanted to go up there and see what was that way but after lunch Chris wasn’t feeling it, however we did wander down that trail just a bit and found, what do you know…more goats!
Our lunch view! We sat just a bit further up, literally at the sign junction.
This wouldn’t be our last encounter with goats, we had some hang out with us at our final campsite on Aasgard Pass.
To Be Continued…
What? You thought I was getting broody? No, not yet, but the queen of our hive sure is! See there in the middle, the white capped cells? That’s brood, eggs that were laid by the queen waiting to develop into full grown bees!
Last weekend Chris and I took out each comb in an attempt to try to find the queen. We didn’t end up finding her, silly girl was hiding in the mass of workers and drones.
Our colony has been busy building up their comb and adding more in the last week. Now when I open the window I can actually see the combs—usually. With this freakish cold front on Thursday they were balled up tight to keep warm so I could barely see it then.
Yesterday I refilled their sugar water and I didn’t even bother to put on my suit as the bees were being docile, still balled up over the comb. I flipped up a couple of bars and spacer, reached my hand in, switched the lids to the mason jars and in a few minutes their sugar water was refilled. I did notice a couple of dead bees and was unsure if I should have picked them out or let the bees take care of them. Shortly after we put the bees into the hive Chris said he saw one of the worker bees ferret away a dead bee to the hinterlands of the garden, so this is kind of why I thought I’d let the bees do their own dirty work. I guess if they don’t bother in the next few days I’ll go get them out.
As for bees dying, it is natural for that to happen, while the queen will live several years workers only live for a few months, less in the summer. This is why you need brood!