Monthly Archives: August 2013

What to do on a day off?

The nights have continued to cool as Fall nears. The day temperature as only in the mid eighties now. That’s cool for us.

Chores in the garden are mainly cleaning and pruning. The old limbs on the hydrangeas have been removed. Dead limbs and flowers removed from others. I am totally in “Clean up” mode.

Pine cones are falling from the pines and the squirrels are burying acorns in the garden and beds.

The wildflowers beds have all gone to seed and the goldfinches and other small seed eating finches are enjoying the feast.


The wildflower beds along the street curb were looking a little ragged and there were some patches of invading lawn grass so I mowed the beds with the lawn mower and then dug out the clumps of grass.

Gus was investigating the cleaned beds for anything to chase!


I seeded the beds with oxeye dasies which will bloom next year and cleome or spiderflower which is an annual and should bloom quickly this Fall and provide some Fall color.

Incense Passionflower along the fence continues to bloom and will do so until frost. They are fragrant but can be weedy and spread by underground stolons.


The Butterfly or Ginger lilies began blooming a few weeks ago and will continue until frost, too. They have a sweet fragrance and form strong clumps of bamboo like stems about 5 feet tall. Once they begin to bloom they tend to lean over.


An unusual morning glory is blooming on the garden gate. The flowers do not open but have an unusual striping effect. So unusual. I didn’t plant it but I did have some pink varieties late year so it must be a seedling.


The large beds of liriope are blooming, also. Such a harbinger of Fall! The beds are full of bees. These run along the fence from the road up to the house.


Of course, it’s time to think about planting Spring flowering bulbs and even Fall flowering mums. Stacks and stacks of bulb catalogs sit on my desk. I don’t even bother to look because I know I will want a few of everything! Maybe I can just get a few lily bulbs or maybe a trout lily or two? Just a few. Just a few.


Filed under General Gardening

Homemade Focaccia

I love small meals and snacks. A slice of fresh baked bread topped with herbs falls easily into this category. It’s easy to have fresh bread by making a large batch of dough and storing it in the refrigerator. When you want fresh bread, break off a small portion, allow it to warm to room temperature and rise a little, then bake a fresh loaf. The below recipe is from Williams-Sonoma and has the perfect flavor!

Basic Focaccia


2 packages (5 tsp.) active dry yeast

1 3/4 cups (14 fl. oz./440 ml.) warm water (105-115°F/40-46°C)

1 tsp. sugar

3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil

5 cups (25 oz./780 g.) all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading

2 tsp. fine sea salt

1 tsp. coarse sea salt (optional)

Dissolve the yeast in warm water and let stand about 5 minutes. It should be foamy. If it not then your yeast may be old and dead.  Add the sugar, 1/2 cup of the olive oil, the flour and the salt and stir with your hand or a wooden spoon until a rough ball forms. Scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 5-7 minutes. Add flour to the work surface while kneading to prevent the dough from sticking.

Form the dough into a ball, transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap (I used a dishtowel). Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, 1-1 1/2 hours. For a more flavorful bread, make the dough up to this point, punch it down, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Let the dough come to room temperature before shaping.


Pour the remaining 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) oil evenly into a half-sheet pan. Turn the dough out into the pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan. If it is too elastic to spread without springing back, let it rest for 5 minutes. Cover the pan loosely with a dry kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat to 450°F (230° C). Dimple the dough by pressing your fingertips all the way into it at 1-inch (2.5-cm.) intervals over the entire surface. Sprinkle it with the coarse salt, if desired.


I topped the dough before cooking with parsley, oregano, and dried basil, along with the sea salt. You can use your favorite toppings. Caramelized onions would be great!


Bake the focaccia until golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan. Cut it into squares and serve warm or at room temperature. Store tightly wrapped in aluminum foil at room temperature for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 2 weeks. Reheat at 375°F (190°C) for 10 minutes. Makes 1 large flatbread


Filed under cooking, Food

A cool, sunny day for a visit to Duke Gardens and The North Carolina Botanical Gardens

The temps Sunday were very nice and cooler, low 80s with low humidity. The light breeze made it a perfect opportunity to visit The North Carolina Botanical Gardens in Chapel Hill and Sarah P Duke Gardens in Durham.

The North Carolina Botanical Gardens

The Education Center building and gardens at The North Carolina Botanical Gardens in Chapel Hill


The Education Center has solar cells and all the rain is collected in large storage tanks.


I would love to have a few of these to collect and store rainwater.


There are many garden beds with examples of native plants and small plot vegetable gardens.


Several theme areas representing various ecological zones found around North Carolina.


And a garden of poisonous plants.


Paul Green Cabin:  the Paul Green Cabin, was moved to the North Carolina Botanical Garden in 1991 and restored. In this cabin, playwright Paul Green did much of his research and writing on uses of native herbs. Green’s plays often incorporated the botanical knowledge and herbal folk wisdom of North Carolina’s native peoples and settlers.


Jewel Weed (Impatiens capensis)


Sarah P Duke Gardens in Durham, North Carolina


Ponds near the Doris Duke Center

A Lotus


Ostrich Ferns in a gully leading down to the lake.


The Roney Fountain


Burpee Learning Center


Vegetable gardens at the Burpee Center.


The Perennial Allee


Terraces and fish pool


Blomquist Pavilion


The main lake


If you have a few hours and the weather is nice it is a great place to visit!



Filed under Gardens