Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Toad Lilies!

On Tuesday I ran out to Neuhouser's to check out their end of season sale. I was hoping they had some toad lilies left, as it is one plant I've been wanting to add to the Shade Garden but have never been able to find locally. My sister ordered a bare root plant a few years ago, and nothing ever grew. I was lucky enough to run across a table FULL of them. And they were discounted enough that I bought three (and a Bear's Breeches...but that will be for a future post). It was a wonderful day to be out shopping for, and dreaming of, new plants. Plus talking with my friend Marissa is always an added bonus.

I headed right over to Mom and Dad's after that, as I really needed to get started weeding the Shade Garden to figure out where exactly they would be planted. It was a longer chore than I had planned on.
We are really beginning to lighten the load of plants to be planted. Thank God. This entire corner was an overgrown mess, and it took so long to weed that I didn't have time to actually plant the toad lilies. Still, I'm excited to have found them, and mild temperatures over the weekend should bring some good days in the garden.
Gilt Edged Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis Formosana). I love these little orchid-like flowers!


I found three plants that were still quite full of buds that hadn't opened.

What a welcomed addition to the late Summer and early Fall garden. I always love adding late blooming plants to all of the gardens.
I also ran across this little four pack of Creeping Baby's Breath. I guess I'm not done planting in the White Garden...

Monday, August 27, 2012

This Thing Flew Down My Shirt

The other day, while taking one of my frequent after work inspections of the Garden (and running a list of things that need done in my head as if I had an actual crew), I was attacked from overhead. Or maybe from the side. Who knows from what direction this thing came flying at me. It hit me in the back of the head and then dropped DOWN THE COLLAR OF MY SHIRT!!!!

Now, there was a long standing prank at the Deck where one Bailey the Bartender had a cicada put down the back of his shirt and it was hilarious. At least I (and everyone else present) thought it was hilarious. Bailey the Bartender did not. I now, unfortunately, must agree with him. It is not hilarious. It is strange and scratchy and sick and disgusting and somewhat crunchy. 

Ugh.

Honestly, it looks like an alien. The genus of the Cicadidae family most prevalent in the United States is the Tibecen genus (though there are many different species). They are "annual cicadas", unlike those disgusting, red-eyed monsters known as the 13 or 17 year cicadas. They are true horrors.

These aren't really "annual" cicadas, however. They appear annually because generations have overlapped.   The nymphs spend two or three years underground feeding on the xylem of tree roots (a type of water and nutrient transporting tissue found in vascular plants) before emerging in late July or August, thus the nickname "Dog Day Cicada". They aren't locusts (closely related to grasshoppers), nor are they katydids (a close cousin of crickets). I guess they are sort of interesting to look at. 


Once they emerge as adults, they continue to feed on xylem, only this time by piercing plants with their beak and then drinking with their proboscis. Disgusting. What's even more disgusting is that, although not prone to hurting humans, they sometimes get confused and pierce your skin!!! Thankfully this only happens when they are allowed to rest on a person's body for an extended amount of time. Thank God I was able to shake this guy out of my shirt!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Perennial Planting in the White Garden is Finished...For Now

Several weeks ago during Main's half off sale we purchased a LOT of Feverfew and Obedient Plants for the White Garden. Last week I finally finished planting everything, as well as replaced the lilac that died this Spring. Next up we will begin the Fall bulb planting. For now, however, all of the plants are in the ground, and a bit more weeding has been done. Thankfully as I write this rain is on the way, and the Garden is in desperate need of another good drink.

I bought this monster snowball bush for $8, and it won't be too many years before it is a real monster. I can't wait!
Little Feverfew plants tucked in along the edge of the front corner bed. 


More continuing around the corner.

And a few on the opposite side of the path. My little Japanese Anemone (between the two little Feverfew plants on the right) is still trying his best to grow. Maybe next Fall he will be blooming happily
Too cute. They should make a nice show next year. It can be invasive because it easily self sows, so I'll need to stay on top of deadheading (though this fall I might let it go so it will spread a bit). Under perfect conditions it will be about 18"-24" tall, so everything behind it needs to really start growing!
The Obedient Plant seedlings are doing great. Another one that will need to be kept in check, I like that they will be rather tall, as well as having a late summer into fall bloom time. These were planted about a month ago and already have a lot of new shoots.

Up on the bench (that is in dire need of repair and painting) all of the amaryllis are enjoying their final days outside. Soon it will be time for them to head into the cabinet to force dormancy for six or eight weeks.

The bulbs have really plumped up over the Summer.
All in all, things continue to come together. The rabbits have made a feast of the White Coneflower leaves, but have left the stalks and flowers alone. 


This front corner seems finished at last. The snowdrop anemones are still doing well, and sending up a few surprise blooms as the weeks go by. And yes, these hostas bloomed white. Like they were supposed to. 


Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Night Off

The new bar cabinet has lead to some rearranging and editing up at the Penthouse, which has lead to the Penthouse being in complete disarray, which, naturally, has lead to me not wanting to BE at the Penthouse. Last night I decided screw it, it's a perfect night, and I want to be outside. Besides, my friend Joel needed some practice piloting the pontoon before he takes the title of Captain Joel (which, by the way, occurred tonight, so if you're in the mood for a river cruise, head down to the Deck).

 I snapped some photos with my phone on the walk down to the Deck because, well, it was just such a beautiful evening! 

Good old Lincoln Tower.

That sky! 


My fair city. 

Some maintenance going on at Freimann Square. "Helmholtz", a sculpture by Mark di Suvero is being repainted it's bright red-orange color.

A very long overdue cruise down the Saint Mary's. The first time this Summer!

Looking up at the new Martin Luther King, Junior Memorial Bridge

Heading towards West Central before turning around. A perfect night.

I know there are naysayers out there, but I really like the new bridge!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, "My" New Bar Cabinet

Remember how cool my friend Abby is? Well, she has upped her cool factor once again. In the ongoing Penthouse Restoration, I'm always happy to find perfect pieces (because I feel that everything in the Penthouse should be the best), or have others find perfect pieces for me. Abby, who happens to be president of the Penthouse Acquisitions Committee, has been trying to get me to take this bar cabinet for quite a while. I, however, was stubborn, saying it was just too good to take away from her. An agreement was finally reached, and this cabinet is now on permanent loan from the Abigail Peterson Foundation's Collection of Decorative Arts. The deal is, if ever I cannot use it, it goes back. It is NOT mine to sell, so don't even ask me for a price.  
Neat and tidy. Like a steamer trunk. Notice the original casters! 
Wonderful (slightly dusty-renovations continue) hardware.

And yes, a lock and key.
Once the top is folded back, there is more space for liquor bottles, as well as cut-outs for the stemmed glasses to sit. I was worried about this, as sometimes people get a wee bit tipsy at Penthouse functions, and a reckless setting down of a heavy bottle into a glass could have spelled disaster.

Thankfully, my stainless trays fit perfectly into this space, and the glasses can be displayed safely beneath the shelf.

Honestly, it's like these trays were meant to be a part of this cabinet. It also adds quite a bit of glamour.
Down below are two more shelves. The top shelf had another holder for glasses that I removed (it was bending slightly and I was afraid of it snapping) and stored at the back of the bottom shelf. Plenty of room for everything I already had, plus some room to grow!

My brassy cocktail shaker is quite at home.
The cabinet also came with a collection of swizzle sticks.

Wonderful!

As well as a very Continental collection of matchbooks.

All stocked up and ready to go.

And it sits ever so perfectly in the corner. I guess now I have to have a party...


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Coconut Cream Pound Cake (No Pie for Guy)

 Today is Guy's birthday, and despite my plan to make a coconut cream pie, I changed courses yesterday and made this pound cake. You see, the last coconut cream pie I made for the blog went to him. And the one before that. And the one I was going to make yesterday but will probably make next week instead. And all the coconut products in the future. Last year it was the Bourbon Birthday, so this year it's coconut. Pound cake is always a winner, and this recipe was pretty easy, but it took FOREVER to bake. Oy. Someone commented on it taking two hours...I think it almost could have taken longer. 

So it was sliced last night and Guy promptly burnt his tongue on an under baked section near the center. The knife came out clean, I swear. The rest was delivered this morning, with another half in the freezer ready to deliver whenever he starts to feel too thin. 

Happy Birthday, Guy!

Most of the easy ingredients. 


The butter and cream cheese were left to mix for quite a while.

In went the sugar.


Then the eggs, one at a time. I never crack eggs directly into the batter...you never know when one might be less than perfect (have you ever had a bloody egg?).

After all the dry ingredients were added, I grabbed a spatula to make sure all the ingredients on the sides and bottom of the bowl were incorporated. It's a pretty heavy, but smooth batter.

Folded the coconut in by hand and then poured into the tube pan and into the preheated 325 degree oven. Set the timer for one hour and twenty minutes. Then another ten. Then another fifteen. Then I lost count. It was in for two hours for sure.

I didn't get a nice shot of the cake sliced, but it is quite tasty and looked perfect. I should have made some sort of glaze, or made coconut ice cream, but I was really bad at planning this week for some reason. I don't think he minded too much.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mr. Bashful

While watering the other day (I'm getting really tired of typing those words) I stopped by the little Pygmy Date Palm to see how it was doing. He was a rescue plant (rescue meaning clearance) and has benefited quite a bit from being outside soaking up the sun this summer. Lots of new growth and greening up. As I was looking I saw this little guy. He didn't want his picture taken.
Hold still!

Come on! Actually, when I zoom in on this pic, I think this is a female as it looks like the very tip of his/her abdomen has the two little appendages used to dig holes to lay eggs. Did you know I was an Orthopterologist? Alright, I'm not. I had to Google the difference between male and female grasshoppers. And then Google Orthopterology.

I guess this is all she/he is going to give me. Good job hiding, Mr./Ms. Bashful!