Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mexico, Part 1: Nature Scenes

Just like in the Virgin Islands, giant lizards abound in coastal Mexico. These two were fighting, in case you can't tell!
View from a cliff at the Tulum ruins:
This tree had pretty peach-colored flowers and some sort of fruit:
Here is a shot of the whole tree. This is from our resort, Secrets Maroma. It is a new resort and the landscaping is still very young.
Another picture from the ruins. I wouldn't have minded being a watchman for this walled city!
I believe this is cigar plant:
Of course, palm trees were everywhere:
Are the white bead-like things seeds?
Here is more of the landscaping at our resort, which was very typical of the area:

The beach at our resort was so nice. Wide, with unbelievably soft sand. Clear, warm water. Ahhh!!!
HUGE Bougainvillea at the Tulum ruins (yes, Scott is pretending to be a monkey).
This is from the Tulum ruins. In retrospect, I'm not sure if it's a flowering shrub or a vine in a shrub.
These were everywhere, and huge. They reminded me of Dirt Princess - isn't this a cahaba lily?

Stay tuned for Part 2: Adventures (including a real monkey!)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Guess who's back, back again...

We're back from a great time in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico! I'll post pictures of our trip soon. Apparently (thankfully) it rained while we were gone, and the edible garden was in good shape upon our return. Check out our sugar baby:
I swear it is 10x larger than when we left!
I also had a bowlful of yellow pear tomatoes to harvest, and many more are on the way:
Remember this picture from the post about squash vine borers?
This is the SAME PLANT, a month or so later. Can you believe it healed that well?! I just removed the borers and mounded wet dirt over the wound. This plant wasn't the farthest gone, and not all of them survived, but it's still pretty amazing!
Unfortunately, the whole succession-planting thing didn't work -- I found another borer in a vine from round 2 of planting today. Oh well, at least we know the vines can survive if treated early and often!

Have a great week, y'all! I'll be around to catch up on your blogs soon.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sing-A-Long: Put the Lime in the Coconut

Do y'all know that song? Maybe not... Anyway, it has two meanings for me about now:

1. Check out this dainty Coconut Lime Coneflower that is blooming right now. Like the frilly pink coneflower I featured recently, it's small in stature, took a couple of years to do right, and now is remarkably heat- and drought-resistant. And so pretty!
2. I'm leaving for a place where I can drink the song's namesake tropical drink tomorrow: Mexico! WOO-HOO! See y'all next weekend! Have a great week!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Savory and Sweet Summery Pies

Every gardener ends up with too much of something, such as the notorious zucchini. Here are a couple of family recipes I make to use up some of the excess:

1. Tomato Tart -- this is me and my mom's adaptation of a Junior League of Jackson recipe (original recipe is in the cookbook "Come On In"). It helps me use up basil when I'm tired of pesto! You'll need to preheat the oven to 350.
Defrosted frozen pie crust (not deep dish)
8 oz. shredded mozzarella
Fresh basil, sliced in a chiffonade
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Tomatoes, thick sliced and drained on paper towels

Put the mozzarella in the crust, then top with basil. Top that with the tomatoes as shown below.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the tomatoes and then sprinkle with S&P. Bake for about 35 minutes. It will need to sit for a few minutes before slicing, and you should drain off any excess water. It's also great leftover, cold, room temperature, or hot. I slice this in about 10 slices (slivers, really) for a party, four slices for a meal. 2. Apple Crisp -- OK, this isn't a pie, but it's in a pie pan! Anyway, my mom has three apple trees that produce "cooking apples," which seem to be the only kind of apples that grow well in the deep south. She gives me BAGS of them every summer, so I made up this recipe a few weeks ago, and it is delicious. First, preheat your oven to 350.
I combined diced cooking apples with some white sugar and fresh lemon juice. You could leave out the white sugar if you were using granny smith apples instead. Spread this mixture in a pie pan or similar shallow dish.
Combine the following and spoon atop the apple mix: chopped pecans, cinnamon, brown sugar, a little flour, a pinch of salt, small chunks of butter.
Bake for about 35 minutes. Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream.
What do you make or do with your excess garden produce?

Friday, July 3, 2009

3 in 1: Guest Garden, Plant Profile, and a Shout Out

It has been 100 degrees here for what seems like a month straight, with no rain, so my garden isn't looking too great and I've been slacking on my garden blogging duties! This is a 3 for 1 post to make up for lost time!
First, a Guest Garden. This is the Chattanooga garden of my mother in law, Cindy:
Can you believe these HUGE, lush hostas? I'm jealous! Luckily, she's offered to share some with me next spring.
My in-laws are Floridians at heart, and this Sago Palm they keep trying to grow is proof! It dies back every winter, and this year Cindy thought for sure it was goners until she discovered this new growth.
The bottle tree she asked for for Mother's Day (and my father in law bought her!), after seeing mine! They're big in Mississippi, and I bet she's going to start a trend in Tennessee! She has the coolest idea for changing out the bottles to match the seasons (red and green for Christmas, etc.).
This is their front yard. Isn't it beautiful??
Pink calla lilies - so pretty! She said critters got the rest of them this year.
She always admires Mexican petunia in Florida and Mississippi. We're not sure if it will be perennial in Chattanooga, but I bought her some at a Master Gardeners plant sale here this spring, and it's blooming.
Hope you enjoyed Cindy's garden! Now for Part 2 of this post: Plant Profile.
I recently showed a picture of a young flower on my Pink Double Delight Coneflower, and lots of you oohed and aahed over it. Below are pictures of the plant and a close-up of the flower at maturity, in all its fluffiness.
It's a much smaller plant than a purple coneflower; about a foot or foot and a half tall. It's just as drought tolerant once established, but it was a little harder to establish - I spring-planted it three years ago and this is the first year it's done well. I ordered it online from the Crownsville Nursery. I've seen them in a lot of garden catalogs but never at a garden center.
And now for Part 3: A Shout Out. Do y'all know KMG? She's a master gardener with a great blog. Anyway, she saw sedum on my wish list and offered to mail me some! How nice is that?!
And then I get the package, and it turns out she sent me a huge variety, expertly packaged in plastic baggies with moist straw to retain moisture without rotting! Some were bareroot, and others were cuttings. I stuck most of it in pots (the cuttings dipped in rooting hormone) for the time being, since it's just about too hot to establish anything in the ground. It's all thriving two weeks later.
How special to have a plant from a garden blogger's grandmother! Thank you, KMG!!
P.S. Gracie wanted me to thank you for the box, er, I mean her new bed, too!