Sunday, 26 June 2011

june flowers

Along with the winter vegetables, here's an update on the winter flowers.  The snowflakes are going nuts - every winter their clumps get thicker and thicker (this is what they looked like last winter).
My species tulips are just starting to wake up too.  I start watering them again in the winter, knowing they wake up quite early.  The first growing tip has appeared!  Can you find it in this photo?
My colmnara orchid is still growing away.  They seem to rotate between putting out flowers and putting out new pseudobulbs.  I bought it last year in August just when it was blooming.  It doesn't look like it will blossom again by August, it's still working on several new pseudobulbs.  But I can't complain as it seems to be green and happy!  Maybe I'll visit the orchid show again and get another pretty orchid in bloom.
My three hellebores are blooming one at a time.  The first ones are coming in very pale this year for some reason; last year they were dark purple-black.  Maybe the next flush will come in darker?
On the other hand the second plant appears to be coming in dark.  The third one's sulking a bit but I know it will get there soon enough.
The nearby gaura has finished and is looking a bit scraggly.  After this photo I went in and trimmed them back a bit.  One of them had a bit of dead growth which I cut out, I hope that doesn't mean it's dying.
I haven't shown you the succulents in ages.  I went through a phase where I was growing quite a few, but I decided they're rather boring plants.  They grow very slowly and don't change much; I like a plant with a bit of personality.  But this little bowl of succulents has slowly filled in.  I like that in the winter the ones on the left turn red.
That's about it in the garden at the moment!  That and major pruning but that's not very interesting for the blog.

june veggies

It's been a pretty quiet winter in the garden.  I haven't planted many veggies this year but I thought I'd show a few pictures of what is growing.  As with last year I'm growing one Tuscan kale plant.  It's taken a while to get going, but it's now just big enough to start picking leaves for minestrone.  For some reason the white butterflies have left it alone this year, even though they decimated the Chinese cabbage I had growing next to it.
I'm also growing two pots of Oregon spring snowpeas.  They're also just starting to set pods.  I think they really appreciate having the teepee trellis this year.  They're bush-type peas but they still need some support.
My parsley plant has gone absolutely nuts.  Parsley's funny like that, it creeps along slowly until one day you realise you've got a triffid in the yard and there's nothing you can do about it.
My chilies are also still pottering along.  They're still ripening up, although more slowly in the cold.  It's also starting to look a bit yellow, but I'm not sure if I should fertilise it in the winter.
Finally, my twig lost all of its first flush of fruit but it's still holding onto a later flush.  I don't know if they're mandarins or tangelos though.
Unfortunately the other graft is suffering a bit of die-back on some of the new growing tips.  First the young leaves went, now they're turning brown.  I hope it doesn't continue!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

1, 2, 3 simit!

OK so I've got one more post to make, inspired by my time in Turkey.  On nearly every street you could find a man selling simit, a sort of sesame bagel.  They were so good I had one almost every day!  When I got home, I did some searching and found a recipe to make them at home!  This is the recipe I used:
1 1/2 c water
1 1/4 t salt
4 c bread flour
3 t instant yeast
1 T molassas
1/4 c warm water
1 c toasted sesame seeds

I made the dough in my bread machine; otherwise knead the dough and let it rise for about an hour.  Afterward, punch down the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Divide dough into 24 pieces and roll them into 14-inch long snakes.  Twist two pieces together and press into a ring.
Here's the next step.  First preheat the oven to 280c (it needs a while to warm up).  Dissolve the molasses in the warm water.  I toasted the sesame seeds in a wok on medium-high heat - stir them constantly so they don't burn.  Next dip the rings in the molasses, then roll completely with seeds.
Let the rings rise until they get puffy like this - 10 to 20 minutes depending on how warm the room is.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
They should look like this, but don't let them burn like I did!

autumn photos

I'm alive, I promise!

I was on a wonderful holiday in Turkey for two weeks; three weeks and 500 photos later, I'm only halfway through sorting them all!  So I've been neglecting both my garden and this blog.  Here's a bit of an update.

This autumn has been a real stunner in Melbourne, after a wet summer and a cold snap.  Unfortunately I missed the best of it, by the time I got back a lot of trees were just past their prime.  I missed my crepe myrtle's show entirely and after all the effort, missed the best weeks of my white anemones!  But my little maple put on a real show this year, it's the first autumn it's really shown off.
The time last year I was still referring to the poor thing as the "sad little maple" and it looked like this!
Big improvement, isn't it?  The oakleaf hydrangea is also looking very handsome, I reckon there's more red in the mix this year:
Compared to last year (the leaves did lose their green eventually but didn't gain the reddish hue):
I also had a little surprise come out of my giant elephant ear colocasia.  I've seen the flowers on my Amazon Queen colocasia before, but never seen them do this!  I'm not sure if it was just that the species type was more mature than my Amazon Queen or what, but it made a cheerful bright seed pod that looks a bit like an exploding triffid corn cob.
Finally, a quick snap of my lovely little colmanara hybrid orchid.  I took the advice of the grower I bought it from last year; when it finished flowering I put it outside on the porch.  It's grown several new pseudobulbs over the winter, and doesn't seem to mind the cold or the added sunlight from the low winter sun.  It's getting a few black spots that I hope are not mold!  No sign of new flower spikes though.  I wonder if I'll go to the orchid show again this year, and if I'll take home another orchid from this hybrid family.  The whole family seems to have drop-dead gorgeous flowers, and it seems to be pretty easy to care for.  But the real test will be whether I can get it to flower again!
That's all for now.  It's definitely winter now which in the garden is a time for reluctant maintenance in the cold. I've only got a few winter veg to look after this year so it's mostly a matter of raking up the rest of the leaves and getting through some major winter pruning tasks.  So you might not hear much from me for a little while, but I'm still here!