Still Going Strong!

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My garden for the most part is still going strong, there are parts that are looking a little shabby but thats to be expected as we transition into fall.  By this time of year I am tired of trying to keep it all prim and proper so for the next few weeks it can run wild then the big fall clean up will happen.  The nasturtiums are going crazy!  Growing out of the planter boxes, all over the lawn, into other plants and I am sure under the fence to entertain the neighbours!  My husband keeps mowing them and the more he mows over them the faster they return, not bad for a pack of seeds costing $1.98!

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The dahlias too are not behaving, no matter how many sticks and miles of twine, they are still wanting to fall over!  You would think after 20 years of gardening I would have figured out the professional dahlia growers use thick stakes for a reason!  They are loaded in new buds and again if the frost is minimal they will bloom for a few more months.  I am not going to dig them up, I had the pink one return from last year.

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My mom gave me some tubers she was going to compost and to my surprise one of them grew almost the size of my head!

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Another pack of seeds I planted and forgot about was an annual morning glory, (no not the invasive white one).  A  few months ago vines started to come out of the ground with a really interesting leaf, then buds appeared, then the flowers.  It is right outside the back door and the vine covers up the brown leaves of the clematis.  Again a pack of seeds for about $2.00, next year I am trying a really fun one named “Cardinal” its red!  I love looking at it from the kitchen.

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Other plants are still hanging in there: my rose “Beverly” has lots of blooms, and I just harvested scarlet runner beans, (see Botanical Interests), and the last of the tomatoes.

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Happy Thanks Giving to all my fellow Canadians!

Pinkie’s Up!

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Delightful Dahlias!

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My dahlias not only came back this year they have grown so tall it’s getting hard to reach the blooms to cut them off, I have no idea what is going on under the soil, and considering the only soil is what I added, they are growing like mad!  Dahlias are so much fun, I am always amazed when I plant the tubers that look like dried doggy you-know-what, that they grow into these stunning plants with flowers like works of art!

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That’s the one thing with dahlias is never count them out, the tuber for the plant above looked dead, seriously no signs of growth so I put it in where I thought they would get enough sun and low and behold a stunning, big purple flower with white tips emerged!  Dahlias are serious business with shows being held all over the world.

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There are thousands of types of dahlias each one having it’s own set of descriptive terms like fimbriated, involute, lanciated, collarette, pom pom and cactus!  Keep cutting the blooms and the plant will keep blooming until fall.  Personally I will leave all these in the ground over winter and anxiously await to see if they come back for a third season.  I am also planning to add more, my friend has a magenta one and I saw a mauve one on my walk recently.

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These flowers are so cheery on an early fall day, and for my garden they are the perfect plant to make the transition from summer to fall adding colour when other plants are finished.

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Pinkie’s Up!

The Big Tea Debate…

Milk or Tea first into the cup?

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More and more tea is being mentioned in the media, and this question always seems to come up: Is it proper to put the milk in first then the tea or the tea first then add the milk? This debate is solved by looking at a few things about the tea drinking process:

1st) moooo is for milk.  In the old days people got their milk directly from the cow and when they made tea, if they added the fresh cow’s milk second, it would glom ( is that a word?) and rise to the top and float in the cup. To solve this people put the milk in first then added the hot tea, this caused a chemical reaction and the milk mixed with the tea. In my opinion when ever I add milk first, and I don’t often add milk to tea, but when I do I always seem to add too much and the cup of tea is ruined so I prefer to add it after so I can regulate it, some teas need a lot less milk than others.

2nd) what are you drinking the tea out of? There are different forms of porcelain, stoneware, bone china and ceramics to drink out of. If you don not know exactly what your cup is made from the by all means put the milk in first. This will lessen the chance of the very hot tea cracking and even breaking the cup.

3rd) what kind of tea are you drinking? Tea bag tea is blended specifically to take milk as this is the most popular way in the world to drink tea, so it is personal preference to add the milk or tea first. If a person is drinking a fine, loose leaf tea then please don’t ruin it by adding milk!  Fine tea needs no milk or sugar for that matter. There goes all my cream and sugar sets off to the second-hand store!

4th) it’s a class thing.  Back in the day when people were able to start buying fine china to serve tea in it was low-class to add the milk first. This showed the china was not of good quality and milk was needed to protect it from breaking.  In an upper class household ladies who poured tea then added the milk were greeted with ooo’s and ahhh’s as they demonstrated the superior quality of their china by bolding pouring hot tea into it.

One last thing to note on the whole milk first or second debate is science has proven that china cups that have tea poured into them with no milk or milk added second will over time have a tendency to stain. If you have a particularly special cup then to stop it from staining add a bit of milk first to keep the cup clean and shiny!

Ok this debate will never be solved! Just enjoy your tea and remember…….

Pinkie’s Up!

Help, I have a bad case of Solenostemon scutellarioides!

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Solenostemon scutellarioides, is my latest addiction and the latin name for our old garden friend the coleus.  Now I pride myself on learning the latin names for my plants and there are some that I know the latin name and forget the common one, but this name is a challenge, I think I will stick with coleus!  My addiction started earlier this spring when my mom, aunt and I went to a local nursery on Mother’s Day.  Its been a long tradition to buy each other a little gift on Mother’s Day, mine in appreciation for her being an amazing mother, and her’s because she sees me as ‘The Mother of my Garden’, sorry no grandbabies here, just plant babies!  At the garden centre she picks out a piece for her ferry garden and I pick out a tomato.  I can see by the look on her face she thought the tomato was boring so I scanned around and way off on the other side of the store was this bright red, pink and green plant.  We made a bee-line for it, I picked up the pot and said “what the heck is this, its so weird looking”, I red the tag and it was a coleus!   I was very impressed to see they were available in so many different colour combinations and leaf variations, I was hooked!  Poor coleus, before that day I had never grown it, not once in my 18 years of gardening.  I poo pooed them because they were annuals, but for a hit of colour they are an amazing and very showy addition to my garden.  That day I brought home two coleus and two tomatoes, then a few weeks later I went to Home Depot for paint, while there of course I bought variety pack of different coleus for my blue pot.  Then at Canadian Tire I found another one, different from all the others.   I went from no coleus to lots with names like ‘Sky Fire’, ‘Limon Blush’, ‘Colorblaze Lime Time’ and ‘Freckles’, who wouldn’t want a plant named Freckles in the garden?  Apparently you can take cuttings from coleus and make plant babies for next spring, I think my addiction to Solenostemon scutellarioides is here to stay!

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The tomatoes, not to be outdone, are just starting to ripen

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Pinkie’s Up!

My Summer Garden

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Even with the heat and no rain the garden is still hanging in there, the plants as long as they are watered hold their blooms  for a long time when the sun shines, I get the odd flopper but it quickly picks up with a little water.  Everyday they’re is a new surprise and something lovely to look at.  Here are some of the plants in my summer garden, enjoy!

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This day lily is amazing!  The blooms are bigger than my hand with my fingers spread out!

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New additions are Echinacea ‘Ruby Star’ and Black-eyed Susan ‘Tiger Eye’

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‘African Queen’ trumpet lily, the blooms had a sweet, fruit-like aroma and it was especially fragrant at night, a real show-off!

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It wouldn’t be summer without mentioning the roses: ‘Love’ with it’s distinctive red and white petals, ‘Chicago Peace’, my oldest rose, ‘Blue Girl’ very fragrant and ‘Beverly’ such a lovely rose.

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Sedums, Campanulas, Pansies, tomatoes and clematis oh my!

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I love a good deal and I bought these lilies from Home Depot for $2.00 each because they were finishing, I got a few nice days from them and they will be back next year.

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It is so much fun to sit and watch the hummingbirds as they zip and duck in the Bee Balm!  In the one picture above the birdie is so fat I am surprised it can fly!  The mauve Bee Balm is called ‘Violet Queen’, it’s a nice addition to the red ones.

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This lily is ‘Miss Lucy’ and the tag says it grows to 36 inches so I  must have bought Super Lucy as mine is over 5 feet tall!

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This big oriental lily is called ‘Love Story’, it looks like ‘Star Gazer’ and this is what I step out to from my kitchen door, who would not ‘Love’ that!   I hope you enjoyed My Summer Garden!

Pinkie’s Up!

Tea at Bridal Veil Falls, British Columbia

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During the summer, I thought it would be fun to do a series of different places to visit and while there enjoy the flora, fauna and a cup of iced tea.  Fist stop, Bridal Veil Falls just south of Hope, BC.  This area became a park in 1965 so like me it turns 50 this year!  Along the trail there are streams coming out of the mountains and the way the sun was shining it really enhanced the greenery of the area.

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As much as I think I am a hiker I am really not, I have a bad fear of heights and I am not real sure-footed, but it was worth the trek to see this amazing wonder of nature!  The Falls are a beautiful site to behold and when I got really close I could feel the spray off the rocks.  The waterfall is 400′ and the way the water moves over the rock face it looks like a bride’s veil.  At the base of the falls we enjoyed a drink of iced tea.

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I made Ceylon black iced tea and it was very refreshing.  Ceylon is the former name of the country of Sri Lanka and tea from there is one of my favourite because it’s a strong tea yet still light because it has a hint of flowers and citrus. This taste really comes out when the tea is cold.  Tea is grown in Sri Lanka from sea level to over 5,ooo’, the higher grown the tea the better the quality because the tea plants grow slower so they store up more nutrition.  The lower grown teas are mainly uses for CTC, and tea bag processing.

It was in Sri Lanka that Sir Thomas Lipton first uses the phrase “orange pekoe” to describe a nice, well-balanced black tea.   Orange Pekoe tea is sold the world over and has nothing to do with oranges!  The orange is from the ruling house of Orange in Denmark, the first people to bring tea to Europe and pekoe is the fine down on the new tea leaves.

The tea I chose for our iced tea is from the Lover’s Leap Estate in the old tea town of Nuwara Eliya in the high, central region of Sri Lanka.  Like our trip to Bridal Veil Falls, Lover’s Leap is named after a 100′ long waterfall on the highest mountain in Sri Lanka. The story told in the region is about a prince who lived long-ago and when he fell in love with a beautiful foreign girl he was rejected by his subjects.  The young lovers did not want to be apart so together they jumped over the falls!  The region’s has a tea plantation is located 5700′ above sea level and is open to tourists.

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Pinkie’s Up!

Tea can be Cooling too!

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It has been hot here lately, especially for June, which in the past has been really rainy!  So rather than worry about the lawn going brown and all the plant flopping that’s happening, (I will water the poor garden as soon as it cools a bit), I decided to try to make home-made iced tea from real tea leaves.  I have to admit before I would drink the powdered stuff but we all know it’s not real tea and most likely not that healthy.  For my experiment  I selected a nice mild green jasmine infused with tiny rosebuds and petals.  When I brewed this tea hot I found it to be way too weak so wanted to try it cold.  I brewed the tea hot in the pot then put the pot in the fridge, nothing too technical!  About 2 hours later I poured a glass over ice and to my surprise the flavour was stronger cold and very refreshing!

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Here in Canada when you order a glass of iced tea in a restaurant it will be served sweetened.  As a child travelling in the USA with my parents I asked for a glass of iced tea and it came as cold, unsweetened black tea.  I remember how surprised I was that it wasn’t sweet.  I find it funny that the Southern USA is rather far away yet in Canada we prefer Sweet Tea just like they have in the south!  Iced tea is an American invention that happened as a fluke at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.  it was a hot summer and when there wasn’t much interest in his hot tea samples, tea plantation owner Richard Blechynden served the tea over ice and it was an immediate success!

As an adult I have developed a taste for unsweetened tea so now adding sugar to iced tea is something that I would not do unless a guest asked me to sweeten it or it came sweetened already.  Later, I will offer my husband a glass of my home-made iced tea and I guarantee he will want to add sugar after all he is a Canadian!

June is National Iced Tea Month, visit Tea Time Magazine at www.teatimemagazine.com

Pinkie’s Up!