Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Flower Power

As I was walking around the garden this week there were a few flowers that just struck me as ridiculously perfect.  Notice the structural similarities of the first three which are all more or less lilies (this family is always changing).

Hymenocallis 'Tropical Giant Sister' aka Spider Lily
Lilium duchartrei
Gloriosa vine is reportedly hard to grow here in Seattle because of its tropical origins, but for me it has been well worth the effort.  The flowers on this climbing lily are green when they open up, then slowly evolve to red and yellow before flattening out and becoming a deeper, richer red as the grand finale.  They are long-lasting and take about two weeks to complete their entire display. 

Gloriosa rothschildiana
I put some bromeliads & orchids from the clearance rack at Lowes in this hanging basket (No names unfortunately - I need to smack their garden supplier in the head and tell them "Assorted tropical foliage" is not good enough for me).  They have literally been blooming all summer and are still going strong.

Bromeliads & orchids in a basket
Abutilon or flowering maple is not completely hardy but here's what I do to keep it alive: I buy one in the spring and plant it in the ground, let it grow and flower like crazy, then in September or October, I take cuttings (5 or 6 inches long from the growing tip) and stick them in a glass of water with a clear plastic bag loosely covering it to help retain moisture.  They will be sprouting roots in no time, and then I can pot those up and place them next to a window for next year.  If we're lucky and get a mild winter, the one in the ground will survive.  'Tiger Eye' is my favorite cultivar.

Abutilon 'Tiger Eye'
Lobelia tupa is right in the middle of its almost endless stretch of flowering.

Lobelia tupa
Another plant that slowly changes the color of its flower is this Opuntia which I'm 99% sure is Opuntia engelmannii.  It starts out bright yellow, is orange by the next day, and then turns red on the third day.  A flower that lasts for three days isn't bad for a cactus!

Opuntia engelmannii
Same Opuntia engelmannii a day later
And finally, here's one of the Plumeria cuttings I "collected" from my trip to Hawaii this past winter.  This is the only one out of the four I brought back that has flowered so far:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Galloping Gourmet Is Only A Few Days Away!

Graham Kerr a.k.a. The Galloping Gourmet is our speaker at this year's Normandy Park Garden Festival & Plant Sale.  It will be held right here in the garden and will go from 11:00am-3:00pm on Saturday, July 12th.  Everyone is welcome - not just Normandy Park residents.  It's free (supported by donations & plant sales) and kid-friendly (we're bringing back the bouncy house).

Here's the schedule:

11:00am: Plant sale opens
High Noon: Lunch is served (Scrumptious delicacies from Asia, Hawaii & the Mediterranean)
1:30pm: Mr. Kerr speaks and does a cooking demo
3:00pm: Plant sale sell off - After 3:00pm all plants will be marked down 50%.  You'll find lots of good stuff!!  We're selling tetrapanax, red castor bean plants, hardy prickly pears, brugmansias, canna musifolia (one of the best cannas for Seattle), hardy papyrus, kangaroo apples, fountain grass, lobelia tupa, elephant ears, fragrant lilies and much, much more!!

Please e-mail me at to RSVP if you'd like to attend.  No tickets or anything - we just like to know how many people to expect.  I'll send you our address when you e-mail me!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Why One Podophyllum Delavayi Just Isn't Enough

Podophyllum delavayi had been close to the top on my plant wish list for many years until I finally scored one from Dan Hinkley last summer.  Isn't it beautiful?

Podophyllum delavayi from Dan Hinkley
So you would think that when Far Reaches Farm sent out an e-mail a few months ago saying they had Podophyllum delavayi in stock, I wouldn't need to order one because I already had one.  You would be wrong.

Podophyllum delavayi from Far Reaches Farm
I was enamoured by the variation between the two - even though they are the same species.  Then, I saw another one at the Hortlandia plant sale last month in Portland.  Suddenly, I'm a Podophyllum delavayi connoisseur.

Podophyllum delavayi from Woodland Way/Hortlandia 2014
On a different note, this hummingbird was being extremely cooperative with me as I photographed his beautiful plumage.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Doing It Island Style, Part 4: A Taste of the Tropics

It was my mission to try as many edible plants as possible during our trip.  The house we stayed at had a mango tree:

A banana plant with frustratingly green bananas:

A super sweet and delicious orange tree:

A pomelo tree, which is sort of like a large grapefruit:

And a breadfruit tree.  Breadfruit is starchy like a potato and doesn't have a lot of flavor.  Hawaiian tradition is to plant a breadfruit tree in the backyard when you buy a house because it can sustain your family through a time of famine.

Artocarpus altilis aka Breadfruit tree 
Like potatoes, breadfruit can be eaten at any time during its development and the longer it stays on the tree, the bigger it gets.  Eventually, if left unpicked, the fruit will become sweeter as the starches convert to sugars.

One breadfruit is the equivalent of about eight medium potatoes.

After cutting three breadfruit off the tree, I noticed a white sap started gushing out all over the place.  I looked up on YouTube how to prepare breadfruit and opted to try frying them in coconut oil.  I peeled and sliced the fruit up into strips like fries and soaked them in cold salt water.

Once all sliced, they were dropped into the heated coconut oil.

After sprinkling on a little sea salt we had authentically tropical breadfruit fries:

They were pretty good and picked up the taste of coconut.  You don't see breadfruit in the grocery store here because it has about much flavor as tofu (don't ask me why we see tofu in the grocery store).

We also stopped by a fruit stand and picked up sugar cane and fresh coconut.

I cut the sugar cane into strips which can be chewed on.

Getting the coconut water out of the coconut was a bit more labor-intensive and turned into an hour-long project (I only had a paring knife). Eventually found success...

The coconut meat was very soft.  It was like eating coconut-flavored jello.

Alas, my series on Hawaii has come to an end.  If you've never been to Hawaii, I hope you will be able to visit some day.  There is no place quite like it.  Mahalo!