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!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Doing It Island Style, Part 3: The Nā Pali Coast

The Nā Pali Coast is well known for its sheer cliffs rising high above the vast ocean below.  Incessant rain, wind, and pounding waves have sculpted the land into a ruggedly idealized tropical paradise.  The only way to explore it is on foot.  At the trailhead, we were warned of falling rocks, steep muddy cliffs, and flash floods.  At least there were no jaguars to worry about.

I was hoping to make it to Hanakapi`ai Falls but we ended up just going to Hanakapi`ai beach.

The mountains are very steep, yet still completely covered in vegetation.


The water was pristine blue.

Hey, look!  A rainbow!  

Some plants (such as the screw pines) were absolutely everywhere, and then there would be lone specimens - this was the only agave I saw on the trail.

This is one of a small colony of orchids.


Parts of the trail were of stone laid back in the 1800s.

At Hanakapi`ai beach, I had a rock stacking contest with my brother-in-law's dad.  I'll let you decide who won.

Mine ↑                                                 His ↑        

 What started out as a beautiful day...

 ...turned stormier and stormier

So we headed back and dried off after getting a good soaking.  By the time we got back to the trailhead, it was sunny once again.

On another day we drove to Waimea Canyon which is only a couple miles away distance-wise from the Nā Pali Coast trail but the only way to get there is to drive all the way around to the other side of the island.

Waimea Canyon
The road kept going along a high ridge which eventually let to Hanakoa Valley.

Hanakoa Valley