Saturday, April 30, 2011

Some wild flowers in April

The skunk cabbages were out in glorious  colors in damp spots, along our day trip route to Port Renfrew last Friday.  I added some HD toning with photoshop on this one. 
The Pink Fawn lily was found at Skutz Falls where we made a stop on our way home around the loop from Port Refrew to Duncan and over the Malahat to Victoria.  The fawn lilies in my woodland garden are yellow and white.  They are spreading nicely.  I need to get rid of the introduced bluebells in their area, though, as the blue bells are very invasive.  When this woodland area is cleaned up, I will want to introduce some pink fawn lilies, if I can find some at the nurseries. 
One of the photos of the Bay at Port Renfrew.  We had a delicious seafood chowder at the Hotel over-looking the dock.  The hotel is newly re-built and is a lovely spot.  Port Renfrew is the beginning of the world renowned West Coast Trail.  Botanical Bay is another attraction in the area.  I hope to do another over-nite camping trip to visit Botanical Bay again.  Its a bit of a hike into the protected area to see the flora and fauna.  Its been a few years since I was there last.  I must take a good macro lens for the sea creatures that I may find. 
The tulips are in bloom in the pot that I planted up last Autumn.  I intend to get basil plants to add to this pot so I can have basil right on the deck for culinary purposes.  And maybe even for the pesto I have learned to use, made with store bought basil, which gets rather spendy. 

The tulips are coming into bloom all over my garden.  Last Autumn, Grace left me a package of 30 tulips, as a hostess gift from their visit to our home.  I also purchased a few more and planted them last Autumn.  Hopefully there will be more photos later. 
I have the butterfly/humming bird planter transplanted with perennials and some heliotrope, in a matching pot and it will be on the deck.  Speaking of humming birds... a week or so ago, I watched one of them playing in the little waterfall of the pond.  It was a delight to see.  Too bad I never see any fish in the pond.  I think the river otter must have paid a visit while I wasn't looking.  I did add one little fish 2 weeks ago, and I have seen two little ones.  I have not seen the frog again, but I am sure its in there.  The marsh marigolds are putting on a great show and the water hawthorn is in bloom.  There will need to be May photos here too. 

I have finished the top dressing on the grass paths and the little patch of grass around the apple tree.  The trees are mostly pruned back.  I have yet to do the hedge trimming.  I am attempting to grow new little cedars behind the big ones that Mrs. P. had billybob destroy next to their sidewalk.  When Pat cut these cedars down in height a bit, after Mrs. P.'s whining about junk in her house eaves troughs, I found that a few of these little cedar leaves had grown substantial roots, where they had landed in the water iris pot in the deck water feature tub.  So, hopefully in no time I shall have a back up screening hedge of cedars where billybob, or his hockey playing boys,  can't get at them.  :)))

I have weeded a bit in the front little rockery, but mostly go out to see how the little plants there are coming along.  The lilies are doing great and I hope to see a fine show this summer.  The soil in this area behind this little  rockery  needs to be improved, also.  Perhaps, with a view to adding more litlies.  On the other corner of the front, I have a small area where I have campanulas and pasque flowers, iberis, a couple of daffodils.  I will want to introduce a few tulips here, too.  Its a chore to keep after the violets, but I am beginning to like them, in small numbers.
The strawberries have a few blooms and the rhubarb is slowly growing.  I have not planted any vegetables yet.  Ruby and Steve were over for dinner on Monday, and she was telling me of the great success she is having with her new garden boxes.  She has peas and sweet peas up.  Her strawberries are in bloom and her other berries are just booming!  She is an inspiration to me to get busy on making my vegetable garden more productive. 
When they were over to dinner we had ham and scalloped potatoes and other good stuff.  Since I had the ham bone on hand, I wanted to try the pea soup made with the ham bone.  I found this recipe on the internet.  I always thought this soup would be a big fuss to make, but it was not too bad.  I had all the ingredients and so made it up and it is delicious, if I must say so myself.  I have to jars full frozen for the future, and we had two lunches of it.  We should get at least 6 servings from it.  I had the chicken stock from a roasting chicken I had made earlier in the week.  I used to dump out the juices that collected around the chicken when it was roasting, but now I shall always save them.  This juice was a good jellied stock, when cooled.  I did not do up more chicken stock from the bones, this time, as I still have some on hand from before.
This recipe makes 8 servings

Classic Pea Soup with Ham


    1 smoked ham_hock (about 1 lb/500 g)
    1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable_oil
    1 large onion, finely chopped
    2 each carrots and stalks celery, finely chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 bay leaves
    1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper
    4 cups (1 L) sodium-reduced chicken stock
    2 cups (500 mL) dry green or yellow split_peas
    3 green_onions, thinly sliced

Using paring knife, peel off and discard skin from ham hock. Trim off and discard fat. Set aside.

In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-low heat; fry onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper and ham hock, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

Add stock, peas and 2 cups (500 mL) water; bring to boil over medium-high heat, skimming off any foam. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until peas break down and meat is tender enough to fall off hock, about 1-3/4 hours.

Remove ham hock; pull off and shred meat. Set meat aside. Discard ham bone and bay leaves. In blender, puree half of the soup; return to pot along with meat. (Make-ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes. Transfer to container and refrigerate, uncovered, until cold. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat to serve.) Ladle into bowls; garnish with green onions. 


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