Apricots Galore

I don't have the expectation that there will be any fruit on my apricot tree. In the 10 or so years that I've lived in my house, the apricot tree fruited once. Although the tree is planted in my yard about a third of the tree's limbs hang over on Lucille's, my neighbor's yard. Lucille had commented that the last time the tree fruited, she had picked about a handful of fruit or enough to make an apricot cobbler. I had picked about two handfuls of fruit that year. Needless to say, it wasn't a bumper crop.  
That same year, you could drive down Agua Fria Street and see people pulling over to pluck apricots. There is a row of apricot trees on one side of the street that is not flanking any houses. The sidewalk was littered with them. Alas, my house was not littered with them that year. 
Due to intermittent warming and freezing in winter and spring, I haven't had any apricots in six or seven years. The apricot tree has gotten unwieldy and I have considered chopping it down. This year the tree had lots of blossoms, but there was another freeze. I assumed, the tree would not bear fruit and mostly forgot about it. One day my neighbor stopped me as I pulled into the driveway from work. She asked if, "I noticed the fruit on our apricot tree?" I had, but only a single or pair of fruit here and there. 

Nothing had prepared me for this year's bounty. When I arrived home from work on Friday, there were apricots scattered all over the ground in the backyard. I started gathering them with the hope that they wouldn't entice my dog, Aster. I called my neighbor and left a message about the apricots falling and put a tarp over the ground so they wouldn't be damaged falling from the tree. 
After overindulging in freshly picked apricots Friday night, I've been zealously looking up apricot recipes. The first recipe I tried is for an Apricot Clafouti. The recipe I used is for a Cherry Clafouti from the Joy of Baking. A clafouti is a custard like dessert from the Limousin region of France and is traditionally made with cherries. I chose this recipe over others because it only required 20 minutes of baking. It was simple to make for a non-baker like myself and served four. Changes I might make the next time are: add some brandy or other liqueur, add lemon zest, and a pinch more salt for the batter.

I hope everyone has a bumper crop of something this year. Who knew I would have so many apricots? I'm joining the "Garden To Table Challenge" hosted by Wendy at Greenish Thumb. Check out what other gardeners are cooking from their gardens this week. 



Last fall I bought some drumstick allium. I'm an inattentive bulb planter and plant my bulbs as an afterthought after the designated time. I saw a bunch of sprouts in the spring so I created a network of drip emitters to ensure that the drumstick allium bloomed. I probably should have planted them earlier to ensure they bloomed! Today, my first drumstick allium started to bloom. Unfortunately, it's not one of the plants I've been faithfully watering all spring. Oops! 
Maximilian sunflowers and a handful of the drumstick allium
As it turns out, the plants that I've been babying look like Maximilian sunflowers. I've been mentally cursing the nursery where I bought them last year because not one of the three that I planted came back. As it turned out, I have 21 plants so they came back seven-fold. 
not drumstick allium
Maximilian sunflower anyone?
zucchini in the upper right corner
As I've mentioned in other posts, I researched square foot gardening prior to planting my vegetable garden. In all of my research, I neglected to learn that zucchini doesn't lend itself to square foot gardens. Oops, it's starting to take over four squares of the veggie bed.
invasion of the zucchini plant


GBBD - June 2012

The warm colors are blooming in the perennial bed in the backyard. I'm not sure how I have so many of them. I favor cooler colors in the garden, but "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." (John Lennon?) I think the same could be said of the garden. My garden is a mishmash of impulse purchases, pass along plants from friends, and must-have nursery buys. 
Old Fashioned Day Lilies
I love old fashioned day lilies. My supervisor gave me some of hers when she divided them four years ago. They took a few years to become established, but now I look forward to them annually. Earlier this week, we were talking about gardening and how some people are garden planners and others are ploppers. She said she is a plopper. She plops plants down in a bed and starts to design around them. I have a couple of friends who are compulsive garden planners.
Day Lilies and Yarrow
The yarrow behind the day lilies are volunteers from my own garden. They tend to reseed willy-nilly. I plopped them in the back of the bed for some height and they have worked out well.
Missouri Evening Primrose (oenothera macrocarpa)
I told myself I wouldn't go gaga over the Missouri evening primroses this year and write another post about them, but it's difficult not to. Sometimes, they are a soft buttery yellow and when the light changes they almost glow in the dark. I probably wrote the exact same thing about them last year. I can't seem to help myself. I planted two or three more last year. At last count I have eight of them. The last two were an impulse purchase and not a result of planning. I think I'm so besotted with them and didn't realize that I already had a collection.
Penstemon Palmeri and Red Hot Pokers (kniphofia)
The red hot pokers are blooming this year. They're a native of South Africa and do well in the high desert of Santa Fe. Last year I had one lowly bloom, but this year all three of my plants have flowers. They're not cooperating by blooming at the same time. But I can't complain. I bought three of them in two inch containers many moons ago and all of them stayed alive. Buying an odd number of plants rarely works for me, but in this case it did. So are you a planner or a plopper? Do you fastidiously plan before planting or do you plop and grow?

I'm joining Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Special thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting. Please check out what's blooming in other parts of the country and in other parts of the world.


Veggie Garden Planner

I'm not much of a garden planner. However, when I had the incipient thought about starting a square foot vegetable garden I did do some research.
Uncertain about what to plant in my square foot garden, I found a website for a vegetable garden planner. It lets you select your garden size. I chose 4 ft by 4 ft. Then you drag and drop the vegetables you want to plant onto a grid. The grid indicates how many of each vegetable to plant in a square. How fun is this!
There wasn't a wide range of vegetables to choose from, but I liked the ease of moving the veggie icons around and having a visual representation. After you're done, you can print to a PDF document and save it on your computer. I didn't plant as many plants in some of the squares as I was supposed to and in others I mixed and matched. The chives are planted with three onions and the basil with three shallots.
This is what the garden looks like today. The tomatoes and pepper are the only plants that I started from seed. The three varieties that I'm growing are: Brandywine, Roma, and Black Krim. I hope you enjoy the online vegetable garden planner as much as I did. Happy planting!


Eldorado Garden Tour

It's garden tour time again. Last weekend I attended the third annual Eldorado Garden Tour. There were seven gardens, including the Eldorado Community Garden to visit. I made it to four of the seven gardens. My camera was acting up and some of my photos did not register as jpg images and were lost. Below are photos of my favorite garden on the tour.
I walked into the front courtyard of the house and was greeted by a monolithic fountain. I was taken aback by how imposing it was. I wasn't sure what to expect from the rest of the garden, but was instructed to make a counterclockwise loop around the house so off I went scurrying with the rest of the mice.
The courtyard entrance belied what the rest of the garden look liked. Turn the corner and you find a well appointed outdoor kitchen. There is more room on the granite counter top than counter space in my galley kitchen at home. I love the fire pit and wish I had taken a close up photo. This is one of the many seating areas throughout the garden. It's right off the kitchen so the owners can entertain here.
Around the corner from the dining area, the home owners built a garden oasis of terraced beds.
The landscaping closer to the house has fountain that's hidden by the sculpture. 
What's in the right corner of this photo? Is it the chupacabra? The chupacabra is a mythical creature that sucks the blood of goats that finds itself in stories on the local news when nothing else is newsworthy.
No, just some reed reindeer.
The garden had lots of eclectic garden ornaments interspersed throughout.
The flagstone and thyme patio winds around the garden and leads to an enclosed courtyard.
One of the owners had a display of before photos that showed dirt around the house and nothing else. She exclaimed how delighted she was when the slab for the dining area was poured. She must have told the story to many garden visitors throughout the day and relayed the story to me excitedly at almost four in the afternoon. I could tell from her exuberance that the garden was a labor of love. 


May In Review

Wow, it seems like May flew by. I'm trying to journal what works and what doesn't in my garden. There are two great memes that echo this theme. I'm going to join Bumble Lush on the Best and Worst of the Garden and Plant Postings on Lessons Learned.

The Worst
Unfortunately, it looks like one of my aspen trees is diseased with Cytospora canker. It has an oozing a rust colored sap-like substance or might have poplar borers. One of my neighbors has a beautiful dry riverbed that is buttressed by aspens and his look terrible. At least only one of my plants didn't survive the spring. They had started to leaf out and then we had another freeze. I'm not sure if the weather had any bearing on my aspen's poor health, but it seemed to precipitate its decline. Alas. 
Aspens that didn't leaf out
Lesson Learned 
If you decide to plant fussy trees be ready for the consequences. I'm going to try pruning the oozing area and continue watering and hope for the best. Unfortunately, I might need to cut the aspen down. 

The Best
Like many other gardeners, the strange weather this year has caused many of the flowers to bloom one or two weeks sooner. Usually, nothing blooms when the Oriental poppies are blooming. However the strange weather makes it look like I have a planned planting when the norm is that the poppies bloom; there is a lull and the rest of the flowers wake up from their annual hibernation.
Back perennial bed (Oriental poppies and yarrow)
Rocky mountain penstemon, Jupiter's beard, penstemon eatonii or bridges?, penstemon plameri
Lesson Learned
Be grateful for weather anomalies; they make me seem to be a more accomplished gardener than I actually am.

I went to buy a lightweight row cover for my square foot garden at Agua Fria Nursery and the owner talked me out of it. As an alternative to the row cover, I picked up some golden beets, romaine lettuce, shallots, red onions, and nasturtiums. I have read online and on seed packets that nasturtiums and morning glories don't transplant well. The morning glories that I started from seed and planted in the garden seem to be doing fine as are the nasturtiums from the nursery. 
Nasturtium seedlings
Lesson Learned
Don't believe everything you read. (I might eat these words next month!)

I also finished planting my square foot garden except for a lone green chile plant from a coworker that I'm hardening off and put drip irrigation in the square foot garden. I tend to lose more plants by not ensuring that they're watered after planting.
Square foot garden
Lesson Learned
I'm not sure if there is a lesson learned, but I'm hoping that I don't lose plants from forgetfulness to water. Woohoo, the the veggie bed is planted.

Last year, the drought was so pervasive that few of my perennials bloomed and I didn't have much better luck with my annuals or biennials. However, this year the bloom season has already made up for the dearth of flowers last summer.
Snapdragons planted last year
Lesson Learned
What a difference a year makes!
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