Fibonacci in Flowers

This post is an excuse to show some photos of my white swan echinacea. Feel free to skip the text and look at the photos.
I'm not a math nerd. I think I struggled through calculus in high school and I know I struggled through geometry. Geometry made complete sense to me until one fateful day when I was helping a classmate study for a test. The next day I completely blanked out on the exam and my friend got an "A." Since then math has never been the same for me.
Nonetheless, it not's hard to be intrigued by patterns in nature that are a result of math. The Fibonacci Sequence is a series of numbers: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 .... Each number is the sum of the previous two.

This sequence is pervasive in nature in the spirals that form seed heads, in pine cones, and cauliflower. If you look at a the bottom of a  pine cone or at a seed head, you will see that the spirals go clockwise and counterclockwise.
Source: Wikipedia Commons - Alvesgaspar
There are 21 clockwise blue spirals and 13 counterclockwise aqua spirals. 21 and 13 are two numbers in the sequence. This pattern allows the density of the seeds on the head to be uniform without overcrowding in the middle or sparseness along the edges. Pretty cool, huh?
Look at the spirals the next time you see a sunflower or echinacea. Who knew math could be so fun? Do you know of other examples of the Fibonacci sequence in nature?



Kitchen Garden A to Z

A local bookstore in Santa Fe, Garcia Street Books has two bargain tables outside that I can't help rummaging through. One of the books I purchased there this Spring about vegetable gardening was Kitchen Garden A to Z: Growing Harvesting, Buying and Storing by Mike McGrath.
Kitchen Garden A to Z
It's a coffee table book for beginning vegetable gardeners. There are four sections:
  • Kitchen Garden Basics,
  • Tools of the Trade,
  • The Cycle of Life, and
  • The Kitchen Garden A to Z
square foot garden
Kitchen Garden Basics gives an overview of raised beds, composting, companion planting, natural pest and weed control, and containers. The overviews are brief, which I appreciated. I especially liked the summary of composting. It gave enough information without overwhelming a newbie vegetable gardener with too many details. The Tool of the Trade, and the Cycle of Life sections are similarly structured. I might even try making my own seed starting mix next year with the recipe provided in this book. 
lemon cucumbers on makeshift tuteur
The meat of the book is the Kitchen Garden A to Z section. The book starts with artichokes and ends with zucchini. I loved the layout of this section. It devotes a two page spread to most of the plants. (Tomatoes have a four page spread.) The left page has two columns: the first is a photo collage of the plant and the second column provides an overview of the plant with the following headings: scientific name, types, growing tips, harvest, buying, storage, and tricks. It also footnotes what each of the photos are in the collage. The right page is a full page photo of the plant. 
zucchini gone wild
The trick it mentions about zucchini is, "You do not have to choose between the delicious edible squash blossom flowers and fabulous fruit. There is a golden moment when the baby fruits have just become big enough to eat and the flowers is still attached and in good shape." (p. 158)
Roma tomatoes
Even though it is a coffee table book, it is not devoid of useful information. I find myself reading this book before I go to sleep. It includes growing tips for herbs, non-traditional vegetables like kohlrabi and edible flowers. Some readers might find this book scant on detail, but it was enough for me. Please note this book is out of print. However, you can find it online at used book resellers. 
Brandywine tomato
I'm joining Holley's monthly Garden Book Review meme.  Special thanks to Holley at Roses and Other Gardening Joys for hosting. Please check out what other garden bloggers are reading.


GBBD - July 2012

My perennial bed in the backyard seems to be half overgrown and half barren. There is a periphery of flowers now and the agastache rupestris are starting their bloom cycle.
Last summer, I had one sad salvia pachyphylla, "Blue Flame" bloom. It's my favorite salvia in my garden. High Country Gardens states in the Spring 2012 catalog, it's "A finicky plant for experienced gardeners." That definitely leaves me out. 
Last summer was dry dry dry. Did I mention it was dry? However, my three plants have gotten lots of supplemental water this year because it's connected to the same drip system as my vegetable garden. I need to start a new drip zone for the vegetables with a separate timer, but for the time being they're receiving the benefit of more water. What a difference a little water makes.
I don't think they're as xeric as they're purported to be. A friend of mine planted one last year and hers is gargantuan. She doesn't do anything special, but water and feed it.
I probably shouldn't have gone crazy with the salvia photos, but I'm not sure when I'll have so many flowers again.  
This week I was able to turn off the timer for the drip system and didn't need to water because of some monsoonal rains. The ground was moist in the mornings and in the afternoons I heard the tapping of raindrops on the windows in my office.
These firecracker penstemon (eatonii?) have gotten overgrown and are ready to be divided. They've been long lived in my garden, which is something I can't say for many of my penstemon.
The Shasta daisies are faring well with extra water, too. I probably shouldn't have them in my garden, but I planted them when I was still trying to fit a square peg in a round hole in terms of gardening. I wanted a traditional perennial border that doesn't lend itself to gardening in Santa Fe. They don't bloom often, but I don't have the heart to pull them out. So are you receiving extra rain this year or is it as dry as a bone where you live?

I hope you enjoyed the little tour of the back garden. 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.


Apricot Mojitos

It's been hard to get back into the swing of blogging. I was on vacation last week during the Fourth of July holiday.

Before I left I was inundated with apricots and now I'm inundated with rotting apricots that my dog, Aster has mostly ignored. Unless, she has a stronger constitution than most dogs overeating fruit. I've been trying to get them picked up before she decides they're tasty morsels. 

The Thursday before my vacation, I picked as many as I could and brought most of them to work for my co-workers. The few I saved I made an apricot crisp with a recipe I found in Sunset magazine.
In addition to the apricot crisp recipe, I also tried making apricot mojitos. It's my personal twist on the refreshing lime and mint Cuban cocktail. 
Apricot Mojito
1 oz of brandy (less or more to taste)
3 small apricots or 1 store bought apricot
12 mint leaves
2 wedges of lemon
4 oz of club soda
sugar or simple syrup to taste

Muddle ripe apricots, brandy, and mint leaves. I use a mortar and pestle. Pour over a glass full of ice. Add club soda, sugar or simple syrup to taste. Squeeze juice from lemon wedges and stir. I wish I'd had the time to can or freeze the apricots before I went on vacation. However, the apricots mojitos were a yummy pre-vacation cocktail to start my summer fun at the beach. Cheers!

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