Sunday, December 13, 2015

Late Fall Visit to Meadowlark

What do you do on a 70 degree mid-December day?  Visit Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, of course.

Located in Vienna off Beulah Road, Meadowlark is the area's largest botanical garden. 

The park includes various plant collections, three lakes, a spectacular Korean Bell Garden, conservation areas, and outdoor sculptures. 

Even in late fall, the area is stunning.

Part of the Korean Bell Garden.

Healthy koi in one of the lakes.

Climb up a gently sloping path on the Spiral Mound to
a rough gazebo for a lovely view.

In winter, the park opens after dark for a "walk of lights," too.  I need to plan for that next.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Niece-Inspired Applesauce

As the recent recipient of generous bags of apples from two different guests, I was inspired by the abundance of fruits in niece Kari's yard along with niece Jessie's known skills to try my hand at making my own applesauce. 

The only thing that gave me pause was all the peeling, coring, and slicing--6 pounds' worth! Then I had an aha moment and unearthed my old apple peeler-slicer-corer. Excellent! 

Not wanting to miss a beautiful fall afternoon, I scrubbed the table and set up the contraption on the deck. Plein air food prep! 

Once I'd done all the prep, I tossed the apple slices, 1.5 cups of water, and 1/8 teaspoon each of ground cloves and cinnamon into a big pot. 

After bringing it to a boil, I set the heat to low and let it all simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

I like my applesauce not too sweet, so I didn't add any sugar. 

A few minutes with the masher got me the consistency I like--slightly lumpy.

I ended up with about 8 cups of applesauce.  I froze some and refrigerated some in half pint containers--I'm all set for weeks! 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Let's Hear It For Our Volunteers

Plant volunteers, that is.

This year's impatiens really went to town. I have all sorts of volunteers popping up in the cracks in the patio.

Potted impatiens with caladium.

Smokey supervises.

I'm hoping they come back next year of their own accord.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Doing the Butterfly a Solid

Along the  marsh's edge in Leesylvania State Park, I shot this photo of Butterfly Weed.  As if on cue, the butterfly (I think that's a Zebra Swallowtail) landed and started in on the plant's nectar. Turns out the Butterfly Weed is a great plant for pollinators.

Butterflies are an essential part of the environment, fertilizing flowers to guarantee next year's crops. And Butterfly Weed is native to our area. Plus it's gorgeous.

We all hear a lot about how threatened the honeybees are, but they're not alone. Along with the bees, butterflies and even flies (yuck) play important roles in our environment.

(No, I'm not going to post a photo of a fly.)