U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8b. Sunset climate zone 5

Monday, August 31, 2009

Stop And Smell The Flower

Stop And Smell The Flower. Kauai, August 2009.
"Given that our days are limited, our hours precious, we have to decide what we want to do, what we want to say, what and who we care about, and how we want to allocate our time to these things within the limits that do not and cannot change. In short, we need to slow down."
(Not So Fast. ... a manifesto for slow communication. By John Freeman.
Wall Street Journal, Aug. 22-23 )
mermaid art

Saturday, August 29, 2009

September 1st and Dahlias

August and September are the months for Dahlia in my garden.
Dahlia was one of my Mom's favorite plants. She was a teacher in an elementary school. She taught kids in grades one through four. She'd get a class of 25-30 students in 1st grade, teach them for 4 years, then get another group of 1st graders, etc. She was teaching them language, reading and math.
During her teaching career of more than 30 years, she worked in a tiny country school, a small town's boarding school and in a big town's school. I remember her saying that her most rewarding job was in the boarding school. The kids there were either orphans or from big families whose parents couldn't provide for them. Mom said that those kids were the most curious and hungry for learning. Whatever story she told them or whatever picture she showed them, they got excited and eager to learn more.
The first of September has always been the first school day in Russia. It was assigned that way in 1935 and has never been changed. It is a tradition in Russia to bring flowers for the teachers on the first and last day of the school year. In May, it's mostly lilac. The gardeners in the countryside knew that they needed to guard their lilac bushes the night before school ended, since those kids who didn't have their own flowers were likely to "borrow" some aromatic branches from the neighbors. In September, dahlias, gladiolas and asters were in the bouquets . Mom used to come home with a huge bunch of flowers that we put in vases, jars and whatever else was able to hold stems.
She always grew these flowers in our garden. The winters were cold with temperatures sometimes down to minus 22 degrees Farenheit. She needed to dig the tubers out and store them til the spring. Remembering this chore kept me from having dahlias in any of my own gardens, even in the Pacific Northwest with its mild climate where tubers can stay in the garden year around. The other reason was that in my mind Dahlia was my Mom's flower and I felt like .... like it was taken from me when she was gone. It was that way til my yoga instructor and her husband shared tens of Dahlia rizoms with me two years ago. I've been having beautiful blooms since then and those blooms bring sweet and sad memories to me, especially when the 1st of September is getting close.
I can't look at Dahlia blooms without thinking of my Mother. How did she, being always busy, manage to have a garden? How did she find time to take care of the family after coming home late every afternoon with a handbag full of students' papers to read and correct. How did she find the time to spend with us when she needed to write a detailed plan of each lesson every day?
At the end of the school year, for some unknown reason, the school principal used to take the lesson plans from all the teachers and never return them, so they needed to create all their lesson plans from scratch every year.
How could she always be patient and cheerful with us, never raise her voice after coming home from her moonlighting job when we became a one-income family?
I'll never know the answer to these questions. Anyway, the 1st of September is coming. Will my boys take bouquets to their teachers this year like they have done before? None of the other students do, except them. Well, even if they won't, I'll give flowers to the teachers myself.
And these blooms are for you, Mom. Happy 1st of September to you, dear.

Some facts about Dahlia:
Dahlia is named after Andreas Dahl (1751-89) Swedish botanist.
Andreas Dahl regarded it as a vegetable rather than a garden flower. Interest switched from the edible tubers to the blooms when the first varieties with large, double flowers were bred in Belgium in 1815.
Dahlia belongs to the family Asteraceae (aster family)
It is native to Mexico and Guatemala.
The first tubers arrived in Europe at the end of the 18th century, sent over to Madrid by the Spanish settlers in Mexico.
The modern dahlia were developed over the centuries, through hybridization.
The most common hybrids are the products of crossing Dahlia coccinea with Dahlia pinnata.
The tubers of the garden dahlia were one source of fructose, used by diabetics.
The favourites in early times were the Ball and Small Decorative Dahlias.
Now it is the Large Decorative and Cactus varieties which are the most popular.
Dahlia Plants range from dwarf bedders (twelve inches high) to giants taller than a man.
Dahlia flowers range in size from an inch to over 10 inches in diameter and 5 inches in depth.
Dahlia bulbs are a subterranean root system, comprising many distinct tubers, each a separate lump. These allow the dahlia plant to mature year after year without benefit of seed or spores.
To sprout the next season, each tuber must have one eye.
The dahlia is the official flower of the city of Seattle.
(Most of above facts are from The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition 2008).
A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants gives the following varieties of Dahlias, based on their sizes, flowering patterns and resemblance to other flowers :
* Decorative dahlias
* Cactus dahlias
* Fimbriated dahlias
* Ball, Miniature ball, Pompon dahlias
* Waterlily dahlias
* Anemone dahlias
* Collarette dahlias
* Orchid dahlias
* Peony dahlias
* Single and Mignon single dahlias
*Novelty dahlias
Wouldn't it be neat to have at least one of each in the garden?

Copyright TatyanaS

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Vintage? Rustic? I Like It!

It's not only lush greenery and bright flowers that make Kauai a magic place.
I like its small towns with their rustic charm.

The last two pictures were taken in Hanapepe. It is called Kauai's Biggest Little Town. It used to be the hot spot in the 1800s with its popularity being supported by local agriculture. The town was formed by Chinese rice growers. Even though the town's decline began in the 70s and 80s it was 1992's Hurricane Iniki that landed the final blow to Hanapepe. It still manages to stay alive with a handful of artisan shops and galleries.

I love this bench in front of one of the stores!

Colorado Lady ( is hosting Vintage Thingies Thursdays. Why don't we go there for more rustic charm!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Island Chicken Story

My first picture taken on the Kauai Island was not of the beautiful flowers

or the beaches

It was this one:

Wild chickens. Before I saw them, I read about them. Wall Street Journal published very interesting Ann Zimmerman's article in April.
She wrote that Kauai was overrun by roosters, hens and little chicks which forage at outdoor food courts, ruin sugar cane and corn crops and wake islanders and tourists with predawn crowing. The birds lay eggs inside store booths.

The WSJ article explains that other Hawaiian islands have wild chickens, too, but Kauai's problem is worse since it's the only island in the chain that doesn't have mongooses,the natural enemy of wild chickens. "Mongooses were imported to the Hawaiian islands in the late 1800s to kill rats in the sugar-cane fields. Local legend has it that a mongoose bit the hand of a Kauai dockworker, who knocked the entire crate of the critters into the bay, and no more were imported. That's good news for rare bird species if nobody else".

This picture was taken near the waterfall that can't be reached by a car. We kaiaked and then hiked for a mile. And what we saw there the first? The wild rooster!

We, personally, were not annoyed by the crowing.
Boys were excited to see the birds walking into the restaurants and loved feeding them the corn sold for this purpose.

So, where did they come from?

The WSJ article says: "Kauai's wild-chicken population started to get out of hand in 1992, when Hurricane Iniki, the state's most devastating hurricane, hit the island, doing $1.8 billion in damage to the beaches, hotels and local property. At the time, there were five sugar plantations on the island. Workers, many from Portugal and the Philippines, lived on the plantations and raised animals for food. Domestic chickens were set loose during the storm. But there was also a large, underground cockfighting scene on the island, according to Becky Rhodes, director of the Kauai Humane Society.
"The hurricane blew apart the containers where the cocks were raised, and they flourished" in the wild. The wild hens are edible, but remain tough even after hours of cooking, locals attest. Still, as the economy in Kauai worsens -- tourism spending was down 15% last year -- more hens are winding up on the dinner table. That's no threat to the roosters, though."

We saw a lot of colorful souvenirs inspired by the wild chickens. We heard that the birds eat centipedes - that is why some people can forgive them the noise which they make.

The Kauai's wild chickens reminded me of the Key West where the birds could be seen crossing the streets in front of the cars. The BIG difference is that there are thousands of them in Kauai.

The WSJ article is here:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hawaiian Sky Tells Me Good Bye

End of my vacation.

Going home, back to my tomatoes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Postcard From Hawaii

Aloha from Kauai!

Just letting you know that I am alive and well and have already begun my assault on the local gardens. Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands and has the wettest spot in the world (more than 400" a year). "Jurassic Park", as well as many other blockbusters, was filmed here.
Besides the absolutely lush tropical greenery that was normal to expect, so far I am impressed with two things here:
-how many wild chickens are all over the island, crossing the roads, proudly walking baby chicks and digging for worms anywhere in towns;
-how clean the island's roads and towns are( I'm wondering if the two facts are connected). More observations to follow.

I miss you my virtual friends and wish you happy gardening and blogging.
I'll contact those of you who showed an interest in my foxglove seeds upon my arrival home. There are more seeds available so don't hesitate to leave a comment on the previous post.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Foxglove Seeds Are Ready For Sharing

I promised to collect seeds for those of you who liked my giant foxgloves (posts: Foxglove, The Beautiful , It's Foxglove Time! , A Foxglove High and Low ).
I have enough seeds for about 20 people. If you want them, please leave a comment(mention the seeds). After returning from an upcoming trip, I will let the first 20 (or more) blotanists know, and we'll go from there.

As I wrote before, I don't know the particular variety of these foxgloves, since I never planted them. They just came to my garden by air and started to spread on their own. Here, they grow even in uncultivated soil. I never stake them. They fall only after strong winds.

Since tomorrow is the 15th, I am including some pictures of the blooms in my garden. Thanks Carol ( May Dreams Garden) for hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Russian Sage, Daisies, Roses:



Joe Pie Weed:


Penstemon, Nasturtiums:





Have a great weekend, and I'll see you soon!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Run! It's Watering Time!

Look who I flushed out from one of the planters!

P.S. Jacob Royer (thanks for the comment Jacob!) raised an interesting questions: are these creatures chipmunks or squirrels. I think they are baby squirrels. They look exactly as their daddy who was fooling around my garden, digging my flower beds and flirting with bushytail ladies.

I found this information at "A chipmunk can be identified by the five dark brown stripes that run from its head to its tail, which is often upright. A squirrel, meanwhile, has thirteen stripes in total that are also dark brown and run the length of its body. A squirrel does not, however, have stripes on its face. A chipmunk is also usually smaller than a squirrel. Chipmunks run quickly, with their tails straight in the air. A squirrel runs with its tail at a horizontal angle". Hmm, I remember seeing some squirrels with no stripes... Anyway, I'll try to watch the creatures, they might change the color. I'll also pay attention to how they hold their tails.
P.P.S. OK, here it is, a picture of a chipmunk. Found it in my 2008 folder. Now, we can see the difference!

***Copyright TatyanaS

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Better Than Growing Vegetables

What could be better than growing your own vegetables? Eating them of course! Tomatoes are the major characters in our garden show right now (though it is botanically a berry, the tomato is nutritionally categorized as a vegetable). As usual, they start to ripen at the end of July here. I watch them getting bigger and changing color, and I get excited with the very first fruit.

Then, more tomatoes are coming.

And more

I start sharing (don't forget that grouchy neighbor who told me in 2003 don't even bother planting tomatoes since it's too short a summer for them here). Then more tomatoes are coming.

This is time for "Tomatoes and Eggs". I got the recipe a long time ago. It might be Russian or Bulgarian. It's simple, tasty and, what's important for me - you can use as many tomatoes as you want (and if I have MANY of them coming from the garden, I want to use MANY!).

A chopped white or yellow onion goes into the pan first with olive oil. When they turn golden, they welcome cut tomatoes. Then, eggs join the company. Salt, black pepper, parsley, dill, chives are added last. No exact amount of ingredients, no exact time. If you want more "eggy" dish, put more eggs, if you want more "tomatoey"dish, put more tomatoes. Yum!
What else is coming from the garden? Potatoes!

Red potatoes and fingerling potatoes.

There is the sockeye salmon from Alaska caught during our July trip in the freezer.

This type is also called Red Salmon, and it is sure red! Bill found a good recipe in a Delta magazine and cooks it on a cedar plank.

Oops, forgot to put grilled squash.

Zucchini squash is doing great in the garden . This year, it's particulary sweet.
There is no summer dinner without cucumbers for us. Cucumbers like growing on supports.

I like to plant pickling variety. I don't pickle them although. My boys eat them straight from the vine. Crunchy!
P.S. If you are wondering what we've done with my king salmon

here it is, cold smoked:

I also made red caviar:

That's all. It's time to go to the garden and pick up more tomatoes.

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