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

Friday, January 29, 2010

January Buds and Blooms

Reliable primulas and winter pansies never disappoint. Covered by snow (which was missing this year) or attacked by slugs, they manage to survive and brighten grey winter days with their cheerful blooms. My primulas grow in shade near the house wall. The pansy shown in the collage appeared from nowhere near the driveway. The place is sunny, but two plants chose the spot behind the lightpost protected from the sun. The Flowering Kale in individual containers is doing better than last year when it turned to mush after being under the snow for a long time.


Tree peony buds (the center of the collage below) look very impressive. They scream: Spring is coming!

Top left is a young leaf of a Honeysuckle Dropmore Scarlet. Hellebores foetidus is a pleasure to have in the garden. Light-green buds and blooms create lovely spots in the garden during December and January. The Hellebore shown on the bottom of the collage is in full bloom now.
A hellebore flower somehow reminds me of a young bride's innocent face with cute freckles.


This particular plant is 5 years old and doing great in a semi-shady area close to the house.


Last fall, I dug out several baby plants and planted them in different parts of the garden.

These beautiful Hellebore blooms are for my Dad, Alexey, who left us 7 years ago, on the 29th of January. I miss you, Daddy.


Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Picture Of The Day. Winter Garage

Copyright 2009 TatyanaS

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Day And A Treat For You

January 25th is celebrated in Russia as Tatyana's Day. It is named after Saint Tatyana (Tatiana). She is a patroness of all Tatyanas. This is a holiday for girls and women called Tatyana. We, Tatyanas, receive cards, flowers, chocolates and other small gifts on this day. Some other names are also celebrated on certain dates. In Orthodox Christianity, these days are called Angel Days and are similar to Name Days in England.
From Wikipedia: Saint Tatiana was a Christian martyr in 3rd century Rome during the reign of Emperor Alexander Severus. She was a deaconess of the early church.

According to legend, she was the daughter of a Roman civil servant who was secretly Christian, and raised his daughter in the faith, and she became a deaconess in the church. This was dangerous, and one day the jurist Ulpian captured Tatiana and attempted to force her to make a sacrifice to Apollo. She prayed, and miraculously, an earthquake destroyed the Apollo statue and part of the temple.
Tatiana was then blinded, and beaten for two days, before being brought to a circus and thrown into the pit with a hungry lion. But the lion did not touch her and lay at her feet. This resulted in a death sentence being pronounced, and after being tortured, Tatiana was beheaded with a sword on January 12 (Julian calendar) (January 25 in the Gregorian calendar), around AD 225 or 230.

On this very day (January 25) in 1755, Russian empress Elizabeth signed a decree establishing Moscow University. Since then, this day has also become
Students' Day.
In old Russia, it used to be the noisiest day of the year in big cities. Big groups of students walked along the streets, sang students' songs, joked, drank and played pranks. Even the police respected that day and didn't make arrests of drunk students. I read someone compared the spirit of that day with the spirit of Woodstock for rock-and-roll fans in the 60's. University professors considered Tatyana's day to be their holiday too. In the Soviet period of Russian history, Tatyana's Day was not widely celebrated, but in 1993 it was revived. It is the great event for all college students and professors nowdays.
There is a belief among Russians that if Tatyana's Day is sunny, then birds will be back from the south earlier in spring; if it's snowy, then the summer will be rainy. If one hears a woodpecker on this day, then spring will arrive, and the snow will melt in March. If Tatyana's Day is cold, then June will be dry and hot.
In old Russia, people believed that a girl born on this day would be a good cook. I do not consider myself to be one, but nevertheless, I would like to treat you, my dear Blotanical friends, to one of my favorite meals -Russian piroshki. Piroshki is multiple form of pirojok.
Since our relationship is purely virtual, the only way to do it is to share my recipe with you.
You can serve piroshki as an appetizer or as a snack.

It can also be a main dish served with soup or salad. I can not call them real Russian piroshki, because I don't make the dough myself. It takes time (read: I am a bit lazy). I was looking for an easy, fast way of making them. I replaced the dough made from scratch with store-bought dinner roll dough. It worked! I use reduced-fat dough of any brand including grocery store brands.
1/2 pound of ground beef (I use lean beef, preferably organic)
1 onion (not huge) chopped fine
Fresh chopped parsley and/or dill to your taste (I use them dry if fresh are not available)
Salt and black pepper to your taste plus your other favorite spices.(I like to use Johnny's Garlic Spread & Seasoning.)
Oil (to saute onion and to brown meat)
1 package of jumbo biscuits (16.3 oz = 462 g ; it contains 8 pieces, cut them in halfs to get 16) or 2 packages of normal size biscuits
1 egg

Saute the onion in oil until it turns golden. Add ground beef and brown it, stirring. Add the minced parsley and/or dill, salt, pepper and other spices to taste. I add parsley last, trying to keep it as green as possible to save more vitamins. Get the mixture from a pan. Add 1tbs boiled water mixed with 1/2 tbs flour slightly browned in the pan to the meat mixture to make it more moist.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll dough pieces very thin. With a teaspoon, put cooled meat mixture in the center of each dough piece.
Leave a border around the filling all the way round. Roll and pinch the pastry together in a neat ridge along the center of the piroshki.

Put piroshki on a cookie sheet (I grease it lightly with organic PAM). Brush piroshki with a beaten egg (you can use only yolk, or yolk mixed with water, but I often use the whole beaten egg).
Bake for 14 minutes in the oven .

Total time: about 1 hour 10 min.
There are many ways to modernize this recipe. You can add boiled chopped eggs or cooked rice, or sauted mushrooms, etc. to the meat stuffing, or just use eggs and mushrooms without meat.
Making piroshki can be a fun project for kids. My boys enjoy helping me. Your kids might like it too!
For those of you who have time to make pastry from scratch, here is a recipe from the book of Russian Princess Alexandra Kropotkina.

Quick Russian Pastry

2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
Ice water

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Work in the vegetable shortening and the butter til the flower is like very coarse meal, with some bits of the shortening the size of small peas. Beat the egg slighly and add enough ice water to make 1/2 cup of fluid. Mix this quickly into the flour and shortening, adding a little more ice water if needed. The dough must be very soft and light. Sprinkle over with flour. Roll on well floured board.

Copyright 2009 TatyanaS

Friday, January 22, 2010

Countryside. Winter

Do you like the countryside?

Does it make you feel like you are in a place with no time and no space?
I had a surreal feeling being somewhere in between seasons and places.

Don't these cattails remind you of a happy childhood?

And doesn't this stack of firewood give you a sense of comfort? Winter is here, but everything is prepared for it.

Can you tell that this is winter? Looks like fall, doesn't it?

And this?

A new growth is a sure sign of spring.

I can almost hear the birds saying: Hey, why should we fly south? It's warm enough here!


But wait! It might be winter.

This is winter. Snowless winter.

Where will it go from here? To a warm spring or to a cold snow?

Actually, I don't care right now. I enjoy this present moment and a feeling of being among birds and horses.
I love the picture below. Stillness and movement. Confinement and openness. Permanence and temporality.

Isn't she beautiful?

Countryside. A shelter from the madness of a busy and unpredictable life. A place to go once in a while to clean one's mind and regain sanity.


Copyright 2009 TatyanaS
countryside art

Sunday, January 17, 2010

When I don't have my own words

Humanity In Tragedy
(Haiti – The Earthquake – January 2010)

Sadness weighs heavily upon my heart,
Human tragedy, devastating loss of life;
A struggling nation where poverty is an epidemic,
They faced the wrath of nature yet again.
Haiti, land of sunshine and misery,
Where the rich thrive, and the poor perish.
Mother Earth drew a deep breath,
And as she exhaled, a shuddering groan
Shook all that lay against her bosom.
There was no anger in her deed.
She did not intend to destroy.
Calamity was beyond her control.
With the very earth shaking beneath their feet,
There was nowhere to run.
Palaces and shanties alike reduced to rubble,
Entombing those who could not escape.
Cries from beneath mountains of stone,
Echo through the streets.
Helpless, they weep for those they cannot reach.
Battered and beaten, they are defeated.
They hold the loved ones they can,
And grieve for those that are lost.
Now the wealthy and poor are united at last,
For there is no discrimination when catastrophe strikes.
But out of the destruction, hope will rise,
Like the brilliant sunshine that warms
Their beloved country.
Nations will join together to assist them.
For we hear their cries, and our hearts weep,
We will take their hands and hold them tightly,
Comfort them, and lift them from the dust.
Sometimes I question,
Whether compassion for humanity still exists,
Then at times like this, I see it
In all its splendour!
And my faith is restored once more.

© Annabel Sheila
Thank you, Annabel

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Still Celebrating

Lucky me! I am celebrating the New Year again.

"The Old New Year or the Orthodox New Year is an informal traditional Slavic Orthodox holiday, celebrated as the start of the New Year by the Julian calendar. In the 20th and 21st centuries, the Old New Year falls on January 13/14. Although Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic officially adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1918, the Russian Orthodox Church continued using the Julian calendar. The New Year became a holiday which is celebrated by both calendars. As in most countries which use the Gregorian calendar, New Year's Day in Russia is a public holiday celebrated on January 1. On that day, joyous entertainment, fireworks, elaborate meals and other festivities are common. The holiday is interesting for combining secular traditions of meeting the New Year with the Christian Orthodox Christmastide customs, such as fortune-telling and kolyadki (carol-singing). Divination is special on Old New Year’s Eve. The New Year by the Julian calendar is still informally observed, and the tradition of celebrating the coming of the New Year twice is widely enjoyed. Russians also get a chance to celebrate two Christmases (December 25 by the Gregorian calendar and January 7 by the Julian calendar), as well as two New Years on January 1 (New New Year) and January 14 (Old New Year). Usually not as festive as the New New Year, for many this is a nostalgic family holiday ending the New Year holiday cycle with traditional large meals, singing and celebratory drinking". (Wikipedia).
These are the pictures which I used for my 2010 garden calendar:

Pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them
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Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My Blog Is One, Let's Have Some Fun!

MySecretGarden blog is celebrating its first anniversary.
Thank you everyone who is reading, following, commenting and linking to it.
You are my virtual friends who have become an important part of my life.
I start my morning with you, I have my first cup of coffee, tea parties and snack times with you, although you might not know it.
I even sometimes talk to you at night ( You thought it was your spouse' snoring that woke you up last night? No, it was me talking to you about your last post. Sorry for that).
You inspire, support, educate and cheer me up. You make me laugh, pat my shoulder and forgive my mistakes.
You spread the clouds in the sky on a rainy day, add virtual vitamin D to my sun-deprived body, provide exercises for my brains and add wrinkles to my face from smiling. Your blogs help me to save money as I reduced the number of garden magazines which I subscribe to. You also help me support our economy by unconsciously encouraging me to spend on drop-dead gorgeous plants from your blogs.
When I weed my garden, I feel your elbow. When I smell a flower, my nose touches your nose smelling the same flower with me. When I carry a watering can, I hear you buzzing in my ear about switching to drip hoses.
I can go on and on, but why don't we end this serious part of my anniversary post and have some fun with a little giveaway.

What: 1. A book "Projects For Small gardens"by Richard Bird and George Carter.

The following are some of the 56 projects with step-by-step instructions:
-a wood and trellis camouflage box
-an herbal window box
-planted gate piers
-a circular pipe with flowering tree
-a brickwork trough
-a trellis screen
-a wooden obelisk
-wattle panels
-a wirework basket
-a sweet pea obelisk
-a rose growing through the tree
-a bean arbor
-herb topiary
-a checkerboard parterre.

2. A book "All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew:

I find this book amazing. My favorite chapter is Vertical Gardening.
How? 1.Leave a comment and tell me which of MySecretGarden posts you liked the most, what type of MySeacretGarden posts you liked the most (my garden, tour gardens, gardens from my trips, etc.) or which of my posts you didn't like.
2.Indicate your choice between book 1 and book 2. If you like both books, please indicate your first choice.
Who: U.S. bloggers who commented on MySecretGarden.

Two winners will be chosen by a drawing. The honor to draw the winning name is granted to my dear husband who has the highest integrity of character from the people I've ever met.
Deadline: 9p.m. EST January 31st, 2010,
The winners will be announced February 1, 2010.
Any celebration needs some flowers.
Below is the cover page for my 2010 calendar which was a gift for family and friends:

Copyright 2009 TatyanaS

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