Solstice teases gardener into summer flipflops
DW came in the other day from the yard after picking up limbs and sticks that had blown down and announced the first jonquil sighting. No blooms yet, but the green blades that come first. We’re always happy to see them and it’s usually in late December.
That 73 degree Saturday before Christmas was too much like spring and just too inviting. Those warm spring-like temps probably made the jonquils push on up and they lured me out too. So on that day of the winter solstice, I went outside and did a little flower bed maintenance and sweeping. I couldn’t help myself. I never pass up a day to wear flip flops in December and then to celebrate with a milk shake with the windows down at the Sonic with my main squeeze.
DW and I have been dutifully perusing the seed catalogs that have come in the mail. He has visions of vegetables growing in his head and I’m dreaming of a colorful summer just like my grandmother used to know! Spring is such an encouraging thought. DW says he’s ordering more peppers and those tasty little sunny gold tomatoes this year and I’m planting zinnias, cosmos, and cone flowers in the sunny flower bed. Because I had a complete zinnia crop failure last year I’m even more anxious to get my sunny bed planted and growing. Nobody can’t grow zinnias. I have no idea what happened last year, but not one seed sprouted from 5 or 6 packets of zinnia seeds.
But, now I’m still waiting on my amaryllis and paperwhites to bloom. Hopefully the fragrant paperwhites will be showing off this weekend when all the boys and girls are here, but it’s not looking so good for the amaryllis. It’s totally my fault; I didn’t get them going soon enough.
There were not enough days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year to get it all done.
But now that the bulbs are finally about to bloom I think maybe that’s okay. Fresh flowers for the first weekend of the New Year is a good thing. Maybe planting them later rather than sooner is a good way to bring brightness and joy of the season into the long, usually dreary days of January.
If I’m remembering correctly though, spring came right after Christmas last year. No snow, no snow days, and really no frigid temperatures to speak of during the winter months of January and February. Spring came early and stayed for many weeks. Our jonquils were blooming long before the ground hog stuck his head out of his hole in 2013.
But, back in the house, thanks to my dear, green-thumbed grandmother, I have a big pot of green leaved philodendron that I love. I’ve had that plant for more years than I’ve known DW. There was a pot of philodendron growing on the coffee table at GaGa’s house for as long as I can remember. She rooted “starts,” as she called them, all the time. I’ve given starts to my boys, too, to keep the tradition growing. It’s what Felder Rushing would call a pass-a-long plant. Philodendron just needs water and little light and it will become a long-lived member of your family and it will thank you by cleaning the air and brightening up any room. Nobody can’t grow philodendron and everybody should.
But if we do have some snow days and frigid temps, I’ll be ready; we’ll have our seed catalogs to keep us warm.
Recipe of the Week
Cannellini Bean soup
Keep these canned beans in your pantry this winter so when the temps fall you’ll be ready.
3 15-ounce cans cannellini beans (chick peas), drained and rinsed
6 cups broth: made from chicken base or from jarred vegetable bouillon
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 ribs celery, small diced
4 ripe tomatoes cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Bring beans, stock, and garlic to a boil in a large pot on the stove. Reduce heat to low, continue cooking for 20 – 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Sauté the onion and celery in olive oil heated in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and salt; continue to cook for 3 – 4 more minutes. Add vegetable mixture and parsley to beans. Cook another 15 minutes to meld flavors. Serve with the grated Parmesan cheese and a crusty bread. Be warm and filled!