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The Garden Awakens

Anise 'Woodland Red' ( Illicium floridanum ) A few weeks ago, I thought spring would never arrive, but now the change is astonishing. The nights are still cold (40s and sometimes even 30s) so planting tender annuals and vegetables is unwise although I have already succumbed, but covering and uncovering things gets old quickly. Someone made a wise comment last week and I must agree with them - "Don't plant anything tender until after May 1". Several plants are blooming like never before. One is the Anise shrub (above and below). I don't know if the recent tree pruning, which is allowing more sun into the woodland path, is affecting it or perhaps it is just age, but I've never seen so many blooms. Michael refers to this as "the stinky fish shrub" and I have to admit to smell of the flowers is quite unpleasant. It is so beautiful that I can overlook that. The old pink dogwood tree, which was already here, shades our woodland path and it too is prett

Falling leaves and pimento cheese

Today was sunny, cold and blustery. A carpet of red Japanese maple leaves cover the ground right outside our front door.  They are absolutely stunning. I ventured out this afternoon and did a few chores, closing up the outside vents to our basement, bringing in some containers and replacing some of our clear globe lights that hang in the trees. Tomorrow is predicted to be a frigid day with temperatures only reaching into the high 30s. 

We've been blowing the leaves into the borders every week but this is a futile job and you can't hardly tell anything has been done the following day. However, we would be buried in leaves if we didn't do it.

Where does the pimento cheese in the title come in? Well, after doing our weekly Saturday morning chores, Michael and I spent quite some time in the kitchen. He made us delicious vegetable soup and I made him another batch of pimento cheese. I've never seen a person who likes pimento cheese as much as that boy does! It is quite good, if I may say so myself. Very easy to make and it sure beats store-bought. I give you the recipe below.
And, if you read my baking blog, you will remember that I started making my first ever fruitcake last week. Today the fruits had basked in a mixture of Grand Mariner and brandy for one week and it was time to bake the cake. It bakes for 5 hours! It is nearing the completion time and I will then let it cool and brush with more liquor. Then it will sit for weeks and weeks before it is served. I'm curious to see how this turns out. Stay tuned.

Pimento Cheese

2 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. onion powder
4 oz. diced pimento
Few dashes of Tabasco
Salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a mixer bowl. Beat until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate in a covered container before serving. 

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Philip-I am crazy in love with your lion in red: deep in red leaves. What a beautiful photo. Make it available on Pinterest? It's so much fun. I'll make some pimento cheese to snack on whilst pinning!

  2. Those leaves look good enough to eat!

    I'm going to try your recipe. I always thought I would like pimento cheese but it never tastes like I think it will. I've never tried home made.

  3. I love that image of the lion surfing through bright red leaves. Also, thanks for the recipe!

  4. Veggie soup and pimento cheese. Yum A great way to recharge after fighting the elements. I love pimento cheese. I don't know why I rarely make it. I have been inspired. I will make some for the snackers on Thanksgiving day.

  5. Looks like the lion in the first picture is going to be covered over in leaves pretty soon. We fight the leaves here too. The yard guys come and clear them out and the next day we are covered again. You are right about the pimento cheese-once you have homemade, store bought just won't cut it any more. Have a great week!

  6. I love homemade pimento cheese. I even roast red peppers and make my own pimentos. That makes it extra delicious.

  7. I love homemade pimento cheese. I even roast red peppers and make my own pimentos. That makes it extra delicious.

  8. YUM :)
    The leaves are gorgeous...
    and the cheese looks and sounds so yummy, I may try it myself!
    You will have to give us the recipe for the fruit sounds delicious!

  9. From the title, I was looking for the leaves in a recipe -- like you had something useful to do with your fallen leaves. Oh well. The cheese sounds good enough the way it is, and I will surely give it a try. :-)

  10. That recipe looks delicious, Phillip! And your red leaves are scrumptious, too!

  11. Pimento cheese sandwiches (on soft mushy white bread) were a staple in my lunch box growing up.

  12. That carpet of leaves truly is stunning.

  13. Yeah, Phillip, I want to eat those leaves too. Seriously stunning!

  14. MA, thanks, I just added the photo to Pininterest.

  15. How tall and old is that tree, Phillip? That's a pretty wide swath of leaves from a Japanese Maple.

  16. That tree is at least 15 years old. It has a spread of about 20 ft. (I'm guessing).


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