Sunday, August 20, 2017

Tomatoes and a recipe

It takes a while for tomatoes to start producing here. Unless you have a greenhouse or a place to start them early, the ground isn't really ready for planting until late May or even June. This year our tomatoes began to ripen a little earlier than last year but it was still August. Once they begin, though, stand back and get ready to harvest. 

I planted five plants this year in our raised beds - two regular-sized varieties (the inevitable 'Early Girl' and 'Big Boy') and three smaller ones ('Sungold', 'Grape' and 'Patio'). The smaller varieties have performed the best and 'Sungold' is our favorite. 'Early Girl' is producing nicely but for some reason, only grew to about two feet and refuses to get higher. 'Big Boy' is a huge bush with lots of fruit but very slow to reipen.

I like to grow tomatoes but I am not really a big fan of eating them. Michael loves them and says he could live off tomato sandwiches. As a child, I never ate tomatoes and now only like them in salads. That is, until I tried the following recipe. This is my favorite way of eating tomatoes  (I don't really care for pasta either but I do like a small amount of angel hair spaghetti with this dish.) 

Mediterranean Pasta with Fire Roasted Tomatoes

2 lbs plum or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (omit if you don't like it spicy)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
8 oz. pasta
Parmesan cheese

Line a 15x10x1 inch pan with foil. Rub the foil with olive oil or with cooking spray.
Place the tomato halves, cut side up, in the pan.
Mix 1/4 cup olive oil, minced garlic and seasonings. Spoon over the tomatoes.
Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil.

Roast in a 400 degree oven for 40-60 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and browned on top.

Prepare pasta. Place half of the tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of oil in a bowl and toss.
Add the pasta and toss in the remaining tomatoes.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day for August

August has always been my least favorite month of the year. I have to say though that August in the Pacific Northwest is nowhere near as bad as it was in Alabama. We just got over a long hot spell (about a week of 90+ temps) but it is now back in the low 70s. Yesterday was overcast and cool, the weather I really love, and I spent most of the day working on the monster English Laurel hedge along our border. 

I hope the hot weather is gone but we are having more insulation put in our ceiling this week in an effort to cool our house a bit better. We do have AC but our house is not shaded yet and the poor unit runs non-stop on those hot days.

The flowers for August, despite the heat and drought (we have also had 55 days with no rain whatsoever) look great and I am amazed at what all is in bloom. Michael has been really great about weeding and keeping the containers fertilized. The Pan statue (right) took a while to get going good but it now looks great with petunias, sweet potato vine and King Tut grass. The white flower on the ground is Nicotiana which looks great one day and awful the next. It always looks really dreadful after the sprinkler gets it but it always bounces back.

More blooms from the garden -

Geranium 'Rozanne' - I have planted clumps of this perennial outside the fence along the street and it is really doing well.

Also along the hell-strip area is Verbena 'Homestead Purple' and Dwarf Fountain Grass 'Hameln'
Pennisetum alopecuroide)

California Fuchsia
(Zauschneria septentrionalis 'Select Mattole'). This is a new plant for me. It seems to thrive in hot, dry weather. It is planted in the terraced area. The hummingbirds love it.

Rudbeckia 'Goldstrum'

Crape Myrtle 'Dynamite' (Lagerstroemia). They are a bit of a novelty here and are catching on. They seem to perform okay here (I think some varieties are better than others).

Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers')

Dahlia and Baby's Breath (Gypsophila 'Bristol Fairy')

Coreopsis 'Red Satin'

Dahlia 'Lollipop'

Cape Fuchsia (Phygelius × rectus 'Winton Fanfare')


Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboretum)

David Austin Rose 'Lady of Shallot'

Latest rose acquisition - 'Climbing Iceburg'

Fuchsia 'Garden News'

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) - growing this successfully for the first time!

An annual vine called Lophospermum 'Lofos Red Wine'


Strawflower 'Mohave Orange'
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is hosted by May Dreams Gardens. Check out what is blooming in other blogger's gardens around the world.  

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Open Gardens: Nancy Goldman and Deborah Myers

Two great gardens in Portland on the Open Gardens Tour this week - Nancy Goldman and just two houses down, Deborah Myers. Myers' garden was not listed in the directory and for a while, my friend Rebecca and I thought that we were in Nancy's garden until a fellow visitor cleared it up for us. Good thing as we would probably not have ventured down to Nancy's garden had we not known this. Anyway, two great gardens on one visit. 

First, the garden of Deborah Myers -
Myers Garden (Portland, OR)
A masterful use of combining various textures. Isn't this fun?
Myers Garden (Portland, OR)
The front garden is very tiny but so well done. There is a wonderful sense of privacy.

Myers Garden (Portland, OR)
Love this!

Myers Garden (Portland, OR)
The pathway is a mix of flagstone, brick and gravel.

Myers Garden (Portland, OR)
Heading around to the back garden where various garden rooms awaits.

Myers Garden (Portland, OR)

Myers Garden (Portland, OR)
Tiger lilies! Nancy Goldman had a lot of these also.

Myers Garden (Portland, OR)

Myers Garden (Portland, OR)
The little bird bath was for the bees and it was busy with them.

Myers Garden (Portland, OR)
An impressive stand of Bamboo stands along a pathway. It was very tall and the diameter of the canes was quite large.

Myers Garden (Portland, OR)
Japanese Angelica Tree (Aralia elata, I think)

Myers Garden (Portland, OR)
More striking uses of textures - Japanese Umbrella Pine (Sciadopitys verticillata) and Painted Fern

Myers Garden (Portland, OR)
A Fairy Garden

Myers Garden (Portland, OR)
Thank you Deborah for sharing your fantastic garden!
 Now, on to Nancy Goldman's garden.

A pebble mosaic "rug" and the waft of honeysuckle greet you as you approach the entrance.

It is so much fun seeing the creativity in these gardens. As we rounded the side of the house and stepped onto a deck that overlooks the back garden, this is what we saw!

Immediately off the deck is a serene vignette with hostas, ferns and mosses.

Stepping off the deck and venturing back into the garden finds all kinds of artistic delights.

The late afternoon sun just lit up the fern. Notice she has an Aralia too!

Nancy uses lots of found objects in clever ways throughout the garden.

Another pebble mosaic

The largest mosaic surrounded a small bird-bath that has been transformed into a planter for sedums.




Some really cool Four O'Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa). She says they just mysteriously appeared in the garden.

We are now back along the sidewalk in front of Nancy's house. Another fun mosaic - do you see the tools?

A cozy little nest in the front garden. The fence panel was made by a local craftsman - the chairs are part of the entire piece.

One last view from this incredible garden - thank you Nancy!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy