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Homemade Pretzels

I haven't made homemade pretzels since we were in Alabama and I had forgotten how easy they are if not a little time consuming. I made these last week for Oscar night. They keep a long time in an airtight container. 1   (.25 ounce) package   active dry yeast 1 tablespoons   brown sugar 1  teaspoons   salt 1 ½   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 3   cups   all-purpose flour 1   cup   bread flour 2   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 2   tablespoons   baking soda 1-2   tablespoons   butter, melted 2   tablespoons  kosher salt Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Place the yeast, brown sugar and salt in the 1.5 cups of warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in the flour. Knead for about 7-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover. Let it rise for an hour (I place mine in the oven with the light on). Combine the two cups of warm water with the baking soda in a square shallow pan. After the dough has risen, cut it into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each section into a

A Change in the Air

'Dragonwing' begonia in a pot with
Persicaria 'Golden Arrow' in the foreground

Fall is in the air and I already notice how the light is beginning to change and the shadows are growing longer. I love this time of year although I do often experience a tinge of melancholy and an increased need for sleep.

We've had some wonderful cool days in the 70s and an occasional warm day here and there. Tomorrow will be a warm one, getting close to 90, but overall those days have been outnumbered.

The rain situation or lack thereof is dire and with the exception of a few sprinkles in the forecast, we remain dry. At this point, a rainy day is only a distant memory.

I try not to think about the water bill. Michael spends about two hours every morning watering pots and the plants that look like they need it. Once a week sprinklers are turned on and the entire garden is watered. That takes all day. So we use a lot of water here.

We also spend a lot of money on birdseed. We have a ton of goldfinches and you can hear them in the following short video I made. This is looking off the back deck. The chickens you hear belong to the neighbor.


Osmanthus (False Holly) 'Goshiki', Fuchsia 'Cardinal' and
faded fronds of an astilbe in a shady bed under the dogwood tree only requires a weekly watering.


                      This bed gets by with only a weekly watering -
             Salvia 'Hot Lips', Heliotrope and Sedum 'Cherry Truffle'


Pomegranate 'Crimson Queen' in a pot

Roses are also quite drought tolerant although they perform
best with regular watering - 'Buff Beauty'



Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'

Clerodendrum (Harlequin Glorybower)

Fuchsia 'Little Giant'


Ligularia 'Desdemona'


Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus)


Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster')

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Your September garden is glorious, Phillip. Your plant combinations, like to one at the top of your post, never cease to impress me. It's horribly dry here and, as we've been asked to reduce our water consumption by 15%, I feel guilty every time I water anything. Only my cutting garden is well watered now and even then it's getting less water than I formerly provide it in mid-late summer.

    1. I hear you! I feel guilty too. Although we are not rationed, it seems like we are using too much. I know that we overwater and some of our plants would probably be fine with less.

  2. Pomegranate! And in a pot no less! Perfectly timed (for the Jewish new year...), a symbol of abundance among other things.
    I must get Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'. It looks so good late in the season.

  3. Your garden looks fabulous, just as good as in Springtime. Sort of good it's too hot to go outside here today--that way I don't have to look at the summer-weary plants.


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