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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

August Views

The last day of August approaches and the end of my least favorite month. With it comes another hot week. Today is especially bad with almost 100 degrees. The garden looks okay though despite this and the fact that we've had no rain in over 70 days!

Most of these photos were taken last week on a very cool day with the marine layer present.

Redbud 'Flame Thrower' seems to hate the heat as much as I do and looks absolutely terrible on hot days. It was just planted this year and I'm not sure if it just hasn't settled in yet or if it despises the full sun exposure it is getting. But here it is looking its best.

Another stunning tree but one with a few drawbacks is Harlequin Glory-Bower or Peanut Butter Tree (Clerodendrum trichotomum). I haven't been able to get a photo that does justice. It presents an elegant sight looking out at it from our back deck and the hummingbirds and bees love it. The bad quality that I mentioned is a tendency to run and reappear in less desirable spots. We found one this year but they are easily pulled and so far, a small price to pay to such a beauty.

The Russian Sage (Perovskia) is too large for the courtyard and I am replacing it next year with a smaller plant. 

Sumac 'Tiger Eyes' also has a tendency to run but easily potted up for more plants.

Stewartia psuedocamellia,
Hornbeam (Carpinus betula 'Fastiagiata Nana') in the pot
and Jasmine 'Fiona Sunrise' on the pergola

Cedrus deodora 'Feelin' Blue', Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum 'Skeeter's Broom' and 'Sango Kaku', Rhododendron 'Anah Kruschke'

'Karl Foerster' Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora)

Persicaria 'Golden Arrow', Hydrangeas 'Pistachio' and 'Twist n' Shout', Calamagrostis 'Eldorado'

Looking down the first set of terrace steps on the left is Chaste Tree (Vitex),
Crape Myrtle 'Dynamite', 'Skyrocket' Juniper.
On right from bottom is Smoke Tree 'Golden Spirit' (Cotinus) and Katsura in the foreground.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I love that tidy little Clerodendrum but I expect it needs more water than I can provide. August is my least favorite month too but your garden looks better than mine, Phillip. With our current water restrictions I've let a lot of things go and just try to shift my eyes in another direction to the degree possible. We're expecting the worst heatwave of the summer thus far this week, with it shifting into high gear tomorrow and hitting its worst on Sunday.

    1. Kris, I keep hoping California will get more rain.

  2. Slightly different vantage points than usual, those long shots are beautiful! I wouldn't think its August: everything is so lush and green. Redbud should be able to take full sun... I hope it tolerates the heat better once it matures.
    There's a 'ghostly' bare tree in the background of photo (one before last). Is it painted?

    1. Chavli, those are limbs that Michael painted white and put in a large pot. I always wanted some type of glass sculptures to fill that hole and he came up with that idea which was faster and cheaper!

  3. Wow! Looking great there. I like the too-big Perovskia--perhaps just a bit of a cut back of the more brazen stems? It's fun when a plant says, "Hey, look at me!"

    70 days without rain--that makes someone in Southern California giggle. 7 months is normal for here.

    1. Hoover, I don't know how you do it - yikes!

  4. You’d never guess from these gorgeous photos that you’ve had a hot, dry summer. It looks very green and lush.


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