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Sunday, August 19, 2012

An Unexpected Garden Find

As many of you know, one of the jobs I tackled on my arrival to Pennsylvania three years ago was creating a flower garden.

As August shimmers away to welcome September, it's time to reflect back on this year's progress.

Soon it will be time to get down and dirty and start the Fall clean up and let me tell you, this year there's lots to do! I'm definitely going to need the help of my garden Angels.

First there's the matter of the menagerie of living creatures to deal with. Although I adore the plethora of butterflies, bees and other insects that have made their home in the garden, I'm deadly afraid of most of them. (Not the bunny who lives under the shed though. I've been watching it grow all summer. It seems he or she has been watching me too:)

Since we don't have any kids rustling about around here, I don't have to worry too much about the plants in the garden that may be harmful to children. Yes, there are a few. The Milkweed for example, which is that Orange plant in the top collage, is very dangerous to both children and adults. Although the Monarch Butterfly calls it home for their little caterpillar eggs, the sap if ingested can make you really sick and if it gets on your hands, and you rub your eyes, it can do some real damage. Note to self, Wear Gloves! Those pods you see standing erect are the seed pods forming. When you open them, silk threads carrying seeds emerge and fly away if you let them. It's very cool to watch:)

It's the bees that really worry me though. I've never been stung by a bee, if and when the time comes, I do dread it. (I was once bitten by a brown recluse spider and I still have the scars both mentally and physically after that horrid experience) Oh I know, bees are of the utmost importance. In reality, they are the cause and yes, the effect for today's post.

However, I must admit...

Then there's the matter of the "Bionic" Tomato plant growing in the compost pile. I've been a very bad composter this year. This tomato plant, yes as far as I can tell it's only one plant, doesn't seem to agree. We haven't actually had any tomatoes from it yet but we're expecting quite a harvest! (we did pick one tomato but it was inedible)

Which leads us to this surprise find!

I'm of the mind set that pretty much agrees with the expression "Live and Let Live." So when I spied a member of the cucumber family planting roots in the flower garden, I didn't bother to pull it, much like I didn't pull the array of tomato plants growing here and about the yard either. Who am I too evict them when they have honored me with their presence. No, I didn't plant a single one. And yes, there are about 5 or 6 tomato plants growing throughout the yard. There are even a couple growing in the newly planted Rose bed! Let's get back to our little friend the cantaloupe however.

Yes, there's also a pretty good sized tomato plant living right next door to the Cantaloupe, which by the way, I'm sure is only one plant too!!!

I know there has been quite a Cantaloupe scare this year in the US. Just in case you haven't heard about it and you are a cantaloupe aficionado, I'm not by the way, leave here right this minute and read this!

We'll just wait here for you to come back while we look around the garden:)

Now where were we? Oh that's right, The Cantaloupe or as they call them here in central PA, the Loupe or Lope I don't know what possessed this cantaloupe plant to take up residence in the flower garden. I didn't plant it or any of the tomato plants for that matter. The only thing I can think of is since we had a pretty mild winter around these parts and since I am such a bad composter, that's composter not composer by the way, it just grew of its own accord. My other theory has to do with losing my beloved Lavender plant early in the Spring. There was a pretty big space there when I dug it out and, I did fill the hole with some dirt from the "compost pile." Now mind you, I did recognize both the tomato plants and the melon plant seedlings here and about but I just didn't figure they would devour the whole garden and then some!!! As they grew larger and larger and began to spread their "wings" pretty much blanketing anything around them, I just figured "ah what the heck" I'll just leave them be. Oh I know flower garden are suppose to look all "purty" and everything. I think it still does and anyway, when I do get around to doing the clean-up, the "unsightly" residents will have filled Marion's tummy, I don't eat Cantaloupe or most melons for that matter, and if we get a few tomatoes from any of the tomato plants, I'll be one happy "fruit" gardener!!!

So far I've counted five good sized cantaloupe tucked under the Phlox, Portulaca (one of my favorites), and the Penstemon. One vine has stretched clear to the center of the mound. If I remember correctly the garden is about 22 feet wide. At the rate it's going, pretty soon it will be able to climb up one of the Tree Lilies planted smack in the middle! (You can see one of them in that picture above with the fountain in it, to the left) Which reminds me, I still have tons of work to do to the fountain And I have to take the truck down to pick up a load of rocks to go around the base of the future rock garden:)

This antique seed catalog card is dated 1887. A treasure I found tucked in an antique Botany book titled Familiar Lectures on Botany by Almira Lincoln Phelps.

So how did Marion enjoy our garden Cantaloupe? She loved it!!! She said it was fragrant, juicy and dee...li...cious! Personally, I think I should have left it on the vine a bit longer. After doing some quick Cantaloupe growing research, I learned that a muskmelon will pretty much release itself from the vine when its just ripe for picking. I did a bit of tugging to get this one off. Hey, I was jubilant!!!

I can't very well leave you today without leaving at least one recipe. I do believe I have found just the "proper" choice for the occasion; Cantaloupe Loup or Loop as I prefer to see it:)

Cantalope Loup
6 medium Cantaloupe scooped out to 1 inch. Put in with 1/4 to 3/4 cups Quantro (Cointreau a must for the perfect Singapore Sling) or Grand Marnier, 1-1/2 cups orange juice, and 3/4 sugar. Let marinade in refrigerator. Float slices of Kiwi or (I can't make that one out) Fill shells just before serving.

It seems like we're going to have an abundance of cantaloupe, Marion and I. And since I don't really like it, I think I will try freezing it and see what happens. I had no idea it was so easy until I stumbled upon the simple steps at Hickory Holler Farm. Marion often requests those frozen melon balls they sell at the supermarket for smoothies and such. Now all I need to do is head out to the garage and they'll be sitting nice and pretty in my new freezer!!! (I knew I bought that thing for a reason besides gallons and gallons of ice cream which I've sworn off of:) For you adventurous souls out there, you may want to take a peek at Steff's Cantaloupe Cupcakes which I just happened to spy in my side bar the other day. I know many of you have posted some mighty fine cantaloupe or muskmelon recipes in the past. If you want to leave the link in the comments, be my guest. As you may have noticed, I am no longer offering my Hospitality Search Engine due to a bit of a discrepancy with its techo owner (we won't mention names) so I can't do a quick search on all of your blogs at the moment.

I'm still working on that deadline that I missed and had to reschedule so chances are I won't be posting until next Sunday or late in the week. I did want to mention that today is National Root Beer Float Day! It is also the day that Charles E. Hires was born. Hires is often credited with "inventing" the Root Beer Float. Question is, did he??? I left the post link I did about him down in the resource section just in case you're curious:) There's also a picture of Elsie too and a very old recipe for making your own Root Beer:)

This Week's Celebrations:


20th-National Lemonade Day Did you know the first lemonade "soft drink" debuted in Paris on August 20th, 1630!

August 22, 1966 Peppermint Patty made her debut in Peanuts. Why not eat a peach while you're reading that comic, it's also Eat a Peach Day!

23rd-National Sponge Cake Day

The first U.S. waffle iron was patented on August 24, 1869, by Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York.

25th-National Banana Split Day. It's also Regis Philbin's and Rachel Ray's birthday if you're a fan.

For you cocktail "enthusiasts" it's also National Whiskey Sour Day, August 25th.

Resources
1. Almira Lincoln Phelps: Notable American Woman 1607-1950 (A Biographical Dictionary, Volume 2 By Edward T. James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S. Boyer, @ google books)
2. Cantaloupe Recall Expanded to Include Whole Growing Season, Honeydew
3. Mr. Hires and the Black Cow

67 comments:

  1. I love yout garden and love cantloupe:)) all look nice herr soon comes the spring so i wanna plants some things:)

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    1. I wish I could send you some Cantaloupe, Gloria. It looks like we are going to have a few too many, lol...

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  2. Louise, your garden is incredible! Amazing how you transformed it in just 3 years!!! Thank you for sharing it with us all~

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    1. It's a work in progress that's for sure, Liz...

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  3. Fun post. I'm always in the mood to read about people's gardens! And you have one that better than most. When we lived in Florida we planted lots of bushes that attracted butterflies, Milkweed being one of them. We had probably about a dozen of these, and when the Monarchs would find them they'd strip them of all their leaves over a couple of days, then move on to their next feast. Didn't kill the plants, though - they'd regenerate new leaves, and in about a month would again be the perfect size for a Monarch feast - at which time they'd lose all their leaves again! Really fun - I used to take tons of butterfly photos (this is back in the days when consumer digital SLRs didn't exist, so film was the only way to do this sort of macro photography). Nice that you've been blessed with a cantaloupe, too! Thoroughly enjoyable read.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Kitchen. As I think about it, I don't remember ever seeing Monarchs in Florida. I better keep my eyes open next time I'm down there:) I don't care if the butterflies munch away at the Milkweed. I planted it for them too!!!

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  4. Hi Louise, what a gorgeous garden you have! I am so so so envious :) The flowers are so beautiful, and you get your very tomatoes and even a cantaloupe. The cantaloupe looks beautiful, and very sweet. I do hope there will be many many more cataloupes to enjoy in the days ahead!

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    1. Thank you Mich. I would gladly share some of the bounty if you were a bit closer:) There are little cantaloupes popping up all over the place. If they all reach maturity, I may need to buy a new freezer!

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  5. Wow, Louise! What amazing results you've gotten! It looks like you've combined the flowers, fruits and vegetables throughout, is that right? Such pretty pictures - wish I could make such magic in the garden, and enjoy a little melon soup in the heat of the afternoon! Have a great week!

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    1. Kinda sorta, T.W. It's actually a flower garden who has opened its habitat to most anything that wants to plant itself including flowers, fruits and yes, veggies too!

      I have a feeling you too will one day have a "magic" garden. Patience is the key:)

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  6. Can't wait to try your 'loupe soup recipe. I love a chilled soup. Your garden photos were stunning too.

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    1. Let me know how it comes out, Channon. Since Maion saw me post this "loupe soup", she too wants to experience it. Chances are you'll be whipping it up before me!

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  7. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW, I am sooooooooooo amazed..
    Well done.
    Everything looks SOOOOOOOOOO WOW
    XoXo

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    1. LOL, you are so funny LoLy. Thank YOU!

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  8. What beautiful garden photos my friend and seems like an actual 'secret garden' :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    1. It is "my" secret garden that I love sharing with my visitors, Uru. Thanks for visiting. Do well in school and we'll "see" you when you return:)

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  9. Beautiful garden! Your photographs are lovely and I love that melon!! I bet it was really sweet and juicy. Take care X

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    1. Marion said it was really good Alida. I kinda wish they were zucchini rather than cantaloupe but I'm looking forward to trying my hand at freezing them!

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  10. What a beautiful garden and amazing what you've done with it. I'm not good with gardens at all - didn't even manage to get the tomatoes planted this year!! Last weekend rushed to buy some climbing plants to fill the gap where the tomatoes should have been ;-(

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    1. Joy, I went heavy on the perennials in the flower garden for the very reason you mention. Although I've designed a few gardens in my day, there's a big difference when it comes to just planning and planting as opposed to pruning and weeding, lol...Hope those tomatoes work out for ya!!!

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  11. Beautiful flowers, beautiful flower photos.

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  12. Dear Louise, What a beautiful garden. I love that you have bunny rabbits. They used to be plentiful here on LI, but not anymore. I fondly remember them when I was little.
    Your veggies look wonderful. I have not had much luck this year though. I have only had a handful of tomatoes and cucumbers.
    I caution you to be careful of the bees. I was not stung until a few years ago. I have since been stung a few times and each time is much worse. It is dreadful. Keep a sharp eye out.
    Enjoy your garden and each beautiful day. Blessings dearest. Catherine xo

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    1. I remember the bunny rabbits quite fondly while living on Long Island, Catherine. My sister and I use to try to "trap" them with ropes attached to milk cartons! I don't think we ever caught one:)

      I can't believe you live on Long Island. I lived there practically my whole life before moving here to PA. I must admit, I do miss the food. I mean I REALLY miss the food!

      I am quite cautious when I approach the garden, Catherine. This year for some reason there are so many Bees and Butterflies and some insects and creatures I don't even recognize! Thanks for the warning...

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  13. Louise, A most spectacular garden with such beautiful flowers! I never knew milk weed was dangerous! When I was a kid we used to pick those pods and let the strands fly!
    Unless you’re allergic you don’t have to worry about the bees. I was stung just the other day while picking my raspberries! Keep some Benadryl in the house just incase you have a reaction!
    Did you live on Long Island before moving to Pa. I lived in Smithtown.

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    1. No Way, you live in Smithtown, Kathy!!!! That is too funny. It's like old home week today!!! Do you know Catherine??? She lives on Long Island too. As does T.W. too. I'm thrilled you are all here together! I do miss Long Island once in a while. Did I mention I especially miss the food??? What's the name of that delicious Italian restaurant in Smithtown? I can't believe I don't remember it. And Mirabella's in St. James. Oh my...

      The Benadryl is a GREAT idea, Kathy. I'll get some tomorrow:)

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  14. This is a garden to DIE FOR! This is a dream...I hope to have one of my very own one day---Thank you so much for sharing!! ((inspiration))!!!

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    1. I'm sure you will have an inspiring garden one day Squishy. Just thinking about all those goodies you dream up, I know you will!!! Patience:)

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  15. What a beautiful garden! And the surprise fruits and veggies are a real bonus! My dearly beloved got stung by a hornet a week or so ago, and his hand swelled absurdly. He took off his wedding ring, gave it to me, then bugged me every day to see if it would fit him yet. My daughter the nurse says that if you do get stung, drink lots of water to flush the toxins from your system faster. Or, do what I do, and hide from the bees!

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    1. I don't even want to think about getting stung by a hornet, Marjie. I'm not sure I even know what one looks like. Although, there are some strange looking "bees" visiting this year. Good to know about the water. Please tell daughter the nurse, thank you:)

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  16. Louise your garden reminds me of my dad's garden
    His garden is smaller than yours but has 2 vines, 2 fig trees, herb bed, green tea, eggplant and pepper plants and you can easily find a tomato plant or plants growing were they shouldn't be

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    1. Your Dad's garden sounds lovely Sawsan. Someday I hope to have at least one Fig tree but I'm not sure they would make it here in Pennsylvania.

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  17. Ooohh, Louise!! How I wish that I am right there in your garden!! So beautiful, love all your plants! Your cantaloupe is gorgeous, your dill is so lush (is that dill?), the flowers are beautiful and I wish I am right there! Did I just say that again? Lovely garden, Louise!

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    1. Thank you Joyce:) It sure does bring me many hours of pleasure. And that Dill you see is not Dill at all. It's Ornamental Fennel and it smells as good as it sounds especially after it rains. It fills the garden of licorice, lol...

      I wish you were right here too. We could have tea and sip and smell:)

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  18. Wow, your garden has really taken off. It looks amazing. I wish I would find some melon or tomato plants thriving in my garden, but no such luck around here. And, the bunny--so cute!

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    1. Thanks Lisa. My patience is rewarding me with so many surprises. It's wonderful! Speaking of wonderful, that Bourbon Roasted Peach Cheesecake of yours is ravishing!!!

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  19. your garden is fantastic! and i love how it has given home to so many little living creatures. i am especially loving the little bunny ;)

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    1. Me too, Cakewiz. Thanks for visiting...

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  20. Love your garden, Louise, and that's so funny about all your volunteer plants. You just never know what will pop up in the compost of life! Hope that bionic tomato plant gives you some good fruit :) As for the cantaloupe loup/soup, it sounds pretty tasty, even though I'm not a real cantaloupe lover either. But adding the Grand Marnier and the orange juice -- mmmm. It doesn't say to blend it, but I'm wondering if that would be tasty. Anyway, I loved this post, and have thought of you often this month as you taught me it is BROWNIE MONTH!! I've had an occasion or two to celebrate.

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    1. I love that line Lynn! "You Just Never Know What Will Pop Up in the Compost of Life" It would make a GREAT post title. You should do one!!!

      I don't think Grand Marnier will help me adapt to Cantaloupe no matter how its blended. Grand Marnier, YES! Cantaloupe, not so fast!!!

      As for Brownie Month, well, I'm delighted you indulged. I haven't yet but I'm working on it!!!

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  21. Your garden is amazing especially your cantaloupe! You sounds like you have having lots of fun gardening :D

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    1. Thank you, Zoe. It is so much fun to "play" in the garden!!!

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  22. All I can say is... I so loved the post and pictures!

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  23. Your garden has turned out great! I have nothing growing in my compost this year which is a real surprise. But I do have a squash plant in the raspberries so that kind of makes up ;-) Love your monarch caterpillars!

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    1. I love that shot of the Monarch Butterflies too, Inger. I do believe they have morphed into baby butterflies because there sure are whole lot of little butterflies flying around here. That and Bees, a good thing, I think:)

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  24. Oh Louise, you sure have a beautiful garden...and I love all your new findings...so much fun! The pictures are absolutely gorgeous...thank you so much for sharing them.
    Hope you are having a wonderful week :)

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    1. I'm delighted you enjoyed this post, Juliana. You have a wonderful week also:)

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  25. I love the tour of your garden! Your garden is thriving with lovely flowers, very different ones too, melons, a lot & tomato plants, etc!
    T
    hanks for shring this lovely read & showing your stunning garden pics with us too! :)

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    1. So glad you enjoyed your visit Sophie. The dessert in the garden patch seems to be the cantaloupe bounty. Marion is patiently waiting for the next harvest!

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  26. Wow what a garden, full of all sorts of thigs but not just plants! Can't believe you've got a melon, it's not warm enough over here for them! Am your newest follower :)

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    1. Welcome Caroline! Thank you so much for visiting. I'm delighted you liked the garden. You just never know what will appear in the garden. Just today I caught a glimpse of whoever; whatever is living in a hole under the ornamental fennel. It's a pretty big hole too!!!

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  27. Wow! In all my years as a gardener, I never had a garden like this. Perhaps the climate in PA is part of the reason. Everything here just cooks in the heat. I enjoyed the photos and sure wish that you lived closer, I have a plot of ground that needs designing.

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    1. I make house call Pattie. Just rustle me up some of that Italian Style Vegetable Soup of yours and I am at your service, lol...

      Perhaps you should try growing zucchini on mounds. That method seems to keep the Squash vine borer at bay. He's usually the culprit!!! And yes, they need tons of water too!!!

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  28. huh there is a bunny in your garden!

    How cool is that!

    I didn't know those caterpillars where called monarchs, they look like those from Alice in wonderland. =)

    Lovely surprise! I wish my garden would produce wild gherkins, although my tomato plants grew wild as well.

    So much to discover in your garden. Absolutely gorgeous Louise!

    Thanks for sharing

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    1. Having a Bunny in the garden is cool, Helene. Having a family of bunnies living under the shed is WAY cool!!! Now that you mention it, that's right. There is a Monarch Butterfly in Alice In Wonderland!!! Thanks for mentioning that! I totally forgot!!!

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  29. hi louise, i love seeing your garden. here, we also have quite many cantaloupe, it's more known as rock melon over here and i love eating them if they are really sweet and just like marion said, it's fragrant but then of course there are also bad melons which are really tasteless. i heard it many times from our people here the moment if got stung by a bee, quickly rub some honey onto the bee sting, that will help to reduce the pain and swelling first before going to the doctor.

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    1. I was reading that cantaloupe are called Rock Melon in some parts. Marion really enjoyed the first one, Lena. Now, she's saying "where's the cantaloupe", lol...

      Great tip about the honey for a bee sting. Nature has a way of providing the remedy if we just seek it out. I read one that the cure plant for poison ivy usually grows in the same area as the poison ivy. I just never remember to look!

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  30. Your garden is one of the most gorgeous I've ever laid eyes on! How funny that you have melons when you didn't plant them. Thanks for sharing all your gorgeous pics! Have a good weekend!

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    1. Oh Reeni, you're making me blush:) I did have a problem with the Nasturtiums this year though. Only two plants made it through. I'm trying to save the seeds but only got one so far. I may just need to buy some next year!!!

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  31. Hi there, Its always fun to see ur wonderful posts. And this garden is just looking amazing. I really wish to have a big backyard one day and enjoying planting and plowing whole day. Have a wonderful week ahead. Thanks for sharing awesome posts.
    Best Regards, Sonia !!!

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    1. Planting and plowing is a lot of work, Sonia. However, it's worth every moment of an aching back! I'm sure you will one day have a lovely garden:) Thanks for visiting. Enjoy you week too:)

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  32. Hi Louise. You not only have many 'friends' in your garden but your garden has been kind to you too..I love the cantaloupe. An amazing collection you have there in your garden. Just gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks, Jen. I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit. It was a fun post to share!!!

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  33. A splendid and well-kept garden! What an awesome find.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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Through this wide opened gate,
none came to early,
none returned to late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise