A Kansas Country Garden-Fourth Week of March

These red tulips have multiplied some over the years.
Due to a week with lots of beautiful rain, a dead camera battery and an out-of-town trip, there are no photos of the third week in March. And so, here is what is blooming in our garden during the fourth week of March about a week and a half after my first post.   
Redbud trees have begun their bloom seen here in the evening light.

The crab apple tree in all her glory. Stand underneath and listen to the hum of happy insects celebrating the beginning of spring.
The low growing almond bush has delicate pale pink frilly blooms.
The flowering plum's bloom is sparse, but lovely. This bush will have burgundy leaves and no fruit.

The early daffodils (I believe most of them are King Alfred) have finished blooming, but there are still a few latter varieties that are now beginning to bloom.

The spurge are now in blooming. Euphorbia are grown mostly for the foliage, but still have an interesting chartreuse flower. I have two kinds: possibly a cushion spurge (above) which has soft and silky foliage that is turns from a burgundy in early spring to a misty green color  and one I'm quite sure was named "Donkey Tail" (right). They both appear to be "buy-em-once" type of plant with seedlings sprouting up here and there in the garden. This is especially true of the cushion spurge.
Two low-growing plants are blooming now. This lavender phlox is just beginning to bloom. It is part of what once was a large planting. Probably less than 25% returned this spring no doubt due to last summer's brutal temperature and it's place far from the water faucet. 

The second plant is candytuft or iberis. Small white flowers add brightness to the early spring garden.

Still Blooming
Grape hyacinth continue to bloom next to red tulips

Just a few blooms remain on the Bradford Pear Tree.

Vegetable Garden
We enjoyed our first picking of asparagus.

A Kansas Country Garden-Second Week of March

The little forsythia bush blooms for the first time. I dug this seedling out from under a large bush at my son's home last spring. It should grow quite tall.
Every year the same thought occurs to me as a wander through my country garden: I should keep a record. It could be simple, just a list of what is blooming during a particular week. Wouldn't that be a handy thing to have? It would help me evaluate length of bloom time and which plants should be blooming at a similar time so I could arrange plantings accordingly. Yes, I tell myself, I should really do that. And so far that thought has always been followed with, Well, maybe next year.

Maybe next year is the gardeners blessing and curse. Yes, we get to start fresh each year. There will always be another opportunity to try something different or new. But, what you put off may never come to be. 

These are species tulips. Unlike the larger hybrids these tulips are short, bloom early and multiply.
 Just yesterday, those thoughts were running through my head once again when my eyes landed on my camera. Suddenly it made sense. I could keep a record using my camera and my blog! (Actually the blog part came later, in the middle of night when I couldn't sleep.) 

So here it is. These are the flowers blooming in my country garden during the second week of March, 2012. We are experiencing an early spring. Warm temperatures are practically jerking green life from the earth and demanding immediate bloom. Slow down and take your time, little flowers, because winter may not be over. Or perhaps it is. Either way, these flowers must be enjoyed and savored. They won't last long. It will be interesting to see which ones are still blooming next week when I return to the garden with my camera. 

Daffodils are so cheerful. During a cool spring their bloom lasts much longer. I am noticing that the newer plantings have many more blooms than the older plantings. This no doubt means that its time to divide them. I'll wait until the foliage dies back, but while I can still see it, to divide them. 
These grape hyacinth or muscari also need to be divided. Being crowded hasn't stopped them from blooming, however.
The Bradford Pear tree is just beginning to bloom. For most of the year, I am not a fan of Bradford Pear trees. However, they are lovely when they bloom (although they don't smell that great.)

Marvelous Muffins!

There is a lot to love about muffins. The simplicity. The soft texture. The yummy taste. The fact that, when compared to cookies, they have a lot less sugar and fat in most recipes. The ease at which they can be prepared. The short baking time. All the good-for-you stuff like whole grains and fruits and even vegetables that can be easily incorporated into them. Yes, muffins are marvelous! 
Muffins are a friend to children. Soft and easy to eat, they don't present some of the difficulties in chewing that some of the tougher breads and meats have for very young children. They are an ideal tool for learning to bake. Very little equipment is needed. A muffin tin, two bowls, measuring cups and spoons and something to stir with will give you a great start. I love my mixer, but it really isn't needed for making muffins. Combine the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately, then mix together just until everything is moistened, scoop it into the muffin tins, bake for about 15 minutes and you're done. A child can do it! And should they stir a little too vigorously, it's okay. The muffins will still taste quite good, but the texture may be less than perfect and have a few tunnels. Nobody will even notice because muffins fresh out of the oven are marvelous, even if they aren't perfect. 

Oatmeal-Date Muffins are simple to make and quite tasty. You may not use dates often in your baking so you may be surprised at the deliciousness that they add to these muffins. The intense sweetness and creamy texture contrast nicely with the oatmeal. Should you wish to substitute, dried cranberries or raisins also work well. Or leave out the fruit. They'll still taste great. These are muffins and muffins are flexible. And marvelous. 
 Mix together and let soak for an hour:
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup milk

3 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1 egg

In another bowl, mix together dry ingredients: 
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
Mix wet and dry ingredients together just until moistened.

Okay, confession time. I didn't follow my own directions and just mixed everything together in one bowl.
Stir in 1/4-1/2 cup chopped dates.

Spray the muffin tin with cooking spray. Scoop dough into muffin tins. I used an ice cream scoop and am slightly mortified to see that I used my finger to dispatch the dough. You, of course, will not do that. You'll use another spoon and so will I, next time.  This recipe makes eight muffins. Since this tin has nine cups, I filled the empty cup with water because that's what I've heard you should do if some are empty. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Go ahead and serve your least favorite meal. No one will even care. Because there are muffins! And muffins are marvelous!

For a printable recipe, click here.