A Kansas Country Garden-Fourth Week in April

This is an old-fashioned, almost wild rose. The plant spreads quite rapidly. It only blooms once.
This David Austin rose reblooms.
Roses do well on the east side of the house, protected from afternoon sun.
The roses have begun their bloom! This is always a wonderful time of the year. Who doesn't love a rose? They are flowers of exquisite beauty with a memorable scent. The first flush of bloom is the most extravagant. Some rose bushes may continue to bloom throughout the summer, but the bushes will never be as lush as they are right now. So, stop. And smell the roses.

I received this plant from my mother-in-law. I have never seen it anywhere else. The blooms and and leaves seem "thistle-like", but it has no thorns or stickers. 
The first peony begins to bloom.

I love the true-blue colors of the bachelor buttons. They are reseeding annuals. I have fewer flowers this year than in the past

I believe this is a Globemaster Allium.
I believe this is also a allium, although it does not have the lollipop top. 
I love the alliums with their lollipop blooms, a round ball on a slender stem. 
The Allium chrisophii or Star Onion begins to bloom. This is a recommended plant from The Undaunted Garden by Lauren Springer, my favorite garden book.
The Honey Locust tree has an insignificant bloom that has a sweet scent and attracts honeybees and moths. Standing under the tree you hear the happy hum of bees.
I purchased this bush through a newspaper insert for around $1. It was advertised as a white lilac. It is not. It could be considered a garden "thug" I suppose because it has a tendency to spread and grow runners, but I like it very much. The flowers have a sweet scent that waifs through the backyard and it attracts butterflies. I don't know what kind of bush it is, however.

The Mock Orange Shrub is full of blossoms.
Still Blooming
My favorite iris. The photo doesn't quite have the color right.
Not all of these iris were blooming last week, but some of them were and I decided to keep them together.

After a few days of hot wind this week, there are just a few poppies blooming in exuberant orange.
 Vegetable Garden
We harvested our first rhubarb.
 Animals in the Garden
Under the mulberry tree, our guinea, Edna, is setting on her nest. We are not optimistic that she will succeed in hatching her eggs. But she is persistent. Read more about Edna's parenting problems here.

Only on Sunday: Mother-in-law Meatloaf

My mother-in-law loves my meatloaf. She lives in a small town about 20 miles away from us, but worked and attends church in the town near us. For many, many years she stopped by our home on Wednesday evenings, after work and before church, and ate dinner with us. It wasn't a formal invitation. We just knew she would always be there. It was a good way to keep in contact and it saved her extra driving. Oh, the meals we've eaten and the changes we've seen! From a baby in a highchair to empty chairs when the guys headed off to college equals an astounding number of dishes. She's eaten my best and my worst. She's never complained, but may have left a little hungry a time or two. Mostly I think she's liked whatever I fixed and out of all the meals, this I know: she loves my meatloaf.

What makes this meatloaf unique is the topping of piquant sauce with its mystery ingredient of nutmeg. Sweet and tangy, it really is delicious. The meatloaf is simple with oatmeal used to bind ingredients making it healthy and easy.

My mother-in-law retired more than a few years ago, but she still continued to come on Wednesday evening for dinner before church. Then one year her church cancelled Wednesday evening services for the summer. She found another church to visit and kept coming on Wednesday evenings. After a year or two of this, it hit me. "Come Sunday after church for lunch," I told her. And she did. Still does. The years are relentless and she's had a few health issues in recent years, but still, on most Sundays, here she is. And if we're having meatloaf, that's the only day I make it.

You, of course, can make meatloaf whenever you choose. Here's how I make mine.

Mix together:

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

I usually begin mixing with a fork, breaking up the meat and the eggs. Mix until thoroughly combined. Sometimes the hands just have to get involved. Place in a loaf pan and smooth to a level top. Top with Piquant Sauce

Piquant Sauce:
3/4 cup crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix together and pour on prepared meatloaf

Going into the oven
Bake in 350 degree oven for 60 minutes. I always bake potatoes (regular and/or sweet) along with the meatloaf.  When I am preparing this to be eaten after church, sometimes I will bake at 250 degrees for about two hours. That way its ready when we arrive at home and we don't have to wait for lunch.

Leftovers make great sandwiches! I place reheated meatloaf on white bread with mayonnaise and you have a delicious treat!

For a printable recipe, click here.

Source: Recipe adapted from Christian Home Cookbook, contributed by Mrs. Walter E. Koehn and Mrs. Harold Wedel

Out of the oven and on the table.

A Kansas Country Garden - Third Week of April

Poppies are perennial and often reseed.
 Very early on Easter morning in 1992, I got up before anyone else in the house. Not to hide Easter eggs or to fix a tasty Easter brunch or dinner. No, not to prepare my heart for the most holy of all celebrations. I got up early to plant poppies. 

White iris contrast with the brilliant orange poppies.
I only know the year because on that afternoon we were hosting a wedding reception for my brother and his bride who had been married earlier that year. My mother and I had gone, the day before, to the home of her friend, Lydia, to pick daffodils for the reception. She had a huge flower garden and there were lots of daffodils. "Pick all you want," she encouraged us. "Be sure to take some leaves, too. Bouquets look better with leaves." When we had picked everything we needed, she asked, "What else could you use? Poppies?" Oh, I wanted poppies! It was early spring and the poppies were just little plants. I didn't know then that poppies are notoriously difficult to transplant. I just dug up a few and brought them home. I planted them that Easter morning, but nothing much happened. The plants whimpered for a little while, then dried up and disappeared. Well, I had tried.

Who can look at a poppy and not smile?
And then, the next spring, there they were. Fuzzy, nodding buds were suddenly bursting with brilliant orange glory! A few miles away Lydia lay in the local hospital. She was dying. Her generous heart was giving out. But every year since then, I have had poppies blooming in my garden. 

In retrospect, I probably did not pick the most ideal spot to grow them. They relish the full sun, but are unprotected from the gusty Kansas wind. With their delicate, papery petals, the flowers do not last long when the wind is strong, as it so often is. There is no sense in picking them. Poppies wilt almost immediately. Putting them in water doesn't help. I've seen recommendations of searing the stem with a flame, and I've tried it a time or two, but it doesn't really seem worthwhile. I had been trying, almost from the beginning and without success, to transplant them to other locations. Only in recent years have I been able to get a few going in different places mostly by plucking a few seed heads and tossing them where I'd like them to grow. 

It is also iris season in the garden and the alliums along with some bushes and trees are blooming. And butterflies have arrived.
I call this my "Grape Kool-aid" Iris because I think the scent is just like grape kool-aid.
There's just something majestic about an iris in bloom.

These allium are a butterfly and moth magnet. 
This purple smoke tree has tiny yellow blooms. It does not "smoke".
This smoke tree doesn't smoke either. It has had severe damage in ice storms, but continues on.

The Apache Plume Shrub, Fallugia paradoxa, attracts butterflies.

I believe this is a Mock Orange shrub, Philadelphus Virginalis just beginning to bloom. It is a favorite.
Dame's Rocket, Hesperis matronalis, with its sweet scent may appear anywhere in the garden. It's season has just begun. I will cut the seed heads down after to bloom to discourage too much spreading.

Still Blooming
Columbine bloom under the shade of the Redbud tree.
This hybrid columbine lifts its face so we can better admire its exquisite design.

Also under the shade of the Redbud tree, these flowers could go unnoticed, hidden as they are under the upper leaves. 
The spirea is in its final days of bloom.
The candytuft is finishing its bloom.

A Kansas Country Garden-Second Week in April

Columbine, Aquilegia, like a shady area to grow and bloom. 
The second week in April ended in a fury. Tornadoes sprang up around the state. They missed us, but we were sorry that some in our area are recovering from major building damage.  In our garden the wind howled and for all that, there was very little rain. Still, there are new flowers joyfully blooming.

Two old-fashioned spirea bloom in our mixed bush hedge.

Spirea have a lacy, delicate bloom
In our mixed bush hedge, there is often something blooming while new bushes are added and dead bushes are removed.

I would love to know what these flowers are called. I got a start from a friend who lived in a very old house who believed these flowers had been growing and returning with little care for decades. They are best enjoyed down low for the leaves cover the lovely blooms from above.

I believe this shrub is Viburnum lentago (Nannyberry) purchased from High Country Gardens.

The first of our tall iris are whipped by the wind near the barn.

I believe these are an allium, but am unsure of the variety.

The branch of the blooming Golden Rain tree makes a natural arch. 
New in the Garden
I purchased this large section of hosta at the MCC sale (Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale) for $20. This is guilt-free buying because all money raised at the sale is used for relief efforts around the world. 

Still Blooming
White tulips are nearly done blooming. In the background you can see the nodding blooms of the columbine and the mixed bush hedge with blooming spirea.
The soil that was used for fill next to the road when it was resurfaced a few years ago was evidently full of Star of Bethlehem bulbs. They have multiplied over the years. Mowing waits until the bloom stops.

Our female guinea, Edna, is a bug-eating machine (we hope). She seems to appreciate the miniature purple iris.

A butterfly visits the candytuft (iberis) now in its third week of bloom.

Catmint continues to bloom.

In the Vegetable Garden
These beautiful onions are actually last years plants that overwintered. While it is not a good idea to leave onions in the ground all winter, these have put on new growth and actually taste quite sweet. I used all of these in Baked BBQ Chicken.
We enjoyed asparagus this week.