Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Ploetry - Some Songs Say it All

Some Songs Say Nothing

Some Say it All

Some Songs Say So Much About You

Yet, nothing about the One You Love

And, then Again

Some Say it All

All About You and the One You Love

Those Fresh Flowers, The Love

You cannot regain Something Never Lost, so

Embrace and Hold On

Copyright © Doug Ingbretsen, 2019

Those Gorgeous Dwarf Japanese Maples - Just in Time

These are three of my dwarf japanese maples.

I took these photographs about three days ago...just in time.

The center maple was already dropping her leaves and the next day, none left. Fortunately, they have the wood and branch structure which is interesting, void of foliage.

Other than their color, these photographs do them no justice as to how well-branched and beautiful they are throughout most of the year. I prune them hard, with care, about three times during a given year. But, they are well worth it.

They are well-suited; hovering just below the window lines of the home.

I could allow the smaller ones to grow taller; yet, with their growth habit, I can allow them to grow overall without getting too tall, with proper pruning.

You can see how dense these girls can get, and quickly, by going to Dwarf Japanese Maples - From Barren to Looking Like a Shaggy Dog in Only Three Weeks.

As quickly as they shed, these gorgeous plants will surprise you with how they will flourish over a day or two, in the Spring, with an abundance of new leaves.

I began my time in this occupation with Japanese Maples of all species and sizes, but the drooping dwarfs still require more of my attention than others - deservedly and rewardingly so.

Enjoy them.

Ploetry - What the Day May Bring

It came of light;

The Dew, the Drops of Moisture

Hidden Shoots of Life



What the Day May Bring

It's a Beautiful Morning

Copyright © Doug Ingbretsen

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Really Goud, Gouda Mac and Cheese

A few weeks ago some of the tribe got together and eventually what to do for Thanksgiving came up. As for the menu, after hearing the other ideas, I offered to make Mac and Cheese, but with Gouda cheese.

Within minutes my sister had found a recipe for Gouda Mac and Cheese and after a brief description, I said, "Send it." It sounded it great, but I was in no mood for details at the time. I'll share a link to the recipe in a moment.

I had an evening get-together coming up in a few days and I usually cook wherever this group of misfits meets and all I could think of was, guinea pigs. Yesss!

After perusing the recipe, I printed it and did some shopping. It helped that the recipe also called for Smoked Gouda as well.

Mainly a stove-top chef, I don't fret much and roll with the recipes and what I know, but I reviewed the steps, looking for anything which may call for some close attention and timing - this primarily dealt with the roux, the bechamel and when to add the cheeses.

Well, I threw myself into this and can usually manage a kitchen pretty well, but next time I'm doing things differently - what a mess. I usually have most tools and vessels clean by the time I'm finished cooking. I hate doing that crap later - rather enjoy the meal and company. Let the dishwasher handle the rest.

Somehow, although I felt the recipe was in charge as opposed to being the master of my cooking, it all turned out great - the flavor and being cooked properly. But, it wasn't creamy enough for me and, as much as I love Gouda, particularly Smoked Gouda, I want some Cheddar in my Mac.

I did add four strips of crumbled bacon (not in the recipe), but next time I am using six. I usually microwave bacon - one less greasy pan to deal with.

Use pasta shells and work the sauce in well if you want every bite to be cheesy.

What I am doing/not doing next time (Thanksgiving):

  • Subbing one cup of shredded gouda with sharp cheddar. We grew up with that taste and I expect it.
  • Adding half and half and/or milk after I have added the cheeses to make it wetter and creamier.
  • Using traditional bread crumbs instead of panko. I want a little more crunchy texture on top.
  • Not browning the bread crumb and spice mixture - It's tedious and easy to burn unless you bake or toast it. I'll hope this happens when I put it the oven for about 30 minutes just before serving.
  • Sprinkling cheddar cheese on top just before it goes in the oven.
  • Preparing the crumbled bacon and pasta ahead of time, and cleaning up.
  • Using one large deep-sided pan for creating the sauce and finishing the entire dish. You will need to distribute the roux/bechamel/whatever more so as you cook if the pan is larger than the burner.
This may seem like much to do, but the dish is wonderful. And, if you follow a few of these tips it will seem more sane, go quicker and you'll have less mess.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

It's Pink Muhly Time

This is Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) and she loves the fall.

This is when the tiny and feathery (in appearance) pink flowers emerge from the tall and slender bluish-green grass.

We have performed many projects on this property on which the owners have a variety of beds and vignettes they have created on their own.

This bed was installed well over a year ago and quality mature japanese maples are not easily found for cheap, so we went with a younger tree.

We wanted to provide some color variation from a crepe myrtle and fantastic yoshino cherry tree not so far away in this wonderful plant bed which has a variety of shrubs and curves around the foundation bed.

Over time the Pink Muhlys will become understory plants for the japanese maple while they will compliment the varying colors of the maple at different times of the year. We will raise the canopy of the japanese maple as it grows so the Pink Muhly can still enjoy the afternoon sun it does now.

Even Pink Muhlys in partial sun locales will show their worth over time. They can also be cut back to next to nothing in late winter or early spring and still put on their display every year.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Yuletide Sasanqua - A Beautiful Holiday Treat

Yuletide Sasanqua
Recently I pulled two or three light pink semi-double flowers from a Sasanqua shrub of mine, placed them in a vase and gave them to a friend as a gift for a get-together she hosted for us bunch of friends.

She liked them, but I thought she would love something different.

My next-door neighbor has this wonderful Yuletide Sasanqua in her back yard next to our property line and I stole a few blooms (with her permission) and created two more vase arrangements for the host.

Sasanquas are actually part of the Camellia genus, but the Yuletide is not of the Saquanqua species. It is actually a camellia hybrid, Camellia x vernalis.

Nonetheless, they do more so favor a Sasanqua, but are technically part of the Camellia japonica type. Who cares?

Like most other Sasanquas they bloom in late fall or early winter and these are more likely to bloom around the Christmas season, but sometimes they get confused and put on a colorful red and yellow show in November or January.

In this area, they will typically mature to ten or fourteen feet in a tree-like fashion and have a crown in width of about half their height. Pruned properly, they can make for interesting specimen plants.

Camellias, with well over 2000 species, cultivars and hybrids, are one of the most manipulated shrubs/trees in the world. And, rightfully so.

Considering they are one of the most bloom-producing evergreens with flowers that come in so many colors and can resemble carnations or roses. They are highly sought and those that do what they do with cultivating and hybridizing, find a palette and playground with these creatures.

Camellias are actually known by some as "Yankee's Envy", because we southerners could enjoy them, virtually, throughout the year. Over time, however; those who tinker with plants and Mother Nature have concocted some cold hearty varieties which now survive, enjoy and put out beautiful flowers in the northern regions.

In almost every state in which Camellias thrive, there is usually a state-wide Camellia club and many others throughout the state, along with plant shows and flower competitions.

Charleston is known as the birth place (entry point) of Camellias in the United States.

So, if you feel inspired this holiday season, go find a Yuletide Sasanqua, kick up the eggnog and go plant that wonderful shrub in the ground, with care.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Holiday Landscape Preparations

What a beautiful scene!

We don't see much of this around here, particularly when we go from summer heat to the passing of a Siberian weather front in a fortnight.

Every year we have been busier and busier throughout the holidays, but the week or so leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas are somewhat of a lull.

Homeowners and families are thinking of and planning for the festivities, the guests and the food.

I am a tree, shrub, plant and plant bed guy, but I still love to get out there and take care of the little things which make a property or its individual elements stand out. Or, simply do some landscape housekeeping. Make good, look better.

If you are considering any of the following to help your property shine and glow along with all the colors, the lights and the cheer of the holiday season, please contact me.

Removal of Yard Debris - leaves, needles, branches, etc.
Pressure Washing - home exterior, decks/patios, walkways, driveways, etc.
Roof Debris Removal
Shrub Trimming/Pruning
Small Tree Pruning
Large Tree - Lower Branch Pruning
Re-establishing Plant Bed Borders
Edging Natural and Man-made Borders
Refreshing or Replacing Mulch - pine straw, bark, ground hardwood
Transplanting - certain shrubs and small trees
Plant Removal
Or, whatever else.

Doug Ingbretsen