Sunday, February 24, 2008

Thoughts and Aromas of Baking

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A really beautiful day here in Vermont with a high of 32.6 but no wind for a change and a nice clear sky. I worked on the website, brought in some wood, went snowshoeing with Alex and
worked on a sketch for a garden at the new property. Time flew by and that grilled cheese and sprout sandwich at noon seems a distant, hungry past. I hear pots clanging in the kitchen but have no clue what Gail is preparing.

Speaking of chefs and cooking, a quick mention of yesterday's trip to Norwich and Hanover. For as long as King Arthur Flour has had a Baker's Shop in Norwich, we have never gone. It's a mile off the interstate which I go down at least once a week if not more often but I just never have made that last turn. Yesterday I convinced Gail and Alex that we should go and we did. You should go too if you're in that area.

The Baker's Shop is a combination bake shop, retail store, and baking school but it's not just baking and cooking items that are for sale. I found myself picking up and putting down a number of specialty pans and forms for everything from scones to shortbread to popovers to Easter egg cakes to madeleines.

The Vermont Flower Farm crew is in kind of a time of financial restlessness now as we enter a new year at a new business location. I'm holding tight to every dollar for unforeseen expenses when we move but the thought of a new baking opportunity made it difficult for me. Gail is always resourceful and has money squirreled away and she got a few things she wanted. Alex parted with no money but made it out the door with an apricot scone from the demonstration table and a bottle of Harpoon Root Beer Gail added to her purchases. FYI, the Harpoon Brewery in Vermont is Windsor, Vermont's answer the the brewery on North Avenue in Boston. Same great beer and soda products and less than twenty miles south of King Arthur's on I-91.

Right now, however, I'm trying not to think about food as I want to finish my astilbe thoughts from yesterday. Astilbes are a very useful flower. They give contrasting foliage, color, texture and height to other aspects of your perennial gardens and there's not an animal around here that is interested in eating them. As you pick various cultivars, you can extend your bloom time into late summer, all the time experiencing nice flowers for mixed arrangements.

I've always had a little difficulty taking pictures of astilbes and a couple years back I took to doing close ups. It's probably confusing to some who can't make their mind up on purchase/do not purchase but the flowers are very interesting on close inspection. Elizabeth and Amethyst are pictured above and Elizabeth Bloom, Hyacinth and Visions follow below. Mix some of the

18-24 inch varieties in the front of you garden border with different heucheras and some of those flashy new coleus and you'll have a display that visitors will be talking about.

I just heard the oven door open and yelled out an inquiry. Gail has just made pear tarts, "an experiment", with some kind of an interior sauce of cream, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice . Still don't know what dinner will look like.

Good garden thoughts from the mountain above Peacham Pond where it is so very nice to see that at 5:45 PM it's still light out.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm


Melanie said...

George, just last week I was wondering why I have thousands of photos of perennials and not one good one of Astilbe. There's some so so photos but most of them are half in focus and half out of focus.

I like that last photo of the low growing Astilbe, any idea on the name?

Nancy J. Bond said...

The astilbes are beautiful! Sounds like a lovely day in Vermont, as it was here in Nova Scotia. Your blog is very nice...I'll be back!

George Africa said...

Hello Melanie;

That one is named 'Visions' but there are two more with patents in process named 'Vision in Red' and 'Vision in Pink' (have to keep your Vision and your Visions straight) The 'Visions' I pictured is planted in shade but where the water from the road drains towards it so it stays moist all season. I also use epsom salts in that area a bit heavier. Anyway it looks exactly like it is pictured.Those I grow out in sun or in pots typically are more on the raspberry-pink side but same height of about 22" and same chinensis type bloom--thick, tight and long lasting.

Thanks for visiting!

George Africa said...

Hello Nancy;

Thanks for visiting Vermont Gardens. You might enjoy some of The Vermont Gardener or some of the thoughts on our website, I am trying with a good deal of frustration to get Dreamweaver down so I can do the website over but it's taking me a while.

I'll spend some time on your blogs soon. They both appear today. I believe Blogger is getting a bit bigger than some expected and problems are more common.

Storm coing here Tuesday. Hope you do well there.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener