Garden Cookout

This is the time of year that really makes me regret living in an apartment complex where barbecue grills are outlawed. I often find myself stumbling into bushes and walking into fences while my nose carries me on a joyride through the neighborhood on a quest for burgers and shish-kabobs only to find that I wasn't invited in the first place. It's a small wonder that nobody has called the cops after looking up from their beer and bratwurst to find me peeking over the fence.

I do this a lot when I see unusual plants in neighbor's gardens too, and getting the grand tour of the garden is just as irresistible as the smoky scent of a cookout. I usually don't get invited to either, but last night was different! Granted, it was my wife's family who invited me, and the garden was full of plants that I put there myself a few years ago, but it made for a much less awkward experience.

I wanted with all my heart to run straight out into the garden but my wife insisted that I first stuff my face with a cornucopia of Americana - grilled hotdogs, potato salad, baked beans, barbecued chicken, watermelon and so on, all served up with a variety of barbecue themed plates and napkins, on a barbecue themed tablecloth with whimsical illustrations of grills, aprons, hotdogs and burgers in bright and cheery colors. My wife is the queen of a well themed party, and our eventual child will have the most amazing birthday parties ever celebrated. She had prepared white chocolate covered strawberries with red and blue sprinkles along with sugar cookies that were also in fourth of July colors. There was even a big cake that looked just like a hamburger! I keep telling her she needs to start her own blog but she's still much too shy for that. If she's reading this right now, I'd be willing to bet that she's blushing.

Canna Flaccida?

Canna "Australia" is getting a little big for its britches.

It was with a light heart and a heavy belly that I finally ventured into the garden with all the finesse of a drunken hippo. My mother in law's garden looked wonderful in the sunlight of the early evening, and the canna's flowers seemed to glow against the dull and faded gray of the fence. She has a lot of cannas. The newest addition to her collection was added by yours truly a couple years ago; a one gallon container of Canna "Australia" with deep burgundy leaves and fiery red flowers. It has since rocketed so high that the flowers appear to peek over the top of the fence, just to see if there's more room to grow on the other side.

Some of my plantings were doing well, and others were either dead or just hanging on. The Crinum asiaticum seedling that I planted years ago has grown considerably, but the Abyssinian banana (Ensete ventricosum "Maurelli") still looked dwarfed and stunted. The burgundy leaves have more or less shifted into bright green like the species, with only burgundy on the stem, underside of the leaves, and on the rib down the middle of each leaf. It looks pretty good, just small.

I had planted two lemongrass plants where the deck met the house, but they weren't as robust looking as the clump in my own garden. This probably had something to do with the family cat. Bella seems to think that I planted these big tufts of grass just for her amusement and dental hygiene. She apparently flosses with the smaller blades at the base every day, but I guess I would too if I ate some of the things she did. Actually, my gums would probably be ripped to shreds by the serrated edges of the lemony flavored grass. I'll stick to using it in teas and Thai food.

Behind the clumps of kitty floss is a big and healthy stand of scarlet milkweed. I like to let this one grow like a weed since it has the twin features of having beautiful flowers and attracting monarch butterflies like no other plant I know. It treated me to a simultaneous display of orange and crimson jewel-like flowers above dried seed pods burst open with silky tassels ready to spirit the seeds away to enjoy the aroma of some other barbecue blocks away. Oh to be a scarlet milkweed.


  1. Agreed! Milkweed is gorgeous, but we call it butterfly weed 'round these parts. :P

    Your wife should start a blog if she's making hamburger cakes!! That's worth a goggle!

  2. Lovely photo of the milkweed, and a happy 4th July to you!

  3. Notsoangryredhead: I usually end up switching back and forth between the two names myself. Butterfly weed is the prettier of the two. :) Oh, and she didn't make the cake herself but instead opted to buy one from Publix since it looked so goshdarned good to begin with!

    africanaussie: Thanks! I really do love that plant... I have a bunch of it in my own garden too but the aphids are making a buffet out of it.

  4. What a fun 4th of July! If your wife doesn't want to start her own blog yet, maybe you can let her have occasional guest posts until she feels more comfortable? I can just imagine a future birthday party for a daughter. With her talent at themed parties and your talent for floral decorations, your little princess is sure to have a wonderland.

    Bella must have the freshest breath a cat could ever have. :-D May I suggest you try stuffing chicken with lemongrass, garlic, ginger and whole black pepper before broiling/grilling? I realize you'll have to head over to your in-law's again but this is my favorite recipe for lemon grass.


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