Thursday, May 20, 2010

Garden Updates, Fruit-Mint Iced Tea, and Finishing Sweaters

It's been a week and I think I'm pretty much over the worst of the Great Rose Massacre.  George sweetly bought me a second Katy Road (Carefree Beauty) in case the original one doesn't come back and a Perle d'Or to add to the collection of small sweetheart-type roses. Thus far, two of three miniature roses have leaf buds. I'm pretty sure I'm seeing leaf buds starting on the Graham Thomas yellow rose and the Maggie red rose. Still to go are the original Katy Road, Penelope (if what I think is her is really her), the Climbing American Beauty, and the Tuscan Sun.

On the up side, we added two bougainvillas to the front wall. The last ones never did all that well, and they didn't make it through the freeze. One of these is an Afterglow, which has become my favorite variety. It changes colors from a coral red to the standard bougainvilla magenta. Since we couldn't find a second Afterglow, the second bougainvilla is a Johnson - also pretty, but not quite as nice as the Afterglow, although in the photos, it's hard to tell the difference.

Afterglow Bougainvilla

Johnson Bougainvilla

My goal is to keep both going through the winter. Now that the greenhouse is an  option, I think it can be done. On the herb front, I replaced the garlic chives that met their demise in the GRM and added a spicy globe basil to the mix. The peppermint survived the GRM, but was looking kind of tired out. It would probably have come back on its own, but I added another plant to the pot. Peppermint is my favorite of all the mints and I like having it around for iced tea. My fave iced tea recipe goes something like this:

Fruit-Mint Iced Tea
2 quarts water
5 tsp or 5 teabags of black tea
1 cup sugar
1 lemon
1 lime
4 sprigs mint
Bring the water to a boil and while doing so, put the tea, sugar, and mint into a heat-proof bowl. Juice the lemon and lime into the bowl and put the rinds in as well. Mash everything together with the bottom of a heavy glass.  Pour the boiling water over the mixture and leave to steep for 5 minutes. Strain the tea into a pitcher and chill. This is open to all kinds of variations. I normally use Taylor and Harrowgate's Scottish Breakfast Tea, but after trying the Earl of Sandwich's Earl's Grey Lemonade, I want to try it with Earl Grey or Lady Grey tea. I usually use whatever citrus fuit I have around. Probably ripe peaches could be substituted. I prefer peppermint, but will use whatever mint I have available. Anyway, it's very nice and refreshing on a hot day - and we're getting them now!

The Aran Cardigan

The Summer 2010 edition of Interweave Knits has a pattern for a gorgeous cardigan made of cotton-bamboo yarn.  I adore that cardigan. I want to make it. I almost ordered the yarn for it. And then I stopped... How about the gorgeous Aran Shirttail Cardigan I've had in the basket for years?  I'm finished with the body. I just need to do the sleeves. Why am I putting it off? I'm making it in Cascade's Ecological Wool yarn and either it was attacked by bugs, or had some other accident, but the reamining skeins have lots of breaks in them. The yarn spit-tricks back quite well, but I get tired of doing it all the time. I feel like I'm pasting the yarn back together. But let's face it, that's no excuse. So... I've finished both cuffs and am maybe a quarter of the way up both sleeves. (Working both sleeves at the same time helps ensure they're made the same.)

The Sleeves
(No, Ming didn't break the yarn!)

When I finally finish this sweater, I'll order the yarn for the new one!  I'm having a battle with my conscience about what kind of yarn to use anyway. The cotton-bamboo that's called for is really pretty, but there's another DK yarn in a color I prefer. But it might not hang right... Hmmm.... Or... I usually choose neutral colors for sweaters, and that soft rose is calling to me. Why not, this once, make a sweater in a soft rose? I have a beautiful shrug I hardly wear in a lovely rose shade. Why not a sweater??  But I might not like it... Is it better to play it safe and go with a neutral cream??  I think if the color is calling, maybe I'd better answer.  But for now, I'm going to finish the Aran cardigan!

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