Creating a focal point

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Lil'Kim rose of Sharon

Lil’Kim rose of Sharon

I have been moving shrubs around. (Hope all of them survive the transition!) and moved two rose of Sharon bushes Friday, from beside the house to the back of the yard, just to the left of my compost area. They are a variety called ‘Lil’Kim’ which does not grow as tall as do many of the roses of Sharon. The change will “soften” the boulders that surround the compost pit, and do a lot more too. 

The result has been dramatic! Where those two bushes, that I had to constantly cut back because they were just too big for where they were and were almost eyesores — have now become a focal point and pull the eye to the back of a long stretch of lawn bordered by perennials and shrubs. They have big white blooms with scarlet centers in late summer. Where it was formerly mostly green, now there are these big white blooms that just pop out and draw your attention to them. Amazing transformation.

I also moved five hydrangeas from obscure positions out to the edge of the yard where they can grown big and provide a collar of color in the back yard. Formerly they too had been tucked here and there and had to be cut back frequently. Now they can spread and look glorious.

I got the idea to start moving things around after seeing a neighbor’s garden that is simply gorgeous. A real inspiration. Now, I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything survives. I really had to hack those roots back on those two rose of Sharon bushes.

And the same neighbor who provided me with the idea to move things out into prominent areas, gave me some cuttings from a chartreuse (rare color) forsythia that I am getting to root. Hopefully that will add some more color back there once it gets going.

Late summer is actually a good time to move shrubs and move and/or divide perennials. To move an established shrub it helps to root prune the plant a couple weeks before you plan to move it. To root prune, you simply force a shovel into the ground in a circle around the bush, about a foot or two (depending on the size of the shrub) from the main trunk. I like to give the plant a good dose of root stimulating hormone (a liquid concentrate mixed with water) a couple times before moving it. Then water it in well and give it another dose of the root stimulating mixture. Keep transplants watered as needed until the ground freezes.  Having fun in the garden!DSCN3702

Asian noodle salad features cucumbers

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When those cucumbers start coming in, they come on strong. Of course we’ve enjoyed them in salads and as fresh dill pickles ( and all by themselves. But lately I have been searching for something else to do with cucumbers.

Then I “discovered” this totally cool Oriental-style noodle salad that is perfect for these warm end-of-summer days. My recipe has lots of room for improvisation. Indeed, latest bowl that I mixed up contained bits of dry seaweed which was chopped fine and cooked along with the pasta. Or try adding some steamed, diagonally-sliced snow peas or tender green beans for example. Or maybe slivers of some different greens?

This recipe makes a lot, which is good because you’ll want to share. Or if you don’t want to share, you’ll have plenty for yourself. (Warning here: This stuff is positively addictive.) I usually divide the ingredients by half, which results in about a quart and a half of salad, or a good-sized bowl full. That’s enough for four to enjoy it as a main dish or side. The whole recipe is great to take to those pot-luck meals.

Asian Noodle Salad

8 ounces angel-hair pasta, broken into thirds
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white rice vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons grated ginger, or two teaspoons dry
2-4 cloves garlic, mashed and minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro or flat-leaf Italian parsley
2 carrots, shredded
4 cucumbers, peeled, halved (and seeded if necessary), sliced thin
1/2 cup sliced green onions, or chives
Shredded fresh spinach or kale if desired
2 tablespoons sesame seed, more if desired

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside as you combine all the other ingredients in order given in a large bowl. Stir in pasta. Chill for at least an hour to let flavors mingle. Serve cold. Serves 8.