Wednesday, May 20, 2015

2014 - October SOPHIA'S GARDEN DAY

This post, "2014 - October SOPHIA'S GARDEN DAY" was written by Glinda/AnnieinAustin for the Divas of the Dirt Blog.
Showers overnight into morning had put more than an inch-and-a-half of welcome rain in the gauge - but would it be too soggy to work in Sophia's garden?
Diva Sophia said breakfast was going to be on the table and someone had better be there to eat it, work or not!

Sophia likes to have a theme for her garden days (last year she'd dived into an Appalachian-style cookbook and come up with winners) and this year the theme was The Experimental Kitchen.

The table was set with colorful plates and bowls and harvest decor - pumpkins rule October!

Our Diva number was down by two - Mattie was on an out-of-town business trip and Mindy had just returned from a journey halfway around the world. Since she'd arrived in Austin one day before, there was no way Mindy could come.

Buffy was helping out at a breakfast benefit for a local organization so she would show up a little late.

Glasses filled with candy corn and battery candles made the dreary morning bright.

Chefs Sophia, Roger and Mark had a great menu planned - they're pretty practiced at working together in the kitchen. Karla and Annie were there when I arrived, with Diva Sugar following soon after - then Surprise! In walked Mindy, ready to garden (and eat) and not even appearing jet-lagged.

Red and yellow raspberries, strawberries and blackberries topped with whipped Mascarpone cheese, apple juice, orange juice, great coffee and English muffins made a colorful start to the day.

Main dishes of scrambled eggs and a creamily delicious potato & Gouda casserole were not to be resisted.

The rain had just slowed, so we didn't hurry over breakfast - there was a lot to talk about! Soon Buffy joined us and we seven went out to groom the garden. There would be no planting or major digging this day. Sophia's request was for us to clip back, to prune, to weed, to cultivate, to compost and to mulch everything we could see.

Weeding was so easy after the rain! We pruned the red tip photinia and weeded the groundcover area near the covered porch. One of the pickiest tasks was to groom the cast iron plants, individually cutting out the damaged and/or drought-browned leaves and cleaning up around the huge clumps.

This was time-consuming but when finished, all the plants of Aspidistra elatior looked happy and green. What good things the Divas will do for each other!

A mutabilis rose can be one of the prettiest things in Texas when it's in bloom but when the flowers stop that's a good time to cut it way back, ready for the next bloom cycle.
Sophia's Rosa mutabilis shares a border with an orchid tree - if the boisterous rose isn't pruned regularly, that orchid tree can disappear! Here's the border, done and mulched.

The parkway bed (AKA the hellstrip, or the parking strip, or the curbside bed) had some weeds, some dead plants, and some overgrown perennials. Attention from the Divas made it ready for fall.

On the other side of the sidewalk a grouping of blue plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), burgundy oxalis (Oxalis regnellii 'Atropurpurea') and native inland sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) has filled in beautifully - but it looks even better when the weeds are banished and the dark native hardwood mulch sets off the leaf and flower colors.

We didn't neglect the far parkway bed or the long bed along the driveway. This area had been revamped in 2013 - on a hot day that called for a breaker bar, a sledgehammer and a tiller. Today's grooming session was much easier! The blocks and gravel had held up well - it was satisfying to see our previous project look so good.

Sophia's Experimental Kitchen had come up with an amazing late lunch for all of us. Ooh - look at all those interesting toppings - green olives, black olives, cucumbers, tomatoes and cubes of cheese.

(Maybe you've probably heard me say this before, but does anyone else immediately think of the movie Tortilla Soup when you see the word 'toppings'?)
If the bowls and plates made you guess soup and sandwiches were up next, you are quite right. But when the cooks are Sophia & Roger & Mark there will be nothing ordinary about that soup and those sandwiches.

Italian Wedding Soup! Sophia was a bit hesitant about making it, because she's served it a few times before. We were glad - why strive for novelty when you have reached perfection?

And there were Panini sandwiches, loaded with grilled eggplant and grilled zucchini, a salad ready for the toppings and crunchy breadsticks.

Then, the finale made by Sophia & Roger's talented son Mark - simply the best Italian Cream Cake, ever - can this be a poster if Mark ever opens his own bakery?

If you've heard our We Are the Divas of the Dirt song from 2006 you may remember this line, "...spend all day working with our friends, before we go inside for cake..."

Some things do not change and we like it that way.

This post, "2014 - October SOPHIA'S GARDEN DAY" was written by Glinda/AnnieinAustin for the Divas of the Dirt Blog.

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