Guatemala Year Four, day one!

Well, I have been back two weeks today – how did that happen?  My life is such a whirlwind these days that I need to write some notes and share some photos before I forget!

Usually some of us spend the night before the flight in Houston, close to the airport but this time we elected to start from home.  So, 5:45 am on a Sunday morning with no traffic wasn’t a bad option.  After a ticket blip with one of our group, we made our way to the departure gate to look for the two travelers who we not not previously met – all went well, and our plane took off on time.  I love sitting by the window and gazing mindlessly at the clouds – they come in such wonderful shapes and formations!  This photo is leaving Houston. Guate.2018.Day.1.1

We met two more of our party already at the airport, and were soon on our way to La Aurora International Airport, Guatemala City.  The Pilot announced that we would be landing to the North, a first for me, and it was exciting to pass by Lake Amatitlan and see Volcan Pacaya from the air.

After landing, meeting up with two more members of our party who had flown in the day before, we went to eat lunch at a small outdoor restaurant at a Mercado close to the airport.  “B.C.” (Before Computers) I used to write a travel diary every day I was away, but now I foolishly leave details to memory, which is why I “think” we had Chile Rellenos for lunch – whatever we had, it was wonderful!!

Guate.2018.Day.1.4

After a quick wander round the market and posing for a quick group photo, we headed to the nearby National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.  This is a small museum but very well ordered with some very impressive exhibits.  Well worth a visit!

 

Next was a supermarket stop to pick up a few supplies and our one remaining traveler, and soon we headed for the hills!  Once we arrived at Finca Xejuyu (which incidentally is Mayan Kaqchikel for “at the foot of the mountain”) we chose our rooms, cleaned up a bit and met in the dining room for Happy Hour, and dinner.

Darkness falls early at Xejuyu, and after the journey we were happy to retire early, to be ready for an early start in the morning.

Greenhouse pineapples

Sweet, juicy pineapples

My first attempt at growing a pineapple plant from its top went well for a year.  The plant grew well in my living room, until I took in a stray dog.  I named this playful pup “Gadget” because it really seemed to suit her.

One day I came home and found Gadget running round the house with the pineapple plant in her mouth, tossing it in the air and catching it, completely disregarding those prickly leaves!   I rescued the plant and carefully placed it back in the pot, and moved it to a safer place.  As with all things put in safe places, (like all my photos of Gadget) it became a classic case of “out of sight, out of mind”, and it was well and truly dead by the time I found it.  Gadget thrived and rapidly outgrew the space in my small home – she went to live with a family of huge acreage, with kids, dogs, cats, cows and horses to play with.

Fast foward five or six years.  Having seen pineapples growing in Costa Rica and Guatemala, and on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores, I decided to try again.  I bought a wonderfully ripe and juicy pineapple and started the process.  It took root fairly quickly, and is now getting quite large.  I’m hoping that it might bear fruit next year.

Pineapple plant grown from the cut top
Home grown pineapple plant

The pineapple is a tropical plant with an edible multiple fruit consisting of coalesced berries, also called pineapples, and the most economically significant plant in the family Bromeliaceae. Pineapples may be cultivated from the offset produced at the top of the fruit, possibly flowering in five to ten months and fruiting in the following six months. Pineapples do not ripen significantly after harvest. In 2016, Costa Rica, Brazil, and the Philippines accounted for nearly one-third of the world.  Contrary to popular opinion, the pineapple did not originate in Hawaii, but in South America.

Red pineapple
Red pineapple

http://www.lovebigisland.com (Hawaii) has some interesting and fun facts about pineapples including:

  1. Pollination of pineapples is required for seed formation, but the presence of seeds has a negative effect on the quality of the fruit. Possible pollinators for Pineapples are honey bees, pineapple bees, and Hummingbirds. In Hawaii, the import of hummingbirds is prohibited for this reason.
  2. Pineapples can be tricked into flowering using smoke! This was first discovered on the Azores Islands using smoke. Later research showed the component in smoke responsible for the flowering to be ethylene. Now, forced flowering of pineapples is standard practice on Hawaii because it allows the fruits to be produced throughout the year.
  3. In Hawaiian, a pineapple is called “hala kahiki. This is because the Hawaiians thought the pineapple resembled the “Hala” fruit. “Kahiki” means foreign, hence pineapples became “foreign Hana’s in Hawaii.

    My favorite uses for Pineapple? 1)  Fresh, as is.  2)  Pineapple-Jalapeno Jam, and 3) Pineapple-Coconut Shrub (pineapple, turbinado sugar, coconut vinegar, which goes wonderfully with rum!!!)

 

 

Lady Banks Rose

Roses – Ramblers, Climbers & Species

The American Rose Society recognizes three distinct groups of climbing types of roses – Ramblers, Climbers and Species.  Species are those roses which, if self pollinated, will breed true to seed, most are spring bloomers.  Examples are the Lady Banks roses, Fortuniana, and Cherokee Rose.

There is a lot written about the differences between Ramblers and Climbers, kind of like “all toads are frogs but not all frogs are toads”.  The following explanation is one I tend to prefer:

What Is the Difference in a Rambling Rose & a Climbing Rose?

Paul's Scarlet - Rambler
Paul’s Scarlet – Rambler

 

The rose family (Rosaceae species) consists of many different types of shrubs, climbers and hybrids with over 14,000 varieties. Roses may be evergreen in warmer climates and their stems vary and may be arching, trailing or erect. Climbing roses are popular in many landscapes; however, these are not true vines that attach and grow, but rather need support and training to grow up trellises or pergolas. Two common types of trailing roses are climbing roses and rambling roses, both with their own unique characteristics

Flower Types

Unlike other climbing roses, rambling roses only bloom once per season and produce small, fragrant clusters of roses, usually in June or July. The flowers provide the garden with a magnificent display that makes them an excellent addition to the landscape. Regular climbers and shrub roses generally bloom longer and produce larger, non-clustered blooms from June through October. Ramblers, unlike other roses, do not require deadheading and produce rose hips after flowering.

Leaves

The leaves of a rambling rose differ from other type of climbing roses. The ramblers have groups of seven leaves and climbers have leaves in groups of five. Climbing and rambling roses are not twining vines, since they grow long canes instead that must be trained. Ramblers differ in this area too; they produce long canes that are more pliable than other climbing roses, which often grow stiffer canes.

Vigor and Growth

Ramblers are easy to grow and more vigorous than other types of roses. Their pliable canes allow them to grow horizontally and vertically, unlike the other stiff-caned climbers that only grow upward. Their rapid growth, with shoots growing 12 to 14 feet a year, and pliable canes make them ideal plants for covering pergolas, trellises and arches.

Pruning

Ramblers and climbing roses require different pruning methods. Ramblers produce flowers on second year wood, which means pruning is done to shape the plant and not stimulate growth. Other types of climbing roses require pruning to encourage repeat flowering, because flowers are produced on new season growth. When pruning ramblers, cut away old shoots and branches that have already borne flowers, and leave the new shoots. For all types of roses, cut away any damaged or diseased branches when noticed.

Zepherine Drouhin Climbing Rose
Zepherine Drouhin Climbing Rose, fragrant and virtually thornless

As a final note on this post, when I was growing up we had all kinds of roses growing on the walls of our two story house – our chickens loved to eat red rose petals, but would not touch pink, white or yellow!!!

Figs are Hydroholics!

For sure, Figs like their drink!  Of water, that is, especially rainwater.  The only fig tree I have planted, about thirty years ago, has been a real trouper.  Planting advice was scant at that time, except to stress the importance of bountiful water (but not standing water) and not much fertilizer.  My tree variety is “Texas Everbearing”, which is also known as “Brown Turkey”, or “English Brown Turkey”.
Garden.figs

The birds start checking the tree in mid-to-late March, when there is no sign of ripening figs, just little knobs on the ends of the branches.  I usually try to keep the ground under the tree free of weeds and other plants that compete for the moisture, but this year I just didn’t seem to get around to it!  One year when I started having problems with the satellite dish’s line of sight I thought it was the top of the fig tree impeding the view, so I cut the top out.  That did not improve the signal but did encourage the tree to branch out instead of upwards, and years later I can still reach “almost” to the top!

One would think that the fruit that grows on the top and outsides of the tree would be the ones the birds would snack on first.  I say “snack” because that’s all they do – just peck away and eat half the fruit before going on to the next.  It amazes me to see them deep inside the branches, where you wouldn’t think they could even stretch their wings – maybe they feel safe in there, and out of my sight!

Figs make a wonderful pick-and-go snack to enjoy while gardening.  Maybe it’s the sugar!  They don’t have a very long shelf-life after they are picked, so its either snack or turn into delicious jams and shrubs (fruit flavored simple syrups to enjoy with spirit of choice as a cocktail, with sparkling water, or to drizzle over ice cream!!), and fruit vinegars that are delicious on salads!  And you can always dry them and use them as an ingredient in the Victorian Christmas favorite “Figgy Pudding”!!

 

A good reference if you are new to growing figs is https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/fruit-nut/files/2015/04/figs_2015.pdf, and as the article mentions, they are very easy to propagate and start your own fig trees!

“M”-Words

When it is 96 F every afternoon, with high humidity and very little breeze, what better to do than sit within three feet of the window a/c unit and let the mind ramble!  Today I was thinking about languages, and a few words came to mind – similar words that have totally different meanings.

Meringue:
M.Meringue

Aunty Ethel made the best meringues ever; not even mum’s meringues were a match for her sister’s.  Such an art to making them, baking in a slow, slow oven to make them come out crunchy on the outside and meltingly soft on the inside, just the right amount of color.    While visiting New Zealand I was introduced to Pavlova, an antipodean version of meringue.  Apparently there is a longstanding feud between NZ and Australia as to who “invented” the Pavlova!  We were dining at the home of a lady who had been on one of those TV cooking contest shows, and who didn’t advance very far (she said it was a nightmare!) but her Pavlova was wonderful!  This was in Christchurch, a few days after they “opened” the city back up to travelers after the terrible earthquakes caused such destruction.   She showed us damaged walls of her house, and a strikingly cracked swimming pool!

Merengue:

Vicini Presents Merengue From Identity And Magic

Before I went to the Dominican Republic some years ago, I decided to learn how to dance the Merengue.  I even bought a CD (as they were “back then”) of “international dance”.  It was fun and exciting, and I became quite proficient in my living room.  When we arrived in Rio San Juan, I was ready to dance up a storm, and guess what?  I froze, and couldn’t put one foot before the other!  What shame!  But it was fun drinking El Presidente Cerveza and watching the uninhibited.   That also reminds me of sitting in a bar-restaurant singing to Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” soon after it was released – even down there in the D.R. they knew the song.  And trying to teach an American how to pronounce “Cam-a-rrrro-nes”, since we were eating delicious, fresh caught shrimp!

Marimba:

M.Marimba.live.JPG

Before I first went to Guatemala I had imagined a marimba to be an instrument meant for shaking, like maracas.  Yep, another surprise!  Travel is a great Educator!  (with the help of Wikipedia!)   In Guatemala they recreated the African “Xylophone”  between the years of 1492 and 1680 with the marimba of tecomates, as a result of the fusion of African cultural elements.  The name marimba stems from Bantu marimba or malimba, ‘xylophone’.
“The Marimba” from “The Capitals of Spanish America” (1888)Diatonic xylophones were introduced to Central America in the 16th or 17th century. The first historical record of Mayan musicians using gourd resonator marimbas in Guatemala was made in 1680, by the historian Domingo Juarros  It became more widespread during the 18th and 19th centuries, as Mayan and Ladino ensembles started using it on festivals. In 1821, the marimba was proclaimed the national instrument of Guatemala in its independence proclamation.

 Moringa oleifera:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lastly, Moringa.  Doesn’t that sound like a dance?  Bailamos la moringa!!  Wrong again – it’s a tree!!  Now, whether or not it really has the capabilities to save the world’s nutrition problems, it certainly is a tasty treat!  Pluck the leaves to add to salads, scrambled eggs, smoothies, munch straight off the trees as a snack while weeding or lazing by the pool.  eaves can be dried and pulverized to add to your dishes in powdered form, and fresh or dried leaves can be added to “smoothies”, soups and stews.  The leaves have a slightly peppery tang, and one of the common names is “Horseradish Tree”.  It grows rapidly, needs to be protected in cold weather, and the more you cut it the more it grows.  In fact, it can be cut to fit the available space, such as a porch in winter, or to balance the tree if growing in a container.  There is much information available on the internet, and seeds/plants are also available online.  Once you have established a plant or two, you can harvest your own seed pods for propagation!  The following chart is why the Moringa oleifera is considered so valuable to the health of humankind!

Moringa oleifera leaf, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 64 kcal (270 kJ)
8.28 g
Dietary fiber 2.0 g
1.40 g
9.40 g
Vitamins Quantity

%DV
Vitamin A equiv.
47%

378 μg

Thiamine (B1)
22%

0.257 mg

Riboflavin (B2)
55%

0.660 mg

Niacin (B3)
15%

2.220 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5)
3%

0.125 mg

Vitamin B6
92%

1.200 mg

Folate (B9)
10%

40 μg

Vitamin C
62%

51.7 mg

Minerals Quantity

%DV
Calcium
19%

185 mg

Iron
31%

4.00 mg

Magnesium
41%

147 mg

Manganese
17%

0.36 mg

Phosphorus
16%

112 mg

Potassium
7%

337 mg

Sodium
1%

9 mg

Zinc
6%

0.6 mg

Other constituents Quantity
Water 78.66 g
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

When I grow up …………

What did you want to be when you grew up? One of my first was to be a teacher, then a nurse – until I realized what nurses actually “do”!  Countless hours “on the floor”, the blood, gore, cranky patients, and the deaths of old people and little children.  The hopes of the family members while the patient fights for healing and even life.  Their tears and heartaches when the patient loses the battle.   I also fancied being an Air Stewardess – so romantic, jetting through the air to exotic places, taking smiling care of passengers in flight, wonderful layovers at hotels on the beach, parties, sightseeing and learning about different cultures.  “They” don’t tell you about abusive customers, overcrowding on planes, playing nurse and waiter to sick or demanding passengers, being dog-tired on arrival at the hotel on overnight stops.   I actually made it to London-Gatwick Airport for an interview, wearing my best high heels and “beehive” hairdo, only to be told to take my shoes off and have my hair patted down flat – yes, I was turned down because I wasn’t tall enough to reach the overhead bins!!!   Saved by the rules and regulations!!!
Volcanoes.Rocks.Minerals

Volcanoes, rocks and minerals always fascinated me, so then I dreamed of becoming a Vulcanologist!   Nobody ever told me about the pros or cons – the dangers and all that goes with the job, because I never told anyone of this particular dream!  By the time I had met my third volcano it was rather too late because I had decided not to attend university on leaving Grammar School so had no Degree!  My first volcano was Vesuvius, which I went up in a bus on a school trip, but it was raining and foggy and visibility was nil!!  The story of the big eruption in AD 79, was fresh in my mind, but we didn’t have time to visit Pompeii and Herculaneum at any length.   I didn’t actually see Mt. Etna because I was in Sicily in the middle of the night and it wasn’t erupting at the time – all we saw there were the locals boarding the ferry to Naples with their chickens, ‘n goats ‘n things to sell on the mainland!

When I visited Auckland, New Zealand, I was surprised to learn that the city is built on 50 volcanoes, not all of them extinct!  The last one to erupt was Rangitoto, about 600 years ago, which is not long by volcanic standards!!  Mount Eden is Auckland’s highest cone, with a magnificent view.  The symmetrical cone is known as Te Ipu Kai a Mataaho (the Food Bowl of Mataaho, the god of Things Hidden In The Ground, and is highly tapu (sacred).
Auckland - Mt. Eden

My Fourth and Fifth Volcanoes were in Costa Rica;  Arenal, and Poas.  Both were showing off with plumes of smoke, and our guide was hopeful that Arenal would actually put on a real display, but it wasn’t to be.  Looking down into the crater of Poas was amazing; the walk up there was a botanical joy with all manner of exotic plants!

During the past three years I have become acquainted with some of the volcanoes in Guatemala.  And looking forward to another visit in September of this year!  This small country boasts between 33 and 40 volcanoes (depending on whether or not you classify lateral cones in the folds of a larger peak to be volcanoes.)  Three of these, Pacaya, Fuego and Santiaguito are highly active, regularly belching soaring plumes of smoke and ash.   It is usually quite possible to get up close and personal with the orange lava flows on an ascent of Pacaya (but go with a guide!!!) Lake Atitlan was formed after a giant volcano cataclysmically blew its top some 85,000 years ago, and centuries of rainwater have filled the former caldera to create today’s lake.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Guatemala2017.daythree.18

Urban Wildlife

It has been a while since I posted anything about the local wildlife (or anything else, for that matter!) but now I’m looking forward to some long anticipated “spare time”!!!

Living in a small town (just over 7,000 people) surrounded by countryside, from time to time there are some unusual visitors to my garden.  Squirrels are everywhere, of course, and provide great entertainment for me and my dog, but we also have entertaining ducks each spring!  Black Bellied Whistling Ducks come in each year to breed and raise their young.  They don’t seem to like water but they roost in trees and on peoples’ rooftops!  “Whistling” is the noise they make when they fly, and they must be some of the noisiest ducks on earth!

Garden.Ducks.On.Roof

While on the subject of birds, everyone’s favorite is the hummingbird, and there are plenty of them.  Mostly the Ruby Throat Hummingbirds here.  Some of the most colorful are the Red Cardinals, and the Red Winged Blackbird; the most common are the Mockingbird (the State Bird of Texas) with its amazing range of songs, and the rambunctious Blue Jays.  The most unusual in these parts is the Road Runner, which used to be fairly common but is rarely seen now.

Garden.Roadrunner on roof.2

Mosquitoes here are “as big as helicopters”, but fortunately there are a few critters that like to eat them.  Goldfish in my pond eat them, as do frogs and toads, although they don’t eat enough to be an effective population control.  Frogs and toads abound in my garden – sometimes after they “sing” all night, a couple of days later I’ll find strings of eggs lining the pond followed by hundreds of tadpoles.  Today I found a toad submerged in a watering can and I thought he had drowned – when I tipped the can up to wash the body out, he came to life and hopped out by himself!  The one in the pond is a Bullfrog, who sounds like a fog horn!

 

Red Eared Slider turtles sometimes migrate up the road from the creek, and one had a family of cute little baby turtles a couple of years or so ago in my pond.  They made such a mess that I had to find new homes for them.  Grasshoppers of all colors and sizes, more snails than I have ever seen in my life, and one time a black water snake who hung himself in the recirculating pump in the pond.  Red Shouldered Hawks, Caracaras (Mexican Eagle), Ruby Crowned Kinglets all come to visit, and even fluffy little bunny rabbits from time to time.  Opposums, Armadillos, and almost as many stray cats as there are snails!!!  The one in the photo was sitting on a piece of screen material covering the rainwater collected for watering plants.

Garden.Cat.in.rainbarrel

 

Using the bounty of nature.

“Using” is not a good word, since it is often “used” in the negative sense of the word.  To me, the word “use” means accepting the gifts that nature or any other source gives us – and this post is about jamming’.  And jellin’ .  And marmaladein’.

For more years than I remember, I and my mother, grandmother, and probably before that, have been making jams, jellies, pickles, chutneys, and marmalades from whatever is available at the time.  Seasonal, is the word.  Seasonal is good, because that means that the produce source is picked at its peak freshness.  There are some variances of course, because how many of us have access to home grown, fresh pineapple?  Or bananas?

I’m not going to post my recipes on my blog (duh!  Why would I do that?)   Making jams and jellies is not rocket science – all it takes is imagination, a feeling of what goes well with what, but traditionally marmalade must be made with citrus to be marmalade!!!  One of the nicknames the French have for the English is “Les Marmalades” – basic marmalade  is simply orange, lemon, and sugar.  But there are many other members of the citrus family that make excellent  marmalades!!!  Of course, we are also known by the French as “Les Rosbifs”!!!!!

While “Marmalady” is the name I use on my products, I also make jellies from all kinds of  wines,  herbs, fruits and vegetables, and various fruit jams according to what is in season.  Herbal and Rose Petal Vinegars, are delicious on salads or steamed vegetables, and preserved lemons make a surprising and tangy addition to any kind of meat, hot or cold!

Chutneys are also high on my list of “favorites” – traditionally served on the side to accompany assorted curry dishes, or with cold meats – much the same way as you’d use pickles or herb jellies.  They are condiments, sweet, sour or hot and spicy according to the fruit or vegetable used.  Try tossing a spoonful or two of chutney into a meatloaf or meatballs just for a flavor change, or you can add some to gravy for the same reason.  Use chutney with roast pork instead of apple sauce, with turkey instead of cranberry sauce; with ham instead of mustard.  Pour 1/4 cup over a block of cream cheese and serve with crackers or cocktail bread slices.  Mix into sour cream to make a dip, or use on baked potatoes.

Fruits for 2018 – some old, some new, but nothing blue!

The Texas Everbearing Fig I planted about 30 years ago keeps on going!  Right now there are a few mummified figs which need to be removed, but otherwise it looks great.  The birds have already started checking it out, even though it won’t have ripe fruit until July.  Then there will be a race to harvest, at the same time leaving a few with the birds and squirrels!  Several branches have bent down and show signs of rooting, and I also have a dozen or so cuttings potted up in the shed.
Garden.bird.in.Figtree

I have two pear trees, planted about the same time as the fig.  One, “Anjou”, unsuited to this area, has never really produced well and now shows signs of dying out.  The other, “Orient”, has been great, and is looking ready for spring!  Its fruit is of the hard type, but has a wonderful flavor and is good for eating, cooking, and making my favorite pear chutney.  Just look at the colour of those new growth spring leaves!!
Garden.Pear

“Moro” Blood Orange is planted in the ground also many years ago, but doesn’t reliably produce due to our always-odd winter weather.  This year, for the second year running, it lost every single leaf due to prolonged freezing temperatures; thankfully it has totally leafed out now, but we’ll have to wait until the end of the year to see if the shock has encouraged it to produces blooms.
Garden.Moro.Orange

Meyers Improved Lemon is doing wonderfully.  I think it is in its 3rd year in a large container, inside on a closed-in porch in winter and outside as soon as it warms up.  This year it is absolutely covered in that heavenly scented blossom – if I open the door to the porch the whole house is perfumed!


Also on the porch are a 3ft tall “kitchen” lemon, so-called because it was grown from the seed of a lemon when I was making marmalade, but who knows if it will ever bloom or produce fruit.  It sits next to the Meyers to gain encouragement!  Next to the lemons are a Kaffir Lime, from which the leaves are the part that is mainly used in cooking.

Just outside the porch in a sheltered place where it can be popped back under cover, is an unknown variety of strawberry in a hanging basket.  Such pretty pink flowers!  Hoping to get some big fat juicy strawberries this year!
Garden.Strawberry.Basket

As for “New”, the latest acquisition is an “Aprium” tree – a cross between an Apricot and a Plum.  Purchased in January, it has been sitting in its own tiny pot on the porch until a couple of weeks ago, when it graduated to a large container outside.  It had beautiful pink and white blossoms, one of which turned into a fruit already!  It has leafed out very well, and I can’t wait to see how it does as it matures.

 

Maybe later I’ll add some “Blue” – several friends are trying Blueberries in containers; that sounds like an interesting possibility!!!

….. Lillie for a day.

… a flower which perisheth at night,
and buddeth at the sunne rising,
… and therefore is called
the Day Lillie, or Lillie for a day.
John Gerard, 1597

Daylilies are enjoying a resurgence of popularity, so it might be timely to explore the facts and fictions of this beautiful flower.  Written Chinese descriptions of daylilies date from about 3000 B.C., and the first illustration appeared in a Materia Medica (Tu Ching Yen I Pen Tsao) compiled by Kou Tsung-Shih, in 1059 A.D.  Traditionally in China they were grown for their nutritional and medicinal properties.  They were considered a popular cure for melancholy and grief, and it was claimed that if a pregnant woman wore a daylily she would give birth to a son.

Daylilies made their first appearance in Europe in the 16th century.  It is believed that medieval Mongolian settlers planted the yellow Hemerocallis flava in Hungary, and that the orange H. fulva was carried by traders to either Venice or Lisbon.  Later in the 16th century, European herbalists (Dodonaeus, Clusius and Lobelius) described and illustrated both species.  They noted that H. fulva did not produce seeds.  The term”Day Lillie” first appeared in Gerard’s The Herball or Generall Historie of Plants (1597).  A century later, the pilgrims brought them to America.  Settlers carried the sturdier H. fulva west with them and it became known as the homestead lily.  George Yeld, a British school teacher with a love for alpine flowers and access to a local nursery, started to hybridize daylilies in 1877.  His original cultivar, “Apricot” won a Certificate of Merit in London in June 1892, and three years later the newly acquired H. aurantiaca var. major set his breeding program off with new vigor.  This variety became the parent for many of his best introductions, and about this time, another Englishman, Amos Perry started his own breeding program from a collection of plants from Italy.  Fast forward a couple of hundred years, and we now have possibly thousands of named varieties, thanks to the breeders and hybridizers in their quest to produce flowers of all shapes and sizes in a veritable rainbow of colors.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Diploid, Tetraploid – what does this mean?  It is all in the chromosomes!  Diploids have 22 chromosomes, 1 set of 11 from the pod parent and 1 set of 11 from the pollen parent.  Tetraploids have 44 chromosomes, giving them twice the genetic materials as diploids.  This gives the hybridizer more opportunity for breaks, or more dramatic advances than made with a diploid.  Triploids are seldom seen now in Daylilies.  They have a triple set of chromosomes and are generally infertile.  Diploids can only be bred to Diploids, and Tetraploids to Tetraploids.  Even if you don’t want to venture into hybridization, Daylilies are a joy in the garden, and if you can bear to dig them up, enjoy them at your dinner table!!  If Daylily flowers are harvested when fully open they make a superb and very ornamental addition to the salad bowl.  The petals are quite thick, crisp and juicy with a delicate sweetness at their base due to the nectar they contain.  At this stage they are also at their most nutritious, containing reasonable quantities of protein (mainly from their pollen) and carbohydrates (from the nectar) as well as good quantities of iron and vitamin A.  The flowers can be dried and used as a flavoring and thickener in soups, etc.  Young shoots & rots can also be eaten raw or cooked, and make a delicious vegetable.  The tough fibrous leaves can be dried and braided into ropes to make a fine pair of summer sandals!!

Daylily.in.salad.1

Original article by me in May of 2012, photo of salad by Glutenfreeabundance.