Sunday, April 28, 2013

April Flowers

April is such a beautiful time of the year.  It seems that everywhere I look there are pretty little flowers blooming.  I just had to try to capture some of their beauty with my camera. 

Here in North Florida in April the days begin with nice cool breezes and soft sunshine.  The little birds are singing everywhere ...  Isn't it so amazing all of the beauty around us!

Some of the Old Garden Roses have been blooming nicely in our area for about two weeks now.  In the below photo is a rose that is growing out on our front entrance fence.  We call it, "The Goodwood Rose,"  because we found it at a plant sale at an old plantation in town called Goodwood Plantation and Gardens.  Back when we purchased the rose they did tell us the name, but since it is 5 or 6 years old now, I have long forgotten the name.   Goodwood Museum and Gardens is such an interesting place,  I must take some time to tell you about it later on.

The Goodwood Rose 

 As you can see the Goodwood Rose is a rambling rose or a climbing rose.

The blossoms do not have the beautiful perfection of the exquisite tea-rose, but  to me that old country look is still very pretty.

For several years I tried to grow a Yellow Lady Banks Rose out back by the light post.  The plant itself grew nicely, but for some reason it never did bloom.  I told a master gardening friend about the problem and she said, "If you want a blooming Lady Banks you are just going to have to plant another one."  I took her advice and planted another one.

I planted the new Lady Banks Rose back in the exact spot the previous rose was planted.  As you can see the new Lady Banks is blooming and doing nicely.

So I can't really explain what was wrong with the first plant, but am so glad this one is blooming.  I love the pretty little yellow flowers of the Lady Banks Rose.

In the below photo you will probably recognize the very vibrant pink Impatiens. This pretty little pot of flowers is decorating the back patio and is so pretty to look at while sitting on the back porch.  A local nursery tells us Impatiens have become very disease prone, but so far so good!

Below is the pretty little Katrina Rose I told you about in a previous post.

When I recently went out back to see if the Katrina Rose was still blooming nicely,  I saw all of these pretty little White Clover Wildflowers growing all over the back yard.  They were not there just a couple of days ago.  I know they are considered just weeds ... but, aren't they such pretty weeds!

My husband planted these irises many years ago.  

Each year they faithfully bloom with many beautiful blossoms.

The iris bed is right in front of a large Pine Tree, which was struck by lightening and had to be removed.  The tree cutting folks left some of the tree stump at our request for the Woodpeckers to have something to munch on.  Turns out the entire stump is solid lighter-wood, which can be used for fireplace lighter-wood.

The beautiful huge white "Snowballs" in the below photo are blooming now also.
The blossoms are usually 6 to 8 inches wide and are so pretty and long-lasting in a flower arrangement.

A few Day-lilies have begun to bloom in the yard.

The below photo shows a pretty potted plant my husband brought home one day in early Spring.  Yes! He truly is a sweetheart!
I later planted this plant out in the front rose bed, and it has not stopped blooming ever since.

The pretty pink plant in the below photo blooms constantly during Spring and Summer and has climbing runners that travel up the trellis and bloom so beautifully.  Wish I could remember the name of this pretty plant.

I'm sure you have heard of the "Knock Out" rose.  They are just starting to bloom now out on our back patio.  I checked the hardiness zone and they survive nicely in zones 4-9.

Another pretty rose beginning to bloom just beyond the back patio.

Below is the pretty little Sweet William flower from the Dianthus family.

I planted these little Sweet Williams several years ago.  
They faithfully sprout up each Spring and are so pretty in a flower arrangement.

Below are some pretty little rose buds just beginning to open up out in the rose garden.

Below  is the "New Dawn" rosebud just beginning to open.

A view of the back porch.  
We recently noticed some little birds busily coming and going out on the back porch.  We knew there had to be a bird-nest somewhere in the making, due to all the activity.  When we carefully looked around the porch,  we finally found the new little home site.

Can you see that little bird-nest snuggled down in the wreath behind the yellow bow!  We did not try to get close enough to look inside.

What a pretty little home for the new family members-to-be.

We have come to the close of another beautiful April day.

 I love trying to capture the beauty of Mother Nature with my camera.  

Thank you for joining me for a stroll around the yard to enjoy all the beautiful Springtime flowers that are popping up everywhere.  I do hope there are lots of pretty flowers blooming in your area also.

Wishing you a beautiful flower-filled weekend wherever you may be!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Katrina Rose (Peggy Martin Rose)

Spring is here and some of the Old Garden Roses are beginning to bloom.  I especially like the Old Garden Roses because they need very little care.  They usually bloom only once in the Spring, but the glory of all those blossoms while in full bloom is totally worth the wait.

Awhile back I was reading an article in Southern Living Magazine about The Katrina Rose ... The rose that survived the extremely destructive category three hurricane that came through New Orleans back in late August of 2005.  Remember all the flooding associated with that hurricane!  There is quite a story about the survival of what they call The Katrina Rose or the Peggy Martin Rose.   If you would like to read about it,  here is the link to the article in Southern Living Magazine:

There is an amazing story about this hardy rose.  Apparently during the Katrina hurricane  in 2005 this rose continued to survive after having been completely flooded with 20 feet of salt water in the garden of Miss Peggy Martin.  You will find another link to this story as you scroll down.

The Katrina Rose is not an exquisite tea-rose, but it is a very pretty climbing Old Garden Rose that has that old country look.   I ended up ordering two Katrina Roses three Springs ago,  and this is what they look like today arched over the arbor out in our back side yard.  Most roses require at least 6 hours of sunlight each day.  We have so much shade in our yard I know this rose does not get a full six hours of sunshine.  It would probably have grown much more if it did get more sun.

There is another article about The Katrina Rose (or some  call it The Peggy Martin Rose) in the below link.

This rose is available in several Old Garden Rose Nurseries:

And there are several more nurseries that have this rose available, I just included the nurseries I am familiar with.

We all have been anxiously awaiting Springtime and now it is here in all it's glory.  It is so much fun to look around and see all of the flowers blooming and the grass and trees so beautifully lush and green.

I wanted to share this pretty little rose with you just in case you might like it as much as I do.  This rose is sure a testimony to the hardiness of Mother Nature.

Wishing you special days wherever you may be.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rainbow Angel Food Cake

April is a month of family birthdays for our family.  On April 12th our grandson Preston celebrated his 11th birthday.  His mom baked his favorite chocolate cake.  It was a fun family birthday celebration.  Our "little" grandson is growing up from that adorable "little boy stage."

Grandson Preston's 11th Birthday

Preston's little brother Lawson celebrates his 8th birthday on April 18th.  Lawson asked me last week if I would make an "angel cake" for his birthday party, and he added he would like to have it "with colors."  He of course meant an Angel Food cake.

Many years ago I watched a friend make this cake and I have made it for the children and now the grandchildren for most birthday parties in our family.

We start with an Angel Food Cake Mix and follow directions on the cake mix box.

 Have red, blue, green, and yellow food color ready.

Follow directions on Angel Food Cake Mix box to prepare cake mix.

In 4 separate coffee cups or bowls spoon about 3-4 Tablespoons of prepared cake mix in each cup.

 Food Color Gel.

Until recently, food colors came in liquid form.  Now, I find them in gel-form, and it is a little more difficult to gauge how much you are using.   I used 3-4 dots of gel in each cup.  In separate cups I use all 4 colors, the red, blue, green and yellow.  

Stir each cup of cake batter until food color is well blended.

I usually have the colors a little more pastel.  Next time I will only use 2 dots of color.

Cover the bottom of an Angel Food cake pan with prepared plain white cake batter.

Next,  take a large spoonful of each color of cake batter and alternate colors on the white cake batter.

 Then, in order to get a pretty rainbow-look,  place spoonsful of white cake batter on top of each color.

Continue to alternate colors with the white cake batter in layers until all cake batter is used.

When all the cake batter has been placed in the baking pan, gently shake the pan from side to side in order to smooth the cake batter in the pan.

Then to give a nice marbleized rainbow effect,  take a kitchen knife and pull it sideways in swirls around the cake batter,  starting on the outside and working around to the inside portion of the pan.

 You can see the knife pattern path in the below photo.

Follow the directions on the cake mix box for the cooking instructions.
When the cake has finished baking and is ready to be taken out of the oven,   I was always told to turn a finished Angel Food Cake upside down to cool.  Let the cake cool completely before adding the below icing.

 Next we will make the very simple Whipped Cream Icing.

Don't be tempted to use the whipped topping already made up in the frozen food section of the grocery store.  It does not even come close to being as delicious as real whipped cream.

Start with one pint of Whipping Cream.

Pour the whipping cream into a large bowl (because it splatters all over in a smaller bowl when you are using the beaters.)  Add 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla and 3 Tablespoons sugar (you may wish to add more sugar depending on how sweet you want the icing.)

Since I was making this icing for my grandson I added two dots of  blue food color gel.

One Tablespoon Vanilla

Three Tablespoons sugar (depending on your taste.)

With electric beaters, mix whipping cream mixture until it has reached a thick consistency, just as you would make regular whipping cream.  It is easy to beat the whipping cream too much so be careful not to turn it into butter.  And, then it is also easy to not beat enough, and then it is too runny for icing.  The below photo shows the ideal consistency.

Then begin to ice the completely cooled cake.

I like to use these colorful sprinkles for the top of the cake to give it a festive look the children enjoy.

The below "candy letters" are available in the baking section of the grocery store.
I forgot to put the number "8" on the cake.

Birthday boy Lawson in the middle, brother Will 13, Mom, brother Preston 11, 
Dad and John Scott 16 on the left.
A fun birthday party!

And then, the best part of all, getting to eat some yummy "Angel" cake.
Lawson's mom served this delicious cake with his favorite "mint chocolate chip ice-cream."

Just in case you would like to make this cake I have added the recipe below.

Rainbow Angel Food Cake
1 box Angel Food cake mix.
Food color gel - red, blue, green, yellow
  • Prepare cake mix according to directions on box.
  • Using 4 coffee cups, place about  3-4 Tablespoons prepared cake mix batter in each cup.
  • Add about two drops of food coloring gel, in each color,  to each cup.
  • Stir until nicely blended using separate spoon for each cup.
  • Cover bottom of Angel Food cake pan with white prepared cake batter.
  • Alternate one spoon of each cake batter color on top of white cake batter.
  • Then, spoon white cake batter over each color.
  • Alternate the white batter and then the different colors of batter until all the batter has been used.
  • Gently shake cake pan from side to side to settle batter.
  • Take a kitchen knife turned sideways and slowly swirl through batter, making about 3 loops around the cake pan.
  • Bake according to package directions.
Whipped Cream Cake Icing
1 pint of whipping cream
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
3 Tablespoons sugar (or to your liking)
2 drops blue food color
Cake Decorating Decor - I used Rainbow Mix
Candy Cake Decorating Letters - available at the baking isle of the grocery store.
  • In a large bowl whip whipping cream, vanilla, sugar and food color until a nice spreadable consistency.
  • Ice cake.
  • Sprinkle cake decorating decor on top and then add cake letters if you choose.
  • If the cake is going to be left out for a long period of time it is better to place in refrigerator so the icing does not begin to melt. 
And that is it!  It probably sounds complicated, but it really is not at all.  Best of all an Angel Food cake is fat-free ... Too bad I can't say the same for the icing.

Now that I have made myself completely hungry talking about that delicious cake, I am going to go have a snack!!

Sure do hope you are having a wonderful weekend wherever you may be.