August 6, 2005
When I was a kid growing up in North Dakota, the county fair meant a visit to the dusty 4-H barn to check out which of my classmates who lived on a farm had entered sheep or chickens or a stop by the civic center to look at plastic-wrapped plates of cookies and brownies.
So it seems a little strange to be living in a suburb of Minneapolis and participating in our county fair. This is the step-sister of the much, much larger Minnesota State Fair in which I have won blue ribbons in the past.
The Hennepin County Fair must be among the metro area’s best-kept secrets. It’s close by (about 10 minutes for us), relatively cheap and full of just the right amount of entertainment for a family outing. Graham loves doing the rides with the tilt-a-whirl as current the favorite, and we adults love the typical fair food of mini doughnuts, corn on cob and Dippin’ Dots ice cream “of the future.”
This year we raised our activity level and entered a number of different categories in the creative activities competitions. From photographs, bonsai, potted plants and flowers to perennials, pickled jicama, ornamental grasses and potatoes with grass “hair”, the Maas family was triumphant in bringing home the blue, red, white and purple ribbons.
How have you done at fairs? Won anything big? Have any interesting stories from your entries? Leave a Comment at the end of this entry and tell me about it.
Those Who Wait
Two summers ago, we purchased a pot of Mexican petunia (Ruellia brittoniana) at the end of the growing season. It added a bit of height and purple flowers with its long stalks but pretty much went dormant over the winter.
Last summer, it did nothing but look like a bunch of dead sticks with a few leave on top like a coconut palm.
This spring I experimented by cutting down a number of the stalks to between six to 10 inches. Surprisingly, each of those stalks sent out new shoots.
We have had a usually hot and humid summer in which this plant must have felt at home because it finally set buds and began to bloom for the first time in two years.
Maybe I don’t have to compost this plant after all.
I couldn’t figure out why the Orange Profusion zinnias in the pot next to the sliding glass door of our deck looked so terrible until I noticed the goldfinches zooming in and out from them.
Upon closer inspection, I realized that they had been eating the seeds of the spent zinnia buds.
Those little goldfinches are deadheading for me!
Small, Dark and Handsome
The tiger swallowtail butterflies are still fluttering around like crazy among the purple phlox. Periodically they are joined by this dark butterfly. I believe it is the black form of the tiger swallowtail. The other butterflies don’t seem to like having him about and attack him.
Graham will be performing with Rince na Chroi, his Irish dance school, during Irish Fair at Harriet Island next Saturday, Aug. 13, at 11 a.m. , and on Sunday, Aug. 14, at 4 p.m. He has been practicing his kicks by pretending he is kicking Darth Vader or another Star Wars villain every night this week. It should be a fun weekend with lots of music, children’s activities and food.
Happy Anniversary, Baby
To quote the great Little River Band, “Happy Anniversary, baby. Got you on my mind.” Brian and I celebrated our 14th anniversary on Aug. 3 by taking our county fair entries to be registered and having dinner at Graham’s favorite restaurant, Buffalo Wild Wings. Here’s to the next 14 years!
What’s Happening in the Garden Now
We’ve hit deep summer with the garden in full stride now. Fall is a long way off but I can already see that the fall garden will be deep and lush with color.
The Mystery Plant
Here’s the puzzle. I thought last week’s plant was Joe Pye Weed but Rebecca, the native plant maven, says it is swamp milkweed. Hmm. Trowels at 10 paces to settle this disagreement? Can you guess the plant this week?
Here’s What’s Blooming Now
Ligurlaria “The Rocket”
Nasturtium “Peach Melba” and others
Campanula “Blue Clips” and others
Joe Pye Weed
Alpine strawberry – and fruiting, too
Nepeta “Walker’s Low”
Garden Chores for the Week
Keep up with the wisteria vines, slug traps and pot watering.
It’s time to do something with all the Roma tomatoes and the bumper crop of basil…
"Pont jumps around just like the bull at the fair."
Note: Apparently the panoramic links did not work as planned last week. My husband fixed the issue so if you did not get the full panoramic view on last weeks post, give it a tyr again:
Nice pictures of a lovely garden. I love your gardens and enjoy visiting your blog. Have a nice day!
Posted by: Sandy at August 7, 2005 11:40 PM
Congratulations on the blue ribbons! What fun. I did the county fair thing about 20 years ago and entered some baby quilts and pillows. I won a blue ribbon, a white ribbon and red ribbon. I was soooooooo excited.
I am guessing nicotina for the flower of the week.
Posted by: zoey at August 8, 2005 8:13 AM
Nicotania - the green kind, is it limelight?
Posted by: Kasmira at August 8, 2005 2:55 PM
Thanks, Sandy. These posts always feel like mutual love-fests. I love looking at pics of your gardens, too!
Here's something funny about the fair we just entered. I got ribbons for my canning and I can't tell if the jars were even opened! The seal wasn't broken, so how were the jicama pickles judged - on looks alone? That explains why my pepper jelly (which took a blue ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair years ago) didn't get a ribbon. One taste of the yummy stuff and it would have received best in show!
The nicotiana was just a little too easy to guess but it certainly is lovely. And best of all, it seeded by itself from plants I slaved over under grow lights last year. I even have other colored nicotiana that volunteered from annual plants I purchased last year as well. I had no idea nicotiana was such a prolific seeder.
Posted by: jackie at August 8, 2005 11:16 PM
One fair down, two to go. Bring on the Irish Fair...which may end up being MY favorite. Guinness anyone?
Posted by: Brian Maas at August 12, 2005 6:47 AM
The black swallow tail is most likely a male, they are usually black in the swallow tail world...
Posted by: Nicole at August 12, 2005 7:48 AM