the dog days

Hello, everyone. Once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here to provide you with posts of the high quality you have no doubt come to expect. You may remember me from such superior posts as “Indubiably” and “Life With A Nut”, which were, of course, excellent, but so were all the others. Here I am in a characteristic pose, expecting a biscuit.


I told the guy I live with that I prefer the most expensive biscuits, organic of course, so that’s what I get. Since the Dog Days have begun, why not show more pictures of me? I can’t think of any reason not to. We got up at 10:15 this morning, and of course the guy I live with blames me and the Dog Days stuff, but it was 57 last night and the fan blew in a bunch of really nice cool air, so why get up? There was breakfast, though, so eventually I did get up.



You may indeed wonder about the pictures on the wall behind me. If you don’t, I’m going to show them anyway. The guy I live with thinks he might have shown the grasshopper before, but then, his mind is going, so he thinks a lot of strange things. This is the grasshopper my mommy painted in acrylic.


And the picture of my uncle Pooka, with the Gaelic spelling my mommy gave him when he was really little. I never knew him, but you can see he did have radar ears.


Anyway, I guess I should talk about the garden some, since this is sort of a gardening blog. It was in the 60s today and so you would think a huge amount of gardening was done, but not really.

First let’s look at the lawn, since it’s almost all the guy I live with thinks about. He was right about grass coming up through the burlap.


The rest of the new lawn is coming along nicely. The buffalo grass is slower to germinate; this is mostly blue grama. He could have spread burlap on that, too, so I could walk on it, but he says he didn’t think of it in time. You can see a strip on the left; that’s all buffalo grass.


Fascinating, huh? Well, if you think that’s interesting, I should mention that the guy I live with is actually growing something you can eat. Holy basil.


The reason for this is that he didn’t really know what holy basil looked like. It’s hard to believe there’s something he didn’t know, but he says everyone has to have at least one thing they don’t know. He would go to the Asian market and there would be like fifty things which could be holy basil, or bai graprao, but he constantly forgets to write down the Vietnamese word for it, which graprao isn’t; it’s the Thai word for it.

Which is the whole point. You make drunken noodles, or pad kee mao, with them, and that’s one of his favorite foods. You can use regular Thai basil, bai horapah, and that’s good, but he wanted to use the real thing.

What you do, he says, is get some flat rice noodle sheets, cut them into two-inch long strips, then separate the strips and cut them into two-inch long pieces again. Then you stir fry a bunch of chopped garlic and Thai green chiles (kii noo chiles), then add pieces of chicken or tofu or whatever, and then some strips of Chinese broccoli or bok choy, then add a few tablespoons of fish sauce and a little bit of dark soy sauce, and add the noodles, stir frying them until they’re soft, and then sprinkle the holy basil on everything.

I don’t like this. My grandpa Flurry would eat really hot food off a plate, but I almost never get people food. A bit of cheese from time to time. Like Wallace and Gromit. Those are good shows.

Back to gardening before I get in trouble. The dishpans. The guy I live with says this is a working garden and so there’s gardening stuff all over the place. The dishpans are essential for watering new plants. They’re showing their age, kind of like he is, but he couldn’t grow plants without them. This is the way you water newly potted plants, he says. And also soak the rootballs of newly-purchased plants. These little plants are mostly Aquilegia grahamii which he’s growing on (as they say across the Atlantic) for the RMC-NARGS plant sale in September.


The guy I live with bought some plants of Russian sage, just “to fit in”, he said. Like that would ever happen. He bought some regular Russian sages, which he says have got to be hybrids of the two species, Perovskia abrotanoides and P. atriplicifolia, with more of the former than of the latter, which is why they’re called P. atriplicifolia, of course.


The cultivar ‘Filigran’ looks almost like the pure species, Perovskia abrotanoides. The plants he got, besides the regular one grown everywhere, had a label that said ‘Little Spire;, which according to the Missouri Botanic Garden website, has deeply cut leaves like the ones shown above.

Well, one of the plants also had a label which said ‘Longin’, which the same website says has less deeply cut leaves, so that must be what these are.


Much closer to Perovskia atriplicifolia. He grew that in the Long Border when it was the Long Border, but removed it when the Long Border became the messy rock garden it is now. ‘Longin’, by the way, was named for a Swiss botanist, and not, like one nursery website suggests, for some country-music song about Russian sages. Like, longin’. The regular plants could also be some other species, like P. virgata, P. botschantzevii, P. kudrjaschevii, P. linczevskii, etc. (I’m not going to type names like that any more.)

There’s a picture of Perovskia abrotanoides here and one of P. atripicifolia here and in the descriptions there is no mention of variability in the leaves, so confusion is the order of the day here. The guy I live with says the plants grow in China, which is why they’re called Russian sages. Kind of like how they call Scutellaria suffrutescens the “pink Texas skullcap” because it grows in Mexico.

Well, we’re almost done. The new Russian sages which really come from China went into the North Border, which the guy I live with says is half disaster and half catastrophe. He’s an eloquent guy. I’m going to show a picture of the North Border here, which is on the right.

You may also notice that the guy I live with has decided to be fashionable and fill his garden with mysterious signs, and containers placed perfectly, even though as you can see they’re empty, which he says is symbolic.


I guess that’s it. It was a pretty nice day all around, what with waking up at the right time, and now bats are out. This is blurry, but they fly really fast.


Until next time, then.

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12 Responses to the dog days

  1. Long border looks like a great path to take. Very attractive.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. Only ends in patches of burlap and bunnies on the grass, but then another path takes you over to the other side of the garden, in back.

  2. Oh, and I love those two pictures on the wall.

    • paridevita says:

      Those are two I’m keeping. She did pet portraits, in pencil, for a while. Charged $125. I thought that was ridiculous but it made her happy.

  3. Vivian Swift says:

    Wow — those paintings are gorgeous. Even the grasshopper, which is quite a feat. I’ve failed to find Chess’s mom’s art work on line so I’m so happy to be able to see examples, finally — she had extraordinary skill. Thank you for showing them.

    57 degrees is crazy. We’re at 73 here on Long Island and it feels cold, coming after a long eat wave. I’m wearing a sweater!

    I like a garden with symbols and bunnies. Makes flowers look so dull by comparison.

    • paridevita says:

      There isn’t much on line. Google penstemons Cindy Nelson-Nold and some of her watercolors, images of which were posted on the American Penstemon Society website, come up. All of the watercolors are in private hands or in the Hunt, and there weren’t very many of them because she was a procrastinator. The last book, High and Dry, was supposed to have a zillion watercolors but she put off doing anything for a whole year.

  4. Vivian Swift says:

    By the way, Chess is looking particularly cute. Nice ears.

    I hope you don’t mind that I blogged about The Miserable Gardener today. Chess, baby bunnies, and baby blue jays…irresistible.

    • paridevita says:

      No, we don’t mind. The dog left out the stuff I wanted to include so the post turned out much better …..
      The ears were an issue when he was young. Always folded over instead of normal. Looked ridiculous, and things could have flown in. He learned the command “flaps down”, which helped some.

  5. acantholimon says:

    We found Perovskia in Pakistan–it’s not just Chinese! Love your symbolic containers (“It’s not the bowl, it’s the hole in the bowl that is useful”–Lao Tzu: I should have known you were Taoist). Love seeing Cindy’s work. Looking forward to some of those grahamii!

    • paridevita says:

      Well, uh, the illustrations are from Flora of Pakistan. Still not Russia, though.
      It’s Aquilegia aff. grahamii as far as I’m concerned; no grains of sand clinging to glutinous herbage as per Welsh’s original description….

  6. pamit says:

    That drawing of Pwcca is just amazing.

    Drunken noodles is my fave thai dish too…never tried to make it, but it sounds eaiser than pad thai so maybe I’ll “thai” it. My pots of basil need pinching, I just have regular ol’ genovese though. — Great post Chess.

    • paridevita says:

      The key to noodle happiness is to separate the noodles. Stir frying them, unseparated, makes a gross mess. Asian markets sell rice noodles cut, or in flat sheets. You want the flat sheets; they’re coated with cottonseed oil which makes them easier to handle.

      Pad thai, you use rice stick, dried cut noodles which are soaked in warm water for about half an hour.
      Buy some fried tofu at the Asian market. (I go to Pacific Ocean.) Buying it is easier than frying yourself. And some palm sugar.
      Grind a half cup of peanuts (roasted salted are fine), or more, in a pestle, and parboil a couple cups of bean sprouts, then rinse them in cold water.
      Stir fry chopped garlic and shallot, and then chicken or whatever, and shrimp to be authentic. Take all that out of the wok, put it in a bowl,and clean the wok. Heat a little more oil, scramble two eggs, pour them into the wok, and stir fry. Then put the eggs in with the chicken and garlic.
      Drain the soaked rice sticks, add more oil to the wok, add the noodles, and stir fry. They’ll stick, a little. (Fresh noodles will really stick.)
      Then add about four tablespoons fish sauce, a tablespoon of palm sugar (or regular sugar), stir fry, then add the reserved chicken and scrambled eggs, and the fried tofu. Add the bean sprouts, peanuts, juice of half a lime, a pinch of tamarind paste if you have it, and you’re done.
      Notice no chiles. I add Vietnamese chili-garlic sauce or Sriracha sauce when I devour this, though you can add some during cooking.

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