Unheralded

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 48: Wrapping Up The Summer Season

Although the growing season began with such promise, Jim is bemoaning that it has been a disappointing year in the vegetable gardens, as he harvests the meager take of vegetables. Last year at the same time, he was bringing in 30 or so tomatoes a day, and now he only finds about three or four ripe among the hundreds of …


Unheralded

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 47: The Daylilies Are Waning

Peak daylily bloom here at Red Oak House has passed, and I can’t help but feel a bit wistful about this. The focus of this past July has been daylilies of all kinds, and not just in my garden. Late in the month, I took in an exhibit of daylily art at Bismarck Art Gallery Associates, where it was delightful …


LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 45: Life Is A Garden, Friends Are The Flowers

The riotous beauty of the daylilies has me feeling that I’m somewhat neglecting the glory of my hostas, so today I’m featuring the front yard. As I’ve written in the past, I’m no fan of lawns and mowing, thus we’ve converted nearly every foot of our yard to beds, including the front yard. The sight in the first few years …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 43: The Daylilies Enter The Stage With A Bang

Now is the time when all of our hard work in the gardens of Red Oak House pay us with the joy of abundant blossoms and fresh vegetables. We’ve eaten the first of our tomato crop ― all juicy and scrumptious, along with fresh peas and beans. Now are the days of meals we call “nothing from the store.” Meanwhile, …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 42 — A Mostly Cool June

Although we had a few scorcher days in June, most days it was cool and the Red Oak House windows remained wide open. Late June also brought the blessings of rain, an inch and a quarter in the last days of this week. We can finally breathe a sigh of relief that the drought is over. The vegetable garden looks terrific, …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 41 — Cutworms Get Broccoli, Grill Goes On Fritz

Every gardener experiences successes and failures and must learn to go with the flow. Here at Red Oak House, the cutworms killed the heretofore vigorous broccoli. Mr. Green Jeans has replanted broccoli and protected the plants this time with milk cartons. On the bright side, the tomatoes look terrific, as does the rest of the vegetable garden. And for now, …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 40 — It Rains!

The days continue to grow longer here in the northern latitudes as the calendar progresses toward the summer solstice, and our garden is proof of that inescapable rhythm. It finally has rained, although not much. Yet, we are extremely grateful for the precipitation, in spite of the fact that some of it fell as we were conducting our book sale. …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 39

The air is fragrant here at Red Oak House because all of the crab apple trees and lilacs are blooming. Thus, it is exceptionally pleasant to work at our gardening chores. The juneberry bush is loaded with blossoms, and our resident house wrens have returned. Their cheerful call makes our back patio an even more pleasant haven. Jim has finished …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 38

That Champion Red Oak tree drops a massive quantity of leaves and I’ve just spent much of the last week picking these up, schlepping each garbage can load to the compost pile. Phase two of spring gardening also included cutting back the few perennials I did not trim last fall and transplanting those I’d noted in need of a different …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 37

Saturday I planted the zinnia seeds, pushing each tiny seed into a peat pellet. The seedlings had already begun to emerge Monday, and I can almost watch ’em grow. In the dining room, Jim’s tomatoes are thriving. He says these are the best he’s ever had. Outside there is almost a foot of new snow and a big dump in …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 36

Winter is hanging on here, with a vengeance. We have about a foot of snow on the Red Oak House gardens. Although we are weary of winter, we do view this as critical moisture — moisture that we were lacking last summer and fall. This is what the first day of spring looked like out our windows. Tuesday, there was …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 35

March 15 is “plant the tiny tomato seeds” day at Red Oak House. When I wandered into the kitchen this morning, Jim asked me, with great delight in his voice, if I knew what the significance of this day was. I had not yet had coffee and was stumped (I’ll admit that I didn’t try very hard). This project is …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 34

Last week one night, I dreamed of the upcoming garden season, a dream filled with blossoms and bounty. The gardening season has begun here, in the basement, as Jim has planted the pepper seeds and tiny sprouts have emerged. In about a week, he will plant his tomato seeds. Many of the seeds we are using were purchased at Seed …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — I Wish For A Friend

The mailman brought me a small package this week, book-sized, postmarked and with a return address from the town in which I grew up, Hettinger, N.D. Well, it was obviously a book, and I love it when people send me books, so I opened it immediately. It was indeed a book, a very special book, with a letter tucked neatly …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — The Secret Ministry Of Frost

Although this is a time of fallow in the yard, there is beauty everywhere, for those who pause to look. The hoary white bits coat everything and the air is still. It makes me think of this poem, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Here are the first and last few lines. “Frost at Midnight” The Frost performs its secret ministry, Unhelped …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — A State Champion Tree — In Our Yard!

Hello from Lillian AND Jim. We sat down this week and wrote about one of the coolest things that have happened to us in a long time, and we’re posting it on both our blogs — Wild Dakota Woman and View From The Prairie. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoyed writing it. On summer evenings …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — A State Champion Tree—In Our Yard!

Hello from Lillian AND Jim. We sat down this week and wrote about one of the coolest things that have happened to us in a long time, and we’re posting it on both our blogs — Wild Dakota Woman and View From The Prairie. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoyed writing it. On summer evenings …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Christmas Bird Count

Fifteen below at noon New Year’s Eve 2017 with record lows in the night convinced me that this was a year to participate in the area Christmas bird count by making observations at the Red Oak House feeders. These are my tools for the day. The hyperborean dawn revealed that the kitchen window suet feeder had fallen to the ground. Red …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Winter Interlude

We went away over Christmas for a winter interlude with my sisters and their families and my mother, gathering in a large house in the woods of the Black Hills of South Dakota. Driving west across the Memorial Bridge, we could see chunks of ice in the Missouri River. We traversed familiar west Dakota roads, in the midst of the …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Christmastime At Red Oak House

Much as I am saddened to see the autumn season come to an end, it makes my husband, Jim, delighted when I spend about 12 hours decorating Red Oak House for Christmas. He is just a big kid at heart. I’m stubborn about not taking down the autumn decorations until Thanksgiving has passed, even though I began seeing Christmas decor …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Three-Skillet Supper

It was a three-skillet supper day at Red Oak House on Monday. Walleye fresh from the Missouri River, fried red potatoes from our garden and creamed corn we put up in August. Just like my Mama Crook did, I cooked up this “mess of fish,” dredging the filets in self-rising cornmeal (mixed with salt and pepper) and frying these in …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Winter Notes No. 1: And So It Begins

When we opened the blinds last Friday morning, it was to a world of whiteness. The snow shovels are staged, and all that was left to do was rummage in the garage storage box for the windshield scraper and the runner rug for the slate front patio (which gets very slippery in the cold weather). I even dug out the …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 33

These past two days back home at Red Oak House found us back to fall chores, and Jim catching walleye on the Missouri River, supper tonight. Wednesday night, with the gorgeous tiger’s-eye beans we’d brought home from Seed Savers Exchange and grass-fed beef from the Striefels, I cooked up a huge pot of chili, making enough so that Jim and …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 32

Tuesday morning, I worked in the cool autumn sunshine on yard chores, getting things done before the snow flies. First, I tackled the pile of limbs we had accumulated over the summer in our trailer, breaking and sawing up the branches to add to our kindling pile. Lizzie the springer spaniel happily nosed around in the fallen leaves and disappeared …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘The Things They Carried’

Like millions of others, I’ve now watched all 10 episodes of the moving Ken Burns/Lynn Novick documentary, “The Vietnam War” on PBS. My thoughts are filled with the stories and images in this film and with my personal Vietnam War memories. After we’ve watched each compelling episode, my husband and I talked about his Vietnam War memories. He served in the …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 31

Jim took a break Saturday from fishing and hunting in order to work on his garlic bed. He also cultivated an area in the vegetable garden for me. Now that we have a chicken-wire fence around the vegetable garden, I can plant tulips and the rascally rabbits won’t gnaw them down to nubs. I planted 80 bulbs — yellow and …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 30

Autumn beauty continues to emerge in my yard, including peak hydrangea color, hinting at the frost that is nigh. Jim complains that he has about 500 green tomatoes still on the vine, and the folding table is back in the dining room in preparation for bringing those in for ripening, ending the cycle that began with the seedlings in that …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 29

Something is puzzling me this year in the garden. In the front yard, the impatiens are insipid, but in the backyard perennial beds, these bright shade annuals are robust. What could possibly be the explanation? My first instinct was the hot, dry weather and the lack of rain water, but this would be true both in front and back.  Naturally, …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — September, North Dakota

My favorite month in North Dakota is September. It is a difficult choice. June is filled with new growth in the perennial beds and the planting of the garden and with birdsong. But September. Ah, September. The heat of summer has passed. I dislike the hot weather. I wilt easily. My children and husband were born in September, so it …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Rain At Red Oak House

Over an inch of rain in the gauge when we returned from Colorado and some showers this week reminded us that it still “can” rain in this country, and for this we give thanks. I spent Saturday afternoon sitting on the patio, nursing my knee injury and reading a book that I’m reviewing but eventually retreated to the house to listen …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 28

Home now — to return to garden harvest — after a week in which we neglected it for some folks festival fun. I noticed that this is my first of garden notes for August, a sign that my flowers peaked earlier this season. There are just a few daylily blossoms here and there, and I await the emergence of the chrysanthemums. Meanwhile, …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 27 And Lunch With Bob

“Do everything with a mind that lets go. Do not expect any praise or reward.” — Ajahn Chah My father is spending the day with us and while I deadheaded the daylilies, he contentedly read the morning paper on the back patio. Can you tell I come from a line of readers? My delight this morning was in finding a new …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 24

Three-quarter of an inch of rain in a wondrous thunderstorm this morning (Wednesday) started the day off right here at Red Oak House. For the second day in a row, it will be cool enough for us to leave the windows open all day. Vegetable harvest has begun in earnest and Jim has frozen many bags already. Last night, we had …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 23

Peak daylily time rewards me with new blooms each day.  Here are today’s (Friday’s). Jim did a big-time bean harvest today (Friday) and has frozen a bunch for our winter enjoyment. We are triumphant over winning the battle with the rascally rabbits this year! Pesto/shrimp pizza with our broccoli and tomatoes for supper. And how about this glorious cloudburst? A horrific …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 22 Showstoppers

Gavin Petit Daylily opened this morning (Thursday) and it is, indeed, a showstopper. Out loud I say, “Wow!” each time I first see it. Others are reaching their peak bloom, too. Worthy of sharing. On a pass through the vegetable garden, a bonus was the discovery of the first shelling peas. I added the peas to the cold pasta salad waiting …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 20

A drought sky (above) here in North Dakota. Everyone who has half a brain is worried about the drought. July has turned hot, hot, hot. After a pleasant interlude at Crooked Lake with family for the July Fourth holiday, where we talked with our brother-in-law about how sparse few hay bales he’s been able to make this year, we returned …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 17

Back to Red Oak House garden notes for the summer of 2017 in Bismarck. This tree peony given to me by my friend, Bob Martinson, three years ago has become one of my favorites, not only for its yellow beauty but also because it is a symbol of the generosity of a fellow gardener. My sister and I agreed that …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Update

Here at Red Oak House, it was a sunny 84-degree Saturday, and so many things in the garden are popping it is worthy of a photo update. It was a very busy day here. Jim did some cultivating and got some vegetables planted. It is pine pollen season, and everything is coated with the fine chartreuse pollen dust, including the furniture …