Unheralded

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 72: The Perennials And Tomatoes Take Center Stage

A deluge of magical rain these past weeks has made all the difference. That and two loads of mulch from the dump and some clearance bags of mulch from Runnings. Busy now, packing for an expedition with a woman friend. Countless lessons about packing from my Mother are informing and inspiring me today. More smiles now than tears. Stay tuned for news …


CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Anyone who has raised a garden or grew up in a family that had one knows that nothing beats fresh veggies. The same be true of fruit. Picking an apple off a tree or raspberries from the canes and then eating them are one of life’s true pleasures. Now I know that not everyone can be as lucky as we …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 70: Here It Is July

Here It Is July at Red Oak House, and 2.75 inches of rain in two nights! And a few days ago, I dug up a shrub rose in an area that has to be re-worked and gifted it to my dear friend, Christine. She has planted it. Moved the clock and touched up the paint, and life goes on. Time …

CLAY JENKINSON: The Future In Context — A Centuries-Old Travel Guide Unlocks Clues To Our Future

When Thomas Jefferson left the United States in 1784 to serve as his fledgling country’s ambassador to France, he was still reeling from the death of his wife, Martha, and the remnants of political scandal in Virginia. Looking for a new beginning, Jefferson traveled in and beyond France whenever his job allowed, collecting items and ideas he would bring home …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 66 : The Summer Of Smoke

Remember when I said, on June 13, “Guess I’ll just go camping”? Well, we did. We hitched up the travel trailer and headed west, straight into the cauldron, to the historic heatwave in the Pacific Northwest. But we got lucky, and cool weather returned by the time we made it to North Cascades National Park. Highlights were glorious Mount Rainier, where …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Silent Scorched Spring

Dead perennials, spring 2021 Hosta: Autumn Glow Teenie Weenie Cracker Crumbs Hacksaw Judy Blue Eyes, most (healthy and spreading for ten years prior) Prairie Angel (one of two) Tokudama Sitting Pretty Peanut Praying Hands (most) Cherry Berry True Blue (a huge and beautiful plant) The miniatures, however established, took the biggest hit. Here’s Green Mouse Ears hosta this year: And …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 65

I know, I know. It has been many months since I’ve written Red Oak House Garden Notes. How many times can one write about an exceptional drought? How many times can one whine about the long dry winter? I’ve also been busy with rewrites of a manuscript Jim and I have devoted much of the past years crafting. That, and …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 64: Are You The Ants Or The Grasshopper?

I’m trying to take the time in my life to rediscover ancient wisdom, such as that found in “Aesop’s Fables” and in conversations with my elders, most importantly my mother. Perhaps during the upcoming fallow season, I will reread one fable each day. Time will tell. At the same time, I’m trying to learn new lessons, from family and friends of all …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House: A Bird-y Essay At The Height Of Tomato Harvest

At Red Oak House we are birders. And foodies. And frugal. On Monday at dawn I heard a bird strike a window just as I was stepping out to the patio to sip coffee and quietly read the morning newspaper. The signs of autumn migration are all around and we have a small birdbath that is critical water for the …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 63: Hints Of Autumn

“There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow!” — “Oklahoma,” Rodgers and Hammerstein Jim burst into song this morning — pro tip: Ask him to sing “Moon River” — when we agreed that not only are there hints of autumn at Red Oak House but also haze in the air caused by the combination of smoke from Western fires and dust …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 62

We need rain at Red Oak House. But the new ice maker in the fridge seems to work. My mother would say, maybe when we kids were asking for something that might not be reasonable, “People in hell want ice-water.” But a small celebration was held here when I scored a brand-new Margaritaville blender (our vintage blender on its last …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House: Today’s Short Story of the Trees of Arthur Drive

A short story in the life of Arthur Drive in the Highland Acres neighborhood of Bismarck today, Aug. 5, 2020. “Short” being a relative term in the eyes of the beholder. Our next-door neighbors have a lovely big tree. Some sort of boxelder, I think. Everyone in the neighborhood values their trees. (That is, of course, until a storm comes …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 60

Life has been hectic. We are harvesting vegetables and scrambling to adjust to life in a pandemic. When I get time, I will write some thank-you notes to the people who have helped us through these past months of lockdown and loss. When we get stamps or get to our nearby post office, we will mail those. “Notes” will feel …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 59

One year ago, at the time of Summer Solstice, I took some photos of our gardens. Here are two views of the irises in bloom.   Last year, I divided hostas and other perennials to increase my plants without buying more, a frugal gardener. I give away plants and friends give me plants. We grub raspberries and give the plants …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Gardening Notes No. 57

An early warm spell lured Mr. Green Jeans into planting his tomatoes May 1. Last week’s cold snap killed most of his precious hand-raised heirloom seedlings. He says it is worth the risk because of our short growing season. I’m not much of a risk-taker, but the vegetable garden is his territory, so I try to stay out of it …

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — I’m The Slow One

I think I’ll have my morning coffee on the patio. But not this morning. It’s foggy, windy and 43 degrees — conditions I would have appreciated in February, but we lose our sense of perspective each spring, don’t we? Even on the Northern Plains we feel entitled to fair weather. Can you imagine how insufferable Floridians must be? On Monday, …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Tenth Anniversary

November is our 10th anniversary at Red Oak House and the longest I’ve lived in one place in my lifetime. The explanation for my peripatetic life is, in part, that I was an Army brat. Looking back, I think that my heart was seeking the perfect match for my home and didn’t find it until we bought Red Oak House. I …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 55: Autumn Sunshine

On Friday, I worked joyously in the autumn sunshine at Red Oak House, on a rare still day, planting 92 tulip bulbs at the request of my husband. He had asked me last spring to plant more and when I received an email from a seed company mentioning bulbs, it hit me that there was still time. On Thursday night, …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — My Tomato Herb Phyllo Tart

I love to cook and I love to share food with family and friends. I’ve been cooking on my own for a crowd since I was 10 years old. The other night, I made this dish, which makes my husband very happy. Many friends requested the recipe. Here it is, a first for WildDakotaWoman. Tomato and Herb Phyllo Tart 7 …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 54: Time To Pay The Piper

You may have noticed that WildDakotaWoman has been quiet of late. I’ve been to England, Scotland and Wales for that time. Yup, a whole month. It was just as wonderful as I thought it would be and I’ll write about it when I have time. I don’t have time because I came home to at least a month worth of …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 53

I’m awake before dawn this morning at Red Oak House with a long task list that includes an overdue Garden Notes post. Between painting the house, ailing elderly parents, a trip to Yellowstone and preparations for my upcoming adventure, I have fallen behind in my writing. Yet, I write for pleasure and have no deadline, so it is “all good.” …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 52 : I Paint The House

After all of that snow and good spring rains, the gardens are lush at Red Oak House. Jim finally got the rabbit-proof fence perfected so the vegetable beds are going to produce bountifully. We are eating lettuce and radishes and the peas are just around the corner. The weeds are flourishing, too, and we barely keep up with that chore. …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 51: Digging In The Dirt Is My Therapy

Digging in the dirt is my therapy, and we have been doing plenty of digging these past few weeks at Red Oak House. Jim has planted 25 of his heirloom tomatoes he started by seed in March and given away his remaining seedlings. He reports that the peas and potatoes have sprouted with the long-awaited arrival of sunny weather, and …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 49

We finally had blue skies in North Dakota on Friday, after a long spell of gray weather. We are grateful to go into winter with the moisture, but the dreariness was beginning to wear thin. At least we didn’t get the heavy snow that hit the eastern part of the state. We got a little snow last week, and it …

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 …

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. 44: Daylilies, Daylilies, Dayliles … And A Bunch Of Voles

The daylilies are coming fast and furious, accompanied by a fierce outbreak of mosquitoes. I have 189 varieties of daylilies. My sister, Beckie, and I collect these and together we have 225 varieties. We also belong to the Bismarck-Mandan Daylily Club and have great fun together at the annual auction. On Sunday, my absolute favorite of all of the 189 …

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 …