Ok, ok, so they didn't LAND in the garden. But the big air show at the brand new Branson Airport (the first ever, privately owned, public airport in the US) was a spectacular 2 1/2 day event. We're just 15 miles away from the new airport and the Air Force Thunderbirds practiced for 2 days before the show. All of us in the garden got a decent view as the jets made their turn-arounds at 800 mph, over the Long Creek arm of Table Rock Lake. Standing in our bell tower above the Herb Shop, as well as in the garden, we were treated to some of the acrobatics and stunts the big jets were to perform the following day. Pretty cool. Having spent 4 years in the Air Force myself, and having been stationed just yards from the landing strip at Shepherd Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, I got to watch these precision pilots do touch and go maneuvers from the Medical Service School where I was stationed. You just never know who or what is going to turn up in the garden.
The gazebo is down completely and this is all that's left. Paul and George hauled the left overs and made a big burn pile. Farewell old gazebo. Three weddings have been planned over the years in the old gazebo. Two were rained out completely and performed on the Herb Shop porch, the third one was cancelled, so no weddings were ever held in that one. The new gazebo is beginning to take shape. It's evolving into an Ozarks-Chinese design to match the other Asian-Ozarks structures around the garden. The new one will be stronger and more refined and once it's covered with vines, will blend into the garden nicely. Our good friend, George Hudson, does outstanding work, he's an amazing craftsman and cabinet builder.
Our fringe tree is in bloom this week. Friends in Arkansas call it, "Granddaddy Gray Beard" but in much of the rest of the country it's known as, "Old man's beard." Or just plain fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus). George Washington had one at Mt. Vernon in Virginia and it will grow most anywhere in the East and Midwest into the South. Usually reaching 15 or 20 feet, Washington's has grown to 32 feet tall and 17 inches in trunk diameter. More often, in the woods, it's a 12-15 ft. tall tree. Besides the frilly white flowers the leaves turn brilliant yellow to orange in the fall of the year.
Rhubarb is in season and WWOOFer Paul has been practicing making pies. So far this week he's made my Lemon Balm Cake, a cherry pie from frozen last year's cherries, a strawberry-rhubarb pie and today, a rhubarb custard pie. He said friends in Asheville, NC where he's from, have an annual pie party in which about 300 people attend, all bringing pies and the guests vote on the best pies. I think he's practicing for his entry in August. Shown here with the rhubarb-custard pie, left to right, is Josh, Paul & Pie, and Barbara Young, Josh's mother. The pie passed with flying colors, some in the group even having seconds!
In bloom just in time for Mother's Day last weekend was my mother's rose. It's a very old rose, I don't know the name but is highly fragrant and an excellent rose for making rose whipped cream, putting petals in salads, etc. (Lots more rose recipes in my book, How to Eat a Rose in my Books section).
Here's the Rhubarb Custard Pie recipe, given to Josh by Jospehine, Christmas, '81:
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
2 T. flour
1/3 cup heavy cream or evap. milk
1 to 1 1/2 cups diced rhubarb
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Mix eggs, sugar, flour and cream or milk. Fill pie shell with diced rhubarb and cover with batter. Bake for 10 minutes then lower temperature to 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes more or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool for an hour or more before serving (we didn't wait...waiting for a pie to cool is highly over-rated!)
Friends sent a link to this YouTube video of our late friend, Madalene Hill and her daughter, Gwen Barclay, walking around the magnificent garden at Festival Hill that I mentioned some time back after Madalene passed away. Here's the link to the video, check it out because it's a remarkable garden and you get a glimpse of what a fascinating lady she was. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItBpziCjH6Y