Friday, December 6, 2013

Easy way to extend the winter growing season

Saw this article and wanted to share.  It is such a great and easy way to get a longer growing season Longer growing Season

Foliage Power

Last post we talked about the hellebore and the color provided by its blooms.  This time I wanted to remind you that color can come from the foliage as well.  Here is one of my favorites!


While heather is a well-celebrated plant throughout Europe, it's often forgotten in this country. It's time for that to change, though. This versatile flower boasts color year-round. With beautiful flowers in summer and autumn to gorgeous foliage in winter, this beauty is sure to make a strong impact in your garden.

  • Common Names: Heather.
  • Botanical Name: Calluna.
  • Hardiness: Zones 5 to 7, although hardy in Zone 3 with adequate winter protection.
  • Bloom Time: Midsummer to late autumn.
  • Size: 4 to 24 inches high, up to 30 inches wide.
  • Flowers: Bell-shaped flowers of red, purple, pink, or white shades.
  • Light Needs: Full sun.
  • Growing Advice: Overwinter where snowfall is light with mulch and pine branches.
  • Prize Picks: Blazeaway's yellow foliage turns bright red in the winter to fire up barren landscapes.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Beautiful blooms in the winter

In the month of December, I'd like to share some of my favorite plants that give us beautiful blooms in the colder months.  Just because the weather outside is frightful - nature still gives us something delightful!


No winter garden is complete without hellebore's lovely cup-shaped blooms. It'll be difficult to choose just one variety of this distinctive flower. But no matter the kind and color, each offers beautiful evergreen foliage. You're sure to love hellebore so much, you'll wish it bloomed year-round.
  • Common Names: Hellebore, Christmas rose, Lenten rose.
  • Botanical Name: Helleborus.
  • Hardiness: Zones 4 to 9, depending on cultivar.
  • Bloom Time: Midwinter to spring.
  • Size: 2 inches to 4 feet high, 1 to 3 feet wide.
  • Flowers: Cup-shaped blooms of white, pink, purple, and green.
  • Light Needs: Full to partial shade.
  • Growing Advice: Top with organic matter in spring, then mulch around the plant to retain moisture. An even supply of moisture is important.
  • Prize Picks: Royal Heritage easily blooms for about a while in a mix of colors.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Marinated Artichokes

I wanted to share this recipe for marinated artichokes as this provides a way to enjoy this bountiful fall harvest long after the plants have shown their beautiful flowers.

I love this recipe because it allows you to use multiple items from your herb garden which is great!

You'll need to collect

  3 lemons
  5 cups extra virgin olive oil (don't substitute this!)
32 baby artichokes (each one around 2-4 ounces)]
16 garlic cloves  Mince  4 cloves and mash the other 12
  4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
      salt and pepper
1/2 cup of minced fresh mint

This recipe makes four 1 pint jars you can enjoy immediately and also make great hostess gifts for Thanksgiving!

1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove six 2 inch strips zest from 1 lemon.  Grate and reserve 1 teaspoon zest from second lemon.  Halve and joice lemons to yield 1/2 cup juice, reserving spent lemon halves.

2.  Combine oil and lemon zest strips in large saucepan.  Working with 1 artichoke at a time, cut top quarter off each artichoke, snap off outer leaves and trim away dark skin. Peel and trim stem, then cut artichoke in half lengthwise.  If it's real big, go ahead and quarter it. Rub each artichoke half with the spent lemon and place in saucepan.

3.  Add smashed garlic, thyme, pepper flakes, 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper to saucepan and bring to rapid simmer over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally to submerge all artichokes, until artichokes can be pierced with fork but are still firm, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit until artichokes are fork-tender and fully cooked, about 20 minutes.

4.  Gently fold in mint, reserved grated lemon zest, reserved lemon juice, and minced garlic and season with salt to taste.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer artichokes to four 1 pint jars with tight fitting lids.  Strain oil through fine mesh strainer set over  cup liquid measuring cup.  Discard thyme stems, then spoon strained solids evenly into jars.  Cover artichokes with strained oil and let cool completely.

You can keep the artichokes refrigerated for up to four days.  Keep the leftover strained oil refrigerated as it is so flavorful and perfect to drizzle over the rest of your fall harvest!

Enjoy and Stay Dirty!