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Book Review: Heaven is a Garden

GHeaven is a Gardenardens traditionally have been said to be a piece of paradise for their owners but have you ever tried to create such a paradise for yourself? It is not easy to create a private place that provides an opportunity to restore a sense of well-being. Jan Johnsen’s book, Heaven is a Garden, provides advice on how make a beautiful garden and that will also meet the needs for serenity, calmness and inner peace. Drawing from both historical and contemporary sources, Johnsen provides guidelines rather than prescriptions that encourage readers to develop an individual unique garden based on their own needs and taste. [click to continue…]

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apricotsMy grandmother’s book, Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines, written in 1909, contains recipes for making wine from all sorts of plant material from fruits and vegetables to herbs and flowers. It also reveals changes in customs, speech, and spelling, and one of these is the spelling of apricot. When you read apricock instead of apricot, do not think it a typo, it is exactly as Grandmother wrote it several times in the book including the index. [click to continue…]

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Plant Profile: Common Fig (Ficus carica)

Ficus-carica-Bornholm lvFicus caarica is a large shrub or small tree native to the Middle East and Asia. It is a member of the mulberry family, Moraceae, that also includes banyan, breadfruit, and osage-orange. The plant has been cultivated since ancient times for the fruits but is also has ornamental appeal. The plant has attractive smooth silver-gray bark and wide spreading branches that may become very picturesque with maturity. The hairy, palmate leaves are dark green on the upper side and light green below. The leaves have three to five lobes, are up to twelve inches long, and have toothed or wavy margins. The greenish flowers are produced in spring inside a modified stem tip and are not visible. The “fruit” actually consist of many fruits within the modified stem tip and ripens in late summer to fall. Plants set fruit best in hot dry areas and may produce two crops. [click to continue…]

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Armeria_maritima_SplendensThe use of pink in the garden adds special meanings. It can imply romance, tenderness, and caring, and produces a sense of security, comfort and hope. Combine pink with other pastels to create a light playful mood or with darker colors such as purple or burgundy to give it strength and sophistication. There are many shades of pink from light delicate to vivid intense and all can be incorporated into the border to advantage. [click to continue…]

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Corylus maxima lvsThe giant filbert is a deciduous shrub or small tree native to southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia but it widely cultivated for its edible nuts which have a sweet, rich flavor.  It is a member of the birch family (Betulacea) that also includes alders, hornbeams, and hazels.  The simple, alternate leaves are slightly lobed, doubled-toothed, lightly  hairy, and 3 to 5 inches long by 2 to 3.5 inches wide.  They are dark green most of the growing season but may turn an uninteresting shade of yellow in fall. Male and female flowers are produced  in  pale yellow or red catkins respectively on the same tree before the leaves appear in late winter to early spring.  Female flowers produce clusters of one to five nuts, each of which is enclosed in long, tubular involucre that extends beyond the nut.  Since cross-pollination is necessary for fruit set, two or more varieties should be planted.  Giant filbert only does well in places such as the Pacific Northwest where cool temperatures and moisture prevail.  The generic name, Corylus, comes from the Greek word, korylos, meaning helmet, and refers to the involucre on the nut. Specific epithet, maxima, is the Latin word meaning largest. [click to continue…]

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Simple Effortless FoodDiana Henry presents an exciting array of recipes in her cookbook, Simple, Effortless Food, Big Flavors. Drawn from an international palette, the recipes offer creative new combinations of flavors that favor economy of effort. They feature a controlled list of ingredients without out sacrificing taste, and easy cooking techniques so that the end result more than justifies the effort. [click to continue…]

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Roses in Art: Ancient Times

redoute-rosa-bracteataRoses have been grown for seventy million years in Asia and thirty five million years in North America. Today there are over one fifty different species of rose and thousands of cultivars. Over the years, they have been grown to make perfume, medicinal products, and cosmetics, to flavor food, and as cut flowers and ornamental garden plants. Roses are valued for their form, color, and fragrance, and have been a symbol political allegiance as well as love. It is no wonder that roses have been absorbed into the art of many cultures during many different time periods and this series of articles will explore some of the many examples of roses in art. [click to continue…]

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Cornus_nuttallii1_Also called mountain dogwood, this flowering deciduous tree or tall shrub is native to the West Coast from southern British Columbia to the mountains of southern California, with an isolated population in northern Idaho. It grows along stream banks and on gentle slopes in low elevation forests. The dark bark is smooth the branching is horizontal and tiered. The oval leaves are pointed at the tip, and measure up to 4.5 inches long. They are dark green during the summer but turn yellow, orange, or red in the fall. The small greenish white flowers are produced in a cluster that is surrounded by four to eight showy pink tinged white bracts that are up to three inches long. Flowers appear in the spring and sometimes again in the fall. The fruits are 1/3 inch long and mature to bright orange or red. Pacific dogwood is similar to flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) , native to the East Coast, but can be distinguished from it by its bracts which are usually greater in number and have pointed rather than notched tips. It is considered by some to be temperamental when grown outside of its native range but makes an outstanding ornamental tree when its needs are met especially when grown as a specimen or in small groups associated with a woodland garden. The genus name, Cornus, comes from the Latin word, cornus, meaning horn and probably refers to the strength of the wood.

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Plant Profile: Rose ‘New Dawn’

rose-new-dawnThe first of the modern climbers, ‘New Dawn’ is a sport of ‘Dr. W. Van Fleet’ a fine rose but only blooms once. ‘ New Dawn’ became ancestor to many modern climbers including ‘Aloha’, ‘Coral Dawn’, ‘Parade’ and Pink Cloud’. It has also produced two sports of its own, ‘Awakening’ and ‘Weisse New Dawn’. ‘New Dawn has pale pink flowers that are produced in profusion either singly or in large loose clusters. The medium green foliage is glossy and very disease resistant. An excellent choice for a pillar or climber, and the flowers are good in the vase. Prune lightly has it blooms on old wood. Easy care and designated as an Earth Kind rose. [click to continue…]

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The Ultimate Guide to GardeningWhether you are an experienced gardener or a novice having a new garden project is fun and can generate enthusiasm for everyone involved. Lisa J. Amstutz ‘ book, The Ultimate Guide to Gardening, is filled with a big variety of projects that are appealing to adults and children alike. Many of the projects are also educational and offer opportunities to teach children plants as well as enjoy their beauty. [click to continue…]

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