31 May 2011

There's No Time Like Dawn....

May 30:  Monday morning sunrise shortly after 5am.  Sometimes it pays to be up so early.  You may catch glorious sunrises like this one and the beauty of it is, no one else is up and the world is just awakening.  The chatter of the local birds accents the dawn while the early light slowly touches the earth, brightening dim corners and accenting the dew.  How I love this time of day!

Have a great day everyone!  May you catch a sunrise or two....


26 May 2011

These Are the Flowers in My Neighborhood, In My Neighborhood......

This is so reminiscent of Mr. Rogers.  Remember his song, "these are the people in my neighbourhood, in my neighbourhood, in my neighborhood....these are the people in my neighbourhood...the people that you meet each day."  Yes, I watched Mr. Rogers with my kids when they were little and this little ditty comes to my recollection at odd times, like this Fertilizer Friday/Flaunt Your Flowers.

As my daughter and I were walking the dogs this afternoon, I just had to capture the beauty of some of the flowering trees in my neighbourhood (my son bought me a new camera so I had to use it, right?). So here you go, you can meet some of the flowers/flowering trees in my neighbourhood....

Flowering crabapples are abundant in this neighbourhood as you see here and below.

A lovely fragrant white lilac takes center stage in my neighbour's yard.

This is a blue bell type of clematis, though I don't know the exact species.  I like this one because it is an "A" category clematis, meaning it blooms on new and old wood which means no pruning!

On the left is a Crimson King Maple and in the neighbour's yard is an apple tree in full bloom.

Another flowering crabapple.

I couldn't resist a close-up of the gorgeous blossoms on the flowering crabapple tree.  This new camera has a magnificent zoom on it!

Until next time, that's it for now folks.  Hope you enjoyed the neighbourhood walk and the introductions.  My garden is in pretty much the same state as last week except the forsythia is finished blooming.  Thus, the adventure outside the garden.  Hope you enjoyed it!

Flaunting Flowers with all the lovely gardeners over at:
Tootsie Time

It's a Beautiful Morning

 Though the day was cloudy, the sunrise cheered me.
Photo taken Wednesday morning, approximately 5:45 am.

Sky Watch Friday is hosted at Sky Watch Friday Blog.  Swing by for a peak at terrific skies.

Watery Wednesday...pond

I was talking to my neighbour across the back from us and discovered that she loves to peer through the fence that divides our properties to see what's new in our garden.  So, I did the same and this is what I saw.  This stream and pond were developed a couple years ago and the perennials are filling in nicely.  Keep in mind that it is spring here and things are just starting to come into their own.  Everything is a little late this year, but it's coming.

I am joining Watery Wednesday for this weekly meme.   Pop by the host site for more wet wonders!

25 May 2011

Changing the Color of Your Hydrangeas

Note: If you have alkaline soil, you will have pink blossoms on your Endless Summer Hydrangeas. If your soil is acidic, your blossoms will be blue. To alter your flower colour you may use the products described in this video or use aluminum sulfate as described on the package to alter the colour, turning it blue. Lime will turn the bloom pink. If your soil is in between acidic and alkaline, you will likely have mauve blossoms. Keep in mind, it takes about 1 year before any soil additives will take effect on the bloom colour. Remember, more is not better! Follow directions on your product to prevent damage to your plant.

24 May 2011

Cullen: The secrets to successful garden shopping - Yourhome.ca

When you shop for garden plants do you:

- impulse buy, fall in love with the showiest plant on display?
- check for root development?
-check for flower buds?
- read the labels?
- recognize the difference between good value and good sale?

Want to know more? Mark Cullen shares some important tips for successful garden shopping. Check out the article that is linked here >Cullen: The secrets to successful garden shopping - Yourhome.ca

Vote for Your Favourite Flower

2011 Voting open May 13 — August 31, 2011What is AGA?

The American Garden Award is a unique opportunity for the gardening public to vote on a specific flower that they think has the most appealing garden characteristics. Some of the world's most prestigious flower breeders have chosen their best varieties to enter in this competition. Then, in cooperation with over 24 highly respected public gardens throughout the United States, the entries will be presented so consumers can view the plants in person, then vote on their favorite. For those consumers and home gardeners who are unable to make it to view these flowers in person, you may vote on this website.

I Won a Gardening GIft Basket

Thank you to Breakfast Television and Home Depot!  I am the lucky winner/recipient of a gardening gift basket complete with pruners, pruning saw, grass shears and a gift card all nestled in this lovely basket.  I am looking forward to using the tools, especially that pruning saw! 

Caring for Your Hydrangeas

23 May 2011

Come for a Garden Stroll

I moved the forsythia (Northern Gold Forsythia) last autumn and this is the first year it has actually bloomed high up the stems.  In its previous location, where it faced south, its blooms covered only the lower 1 foot of the plant.  Now the snow cover lasts much longer as it is shaded part of the day.  I think this offered more insulation and resulted in more blooms.  Yay!  That's a good thing.

Another good thing:
This is my PJM rhododendron in full bloom.  It is such a gorgeous plant.  It gets shade here in the morning and if I had it to do over, I would plant it where it gets more sun so it would remain more compact. However, this spot near the deck is more sheltered and has a warmer microclimate which is good for its needs too.

 This view is from under the deck looking west toward the rhododendron and fountain near the stairs to the deck.  The small green mound seen here in front of the rhododendron is a columbine.  to the right are the irises.
Taken later the same day with the west sun shining on the rhododendron.  In front is a bird's nest spruce.  No signs of the clematis yet.

A view of the back yard looking south. Front right is Young's Weeping Birch; planters with lettuce, tomatoes, pepper, carrots, watermelon radishes, and parsley; mountain ash in the corner with an Alberta Spruce in front.  To the left is a seating area with a firepit and the pond with waterfall is in the far left corner.

The pond area is planted with topiaried pine, junipers, groundcover junipers, two young maples and a bridal wreath spirea

A close-up of the bridal wreath spirea.  It has been flowering for a week or so now and is now at its finest.  Here you can see it is flanked by topiaries.

The sun in the early morning caught the leaves of this summer wine ninebark, giving it a golden glow.

To the left, cedars, ahead is the ninebark, junipers, and spirea.  This was shot from the east side of the house looking south.
The delphinium, blue knight I think, has had a growth spurt lately.
In the front yard, the ferns are coming up nicely, showing off their fiddleheads.  These are ostrich ferns, otherwise known as fiddlehead ferns.
This palace purple coral bell was likely self-sown from others that share the bed with the fern.

You can't see them, but these rose glow barberries are flowering.  The flowers are small yellow balls suspended beneath the branches. The flowers are then followed by tiny red ornamental berries.  These barberries are planted with two bird's nest spruce and a schubert chokecherry tree which is flowering now, as seen below.

That's the garden summed up in a few photos.  Hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend.

I am joining Mary at Dear Little Red House for Mosaic Monday and Glenda at Tootsie Time for Fertilizer Friday/Flaunt Your Flowers.

Slave Lake Update

Happy long weekend everyone!  Saturday and Sunday were extraordinarily nice here with highs in the low 20s (Celsius).  Today, however, is much cooler and rainy.  As I write this at 9:30 in the morning, it is only 5C and rainy, and a little blustery too.  This is not unusual for Edmonton, though.  It seems that in the last 8 or so years, there has been only one super nice May long weekend and that was my first May long weekend working at the greenhouse.  One year we had snow and the outdoor area of the greenhouse had to be shovelled!  We've had rainy Victoria Day weekends in May too, much like today.  So, this is not unusual, nor is it unwelcome here.  We've had a drier than normal spring, so the yard is not only thankful but so are the firefighters who've been working diligently trying to quash the over 70 fires still burning in our province.

Today, some of the residents of Slave Lake are being bussed into their town to surmise the damage.  Some homes were lost and some businesses too, as the fire raged its way through town.  There are still hot spots, I understand, and now water, electricity and gas have to be restored to the town.  Those on the bus will not be allowed to examine their homes up close, but at least they will be able to see if their home still stands.  It will be devastating for many, but it helps in getting closure.  Tomorrow, more will be taken by bus to the townsite. 

Keep these towns people in your prayers.  Should you wish to offer help, as many will have to rebuild their lives, you may do so by contacting the Canadian Red Cross 1-800-418-1111.

Selecting the Right Hydrangea

Are you considering adding an Endless Summer Hydrangea to your garden? The beauty of an Endless Summer Hydrangea is that they are bred specifically to bloom on old and new wood. What does that mean to the northern gardener? We know hydrangeas will usually die back to the ground in the north, particularly after a harsh winter. The beauty of the Endless Summer series is if the plant does die right back, it will still bloom on the new wood that grows the coming season. In the south, it means an abundance of blooms on new and old wood! Double yay for you!!

There are three varieties of Endless Summer Hydrangeas available as of this year. They are the original Endless Summer Hydrangea in pink or blue (depending on the ph of your soil), Blushing Bride hydrangea (starts white and blushes to pink as it matures) and Twist 'N Shout (a lacecap) which came out last year. Watch the video to see the distinguishing features of these varieties.

Endless Summer Hydrangeas are hardy to zone 4 but many zone 3 gardeners have had luck growing these. Plant where it will receive at least 6 hours of sun a day. If it is really hot, afternoon shade between 3 and 6 pm is beneficial. Watch for more posts on this blog for information on caring for Endless Summer Hydrangeas.

21 May 2011

High-tech Gardening

From lawnmowers controlled from your cell phone, to a digital plant care sensor "Plant Smart", gardening has gone high tech!!  Click the link below to watch the video.


20 May 2011

A Mist Settled Over the Land

This scene greeted me Thursday morning.

 I stepped outside to soak it in.  The air was heavily laden with a thick misty fog that smelled of the poplars, the flowering trees nearby and the wood shavings mulch in the beds.  Such a fragrance that one must draw slow deep breaths to truly enjoy.  Hoping it lingers moments longer, refreshing, and alluring.
The mist that encompassed the land rested there a few hours until the warmth of the sun diverted it and warmed the earth in golden rays.  Twas a glorious start to the day.

Skywatch Friday is a weekly meme shared throughout the world.  Stop in for a visit to see the skies the world over.

19 May 2011

Treating Spider Mites

"Spider mites are members of the Acari (mite) family Tetranychidae, which includes about 1,600 species. They generally live on the under sides of leaves of plants, where they may spin protective silk webs, and they can cause damage by puncturing the plant cells to feed. Spider mites are known to feed on several hundred species of plant.

Spider mites are less than 1 mm in size and vary in color. They lay small, spherical, initially transparent eggs and many species spin silk webbing to help protect the colony from predators; they get the 'spider' part of their common name from this webbing. Hot, dry conditions are often associated with population build-up of spider mites. Under optimal conditions (approximately 80ºF (25ºC)), the two-spotted spider mite can hatch in as little as 3 days, and become sexually mature in as little as 5 days. One female can lay up to 20 eggs per day and can live for 2 to 4 weeks, laying hundreds of eggs. A single mature female can spawn a population of a million mites in a month or less. This accelerated reproductive rate allows spider mite populations to adapt quickly to resist pesticides, so chemical control methods can become somewhat ineffectual when the same pesticide is used over a prolonged period." (wikipedia, Spider Mites)
spider mite damage photo courtesy of wiki gardener
Spider mites are just that, they're mites. They are found most often on plants growing in a hot and dry house. I'm not sure what kind of plant you have that is experiencing the infestation, so I will assume it's a houseplant. First, take the plant outside, if you can, and give it a spray from the hose, making sure you reach the undersides of the leaves. Once dry you can take it back inside. This can be repeated and, if the problem persists, use a spray of insecticidal soap of the leaves, upper and beneath. Insecticidal soap is a mild insecticide which is effective on spider mites, among others. Follow the directions on the bottle.

To prevent spider mite problems, don't let the soil become overly dry and mist the plant regularly with room temperature water. Think of the second knuckle guide wherein  you insert your index finger in the soil up to the second knuckle.  If the soil feels moist, don't water. If it is dry, water and if in doublt, water.  A more humid environment will help keep spider mites away.

If the plant is outdoors, hose with a strong steady spray and repeat every few days. Keep an eye on the plant and water more frequently and thoroughly. Insecticidal soap may be applied, if necessary.

17 May 2011

Slave Lake at the Mercy of Wildfires - May 2011

Reports say the fire that has now destroyed at least 40% of the town of Slave Lake began Saturday.  Moving quickly with the aid of 100 km/hr winds, the fire jumped barriers, crossing the highway where it joined another fire.  The only exit available to residents was the highway to Athabasca.  Evacuees could find shelter in Athabasca and some came to Edmonton.  The local high school, M.E. LaZerta, has been opened as a reception area for those displaced due to the fire.  The premier of Alberta held a news conference asking for prayers for those who have lost their homes from this disaster.  Premier Stelmach said this is the worst tragedy of its kind in Alberta's history.  During the press conference he announced a toll-free number to call for information about the wild fire 310-4455.

Following are more links to footage taken of the Slave Lake and area fire. 


To offer aid to those affected by this disaster, please call the Canadian Red Cross.  Here is a statement released by Canadian Red Cross as posted on their site http://www.redcross.ca/article.asp?id=39285&tid=001

"Alberta Fires

Massive wildfires sweeping across parts of central and north-central Alberta have caused significant damage and forced the evacuation of dozens of communities, including the Town of Slave Lake and surrounding communities. Approximately 7,000 people have been forced from their homes and it is estimated that half of the town has been destroyed, including the police station and many homes.

Canadian Red Cross Disaster teams responded immediately, mobilizing personnel and emergency supplies including hundreds of cots, blankets and personal hygiene supplies to assist evacuated families. An emergency shelter and reception centre has been opened in Westlock, Alberta with additional operations established in the Town of High Prairie, Athabasca, and Edmonton, as multiple communities prepare to host families in need. The Canadian Red Cross is registering evacuees to help reconnect them with loved ones who may be looking for them and to refer them to other support and services they may need.

The fire continues to burn out of control and families in Alberta need immediate support.

How you can help

Canadians wishing to support the Canadian Red Cross Alberta Fires Response efforts are encouraged to contribute by calling 1-800-418-1111, donating through redcross.ca, or contacting their local Red Cross office. Cheques should be made payable to the Canadian Red Cross, earmarked “Alberta Fires” and mailed to the Canadian Red Cross National Office, 170 Metcalfe Street, Suite 300, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2P2.

The Canadian Red Cross is currently responding to the Alberta Fires as well as in other communities across western Canada who are experiencing disasters. Donations made to the Western Canada Severe Weather Fund, in support of the Alberta Fires, will be used in Alberta. Should donations exceed the needs in Alberta, Red Cross will continue to support families experiencing disasters in other regions across Western Canada.

Posted: May 16, 2011"

Province on Fire - May 2011

Fires are raging across the province of Alberta, particularly in northern Alberta, which is heavily forested.  According to the news report this morning, the cause of wild fires is either man-made or nature made.  The newscaster today said there have been no known lightning strikes, thus indicating the fires; of which there are 115 currently, 36 of which are out of control. (as of Monday, according to Global News); are thought to be caused by man.

Most heavily hit are Slave Lake, Little Buffalo area, Boyle, Grassland, and Thorhild. The town of Slave Lake saw more than 7000 residents evacuated and more than 40% of the town has been destroyed by the fire.  Structures burned to the ground include the local library, town hall, churches and several homes.  There have been no casualities.

The following is a map of Canada showing the fire danger zones as of today, May 17, 2011.  The premier, Ed Stelmach, is cautioning people to be careful in their activities so they are not contributing to the disaster.  Off roading, quading, smoking, and unwatched fires are the most common human contributors to wild fires.

LOW Fires likely to be self-extinguishing and new ignitions unlikely. Any existing fires limited to smoldering in deep, drier layers.

MODERATE Creeping or gentle surface fires. Fires easily contained by ground crews with pumps and hand tools.

HIGH Moderate to vigorous surface fire with intermittent crown involvement. Challenging for ground crews to handle; heavy equipment (bulldozers, tanker trucks, aircraft) often required to contain fire.

VERY HIGH High-intensity fire with partial to full crown involvement. Head fire conditions beyond the ability of ground crews; air attack with retardant required to effectively attack fire's head.

EXTREME Fast-spreading, high-intensity crown fire. Very difficult to control. Suppression actions limited to flanks, with only indirect actions possible against the fire's head.

NIL No calculations were performed for this region.

Take care out there and may God bless those who've lost their homes and property in this disaster.  You can contribute aid by dropping off bedding and supplies at Citytv Edmonton on Jasper Avenue, and contacting Canadian Red Cross.

The number to call concerning evacuated relatives 1-800-565-4483.  Check CTV & CBC Broadcasts for further information.  Slave Lake website.

Growing Tomatoes by Rob Sproule

This brief video, produced by Rob Sproule of Salisbury Greenhouse, discusses tips for growing healthy tomaotoes.

16 May 2011

Spotlight on Rhododendrons

Rhododendrons like an acidic soil, mulched with a shredded bark.  The site should be partially shaded, especially from harsh winter sun, and away from strong winds. They are shallow rooted plants, thus it is necessary to mulch them, and avoid planting in a high traffic area. Though rhododendrons like a moist, well-drained soil, they dislike a wet soil which can lead to root rot. When digging to plant rhodendrons, dig up the area, not just the hole, and amend with moistened peat moss.  After planting, mulch and water in well.  This will provide the best environment for root development. It will reward you with stunning blossoms and shiny full green foliage.
The variety of rhododendron pictured above is a PJM Rhododendron.  It grows 3-6 feet tall and wide but does so slowly.  It may take 10 years for a rhododendron to reach 4 feet (1.2 m).  It has large clusters of violet-pink blossoms early to mid May (zones 3/4) and the flowerbuds are hardy to -40C (-40F).  Rhododendrons bloom for two to four weeks in late spring in our area.  Mine was two years old in my garden when it bloomed for the first time.  It was a scattering of blossoms; but this year, one year later, it is covered in blooms!
The leaves take on a mahogony tone in late fall and will curl in the cold, which is the plant's natural means of retaining moisture.  When temperatures are above zero again, the leaves will unfurl and revert to the deep glossy green loved by rhododendron enthusiasts.  An application of an anti-dessicant spray before temperatures reach 0C (32F) is recommended.  An anti-dessicant spray is a foliar spray applied to the plant to help prevent loss of moisture.  As the rhododendron retains its leaves all year round, it is highly beneficial to retain the moisture therein through winter.
My PJM rhododendron is planted near my deck, out of drying winds, facing west.  It receives shade late in the afternoon from the neighboring trees. Full summer sun would be ideal, in Alberta, as long as there is shade or protection from winter sun.  I must emphasize the need for mulching with a finely shredded pine or fir mulch as it is essential for retaining an even soil moisture level and, over time, contributes to a more acidic soil. 
If necessary, prune your rhododendron immediately after flowering, just like any spring flowering shrub or tree.  Sometimes you will be lucky and get a second flush of blossoms, though more sporadic, late in summer.  I have not had it happen personally, but I have seen it in the greenhouse.  Of course, it is warmer in the greenhouse.  (Yes, the greenhouse I am referring to has a ventilated enclosed tree, shrub and perennial area that is separated by a courtyard from the other greenhouses catering to annuals and vegetable plants.  But that is a story for another post.)
Fertilize your rhododendron once a month with an evergreen fertilizer, like 30-10-10.  In Alberta, begin fertilizing in May and do your last application at the end of July.

Snow cover in winter, particularly in areas where cold winters are the norm, is essential.  If possible, shovel a light snow onto your rhododendron through the winter months to insulate the plant.  It is also recommended to plant this near a house where it will benefit from the warmth of the foundation, but don't plant under an overhang where it will not receive rain.

In their natural habitat, rhododendrons  prefer to grow in an acidic soil, sometimes among evergreen and deciduous trees that provide a dappled shade and protection from wind.  It is not uncommon, however, to find Pacific Rhododendrons growing in sand dunes near the ocean, though this is not a preferable site.  What this says is it prefers a shallow well-draining soil.  In a somewhat shaded site, the rhododendron will become somewhat leggy, more tree-like, while in full sun, the plant grows in a condensed compact manner.
With over 100 new varieties of rhododendron introduced every year, it is becoming easier for the home gardener to find a variety suited to their gardening zone. Catawba rhododendrons are hardy to zone 3 and, according to Lois Hole's Favorite Trees and Shrubs, PJM rhododendron is also hardy to zone 3. Note the hardiness of the flower bud, which is a great indicator of the hardy nature of the PJM rhododendron.


Tree Planting How To

One Fundamental People Get Wrong: Watering Your Containers

Overwatering or underwatering.  That is one element of container gardening, and/or regular gardening, that people tend to do wrong.  Rob Sproule offers advice in this video to make this simple for all.  Once you get to know your plants and their needs and follow these guidelines, the mystery of watering will be solved.

13 May 2011

Blooming Rhododendrons: Fertilizer Friday

We have been enjoying some deliciously warm days lately and survived two blustery days, Wednesday and Thursday.  Last night, as the wind roared through the streets and yard, I caught site of someone's downspout blowing down the street.  The garbage can on the deck had to be weighted down as it refused to stay upright in the wind and the poor dogs were uptight, barking at every noise.  The gusts ranged from 20 to 50-70km/hr, blowing everything and making such a noise.  I thought the dogs would never settle down.

This morning, as I stood out on the back deck, surveying the damage, which was minimal, I noticed the rhododendron is beginning to flower.  These photos were taken around 7:30 this morning.  I expect by the end of the day, they will be fully opened.

How delightful!!  Spring is finally here!  I think I said that earlier in another post, but I am so happy it is that I just have to say it again and again!  Spring has arrived in Edmonton!!  woot!

I am flaunting my flowers with Glenda at Tootsie Time for Fertilizer Friday, first time in a long time. 

10 May 2011

From the Soil Up: A Sneak Peak at Container Gardening 101 Class

Time is closing in on me as I make preparations for the container gardening class I am teaching later this month.    With a focus on self-sustenance, container gardening; namely with vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers; will be the main topic.  What makes a garden grow, particularly a container vegetable garden? Light and water requirements, fertilizer and container selection will be some of the topics that will be discussed that night with hands on learning, including transplanting 101.  It'll be fun!
  Can you identify these plants? 

FYI:  These plants were purchased from Kuhlmann's Market Gardens and Greenhouses for the class.  (Thank you Anita.)  You should see the greenhouses at Kuhlmann's Market Gardens and Greenhouses now.  They just held their annual open house April 30 and May 1. The greenhouses are saturated with beautiful colour and the fragrance hanging in the air is divine! Stop by and see for yourself.  Here's a link to their site:  http://www.kuhlmanns.com/

09 May 2011

Fertilizing Your Container Gardens

On initial planting I like to use a slow-release fertilizer followed up by weekly applications of 20-20-20 at half-strength.  Deadheading is important too as it encourages the plant to continually produce new blooms.  Correct watering is vital for success.  See May 16th post for watering instructions that will make your containers healthy and durable.

08 May 2011

Spring Emerges

A Prayer in Spring by Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
To which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends he will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

For more Mosaic Monday see Little Red House.

Compatible Gardening - Making Choices for Your Containers

Rob Sproule discusses ways to include plants in your containers, including house plants.  He does a primer on compatiblity within the container.

Have you thought about plant compatiblity when selecting your combinations for your containers?  Few of us do.  Often we think of colour and light requirements but not compatibility.  This video is very informative in this regard.  Get to know your plants better and your entire planting will flourish!!

Do you have some container combinations you prefer?  What colours and combinations have you used that satisfied your requirements for appeal and endurance?  You can share in the comments or leave me a link to visit your site.  I love seeing what other gardeners create!!

07 May 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

photo by Shawn in Vancouver

Wishing you bouquets of roses, laughter, and the company of loved ones today. 
Happy Mother's Day!

Themes for Container Gardening

How would you like to experiment with themes in your container garden?  Rob Sproule shows how in this video:

Another great site for container combinations is Proven Winners.

Look back through my archives too for more container gardening ideas.  Check out the features I ran last summer with photos of some of my favourite combinations.  After all this inspiration you'll be excited to head to your nearest greenhouse.  I know I am!!!

Coming Soon:  highlights from the container gardening class I will teach mid-May.

06 May 2011

Weekend Reflections on the Pond

It was late afternoon and the light was just right to capture this reflection in our back yard pond.  The yard is slowly greening up and the pump has been put back in place in the pond.  We've enjoyed some glorious sunny days lately and I've even been out watering trees and shrubs.  Snow is gone!!!  (the written word cannot even begin to express my joy!).  Thursday was spent cleaning up the garden beds, watering, and raking.  Rain is forecast for the weekend, including Mother's Day.  It'll still be warm, though, so I won't complain and the garden will flourish.  Oh, happy days!

It's time for reflection, New Town Daily Photo style!  Click here for more reflections worldwide.

Cooking From the Garden - Cookbook Review (originally reviewed on my book blog My Bookshelf)

Cooking From the Garden

Edited by Ruth Lively
Copyright: 2010
Publisher: Taunton Press, Inc.
Pages: 307
Content: cookery, fine gardener
Edition: E-book
Source: Temporary copy provided by NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review

FOB: Table of Contents
Chapter One: Starters, Snacks and Drinks
Chapter Two: Breakfast, Brunch and Egg Dishes
Chapter Three: Sauces, Salsas and Vinaigrettes
Chapter Four: Salads
Chapter Five: Breads and Sandwiches
Chapter Six: Soups
Chapter Seven: Side Dishes
Chapter Eight: Pasta, Grains, and Breads
Chapter Nine: Main Dishes
Chapter Ten: Desserts and Sweets
Chapter Eleven: Preserving
Seasonal Menus, Equivalency Charts, Recipe Index by Chapter, Index

I received an ebook version of Cooking From the Garden and wish it were a hard cover copy that I can utilize in the kitchen. The recipes in Cooking From the Garden are a compilation of what is considered the best of those previously published in "Kitchen Gardener" (1996 - 2001). "It's the fresh ingredients that make any dish a success", says the editor. Neither the recipes nor the ingredients are speciality items. The ingredients are readily available from the garden and/or the local supermarket. Nothing fancy, just good wholesome cooking.

There is so much good in here, with ingredients one usually has on hand, and utilizes produce from the garden in new and exciting ways including ideas for eggplant, squash, parsnips, and more. Some of the recipes I am excited about include: Sweet Potato Sugar Bread, Leek and Potato Soup, Fall Harvest Soup (I do love a good soup in the fall, when days take on a crisp cool edge, nothing warms you like soup!), Steamed Carrots with Sesame Vinegar, Green Beans Sauteed With Radishes and Rosemary, Roasted Cauliflower (who knew roasting cauliflower brought out a nutty flavour?), Briami (that's a Greek vegetable dish), Tuscan Beans, Berry Trifle, Blackberry Summer Pudding, and I could go on and on. I'm getting hungry just thinking about the variety of dishes I will be trying this summer!

The one thing I miss, and I must see in a cookbook, is lush photography. There are no photos of the dishes one can create here. The cookbook is set out in an organized fashion, with a lot of helpful tips like "sweating your vegetables" and "matching the pasta shape to the sauce", along with tips on harvesting. Each chapter sports its own title page with artistically rendered pictures. The index is concise and the table of contents breaks the book down by categories as indicated above. There's no problem finding an appropriate recipe, even in the e-book format. Really, the only complaint I have is the lack of photography.

If I come across a hard-copy of Cooking From the Garden, I'll be sure to buy it. I am sold on this cookbook despite the lack of photos!!

Rated 3.5/5 (for lack of photos)

Soil for Your Container Gardens

Your choice of soil is one of the most important components in your container gardens.  Rob Sproule discusses soil mixes in this short video. 

Kuhlmann's Market Gardens and Greenhouses uses and highly recommends Sunshine Mix.  There are different variations of this mix depending on whether you are seeding, transplanting seedlings, or for established plants.

Remember:  Jim Hole of Holes Greenhouse in St. Albert advises when selecting a potting soil, choose one that includes spagnum peat moss.  There are other peat mosses but spagnum is the best.

Sites with soil recipes for containers:

05 May 2011

Planting Your Container With a Recipe

Rob Sproule shows how to use a recipe to plant your container. What do you think of this formula?

For more great ideas for container combinations check the Salisbury  website.  Beginning the first week of May, customers who visit Salisbury Greenhouse may pick up a free copy of "Spring" gardening magazine which includes gardening news and advice and more container ideas.

Please note:  I am not compensated for posting information about Salisbury Greenhouse.  I do not write nor include publicly available videos exclusively from Salisbury Greenhouse, but choose content according to what my readers may require and/or be interested in.

04 May 2011

Choosing Your Container

Rob Sproule talks containers with good advice on fillers for large pots, drainage, and selection.

New Pink Annabelle Hydrangea

Press Release from Bailey's Nurseries: 
New! Our first Pink Annabelle Hydrangea, Bella Anna™

Limited Release for 2011

photos and press release from http://endlesssummerblooms.com/en/consumer/plants/bella-anna
The Newest Addition to the Endless Summer® Collection

Say hello to Bella Anna™, a remarkable reblooming magenta-pink Hydrangea Arborescens ('Annabelle'). This hydrangea is a color breakthrough for Hydrangea arborescens and the newest addition to the Endless Summer® Collection.

Bella Anna shares the incredible ability to bloom on old and new wood, just like the other hydrangeas in this extraordinary collection it blooms from summer all the way through fall.

Bella Anna features a strong stem to support the weight of those beautiful magenta-pink blooms, ensuring each one stands tall and proud. And it certainly wasn't by accident. Over 50 'Annabelles' were painstakingly tested before arriving at one that was good enough to be called an Endless Summer. And, like the rest of the Endless Summer Collection, Bella Anna is easy to grow and performs effortlessly.

Be sure to look for Bella Anna™ in the blue pots at a local garden center near you."

03 May 2011

Designing Your Container Using a Colour Wheel

Contrasting or harmonious, Rob Sproule discusses tips in designing your container garden.  The key is "fun".

01 May 2011

Growing Herbs in Containers by Rob Sproule

Rob Sproule, of Salisbury Greenhouse, discusses in this brief video, how to plant and care for a herb garden in a container.


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