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Showing posts from 2014

Flower Decoration

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Over the last few years I have been experimenting with different and unique flower arrangments based on what is in my garden. When maintaining the garden, instead of composting the "waste", I have been creating different arrangements with the material. I use items such as vegetables and cuttings from different perennials and annuals that would become unruly. Depending on the style I want to create, I might add in some clematis or Thunbergia for a special affect.

Recently I came across an article in a gardening magazine that discussed a winery that uses clematis in floral design projects. One of the owners mentioned a woman by the name of Constance Spry and how she has influenced some of their pieces. I googled Constance Spry and found a lovely book that discusses her life and artistic talent for flower decorating. The book, "The Surprising Life of Constance Spry" by Clarissa Dickson Wright is well written and describes her entire life. It includes Connie's hard…

Cool Weather Greens

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I am going to try my luck at growing lettuces and other greens further into the season. Typically I can grow things until about mid-November but I am shooting for December or even January this season! I found a little hardy mustard green called 'Tatsoi' that has a short maturity period as well as lettuces such as 'Black Seeded Simpson' and 'Brunia'. I grow my greens in an elevated "salad table" in the spring, summer and fall. However, for the early part of winter, I plan on adding hay as a layer of insulation over and in between the seedlings and then tarping the table with a perforated semi-clear heavy plastic sheet for extra insulation. Wish me luck! And stay tuned to see what results are found!


Along the Mississippi

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A few weeks ago my husband and I went on a camping trip in the western part of Wisconsin. We visited many lovely places which included Effigy Mound National Monument, hiking spots with awesome views and quaint little river towns-all along the Mississippi. Due to rain and a drop in temperatures, there were a lot of mushrooms in fruit. Some species that we found include Boletes, Earth Stars, Puffballs and Jack O' Lanterns, just to name a few.
One species of Puffballs that we found (purple-spored puffball) is a choice edible, but we did not indulge because only 2 were found.
We camped at Wyalusing State Park, which is one of the oldest parks in Wisconsin overlooking the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. The park features several Native American effigy mounds, great bird watching and canoe trails.


Dried Blossoms

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I often gather blossoms throughout the summer and fall to dry and save for winter creations. Not only does it brighten up the soul during the grey, blah days of winter, it also is fun and easy to gather your own flowers and dry them! The most convenient way to dry blossoms is to gather them, put them in a paper bag for 2-5 days (depending on the type of blossom), making sure to shake the bag daily. They are dried when they have a little "crunch" to them while handling. Store dried blossom in glass jar for future use. Dried botanicals can be used in a wide variety of creations such as teas, bath salts and facial scrubs.
Besides body care items, blossoms can be used to accent handmade cards & stationary, decorated candles and in potpourri mixtures.
Below is a very easy facial scrub that I often make. It is very effective in exfoliating the skin and smells wonderful! Enjoy!
1 cup of dried oats
0.5 cup of dried rose petals
0.5 cup of dried lavender buds
Combine above ingredi…

Goldenrod

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I belong to a woman's gardening forum and was recently asked what I would do differently next year in the garden. One of my responses was that I felt like I had too many pink blooming plants. Next year I will install some red, white and yellow items.
Since we are in late summer now, the goldenrod is starting to bloom which adds a bright splash of yellow to the backyard. The bees absolutely love the flowers!

A Collage of Summer Blossoms

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Due to odd weather patterns over the last 8 months, some plants that should of already bloomed are blooming now and others are blooming a bit early. Shown below are just a few beauties that are currently in bloom. Enjoy!






Boggin' It

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Last weekend some friends and I went "bogging" in northern Wisconsin. Bogs are very unique environments that support unusual communities of plants and animals adapted to live in low nutrient and acidic conditions. Unfortunately these environments are dwindling due to development.
Bogs wetlands are supplied only by rain and snow. The oxygen-starved conditions make dead plant matter from certain plants such as sphagnum moss decompose slowly, forming deep layers of black peat. When walking in a bog, you are essentially walking on a floating community.
I snapped a few pictures of bog residents.









Making Your Own Rose Water

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Making your own body care products is an empowering activity. It allows you to be an artist, creating and blending ingredients to make a finished product that is tailored to your own body’s unique needs. I have a lovely recipe that I use to make my own floral waters and have been using it for years. I came across it in one of Rosemary Gladstar’s books. She is one of those people I like to refer to as an “herbal revivalist”. A truly gifted and intellectual herbalist, Rosemary helped bring plant wisdom and herbal awareness to the Western world through education and availability of high quality herbs and related products. Some examples of her contributions are Mountain Rose Herbs, Traditional Medicinals and The California School of Herbal Studies (one of my alma maters).

I will use roses as an example in this recipe, but you can use other plant material such as rose geranium leaves, calendula petals or lavender. My rose bush is just starting to bloom. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much a…

Violets! Violets! Violets!

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I found this great recipe in a gardening magazine, how to make your own homemade violet syrup! The ultimate goal for me is to use the syrup to make violet-lemon spritzers, which is a perfect spring cocktail.
The wood violet is the Wisconsin state flower and creates a lovely carpet of purple in May. Violets have a delicate, floral scent and are very cheery in appearance.
Also mentioned is that the method of making syrup from violets is centuries-old.  A recipe taken from Hannah Woolley's Queen-Like Closet (written circa 1692) reads as follows "Take violets clipped clean...to every ounce of violets take two ounces of water, so steep them upon embers till the water be as blew as a violet..."

2 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh purple violet blossoms, stems removed
4-5 strips of lemon zest (size should be 1 inch by 1/2 inch)
1 cup boiling water
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup

Make sure violets are clean. Add violets and lemon strips in a 4-5 cup heatproof bowl. …

Growing Indoors

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My tomatoes are getting huge! I've already repotted them about 2 weeks ago and they will need to be repotted again very soon, maybe this weekend. As soon as the end of May hits, I want to make sure that all of my home-grown veggies and herbs are ready to go in the ground. Some other things I've been growing include basil, cilantro, parsley and zucchini.
In my salad table, the arugula and lettuce is coming up nicely. The ventilated plastic is working well to keep moisture and heat in. I've had to keep it on at night because the temperatures get close to freezing.


Springtime Surprises in the Garden

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It has been an unseasonably cold winter here in the Great Lakes area. It is early April and I was able to get in the garden this past weekend and get it cleaned up. The garlic, daffodils and tulips are starting to come up. I saw some stinging nettle peeking out of the soil as well. I prepped my salad table and a few pots for planting seeds (I am being optimistic and going to start arugula and lettuce in the salad table this week) which I plan on using ventilated plastic at night to keep the heat in when the temperatures dip below freezing.
I have two clumps of snowbells in the backyard. In previous years they have been up by the end of January. This year they were not up until the end of March and aren't nearly as tall as last year. I also found what I believe to be a mushroom called dead man's fingers (Xylaria polymorphs) along the fence line, which I have never seen in the yard.