Welcome Spring

March 20th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Smith College Botanic Garden Spring 2019 Bulb Show 

Although there’s more than a foot of snow and ice outside, my calendar –and muddy road– tells me that Spring will officially begin later this afternoon. Welcome, sweet, light season. We northern gardeners are more than ready for your return!

SsssS…

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Winter Fruit Gratin with Rum Raisins

February 1st, 2019 § 2 comments § permalink

Sugar-Dusted, Rum-Soaked, Winter Fruit Gratin

It’s 7 a.m., February first, and I’m sitting beside a roaring fire, watching the hot pink sunrise. So far, I’ve done nothing more ambitious than scatter bird seed and add a couple of birch logs to the wood stove. My outside thermometer reads -1F. Mornings like these always stir the baking bug, sometimes just for the comforting fragrance of warm vanilla.

When I’ve got a busy schedule —and I haven’t been to the market in a few days— I often bake something simple, utilizing an ingredient I always have on hand: fruit. I’m still waiting to harvest enough ripe Calamondin oranges or limes for a tart, but as usual, apples and pears from the local market are overflowing my fruit bowl. Time for another winter gratin!

Gratins are endlessly adaptable and come together in a snap for a simple weeknight dessert or, when glazed with jelly or dusted with a bit of confectioner’s sugar, a pretty brunch. I’ve made them in baking pans and cast iron skillets; often using unpeeled apples or firm pears, and if I have both I will combine apples and pears together. Quince makes a delicious gratin as well, when in season. I love adding cranberries or raisins to fruit gratins; especially when soaked in spirits like rum or brandy. You can make this dessert gluten free by using almond flour and/or vegan by swapping plant-based milk and butter for the dairy. In other words, this is a crowd-pleasing, house favorite.

Winter Fruit Gratin

Ingredients:

2 lbs apples, pears or quince (3-4 apples), cored & thinly sliced. Peeling is optional (I prefer a more rustic & colorful gratin)

1/2 cup flour (use 1:1 gluten free if you like, or almond flour)

1 tsp baking powder

2 large eggs at room temp (vegans can try Just for All’s egg substitute)

pinch of sea salt

1/3 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract (sub rum or brandy if desired)

1/2 cup milk (sub almond or other plant-based milk if vegan)

2 Tbs butter, melted & cooled (coconut oil/butter sub for vegans)

1/2 cup raisins (or dried cranberries), pre soaked in spirits if desired

2 Tbs rum or brandy (calvados) for soaking raisins (optional)

Confectioner’s sugar or cinnamon for dusting or apple jelly for glazing (optional)

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving (a divine option)

Directions:

Preheat an oven, with rack centered, to 400 degrees F. Butter (or spray) an 8” square baking dish or cast iron skillet.

Set 1/2 cup of raisins in a small bowl with 2 Tbs rum, to soak.

Place sliced apples/pears/quince in the baking dish or skillet.

Mix the flour and baking powder in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and salt with a whisk for a couple of minutes until the eggs are light and the sugar is well blended. Add the vanilla, milk and butter, whisking all the while. Add the flour mixture and whisk until you have a smooth batter.

Add the raisins or cranberries (no need to drain), to the sliced fruit and toss to combine.

Fold the batter into the fruit mixture with a spatula, gently turning until all the fruit is well coated. Level and slightly smooth the lumpy top.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until risen at middle and golden on top. You can check for doneness with a knife inserted at the center. If it pulls out clean, the gratin is ready.

Cool for 20 minutes before dusting with confectioner’s sugar, or brushing with jelly, and serving.

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Frost Flowers & Gifts of Cold Weather

January 31st, 2019 § 2 comments § permalink

Frost Flowers: Gift of Still, Cold, Dry Winter Air

Mid-Winter in north country can be brutally cold –I’ll be the first to admit that single digit and sub zero temps aren’t my favorite– but if you’re willing to bundle up and explore, you’ll find that even the most frigid days have their beauty. Frost flowers are one of the great gifts of cold, dry winter air and smooth, clear, frozen bodies of water. Have you spotted these icy ephemerals this season?

Frost Flower Drift on Thin Ice

Frost flowers aren’t flowers at all of course, but a rare, natural phenomenon, usually occurring on windless mornings when outside air temperatures are below 5F. These exquisite, frozen “blossoms” form when water vapor —slightly warmer than surrounding air— crystalizes on the surface of smooth ice. When conditions are just right, entire meadows of frost flowers will bloom on open waters. If you hope to spot a field of these frozen beauties, you’ll have to be an early riser; frost flowers only bloom in extreme cold, and they quickly fade away with the warmth of even the chilliest winter sunrise.Warm, Winter Sunlight Quickly Melts the Crystal Flowers Away 

Find more fascinating ice formations —including a different kind of frost flowers— and scientific explanations for the phenomenon, here

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A Rendezvous with Exotic Beauty: Camellia Confessions on a Winter’s Day

January 26th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Camellia japonica ‘Tama-no-ura’ in the Camellia Corridor at Lyman Conservatory. My House Favorite.

Camellias are not cold hardy, and although there are a few exceptions (recent introductions claim survivos in USDA zone 6), they are considered zone 7-9 plants. Perhaps that is why these alluring beauties haunt my dreams. Why do we long for that which we can not have? Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love to garden in New England, but if I could grow Japanese Camellias, I certainly would! In meantime, there’s always the Camellia Cooridor at Lyman Conservatory, Smith College Botanic Garden.

And so —on a bitter, sub-zero, January day— I bundle myself up and head out for a steamy, glasshouse rendezvous. Camellias come into bloom anytime from mid to late winter (December to March) when grown in glasshouses, or outdoors in warmer climates. At Lyman Conservatory, peak flowering in the Camellia Cooridor begins in January. Opening the side door and slipping inside is like catching the sweet breath of springtime . . .

Powdery, flushed & breathless. Dressed for a glasshouse rendezvous. Camellia x ‘Ballet in Pink’ at Lyman Conservatory

Camellia japonica ‘Monjisu’ in the Camellia Corridor at Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory.

Camellia japonica ‘Rose Pink’, Showing Off My Favorite Form. 

The Camellia is native to Asia. A sign at Smith College Botanic Garden tells me that there are more than 250 wild species growing in sub-tropical regions of China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

Whether grown indoors or out, Camellia japonica (and popular hybrids), prefer semi-shaded positions and well-drained but rich, moist, acidic (pH 5.6-6.5), soil. When grown in pots, Camellias enjoy the same ambient temperature as many citrus trees (a perfect, cool glasshouse companion), with a maximum indoor range around 55F. That’s a little cool for my house, but it’s perfect for a orangerie. Shall we build one? I confess a glasshouse is a long-standing fantasy but it does seem rather extravagant. Perhaps someday. But for now the winter flowering Camellias are one of many great excuses to spend a day in my favorite conservatory. Thank you for a lifetime of pleasure, Smith College.

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Here Come the Citrus!

January 16th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Calamondin Orange Trees Blossom & Fruit Simultaneously, Providing Sporadic Harvests Throughout the Year and a House Filled with Seductive Scent

It’s citrus season here in my indoor eden, and although the harvest does not include larger fruits, these Meyer lemons, Calamondin oranges and Key limes still pack a powerful punch. Is there anything more uplifting than a jolt of tart-sweet flavor and brilliant color on a northern table at this time of year? It’s almost enough to make you forget the coming nor’easter!

I’m sure I’ll be sharing a citrus-based recipe or two over the coming weeks, but in meantime you may want to consider adding a tree to your own home. Calamondin oranges are easy to grow and perform much better as houseplants than other citrus trees. Meyer lemons are another good choice, and Key limes also do well. Travel back to last year’s post —Calamondin Orange: Sunshine in a Pot— to learn more about selecting and growing Calamondins and other citrus trees indoors.

The Calamondin’s are Comin’ On

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Sweet & Spicy Southwestern Frittata: Vegetarian & Delicious!

January 8th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Sweet & Spicy Southwestern Frittata Warms Chilly Winter Days

On these dark, chilly winter days, I often crave something hot and spicy to warm me up and get me going or to provide cozy comfort after a raw afternoon spent sanding the driveway. With a freezer full of colorful summer vegetables —like corn and bell peppers— big, fluffy frittatas have been finding their way to the kitchen table at least once a week for breakfast or dinner.

To make this favorite dish healthier, yet still substantial enough to serve at the center of a meal, I’ve been swapping a favorite, new vegan option —Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage in place of the usual chorizo or bacon in recipes. The first time I tasted Field Roast’s delicious alternatives to animal products, I was wowed by both their flavor and texture. Soon, I found myself slipping them into chili, casseroles and pastas. When I snuck Field Roast’s Mexican Chipotle Sausage into my southwestern frittata, not only did the vegan sausage slip by unnoticed, but the delicious, spicy links actually drew compliments from devoted carnivores. Served with a fresh salad and oven-roasted potatoes, this southwestern frittata is great for Meatless Monday and even makes a brunch or dinner guest worthy meal. How are you using up your frozen garden bounty this winter?

Sweet & Spicy Southwest Frittata

Special Equipment:

12” cast iron skillet (or other oven-proof skillet)

Ingredients:

8 Large eggs

1/4 Cup milk

1 Cup grated cheddar cheese

1 Tbs olive oil

2 Links (184g) Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage, cut to bite size pieces

1/2 Cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 Orange or red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into bite size bits

3 Scallions, including green tops, coarsely chopped

1 Jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 Tbs fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Adjust oven to upper rack & preheat to broil.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese, reserving remainder of the cheese for later.
  3. Heat the olive oil in cast iron skillet on medium-high.
  4. Add sausage bits and sauté on medium high until lightly brown. Using a slotted spatula or spoon, remove to plate and set aside.
  5. Add scallions, jalapeño, bell pepper to skillet and sauté until soft (3 minutes). Add corn and sauté another minute. Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
  6. Return sausage to skillet and immediately pour in the egg mixture. Adjust heat to medium and cook, stirring and turning, scraping from bottom up, creating loose curd throughout (about 2 minutes).
  7. Top the frittata with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese while continuing to cook, undisturbed, another couple of minutes to set bottom and sides.
  8. Using an oven mitt, place the skillet in the oven and broil for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Watch closely!
  9. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cilantro. Allow frittata to cool a few minutes before cutting and serving

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Welcome Stick Season: In Praise of Beautiful Bark & Colorful Twigs

January 7th, 2019 § 2 comments § permalink

Cornus sericea : Fire in Ice

In New England, winter is often referred to as stick season. It’s not a term of endearment. November, December, January and February are long, dark months, and by March we are truly longing for the green leaves that won’t appear ‘til May. Six months is a long time to live without color and for this reason alone, planning a winter garden is important.

Betula papyrifera: Chalky White Beauty from a Distance and Peachy Peels Up Close

Why do so many gardeners overlook this long season when planning and planting in springtime? My guess is that by May, when garden centers finally open, it’s just impossible for for twigs to compete with flowers! Perhaps anticipating the distraction will provide incentive to design a four season garden in January!

The Backlit Beauty of Acer griseum’s Auburn Curls

Feeling bit of mid-winter cabin fever? Travel back to my winter garden design posts —such as this one from last year— for a little insiration, then take a stroll around your yard with a camera in hand. Now come back inside where it’s warm, pour a hot cup of tea, and pull out your photos and a notepad. How could you add to the picture? Cornus sericea twigs for vertical red or chartreuse lines? Betula papyrifera for peeling, peachy cream scrolls or Acer griseum for curls of orange and rust? Perhaps the multicolored exfoliation of Stewartia pseudocamilla, Cornus kousa or Halesia tetraptera, among others. And remember the many flowering beauties with hidden, winter interest: Heptacodium miconioides, Hydrangea quercifolia and Physocarpus opulifolius to name a favorite few.

I Enjoy the Brilliant Bark of Cornus sericea and Cornus alba Cultivars on Garden Walks as Well as from Windows, Throughout the Winter Months


Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Happy New Year & Welcome 2019

January 2nd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Acer palmatum Wears a Cloak of Ice

Welcome, a very warm welcome indeed, to 2019. Last year was a tough one, filled with great loss, and I am eager to turn the page. Although we must wait until March for rebirth to begin in the garden, extra minutes of daylight have already begun to add length to our days.

I am grateful.

Secret Garden, Bejeweled for New Year’s Celebrations

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Song of the Solstice

December 21st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Low, the Winter Sun . . .

SOLSTICE GREETINGS

Winter begins today at 5:23 p.m. EST (22:23 UTC), and although we’ve been experiencing wintry weather for more than a month in Vermont, shortening days remind me that the long, cold season has only just begun.

Red Tulips Brighten the Monochromatic View

The next week or so will be filled with baking, cooking, eating, drinking, socializing and celebrating. But what after that? How do we remain active and connected to nature throughout these dark and chilly winter months? On warmer days, I try to get outside for long walks or snow shoe treks through the forest. During cold spells, regular trips to local conservatories and greenhouses can help to lift my spirits, as do bouquets of brightly colored flowers. I’ve got a stack of garden and landscape books to inspire springtime dreaming and a collection of houseplants help to keep me connected to nature as well; especially the citrus trees! How do you get through the stick season?

Waxing Cold Moon through the Silverbell Trees. December’s Full Moon is Tomorrow!

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Winter Wild: Eastern Bobcat Sighting

December 20th, 2018 § 3 comments § permalink

A Visit from the Eastern Bobcat (Lynx rufus)

One of my favorite things about the start of this quiet season is feeding birds and squirrels on the back terrace. Sipping coffee and watching noisy, red squirrel antics and beautiful birds gathering seed is a great way to start the day. The breakfast crowd varies from year-to-year, and sometimes, I get an unusual morning guest or two. Deer, moose, red fox and black bear are relatively common, but two winters ago, I spotted something a bit more unusual: a bobcat (Lynx rufus), skirting the edge of the forest. Once I confirmed the ID by checking its tracks, I waited and waited for a return visit. Bobcat sightings, even in prime habitat such as this —wooded, ledgy and remote— are fairly unusual. The stealthy species is solitary, crepuscular and naturally camouflaged with a gorgeous, white splotched, black spotted, tawny coat. And then there is that short, twitching, bobbed tail. What a sight if you can catch it!

Fast forward a year, and lucky me, the bobcat returned. Late last winter, I noticed a glowing set of eyes peering out from beneath the juniper bushes. A booming gray squirrel population seemed to be drawing the cats closer. And then, one morning, I awoke to the sound of frantic claws and loud scolding from my roof. Curious, I crept downstairs to have a look and there, perched atop the woodpile, was an amazing sight: a beautiful, large bobcat, fully engaged in a squirrel hunt. I knew I’d never reach my camera in time, so I held my breath in wide-eyed wonder and simply enjoyed the show. After a tense few minutes, the standoff between wildcat and gray squirrel ended with a disappointed feline retreating to the forest.

Hello There, Gorgeous!

I figured I’d forever missed my opportunity for such a close-up photo, but ever the optimist, I kept the camera close-by for a couple of weeks. Good thinking! Not only did my beautiful neighbor return, but I was treated to a repeat show. Apparently, bird feeders provide a tempting target. I quickly snapped a few photos and then the graceful hunter disappeared for the season; thwarted once again by fast-moving squirrels.

Though infrequently spotted, the elusive eastern bobcat is a relatively common species in Vermont and elsewhere in New England. Swamps, bogs, wooded mountains and ledgy areas within coniferous forests —like my property— are the bobcat’s preferred habitat. Reaching approximately twice the size of an average, domestic house cat, this 15-35 pound predator’s diet consists mainly of small birds and mammals; including mouse, chipmunk, squirrel, cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare. In winter, when snow depth serves to advantage, white tailed deer become an important part of the bobcat’s diet.

Hope to See You Soon . . .

Will I be seeing more of this beautiful wildcat? I sure hope so, though the neighborhood squirrels and rabbits will certainly disagree! Have you spotted a bobcat in the wild? Any other unusual wildlife sightings in your garden?

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Rosy Apple-Cranberry Galette. . . Blushing Beauty for the Holiday Table

November 24th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Blushing Beauty: Rosy Apple-Cranberry Galette 

Confession: a slightly different version of this blog post should have published before Thanksgiving. However . . . LIFE. Yes, that. If you live in Vermont you know about the early snow followed by the crazy cold snap —and by cold snap I mean near-record setting, ridiculous, -1 degree weather, the night before Thanksgiving. Somehow, during the last storm, I managed to drop my tractor key somewhere in the snow, necessitating a trip to the local John Deere dealer for a spare in order to start Johnny back up for the second storm. But you know that weak battery in the car? Of course you don’t, or you would have replaced it by now. Well, I didn’t get around to that and it finally kicked the bucket. Murphy’s Law. I know these things, and usually I am prepared. It really isn’t like me to be so scatter brained. Full moon?

Thankfully, a kind and thoughtful gentleman gave me an emergency battery pack (with jumper cables!), some years ago. And so —although quite delayed— the story has a happy ending: car jumped, spare key procured, new battery installed, driveway cleared, apples and pears picked up from local orchard. Phew. Apple-Pear Galette baked on Thanksgiving Day. Apple-Pear Galette eaten by the thoughtful gentleman and his family on Thanksgiving Day. No time for blog post. But, what a great excuse to use up some leftover cranberries and bake a different dessert this weekend! So, today I present to you a far more colorful, and equally (two pieces already eaten), delicious delight: the Rosy Apple-Cranberry Galette. A blushing beauty for your holiday table and beyond!

Thanks to all of you for your friendship & support throughout the year!

For Holiday Tables & Beyond: Rosy Apple-Cranberry Galette

R O S Y   A P P L E – C R A N B E R R Y   G A L E T T E

Basic galette dough recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi. Fruit filling adapted from Linda Lomelino’s apple-pear version, found in her book, Lomelino’s Pies.

Ingredients:

For the Galette Dough:

1  1/2  cups (7 1/4 oz / 204 grams)  all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur regular or their 1-1 gluten free blend)

2  tablespoons  sugar

1/2  teaspoon fine sea salt

8 tablespoons (4 oz / 113 grams) ice-cold, unsalted butter (I use Kerry Gold)

1/4  cup (60 ml) ice water

For Fruit Filling:

1  1/2 pounds cored, peeled & sliced apples (approximately 3-4 medium apples) I used a combination of Honey Crisp and Mustu, but any reasonably firm, tart/sweet apples will work here

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 tablespoons raw cane sugar (I prefer my fruit pies to be less sweet, but add an extra tablespoon if your apples are very tart)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice (or orange juice)

2 tablespoons calvados or cognac (sub orange or lemon juice, but the boozy version is really delicious)

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup homemade cranberry jam/relish at room temperature. Use this recipe if you like, but don’t mash the berries. You want lots of whole berries (or use 2/4 cup fresh, whole cranberries mixed with about a 1/4 cup of mashed sauce).

For the Sugar-Coated Glaze:

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

Pinch of sea salt

2 tablespoons raw cane sugar

 

Make the galette dough (do this at least a couple of hours ahead of baking, or the night before):

Measure the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor with the dough blade attached. Pulse to blend. Cut the butter into 12-16 small pieces and scatter across the dry ingredients. Pulse to cut the butter into the flour. Continue pulsing in short bursts until the mixture morphs from a mealy looking mix to pea and cornflake sized bits. Add a tablespoon or so of ice water to the mix and pulse briefly. Repeat, adding ice water by the tablespoon and pulsing in short bursts. Once all ice water is incorporated, pulse in slightly longer bursts until lumps form. Test to see if the dough holds together when you pinch it. You don’t want to overwork it. Add more water if a bit dry or a little more flour if it seems too wet. Rinse your hands in cold water and dry. Turn the lumpy dough out onto a floured surface and work it a bit with the heel of your palm to be sure all butter is blended, and then quickly form a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and press down a bit until if forms a hockey-puck-like disk. Refrigerate the dough for a minimum of 20 minutes (best to wait an hour). It will hold in plastic wrap for a couple of days if you want to work ahead. You can also freeze the dough in an airtight bag.

Bring the dough out to a lightly floured work surface (if you’d like to make cookie-cut-out topping, as I have, slice off 1/4 of the dough now)  I like turn the dough out on a large piece of parchment paper, roll it out, and then bake the galette right on that same sheet of paper. Using a large rolling pin, form a 12-13″ circle about 1/8″ thick, working outward from the center of the disk, not back and forth. The edges need not be neat or perfect. Galettes seem prettiest to me when they are a little uneven. Slide galette, on the parchment paper, onto a baking sheet. If you are making cookie cut-outs, roll out the remaining dough, forming a rectangular strip (about 1/8″ thick or so), and cut out your cookie shapes. Place them on the parchment-covered baking sheet next to the galette dough and cover the entire thing with parchment or plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for an hour or overnight.

To make the fruit filling:

Core, peel and slice the apples. On medium-low heat, melt the butter in a large (10-12″ or so), saucepan with high sides (a lodge, cast-iron skillet works too). Add the raw cane sugar, salt, cinnamon, juice, zest and calvados/cognac (if using). Blend well. Add the apples, raise the heat to medium high and bring to a boil for a minute. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 3 more minutes. Sprinkle flour over the mixture and stir to blend completely. Simmer the filling for about 3 more minutes or until the sauce thickens. Turn off the heat and stir in the cranberry jam mixture (including whole cranberries if using). Set aside to cool (you can leave it in the pan for now as long as it is off the heat).

To assemble the galette:

Bring the chilled, prepared galette dough out to your work surface and let it reach room temperature (this may take 10-15 minutes, especially if you have refrigerated overnight). Carefully spoon the cooled fruit filling into the center of the dough and evenly spread the mixture to within 2 -2 1/2″ of the edge. Fold and lightly press the sides of the galette up and over the apple-cranberry filling. Distribute the cookie cut out dough in your desired pattern (if using). Cover the galette with a sheet of parchment paper and place the entire thing in the fridge for about 20 minutes. This is important to set the filling and help maintain the galette’s shape.

Set an oven rack on a lower shelf and preheat to 400° F. 

While the oven is preheating, and the galette is chilling, make the glaze.

To make the glaze:

Whisk the egg, salt and milk together in a small bowl. Measure out 2 tablespoon of raw cane sugar.

To bake the galette:

Remove the chilled galette from the refrigerator and quickly brush egg mixture on all dough surfaces. Sprinkle the entire galette (including exposed fruit and sides of the dough), with raw can sugar and slide the baking sheet into the oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling bubbles (you will smell the apple-cranberry mix, for sure!).

Allow the galette to cool completely before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature. This tart is delicious plain, however, you can add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche if you like. Enjoy!

The Best Part of Fall and Winter? In My Opinion? It’s the Apple Galettes & Pies! 

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Early Winter

November 20th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

Secret Garden, Mid-November 

Winter arrived early this year —more than a month early, with 8″ of snow on November 15th, to be exact— leaving me a bit underprepared. Mother Nature decides when the seasons change, and she couldn’t care less about our plans. Those bulbs you bought on sale in late October? Guess you’ll be potting those up now, silly fool. Put off that brush clearing? Welcome to the jungle next spring, sweetie. Half-stacked firewood? Baby, it’s cold outside and it will be inside as well if you don’t smarten up. Old Man Winter caught you lounging on the terrace with that mug of hot chocolate, and he had a good long laugh. You call yourself a New Englander? Oh, now you shall pay!

Dark. Cold. Snowbound. More December 20th than November 20th in Vermont

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Of Rust & Rain: November’s Garden

November 10th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

The Leaves of Enkianthus campanulatas ‘Red Bells’ Flicker Against Grey-Green Microbiota decussata. This Beauty is Equally Stunning in Springtime. Click Here to Read More

Early November’s combination of thick frost, cold rain, wet snow and high wind has taken a toll on late season color in the garden. Trees along the ledgy ridge line —particularly the delicate birch– stand naked now; having long since been stripped of their leaves. Still, in the protected pockets, a few burnished blossoms and leafy gems remain: Japanese maple, enkianthus, hydrangea and of course the conifers. Winter is coming. Soon, only the garden’s bare bones will remain.

Chalky White Lines Etch the Land: Betula papyrifera. Bark & Branches Make the Winter Garden. Read More Here.  

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ in November. Read More About Limelight Hydrangea Here.

Floating Leaves of Fire from the Blue Green Dragon (Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’)

Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’ with Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ at Secret Garden Door

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Mum’s the Word? I Can’t Keep a Secret! Visiting Smith College Botanic Garden’s Fall Chrysanthemum Show, 2018

November 4th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Watch Out, Gucci: Evan’s Dream Chrysanthemum (Fukuske, Spider Class), in Pale Pink Couture at Smith College Botanic Garden. 

We’ve all been invited to some obligatory formal event or other —black tie, couture gown, rsvp— only to send our regrets at first politely permissible moment. Don’t get me wrong. Parties are great fun, but sometimes it’s hard to beat your cozy pajamas. Well, don’t let the 2018 Fall Chrysanthemum Show at Smith College Botanical Garden be the soirée you skip this year, because luckily, only the flowers are required to play dress to up —and boy have they ever! Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Gucci; yes, they’re all there and you get to play paparazzi. It’s a spectacular, end-of-season, horticultural ball —don’t miss it!

A Glorious Ballroom Awaits: Lyman Conservatory at Smith College Botanic Garden

The Chrysanthemum Show runs from Saturday, November 3, 2018 to Sunday, November 18, 2018 at Lyman Conservatory. Hours are 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays (perfect for date night). Entry fee is a suggested $5 donation. No jacket required!

Redefining Wall Flowers – Steamy, Hot House Mums, Pressed Against the Glass at Smith College

Very Valentino: Chrysanthemum x morifolium ‘Lili Gallon’ in White-trimmed, Maroon Velvet Ruffles, with a Few of Her Gorgeous Girlfriends

Hot Pink Fashionistas: This Catwalk of Chrysanthemums Sure Knows How to Make and Entrance

Sassy Saffron Spiders! Couture Chrysanthemums at Smith College Botanic Garden

Persimmon-Hued Spiders to Rival Yves Saint Laurent 

And a Waterfall of Cascading Chrysanthemums, Trained in Traditional Japanese Style

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Bittersweet Endings: Nod To November

November 2nd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Bittersweet Reflections (Acer palmatum x dissectum)

November arrived quietly this year; creeping in with melancholy whispers of fog and chilly rain. Bittersweet leaves glow along back roads and pile up in water-logged ditches. Suddenly, the skeletal lines of late autumn have reappeared. Winter is coming. We can feel it now, in our bones. Dia de los Muertos. From our Mexican neighbors I’ve learned to appreciate and celebrate the beauty of death in life. The cycle is coming to close. Embrace it. Spring will come again . . .

Miscanthus purpurascens with Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’

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A Bit of Seasonal Hocus-Pocus

October 29th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

Blood-Red Leaves and Blackened Wings? Must be the Season of the Witch . . .

Whispers of Fog Fade the October Garden

Muting Golden Hues to Bronze and Rust

Whilst Chilly Raindrops Shimmer the Autumn Weaver’s Webs

Lengthening Shadows Darken Pools & Haunt Mirrors

But Fear No Evil Spirits. Through Misty Glass, Ezekiel Guards the Wild Domain

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The Nightmare Before Christmas: Autumn Snowliage in Vermont

October 27th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

The Blue Green Dragon has Her Autumn Fire Cooled by Old Man Winter

Mother Nature had early tricks in mind for Vermont this Halloween, though fortunately, she and her pal, Old Man Winter, kept things light. Autumn snowstorms can be devastating to deciduous trees and shrubs here in New England; especially when the more fragile species are still in full canopy. Two years ago, to the day (October 26-27, 2016), fall foliage held late, and my garden did not escape Winter’s early wrath so easily.  There was heavy, wet snowfall and a great deal of damage. Thankfully, this year’s snowliage was light and for the most part, less Nightmare Before Christmas and more pre-Halloween treat . . .

And the Lovely Scarlet Leaves of this Cornus kousa Catch a Premature Chill

Snow-Dusted Loungers, Shiver out on the Balcony

Taking in the Chilly-Looking, North-Western View

Frozen Leaf-Dance in the Water Bowl. Perhaps it’s Time to Gather in the Pots

And Tuck the Secret Garden in for a Long Winter’s Nap 

Fire and Ice: Cornus kousa in Snow. 

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Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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American Yellowwood: The Garden’s Crowning, Golden, October Glory

October 26th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Cladrastis kentukea: Our Glorious, American Yellowwood Tree

I’ve always been baffled by the rarity of American Yellowwood trees in New England gardens. With a glorious canopy of fragrant, cascading white blossoms in May/June, a rounded, full crown of disease-free leaves throughout the summer season and clear, golden fall foliage in late autumn, this tree is a garden designer’s dream. Hardy in USDA zone 4-8, with a mid-size stature of 30-50′, and full, rounded 40-50+’ crown, Cladrastis kentukea has become one of my favorite landscape trees.

Given full sun and average moisture, Cladrastis kentukea thrives in New England’s cool climate. There is one reputed flaw: American Yellowwood branches are fragile and can be vulnerable to ice damage; but that certainly hasn’t stopped designers and home gardeners from planting Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) or Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum). My own Cladrastis kentukea tree has settled in to its adopted Vermont home, gracing the garden for approximately 10 years now. Protected from prevailing winds by a dense landscape filled with other plantings, my Yellowwood tree has weathered a number of early and late season ice storms, as well as heavy, annual snowfall, with no trace of damage. She did take a number of years to bloom, but now rewards my wait with a lush, fragrant canopy in early June, followed by dangling, decorative seed pods in autumn.

A Garden Designer’s Dream Tree: Native North American Beauty with Fragrant Spring Blossoms and Late Autumn Foliage in Clear, Brilliant Yellow

Because of Yellowwood’s deep-rooting habit, she plays nicely in mixed borders with other plants. Her shifting, seasonal hues are a special joy to work with from spring through late fall. I like to pair this beauty with soft blue or gold bulbs in spring, followed by perennials and woody plants with blue-violet flowers and golden-orange to scarlet autumn foliage. These colors sing out together against a bluebird sky and glow like lanterns in late October fog. An unusual, beautiful addition to the landscape, Cladrastis kentukea is a tree worth seeking out or requesting at garden centers; especially those specializing in native, ornamental plants.

Glorious, Fragrant White Blossoms with Golden Centers Cascade from the Branches in June 

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Tête-à-tête with Chocolate Skillet Cake, Raspberries & Autumn Leaves

October 24th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Chocolate Skillet Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting and Raspberries (Gluten Free Version from Bravetart). Cast iron pan from Lodge.

What is it about the first blast of chilly, autumn air that brings out my seasonal craving for baked goods? Do you experience this phenomenon as well? Luckily, my family has plenty of October birthdays to celebrate, providing the perfect excuse to indulge! There’s nothing quite like the smell of vanilla and warm brown sugar to put me in the fall spirit. Usually, at this time of year, I’m more inclined toward apple pie. But I’m surrounded by a family of chocolate lovers, and to be honest, who can really resist? Toss a handful of late-season raspberries on devil’s food cake, and I am more than ready to compromise with the party goers!

Although I am an experienced and confident cook, sweets aren’t a daily part of my diet and baking is still something of a novelty for me. Over the past couple of years, in an effort to get more satisfying results, I’ve invested in a new kitchen scale (weighing ingredients really is key), a couple of confectioner’s gadgets and a few cookbooks written by professional bakers. I’ve been following Stella Parks on Instagram and enjoying her creations for Serious Eats, for awhile now —which is where I spotted this chocolate skillet cake— and find her recipes not only easy enough for a beginner, but consistent crowd-pleasers as well. And there’s nothing quite so sweet as praise to encourage a new baker, right?  So when Stella’s new book, Bravetart came out last summer, I checked the mailbox regularly, eagerly anticipating the arrival of my pre-ordered copy.

I have not been disappointed! One of my goals has been to add a few gluten-free options to my sweet repertoire. It seems that whenever I attend a big party, at least two or three people have a gluten intolerance, and they are unable to enjoy conventionally made desserts. That seems very unfair! Fortunately, Stella has includes gluten-free versions of her recipes in Bravetart; all with clear and simple instructions. I’ve made the gluten-free version of her chocolate skillet cake twice now this month —using her homemade wheat-flour substitute— with great results. This weekend however, I was in a hurry. So, for the version below, I simply used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten-Free Flour. Perfection in a pinch.

Chocolate Skillet Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting and Raspberries (Gluten Free Version from Bravetart). Cast iron skillet from Lodge.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Skillet Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting & Raspberries

Adapted from Serious Eats & Stella Park’s sweet cookbook: Bravetart

Special Equipment: Lodge 12″ cast iron skillet, whisk, hand-held mixer and offset spatula

Cake:

6 ounces unsalted butter

6 ounces freshly brewed, black coffee

1 1/2 ounces Divine or other Dutch cocoa

3 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 70%)

8 ounces light brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 tsp kosher salt

4 large eggs

4 1/2 ounces Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour* (or use Stella’s recipe)

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Frosting:

6 ounces Endangered Species milk chocolate, or your favorite brand, finely chopped

8 ounces heavy cream

Salt to taste

1/2 pint fresh-picked raspberries (or other seasonal berries), for garnish

Method:

For the frosting:

Heat the heavy cream to a simmer in a 10″-12″ cast-iron skillet. Add chopped chocolate to a heat-proof bowl. When the cream is bubbling at the edges, pour on top of the chocolate and whisk. Add salt to taste and continue to whisk until blended smooth. Allow mixture to cool approximately 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to finish the cake.

For the cake:

Center oven rack in lower-middle. Preheat to 350° F.

Warm the butter and coffee over low heat, in the same 10-12″ cast-iron skillet, stirring until butter has completely melted. Remove pan from the heat. Carefully mix in the cocoa and the chopped dark chocolate, stirring until well blended. Add in the brown sugar, salt and vanilla. Gently whisk in the eggs. When combined, add the flour and baking soda. Whisk to combine until smooth.

Slide the skillet into the hot oven and bake until firm. This took approximately 25 minutes in my 12″ Lodge skillet. Bake 5-10 minutes longer in a 10″ cast-iron skillet. Watch carefully, because oven temperatures and pan thicknesses can really vary baking times. Remove the cake from the oven when a wooden stick pulls clean from the center, and cool for approximately 2 hours at room temperature before frosting.

Finishing:

When ready to frost the cooled cake, remove the milk chocolate ganache from refrigerator and stir. Stella suggests beating the frosting with a spatula until it reaches a yogurt-like consistency. I opted to use a hand-held, electric mixer, and whipped the frosting on medium high for a minute until light and fluffy. Gently top the cooled cake with the ganache, using an offset spatula to create swirling patterns. Top with fresh-picked raspberries.

*If you wish to make this cake conventionally, as opposed to gluten-free, simply use 4 1/2 ounces of regular, all-purpose flour in place of the Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour. We could not taste the difference, nor did we notice a change in texture or density, either way!

Ready, set  . . .Devour!

Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Blue Green Dragon’ Morphs from Green to Pink to Red-Orange Fire 

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Beyond the Sweater Drawer: Gardening In Layers for Autumn Color & Texture

October 18th, 2018 § Comments Off on Beyond the Sweater Drawer: Gardening In Layers for Autumn Color & Texture § permalink

Stunning Abelia mosanensis, Backed Up by Lovely Lindera benzoin and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’, Together in a Stellar Second Act.  

Getting dressed for October weather in New England usually involves a tank top, t-shirt, bright sweater and weatherproof jacket. As the season grows colder, this list grows to include colorful wool socks, hat, scarf, gloves and a stylish pair of warm boots. Eventually, I’ll put away the tank tops and t-shirts and pull on the long Johns before adding everything else. Our wardrobe colors and patterns may switch up but our bones remain the same.

Callicarpa dichotoma, Rudbeckia hirta Stand Out Against Glowing Amsonia hubrichtii. Beauty to Brighten the Dreariest of Days.

Once you know your plants, designing a garden for autumn isn’t much different from planning your fall wardrobe. When creating a planting plan for any season, I start with basic garden structure of trees and strubs (aka “the bones”), and then select perennials and annuals to flatter throughout the growing year. It’s important to consider how things will look in the big picture —just like standing in front of a long mirror and turning side to side, before you head out the door— as individual layers and details fade away and others appear or color up in changing weather.

Amsonia illustris Shines Against Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’s’ Frost-Kissed Leaves. This Pairing Gets Bolder in Late October, When the Witch Alder Glows Bright, Orange-Red

A good understanding of color —how to work relationships between harmonious and complementary hues— comes in handy when designing a garden, as does a good mental database of plants and how their textures and appearances shift throughout the seasons. Certain leaves will morph from green to red, others will glow orange or gold, and some will just blacken and shrivel! As foliage fades, little details like berries, bark and seed pods really begin to matter; popping against the moody grey landscape and glistening in frost. Knowing what to cut back, and when, can make all the difference between a beautiful first frost and early winter blahs. When in doubt, leave it standing and make notes! You can always pull out the shears later. These are the elements of plant-driven design that fascinate and thrill me; familiarity with them will give you a great three, and even four-season landscape.

Layered Autumn Looks Go Way Beyond the Basic. This Meadow Walk Planting Design Features Trees, Shrubs, Perennials and Grasses for Depth. From Bottom Left: Amsonia illustris, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’, Cornus kousa, Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’, Aster oblongifolium ‘Raydon’s Favorite’, Betula papyrifera, Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’, Persicaria amplexicaulis, Juniperus horizontalis and Rudbeckia hirta. 

Blue-Violet Aromatic Asters (A. oblongifolius), Complement Beautifully with Golden Amsonia illustris. Color Harmony Comes Later in the Season, as the Asters Fluff Up to White Tufts and the Amsonia Bleaches to Bone.

A Different Angle on the Meadow Walk Reveals How Layers of Trees, Shrubs and Perennials Vary the Visual Experience —Color, Texture, Form— Leading Down the Path, Toward the Secret Garden Stairs.

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Second Thoughts & Encores . . .

October 15th, 2018 § Comments Off on Second Thoughts & Encores . . . § permalink

With a Backdrop of Golden Clethra alnifolia and Side-Show of Blackened Rudbeckia Pom Poms, Glistening Asclepias tubersoa (Butterfly Weed), Parachutes Await a Breeze

Some things in life are one-hit wonders, and others are worth a second thought or three. When it comes to gardening in a cold climate, I’m always looking to get the most out of my growing year. With this in mind, I am generally pretty picky in my selection of plants. With rare exceptions (fragrant plants like peonies come to mind), I ask at least two seasons of performance before I’ll let any newcomer through my garden gate. Points of consideration: flowers are a real plus, but their absence is not a deal-breaker; good bones are always important, especially for trees and shrubs; foliage —dramatic or changing— is considered a high value asset in both herbaceous and woody plants; and colorful berries/drupes/seeds/calyxes/tufts/bark are always very desirable.

The three plants featured here are unusual knock-outs both in bloom and again, later in the season with other special effects. Butterfly Weed (Aesclepias tuberosa), gets double points as a beautiful butterfly magnet; foliage for caterpillars and later, brilliant orange flowers for adults. But it’s autumn that brings out this plant’s hidden treasure: spiky, dramatic seed pods that split to release silver-white parachutes into blue October sky. Magic!

Recently Featured, Seven-Son Flower (Heptacodium miconioides), is an Autumnal Double Feature worth Repeating. Here Seven-Son Flower’s Calyxes Shimmer Alongside Rose-Tipped Tufts of Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis).

Seven-Son Flower (Heptacodium miconioides), recently featured, is another butterfly favorite in the late-season garden. Watching Monarchs dance about the fragrant blossoms would be gift enough, but the long-showing rose calyxes offer an unusual hue at this time of year. I love this plant paired with purple-tinted Ninebark leaves (Physocarpus opulifolius, ‘Diablo’ is my favorite), and silken tassels of Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis).

Another less-common beauty, Fingerleaf Rodgersia  (Rodgersia aesculifolia), offers three season interest from early to late in the garden year. Creamy white or pink cultivars bloom on sturdy stems in late spring through early summer, looking fresh and cool above gorgeous, dark green foliage. Then, in early autumn, the boney remains begin to ruddy up to purplish ruby, just as the leaves morph to gold. Sweet alchemy! Don’t grab your shears just yet, though. Left standing over winter, the flower heads will slowly shift from dark brown to jet black —perfection with sparkling frost or a light dusting of snow.

With gorgeous foliage and beautiful summertime flowers, Fingerleaf Rodgersia (Rodgersia aesculifolia), is just a great garden plant, all the way around. Still, I think her best attributes are on display in autumn, when her gilded foliage is offset by a bejeweled crown, shifting from complementary ruby-violet to dramatic jet black bead.

So many garden plants offer more than one season of beauty, but sometimes, it takes a bit of sleuthing to discover them. Of course it helps to haunt great public gardens and commercial displays at this time of year. Make notes for shopping clearance sales at garden centers or return in spring to snap up those collectible, rare gems before they’re all sold out. The best plants are always worth at least a second thought!

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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