A Garden Made for Winter

February 17th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

A Winter Wonderland, Just Outside My Studio Door

Winter in New England can be long, dark, cold and dreary, to be certain. But if you are a lover of magical, frozen landscapes, beauty also abounds. By mid-February, I often find myself feeling a bit house-bound and restless. The cure for cabin fever? Why a garden walk and a bit of mid-winter pruning, followed by hot cocoa in the lounge chairs of course! If you design your landscape with winter in mind —keep those frost-proof pots and weather-proof furnishings in the garden— there’s plenty of beauty to take in while stretching your legs out-of-doors. Things looking a little ho-hum out there? Well now’s the time to take notice. Grab your camera, as well as pen and paper, then head outside for a good, critical look.

Dogwood Branches (Cornus sericea), in the Garden with Hoary Ice Crystals

When shopping for plants this spring, pay close attention to bark color and texture. Perhaps it won’t matter much in May —especially when compared to all of those bodacious blossoms at the garden center— but come January, you’ll be grateful for the advice. Some of my favorite shrubs, such as Cornus sericea or Cornus alba, while not unattractive during the growing season, are really nothing much to look at in June and July. But when those autumn leaves drop and the fog rolls in? POW.

 Winter Walkway with Layers of Textural Plantings

Another design tip worth sharing? Think texture! Layer your garden with nubby, fluffy, spiky and bristly trees, shrubs, perennials, vines and grasses. Plants with rough textures really catch the frost, snow and ice. There’s nothing better for creating a magical, winter wonderland. Mix conifers among the deciduous shrubs and perennials —especially those with colorful textures, bark and/or berries— to create contrast and depth. Creeping, horizontal and upright Juniperus, Taxus, Microbiota decussataPicea abies ‘Nidiformis,’ and Pinus mugo are just a few garden-worthy species that will add tremendous winter delight. Looking for shrubs with colorful fruit? Travel back in time to my post, “Oh, Tutti Frutti: It’s Candy Land Time! Magical & Colorful Ornamental Berries” for more ideas.

Siberian Cypress (Microbiota decussata) along the Northwestern Walkway, with Miscanthus sinensis and Viburnum Hedge, Beyond

 

Miscanthus sinensis Always Puts on a Great, Autumn-Late-Winter Show

In addition to trees and shrubs, there are so many winter-garden-worthy perennials plants, vines and ornamental grasses to consider when designing a four-season garden. Pay attention to species with semi-evergreen or evergreen foliage, large or plentiful seed pods —particularly the tough, bristly types and dark, smooth ones!— as well as grasses with durable stems, tufts and blades. Some long-standing, perennial favorites? Actaea, Amsonia, Baptisia, Coreopsis, Echinacea, Echinops, Echiveria, Eryngium, Eupatorium, Humulus, Hellebore, Liatris, Nepeta (especially taller species), Rodgersia, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Sedum and among others. As for ornamental grasses …Oh my, where do I start? I love our natives —including Panicum, Pennisetum, Calamagrostis, Carex, Chasmanthium, Festuca and Schizachyrium— but also adore exotics, such as Miscanthus and Hakonechloa. It all depends upon the location and look you are trying to create.

Tea Viburnum (Viburnum setigerum), is a Knock-Out from November through February. Colorful Berries Really Show-Off Planted with Buff-Colored Grasses or Green-Grey Conifers. Delight!

Of course, the most important aspect of winter garden plantings is location! Place these valuable additions to your garden design where you will be able to enjoy their colorful bristles, bark, berries and structural lines. I like to locate plants with winter-durable fruit, interesting seed pods, peeling bark and texture outside my favorite windows, where I can enjoy them throughout the year. Entryway gardens are always good spots for plantings, to be sure, but also mix winter interest plants thoughtfully along main walks and garden pathways; positioning them near kitchen windows, bathrooms and in places where you might spy them while doing paperwork at your desk. It pays to plan now, and make notes for spring planting season.

Rosé for Breakfast? Why Not? Even if I’m Stuck Indoors, This Garden Vignette, Visible from My Windows, Fills Me with Joy.

When high temperatures struggle to reach freezing, and feeding the wood stove is a round-the-clock chore, time spent outside is short and to-the-point. Leisurely garden strolls? They truly are of the question some days. Still, I find ways to appreciate the beauty of nature, even from indoors. Trees and shrubs planted near the house —especially those just beyond the windows and doors— catch glistening snow, ice and sunlight, and playfully dance against the wall as shadows.  And if all else fails? Well, there’s always the magic of Jack Frost to help us through the winter…

Halesia tetraptera Through Jack Frost’s Newly Embroidered, Lace Curtain

 

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Welcome Back, Purple Finch

February 15th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus), Lights Upon Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) 

The Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus, pictured above), with its raspberry-stained plumage and sweet, warbling song, is an occasional guest at my bird feeders during the winter months. With color scarce at this time of year, I am grateful for the brilliant-colored beauty and musical backdrop provided by this lovely, native bird.

The plummy-red hued, male Purple Finches are easy to spot at feeders and if you are hoping to attract them, it’s helpful to know that they are especially fond of black oil sunflower seeds! The female Purple Finch is mostly brown and white, with a streaky underbelly and white brow. In winter, small flocks also visit my flower beds, feasting upon seeds from perennial plants and ornamental grasses. In the landscape beyond, I sometimes spot them in the lower meadow, where they hunker down to feed within weedy wildflower remnants (learn more about this beautiful species at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, here).

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Cold Hands, Warm Heart

February 14th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink


H A P P Y     V A L E N T I N E S     D A Y

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Article 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.

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through the affiliate-links here. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to The Gardener’s Eden, and will help with site maintenance and web hosting costs. Thank you!

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The Vintage Rose: A Valentine’s Cocktail

February 11th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

The Vintage Rose Cocktail: Perfect for Valentine’s Day (or any day!)

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and with Rosalind Creasy’s The Edible Flower Garden still on my mind, how could I resist sharing a romantic rose-cocktail made with real rose petals and homemade rose syrup? Long time readers may recall this recipe from nearly a decade ago, when The Gardener’s Eden was just getting started. Time to revive a long-standing favorite in the name of love and flowers!

Although it’s easier to locate fresh, organic rose petals in June, many florists now offer organically grown flowers year round. Request imperfect roses —or bags of fresh, organic rose petals— since you will be dismantling them. Be sure to ask for organic roses, making certain that no pesticides have been sprayed on your blossoms. Remember, you will be making syrup and sipping wine soaked in these petals! I make my own rose syrup for this recipe (best made 24 hours ahead, to steep). Some recipes simply use water, sugar and rose petals, however, I like to add food grade rose water and sprigs of French lavender, plus a few drops of organic red food coloring for a pretty pink hue.

Vintage Rose Cocktail

Adapted from The Bubbly Girl, Maria Hunt

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Ingredients (makes one cocktail):

¾ oz      Rose syrup (see recipe below)

5 oz      Chilled, brut prosecco, cava or champagne

Twist     Meyer lemon

6           Organic rose petals

Method:

Add the rose syrup* to a chilled champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine or champagne. Twist the lemon peel over the glass to release the oils and then drop it into the flute. Garnish with fresh, organic rose petals.

Cheers !

*You can buy rose syrup at many specialty stores, however we made our own:

Rose Syrup

(Adapted from versions by Bubbly Girl, Maria Hunt & Rosalind Creasy)

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Ingredients:

2      Cups Organic Rose Petals (Rugosa, English and Heirloom Roses are best!)

1/2   Cup Water

1/2   Cup Rose Flower Water (or sub water if unavailable)

3       Sprigs French Lavender

2/3   Cup Granulated Sugar (use up to 1 cup of sugar for thicker syrup)

2       Drops Organic Red Food Coloring (optional)

Method:

Mix water and rose flower water (if using) in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a slow boil. Immediately add the sugar, stirring constantly. Once the sugar has melted, reduce the heat to a simmer. Slowly stir in the rose petals and lavender. Stir for a few minutes to thicken. Remove saucepan from heat and allow to cool. You may add a couple of drops of organic red food coloring at this point, if you so desire.

Pour the syrup mixture into a bowl with a tight fitting lid and allow to steep and cool overnight in the refrigerator. Remove lavender sprigs and seal the rose syrup in a small bottle. The syrup will keep fresh in the refrigerator for approximately 2 weeks. Freeze rose syrup for longer storage. Rose syrup can be used in many recipes —including cocktails, desserts and even main course entrees— so it’s very worth keeping some on hand, with your emergency stash of ice cream!

Heirloom & English Rose Petals are Especially Large and Fragrant 

Heirloom & English Roses from my Summertime Garden

Article 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.

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through the affiliate-links here. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to The Gardener’s Eden, and will help with site maintenance and web hosting costs. Thank you!

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Designing Spring’s Prettiest Potager & Rosalind Creasy’s ‘Edible Flower Garden’

February 8th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Rosalind Creasy’s The Edible Flower Garden

When you begin plotting out your spring vegetable garden, do you include space for edible flowers in your planting plan? Wait, did I just say edible flowers? Indeed I did. Gourmet gardeners will already be familiar with the delicious flavor of stuffed squash blossoms and the zing of spicy nasturtiums, but there are many, many more flavorful flowers to consider when drawing up your potager design. Looking for fresh inspiration while designing a long-time client’s 2018 vegetable plot, I pulled out Rosalind Creasy’s The Edible Flower Garden and found myself dreaming of candied flowers, lavender ice cream, rose petal syrup and beds filled with Johnny Jump-Ups, Violets, Begonias, Calendula and Hyssop. What great wintertime reading for a gardener, and a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your favorite flower lover.Image: Rosalind Creasy’s The Edible Flower Garden

Long time followers of this blog will recall many posts on potager design and edible gardens; including those featuring the use of herbs and flowers. The addition of flowers —especially edible buds and blossoms— to a vegetable garden is beneficial in so many ways. Not only do colorful flowers make an edible landscape more beautiful, they also provide sustenance to pollinators, beneficial insects, birds and yes, even the gardeners themselves. Designing a pretty potager is not only desirable, it also makes good gardening sense!Nasturtium Tangle in My Own, Summertime Potager

When it comes to selecting seed for your spring planting, The Edible Flower Garden is filled with great information about flower flavors and textures as well as advice on how to grow and prepare your blossoms. From easy-to-cultivate annuals to long-lived perennials and investment shrubs, The Edible Flower Garden will help you decide what to grow.Most Tuberous Begonias have a crisp texture and pleasantly light, lemony flavor. Image: Rosalind Creasy, The Edible Flower Garden

One of the best parts of this book, as well as others in Rosalind Creasy’s edible gardening series, is the recipe section. From simple sauces and salads to delicious-looking main courses and desserts, there’s something for everyone. Spring dreaming? May visions of Edible Flower Canapés and Rose Petal Sorbet dance in your head ’til springtime. Gather your seed packets and tubers, I’ll meet you in the garden come May!

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A copy of this book was provided by Tuttle Publishing in exchange for independent, un-biased review. No other compensation was received. The Gardener’s Eden is not an affiliate of Tuttle Publishing, but is an affiliate of Amazon.com.

Article 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.

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through the affiliate-links here. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to The Gardener’s Eden, and will help with site maintenance and web hosting costs. Thank you!

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A Winter Wander

February 7th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

A bit of golden sunlight through the trees. Traces of warmth in this cold, dark season.

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Photography copyright Michaela Harlow 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.

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through the affiliate-links here. At no additional cost to you, a small commission will be paid The Gardener’s Eden, to help with site maintenance and web hosting costs. Thank you!

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Spicy & Savory Winter Squash Stew

February 5th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Winter Squash Stew from The Edible Herb Garden

After posting my recent review of Rosalind Creasy’s The Edible Herb Garden last week, I decided that I simply had to try one of the many tempting recipes at the back of the book. Cooking with fresh herbs and homegrown vegetables is a bit more challenging at this time of year; especially in cold climates like New England. But with a good supply of windowsill herbs, a root cellar and/or freezer, attempting a few of Rosalind’s recipes is certainly not out of the question —even in midwinter. Onions and garlic are items most gardening cooks have on hand throughout the cold season, and butternut squash stores well right through the early days of spring. Of course, I always have homegrown herbs, even if they are just little, potted plants on my countertop. Who could live without fresh herbs?

Many of the recipes in Rosalind’s wonderful Edible Herb Gardening book sound both tasty and simple to make, however it was the hearty, native squash stew that leapt out at me on this raw, Superbowl Sunday weekend. Butternut squash has always been one of my favorite vegetables, but I often find it underrepresented in cookbooks. For this reason, I’m always looking out for creative ways to use this mildly sweet, hearty vegetable.

The Edible Herb Garden by Rosalind Creasy

The basic recipe included in the book is delightful, however on my second batch, I chose to jazz it up a bit with homemade vegetable stock, a few smoky chipotle chiles and ample hot sauce. Spicing is always personal, but otherwise I recommend following Rosalind’s cue.  Served with crispy corn chips, this thick and satisfying soup is as perfect for Meatless Monday as it was for Superbowl Sunday. I’m looking forward to trying many more of Rosalind’s recipes; including her Fancy Carrot and Onion Soup from this wonderful book, next weekend.

 

Winter Squash Stew

(Adapted from Rosalind Creasy’s Native Squash Stew, The Edible Herb Garden. Posted with Permission)

Ingredients:

3      Tbs  Olive Oil

2      Medium-Large Onions, Chopped

10    Cups Butternut Squash, Peeled & Cut into 2″ Cubes

4      Garlic Cloves, Finely Chopped

2      Red Bell Peppers, Roasted, Peeled & Chopped

6      Anaheim Chiles, Roasted, Peeled & Chopped (or equivalent canned, roasted, mild chiles)

3      Chipotle Chiles, Chopped (canned, in adobo sauce)

1      10-12 oz Package Frozen Corn (in season, use 2-3 ears of fresh corn, scraped)

3      Tsp Ground Cumin

3      Cups Vegetable Stock (or sub Chicken Stock for meat eaters)

1      Tbs Hot Chili Sauce (or to taste)

Salt & Ground Black Pepper to Taste

4      Tbs. Freshly Chopped Cilantro (plus more for serving)

Corn Chips or Corn Tortillas for Serving

 

Method:

Heat the oil in a large stockpot set to medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add butternut squash, garlic, peppers, chilies, corn, cumin. Pour in 3 cups of stock and simmer on low heat until squash is tender (approximately 45 minutes). Mash the stew slightly with a potato masher to break apart some squash chunks and thicken the stew. Add salt, pepper and hot chili sauce to taste. Sprinkle pot and individual bowls of stew with cilantro and serve with a side of warm, homemade corn tortillas or chips.

Winter Squash Stew, Perfect for Lunch or Dinner on a Cold, New England Day

 

A copy of The Edible Herb Garden was provided by Tuttle Publishing in exchange for independent, un-biased review. No other compensation was received. The Gardener’s Eden is not an affiliate of Tuttle Publishing, but is an affiliate of Amazon.com.

Article 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.

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through the affiliate-links here. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to The Gardener’s Eden, and will help with site maintenance and web hosting costs. Thank you!

Plow & Hearth

Gardener's Supply Company

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