Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Just for Fun

Sometimes I garden with a purpose in mind such as planting veggies in the spring to have great food to eat in summer and fall or planting perennial edibles so I can enjoy them for years to come.  And then there are the plantings I add to stabilize a steep banking or for a bit of privacy.  Sometimes I plant flowers just because they’re pretty and they make me smile.  An added bonus: I can cut them to bring those smiles indoors with me.  Or give them to a friend.

And then there are the things I do in the garden because they’re fun.  This past weekend I built a tower from terra cotta pots.  I’ve seen these in photos on the web and in magazines and think the improbable stacking adds a bit of the unexpected. 

The secret?  A metal rod is inserted through the holes in the pots.  In my case, since the bottom pot sits directly on the ground, I inserted the rod through the bottom pot into the soil for added stability.  The bottom pot was filled with potting soil, pansies added, then the next, slightly smaller pot was threaded onto the metal rod, filled with soil and planted.  The weight of the soil holds the pot in place, the rod keeping it from falling over.  It didn’t take much time and I had most of the materials already on hand. 

I’m pretty pleased with my precariously perched pots of pansies.  They make me smile.  And isn’t that a great reason to garden?

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Dandy Lion

Take a moment to appreciate the humble dandelion.  Here’s a plant that is so much more than a pesky weed.  It is a plant to be enjoyed.  I was surprised to learn that every part of this nature’s powerhouse is edible, at the very least usable.  While I’m still not convinced about the stems getting anywhere near my kitchen table, I have sampled both the flowers and the leaves and won’t hesitate to again.   

I remember my mother each spring gathering dandelion greens and preparing them like spinach.  Since I was never a fan of cooked spinach, I crinkled my nose and never considered taking a bite.  Times have changed.  I stood in the middle of the lawn last spring after reading an article about the benefits of dandelions and all the wonderful things one could do with them.  I plucked a dandelion blossom and nibbled.  Not bad.  I gathered a handful and brought them indoors and brewed a cup of tea.  Pretty good.  I gathered dandelion greens and added them to my salads.  This spring when the flowers bloomed, I scoured the lawn picking blossoms and made dandelion jelly.  Yum.  I’m not a winemaker, so I haven’t attempted making wine, though I know a number of people who have done so. 

Dandelion recipes are readily available on the Internet, which is where I obtained both recipes and inspiration.  So nibble on a leaf or flower, try adding the leaves to recipes as you would other greens, make some jelly, brew a cup of tea, try dandelion blossom fritters or add the petals to a muffin recipe.  Ah, the possibilities. 

Just one word of caution:  Don’t pick dandelions on the roadside or any grassy area where chemicals might have been applied.  You want your weeds organic.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Saving Daylight

There are those who complain about losing an hour’s sleep when the clocks spring ahead each March.  They would prefer to remain on standard time all year round.  I am not among them.  I gladly give up that hour on a Saturday night in March to gain an hour of daylight in the evening.  After a long winter of getting up in near darkness, driving to work only to drive home in the dark each evening, I crave daylight.  Once Daylight Savings Time kicks in, the days instantly seem longer, and I feel more productive.  The fact that Daylight Savings Time was moved several years ago so that we change the clocks earlier tells me I’m not alone. 

With the additional daylight each evening when I return home from work, I find myself ready to tackle even mundane indoor tasks.  Starting seeds on a table beside a window where the sun is still shining through is an excellent way to de-stress at the end of the day. 

Welcome, Daylight Savings Time!  Can spring be far away?

Monday, February 27, 2012

First Sign of Spring

Okay, so it isn’t spring. Yet. But the signs are appearing. Despite the snow on the ground and the cold in the air, winter is waning. 

My favorite addition to the garden – spring blooming witch hazel – has been in bloom for weeks. Its spidery yellow flowers with their splashes of red are in stark contrast to the mostly white landscape and the brown of the naked shrubs around it.

Witch hazel leaves will unfold after the flowers have faded, but for now this one plant holds the promise of the coming season, unphased by snowfall and cold winds, not caring that it’s still winter.