Easter flowers

Today has been an absolutely beautiful day in Michigan.  I can’t remember when the sun, the sky, and the temperature has been this lovely.  My daffodils are blooming and it really feels like Spring has come to stay.

I love flowers for a special table setting, and I always try to have something different for a holiday meal.  I especially love Spring flowers and decided on pink tulips this year for my Easter table.

I used antique Ball pale blue jars for vases and have been admiring the tulips every day since I placed them on the table. There is just something about the colors that are so peaceful and elegant.

Sometimes just a simple table arrangement makes all the difference in presentation of a special meal.  Our family enjoyed a special glazed ham with vegetables this year, along with my classic Easter Egg cookies.  I will always have these memories of the enjoyment I share when preparing a meal for everyone.

Lenten Rose

Well worth the wait is the Lenten Rose or Helleborus.  It has taken around three years for my plants to really take hold and offer up beautiful flowers.  I love my three plants, and this Spring they have produced a lovely effect in my shade border.

Michigan is a great location for these plantings, as sometimes warm, wet or humid conditions that are present in other States, would lead to disease.

I especially love their speckled flowers and the shape of the leaves.  The colors are muted in each of these cultivars, although I believe that adds to their charm.  Somehow this plant reminds me of days gone by, and old friend, or gardens of the past.

I wish my whole border was filled with Lenten Rose, as I have come to really love their beautiful blossoms when Spring is just emerging in Michigan.

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Windmill Island Gardens: Holland MI

windmill replica also located in the gardens

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Imported from the Netherlands, a large authentic working Dutch windmill is located in Holland, Michigan.  I toured the city and gardens last week for the annual tulip festival. The windmill is twelve stories tall, and is turned by wind power.  The millstones within the mill grind grain into flour.  With entrance to the gardens, visitors tour the working mill spring through fall every year. In addition, a smaller windmill replica is also within the walking gardens.

The large imported windmill is named De Zwaan, which is Dutch for the Swan.  The mill is over 240 years old and was brought to Holland in 1964.  This windmill was the last one to leave the Netherlands.  Dutch law now prohibits the sale of windmills.  Windmills are considered national monuments in the Netherlands.  The flour that is produced from the mill is whole wheat graham flour and is packaged into two-pound bags and can be purchased in the gift shop.

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Besides this beautiful attraction, we spent time wandering through the tulip gardens in the park. This year, 55,000 tulips were planted in large fields, where others were planted in arranged beds with other spring flowers.

The tour also includes a movie, Amsterdam organ demonstration, an antique Dutch carousel, a tropical conservatory, and a miniature Netherlands village diorama.

The weather was beautiful and so much appreciated after such a cold Michigan winter. What a wonderful display right here in Michigan.

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Spring Cara Cara and tangerine salad

A spring citrus salad can be so refreshing.  The pastel color of the fruit helps to make the salad presentation bright, light and fresh.  I chose to use Cara Cara navel oranges for my Easter salad this year.  I found them at Whole Foods this past weekend, and their sweet taste is delightful. This variety has a very low acidic taste.  I also noted that this fruit was grown in California, which encouraged me to make the purchase. Their rose-pink color was so attractive on the plate in contrast with the tangerines.  Another option would be to use blood oranges, which I could not find in my market.

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I used a salad dressing recipe from Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 2015 edition which was super easy and perfect for this salad.

Combine these ingredients to make the dressing:  1/4 cup olive oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt.  Shake or stir very well in a salad dressing jar.

Then, plate the salad.  I used baby arugula, with slices of Cara Cara and tangerine, topped with chopped pistachios.  Add a drizzle of the dressing.  Delicious, Bright, and so very Spring!

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My garden will be awake soon

I can’t wait until Spring.  Today we had some sunshine and blue skies.  Even though the outdoor temperature was only 22 F this afternoon,  the sky looked spectacular.  I gazed out my window at my snow-filled picket fence garden and continued to dream about warmer days.

March is a good time of year to review what gardening tools need to be replaced, and which ones should just be cleaned and organized.  It is still too cold for me to be cleaning off my garden bench, but taking an assessment of what should be replaced has been completed. I also spend time looking through my photos of last years’ garden during the Spring months. Here are a couple of photos of my garden in early Spring from 2014.

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Over recent years, garden hose technology has advanced. Last year, I remember being sprayed by the leaking hose, having wet socks and garden clogs, or trying to turn it off with frustration.  So, I am replacing my hose this year.  I found this 150 foot expandable Gorilla hose and it arrived earlier this week.

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First of all, it feels like a quality product.  It is lightweight with brass connections.  One end of the hose has a stopcock, which will allow me to fill my watering cans and turn off the water in one turn. This is just what I need as I like to use a hose sometimes, but often prefer a watering can for certain tender perennials. I like the ability to direct the water around my flowers. The hose length is longer than any other hose I have ever owned.  As the black fabric cover expands, it stretches as the water fills the hose. The hose has a double layer latex core. I placed this hose on my garden hose cart, and noticed immediately that it takes up less space than my old green garden hose. The design is well thought out and manufactured.  The hose already has several five star online recommendations, so I know this is the one for my garden. I am looking forward to using a hose that will not kink, leak or tangle this growing season.

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For more information about the 150 foot Gorilla hose, please follow this link:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00R59MIAE/ref=od_aui_detailpages00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

leather leaf viburnum

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recently i read that no garden can have too many viburnum plantings.  i must agree.  i have totally fallen in love with these woody shrubs.  when we moved into this home that was built during the early 80’s the perimeter of the yard was planted with several ten foot tall viburnum.  i wasn’t quite sure what type they were, but when i discovered that they were leather leaf, i was thrilled.

the leaves have a superb texture and magnificent size. during the colder winter months, the leaves droop similar to a rhododendron. however, this past winter, with temperatures well below minus 10, the leaves fell off totally.  i was heartbroken–thinking that perhaps i had lost my row of shrubbery.  each day, i looked out my front window to see the cold blowing wind hitting them on the western side of my home.  it would be spring time before i would know if they could hold up to the bitter cold minus 40 degree temperatures in my typically zone 5 garden.

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as you can see, during the past few weeks, these viburnum have made a wonderful recovery.  the leaves are returning slowly, though they have not grown to the eighth inch lengths quite yet.  but, the plants have been putting forth beautiful leaves and the showy white spring flowers.  yes, it is almost June, but i am so happy.   i have several leather leaf shrubs, and my neighbor has an equal amount that face my yard.   with afternoon sun, and mostly shade, the plantings are very low maintenance.

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needless to say, i have been shopping for different varieties of viburnum for other areas of my yard.  with Korean Spice already planted across the yard from these, i have purchased two summer snowflake viburnum which will be delivered this coming week.  true love.

the green garden

 

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i am still working on preparing my kitchen garden beds for the growing season–cleaning, cultivating, and composting. i even have an expansion plan for this season. we have worked on raking and blowing leaves that were used to protect my flowers, herbs and other edibles from the harsh winter the last few weeks. we came up with 18 large paper bags of leaves, and are finally down to just a few leaves that could be actually composted into the soil.  i am not certain where all of these leaves and twigs come from during the winter.   nevertheless, we are at the point of seeing lots of green growth in the garden today.

i have walking onions, lovage, lambs ear, thyme, marjoram, oregano, rhubarb, chives and many flowering perennials.  i planted garlic last fall, and am so thrilled that it is coming up quite nicely. it is an exciting feeling to actually have something green in May, after what i believe was an unbelievably cold Michigan winter.

today is another rainy day.  as the raindrops are falling, i see my lawn making a tremendous rebound. my Vinca is blue–my hosta are emerging–the lily of the valley are growing.  soon, my garden beds will be full of green growth.

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i found a great magazine highlighting tomatoes this season. i am so anxious, i put out some tomato cages and pepper ladders.  it is still too early in Midland to plant, but the spaces are reserved.

this magazine happens to include recipes and a great assortment of tomatoes to be grown just for sauce. other topics included in this issue focus on myths, staking choices, supplies, diseases, and recommendations of plants that are trouble-free.  the issue is published by fine gardening for Spring 2014.

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i took this photo a couple of days ago when there was actually sunshine coming through my window.  i have decided on some varieties for my garden this year, and made my catalog order a couple of weeks ago.  have you found any favorite tomatoes that you like?  i have grown some in the ground in years past,  and some on my deck in pots.  let me know if you have a favorite.