Green Bits

You are seedlings now
Thirsty, little bits of green
It is with hopeful expectation
That I water you by hand

I can hardly wait
To see you grow tall and strong
To see you reach for the sun
To see you turn toward its light

I dream of how you will
Dance with the wind

How you will make me
Shine from withinseedling

The Facts

Alternative facts, that is. If there is any group of people that has learned to accept unpleasant realities—often brought on by natural forces—that group is gardeners.

I am pleased to announce that, as of 2017, these are the facts that will be governing the progress of my garden throughout the year:

  • All the bulbs that I planted will bloom: 100%. No animal depredations, none not planted deep enough for survival, no duds. They’ll look amazing. Everyone will agree.
  • Despite the deep shade thrown by 3 Tall Pines along the driveway, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t plant luxuriant stands of sun-loving perennials like delphinium, daisies, coreopsis, salvia, and rudbeckia. It will be beautiful.
  • I reject the very idea of weeds. They will not be allowed.
  • Whatever rainfall we get will be perfect. Not even going to set up the hoses, because I know we’ll have enough.
  • My roses will be tremendous this year. Instead of a flush in June and sporadic blooms after that, they’ll be covered in flowers all season long. Because I say so.
  • Deadheading and pruning? Boring. Let the losers waste their time on it. Not me—I’m going to get tired of winning!

Many of us (including me) do start the gardening year hoping against all wisdom and all experience that, somehow, this time the garden will be perfect and that all the design flaws, infestations, plant failures, and human errors that plagued it every other year will somehow not obtain. This time. I guess we all have our alternative facts (but at least we know they’re silly).

Beauty of the Gardens

I present pictures of the most beautiful gardens in Maine. To the delight of your eyes:

 

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
As one of the many gorgeous gardens the state has to offer, this is a must see if you are seeking a garden filled tour. This garden features 35,000 bulbs guaranteed to brighten your day!

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Blaine House Gardens
Located in Augusta, ME, the Blaine House has a lot to offer during their tours, especially the garden. The property offers two different gardens, The Shrub Garden and the New England Garden, as well as The Lawn, during their garden tour.

Blaine House

Hamilton House Grounds
This national historic landmark located in South Berwick, ME, is a destination for many. Built in 1785, there is a rich history following this home along with their beautiful garden.

untitled

The Garden at Pineland Farms
The Garden at Pineland Farms features one-acre of perennial, herb, and Maine vegetable gardens. With over 130 varieties of perennials, blueberry bushes, apple trees, espaliered pear trees, 6,000 flowering annuals, and an ornamental conifer bed, there is plenty to look at and enjoy during your visit.

The Garden at Pineland Farms

Pettengill Farm
This farm is self-claimed as “a flower farm of distinction” and was established in 1792. Whether you’re just visiting or looking for Maine landscaping this farm has it all.

Pettengill Farm

McLaughlin Garden
As the number one attraction in South Paris, ME, this is one garden you have to visit. Well known for hosting weddings and other outdoor events, this garden is beautiful and just waiting for a visit.

mclaughlin garden.png

Nickels-Sortwell House Gardens and Sunken Garden
As one of the regions finest examples of high Federal-style architecture. One of America’s most prominent urban landscapers designed the gardens at this facility back in 1925. The sunken garden is a cellar hole that was purchased with the intention of creating a sunken garden.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Perkins Arboretum
With 128 acres of area to explore, you are guaranteed to enjoy your time at Perkins Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary.

perkins

Pine Tree State Arboretum
“To promote the knowledge and appreciation of Maine’s trees and other flora for people of all ages by offering opportunities for education, recreation, and inspiration,” the Pine Tree State Arboretum is the perfect place to stop by.

pine tree.png

The Rose Circle, Deering Oaks Park
The original design of this garden was not intended to be a rose garden, but now it is one of 134 public rose gardens in the US which is allowed to preview the “All American Rose Selections” from the American Rose Society.

rose.png

Easy and delicious summer meal

Summer gives you permission to stop trying so hard. Resign yourself to drinking all day outside. Read for pleasure. And absolutely do not stress about preparing an elaborate dinner.

 

One of our favorite go to meals is during the hot days of summer is:

Summer Chicken Wraps

Ingredients:

  • 12oz chicken breasts, cooked, cooled, and sliced into strips
  • 4 burrito- sized flour tortillas
  • ½ cup hummus
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced and seeded
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, torn
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Salt & pepper

Preparation:

Lay tortillas out on a clean dry surface then spread 2 Tablespoons of hummus over each tortilla. Divide carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, basil, and sliced chicken between tortillas then sprinkle with salt and pepper, roll and slice.

Summer-Chicken-Wrap_01_mini

We also love this quick  weekend snacks

Watermelon-and-Prosciutto Skewers

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds seedless baby watermelon, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 pound prosciutto, torn in half lengthwise
  • Store-bought balsamic glaze

Preparation

On 6-inch skewers, thread 3 pieces watermelon with 1/2 slice prosciutto folded between each. Generously drizzle with balsamic glaze just before serving.

watermelon-and-prosciutto-skewers

Using Plants as Natural ‘Pest’ Repellants

As summer creeps up upon us, many of us are squeezing in our first (of many) cookouts, patio parties, camping trips, and gardening chores. We’re also noticing the arrival of some uninvited guests; mosquitoes, flies and moths, to name just a few. Most of these ‘pests’ are simply annoying, but others can pose more serious threats.

Of course, the presence of insects is not only natural; it’s an essential aspect of a healthy garden. The challenge comes in managing the ‘pests’ – those biting, veggie-decimating, marching-inside-the-house sorts of pests – while doing no harm to the microcosmic health of our garden, or to ourselves, our families, pets and wildlife, and the environment as a whole.

The following are examples of plants that can help repel, or at least deter, some common pests. 

Plants that help repel mosquitoes:

  • Agastache cana (a.k.a. Mosquito Plant)
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Lavender
  • Scented geraniums
  • Beebalm
  • Mint
  • Marigolds

Plants that help deter ticks:

  • Lavender
  • Garlic
  • Pennyroyal
  • Pyrethrum (type of chrysanthemum)
  • Sage
  • Eucalyptus
  • Mint

Other pest-deterring plants:

  • Rue – especially good at deterring flies, Japanese beetles, slugs, fleas, and cats
  • Wormwood  – deters a variety of insects including ticks, flies and moths
  • Mint – deters beetles, fleas, moths, mice, ants
  • Rosemary – in addition to mosquitoes, it also deters cabbage moths and carrot flies

As is always the case when making plant selections, it’s important to understand the plant’s benefits and possible hazards.

Summer is a great time to be thinking about what pest-repelling plants would work well in your landscape, especially near your outdoor living areas.

MAKING & USING DANDELION OIL

 

It’s probably a safe assumption to say that almost all of us have dandelions in our yard.  This is one of the most common “weeds” around. Sadly, dandelions are despised by most people. However, Dandelions deserve our respect and admiration! This is an amazing plant for us. The leaves, flowers, and roots of Dandelions are loaded with nutrients and natural remedy qualities that are very good for our bodies.

dandelion

Making Dandelion Oil

Harvest dandelions in the full sun of the day when the dew has dried off. They should be fully, gloriously open and dry. Simply cut the flower heads from the plant. Gather enough to fill a jar half full.

Fill the jar to 1/4 inch of the top with olive oil (really any oil will work). Remove any air bubbles with a butter knife and make sure all the blossoms are submerged under the oil. Cover the jar with a lid and place it in a sunny window for 2 weeks. Check your oil every few days, and gently shake it to encourage the flowers to release their benefits.

If you want a speedier process, you can heat the oil in a jar on the stove. Put a small pot on the stove with a few inches of water in the bottom. Then sit the glass jar of oil and flower heads in the pan and turn it on medium. Once the water heats up but not boiling, turn it off and let the jar sit in the pan of water until it cools off.

At the end of the two weeks, strain the blossoms from the oil. Compost your flowers and the infused oil is now ready to use!  Store the oil in a clean jar. The dandelion oil is now ready for use. 

Note: Dandelion can mold if left for much longer than 2 weeks in the oil.

All oil can go rancid, so please use this dandelion oil up within a year.

dandelion oil

Using Dandelion Oil

It makes a wonderful massage oil for stiff joints or tired muscles. It helps soothe dry skin too. You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to scent the oil, if desired.

Use it as a base oil for sore muscle ointments and creams.

Instead of plain oils, use the infused oil, as a skin soothing base for homemade body balm.

Dandelions are an amazing resource from nature, be sure to take advantage of a few to keep the body running well later.

 

You can go a step further and make dandelion salve

After the oil is strained it’s time to make the salve.

Melt 2 ounces of beeswax inside a glass measuring cup that is sitting in a pan of boiling water.

When the beeswax melts add the dandelion infused oil.

Before adding the beeswax/dandelion oil mixture to a jar, you can add about 20 drops of lavender essential oil (any essential oil).

When the salve cools it’s ready to use.

dandelion benefits

Carrot Cake

The Fate of Carrot Cake is Never Fair..

All is fair? Not when it comes to the last piece of carrot cake,
That was waiting right here for me when I was finally wide awake,
Because carrot cake tastes quite yummy in the morning or at night,
And I have little willpower when it comes to this delectable delight,
So don’t even think about calling dibs on what is no longer there,
Because the fate of the last piece of yumminess will never be fair,
If you had truly wanted it then you would have woke up before me,
And just so you know it tasted quite delish with a cup of Chai tea.

carrot cake