Gaga for Dahlias

Top 10 Dahlias

I always been a fan of dahlias since seeing my paternal Grandfather grow them for my Grandmother every summer. He would carefully pick off all the Japanese Beetles that were trying to devour the leaves and cut the blooms off to float them in water or place them in vases for my Grandmother to admire.

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Basket of Dahlias – Photographed by SC – © http://www.PSILovePeas.com

Recently, I joined a Dahlia Facebook Group where there are lovers of this stunning flower from all over the globe. I started chatting with another lady that hails from England. The birthplace of my maternal Grandmother. Sarah grows acres upon acres of gorgeous Dahlias and I asked her where her love of Dahlias came from:

“When I was a child my uncle grew dahlias in oblong beds in a formal lawn, loud yellow, white and red ones they were awful but I loved the form of the flowers. When I was lucky enough to finally have a garden after 25 years of living in a property with only a backyard I decided to give them a second chance. The revival had already happened here in the UK growers like Sarah Raven had got the public’s interest with soft blousy dahlias offering a flower lover something exciting to work with and a gardener the chance to fill their garden with beautiful blooms, choosing my top ten blooms is nigh on impossible as every seasons has something new to offer but I will try and share. Here are some favourites.”

#1 – Le Baron

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Le Baron Dahlia – Photographed by SC – © http://www.PSILovePeas.com

Considered a favorite by many because of its 6-8″ deep purple-reddish blooms.

U.S. Source: Dutch Bulbs

#2 – American Dawn

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American Dawn Dahlia – Photographed by SC – © http://www.PSILovePeas.com

A modern dahlia that’s been bred for amazing color, sturdy stems and abundant flower production. The luscious, 4-5″ blossoms are a tropical blend of peach, mango and papaya with plum-purple highlights. Long, dark purple stems make American Dawn an outstanding cut flower. Guaranteed to be a star in your late summer garden.

Source: Longfield Gardens

#3 – Cafe Au Lait

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Cafe Au Lait Dahlia – Photographed by SC – © http://www.PSILovePeas.com

‘Cafe Au Lait’ Dinner Plate Dahlia produces large, buttermilk-colored blooms up to 10” across that blush with pink and hints of barely-there latte brown. As the season progresses and the flowers mature, expect more delicious color variations to appear. Excellent as a cut flower, ‘Cafe Au Lait’ is hugely popular in wedding bouquets and arrangements. Prefers full sun.

Source: American Meadows

#4 – Otto’s Thrill

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Otto’s Thrill Dahlia – Photographed by SC – © http://www.PSILovePeas.com

This giant rosy-pink treasure is a huge hit with everyone who visits our garden, especially wedding florists. If you’re looking for a winning addition to your dinnerplate dahlia collection, then look no further. With long, strong stems and huge 8-12 inch shimmering pink blossoms, ‘Otto’s Thrill’ deserves a spot in every cutting garden.

Source: Floret Flower Shop

#5 – Jowey Winnie

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Jowey Winnie Dahlia – Photographed by SC – © http://www.PSILovePeas.com

If ‘Bracken Rose’ had a big sister, this beauty would be her. Their coloring is so similar, but ‘Jowey Winnie’ has a warm peach undertone whereas ‘Bracken Rose’ is more of a cool rosy pink. The vigorous, healthy plants churn out armloads of large, ball-shaped, dusty-rose flowers all season long. Their long, strong stems make them ideal for cutting. A must have for flower arrangers and wedding florists.

Source: Floret Flower Shop

#6 – Gerrie Hoek

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Gerrie Hoek Dahlia – Photographed by SC – © http://www.PSILovePeas.com

Introduced in 1942. This old time favorite is still popular. The 5″ shell pink waterlily is an outstanding cutflower, keeps very well. Bush height 4′. Recommended as a cut flower. Should do well in exhibition.

Source: Swan Island Dahlias

#7 – Sam Hopkins

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Sam Hopkins Dahlia – Photographed by SC – © http://www.PSILovePeas.com

In bud, Dahlia ‘Sam Hopkins’ petals could be cut from black velvet and even fully open, it hardly fades. Marvelous.

UK Source: Sarah Raven (Not currently available in US)

#8 – Mrs. Eileen

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Mrs. Eileen Dahlia – Photographed by SC – © http://www.PSILovePeas.com

This dahlia is sure to be show-stopper! The vibrant orange color of the Mrs. Eileen Dinnerplate is almost tangerine in color, lighting up your garden against the lush, green foliage. Pair these with brilliant yellows and reds for a fiery display! Dinnerplate dahlias are also know for their huge size and great cutting abilities.

US Source: Holland Bulb Farms

#9 – Eveline

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Eveline Dahlia – Photographed by SC – © http://www.PSILovePeas.com

‘Eveline’ – a ball type; although its flower’s buds are pink, it matures to an antique white with tips of each petal brushed with a pale pinkish lavender; 2′-3′.

US Source: Brent & Becky’s Bulbs

#10 – Miss Sophie

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Miss Sophie Dahlia – Photographed by SC – © http://www.PSILovePeas.com

Sarah loves this variety for no better reason that it is has the same name as her granddaughter.

A beautiful blend of white and fondant pink, this variety also sports strongly furled petals, making it quite distinctive. Very pretty.

UK Source: Rose Cottage Plants (Not currently available in the US)

Thank you Sarah so much for sharing your favorite dahlias with me and your gorgeous photography. I can’t wait to order several of these varieties in grow them in my garden next year!

Happy Gardening!

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Gorgeous Dahlia Arrangement – Photographed by SC – © http://www.PSILovePeas.com

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Plants Can Heal

Over the last 40 years of my life, I have dealt with a debilitating disease called Endometriosis. Many of you have heard of this issue, but some people think it is just bad cramps, which is SO far from the true, for many women it can have a greater impact and causes them to not live full lives due to chronic pain management.

After long and hard study, I have come to believe that plants and foods are what will heal my body from this autoimmune disease.  Thanks to my new naturopathic and Chinese medicine doctor.  Recently, it has gotten to the point that it is hard to walk during menstruation and ovulation because the inflammation is causing my hips to not work properly. With much research and trial, I have found what works for me! I say for me, because every body is different and what may work for me; might not work for you.

Here are the three plants that have been helping to reduce my inflammation:

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Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a perennial rhizome that is part of the same family as ginger. That is why the roots look so similar. This spice has been used in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. In Ayurvedic practices, turmeric has been used as an alternative treatment for a variety of internal disorders, such as indigestion, throat infections, common colds, or liver ailments, as well as topically, to cleanse wounds or treat skin sores. However, since it has not been clinically trialed in the United States – its medical claims are downplayed. In my experience, I have taken it when cramping is at an all-time high and it instantly takes away any issues.

Turmeric for Arthritis

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Ginger

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a perennial that grows by rhizome, which is the part of the plant that we eat. Ginger has long been used for treating stomach issues such as indigestion and nausea. It is a favorite among pregnant women who are trying to treat their morning sickness in a natural way. Ginger is in the family Zingiberaceae, to which also belong turmeric (Curcuma longa), cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), and galangal (Alpinia officinarum) or also referred to as Thai ginger because it is used in this cuisine frequently. Anytime in which you read officinale or officinarum in the Latin name, it means this plant was used for medicinal purposes by herbalists and founding botanists.

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This flora is typically found growing in tropical regions such as Hawaii, Japan, Australia and Malaysia.  Ginger has long been used in natural medicine for reducing pain and inflammation. By searching Google Europe. we are able to find many articles citing its medicinal qualities as the US doesn’t research herbs through the FDA:

Medical News Today – Ginger: Health benefits and dietary tips

12 Major Benefits of Ginger for Body & Brain

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Chamomile

German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is an extremely easy plant to grow by seed. I have been growing it in containers in my garden for several years. When it is in full bloom, it is ready to harvest. After smelling fresh Chamomile, you will never, ever go back to tea bags again. The scent is absolutely intoxicating and calming just when harvesting to dry it. Chamomile is derived from the Greek word – khamaimēlon – meaning “Earth Apple”. The German Chamomile Latin name is Matricaria chamomilla which also translates to “Water of Youth”. Frankly, I’m happy to get all the “youth” I can get!

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The research on this plant has mostly been done associating it with decreasing anxiety in test subjects. It is often a sleep aid in tea mixes like Sleepytime. As cited in this article, “Chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind.”

Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future

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Anti-Inflammation Tea

This weekend, I took one large ginger root, several turmeric roots and dried chamomile flowers and made a tea out of them. With the ginger and turmeric, I peeled the root and then diced it finely, mixed it with the chamomile and laid it out on a cookie sheet to dry. Once dried, I put it in a mason jar for storage. When my inflammation flares up, I plan on brewing a strong cup of tea to aid in relaxation. Honey can be added to the tea to sweeten, but remember no sugar as it causes extreme inflammation in the body. Brewing a pot for iced tea throughout the month would be a great idea as well.

This is one of several things I have done to reduce inflammation in my body caused by endometriosis. I will go over other ways that I have found to help with this autoimmune disease in upcoming, future posts. Next up is switching my diet over to a Mediterranean focus plan with eliminating animal products (meat, dairy, etc.) and adding more fish for protein plus beans & lentils for fiber. Wish me luck!

 

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Pathway to Garden Heaven in Bremerton

 

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Albers Vista Gardens – © P.S. I Love Peas Blog

While visiting a friend in Gig Harbor, I decided to make a day trip of it. After our visit, I headed out to find a local botanical garden and came upon Albers Vista Gardens in Bremerton, WA and even got to meet John Albers, the owner and designer of this beautiful home garden turned public and author of several books including Gardening for Sustainabilityand his most recently published book in 2017, The Northwest Garden Manifesto: Create, Restore and Maintain a Sustainable Yard. It was such a pleasure to stroll the gardens and see all the gorgeous views and vignettes that he had created throughout this stunning sanctuary.

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Geum x “Totally Tangerine” – © P.S. I Love Peas Blog

This salmon-colored Geum was a favorite variety that I saw in the garden. The color stopped me in my tracks as it was just so vibrant. Thinking it could possibly be the variety “Sangria” or “Totally Tangerine“, whatever its name I would love to find it and add it to my garden. The color is absolutely gorgeous.

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The Enhance of Biodiversity & Sustainability – © P.S. I Love Peas Blog

John is just an absolute master designer in my opinion. He has selected different colors, textures, heights, hardscape to enhance the natural beauty of this land. When speaking with him, I asked what genera he was most drawn to and he replied evergreens specifically Spruce. There are hundreds of different Acer cultivars as well. John highlighted that focusing on biodiversity and sustainability within the garden are topics that he is very passionate about and hence why he has written two books on the subject matter.

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The “Vista” in Albers Vista Gardens – © P.S. I Love Peas Blog

The view of the water and mountains from the garden was just spectacular. I loved how he placed the American flag right in this location. It was almost as if he was designing the garden with a camera in hand to see what would be captured in the frame of the lens.

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Pathway to Heaven – © P.S. I Love Peas Blog

A pathway to pure heaven! Well, that is how I envision it in my mind anyway filled with God’s creation and beauty upon beauty. I just love all the different colors in this image and textures. Really a masterpiece of garden artistry!

The stone pathways are throughout the garden, which made it a bit difficult to navigate with a stroller, but I’m that type if you give me a challenge I will do my darnest to conquer it. If you do visit with small child, consider wearing them instead.

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Pinus strobus ‘Contorta’ – © P.S. I Love Peas Blog

What is it about pine cones and contorted branches that I am SO drawn too?!? This is a Pinus strobus ‘Contorta’ (Contorted White Pine) which makes a great focal point in the garden. Whenever anyone asks me about what plants to put in their garden,  I almost always recommend Corylus avellena ‘Red Dragon’ or ‘Red Majestic’, not only does it add color to the landscape, but it also is absolutely amazing in the wintertime when the branches are in their full glory and covered with snow. Really a four-season plant! Now I have another new recommendation to give out!

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Antique vintage clock at Albers Vista Gardens – © P.S. I Love Peas Blog

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Albers Vista Garden – © P.S. I Love Peas

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Driftwood Bench Reading Nook – © P.S. I Love Peas

I can imagine myself sitting in this very spot for hours on end reading an gripping novel . I love the wood stump to the left that was kept to bring a vertical element to the garden. Many would take a tree down to the ground, but leaving a stump can add such natural beauty to a garden. It also becomes a home for baby plants and wildlife.

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Driftwood Garden Artwork – © P.S. I Love Peas Blog

Driftwood has always been a favorite design element in the landscape for me. How they are tumbled and shaped by the waves of water; making them so unique and creative. I love how John has surrounded it with these large flat rocks and accented it with Coreopsis ‘Zagreb’, Nepeta ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ and Agastache ‘Tango’ among others.

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Pollinator Pathway at Albers Vista Gardens – © P.S. I Love Peas Blog

This entire planting was very inspiring to me as I am going to be removing more of my grass (yeah!) and adding another garden to the front of my house. I could see this same plant selection residing in that area. Don’t you love the sign as well – Pollinator Pathway?!? Found a cute option at Gardener Supply’s website!

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Tradescantia andersoniana ‘Concord Grappe’ – © P.S. I Love Peas Blog

Another favorite when walking through the garden – Tradescantia andersoniana! The flower buds almost look like berries and give it this very interesting look and feel. They were such a deep purple color as well that I fell immediately in love. I believe this may be the variety ‘Concord Grappe’.

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Abutilon megapotamicum – © P.S. I Love Peas Blog

This Abutilon megapotamicum (Brazilian Bellflower) is hardy to 7b and looks like it is striving and overwintering in this sun/part sun location. I’d love to add it to my garden, but I feel I would lose it to winter in the Snohomish countryside. The flowers are so very unique and just pop out of the landscape.

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Madrona Woods – © P.S. I Love Peas Blog

To top it all off, there is a Madrona Woods on this property that features the largest Madrona (Arbutus menziesii) in Western Washington. I’m obsessed with this tree because it doesn’t grow in Michigan where I attended horticulture school at Michigan State University. Really anything with exfoliating bark pretty much wins me over! However, the deep dark red color of the bark is just gorgeous, having me constantly wishing that I had room for several of these trees in my garden, but such is life – you can’t always get what you wish for!

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Closeup of Exfoliating Bark – © P.S. I Love Peas

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If you want to buy John’s newest book, Northwest Garden Manifesto, it is available on Amazon here and includes many amazing images from David Perry of the gardens.

Happy Gardening All! 

Danielle

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Star-Spangled Shortbread Cookies

Happy Belated 4th of July to Everyone! I wish I would have been able to get this written before the 4th of July, but that didn’t happen. So here is a recipe you can use for Labor Day or next year’s 4th!

Mason Jar Flag Craft

This was a Mason Jar Flag that my dear friend, Julie created. I will be copying this for sure! – Copyright P.S. I Love Peas

I recently did a guest blog for my friend, Bren, over at Creative Living on this American Flag Blueberry & Strawberry-Raspberry pie that I created for a party that we were attending. Please visit her blog to see all the details and recipe. PLEASE do not be intimidated! This pie is super easy to make and this is coming from someone who taught herself to bake pies.

Well, once I was done making this pie, I had a lot of left over pie crust and I HATE wasting food. I started thinking what I could make with it and shortbread cookies came to mind.

With the leftover crust, I added more butter (1/2 stick), sugar (1 cup) and almond extract (1 tsp) and then I tasted the batter to adjust. If you feel it needs more extract or salt, go ahead and add it. Then I was trying to figure out how to make it festive-looking. I had just bought 3 different size star cookie cutters; goodwill is a great place to find these for cheap. I divided the batter in two and with one mixed in blue food coloring to get it to the color I wanted. Using the biggest star, I cut out white stars and then the medium blue stars. I had some leftover blue dough so I made little star cookies to scatter on the serving plate.  Baked at 375 for about 8 to 10 minutes – just until undersides be brown.

Star Shortbread Cookies

Star-Spangled Shortbread Cookies – Copyright: P.S. I Love Peas

Once the cookies were cooled, I added the raspberry on top and put a little bit of premade icing in the cavity so that it would stick to the cookie. One variation would be to take the small star and cut a window into the medium star to add raspberry or strawberry jam to make a stain glass cookie, but I didn’t have this flavor jam available. Found this blue serving plate in my cupboard and you have another dessert to pass.

This was my son’s first 4th of July and I really wanted to celebrate to honor him. We are so blessed to have him as part of our family. Such a cutie! I absolutely love this hat – Red, White & Cute!

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Hoping that everyone had a wonderful & safe 4th of July! Happy Birthday America – here is a bouquet of flowers for you!

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Happy Birthday America! Mason Jar Centerpiece – Copyright: P.S. I Love Peas

Note: All images are copyrighted to P.S. I Love Peas. I’m fine with other bloggers using my images, but I ask that credit and a link be given back to my blog for photo use. If you are a company interested in using my images, please contact me directly at dsmith dot 2007 @ hotmail dot com. Thank you!
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Plants that Make Me Drool – Literally!

I’m super stoked! I received my shipment from my friends at Proven Winners ColorChoice, which is Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, Michigan, one of the wonderful places that I worked when I wasn’t a mommy!

In the shipment, I received the newest and most talked about member of their family – At Last® Rose. This sweetly perfumed, sunset-orange rose claims to be disease resistant and it will be put to the ultimate test in my Seattle garden, which gets copious amounts of rainfall yearly causing all my other roses to get the dread disease of all the Rosaceae family – BLACK SPOT – a fungal disease that is spread by water. I’m looking forward to seeing how this lil’ lady holds up!

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At Last Rose – Image Credit: White Flower Farm

Many of you know that I am trying to focus more on sustainable landscape practices and adding plants to my garden that provide food along with being aesthetically pleasing. I no longer want to add plants to the garden that are just pretty – they have to have a functional quality of being edible. So when they offered to ship me Aronia Low Scape® Mound and Lemony Lace® Sambucus there was no hesitation on my part.

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Black Fruit of Aronia Low Scape Mound – Image: Spring Meadow Nursery

I grew Aronia in my Michigan garden and absolutely fell in love with the genus when I worked at Spring Meadow. The plant is a gardener’s dream as it has gorgeous features in spring, summer and fall. My favorite being fall when the leaves turn a brilliant red and are accented with dark, black berries.  As of late, I became more aware of the amazing power of the Aronia fruit as it is higher in antioxidants than a blueberry and off the chart when it comes to Vitamin C levels. Many of you have probably eaten Aronia without even knowing it. As I walked around with Dale Deppe, owner of Spring Meadow, we discussed how Aronia is in most fruit juices that are already on the market, but most consumers have no idea what an Aronia berry even is. During a friend’s recent presentation, she mentioned that Aronia is highly popular in Japanese culture and a delicious flavor of ice cream.

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Aronia Cheesecake Pops – Image Credit: Superberries

From Wikipedia:

“Chokeberries (common name for Aronia) are cultivated as ornamental plants and as food products. The sour berries can be eaten raw off the bush, but are more frequently processed. They can be found in wine, jam, syrup, juice, soft spreads, tea, salsa, chili starters, extracts, beer, ice cream, gummies and tinctures. The name “chokeberry” comes from the astringency of the fruits, which create a sensation making one’s mouth pucker.”

So the next time you buy juice at the grocery store, read the ingredients label because more than likely you are drinking chokeberry!

Sambucus (Elderberry) has been quite popular as of late with consumers looking for natural remedies to soothe winter illnesses. It has also gained fanfare as an unique liqueur flavor for drinks. Recently, Food & Wine Magazine published an article about “the best cocktails to make with elderberry liqueur” .  I prefer to use it as a natural way to get rid of colds and coughs. During the fall, I collect the berries and make a syrup that can be stored in the freezer until it is needed. There are several recipes online, but here are a couple of my favorites:

Not only does Lemony Lace® Sambucus have gorgeous, golden foliage and red, new grown, but its berries can attract wildlife as well as soothe my winter blah. What more can you ask for of a plant! Currently, I have Sambucus nigra ‘Variegata’ in my container garden. It is important to note that all other parts of the Elderberry plant are toxic to humans, except for the berries which cure so many ailments.

Lemony Lace

Closeup of Lemony Lace Leaf – Image Credit: Jackson & Perkins

Last, but far from least, I received Callicarpa Pearl Glam®! I have admired this plant from afar for so many moons. I have never grown it in my garden, not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t have a ton of space. This plant not only looks amazing in fall with violet-purple berries covering it by the hundreds, but sings in the spring with purple foliage. The upright habit makes it a more feasible option for my limited space as well.

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Beautyberry Jelly – Image Credit: Table and Hearth

Come to find out it also is edible and makes a delicious jelly and has long been used by Native American Tribes – from Garden.org:

“All parts of Callicarpa americana were used by the Alabama, Choctaw, Creek, Koasati, Seminole, and other Native American tribes. Roots, leaves, berries, and stems were used as the base for various teas and decoctions.  Root and leaf tea was used in sweat baths for rheumatism, fevers, and malaria.  Root tea was used for dysentery and stomach aches.  The root and berries were used for colic and as a treatment for a wide variety of common ailments.  It was also used in ceremonies.  The bark from the stems and the roots were used to treat itchy skin.”

Personally, I can’t wait to see this beauty in fruit right next to Lemony Lace Elderberry! My mouth is already dropping in splendor and awe! Enough plant drooling for tonight!

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Gorgeous violet-purple fall fruit – Image Credit: Proven Winners 

Happy Gardening Y’all!

Please Note: Links provided under the images are where the plants can be purchased online. I believe all the plants are available for purchase as well at Proven Winners website.
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Visiting the Amazon Spheres

Outside of Sphere

Image Credit: Seattle Spheres

On June 2, my husband, son and I were able to visit the Amazon Spheres in Downtown Seattle. It was quite the experience! The Spheres are only open to visitors two Saturdays a month and a reservation is needed, however, it is a totally free experience, which is hard to come by anywhere these days. The Understory can be viewed at any time and is an example to all of how an urban office space could be created.

Regarding the design of the spheres and plant collection, this from their website:

“An indoor garden from the start, The Spheres were first envisioned as a curved glass building filled with plants and tall trees. During early planning, the design team studied the form and function of several sphere-like conservatories around the world, including the UK’s Kew Gardens, the Mitchell Park Conservatory in Milwaukee, WI, and La Biosfera in Genoa, Italy. Eventually, three distinct buildings emerged, and their shape and geometry evolved over the course of the design process.”

Image Credit: Seattle Spheres

“One driving philosophy behind the plant collection was the concept that The Spheres should feel like “year five on day one.” In light of this principle, the team sourced plants from botanical gardens, private growers, and universities all over the world years before The Spheres opened. These plants still grow in a greenhouse in Woodinville, WA to sustain The Spheres today. Plants regularly circulate between The Spheres and the greenhouses dependent on the season. The very first plant logged in The Spheres plant collection was a Mountain Cacao specimen. Also known as Herrania balaensis, this Ecuadorean cacao species produces pods that can be used to make a sweet and high quality chocolate.”
Mountain Cacao

Image Credit: Seattle Spheres

The Plant Collection is impressive to stay the least and the way in which they framed plants to look like artwork is incredible.

Living Artwork

© P.S. I Love Peas Blog – Danielle Ernest

By far, the living wall was one of my favorite displays in the garden as well as the bird’s nest and sun deck to lay an enjoy the heat of the sun when it is out in Seattle.

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© P.S. I Love Peas Blog – Danielle Ernest

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© P.S. I Love Peas Blog – Danielle Ernest

Sundeck

© P.S. I Love Peas Blog – Danielle Ernest

If you are visiting the Seattle area, I would highly recommend a visit to The Spheres to lavish in this modern architectural marvel, stunning plant collection and design , but remember you must make a reservation, but it is one of the only free things to do in downtown.

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Show Pops He’s Tops!

Gifts for guys are hard. I get it. So I’ve made things as easy as possible for you. Here is a list of the top five gifts that I think any Dad that loves gardening would be honored to receive.

For the Weeder:

Besides looking bad, weeds are fierce competitors for essential sunlight, nutrients and moisture. The Weasel Weed Popper Step & Twist makes it easy to remove many weeds, including dandelions, by using its unique plug-ejecting feature. Simply push the tines onto the weed, press down with your foot, twist the handles, and pop out the weed instantly, roots and all – with no chemical treatments!

For the Clean Shaven:

Want your man to smell like Bourbon Cedar? That’s a silly question…who wouldn’t. This conditioning shave cream from Olivina gives skin extra attention with a blend of caffeine and antioxidant-rich yerba mate, organic hemp seed oil and bisabolol. It helps ward of nicks and bumps, redness and dryness for a clean, comfortable shave.

This bundle contains everything a man needs for a next-level shave experience. It’s also a great way to try a few of our products for a little cheaper than buying them all individually!

For the Botanist: 

Slow infused soothing herbal salve for more than just dry skin with antimicrobial essential oils of rosemary, thuja (cedar leaf) and tea tree. Perfect for use after a hard day of work or play as an intensive hand salve, foot cream, first aid ointment on scrapes, scars, bites, mild burns, sunburns. Keep our handy 1 oz jar nearby and you will discover that it truly is All Purpose.

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All Purpose Salve – Ora’s Amazing Herbal

For the Bird Lover: 

This is a revolutionary, patented hummingbird feeder with 22 feeding ports angled for optimal nectar access. It is expertly designed to attract more hummers with the cutting-edge horizontal feeder orientation. Optimal port spacing to maximize side-by-side feeding and easy to fill plus clean.

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2 ft Hummerbar Horizontal Feeder – Source: Perky Pets

For the Control Freak:

Here’s a handy keep-in-your-pocket tool. Snip, it’s a flower shear — flip, it’s a pruner that cuts branches and stems up to a half-inch in diameter. Handy for dead-heading and harvesting flowers and pruning small branches. In hard-to-lose green.

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Flip & Snip Pruner Scissors – Source:  Gardener’s Supply Company 

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Peony, Lemon & Ginger Scones

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Summer Flower Bouquet from my garden – Peonies, Baptistia and Hostas

Who doesn’t love Peonies? I mean, come on…they are absolutely gorgeous in the garden and some even have fragrance. One variety named ‘Eden’s Perfume’ in my garden, I planted in memory of a friend that passed away from cancer several years ago because peonies were her favorite flowers. For me, flowers hold memories…of my childhood, of dear friends, of when I first fell in love with gardening. Whenever I see this peony bloom and smell its sweet fragrance it brings back memories that I have with that wonderful friend that is now in heaven.

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‘Eden’s Perfume’ – Image: White Flower Farm

As of late, I have been trying to incorporate edible flowers more in my cooking. I was reading online how peonies were edible – so I decided to create a special recipe, Peony, Lemon & Ginger Scones, just with them to share with my girlfriend when she came over to my home for brunch.

The petals that I collected for these scones came from the very first plant that I purchased when we moved from Michigan to Washington. I was visiting Sky Nursery in Shoreline, WA when this beautiful tree peony (in a box) jumped off the shelf at me. It was a deep maroon flower with dark, purple new foliage growth. As the flowers were starting to shed petals, I collected them from the ground and dried them in my home for a week or so.

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Beautiful Dragonfly Resting on the Tree Peony

 

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Why didn’t I keep the plant tag? I’ve searched the internet and can’t find the variety name!

Here is the delicious recipe that I taste-tested on my friend! How do I know they are delicious? Well, she went back from seconds and took some home to share with her husband. I hope that you will give them a try!

Peony, Lemon & Ginger Scones

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A fun, whimsical way to use peony petals in your cooking

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 tbsp of cold, cubed butter
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of half a lemon (optional; water can be used as well)
  • 1 tsp of dry ginger
  • 1 tbsp of fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 tbsp of crystallized ginger, finely diced
  • 1 to 2 cups of dried peony flowers

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a food processor combine, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, zest, all ginger and dried flowers. Once well incorporated add butter. Cut butter into small cubes and add to mixture. If dough is not forming a ball, add small amounts of lemon juice until combined.  Do not overwork the dough. Taste mixture to see if you would like to add more lemon or ginger flavor.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to desired thickness. Cut into triangles or small circles; whatever shape you prefer.

Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray or use a non-stick silicone baking mat (preferred). Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm with a cup of Earl Grey tea and a bouquet of peony flowers!

To add more lemon flavor, consider creating a powder sugar glaze with zest and juice!

 

 

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Biltmore Gardens & Chihuly Glass

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Sole d’Oro by Dale Chihuly – Image: Biltmore.com

Early in May, my son and I were able to accompany my husband on a business trip to North Carolina. We were able to stay with close friends that had moved from Seattle to Waxhaw several years ago. While there, she wondered what I wanted to do most…visit the Biltmore Estate & Gardens was my first request! I’d heard about it and seen gorgeous pictures, but never had the opportunity to visit. I had suggested it to a friend who was in the area, but she responded she didn’t want to go to a “mansion that slaves built” – this statement got me curious as to the background of the American historical monument. During my research, I came upon an article, More than Biltmore, written by Mark Derewicz for Endeavors – Research & Creative Activity at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The article states that Vanderbilt and black leaders during the 18th century worked TOGETHER to establish many things including what would eventually become the YMCA:

“In fact, on the corner of Eagle and Market Streets in downtown Asheville there’s a large historic building that houses the Young Men’s Institute (YMI), which has been an educational, recreational, and cultural refuge for African Americans since 1893.
And it probably would never have existed, Waters says, had black leaders and Vanderbilt not worked together.”

Later in the article it discusses how Waters, a freed slave turned entrepreneur worked for and was paid by the Biltmore House during the construction phase:

“On his first day researching the YMI at the Biltmore Estate, Waters mentioned to the archivist that his great-great-grandfather had probably been a freed slave who moved from South Carolina to Asheville in 1850. Waters’ great-grandfather, Louis Waters, had owned an apple orchard in Edneyville. But that’s about all he knew.
For the heck of it, the archivist did a quick database search for Louis Waters. She got three hits — handwritten letters from the 1890s that Louis Waters sent to Charles McNamee, Biltmore’s manager. Turns out, Waters’ great-grandfather had a business and hauled debris off the estate during construction of the Biltmore House. In one letter, Louis asked for his pay in advance so he could buy a team of horses. In another he asked McNamee to renew his contract.”

I highly encourage you to read the article in its entirety. Once I had for myself found out the background information about Vanderbilt and the Biltmore, I felt that I could go to the estate with a clear conscience.

I was extremely stoked to be able to visit just the Biltmore, but then I realized that Chihuly had one of his glass exhibits there as well. What a treat! The mixing of Châteauesque architecture with modern day, blown-glass artwork was an overload for the senses.

 

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Waterlilies & Reeds in the Italian Garden – Image: RomanticAsheville.com

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Italian Gardens glowing at Night – Image: RomanticAsheville.com

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Walled Garden near Conservatory – Image: RomanticAsheville.com

After touring part of the estate, we decided to venture out to the gardens. However, we got caught in a major downpour. We ran as fast as we could to the conservatory for cover.

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Biltmore Conservatory – Image: Malia’s Miles

Below the conservatory is the garden store, I asked one of the associates what was the Vanderbilt’s favorite plant and she quickly responded that they had records of receiving over 800 different varieties of orchids – some only costing $2.99 at the time. Their love affair with orchids was one I can deeply appreciate. As the website states:

“Today, Biltmore’s orchid collection contains approximately 600 plants. The staff has spent time carefully researching and procuring some of the same varieties contained on Vanderbilt’s original list. Marc Burchette, Biltmore’s Orchid Specialist, assisted his co-worker Jim Rogers with tracking down the heritage varieties and worked with a commercial grower to procure more than half of the plants contained on the archival list.”

What an absolute dream job to research, procure and archive orchids!

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Biltmore Conservatory Orchid Collection – Image: mikkelpaige.com

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Oh La La – Orchids are SO glamorous! – Image: Garden & Gun Magazine

It is impossible to pick a favorite when it comes to orchids or any flower for that matter. The one that was fascinating to me was this almost blue orchid; as blue is an uncommon color to come by in the gardening world that is natural and not dyed. I searched the internet trying to find this gorgeous plant’s name, but had no luck. So I have reached out to the Biltmore Orchid Curator to get more information and crossing my fingers that he replies to my email.

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Image: Maaw.info

Touring the Biltmore Estate & Gardens will be an experience I will never forget and hope to one day see it when it is decorated for the Christmas season!

If you enjoyed this article, here are some others that you may find interesting:

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Interview with Growing Heirloom Flowers Author – Chris McLaughlin

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Chris and I have known each other for several years, but I was trying to pinpoint how exactly we meet. I believe it was when I was working for Proven Winners as their Public Relations & Marketing Coordinator. Then when I started my own business Flora & Fauna Media, I worked with Chris to promote her book, A Garden to Dye For, which I fall in love with. Once I had seen that Chris had written another book, I asked to review a copy of it. When it came in the mail, I was so excited! I immediately started reading and couldn’t put it down (ask my husband)! I love history, but only when it comes to flowers and there are SO many fun flower facts in her book, Growing Heirloom Flowers, that it made it a page turner. I think I read the entire thing cover to cover in two days! Not only does it have great historical stories and forklore, but floral craft projects, beautiful entertaining ideas, gorgeous photography and much more. This is a must-have book for any gardener!

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Danielle Ernest: How did you become interested in Heirloom Flowers?

Chris McLaughlin: About 22 years ago, I met a local woman who grew a ton of flowers. I mean acres of them — It was an amazing sight. While we were both avid gardeners, I had never grown anything in those numbers. As we waded slowly through the bounty, she introduced me to the concept of growing open-pollinated and heirloom plant varieties. She was a natural teacher and I become fascinated. In fact, she actually was a college professor in the years prior to those days!

DE: I love all the historical facts about flowers in the book! Where did most of this information come from?

CM: I’ve been collecting stories and anecdotes about plants for many years. My first heirlooms book was about vegetables and I ran into an amazing amount of information while researching that book years ago, as well. So, it was simply a matter of seeking out old books and cross-referencing. Although heirloom flowers are endearing for many reasons, the stories and folklore around them are like icing on the cake!

DE: To be honest that was one of my favorite things about the book the stories & folklore around the flowers. What is your favorite Heirloom flower? Why?

CM: I can’t think of one heirloom flower that stand out as my favorite, to be honest. The flowers that I love are special for different reasons – there are so many! I do have a few that come to mind immediately, though. Peonies have always attracted me and my favorites remind me of bowls of ice cream.

Parade peony by Nadeen Flynn

Bold and dramatic Love-lies-bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) is always worth having in an heirloom garden.

MJF heirloom love-lies-bleeding by Nadeen Flynn

Also, strawflowers (Helichrysum bracteatum), no matter how many times I grow them, I am amazed to find these colorful everlastings perfectly preserved from the moment the buds open.

Parade strawflower by Nadeen Flynn

DE: Man, Love-Lies-Bleeding is a favorite of mine as well. It is just SO striking! And come on with that name…who could say “NO”! It seems that Strawflowers have really been lost in the gardening world. I hope to see them make a comeback as these colors are absolutely gorgeous. What is your favorite floral craft? Why?

CM: Again, I don’t have a favorite because I enjoy creating floral crafts for different reasons. That said, I never get enough of making flower crowns. Everyone that’s made turns out different from the last. Each person who tries it creates a crown unique to them I love that.

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DE: Flower crowns are such a wonderful project to get children into gardening and the adults helping out have a pretty great time too! They remind me of an era very long ago. From your research, what historical plant fact did you find most interesting and hadn’t heard before? Mine was about the nosegay or tussie mussie being worn to cover up body odor!

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CM: One of the funny things I found is that while opium poppies (Papaver somniferum) are illegal to grow in the United States (think “narcotics”), it’s perfectly legal to buy and sell the seeds.

DE: If a gardener only had space for five Heirloom plants due to space constraints, which would you select?

CM: For a small space garden, I like

  1. Zinnias for sure — They’re big on cut-and-come-again bloom production.
  2. Vining Sweet Peas – To take advantage of vertical space (plus, perfume city, my friend!)
  3. Heliotrope – Fairly small, well-behaved plants that smell delish. Great for containers.
  4. Lavender – Easy care, well-behaved, handsome, and extremely useful and versatile.
  5. Marigolds – Easy to grow, lots of blooms, and versatile for crafting.

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Those are tops on my list, too! Zinnias are just so beautiful and last so long as a cut flower. Everyone knows I’m a sucker for any type of pea especially sweet pea flowers. During Mother’s Day weekend, I was searching for bouquets at Pike’s Place Market for them.  I find Heliotrope to be such a great vertical element in a container and it has such a wonderful fragrance.

Could I almost say that a garden isn’t a garden without lavender. An essential for anyone that loves cutting for indoors, using for crafts, cooking or baking. You’ve convinced me that I need to add Marigolds to my garden. I’ve always looked at them and thought they were not very pretty and SO old-fashion, but your craft project on page 106 to create a dye-bath with them for scarfs is absolutely brilliant and a great idea that I would love to do as gifts for friends.

Thank you Chris for taking the time to do this interview and with sharing this amazing knowledge with the world! Wishing you great success with your book!

Reader Note: By clicking on the plant you are interested in – it will take you to a source such as Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co, Botanical Interests, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Renee’s Garden, Seed Savers Exchange, The Shop at Monticello, Southern Exposure Seed Company, Terrior Seeds and Victory Seed Company.

More Information About Chris:
Chris McLaughlin is a writer and author whose hands have been in the soil for nearly 40 years. She became a master gardener in 2000, followed up with specialty certificates in wildlife, children’s, and vegetable gardening. She’s the author of seven books including, A Garden to Dye For (St. Lynn’s Press) and Vertical Vegetable Gardening (Alpha Books). Her work can be found in Fine Gardening Magazine, Hobby Farm Home Magazine, Urban Farm Magazine, The Heirloom Gardener Magazine, and Mother Earth Living. Online, she’s a staff blogger for Finegardening.com and has written for a variety of sites including Vegetable Gardener.com, About.com, Fix.com, and From Scratch Magazine.
Chris and her family live on a flower and fiber farm in the Northern California foothills where they grow flowers, food, and Angora goats. You can track her down at her brand-spanking-new website, FlowersInk.com.
Chris’ Backstory:
I am an Old MacDonald child born into an IBM family. My brothers and I grew up being chauffeured around in one of those station wagons that had a third seat facing backwards. Looking out that big window, breathing in a little exhaust, I was able to take in expanses of land and watch it slowly disappear from view. Along the stretches of highway, I would see property with fenced land and fantasize about pumpkin patches and flowers stands where people couldn’t help but stop and and visit. The dream came complete with crisp cornstalks flanking the entry to straw bale mazes. Back then I felt certain that my parents enjoyed torturing me, as they kept moving us to the suburbs that rested just on the shoulders of my beloved farmland. They carefully chose housing developments that seemed to always bring me within feet of my true love. I spent my weekends walking to nearby farms, pretending they were mine.
When I shuffled back to my side of the fence, I was determined to create my own little farm. As I dug into the hard pan soil of our backyard, the difference in the freshly cultivated earth of the neighboring land was clear. Would it have really been a stretch for my parents to move just one street over and onto the farmland? But, I digress. When I was ten, I snagged some Dixie cups from the upstairs bathroom and filled them with some potting soil out of a bag my mother had bought to top off the planters in our yard. I scooped up some small seedlings (and later learned the term “volunteers”) from our yard and transplanted them into bathroom-sized Dixie cups. Being raised by entrepreneurs, my instincts told me there was a profit to be made. I probably lined up fifty of those little cups into my younger brother’s red wagon and rolled along down the street selling them door-to-door for ten cents each. I do realize that I will never see that 100% profit again in my lifetime.
All images used with Chris McLaughlin’s permission from her book, Heirloom Flowers.

 

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Gifts for the Gardener on your Mother’s Day List

Mother’s Day is this weekend and I finally get to celebrate! After 4 years of trying to conceive naturally and 3 years trying to adopt, I’ve finally made it to the Mother status that I have been dreaming of for some many years.

Here are my five top garden gift picks:

  1. Gardening Magazines

Keep the love coming all year with a subscription to a gardening magazine! Some of my favorites include Organic Life, Mother Earth NewsBirds & Blooms, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Country Gardens and Garden Design.

        2.  Gloves, Gloves and More Gloves! 

A gardener can never have too many gloves and I swear I have to buy a new pair every year because I have worked them so hard that there are holes in the fingertips. I have several favorite brands of gloves including Foxglove and Women’s Work Gloves. I first fell in love with the Foxglove brand when meeting the owner Harriet, who is an absolutely wonderful women. These gloves come in gorgeous colors, machine washable and extremely durable. I have them in multiple colors, but my favorite colors being iris, fuchsia or periwinkle. Who am I kidding I love them all!

        3. Gifts Cards 

There is really nothing like going to your favorite garden center on a sunny, warm spring day. The feeling of being surrounded by beauty everywhere is really indescribable. One of my favorite garden centers nearby is Molbak’s Home & Garden. I actually prefer to go there when it is raining…I know funny, but I love the sound of the rain beating on the greenhouse roofs and the store is more quiet during these times of the year.  Gift cards to online retailers are wonderful option as well such as Annie’s Annuals, Garden Crossings or Jung Seeds. 

       4.  Fun Gardening T-Shirts

I love this t-shirt from my fellow garden blogger and friend, Amanda, who writes at Kiss My Aster! You can buy this shirt on her Etsy store! There are tons of cute shirts on Etsy with fun saying for gardeners like Crazy Plant Lady, Life is a Garden – Dig It or Sometimes I Wet my Plants! Any would be a welcome addition to my closet!

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      5. A Potting Bench

One of my favorite purchases for my garden was my potting bench. It just makes planting containers so much easier. There are many different ones to choose from and would depend on the style of the person you are buying for, but mine is made out of reclaimed barn wood.

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Well my time is up for today by the sound of a crying baby waking from his slumber. I hope that this list helps to make the buying decision one step easier for the gardening mother in your life. And to all those mothers out there, including those that have lost their little ones through miscarriage or failed adoption placements, I raise my champagne glass to all of you and celebrate this beautiful journey of caring for these beautiful gifts from God.

Take Care and Happy Gardening!

 

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