February 2017 Newsletter Print


February E-Newsletter 2017

     As you can tell from the left photo at the top, we were traveling again, this time to Monterey, CA for the golf tournament at beautiful Pebble Beach (See more below.)  Neighbors sent photos of the snow back home, so we were happy to be warm, even though it rained 4 of the seven days we were there.  As soon as I got back, I began seeding, seeding, seeding.  I’d delayed starting since I knew we’d be traveling so much in January and early February, so now I’m hoping to catch up fast.  So far, I’ve seeded 45 varieties, mostly flowers for the borders and the NEW cutting garden, but alsothe early veggies, herbs, and edible flowers for the potager.   The potager already has some crops growing, and I’ve seeded snow peas, lettuces, cilantro, and dill.  It’s so great to get back to gardening!

Upcoming Events:
Fort Wayne Home & Garden Show:  March 2-5
     The 44th Annual show has the theme of “Dr. Seuss!”  Held at the Coliseum, visitors can see a variety of gardens and plant displays, as well as a huge hall of home construction, materials, etc. 

Indiana Flower & Patio Show:  March 11-19
     “Old, New, Borrowed, Blue” is the theme for gardens this year.  Held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, Expo Hall & West Pavilion.  Celebrity speakers:  Laurie March (HGTV); Chris Lambton of “Yard Crashers” TV show; Hoosier, Carrie Petty.  Check website for dates & times, garden descriptions, or to buy tickets on-line ($2 savings)

Advanced Master Gardener Training:  March 25, 8-3:30
     A full day of informative speakers, continental breakfast, terrific lunch, vendors, INCLUDING CAROLEE’S…Yes, I’m doing this show so come see me and my treasures!  Check the Purdue Master Gardener website for info, or call Beth Vansickle 765-641-9514.  Held at Madison Co. Fairgrounds, Alexandria, IN.

Kentuckiana Herb Symposium: Saturday, March 25, 9:30-3:00
     The beautiful event is held at Huber’s Orchard & Winery’s Plantation Hall, 19816 Huber Rd, Borden, IN and features tables and tables of herbal goodies made by its members, plus an array of vendors.  This year’s theme is “Silver & Cilantro” with a talk on the silver-foliaged herbs, and one of our favorite chefs, Stephen Lee, will be expounding on the changes in herb culture over 25 years and cilantro.  You can be sure of good food, good company.  Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call Jett at 812-590-4604 for reservations ($40)

HSCI Herb Symposium:  Saturday, April 8, 8:30-3:15
     Always a rare treat, this symposium will feature 5 informative speakers in “Herbal Duet in C:  Cilantro/Coriander.”  There’s great herbal food, a huge silent auction, vendors, and more.  The décor is always inspiring.  Held at Hamilton Co. Fairgrounds.  Get info, print out a registration form or register online at www.herbsocietyofcentralindiana.org ($45 for HSCI members, $50 for non-members)

Michigan Herb Conference:  April 26
     This one-day conference will be held at the Eagle Eye Conference Center, Bath Twp., MI.  I’ve attended many times, and there are always great vendors and terrific speakers.Programs Include:  “Coriander: The Benefits of Seed, Leaf, Flower,”“Herbs for Neurodegenerative Diseases: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS and More,”“Ethnobotany: Unique Uses of Common Herbs Among the Native Peoples and Early Settlers of the   Midwest,”and “Women Healers of the World.”  For information or to register on-line go to www.miherb.org  ($100 for non-members)

Market on Moss:  May 27, 9-3
     This unique French Flea Market experience is held annually at my friend Jan Powers’ Stone Well Garden (the garden has been featured in national garden magazines!) in Peoria, IL, 2320 W. Moss Ave.  Antiques, plants, art, herbs, and more!  The photo of myrtle topiaries (see Herb to Know below) is Jan’s! Take a truck…you’ll need hauling space!

Did you know:
*Thyme contains carvacrol, a mood enhancer that helps lift depression.  It has also been shown to fight tumors.
*Japan has the world’s largest indoor “food-growing factory.”  In a former Sony semiconductor factory the size of a football field, racks 15 levels high with special LED lights grow 10,000 heads of lettuce a day, using only 1% of the water required for outdoor growth and much less waste.
*Experts agree culinary trends often predict what gardeners will be growing.  This year’s hot items:  celery, fennel, fresh mint, radishes, specialty salad greens, ghost & Peppadeew peppers, cocktail herbs & fruits
*Bananas are naturally antacid, so eating one can ease heartburn

Our Trip to Pebble Beach
     We’ve been to Monterey, CA to attend the golf tournament and conferences, visit wineries, garden centers, etc. most of the past 25 years; however, we hadn’t gone for the past three years.  It was a treat to go again, and even though the weather wasn’t as gorgeously sunny as usual we still had a great time.  The first two days were rainy, so instead of golf we visited book stores and Seaside Garden Center. 


It was lovely to see racks of blooming plants like these violas and pansies on the left, and various succulents.

     I loved these metal sculptures surrounded by plants.  Inside were shelves of begonias with extra-large blossoms.  Wish I could have brought some home!  And, I’ve never seen so many varieties of artificial turf! 


With the drought conditions in California, it has become a major part of this garden center’s business.
     Of course, the food in California is outstanding and we always have dinner our first night at the Monterey Fish House.  I had crab cakes and crab-stuffed ravioli…too bad I didn’t think to take a photo before I’d devoured it!

     The next rainy day I visited two more garden centers.  The first was Cypress Garden in Monterey.  It was a bit more up-scale than Seaside.  I loved the espaliered lemon tree, and the more mature lemon tree in the blue pot.  The bloom on this red magnolia tree was over 8” across!

     There were lots of primulas, cyclamens, perennials and shrubs everywhere.  Some groupings included garden art. 


Inside an extensive shop offered everything from garden supplies, seeds, clothing, jewelry, and lots of books.  I bought “The Presidents’ Gardens” and can’t wait until I have time to read it.

     I’d been to Drought Resistant Nursery a few times, and expected it to have thrived, given the recent weather, but I found it feeling even shabbier than before.  There was some lovely sweet alyssum, which I can’t resist and a few flats of annuals. 


The perennials were crowded together, and no one even acknowledged my presence.  In addition, I found very few plants that were actually drought resistant!


We drove to Fisherman’s Wharf to cheer up, and found a quiet spot near the water to enjoy big glasses of tea, which I picked up at Monterey Marketplace.  This is such a fun shop, with everything for sale grown or produced in Monterey County. 


There was a variety of fruits and vegetables, a bakery and deli with local meats and cheeses, and this large wine-tasting area.  Do stop in if you are in the area.  Monterey County is the “new Napa” in terms of wine production, with many excellent wineries to visit.

     We did enjoy three beautiful days at the Pebble Beach course.  You may recognize this golfer, although we only saw him one day because he didn’t make the cut.  It’s a luxurious, gorgeous course. 


I always spend a lot of time walking to enjoy the scenery, and to see what changes have been made in the gardens.  I love the Spanish moss hanging from the trees.

Herb To Know:  Myrtle
     I grew myrtle for several years, especially to use as a small tree or shrub in container fairy gardens.   They have tiny, very glossy green leaves.  Myrtuscommuniscan be grown from cuttings or seeds.  Its name comes from the Greek word myron, or perfume.  The leaves have often been used in potpourris.  I’ve been thinking of getting some started again, because I love them as topiaries, as shown in Jan Power’s photo above.  She grows them so well!  I considered using myrtle as the “Herb to Know” for February, because it has a long history as an herb for love, and was held sacred to Venus.  German brides carry a sprig of myrtle in their wedding bouquets.  In fact, I took photos of myrtle when we were in Tucson in December, where myrtle can actually stay outdoors and be used in the general landscape.  Unfortunately for us, it is hardy only to Zone 9, but it makes a lovely potted plant indoors during the winter months and then lives happily outdoors when there’s no danger of freeze.  Here’s a nicely grown shrub, and next to it is a closer look at one with berries.  It grows well in full sun with moist, but well-draining soil.

     Myrtle has also been a symbol of authority, and in ancient days high government officials wore wreaths made of its boughs on their heads.  It was also a symbol of victory, woven with bay leaves into the crowns for winners of the Olympic Games.  The leaves were also dried and ground into a dusting powder for infants, and the berries were used as a hair dye.
Only recently, I discovered myrtle is also a culinary herb.  I was reading “Delicious!” a novel about a woman with an extraordinary palate, able to discern distinct flavors even in minute amounts with multiple ingredients.  In tasting one dish, she announced it contained hyssop and myrtle.  Hyssop I understand….I cook with it often and use it in teas, but myrtle?  So, I had to do some research.  Turns out, myrtle has been used to flavor foods from the Stone Age!  Especially popular in some areas of Italy, it is often placed over the coals when roasting meat to impart a special flavor.  Whole pigs are cooked in pits lined with myrtle boughs, and chickens are stuffed with lemons and myrtle leaves before baking.  In some places it is used as a substitute for bay.
     So, once I get my plants underway, as I trim them into traditional topiary form, I certainly won’t let those trimmings go to waste.  I can’t wait to taste a myrtle roasted chicken!  And maybe I’ll try baking some myrtle biscuits or crackers!

Recipe:  Champs
Since it’s nearly March, and St. Patrick’s Day, my thoughts returned to a dish we had often in Ireland.  It’s a common dish, often served as a main course or side dish, and varies depending upon what’s growing.  Whatever green can be harvested is added to the basic recipe.  In the photo, my dish had what was first gatherable in the potager:  chives and over-wintered spinach, along with early nettles gathered from the wood’s edge.  Later, peas, chard, parsley, or sorrel could be added.  Whatever green you like!  Delicious!
Boil 1 lb. (about 4 medium) potatoes in salted water until tender.  Drain well.  Meanwhile, dice 2  green onions and prepare any greens by rinsing and chopping.  I used ½ c. spinach, ½ c. nettles, and ¼ c. chives.  Mash the potatoes, using ¼ c. milk or cream, 1 T. butter, salt and pepper.  Fold in the greens.  Serve immediately.  Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish.Traditionally, champs was eaten with a spoon, with each spoonful dipped into melted butter before putting it in the mouth.  We prefer fewer calories, so we skip that part!

Next month,I'll be happily planting in the potager and watching March Madness.  Hope your spring is filled with Herbal blessings, Carolee