Thursday, December 30, 2010

Colorado dreaming

It may be called a children's garden but this scene at the Gardens on Spring Creek captivates adults as well. Love the painted pots as heads on the scarecrows.

If I still lived in northern Colorado, I'd be heading over to the Gardens on Spring Creek in Fort Collins to get tickets to a presentation by Lauren Springer Ogden, author of "The Undaunted Garden: Planting for Weather-Resilient Beauty." (She also is the namesake of 'Lauren's Grape' poppy. The stunning single purple flower first popped up in her garden.)

My copy at home.
"Undaunted Garden" recently has been revised and updated -- I have a copy of the first edition and it is one of my go-to books for inspiration. How can you not appreciate an author who talks about surveying a garden pummeled by hail after a few stiff drinks? (Substitute deer damage for hail damage and you'll see what I mean.)

The presentation on Jan. 22 is a fundraiser for the Gardens on Spring Creek, which, thanks to friends Kevin and Mary, we visited last August. It's still very much a work in progress, but I was impressed with things so far. Its 18 acres include a Children's Garden, Entry Garden, and the Lauren Springer Odgen Garden. The Garden of Eatin' has a spiffy outdoor kitchen for cooking classes.

I've never had the chance to hear Springer Odgen speak, but if her talks are anything like her book, it would be well worth it. If you're in the area, go. And then let me know what you think.

Giant watering cans mark the entrance to the Children's Garden.

Espaliered apple trees screen part of the outdoor kitchen.

The pavilion's green roof sports a variety of plants.

I want some of this. It may be marginally hardy here, but I think it's worth a try.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

In lieu of The Seventh Day ...

It snowed most of the day on Dec. 21. These dried hops blossoms 
wear hoods of snowflakes.

... we give you The Twenty-first Day. 

Between studying for finals and whatnot, Dec. 7 came and went without me picking up the camera. To make amends, we're subbing in photos taken on Dec. 21. Take a peek into our world in the slide show at top right.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter solstice

On the shortest day of the year, we unburied the fire pit and stoked a fire to bring some light into the dark. (The snow finally stopped falling after about a foot. On top of what we already have.)

We stayed warm with sips of Jagermeister from the makeshift bar. No problem keeping it cold here.

And were greeted with some blue skies the next day.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Meet the relatives

Poinsettias fill the benches at Anderson's Greenhouse & Florist in Two Harbors. It was fun to walk among them during the greenhouse's
annual open house last Sunday. 

The poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, a symbol of the holiday season (above), and cushion spurge, Euphorbia polychroma, a gardenworthy perennial (below), share a genus, but are very different plants. Like some people I know, it's hard to believe they come from the same gene pool, but they do. Go to former NPR reporter Ketzel Levine's discussion of Euphorbia here.

If you're looking for a poinsettia to dress up your home, check out Anderson's Greenhouse & Florist in Two Harbors.

Euphorbia polychroma from the mid-May garden.

Friday, December 3, 2010

This is what gardening looks like in December

A snowy harvest of parsnips. These are 'Gladiator'.

The snow fell early this year. It started falling before all of the parsnips were pulled from the ground. But, hey, what's a little snow in a Minnesota garden?

So, on a day when temperatures hovered in the mid-teens, it was time to shovel back the snow and harvest parsnips before the ground froze solid. I came home from class to find the resident head gardener, with his faithful companion close by, digging and pulling the pale roots from the ground.

Two trays full of parsnips were brought inside for cleaning and storing in the refrigerator; a bunch also went to Scott, who was hard at work installing an air exchanger in the house. A short row was left in the ground, topped with some straw mulch, to overwinter until spring.

We love parsnips -- sauted, gratined or souped, parsnips are a good bet to fill the void come winter. For dinner Wednesday night, several nice-sized roots were topped, tailed, peeled and sliced into a pan with some melted butter. Seasoned with salt and pepper, they cooked gently until tender and were a tasty side to the breaded pork chops. 

Talk about timing. Even in December, it can be a matter of a few hours from harvest to supper. Brilliant!