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Might We Have an Early Spring?

For the last three weeks, my house rabbits have been shedding fur like humans shed their winter coats upon entering the house. The rabbits look like miniature, fluffy, woolly mammoths with tufts of fur jutting out at all angles and a cloud of fluff around them much like a halo. This began in early February and is still continuing, which makes me wonder if we’re heading for an early Spring.

Last time they shed like this, we had a wonderful early Spring and our garden harvest was extremely abundant because we had such a long season.

We had a snowstorm last week on Monday and the weather at night has been down in the low 30s, but the daytime weather is looking up and we may be in the 50s or 60s this week into next. So take a look around, fellow gardeners. Are your pets shedding heavily? Does the air smell sweeter than winter? Are the buds on your fruit trees swelling fatter and fatter each day?

Most of all…Have your crocuses bloomed? Ours have been out for the last three weeks. They poked their beautiful, delicate heads out just as the bunnies were beginning to shed. And they survived last week’s snowstorm, peeking out through the snow as it melted. The tulip leaves are about an inch long, too, so I’m thinking we just may be headed into an early Spring. We should have tulips in time for Easter.

Think Lo-o-o-ng Summer!

To Your Gardening Success!

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Add comment March 5, 2012

Dandelion: A Tasty Weed by Any Other Name

What is the true definition of a weed?

Most gardeners will tell you that a weed is a plant that is growing where you do not want it to grow.

By that definition, a rose bush could be a weed. Or an oak tree. Or even a vegetable. I love that definition because my favorite vegetable of all time, the dandelion, is considered a weed by a majority of gardeners. And, since today is Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d write about dandelions because I love them so.

I grew up eating dandelions and using the bright yellow dandelion flowers to see if my friends and I liked butter. We’d hold the flower under each other’s chins to see if there was a yellow reflection. If there was, we liked butter. If there wasn’t we didn’t like butter. Ah, those were lovely, simpler times.

Most of us are familiar with the dandelions that grow amidst grassy lawns. However, dandelions come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Our local organic produce market sells both green and red dandelions.

Personally, I think the red dandelions, which look more of a burgundy-purple-green to me, are the hardiest and the best. They’re crunchy and they store longer in the refrigerator than the green dandelions. They also tend to have a sweeter taste.

The word ‘dandelion’ comes from the French and means tooth of the lion…dande (dente)…and refers to the somewhat ragged edges of the dandelion leaf, which reminded early gardeners of the ragged teeth of a lion. Although some leaves have smoother edges and a more rounded, elongated shape. Sometimes you will find this combination of ragged and smooth leaves on the same dandelion plant.

In my opinion, the Dandelion is one of the most misunderstood and under appreciated of plants. Dandelion has many uses. It makes a terrific salad. Eat it alone or mix it with other greens for a delectable and tasty salad. Yes, some dandelions are bitter—it’s an acquired tasted. Yet, other dandelions are somewhat sweet. In our home, we like them both.

You can cook dandelions like you cook spinach. In fact, you can cook dandelions and spinach together. Saute the dandelions and spinach in a quarter cup of water and a tablespoon of olive oil. Add chopped garlic when the greens are sufficiently wilted to have lost their crunch (or before they’ve lost it, if you like your veggies more raw). Stir in the garlic and give it a minute or two to soften. Add salt and pepper to taste and mmmhm, yum! Butter some French, sourdough, or Italian bread and dig in. A real taste treat!

Dandelions also provide health benefits, which I will write about in an upcoming post.

Our yards and gardens have wondrous gifts for us. We just need to look more closely and learn how to use and enjoy them.

To your Gardening Success!

2 comments February 14, 2012

The Stunning Salpiglossis sinuata

Don’t let the name fool you. Salpiglossis sinuata is one of the most stunningly beautiful flowers I’ve ever seen. Hailing from southern Chile, the Salpiglossis sinuata has velvety leaves with arrowlike lines of a brightly contrasting color down their center.

Salpiglossis sinuate, a native of Chile, will brighten any summer garden.

I happened across this beautiful plant the other day at the nursery. As soon as I saw its brilliant burgundy leaves with their contrasting bright yellow arrows, I knew one of my clients would like it. The Salpiglossis fits her color scheme list a hand in glove.

I purchased the last two plants available and emailed a photograph to her. She immediately shot back a response, “I love it! Yes, let’s use it.”

Usually grown as an ornamental annual, Salpiglossis sinuata likes full sun and holds multiple blossoms at once. It blooms in late Spring and early to mid summer. You can grow it from seed; by sowing it indoors before the last frost.

The flowers do well when cut and placed in water, sometimes lasting longer than when on the plant. You may want to stake each plant to keep them upright.

Colors

The Salpiglossis sinuatea offers gardeners many color choices including a dark scarlet, a pink-purple magenta, and golden yellow-orange to name just a few.

To Collect Seeds
Allow the seed pods to dry on the plant; break open the pods to collect the seeds and store them until Spring.

Growth Habit

Salpiglossis sinuata grows 12 to 18 inches tall and 9 to 12 inches wide.

Add comment July 1, 2008

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