Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for April 28, 2017

Garden design day planned for Bonhill residents

Bonhill residents are being urged to get along and put forward their ideas.

Article source:

Sharing knowledge: latest from Hambrook Garden Design Centre …

Having trouble signing in?

Contact Customer Support at
or call 020 8267 8121, or refer to our answers to frequently asked questions.

Article source:

Career profile – Garden Designer | Horticulture Week

Having trouble signing in?

Contact Customer Support at
or call 020 8267 8121, or refer to our answers to frequently asked questions.

Article source:

Community Briefs 4/27/17

Mail ballot request deadline
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Orange Park voters planning to cast ballots in the May 9 Municipal Super Tuesday Run-Off Election have until May 3 to request a ballot be mailed to them for voting.
Voters are advised to allow at least five days for their ballot to be returned by mail to the Supervisor of Elections office. However, voters can drop off their completed ballots 24 hours a day by delivering their ballots to the Mail Ballot Drop Box located at the front entrance of the Supervisor of Elections Office in Green Cove Springs. Voted mail ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
Meanwhile, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Orange Park Town Hall at 2042 Park Ave.
Voters will choose between Larry Nichols and Ron Raymond for Council Seat 1 as neither candidate received 50 percent of the vote plus one vote to win the race outright on April 11.
Raymond received 463 votes, 49.26 percent, while Nichols received 311 votes for 33.09 percent.
For more information, go or call (904) 269-6350 for assistance.

Asdot named acting police chief
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The City of Green Cove Springs has appointed Derek S. Asdot as its Acting Police Chief.
The move comes nine weeks after former chief of police Robert Musco retired suddenly after an investigation revealed he had made racially-charged comments to a black officer in January while planning for the city’s Rev. Martin Luther King Day celebration.
Asdot began his career with the Green Cove Springs Police Department as a patrolman in 2002. During his tenure here, he has also served in the department’s Street Crimes Unit, a Clay County and DEA Task Force Narcotics detective, a patrol sergeant and lieutenant before taking the new position. Prior to entering law enforcement, Asdot also served as an airborne infantryman in the U.S. Army where he attained the rank of specialist upon his honorable discharge in 1996.
Asdot will serve as acting police chief through the end of this fiscal year and is scheduled to attend the FBI National Academy for further training, according to a news release from the city.

Canterfield of Clay County names executive director
ATLANTA – Medical Development Corp., developer and owner of Canterfield Senior Living Communities, has named D. Brent Montgomery executive director of Canterfield of Clay County.
A graduate of Mississippi State University, Montgomery has a bachelor’s degree in business administration, marketing. He has been a licensed nursing home administrator since 1993.
Prior to joining Canterfield, Montgomery served in numerous administrator positions, including skilled nursing and assisted living facilities as well as home health care agencies.
“Brent Montgomery brings a wealth of knowledge to our Executive Director position,” said Winston A. Porter, president of Atlanta-based Medical Development Corp. “Not only does he have a deep understanding of the elder care field, but he also exhibits a strong personal passion for its inherent mission. These traits, coupled with his in-depth working knowledge of the business aspects of his position in addition to his robust team building and leadership skills, made Brent our logical choice to fill the critical position of executive director at Canterfield of Clay County, our newest Canterfield campus.”
Canterfield enables residents to age in place with Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care services.

Land Trust to hold 6th Annual Fish Fry
JACKSONVILLE – North Florida Land Trust is hosting its 6th Annual Fish Fry at Big Talbot Island on May 20. The family-friendly event will be from noon until 5 p.m. at Talbot House on Big Talbot Island, 12134 Houston Ave. in Jacksonville. There will be live music, marsh views, food, local beers, lawn games and more.
“This fundraising event is so much fun for all ages,” said Jim McCarthy, executive director of North Florida Land Trust. “It is a great opportunity for everyone to spend some time out at Big Talbot Island, partake in a nature hike and learn more about why Big Talbot Island is such a special place. It is a great example of why we at North Florida Land Trust do what we do.”
A Florida Master Naturalist will be there to take people on a free guided nature hike. The hike is 1.5 miles and hikers will learn about all the natural plants and wildlife that can be seen on Big Talbot Island. The hikes will leave at 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Space is limited and guests can sign up for the preferred time when purchasing tickets.
Guests are encouraged to BYOC or bring your own chair, sit on the lawn and enjoy live music from some local favorites. Junco Royals will be playing traditional old time jazz and LPT will perform their Afro-Cuban beats. Bold City Brewery will bring the beer and Beer 30: San Marco is providing cider. Safe Harbor and Indulge Food Truck will be serving up the food for the fish fry. Vegan and gluten-free options will also be available.
Tickets are $30 in advance or $40 at the door and include entry and a meal. Kids under 12 are $10 in advance or $20 at the door and students with ID are $15 in advance and $25 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at For more information, contact or call (904) 479-1962. Tickets are rain or shine. No refunds.
Founded in 1999, North Florida Land Trust is a nonprofit organization who serves as a champion of land conservation primarily in Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, and St. Johns counties.

Landscaping database saves homeowners time, money and water
PALATKA – An online resource is saving time, money and water for homeowners who are looking for landscaping ideas. The St. Johns River Water Management District’s waterwise plant database can help landscapers and do-it-yourselfers research the right plants for their yards’ specific growing conditions.
“Among the district’s greatest priorities is promoting water conservation,” said Ann Shortelle, SJRWMD executive director. “Because one of the biggest uses of water is lawn and landscape irrigation at our homes and businesses, using water wisely in our landscapes is an important personal responsibility. Florida-friendly landscaping is easy – plus, saving water saves homeowners money!”
To date, rainfall during 2017 has been below average with future predictions for similar rainfall trends. If a landscape’s sunlight and soil conditions are assessed correctly, well-chosen plants will need little to no supplemental irrigation once established.
The district’s waterwise landscaping webpages provide information on how to design a water-conserving landscape and how to group plants according to their needs, such as planting region, sunlight and soil conditions.
The database, which is found at, is searchable by scientific name, common name, size, color of flowers, hardiness zone, soil moisture needs, light and shade requirements, salt tolerance, and more. It also offers information on hundreds of plant species and allows users to compare information about different plants to determine if they are suitable to plant together and to help the user better plan planting areas. The database works on smartphones and other mobile devices, so can conveniently be taken along when shopping at a garden center.
April is Water Conservation Month, a designation intended to heighten public awareness about the variety of ways to reduce our water use. For additional water conservation tips to help you save money around the home, visit

Article source:,6733

Horticulture student wins entrepreneur competition

ATHENS, Ga. – The key to maximizing water conservation and a lush landscape is an informed use of water. University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) horticulture student Jesse Lafian developed a webconnected soil moisture sensor to help landscape management companies monitor irrigation and enable them to use water wisely.

His patent-pending design, which is the centerpiece of his startup, Reservoir LLC, is the winner of UGA’s Next Top Entrepreneur prize of $10,000 to put toward his company.

UGA’s Next Top Entrepreneur is a student entrepreneurship contest open to student startup teams from all over the country. During this live event, teams pitch their existing business plans or business ideas in front of a live audience and a panel of judges. This year, 36 teams from 22 colleges and universities participated.

“Our student entrepreneurs are among the most creative and diverse group we have here at UGA,” said Matt Miller, coordinator of the UGA Terry College of Business’ Entrepreneurship Program. “Their ambition and willingness to collaborate allows them to take on major problems in this world and come up with unique solutions.”

Lafian plans to market his system to landscape management companies for use around tree installations, typically the most valuable parts of a landscape.

His work in horticulture helped him identify a very expensive problem: the overwatering that kills a large portion of the trees that landscapers install and warranty. Landscaping companies pay millions of dollars each year to remove and replace these trees. Lafian’s goal is to help landscapers save time, trees and water. The lynchpin of this automated system is Lafian’s sensor.

Lafian has applied for a patent on the sensor, which measures soil moisture in a novel way.

“Jesse’s system works fundamentally differently from the sensors I have used in the past,” said Marc van Iersel, a professor of horticulture at UGA, smart irrigation pioneer and Lafian’s adviser. “The soil moisture sensors I have been using measure how much water is in the soil, but not how tightly that water is held in the soil. Some – or much, depending on soil type – of the water in the soil cannot be extracted by plants because the soil holds it too tightly. Jesse’s sensor measures exactly that: how tightly the water is bound to the soil. That tells us whether the plants can actually use that water.”

Lafian plans to sell his technology to managers of high-end landscaping companies, then to other types of customers, such as farmers, golf course superintendents and homeowners.

Since starting work on his design in 2016, Lafian’s company continues to gain momentum. He’s secured funding from the UGA Kickstart Fund, a $5,000 UGA Campus Sustainability Grant and $2,500 from CAES’s FABricate entrepreneurship program.

Lafian moved to Athens, Georgia, to work as a research assistant in the UGA College of Engineering in 2014 after receiving his associate’s degree from Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden, New York, and completing a National Science Foundation-funded oceanography internship. He began completing his bachelor’s degree in fall 2015.

To find out more at the UGA Department of Horticulture, visit To find out more about Terry College of Business’s Entrepreneurship Program visit

Article source:

Mesabi East gardening: STEM, STEAM, learning, growing and more

AURORA – Some have been buried too deep and have had to struggle to emerge. Some need a little more time just to mature. Some have been under water, yet have somehow miraculously survived, while some have had just the right amount of warmth, sunlight, and water. Just like the plants, students, and really the staff too, when you think about it, are all in different stages of growth and in the school garden there is a place for everyone.

During the last school year, the Mesabi East Memorial Garden was revitalized under the guidance of staff member Rachel Doherty who has a degree in conservation. The district was awarded a grant from the Whole Kids Foundation which has been very valuable in jump-starting a school gardening program. This foundation believes that children are more likely to try new foods when they are connected to it, and this is more likely to occur when they become curious about how things grow and taste.

Kellie Swanson presents her landscaping ideas to Superintendent Gregg Allen while other students listen. Submitted photos.
Kellie Swanson presents her landscaping ideas to Superintendent Gregg Allen while other students listen. Submitted photos.
Doherty feels that gardening is an educational experience that all learners can be successful at and she has been busy making sure that the opportunities to do so abound. The school administration has been very supportive and offered the use of a room with full-length windows for the environmental science class—which Doherty helps with—to plant seeds. They did not just plant seeds though; they had to first research which could be started indoors at this time, cost and growing requirements. Then they had to shop for the seeds, planting medium, seed starting trays, and grow lights. Next, they had to haul the items to the third floor.

Now that the plants are growing, the students are fulfilling their water and light requirements. They are also learning how to transplant into bigger pots.

Students Mary Hewitt and McKenzie Londo watch Principal Erik Eriersquo;s expression as he tastes the greens they are growing.
Students Mary Hewitt and McKenzie Londo watch Principal Erik Erie’s expression as he tastes the greens they are growing.
“All students can be impacted by gardening,” Doherty explained. “For some, it may be the hands-on understanding of the plant life-cycle. Another student may feel a sense of calm and serenity by digging in the soil, while an analytical student may enjoy seeing real-time data collecting. All learners get to experience the harvest of their garden.”

Doherty is quick to point out that gardening is not just about “digging in the dirt.” It is also about electrical, plumbing and carpentry. A greenhouse can be a simple cold-frame or an elaborate four-season. There are many industrial technologies that can be taught through gardening.

By planning educational opportunities and objectives for students, gardening is a wonderful learning activity for teaching science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and also science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM).

“These are both the current buzz terms that are helping gardening and the whole farm to table experience catch on. For example, gardening can be mathematical in analyzing growth and budgets. Engineering of plants has been evolving for centuries and with current technology, the efficiency in gardening is also evolving,” Doherty said. “Thanks to websites such as Pinterest, gardening is getting an entirely new look at the art of growing and design.”

Doherty observes first-hand the differences experienced by students in the classroom versus the garden.

“For the students that have a difficult time being stationary in a classroom setting, they are able to exert energy into creating a product that they can see and have a daily benefit in. Students are able to touch taste, smell, and feel their learning experience instead of only reading about it. Students that have a difficult time in a classroom setting are thriving immensely in a hands-on environment,” Doherty said. “Students with behavioral issues are more relaxed and able to return back to the classroom setting at a quicker pace after visiting the garden. Whether it was just to walk around and view the seedlings or mist the plants, it gives students a sense of calm and allows for the student to care for something that needs them.”

So what fuels Doherty’s desire to coordinate such a large-scale project? Gardening has always been a passion of hers. When she was a child she would watch her mother in the garden for hours while she and her sister played and helped with various stages. As she got older she appreciated the gardens of her neighbors and relatives, each unique and planted for a different reason.

“Every stage of gardening has its own reward,” she said. “Showing students the processes of gardening is another fulfilling stage I had not experienced until now. But, every day I am rewarded with smiles, positive comments, and curiosity of the next step in their gardening journey. I can’t help but get excited with them and hope that the community can appreciate our efforts.”

The environmental students will soon be visiting the kindergarteners to do a special seed planting with them. They recently met with Superintendent Allen to present landscaping ideas that they each created on their own. The ideas that Doherty, the students, and like-minded staff are many and will be carried out if possible. On the list are a weather station, a “secret” reading/ multi-sensory garden, a shade garden, fruit trees, and garden learning pods. With the enthusiasm generated by the staff and students, Doherty’s dream of broadening the gardening to more students and the community will no doubt be realized.

When asked what they like about gardening the students had varied answers. Some students love to get their hands dirty while others like the cooperation of helping each other. One student said she likes gardening because it helps to calm her down helping her to relax. Another student said that he likes to learn about it because otherwise, he eats lousy. Some like the different flowers, others just plain like watching things grow, and almost all others love the hands-on work. No matter what the reason, the one thing that is for sure…in the school garden, there is a place for everyone.

To see more photos of the school garden, please visit the Mesabi East Schools Facebook page. They can also be found on Instagram.

The gardening program has a Mesabi East Memorial Garden account set up at Plagemann’s in Aurora if anyone would like to donate toward it. They are also in need of gently used 3 – 4 inch pots and trays. Items may be dropped off at the high school office.

Barbara Hinsz is a frequent contributor to Hometown Focus. She lives in Aurora, MN, and is a special education paraprofessional at Mesabi East Schools in Aurora.

Article source:

Gardening events in the Houston area


Installation and Maintenance of Native Landscapes – Native Landscaping Certification Program Level 3 Class: sponsored by the Native Plant Society of Texas. 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. at the Kleb Woods Nature Preserve, 20303 Draper, Tomball; $37 members, $52 nonmembers. Class also held May 13.

Bromeliad Plant Sale: sponsored by the Bromeliad Society / Houston, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at West Gray Multi-Service Center, 1475 W. Gray; Free.

Fairy Garden Seminar: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Enchanted Forest, 10611 FM 2759, Richmond, 281-937-9449; and at Enchanted Gardens, 6420 FM 359, Richmond, 281-341-1206; $10 plus materials.

Container Herb Gardening: with Henry Flowers. 10 a.m. at the Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball; 281-746-6320, Free.

Planting in Glass: with Jim Maas and Pat Cordray. 10-11:30 a.m. at Maas Nursery, 5511 Todville, Seabrook; 281-474-2488, $35 plus tax.

Spring Fling – A Sip and Stroll Garden Event: sponsored by the Garden Oaks Beautification Fundraisers. 4-6:30 p.m. along the 1300 block of Sue Barnett. $40 adults, $5 children 3 years and older; tickets at tinyurl.2017springflingtickets.

Turtles: with Chris Bednarski of the Houston Zoo. 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, 4501 Woodway; 713-681-8433, register at $30 members, $45 nonmembers.

Quail Valley Backyard Garden Tour: 10th annual tour hosted by the Quail Valley Garden Club. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Buy tickets at the first home on the tour, 3810 E. Creek Club. (Rain date is May 6.) $15. More info at


Weekend Market: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at Another Place in Time, 1102 Tulane; 713-864-9717. Free.

Heritage Gardeners Spring 2017 Garden Tour, Flower and Horticulture Show: show 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at the Marie Workman Garden Center and Briscoe Gardens, 112 W. Spreading Oaks, Friendswood. Garden tour noon-4 p.m. Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday; begins at the center; or Admission to center free; $15.


Razzle-Dazzle Basil: with Ann Wheeler of Log House Herbs. 10 a.m. at the Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball; 281-746-6320, Free.


Tool Time Hands-on Workshop: with Galveston County Master Gardeners Henry Harrison III and Tim Jahnke. 9-11 a.m. at the Galveston County Master Gardener Demonstration Garden, 4102 Main, La Marque; 281-534-3413, email reservations to, Bring two or three tools. Free, but preregistration required.

Native Bees: 9:30-11:30 a.m. at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, 4501 Woodway; 713-681-8433, register at $10 members, $25 nonmembers.

Urban Harvest’s Water Wise Gardening: 9:30-11:30 a.m. at the University of St. Thomas, Strake Hall, room 107, 3812 Yoakum; 713-880-5540, $30 members, $40 nonmembers.

Gardening for Butterflies and Bees: with Jim Maas, Pat Cordray and Jean Griffin: 10-11:30 a.m. at Maas Nursery, 5511 Todville, Seabrook; 281-474-2488, $40 plus tax.

How to Grow a Cut Flower Garden: with Soni Holladay. 10 a.m. at Enchanted Forest, 10611 FM 2759, Richmond, 281-937-9449; 2 p.m. at Enchanted Gardens, 6420 FM 359, Richmond, 281-341-1206; Free.

Razzle-Dazzle Basil: with Ann Wheeler of Log House Herbs. 10 a.m. at the Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball; 281-746-6320, Free.

Peckerwood Insider’s Tour: monthly focused look at the garden. 10 a.m. at Peckerwood Garden, 20559 FM 359, Hempstead; 979-826-3232; register at $15, members free.


Butterfly Brunch: 10 a.m.-noon at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, 4501 Woodway; 713-681-8433, register at $30 members, $45 nonmembers.


The Foodscape Revolution: with author and PBS correspondent Brie Arthur. 10 a.m. at the Arbor Gate, 15635 FM 2920, Tomball; 281-746-6320, Free.

Foodscaping: with author and PBS correspondent Brie Arthur. 5 p.m. garden tour, 6:30 dinner, 7 p.m. lecture at Peckerwood Garden, 20559 FM 359, Hempstead; 979-826-3232; register at Tour $10; dinner donation requested; lecture $5 members, $10 nonmembers.

MAY 11

Residential Rainwater Harvesting: with Harris County Master Gardener Teresa See. 10-11:30 a.m. at Genoa Friendship Garden education building, 1202 Genoa Red Bluff Road; Free.

Insects in The Garden: Harris County Master Gardener event. 6:30 p.m. at the Barbara Bush Memorial Library, 6817 Cypresswood Drive, Spring; 281-855-5600, Free.

MAY 12

Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge: with Terry Rossignol. Houston Federation of Garden Clubs event. 10 a.m.-noon at the White Oak Conference Center, 7603 Antoine; Free.

MAY 13

Installation and Maintenance of Native Landscapes – Native Landscaping Certification Program Level 3 Class: sponsored by the Native Plant Society of Texas. 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. at the Kleb Woods Nature Preserve, 20303 Draper, Tomball; $37 members, $52 nonmembers.

Peckerwood Garden Open Day: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Peckerwood Garden, 20559 FM 359, Hempstead; 979-826-3232; register at $10, members free.

Article source:

Edible garden recipes are a feast for the eyes, too

Edible garden recipes are a feast for the eyes, too

April 28, 2017
Updated: April 28, 2017 12:38pm

Floral designer Alethea Harampolis (middle) works on arrangement for the spring/summer table setting as author Stephanie Bittner (right) sets the table on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, in Lafayette, Calif. Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle


The sprawling backyard garden at Stefani Bittner’s Lafayette home was still catching up to spring thanks to the winter downpour, which is why the planned artichoke arrangement didn’t make it to the table for the company luncheon: Bittner, a master gardener, and florist Alethea Harampolis, are the co-founders of Homestead Design Collective, a landscaping studio that creates edible gardens throughout Northern California. To herald the growing season, they gathered their co-workers around a bountiful table in the garden featuring recipes from their latest book, “Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants” (Ten Speed Press).


While the spiky thistles weren’t ready for a starring role in a floral centerpiece (for its striking geometry, the artichoke arrangement is one of the book’s more design-forward garden-to-home crossovers), Harampolis improvised with the garden’s current offerings: flowering dogwood, deep-purple leaves of loropetalum and exquisitely nodding hellebores. She extended the reach of the untamed arrangement by trailing fringe-y spring jasmine along the table. “Since jasmine can easily get tangled, be sure to handle it delicately so you don’t lose any flowers,” says Harampolis, gingerly tucking the vine into the side of the white ceramic vessel. The jasmine is a tender, almost ethereal addition to such a robust spring composition — a snapshot du jour of the garden.

More Garden Design

With a handful of books between them (Harampolis, who is also the co-founder of the now-bicoastal floral-design workshop Studio Choo, also co-authored “The Flower Recipe Book” and “Branches and Blooms” with Jill Rizzo, while Bittner co-wrote 2013’s “The Beautiful Edible Garden” with Leslie Bennett), it seems that Harampolis and Bittner are making the most of these fleeting moments in the garden: In “Harvest,” they are creatively captured not just for our viewing pleasure — after all, a summer-pruning arrangement cascading with blackberry on the vine is a botanical sight far beyond the typical grocery-store bouquet — but also for our eating, drinking and even beautifying pleasures. “People give their gardens their time, money, water, so it’s nice to have a garden that gives back to you in harvest,” Bittner says.

Many of the recipes in the book, arranged by season, are time-tested. For instance, Papa’s finger-lime gin and tonic, a late-fall concoction that has been in Harampolis’ family for decades, is garnished with the fruit’s signature “caviar.” Vin d’orange, a Sancerre infusion made with bitter oranges, was handed down from Bittner’s mother —while the fruit arrives in winter, the brew gets better with age, and thus can be enjoyed year-round. More modern projects include a summery salt scrub made with almond oil and chopped-fine lemongrass, which has natural antibacterial properties. A fragrant lilac cream — an homage to the flower perfumes that Harampolis formulated as a kid growing up in Australia — has just two ingredients: extra-virgin coconut oil and lilac blooms picked in the early morning at their ambrosial peak. “We really tried to emphasize the simplicity of the garden harvest by letting each plant shine,” Harampolis says. “A lot of these recipes have just two or three ingredients and take minutes to make.”

  • Stefani Bittner decorates cheese rounds with edible flowers.  Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle



The luncheon table is set with Heath Ceramics dishes, vintage silver and Homestead’s own line of cotton napkins, dyed with indigo and logwood bark, which gives a sort of cosmic effect, with galaxies of red, brown and purple spots. Place settings are adorned with a take-home gift of rosemary smudge sticks, a folkloric dispeller of negative energy. Accompanying amber blocks of oozing honeycomb harvested from Homestead’s hives, are discs of creamy fresh goat cheese, pressed with a design of chives and pink-striped claytonia sibirica blooms, both clipped from the garden. Quick-pickled rhubarb and an early-season herb salad of rustic arugula, fresh oregano, chocolate mint and nasturtium add spicy and bitter flavors to the spread. Before digging in, Harampolis and Bittner offer a toast to the forthcoming harvest, rain-fed and lush, with Champagne auspiciously garnished with blue, star-shaped borage, a pretty, butterfly-attracting, hornworm-repelling annual known as a guardian of the garden.

Leilani Marie Labong is a freelance writer. Email:

Edible Flower-Pressed Cheese

Makes one 4-inch cheese round

5 to 7 peppermint candy flower stems, each with multiple flower heads

4 ounce round of fresh goat or other mild soft cheese, such as sheep

Fruit, poppy seed crackers, or a baguette, for serving

Rinse the flowers in a bowl filled with cold water by gently dipping the flowers to remove any debris. Lift out and place on a clean, dry towel. Remove individual flower heads from the stems and gently press them into the cheese round in any pattern you choose. You can also use the mild-tasting leaves and stems to create patterns.

Serve immediately with fruit, poppy-seed crackers or a sliced baguette, or wrap the cheese with wax paper and store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Hand-dyed tablecloth and napkins with Heath dinnerware and a rosemary smudge stick set an inviting table in Lafayette. Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle

Rosemary Smudge Sticks

Makes 3 smudge sticks

12 rosemary branches, each 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) long

Cotton thread, as needed

Divide the rosemary branches into three groups of four branches. It’s easier to bundle the smudge stick if the stems are the same length, so group similarly sized cuttings together. Cut three pieces of cotton thread, each about 6 feet long. Double each piece by folding it in half.

Leaving a 6-inch tail of thread, start wrapping the rosemary bundle, about 1 inch above the bottom of the stems, continuously (at least 10 times) in one place. Make a knot to secure the band of thread in place. Continue to wrap the bundle tightly, spiraling up toward the top of the stems. Fold in any stray sprigs, tucking them under the thread as you go. Once you reach the top of the bundle, continue wrapping, crisscrossing the string as you head back down toward the base. Tie the loose end to the original knot at the base of the bundle.

Let your fresh smudge sticks dry flat for 1 to 3 weeks. When they are dry and ready, light one end (then blow out the flame itself) to release its smoky scent while holding onto the other end.

Kylie Flanagan passes the quick pickled rhubarb. Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle

Quick-Pickled Rhubarb

Makes two 12-ounce jars

4 large rhubarb stalks, cleaned and trimmed

2 teaspoons peppercorns

½ teaspoon cloves

3 dried bay leaves

2 dried chiles

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

1 cup organic sugar

½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Rinse the stalks thoroughly and cut them into 2- to 3-inch pieces or longer, depending on preference and jar size, and place in canning jars. Divide the spices and chiles evenly and add to the jars with the stalks.

In a small, nonreactive saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the sugar is dissolved, remove the pan from the heat. Using a funnel, pour the liquid mixture into the canning jars over the stalks. Close the lids immediately, let the jars cool, and place them in the refrigerator.

Allow the rhubarb to pickle for up to 48 hours before serving. Quick pickles last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Article source:

Asheville area garden events calendar for early May – Asheville Citizen

Send calendar items to Bruce Steele at two weeks before the event.


SPRING PLANT SALE: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. April 28 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. April 29, Bullington Gardens, 95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville. Includes native and non-native perennials, tomatoes and other vegetable starts, herbs, annuals and small trees and shrubs, plus garden-themed crafts and more. To learn more, call 828-698-6104 or visit

LAKE JUNALUSKA PLANT SALE: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. April 29, Corneille Bryan Native Garden, Lake Junaluska. Sale is at the top of the garden at the junction of JB Ivey Lane and County Road. 828-778-5938.

FARMERS MARKET: April 29 at Tractor Supply. Visit to learn more.

MONTREAT NATIVE PLANT SALE: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. April 29, Moore Center Field, Montreal.

PLANT AND CRAFT SALE: 9 a.m.-noon, May 6, Calvary Episcopal Church, 2840 Hendersonville Road, Fletcher. Benefiting the Calvary Episcopal Church Food Pantry. 828-684-6266

MOTHER’S DAY WEEKEND PLANT SALE: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. May 13, Bullington Gardens,  95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville. Perennials, hanging baskets, tomatoes and other vegetable starts, herbs, annuals, small trees and shrubs, plus Mother’s Day gifts, birdhouses, garden art and crafts. 828-698-6104 or


ASHEVILLE GARDEN CLUB: 10:30 a.m. May 3, Botanical Gardens of Asheville, 151 W. T. Weaver Blvd. Free. Social gathering at 10 a.m. Jill Sidebottom of the NC Cooperative Extension will present “The ‘Other’ Bees in WNC,” about the diversity of bees and how to increase their numbers in your garden. Visitors welcomed. 828-258-0922.

BAMBOO WALKING TOURS: 1:30-3 p.m. on the second and fourth Sundays April 9-Nov. 12 at Haiku Bamboo Nursery/Farm, 468 Rhodes Mountain Road, Hendersonville. Next tour is May 14. Gates open at 1 p.m. Learn about bamboo plants, characteristics and environment. Wear walking shoes, no sandals. Cameras permitted. Adults $25, seniors $23, ages 13-18 $15, free for younger. To arrange a tour or to learn more, call 828-685-3053. Visit or find the nursery on Facebook.

GARDEN JUBILEE: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 27-28, Historic Downtown Hendersonville (Main Street from Sixth Avenue to Caswell). One of the largest gardening shows in WNC, with more than 250 vendor spaces, including local and regional nurseries selling annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs and hard-to-find plants, plus crafters and artisans of all types. Workshops and “Kids Clinic” (10 a.m.-4 p.m., ages 4-12) in the Lowe’s Expo at the Visitors Center, 201 S. Main St. Call 828-693-9708 or 800-828-4244.

HIDDEN GARDENS OF ASHEVILLE: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. June 3, rain or shine, sponsored by Buncombe County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers. Six unique private gardens will be open to the public. $15 in advance, $20 day of tour. On sale April 15 at or the Extension office. To learn more, call 828-255-5522.

GREENHOUSE TOURS: 11 a.m. Saturdays through June 10, MR Gardens, 441 Onteora Blvd., Asheville. Visit the nursery’s one-of-a-kind passive solar greenhouse, which uses nearly all renewable resources. $5 minimum fee on sliding scale. RSVP to or 828-333-4151. Visit


SPRING NATIVE LANDSCAPING: 1-5 p.m. April 30  in the parking lot of the Lake Lure Municipal Building. Free. No need to stay for all 4 hours; drop in at any time. Learn more about eco-friendly landscaping techniques. Sponsored by Friends of the Hickory Nut Gorge and the Weed Action Coalition of the Hickory Nut Gorge. Includes consultations and plant sales by Bat Cave Botanicals, and invasive plant ID info from David Lee of Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy.

GROWING COLD-HARDY GRAPES IN THE MOUNTAINS: Classes on propagation, planting, training, trellising, pruning and harvesting at Jewel of the Blue Ridge Vineyard in Marshall. All classes are $35 and meet 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays (except as noted) and include provided lunch. Topics include planting and propagation (May 13), training and mid-season canopy management (June 10), disease recognition and treatment (Thursday, June 22), sales and marketing and grape sale contracts (July 8) and harvesting (Thursday, Aug. 24 and Aug. 26). Classes continue into October. To get directions or ask questions, contact Chuck at 828-606-3130 or Learn more or register online at


OPEN DAILY: Retail shops open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. every day, Brevard Road at Interstate 40. Strawberries now arriving; also find tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and ramps, plus native plants for landscaping, bedding plants and more in the wholesale area. Garden Center has spring gardening needs from seeds to fertilizers. Retail shops have farm-fresh produce, eggs, local cheese and wine, seafood, Amish products, crafts, jams, jellies, honey, homemade fudge, roasted nuts, essential oils, and more. Check out Art Margraf’s assortment of sourdough breads and other baked goods, fresh Thursday-Sunday, with berry bushes from his Brevard farm to come later this month. Other vendors in Building Two have fresh meats and cheeses, seafood, gift items and more. Visit the deli for fresh sandwiches and the ice cream shop for home-churned ice cream of many flavors, and the Moose Cafe is open daily. Learn more at and on Facebook. Upcoming special events:

• Growing in the Mountains, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 28-29.

• Herb Festival, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. May 5-6 and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. May 7.

Ongoing events from Buncombe County Extension master gardener volunteers:

• BACKYARD COMPOST DEMO: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., second and fourth Saturday of each month, beside Jesse Israel’s Garden Center.


Following are announced opening dates for many of Western North Carolina’s outdoor tailgate markets, according to ASAP. Those without dates are open now. For exact locations and other details, visit

• Black Mountain Tailgate Market: May 6, 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays.

• East Asheville Tailgate Market: May 5, 3-6 p.m. Fridays.

• French Broad Food Co-op Wednesday Tailgate Market: 2-6 p.m. Wednesdays.

• North Asheville Tailgate Market: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays.

• Oakley Farmers Market: May 4, 3:30-6:30 p.m. Thursdays.

• River Arts District Farmers Market: May 3, 2-6 p.m. Wednesdays.

• Weaverville Tailgate Market: 2:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays.

• West Asheville Tailgate Market: 3:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays.


MASTER GARDENERS’ HELP LINE: Master gardener volunteers from the Buncombe Cooperative Extension Office are on duty to answer questions 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday and Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday. Call 828-255-5522 or drop by the Buncombe County Extension office at 49 Mount Carmel Road in Erwin Hills. The office is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday year-round, with a staffer on duty. For help anytime, visit If you have a question about a particular pest or plant, bring samples large enough for identification. Free soil sample test kits available.

LEICESTER GARDEN CLUB: Meets at 1 p.m. fourth Tuesday of the month at the Leicester Library. To learn more, call Crystal Dover at 828-259-9649.

WEAVERVILLE GARDEN CLUB: Meets at 9:30 a.m. second Tuesday of every month September through June in the Community Room at the Weaverville Town Hall on Main Street. To learn more, call 828-658-1154.

Article source:

Gardening pro: first aid tips for those with green fingers

Female gardener with her potted plantsWhether your pride and joy is a hydrangea plant or rose tree, if you have green fingers you’ll be welcoming the better weather in your much-loved garden.

The nature of gardening tools and prickly plants means sometimes people accidentally get hurt. But learning a little first aid doesn’t hurt at all.

Here are our top first aid tips for gardeners.

Cuts and wounds

A man cuts a hedge using shears

Pruning bushes and trimming hedges requires sharp kit like saws and shears. No matter how carefully you use them, it’s all too easy to cut yourself or others – sometimes badly.

Bleeding wound

If blood is flowing heavily from a wound and it is not possible to stop the bleeding with a plaster:

  1. Put pressure on the wound with whatever is available to stop or slow down the flow of blood.
  2. Call 999 as soon as possible, or get someone else to do it.
  3. Keep pressure on the wound until help arrives.
Trips and falls

Boots on a ladder

Trips and falls are the most common garden-based accident and can lead to sprains, strains or even broken bones.*

Sprains and strains

Someone with a strain or sprain will have pain, swelling and/or bruising around a joint or muscle. If the injury is at a joint, the person may have difficulty moving a limb. You should:

  1. Apply an ice pack to the injury.
  2. Get the person to rest the injured part of their body in a raised, comfortable position. If there is no improvement, seek medical advice.

Broken bone

If a person is in pain and has bruising or swelling, they may have broken a bone. Their limb may also look out of shape or be bent at an unusual angle. You should:

  1. Help the person to support the injury using their hand or items of clothing (such as a spare jumper or t-shirt) to prevent unnecessary movement.
  2. Get the person to hospital. Call 999 if necessary.
Insect and plant stings

A wasp on a flower

Wasps and bees love your garden but can also sting, as can some plants. Stings can lead to allergic reactions in some people, so make sure you know what to do.

  1. If someone has been stung and the sting is visible on the skin, use the edge of a credit card to scrape it away.
  2. Apply an ice-pack to the affected area to minimise pain and swelling.
  3. Watch for signs of a severe allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing and/or reddened and swollen, itchy skin on the hands, feet or face.

If someone has been stung in the mouth or throat, give them an ice cube to suck on or a glass of cold water to sip. These can prevent swelling. If swelling does start to develop, call 999 as it could get worse and block their airway.

Signs of a more severe allergic reaction include a rash, itchiness or swelling on a person’s hands, feet or face. A person’s breathing may also slow down. If you spot these signs:

  1. Call 999.
  2. Give them constant reassurance while waiting for the ambulance.
  3. If they have a known allergy and an auto-injector, help them to use it or do it yourself following the guidance on the product.
Gardening in the sunshine

A man rests on a bench with a hat over his face

Pottering around the garden in the warm, sunny weather can put you at risk of burns and dehydration.

The best defence is prevention by using suncream and drinking lots of fluids. But if you forget, here’s what to do.


If you do get sunburnt:

  1. Move into the shade.
  2. Cool the affected skin by dabbing with cold water.
  3. Apply after sun lotion to soothe the area.


Signs of dehydration include a dry mouth, headaches, and dizziness and confusion.

  1. Drink plenty of fluids. Water is usually sufficient but oral rehydration solutions or isotonic sports drinks are better as they also replace lost salts.
First aid at your green fingertips

Love gardens? Find out more about our Open Gardens event.

Photo credit:

*Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

Article source: