For Dragonflies And Me

  (Snover, Michigan)
Enjoy the everyday life I love to live!
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Choosing Perennials, Lavender Heart Card, Easy Flavored Sugar's Gift and Yummy Apple Pie Oatmeal

Our gardens are filled with love, patience and long suffering... these are attributes that we as spouses, parents, co-workers and such strive to maintain and build in our personal character.  I believe that gardening helps us grow these virtues.  I always tell my my friends that God made me to love gardening because that was the only way He was sure to get these virtues instilled in me.   Perennials I believe help along with this much more than annuals.  My closer friends know how much I enjoy 'instant gratification'~ which is why I probably will always incorporate my beloved annuals... petunias, nasturtiums, pansies and the likes~ they are ever faithful!  Today we will look at perennials and the pro's and con's to them along with some tips & hints on maintenance.
         
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Landscape Design Tips, The Importance of Soil and Yummy Apple & Cinnamon Pancakes!

I am a Cottage Gardener through and through~ I love the free form it allows me to have... the natural flow that occurs with time... the feel that everything has been there forever. Cottage gardens just seem happy and inviting to me~ they seem to say, 'go ahead & pick a bouquet.. take it in the house, smell it... gaze upon it's beauty and wonder...' Daisies, lupines, delphiniums and roses are just a few of the Cottage Gardens blooms that abound. I wouldn't even know where to begin to explain how to do other garden types. I believe your heart becomes a part of your garden over time, it calls out to you each time you pass by and invites you in like an old friend. Landscaping can be fun and exciting, filled with anticipation of what each year will bring, what news plants will be added, new walkways, arbors... Enjoy your gardens and be one with it, it will bring you years of peaceful abundance. There are several aspects to consider when considering your Landscape Design. These elements will effect the outcome quite drastically and need to be planned well in advance. *First make your Plan~ Walk through your yard and break it into three basic areas~1. Public Spaces- your front yard and driveway; these should be neat and organized; 2. Private Spaces- patios, pools areas and children's play areas; these spaces allow for your personal creativity; 3. Utility Spaces- garbage cans, propane tanks, central air units, firewood piles and such- be practical when planning these areas. For instance, you don't want to walk across your entire yard in the winter when you want to get some firewood. *Decide what your Personal Taste is~ this is probably going to be the easiest step in my opinion, unless of course you are not a gardener at heart and simply want a yard that is esthetically appealing to the eye and don't really care about personal expression. If this is the case, I would recommend going to a book store that has gobs of magazines; look at the covers of all the gardening magazine and see what catches your eye; decide what you like and then purchase several in that category of gardening; what is your budget? what is your time limit to maintenance? *Take into consideration the Style of your home when choosing your garden style. You wouldn't want to put a formal English garden with an old Victorian home. *Blueprint your yard~ you don't have to be an architect to do this. You can actually purchase kits at garden centers to aid you, or do as I do, just take a pad of paper and rough draw your entire property or just the area in which you want to do the landscaping. Take into consideration where all shade, all sun and partial shade/sun areas are located. This will make a big difference in the plants that you finally choose. Jot down where trees, fences, ditches, buildings, sidewalks, driveways, etc. are located. * Make a Plan of Action~ take time to develop your blueprint and plan. Most well done gardens are a work in progress that require time and patience, not to mention funds! Decide on all the elements that you want to incorporate into the landscape and then decide what is the most practical thing to start with. You will more than likely be incorporating hard scape elements into the design with the plants and maybe some garden art. These would include walkways, pergola's, patios, pools, arbors and trellises. Also bird baths, sun dials, statues and any other 'art' you want. *Choosing the plants will be another big decision. You will need to decide on trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. This will need to be decided upon once you choose your style. *When deciding on the Layout, if you choose to incorporate paths, make them winding if at all possible; this adds interest and creates a feeling of anticipation as to what is coming up around the bend. This obviously is not possible in all yards, so a way to create that feel is in your flower beds. Instead of making a straight line edge for your beds, put curves in them to create interest. It is amazing how this creates a natural flow that is appealing to the on lookers eye. Different things to consider when planning: ~ do you want a veggie & herb garden? ~ do you want shrubs and trees that require little pruning ~ do you want flowering or evergreen shrubs & trees? or a mixture of both. ~ take into consideration all four seasons when choosing your plants. ~ be sure to look at growth patterns- maturity height & width, shade or sun, dry or wet, etc. Designing and planning your garden is the fun part of gardening, but there is another very important element that is the Key to Success~ your Soil. The following information was found and adapted from "Michigan Gardener" magazine, April 2012 issue on page 9. "Soil is comprised of three materials: sand, clay, and loam. The best soil has equal parts of all three. Problems arise when there is too much of one material. Sandy soil is too loose and drains too quickly... Clay soil is too hard when dry, repelling water and making it difficult for roots to grow. When wet, it holds too much water, leading to root rot.... Spending a little time becoming familiar with the soil type in your backyard will greatly improve your gardening success. If you need help, bring a sample into your local garden center and an expert will help you determine your soil type.... You're not necessarily stuck with the soil you're given. Adding amendments will help create a rich, loamy composition that's a great environment for plants to thrive. For sandy soil, add organic matter, such a peat moss or compost, to give it more texture add water holding properties. To break up clay soil, add gypsum, pine bark fines or ceramic pellets. It is also important to know your soil's pH as well as nutrient composition before applying fertilizers.... Tests are available for about $20...." There is much information to be had on this topic that I wouldn't have time to get into here. I would advise you to get a soil sample done and get your soil prepped for maximum benefits. Yummy Apple & Cinnamon Pancakes! Here is yet anther way to use Taylor's awesome pancake mixes! Be sure to pick one up at the market! 1 Package of Taylor's Bake Shoppe Regular Pancake Mix. Follow package instructions for 1 recipe. 1 tsp. cinnamon 1 apple, cored, peeled, quartered, grated and divided sugar for sprinkling butter for melting to fry in 1. Make batter according to package instructions adding the cinnamon. 2. On a heated skillet melt 1 Tbsp. butter; sprinkle 1/2 tsp. sugar on top of melted butter; add 1 Tbsp. grated apple on top of this. 3. Immediately pour 1/4 cup of batter over top of apple, sugar & butter; cook until bubbles appear on the surface, about 1 to 2 minutes; turn and continue to fry for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until golden. Serve warm with maple syrup , butter and whipped cream. Happy Day, Jean
 
 

Plan A New Garden Now, Apple Orchard Strudel

Planning a new garden is always so much fun for me.  Each year I get to draw up field, garden and flower bed plot plans! This is one way that I spend my winter days!    If you start with a garden journal and jot down what your garden dreams are, add some pictures from magazines~ my personal favorite is Country Gardens~ then you will have a plan of action and goals to work toward.  Pre-planning your gardens on paper will give you an idea of space needed & quantity of plants required to have proper fill effect.  There will be plants you can start from seed and others that you will need to get from your local nursery.  Look in seed catalogs~ we are all getting loads of those and plan for Fall planting of bulbs for next Spring now!  You can always tweek things after you start, but having that plan of action will give you a visual aid that is sure to help in the long run.  For the next few entries I will be focusing on Garden Themes and helping you  plan ahead to get a beautiful and long lasting end result. 

Here are a few simpler Garden Themes with some choice plants for each, choose one or all.
*Butterfly Garden~ Purple Cornflowers, Butterfly Bush, Bee Balm, Shasta Daisy, Primrose, any kind of Phlox, Petunias, Cosmos, and single Marigolds.
*Hummingbird Garden~ Trumpet Vine, Wisteria bushes, Morning Glory, Lilac, Bee Balm, Hyssop, Petunias, Lavender, Salvia.  Any flower with a tubular flower will be much appreciated by our beautiful feathered friends!
*Bee Garden~ Hyssop, Bee Balm, Lavender, all of the Thymes, any mints, Lemon Balm, Roses, Geraniums.

Moon Garden~
At one of our first home's I planted a Moon Garden for the first time.  I had saw the idea in a magazine and thought it would be a neat idea, I had no idea how amazing it would be!  In the blackest of nights the garden simply glowed with life and the night insects it attracted was in itself so awesome!  Using all white flowers didn't seem that appealing to me at first, I am more of a Pink & Purple kind of girl with a splash of orange & yellow around to add interest- but white against the black night is simply gorgeous.  As the moonlight reflects off the flower petals it makes a spectacular silvery light that is breath taking.  My Moon Garden was planted directly in front of our living room window where it could be enjoyed either while inside or sitting outside.  Here are some flowers to be included as well as some night blooming ones!
*Silver Sage, Carnation, Angels Trumpet, Lambs Ear, Silver Tansy, Yarrow, Silver King & Queen Artemisia, Clary Sage, Horehound, Grey Sanolina, White Petunia's, White Cosmos, Mums, Tulips, Daffodils, Snow Drops and Hyacinths. If you have an arbor plant Sweet Autumn Clematis~ what a show stopper.
*Night Bloomers include Nicotiana, Stock, Roses, Veronica, Impatiens, Alyssium, Azalea and Jasmine.

Make a special day with some friends and go to your local greenhouses to get more ideas.  Remember when you are planning your garden's to look at plant blooming times, sun requirements and growth height & habits.  Try to choose a selection of plants that will give color starting in early spring through the late fall so you don't miss a beat!  The end result will be one you will never regret!

Here is a yummy way to use Cabbage in a not so everyday way!

Apple Orchard Strudel


4 cups cabbage from Garden Gate, finely chopped
1/4 cup onion from Garden Gate, chopped
1 1/2 cups apples from Kapnick Orchards, cored, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp mustard
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese from Grassfields Cheese
8 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1 stick butter, melted & divided

1.  Add cabbage and onion to a skillet coated with non stick vegetable spray.  Cook, covered, over medium heat for about 5 -7 minutes.
2  Mix cabbage mixture with apples in a large bowl, stirring in sour cream and mustard; add to cabbage mixture.
3,  Brush one sheet of dough with butter; layer on a second sheet.  Continue to brush each sheet of dough with butter and arrange on on top of the other.  spoon cabbage mixture down 1/3 of long side of dough. 
4. Top mixture with cheese.  Beginning with the long side, roll up jelly roll style.
5. Place on a 10"x15" jelly roll pan lightly coated with non stick vegetable spray. 
6.  Brush dough with remaining butter.  Make 1/4 inch deep cuts about 2 inches apart along the length of the dough.
7.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

Happy Day,

Jean


     

 
 

Children's Gardens & more themes, Butterfly Kisses & a super Yummy Apple 'Breakfast' Pie!

Each Spring my children get pretty enthusiastic about planting 'their' own garden plots.  Ryan, my soon to be 10year old is always right there ready to get going.  Last year he gathered several old bricks he discovered and made small 'raised' beds.  He dug around to loosen the dirt and proceeded to plant his tomato plants along side basil, nasturtiums & marigolds.  He has learned the art of Companion Planting like a true gardener!  Taylor & Kyle are usually in competition as to who's garden shall yield the greatest bounty and there-by collect the most funds from dad 'n' mom! The problem most often is that the thrill doesn't always last through till the harvest~ before the harvest is weeding & tending~ not such glamorous tasks as the planting!  But they are learning and I believe will someday have beautiful flower & veggie gardens for me to walk through!

But in the meantime here are a few more Garden Themes to dream about & work toward!
The first is a lovely *Children's Garden~  Sunflower Houses~  A good friend of mine has a really neat book called 
Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots by Sharon Lovejoy.  It is a book all about different children's garden theme's.  One that struck us most was a sunflower house. It is so fun & incredibly simple~ first find the perfect spot, a sunny corner in the far back of your veggie garden works well~ or in a flower bed if you have room~ figure about a 6'x6' area.  You will need the Giant Grey Stripe or Mammoth Sunflower's or even better a combo of both.  Using a stick for a marker, draw out the area in the dirt, any shape you want will do~ round, diamond, square, whatever~ then plant the seeds according to package directions.  Be sure to leave enough of an opening for an entrance.  Once the seeds start to sprout reseed where any didn't germinate so you have a complete 'wall'.  After your sunflowers are about six inches high plant Morning Glory seeds at the base of some of the sunflowers~ about every six would be good.  To make a roof over your hide away, take twine and go around the tops of the sunflowers to make criss~cross sections for the morning glories to climb over.  Once your sunflowers and morning glories are full grown it will be the perfect spot for picnics, story time or playing house.  Your children will love it!
other stuff for the Children to plant.... Children love to plant and if you give them something fun to grow it can even be more special! Let them plant some decorative gourds.  There are more varieties than you can shake a stick at including Swan, Bottle, Snake, Apple and even a Dinosaur Gourd.  Let them page the seed catalogs with you and have them pick what interests them.  There are books that teach the art of Gourdology which can be found at your local library.  The garden project can at harvest time become a craft project!  

Are you a crafty type of person?  Why not try growing your own Wreath Garden.  With the cost of materials these days, a package of seeds will go a long way in the savings department. Try growing these easy plants and who knows you might even be able to start a little business with your craft!
*Flowers that work well for Wreath's include~ boxwood, sweet annie, yarrow, bay, statice, artemisias and gomphrena. 

*Ditch Garden~
Do you have a ditch in front or alongside your home that just screams 'do something with me'? It is always an eye soar and you just don't really have the time to tend another garden? You want something but would like a maintainence free space that looks good without a lot of effort? I did, so last year I attacked the ditch that runs along the road in the front of our yard. My ditch is often fairly wet so my choice was a day lily patch. Here are two very quick & simple solutions if you have a similar dilemma. First & foremost determine how often and to what degree the area is wet.  This will determine if you do a Wild Flower or Day Lily Garden.  Next, if tilling is a possibility
rotor~till up the section to be seeded/planted.  If the area is not tillable due to moisture you will need to do a Day Lily garden.  If this is the solution, dig holes about every two feet and plant a clump of day lilies.  They can handle the early spring moisture and tolerate the dry & hot summer days that hit Michigan. If the area is not overly moist and tilling is an option,  simply scatter Wild Flower seeds in it. After a couple years you will have a breathtaking, car slowing garden that will never be an eye soar again.  Which ever you decide will best fit your space, be sure to check planting directions/requirements before you put all the work into it.  

What are Butterfly Kisses you ask? These have been shared in my gardens for many years by me & all my children.  They are the sweetest way to give that little person in your life a 'special' kiss & I love you.  So here are step by step instructions for those who are interested!
*First, find one or more of your favorite children.
*Next, stand them close to you and get down to their level~ face to face!
*Getting right up close in their face, put your eye up against their eye and blink as quickly as you can!  Be sure to tell the child to do the same!  The child will of course giggle and ask for tons more and of course you will gladly oblige!
That's a Butterfly Kiss, and of course they are most fun in a garden!

Who says Apple Pie is just for desert?  This yummy Apple Pie will surprise the ones you love around the table, give it a try!

Apple 'Breakfast' Pie


1 beaten Egg, from Garden Gate
1/4 cup oil
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup Pancake Mix from Taylor's Bake Shoppe
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Vanilla Sugar                                                                                    2 Granny Smith apples cored & wedged
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
2 Tbsp. butter
Add about 1/2 cup nuts is you would like!
Top it with some Whipped Cream or Ice Cream~ Yummy!

1.  Beat the egg, oil & milk together and then add Pancake mix, 1/2 cup of sugar and nuts if using.  Beat until smooth, but don't over beat.
2. Pour into a greased 10" pie plate. 
3. Arrange the apples evenly over batter.  Combine the 2 Tbsp. of sugar with cinnamon & nutmeg; sprinkle over the apples.  Dot with butter.
4.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 30- 35 minutes or until apples when poked feel tender.  Serve warm with your choice of topping.

Happy Day,
Jean
 
 
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