Tag Archives: garden

Spring Happenings!

As the weather gets warmer, your schedule should begin to look a little brighter. With fun events happening locally throughout March, there will be something for the whole family. Check out our favorites below:

McDonald’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Shamrock Festival
Don’t miss the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration on Saturday, March 11, beginning at 11 am in Downtown Roanoke. This is a great event for families with two free McDonald’s Kid’s Zone locations available from 12 to 5pm. Children can enjoy games, inflatables, face painting, and more in front of the Taubman Museum of Art on Salem Avenue and in Market Square. Corned Beef & Co. will host a Celtic Celebration from 10 am to 5 pm, and Martin’s St. Pats Block Party will open at 11 am. Visit www.downtownroanoke.org for more information.

American Impressionism in the Garden at the Taubman Museum of Art
The American Impressionism in the Garden exhibit at the Taubman Museum of Art includes several new loans from major institutions across the United States. During the late 19th century, many American Impressionist artists studied alongside their French counterparts in Paris and Giverny to capture light’s fleeting effects by painting en plein air, or outside. They distinguished themselves by depicting uniquely American subjects—notably, the garden. This exhibition explores that era, breathing in the fresh aroma of a world in bloom. It will be on view until May 14. Go to www.taubmanmuseum.org for information.

Just Stevii Presents: Experience!
A free event to encourage women to empower themselves and reach their full potential is a great way to celebrate Women’s History Month. That’s why we are so excited that Just Stevii Presents: Experience! will take place at the Kirk Family YMCA on Friday, March 17 from 5 to 9 pm. Roanoke is one of four stops on Stevii Aisha Mills’ cross-country tour. Stevii is a motivational speaker with a goal to help women who are dedicated to pushing past their past to loudly (and proudly!) declare, “I love my life!” Her event will feature several fantastic vendors, including The Purposeful Speaker and Total Life Changes. Visit www.stevii.com/experience to learn more.

 

Bringing Your Garden To Life

What sets a beautiful, manmade landscape apart from a natural field? Often times it’s the hours of gardening, strategic placement of flowers, and unknowingly, counter-productive methods of groundskeeping.

Such a predicament has left professional horticulturists like Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher scratching their heads, searching for a compromise to the problem – how can one intertwine beauty and fruitful landscaping practices?

As Thomas Christopher outlines in the preface of his new book, Garden Revolution: How our landscapes can be a source of environmental change, he believes that gardeners should be able to construct intentional scenes of art, cultivated in a way that allows the greenery to evolve naturally and in an environmentally-positive way.

When Christopher, author of Essential Perennials and The New American Landscape, met Larry Weaner, professional gardener of 30 years and founder of the New Directions in the American Landscape conference, he immediately recognized a complementary spark.

Weaner had been creating natural landscapes for years, distinguished on a national scale for his intertwining of art and environmental science.

61J0jcnLj-LTogether, Christopher and Weaner joined forces to create Garden Revolution, a collaboratively-authored book of designs, influences, applications and pictures released in May 2016. The book depicts the story of Weaner’s hybrid landscaping work, while simultaneously illustrating Christopher’s dream to cultivate a garden that gives back.

The book is broken down into four core sections: “The Learning Process,” “Design,” “In the Field” and “Postscript.” Vivid photographs of the men’s work enliven each section of the book, all incased within the subtle green flower-print of the hard-back binding.

The book, published by Timber Press, currently retails at $39.95 and is available for purchase here. However, you can enter to WIN a copy of your own on our Facebook page!

Written by Emily McCaul

Fear of Frost?

Tips to keep your garden growing through fall’s chill

As warm weather begins to fade to memory and frost threatens, even avid gardeners may be tempted to pack up their trowels and call it a season. You may think it’s better to leave the victory garden gracefully, than risk the disappointment of watching crops wither in chilly temperatures. But fear of frost and failure don’t have to stop you from enjoying a fruitful fall garden. With the right plant choices and a few tricks, producing a hefty harvest can be easy.

A few facts about frost
Frost occurs when temperatures drop enough to condense and freeze the moisture in the air. In fall, when air temperatures sink, it’s common to find frost layering the ground, leaves and crops. Frost may occur frequently in the fall before the ground really becomes frozen — known as a hard freeze.
While a hard freeze generally heralds the end of the growing season and frost can harm warm weather crops like oranges, some veggies actually do very well — and taste better — when nipped by frost. By stocking your fall garden with frost-loving varieties, you can ensure your garden remains victorious and bountiful right up to the first hard freeze. Not sure when the hard freeze will occur in your region? Check out the USDA Freeze Map.
When you consider the many advantages of fall gardening, frost shouldn’t be feared. Cooler temperatures mean you’ll have a more comfortable experience while working in the garden, and you’ll have fewer insect pests and weeds to deal with.

Frost-friendly choices
Just because the growing season is over for summer crops like tomatoes, you don’t have to give up gardening before the cold winter weather. Instead, clear out the remnants of summer plantings and debris and get the ground ready for fall favorites like spinach, cabbage, collards and kale. These hearty, leafy vegetables — available from Bonnie Plants — actually like the chill weather and can stand up to some frost.
Certain root veggies, such as radishes and turnips, also do well in cooler temperatures. All are packed with nutrients, so you can plant them knowing you’ll be filling your dinner table with fresh, nutritious, great-tasting veggies this fall. For a list of fall-weather favorites, tips and harvest advice visit www.bonnieplants.com.

21637979Get a good start
When planning your fall garden, time is of the essence. Start with well-established, vigorous plants like those Bonnie Plants offers in some regions at garden retailers.
Starting out with more mature plants not only allows you to get your fall garden growing faster, it helps ensure your vegetables are strong enough to endure unexpected or extreme temperature variations. And remember to choose short-season varieties that will produce quicker in fall’s shorter growing season.

When frost arrives
Even though your fall vegetables might be able to handle the cold, you may want an extra layer of protection for unseasonably cool nights. Fortunately, you can do a lot to protect plants from sudden dips in temps.
Growing veggies in the right spot can make a big difference. Choose a location for your garden that gets plenty of sun, especially in the morning when you’ll want plants to quickly shake off overnight chill. Planting in a raised bed also helps insulate plants and their tender roots from ground freezes. Container gardens are also great for fall; when a severe frost or hard freeze threatens, you can bring plants inside, overnight for protection.
Sometimes you may want to cover plants against extreme cold. One option is a cold frame. Typically constructed of wood and glass or plastic, the frame sits over plants like a portable mini greenhouse. You can build your own — an online search will yield plenty of how-to plans — or purchase a prefabricated one. For less severe situations, simply turning a pot or bucket upside down over tender young plants can be enough to shield them from cold.
When fall arrives, you don’t have to fear frost, or give up your garden. Success starts with choosing cold-hearty varieties that prosper and produce well in cool weather. Visit www.bonnieplants.com to learn more about fall vegetables.

Serve It Up Sassy: A Garden Fresh Picnic

RECIPE DEVELOPMENT, FOOD STYLING, PHOTOGRAPHY, and ARTICLE BY LIZ BUSHONG


Grab your sun hat and head for the country, this seasons garden-fresh bounty turns into fine fare for a healthy impromptu picnic. Summer picnics are just ripe for picking with all of your favorite garden-fresh vegetables and fruits. Easy to make recipes utilizing homegrown ingredients is the perfect way to reap the benefits of your summer-time gardening efforts.

If your backyard isn’t brimming with rows of fresh produce, a nearby farmers market will offer everything you need for this summer-time picnic. Fresh peaches, blueberries, melons, sweet corn-on-the-cob, juicy ripe tomatoes, herbs, lettuces, squash, zucchini, peppers, onions and cucumbers—with ingredients like these at their best, picnics can’t help but be delicious.

Whether you dine by a lake on a blanket or roll out a wheel barrel under your favorite tree, these picnic recipes will please every palate.  An appetizer made with fresh herbs, basil, parsley, and arugula leaves makes a peppery pesto crostini. A vegetable spread is chock full of home-grown diced vegetables made with cucumbers, radishes, green onions, red, yellow and green bell peppers, garlic, parsley, and tomatoes. Every bite is crunchy and delicious in a roast beef pocket sandwich.

Cut carrots, celery, and cucumber sticks with cherry tomatoes are served up sassy in small containers with flavored olive oils for dipping. Individual desserts are half-pint peach and blueberry cobblers baked ahead for ease and travel. Better bake extra cobblers, with only a ½ cup serving with each jar they won’t last long! Last but not least, a summer picnic would not be the same without our southern sweet tea served in ice cold mason jars.

Packing a safe picnic lunch is important so here are a few safety tips when planning your meal:

“For a worry-free picnic, place perishable foods, such as hot dogs, burgers, poultry, deviled eggs, macaroni, potato salads, anything mayonnaise-cream cheese based food, in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or freezer gel packs. They need to be kept cold. Avoid leaving foods in the sun and do not cross contaminate cooking utensils when grilling raw meats.” Check out this website for more important picnic safety tips.

For an impromptu picnic setting, a quilt or blanket provides the perfect soft spot for a hard ground. To keep your quilt from being soiled, place a plastic tablecloth on the ground then add the quilt, or cover a picnic table with your tablecloth and quilt. Large pillows for lounging is always fun and of course a well-packed picnic basket. The basket should include your eating utensils, glasses and plates- paper or melamine, napkins, needed serving containers and utensils, trash bags, baggies, paper towels, wet naps, breads and non-refrigerated items.

Add a mason jar full of white hydrangea, zinnias, Queen Ann’s lace, and other wonderful summer flowers for a simple centerpiece. A bowl of apples and fresh fruit can also be a great centerpiece.

Dining or picnicking alfresco is one of summer’s delights. Call your friends and family and get the picnic going. A garden fresh picnic is a perfect way to celebrate nature’s bounty and a summer afternoon.

Liz Circle 2013 smallHelping you Make a Statement, Make it Sassy and Make it Yours!®

Liz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. For the past several years Liz been entrusted to decorate the White House for several Holidays. She is a featured monthly guest chef/designer on Daytime Tricities, Daytime Blue Ridge and other television shows. Liz is the author of the Just Desserts and Sweets & Savories cookbook as well as a contributing writer for VIP SEEN and Bella Magazine. For more information about Liz go to www.lizbushong.com/www.serveitupsassy.com

Half Pint Peach and Blueberry Cobbler 
half pint peach and blueberry cobbler

6 half pint canning jars
3 peaches, peeled, pitted and diced
½ cup blueberries-fresh
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup self rising flour
½ cup melted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup milk

Peel, pit and dice peaches. In bottom of each canning jar, place a teaspoon of dark brown sugar. Add diced peaches and blueberries on top of brown sugar. Mix together flour, butter, sugar and milk, pour over fruit in jar. Leave ½ inch space at the top, so batter will not run over. Place filled canning jars on a double layered baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve with mini vanilla ice cream scoops. Dessert can be frozen after baked and cooled.
Yield:  6 half-pint mini cobblers

Deli Beef Pockets with Garden Vegetable Spread
Deli Beef pockets with garden vegetable spread6-2” slices French bread
¼ pound thinly sliced roast beef
1 cup arugula or other small leaf lettuce
Garden Vegetable Spread – recipe follows

Cut French Bread into 6- 2” wide slices. Hollow  one side of bread to create a pocket for the filling. Spread Garden Vegetable mixture inside the pocket and up the sides of the crusty bread shell. Fill the pocket with 1-1/2 slices of roast beef. Garnish with the arugula leaves if desired. Wrap sandwich with plastic wrap and keep cold for picnic.
Yield:  6 sandwiches

Garden Vegetable Spread
Garden vegetable spread

1-4 ounce package cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons Hellmans mayonnaise
2 tablespoons creamy horseradish
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/8 cup diced carrots, green onions, radish, cucumber, and yellow squash
red, orange and green bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, arugula leaves
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt and white pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Place cream cheese, mayo, and horseradish in a large mixing bowl.
Add diced vegetables and seasonings. Mix to combine. Serve spread with Roast Beef Pockets or crostini.
Yield:  1-1/2 cups

Garden Pesto Crostini
Garden Pesto Crostini

½ cup baby arugula leaves
¼ cup basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons + ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons butter, softened
3 – 4 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper- optional
20- ¼ “sliced crusty bread loaf for crostini
8-10 cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced

Brush crostini slices with olive oil and grill or toast in oven until golden brown. In food processor, pulse walnuts one or two times, add arugula leaves, basil, parsley, 2 tablespoons cheese and garlic, pulse until smooth. Scrape down sides and add softened butter and olive oil.  Pulse mixture until smooth and creamy.  Add salt and pepper if desired to taste. Spread small amount of pesto on crostini, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, top with sliced tomato.
Yield:  20 crostini or 1 cup of pesto

 

Extracurricular Gardening

Beginning in April 2012, the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy teamed up with Grandin Court Elementary School to begin an after-school Garden Club for students interested in learning about gardening and growing food.
Teachers and parents wanted to spruce up the raised beds at the school and use them as a hands-on learning exercise. At first, they worried there might be limited student interest in such an “uncool” activity like gardening. But that spring, kids were playing outside, handling worms, and learning how to care for plants- and they loved it!
They saw how the items on their dinner plate were parts of living plants which took time and effort to grow. They were proud of making the school grounds more beautiful by planting flowers. The Green Thumbs Garden Club quickly grew to over 40 students. A second season of the club was planned for the fall so that all of the kids who wanted to attend could do so. Students and their families were also invited to tend the garden over the summer.

gc2With funding from the Roanoke Kiwanis Club, the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy built new gardens at Westside Elementary in 2014 and Highland Park Elementary School in 2015. Each new garden works towards an ultimate goal, to help students who participate in the garden clubs gain a better understanding of what they are eating. With more awareness of the different types of plants and what plant parts people can eat, the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy hopes to encourage students to be more adventurous in what they eat and to be unafraid to try new things.
Last year, project manager Meagan Cupka helped students plant corn at Westside Elementary. When she poured the seeds into her hand, one young student cried out, “That’s just corn!” Many students had no idea that the yellow kernels they eat are actually seeds. That moment is just one of many that illustrates how important this educational program is for young people.
This project continues to reconnect kids to their environment and provide them with a space where they can play and learn about the world in which they live. For more information on the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy and their after-school garden clubs, visit www.blueridgelandconservancy.org/garden-clubs.

Weekend Getaway in Lewisburg

In our June issue, we mention Lewisburg, West Virginia as a great weekend getaway for couples or families. A two hour drive from Roanoke, it has so much to offer including a rich history of which too many are unaware. The Greenbrier Historical Society’s Home and Garden Tour on Saturday, June 13 is the perfect opportunity to explore the city and learn about the earliest recorded history of the Greenbrier Valley.

One of Greenbrier Valley’s early treasure houses is situated on a bluff above the Greenbrier River near the Greenbrier River Trail. Built in 1796 of stone, this venerable structure served as the home of Benjamin Grigsby, the second pastor of the Old Stone Presbyterian Church in Lewisburg. The site was beautifully located on a bluff overlooking the Greenbrier River. Reverend Grigsby left his ministry at Old Stone in 1801 for a new call in Norfolk and his property passed through many hands before becoming the home of the Totten Family in 1902.

More recently, it was thoughtfully restored by Richard and Judy Lewis as a Bed and Breakfast Inn. Later, the panoramic views and proximity to Camp Allegheny attracted Dr. and Mrs. David Hunt to purchase the property and make it their own.

The home features gracious living room and dining rooms with fireplaces and an entry hall with murals depicting local history painted by Judy Lewis. The superlative kitchen is state of the art seamlessly blended into the fabric of the early structure. Outdoor spaces are appealingly integrated into the terrain.

An example of the “noggin” used between the logs of the oldest house in Lewisburg owned by Glen and Carol Jewell.
An example of the “noggin” used between the logs of the oldest house in Lewisburg owned by Glen and Carol Jewell.

“Comfortable, convenient, and colorful” is how Glen and Carol Jewell describe their house built by Jesse B. Bowlin in 1784 on “Hardscrabble Hill”. It is the oldest surviving house in Lewisburg. It certainly lives up to those descriptors now that the Jewells have nearly completed their renovation.

Just imagine seeing exposed logs that were put in place before the United States was born; a fireplace surround from 1750; a dining room ceiling that has never been painted; and whitewash or bright colonial colors throughout. The modern kitchen has cleverly hidden conveniences and room for a gourmet cook.

Many of the special touches were created by Mr. Jewel whose skill as a wood worker is apparent in the furniture he has made as well as his ability to add modern conveniences while making them look like they belong.

Mrs. Jewell’s love of fine fabric is apparent in the upholstery materials and window treatments. She had one room painted to showcase a set of crewel bed hangings which will soon be installed.

For more information on the tour, please call the Greenbrier Historical Society at 304-645-3398. Tickets, available at the North House Museum and the Greenbrier Convention and Visitors Bureau, are $50 for the gala on Friday evening, $30 for the Homes tour on Saturday, and $10 for the church tour and concert on Sunday afternoon. A combination ticket can be purchased for $80. The lunch at the church is a separately ticketed event and tickets are available for $10. Both the gala and church lunch tickets must be purchased in advance and by Monday, June 8Saturday Home Tour tickets and Sunday Church Tour and Concert tickets may be purchased at the door.

Be sure to pick up a copy of our June Travel issue for more great weekend trip ideas to consider this summer!

 

 

Serve It Up Sassy: Color Splash!

RECIPE DEVELOPMENT, FOOD STYLING, PHOTOGRAPHY, and ARTICLE BY LIZ BUSHONG

color splash  1Splashes of color set the stage for a simple dessert garden party. Polk-a-dots and clay pots bring to life the bright colors of this spring composition. The color-rich palate includes hot pink, purple, yellow, terra cotta, lime and tangerine.
This sunny celebration takes the party outdoors where the flowers are beginning to bloom and the smell of fresh rain still lingers in the air. A natural rock wall lends the perfect background for the flower-filled and garden themed table- setting. The centerpiece of this garden landscape features clean hand trowels, garden gloves, early blooming grape hyacinths and terra cotta pots. A child’s pair of polka-dot rain boots stake out a planted position on the table.
color splash mousse closeupDesserts for this garden party are Lemon Cupcakes and decadent Chocolate Mousse Brownie Cakes. The Lemon Cupcakes are color-splashed with hot pink, orange or yellow butter-cream flowers. Serve these cute little flowers in a decorative small flower vase that coordinates with your overall color scheme. Chocolate Mousse Brownie Cakes are made with chocolate mousse, brownies and covered with chocolate ganache. The secret baking tool is a silicone baking mold. For recipe go to www.lizbushong.com
Shop now for cute rain boots and gather new colorful gardening tools to host an impromptu garden dessert party. Color-splash your friends with bright colors of spring from the garden to the table. 

118Flower Pot Cupcakes  

1-16 oz. pkg. lemon cake mix
1-3oz pkg. lemon instant pudding/pie mix-dry
1-1/3 cups water
½ -cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups White buttercream frosting-purchased or homemade

Buttercream Frosting
½ cup butter, no substitutes
½ cup shortening
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
½ teaspoon clear vanilla
2-3 tablespoons whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare cupcake pan with liners. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients, except frosting. Beat on medium speed. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop cake batter into cupcake liners 1/2 full.
Bake 22-28 minutes. Cool cupcakes.
Frosting: Beat softened butter and shortening together in mixing bowl. Add salt, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar along with cream. Mix until light and fluffy. Frost cupcakes with white buttercream frosting. Divide white frosting into four bowls, tint with desired colors, hot pink, orange, yellow and green. Fill 3 disposable pastry bags with tip 104- orange, yellow, hot pink frosting and green frosting-leaf tip 352. Pipe green leaves on top of each cupcake and tip 104 pipe flowers in desired colors. Flower instructions on www.wilton.com

Liz Circle 2013 small (2)Make a Statement, Make it Sassy and Make it Yours! ®
Liz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. She makes elegance easy for her audience and encourages them to add their own Sassy touch to make it unique. In 2009, 2010, 13, 14 she was entrusted with decorating the White House for the Holiday. In 2011, she was part of seven-person team selected to decorate the Tennessee Governor’s Mansion for the holiday. Liz has been featured as the monthly guest chef on Daytime Tri-Cities, television show on WJHL, the CBS Affiliate for the Tri- Cities Area of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, Daytime Blue Ridge in Roanoke, Virginia and Daytime Tampa, Tampa Florida. She is also the creator and host of her own one-hour seasonal television show called “Serve it up Sassy!” for the same market, which aired in 2011. She is also a contributing writer for the regional magazine VIP Seen and Lovely Bella magazine in Roanoke, Virginia. Liz makes her home in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Liz Bushong, Serve it up Sassy! ™
To purchase cookbooks, find recipes, cooking, and decorating demonstrations, go to www.lizbushong.comor blog, www.lizbushong.com
Like and Share Liz on Facebook, tweet @lizbushong and pin on pinterest.com/lizbushong.

Home Grown Herbs

While vegetables are the most popular container plants and flowers the prettiest (although not as useful), herb gardens can be both beautiful and delicious.

When deciding which plants you’d like in your herb garden, look first at the herbs you know and use the most (perhaps the most empty jar in your spice rack), but don’t limit yourself to that. You can look up herbs online (try Annette’s Herb Garden) and see which are most commonly used or simply go to your local nursery and pick out the ones that smell the best.

Here five of the most popular uses and some gardening tips (in order of my favorite to least favorite):

Rosemary – First, it’s delicious. It also dried wonderfully and can be used indoors. If you plant this herb, consider harvesting an entire stem at one time, freezing it, and using it as a skewer later.

Basil – Also, delicious. There are many varieties of basil so it is very customizable, but make sure to break off a leaf and smell it before you buy it. This herb likes a lot of water, but be careful because it can mildew.

Mint – My parents’ favorite use for mint is in a mojito, but we use it in several other things as well (probably because of, again, the bush). Be careful about controlling your mint. You can also pinch the buds off to keep it from cross-pollinating.

Thyme – This herb is great because it requires minimal watering and can grow little, purple flowers. However, it tends to get “woody” and may have to be replaced every couple of years.

Sage – Also needs to be replaced (usually every three years), but dries easily. It does, however require a lot of maintenance to keep it from getting “woody” too soon.

Of this list, thyme tends to be the least used (such a shame considering the wealth of puns it opens itself up to, of which I am resisting). If you’re thinking about planting thyme or even have thyme in your garden, but lack ideas, check out Home Cooking.

Lastly, here are just a few tips to maintaining a happy, healthy, herb garden:

Herbs need full sun, but don’t like to be cooked. Use good quality soil so the plants can drain properly. Go easy on the fertilizer or don’t bother with it at all. And finally, don’t be afraid to harvest a lot at once. The herbs are truly happier this way and you deserve to reap what you sow!