Birds bring many benefits to a garden or landscape and are a great joy to watch. Many birds eat unwanted insects, such as mosquitoes and aphids, making them wonderful for pest control. They can also help as pollinators for people with edible gardens and landscapes.Read More
Allium sphaerocephalon, commonly called round-headed leek or drumstick allium, provides a unique and timely explosion of color that punctuates the garden come Fourth of July.Read More
Dawn redwoods have a spotty record in Minnesota. Some specimens die their first year, others persist until succumbing to our cold winters, and yet others keep reaching skyward year after yearRead More
For those gardeners who love ground covers but want more variety in their color scheme, consider this diminutive cousin of fern leaf tansy, Tanacetum densum ssp. amani.Read More
Tomatoes, cucumbers, rosemary, and basil are staples to a great vegetable and herb garden, providing fresh produce straight to your table. Whether you enjoy canning or cooking with your bounty, gardeners across the land cannot deny the benefits to growing your own food. Now, gardening isn’t a walk in the park. They need a lot of care and attention and I for one am a firm believer in rewarding oneself for hard work. My rewards usually tend to lean towards the adult beverage variety and being a gardener myself I feel like there is no reason why you cannot “spice” up (pun intended) your repertoire by using herbs and vegetables of your own with your favorite cocktails. There are limitless concoctions out there, my personal favorite being The Infused Bloody Mary. To infuse your own vodka for Bloody Marys you simply take fresh garlic, cilantro and jalapenos from your garden, add in your favorite vodka and seal it in a glass container to steep for a few days. Adding this infused vodka to any Bloody Mary mix or V8 or your very own freshly squeezed tomato juice will truly make your experience one of a kind.
I've never been the type to turn down a drink so I use my garden quite often to enhance my cocktail hour. Whether it is growing pearl onions for my Martini’s or adding lemon basil muddled with mint to my world class Mojitos. The list goes on and on with all the different ways you can create delicious beverages from your garden. If you are looking for a non-alcoholic way to enjoy your gardens many uses, I suggest adding rosemary, basil, and mint to green tea. Using a glass container is best, and allow the herbs to steep with the tea overnight in the refrigerator. Also for those punch bowl lovers, you can make ice cubes by freezing crushed fruit, such as blackberries or strawberries and mint in an ice cube tray. It is my experience, that for best results you should use distilled water. That way the ice cubes come out clear and not cloudy. Feel free to peruse the tasty drink recipes if have listed or get creative and see what signature cocktail you can come up with this summer!
Blackberry Mint Julep
- 1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves
- 1 pint blackberries
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 4 cups small ice cube
- 4 sprigs mint, for garnishing
- Roughly chop mint leaves.
- Puree the mint, blackberries, and sugar in a blender. Press through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard seeds.
- Rinse blender, then return puree to blender, and add bourbon and small ice cubes; blend until smooth.
- Divide mixture among 4 glasses. Garnish each with a mint sprig.
Herbal Sun Tea
- 2 tablespoons loose rooibos tea
- 2 tablespoons dried lemon verbena or dried mint
- 2 quarts cold water
- Honey or sugar, to taste
- Place tea and lemon verbena or mint on a square of cheesecloth. Tie into a bundle with kitchen twine.
- Place tea bag in a large glass jar, and add water.
- Cover, and steep in direct sunlight for 2 hours.
- Strain tea, and discard solids. Stir in honey or sugar. Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to 3 days.
Lillet Basil Cocktail
- 1 cup ice, plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup Lillet Blanc
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) gin
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
- Splash of tonic water
- 1 cucumber spear, for garnish
- 1 cinnamon stick, for garnish
- Put ice, Lillet, gin, orange juice, and basil in a cocktail shaker; shake well.
- Fill a glass with ice; strain mixture into glass.
- Add tonic water. Garnish with cucumber spear, cinnamon stick, and basil sprigs.
Several years ago my wife's childhood Radio Flyer wagon had been outgrown by our kids, but it still possessed sentimental value. Confronted with what to do with it, I had an idea: why not convert it into a portable salad bar?Read More
Shady locations with poor soil are a perennial dilemma for Minnesota gardeners and usually result in a sea of hostas. There are precious few shrubs that grow in such conditions that maintain a tidy form.Read More
Beardtongue may sound like a fearsome pirate, but alas it is merely a charming perennial which can be found in prairie settings throughout Minnesota.Read More
If the recent tragic tree accident at Punch Pizza makes you question the safety of your own landscape, that may be the only silver lining to an otherwise dark day in Wayzata. The large tree snapped and injured an Oregon woman who was dining on the restaurant’s narrow outdoor patio. The old tree on the edge of the scenic 14-acre Big Woods preserve reportedly was weakened by disease. But several factors can make trees susceptible to snapping at any time or toppling over in high winds.Read More
Today's Plant of the Week, fragrant abelia (Abelia mosanensis), will not wow anybody in a photograph, but if you happen across it in the landscape while it is in full bloom, be prepared to be swept off your feet by its unearthly fragrance.Read More