Allure of Allium—Pleasure of Purple

On this wordless Wednesday enjoy the Allure of Allium—Pleasure of Purple.

As seen yesterday at Sarah B. Duke Gardens…

Durham, North Carolina…—

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Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

Bloom Day – Entwined Gardens

Bloom Day!  Camera in hand, an opportunity to ponder… Above a double Kerria a share from my friend Deb.

A sweet little girl statue that once resided in ‘Big’s Garden in Chatham, Virginia – a gift from Big’s daughter Jane. Continue reading

Valentine Kama Sutra

Having been under the weather for the last twelve days,  I couldn’t wait to get back to the kitchen and garden.

I have had an odd craving for my favorite caramelized fennel and onion recipe—bizarre of all the tastes and smells one could desire, as I have been way too congested to taste, let alone smell the coffee brewing or Daphne just outside my door.

When the body craves certain things, one should LISTEN… This doesn’t count when talking about artificial taste manipulation of Doritos or chips, but rather when the body/mind is actually craving tastes of REAL FOOD.

So let’s deconstruct the Valentine Fennel Galette recipe in terms of health:

Ingredients

Fennel– cooked—has cooling and anti-inflammatory properties.   Fennel Foeniculum vulgare—can also work It is also recommended to calm a lot of coughing.  This must be why I must be craving it with all the coughing I’ve been experiencing with this winter grunge—Check!

OnionAllium cepa has expectorant, diuretic, anti-bacterial properties —Check!

ThymeThymus vulgaris provides anti-microbial cleansing, works as an expectorant, as well as strengthening the Immune system—the smell cheers the heart and lifts the spirit—Check—I am ready for the Grunge to be gone!

Lemon—anti-microbial, citrus x lemon—Check!

TarragonArtemisia dracunculus calms the nervous system—love tarragon!—Check!

Pernod—is a pricey liqueur with star anise Illicium verum – Did you know that star anise is the main ingredient in Tamaflu!   In Chinese medicine star anise is a warming herb that moves cold stagnation—who knew—thanks Wikipedia!—Check!—Check!

 So now the cravings are making perfect sense!

In the meantime, I have just poured through my friend Helen Yoest’s new book:

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Plants with Benefits… An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers and Veggies in Your Garden.

This book discusses cravings of another sort!  OH MY!  What a great book to give yourself for Valentine’s Day!  A whole new dimension to round out gardening and culinary pursuits!

Plants with Benefits… is easy to read, with beautiful photography. You do not have to have a Horticultural degree to reap it’s benefits…  Helen will have you blushing; I guarantee you will never look at some of your basic ingredients the same way again!

Yes, there are recipes— many by the wonderful  Carolyn Binder of Cowlick Cottage Farm, in case you are brave enough to put these ingredients to work!

The Medical professionals at WebMD.com say Sex can:

1. Helps Keep Your Immune System Humming

2. Boosts Your Libido

3. Improves Women’s Bladder Control

4. Lowers Your Blood Pressure

5. Counts as Exercise

6. Lowers Heart Attack Risk

7. Lessens Pain

8. May Make Prostate Cancer Less Likely

9. Improves Sleep

10. Eases Stress

Ten more reasons to get this book!

It is thought provoking: Do I dare go to the produce department?   Will I have to be restrained from fondling?  No wonder they provide brown paper bags in grocery stores—Hmmm!

I have never thought of Fennel as Helen writes as,  “Straight from the Kama Sutra.”  If you don’t know what I mean google Kama Sutra!   Just how do they do that?  But I will  never look at a Fennel the same again!

It’s all naughty but nice fun.  When feeling a little better I might try using Absinthe to plant the “Seeds of  Desire”— instead of healing Penod!

So here we go—a  great dish adjusted for Valentine’s day!

Plants with Benefits will get you playing and loving in the kitchen again!

Thanks for the inspiration Helen!  This one’s for you!

Here’s the Dish:

Caramelized Fennel Galette

…This can be made a day ahead and baked before serving

Pastry

  • 1 ¼ c all purpose flour
  • 2 t tarragon
  • ½ t Kosher salt
  • 8 T unsalted butter, cold
  • 3oz Gruyere, grated
  • ¼ c sour cream
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • ¼ c ice water
  • 1 egg yolk, for egg wash

Filling:

  • 2 ½ T unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 large fennel bulb, core and tops removed, thinly sliced* (Reserve some of the fennel fronds)
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced*
  • 1t fresh thyme leaves removed from the stem
  • 1t brandy
  • 2t dry sherry
  • 2t dry white wine
  • 1t Pernod (substitute Ricard, Herbsaint, Anisette or Absinthe!)
  • salt and cracked pepper, to taste
A madolin makes slicing fennel and onions a snap!

A madolin makes slicing fennel and onions a snap!

*Note:   A Mandolin works wonders! I bought an OXO hand held – at $19.00 an inexpensive one—it  works Great!… I resisted purchasing one for years… now I use it all the time!

Pastry

1. In a food processor—add the flour, tarragon and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse about 3-4 times to combine. Add the cubed butter and grated cheese to the bowl and pulse until the size of the butter resembles small peas.  This can also be accomplished by hand using a pastry cutter.

I like to mix the flour, tarragon and butter together before adding to  the food processor.

I like to mix the flour, tarragon and butter together before adding to the food processor.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter-flour mixture in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse several times until the dough starts to hold together when pinched between your fingers.

3. Lightly sprinkle flour on the counter and dump out the dough. Using a bench scraper, push the dough into a 12- by 4-inch rectangle. Using the palm of your hand, push the dough away from yourself. Once you have pushed out all of the dough, repeat the process. After the second round of pushing out, use the bench scraper to form a 4-inch thick round. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.

Pastry

Filling

1. In a  large sauté pan (12-inches) melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the fennel, stir to coat with the melted butter and sauté for 10 minutes.

2. Add the onions and thyme and sautè for 25 minutes, until the onions and fennel are very tender and caramelized.

Oh the joyous aromas of fennel, onions and thyme!

Oh the joyous aromas of fennel, onions and thyme!

3. Pour in the brandy, sherry and wine and deglaze the pan by scraping the brown bits off the bottom.

4. When the fennel and onions are fully cooked, add the Pernod (or liquer of choice) and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Baking – Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out the dough on a piece of floured parchment paper until it is about 12-inches in diameter. (if making heart shaped roll out a rectangle… eyeball the shape remembering that about 2 ½ inches will  be folded in).

HeartPastry

Put the parchment and dough onto a baking sheet. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes.

Take the dough out from the refrigerator.

Mound the fennel-onion mixture in the middle of the dough, leaving a 2-1/2-inch border. Break off some of the fennel fronds and sprinkle over the top of the filling. Fold up the outer 2-inches of the dough over the filling, leaving 1/2-inch inside the fold free of filling. Brush the dough with the beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with salt and  cracked pepper.

Bake for 50 minutes until the crust is deep golden brown and the middle of the filling is hot to the touch and lightly browned.

Cool the tart on a rack for 10 minutes.

Carefully remove the parchment and let the tart continue to cool on the rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine GaletteEnjoy – living the EntwinedLife!

Jayme B

The Mark of Adventure (part 3 of 4)

For the last 2 days we’ve been on a virtual journey to meet The Mark of Adventure  – that is Mark Weathington – Assistant Director and Curator of Collections at J. C. Rauslton Arboretum. 

Mark’s Motto:  “Life is too short for boring plants!”

Along the way we’ve discovered a little history and insight about out how plants are hunted, collected, documented, before they are selected, grown and then produced… all this before they arrive at a local nursery to be planted in the landscape.  PHEW!

Mark W

The Mark of Adventure…

“This photo was taken in 2008 at the lowest waterfall at Nine Dragon Falls, Huangshan mountains, Anhui Provence, China.  I think Dr. Fu from Zhejiang University took the photo,” said Mark Weathington.

Entwined Life: Where have you plant hunted?

Mark Weatherington: Ecuador, Mexico, British Columbia, Taiwan, China (Zhejiang, Guanzhou, Guangdong, Sechuan, Anhui), Japan, New Zealand next week! – throughout the southeastern US, mountains of VA and NC, Texas, California

 EL: What was your most difficult experience?

MW: I was stuck in a car overnight during a typhoon with roads blocked by landslides on either side.

Next worse – getting stuck in Ecuador for 6 extra days because the only flights to the US were through Miami and Houston during hurricane Katrina and those flights were all grounded.  Worst part of that was no one would cash any traveler’s checks, not even banks in the capital and we were out of cash.  NEVER travel with traveler’s checks.

EL:  What do you pack as rain gear?

MW: Rain jacket, occasionally rain pants.

EL:  What was your first trip and who was it with?

MW:  Outside the US was to Ecuador with 2 coworkers both from the Education Department – Norfolk Botanical Gardens – to collect plants and handicrafts along the Rio Cayapas with the Chaachi people.

EL:  Who else have traveled and explored with?

MW: Tony Avent, David Parks, David Creech, Todd Lasseigne, Brian Upchurch, Bill Barnes, Liu Gang, Takayuki Kobayashi, Yamaguchi-san, Suzuki-san,  Dr. Fu, Teobaldo Eguiluz.

EL:  Do they have any quirks or fears they overcome to get a plant specimen?

MW:  Tony (Avent of Plant Delights Nursery) is deathly afraid of heights but will do what it takes to get his plant (maybe that’s why he likes those ground hugging perennials instead of trees).

EL:  Any injuries or illness?

MW:  I was once sick with a stomach bug in China and didn’t eat for about 4 days – kept going morning to dark though.

EL:  What type of shoes/boot and how many pairs do you bring?

MW: Running shoes and/or hiking shoes (no boots), one pair of leather or canvas slip-ons that can be worn for a slightly nicer occasion (meeting w/officials, etc.) 2-3 pairs total.

EL:  Any ‘Aha’ moments you’ve had about culture, travel, horticulture

MW:   In Ecuador as we prepared to travel up river for many, many hours, we picked up 1 of the 3 Chaachi who had a college degree and lived in the city advocating for the tribe.  He was going with us to facilitate our trip and to visit his parents.  He brought with him some kitchen supplies and clothes for them, 3 young chickens for eggs for his parents, and 6 different forms of croton (Codiaeum) for their garden in the rainforest.  It hit home not only how universal gardening is but also how necessary ornamental horticulture is to our well-being.

EL:  Most beautiful place you found yourself in?

MW:  I was in the Japanese Alps (Nagano area) during prime momijigari time or maple viewing when all the city folks head to the mountains to seek out the spectacular fall colors on the various Japanese maple species. 

Or, perhaps the top of a sacred waterfall in a remote spot in the Cotocachi Cayapos Ecological Reserve with tree ferns and slipper orchids everywhere.

Or, the yellow mountains of China (Huangshan), or…

 EL:  Any travel comfort you bring? 

MW:  Sony noise cancelling headphones along with an eye mask for the plane – I sleep all the way there and back. 

On the road, I’m pretty much all go from early am to very late at night, collecting, cleaning, cataloging, documenting, etc.

EL:  What is the creature comfort you most appreciate back home…

MW:  Family, reliable plumbing, water out of a tap that is drinkable.

Check back tomorrow to see what is in Mark’s Advernture packed – tools of the trade – Suitcase!

Mark writes and speaks on a variety of topics in horticulture.

He has recently revised and updated the Propagation Guide for Woody Plants at the JC Raulston Arboretum.

Mark has been published in Horticulture, Carolina Gardener, American Nurseryman and VA Gardener magazines as well as The Mid-Atlantic Gardener’s Book of Lists. In addition, he writes a weekly column for The Virginian-Pilot newspaper. (source: http://cals.ncsu.edu/hort_sci/people/faculty/pages/weathingtonvitae.php)

 You can follow Mark’s Blog– for cool plant profiles and follow his adventures too! 

Tomorrow:  What’s in Mark’s Suitcase?

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mark of Adventure (part 2 of 4)

Have you ever thought about where our garden plants come from?

In the year 1768, Captain James Cook… then 40 years old, set out as commander of HM Bark Endeavour .

English: Captain Cook, oil on canvas painting ...

English: Captain Cook, oil on canvas painting by John Webber, 1776, Museum of New Zealand Tepapa Tongarewa, Wellington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Captain Cook and his crew were the first to circumnavigate New Zealand.

The voyages were tough, the scurvy rampant, the Tahitians wiling, the thrill of adventure and discovery. These adventures always included a number of scientists, surveyors, geologists, physicians and surgeons, naturalists and botanists.

Risk of making it back to England was not good, as ships usually returned with less than half their crew – the call of adventure and willing patrons for King or Queen and country had it’s allure.

In reading some of their logs, many of the adventures would make today’s society blush!

Botanicals were important cargo, whether for feeding the crew, curing the crew, or making new discoveries in medicine.  Advances in textiles for clothing, or securing a much sought after spice, or medicinal solution.  It was the prospect of a lush bounty of botanicals that launched ships and planted the conquering flags of Motherlands.

This voyage in particular, English naturalist and botanist Joseph Banks (25) his assistant, Daniel Solander (35) a Swedish naturalist and botanist. Together they collected, measured, sketched, documented and preserved samples of over 350 plants from their explorations of coastal New Zealand.

After leaving New Zealand, Captain Cook dropped anchor & landed in 1770 – in a beautiful bay near what is now Sydney Australia – which they named “Botany Bay” – you get the picture:

” It’s all about the Plants!”

This is the motto of my beloved JC Raulston Arboretum named after dearly departed botanical adventurer J. C. Raulston.

245 years later horticulturists are still hunting for plants.   Their tools and technology might have changed (more on that tomorrow), but the mark of adventure is the same.

Why do arboretums, botanical gardens and growers mount expensive expeditions?

Simple… the thrill of the hunt.   The opportunity of finding  a cool specimen growing in the wild – to test to see if it will grow and thrive in a different climate, elevation, ecosystem.  The opportunity to  bring a new plan to market or genetically match the Pangaea heritage – our continents created as one, long ago.

Some of today’s horticultural advernturers include: Dan Hinkley, Ted Stevens, Barry Yinger, Tony Avent, David Parks, Mark Weathington, David Creech, Todd Lasseigne, Brian Upchurch, Bill Barnes, Liu Gang, Takayuki Kobayashi, Yamaguchi-san, Suzuki-san, Dr. Fu andTeobaldo Eguiluz.

Stay tuned for the next installment of  The Mark of Adventure…

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

The Mark of Adventure…

These days when you purchase a home, the property more often than not, was likely clear cut when built. Perhaps even the topsoil was scraped and hauled away with the removal of Bushwhacked  or Bush-Hogged trees, stumps and shrubs. A mark of adventure for the machine operator. 

This trend developed in post war 1947 when the first planned community called Levittown emerged. The style emerged to level the playing field of  future residents, done for the convenience of the builders, not for the love of the land or to retain the sense of place.  Merely mass production of affordable housing a mark of adventure for future prosperous development.

Aerial view of Levittown, Pennsylvania, circa 1959

Aerial view of Levittown, Pennsylvania, circa 1959 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The country prospered and someone figured out that all the leftover bomb chemicals could be sold and used to “fertilize” the new suburban lawns.  Yes, this creative lifestyle morphed into a heavily marketed middle class status symbol – a small but “Great Lawn”! 

The Builder then contracts a landscaping crew to add back some landscaping to give it curb appeal… typically these are fast growing evergreens that give the builder some bang for the buck, for saleability, often with no regard for how large the tree or shrub will be in a few years… for the most part unsuspecting homeowners are left with an ongoing task of whacking these back, from blocking windows and doors. 

Oh but I digress from the real question on my mind:

Have you ever thought about where our garden plants come from? 

What is the Mark of Adventure?

To be continued… tomorrow part 2 of 4.

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

Hunkering down for winter and Elephant trumpets…

The fall is upon us… the excitement of the NC State Fair, leaves blowing and swirling, critters foraging…   colors now yellow instead of the pervasive green.  Hits of pinks, reds and oranges – emerge across the horizon.

Over the last few days with temperatures dipping to 38 degree F.,  we are hunkering down for winter at Entwined Gardens.

The careful lists of selecting which tropicals to dig up, re-pot  and drag into shelter for the winter,  have been checked off the ‘To-Do” list.

The Korean Mums  by the white garden gate – lovely with their peach tinged petals are open for diners – the last of the visible pollinators.  I notice that these two insects  have the same  striped markings – the one on the upper right is quite a bit smaller, wings perpendicular rather than angling, as they feast on nectar.

  DaisiesDendranthema rubellum – Korean Mum

Walking the paths, I reflect on each plant as a quest or gift from a friend.  The Dendranthema –  a division from Gail Ingram – from the back of her pickup truck after a Master Gardener meeting in 2000,  a feeding frenzy of outstretched arms… hoping to feel the plant material fall into their fingers… What Joy!

Hence my Motto:

“It’s always a great day when you bring home a plant!”

Entwined Gardens has been the recipient of many such plant shares  and trades from amazing horticultural giants and mentors – I’ll refrain from much of the name dropping.

I’ve dug, dragged, dumpster dived (from the JC Raulston Arboretum ‘plants only’ dumpster),  put on waders bogged and slogged on a quest.     Shopped till I’ve dropped, then traveled hours with a with a coveted Acer palmatum ‘Okukuji nishiki’ – a lovely variagated Japanese Maple specimen  –  stuck between my knees on a road trip from Athens, Georgia to sweet home North Carolina!  Thanks goodness my friend Jean was driving!

Over the years, friend Mitzi has shown us how to pack in the plants on these expeditions.    And in the horticultural Mecca of the Triangle,  it is not uncommon to see all types of specimens in all shapes and sizes of vehicles being driven on highways and byways!

Nearby I reflect on a  stand of Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’  which will stay in the ground.  Although only known to be hardy zones 8-10,  it over wintered well in my Zone 7B garden last year.

To date,  in all my shameless, plant obsessive (OK, addicted) escapades – my 5’2″ frame was no match for the these elephants!

ThaiGiant

I laugh every time I think of this Elephant Ear… a share from friend and divine garden writer Helen Yoest.

I arrived at Helen’s Haven with some thick gauge heavy-duty giant lawn bags.   Gratefully, Helen had already heave-hoed them out of the ground for sharing.  How sweet was that!

Elephant Ears like their large mammal name sakes,  must hold a heck of a lot of water which is the only logic I could give to their weight.  I struggled to lug their root balls into the bags.   I strained to budge them around the side of the house and down the garden path without trampling one of Helen’s borders.  I tried dragging, then pushing them in the heavy gauge plastic.  I think a stubborn Pachyderm would have been easier to coax than this Colocasia gigantea!

Laboriously breathing, I finally made it to the intersection of walkway and driveway…   I wondered if I could roll them down without damaging the magnificent leaves and roots, but decided against this option.  I walked around the house and couldn’t locate any thing with wheels.

Dazed, my short arms straining,  I took a breath pondering, “If only I had a real  elephant… an elephant could easily use its proboscis or trunk to transport these down the drive – easy peasy…  and most likely for a couple of bags of peanuts.  This would really give the neighbors something to talk about!”

Reality check… when did Helen’s driveway get so long and steep? Even going downhill it seemed like an abyss!

My desire for these plants once again snapped me back – pushing me forward like a goat in quicksand…   I was one with them,  I was not letting go –  and then it hit me like a ton of elephants, if I do get to the street, how will I ever hoist them up to the bed of the pick up?   I wanted to weep.

I felt like I was in an Abbott & Costello escapade, but I sure wished Abbott (my Hubby) was there as  I struggled comically down the driveway.  I would take a few steps,  teetering with the weight over head, stop and walk around this stubborn as a mule plant predicament – barely budging a few inches.

I thought for sure Helen would find me in heap at the end of the drive, trampled by an elephant stampede.

The neighbors would complain… about some horticultural circus act gone very wrong, peering out behind a jungle of designer draperies, but afraid to come outside of their climate controlled environs.

What seemed like hours later, I climbed into the truck bed, positioned myself on bended knees and prayed for strength… I wish I had thought to bring some rigging and a winch for the aerial act  that ensued!

Focus.  Rest.  Sip  some water.  Bend the knees. Pray to the Almighty Horticulture God and by some  miracle… it was in the truck for the transport home.  I have no earthly idea how these were hoisted or levitated from above or below or what kind of other worldly pact might have been made.

That night and the next morning, I ached everywhere… but the prize was mine!

There is nothing like a shared plant from a friend’s garden.    This gargantuan punctuation in the garden unlike any other.    In my mind I hear the sounds of  loud (click listen and hit back button to return)  Elephant trumpets which then elicits a break into an enormous ‘laugh out loud’ every time it comes into view.  OK sometimes I preform the elephant walk… a joy of living in the woods!

So once again I will leave it in the ground, keeping my fingers crossed that  it will be a star attraction, after the spring migration of warmth summons it forth.

A last peek behind its big top ears  finds a surprise – tree frog hunkering down against the incoming frigid air.

ThaiFrogDid you know: that the American green tree frog, Hyla cinerea

converts glycogen into glucose – acting like anti freeze – during cold months?

Listen to the (click listen and hit back button to return)  song of the tree frog.

A second, smaller clump of ‘Thai Giant’,  also dragged from Helen’s Haven,   spent the winter inside the barn last winter.   It emerged at a reasonable time last spring.  I  planted it out, but  it stopped growing at a mere 7 1/2 inches!   Although planted just feet from its giant friend, perhaps planted in an area where the light is being shaded, but definitely a freakish curiosity.

Tiny EarsI laugh at these tiny leaves…    “That’s IT???  That’s all I got for pulling my back muscles out?”

I am delighted none the less.

Thanks,  Helen for your amazing gift a giant plant, a story to tell, Elephant Trumpets in my ear and being a friend with Horticultural Benefits.

Helen’s new tome is available for preorder:   Plants With Benefits: An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & Veggies in Your Garden

Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative