Friday, December 2, 2011

Garden Diva Glissens in December...

Welcome December…Welcome beautiful fragrant greenery and welcome festive cheer!  I’m delighted that you’ve been able to take a few minutes for yourself, away from the last minute holiday hustle to sit and relax with me.  I hope that this article is accompanying a few peaceful moments with your cup of morning coffee or evening glass of wine.
I love this time of year.  I think I say that almost every month don’t I? *smile* In truth, I like every time of year for its unique reasons. Now, the nursery has quieted and been put to rest for winter, as have our gardens.  We now focus on the beauty of decorating for celebrations of family, faith and friends.  It feels like a lovely bridge between seasons for my home and me.  I truly enjoy adorning our home for the festive celebrations of the season; it gives me such a sense of peace & joy.  Yet, over the years I have learned how to decorate in a way that compliments the holidays but then gently flows into the winter season.  Long gone are my days of feeling the immediate need to remove my holiday decorations because they shout ‘holiday’ and feel out of place in January.  Through thoughtful consideration, I’ve chosen pieces that speak instead to pretty snow laden days and glimmery evenings that makes one feel warm and cozy.  I love that I don’t have to tuck away the awe of the white twinkle lights simply because the holidays have past.  Instead, I look forward to the longevity of the pleasure that I experience when the lights are strung through the winter.  Now, may I say…Although I am encouraging the festiveness of the lights past the traditional holiday season, I am guessing that you and I both have seen a few homes that shouldn’t subscribe to this fun train of thought.  I’ve been known to throw on my ‘Light Police’ hat while walking the dogs or driving from here to there thinking… ‘Oh no!’  I’m not quite encouraging that!  But I am saying, c’mon; let’s keep the winter as beautiful and bright as we can for as long as we can. 
Next on my decorating list are Winter Porch Pots and window boxes.  They are another ‘must have’ this time of year. Fresh greens (boxwood, pine, cedar, juniper, holly and fir) tucked into baskets, planters and containers offer the perfect welcoming compliment on a chilly winter’s day. I have been known, for the holiday season to have a little glitz in my porch pots on occasion, with punches of vibrant reds and golds. Yet as soon as the holidays have passed, I simply remove the bolder colors, leaving a fresh natural look to enjoy through the winter. Add a string of gentle twinkle lights and we’re in business!  
This year, I encourage you to be open to decorating in a way that allows you to extend the enjoyment for longer into the season.  Don’t take down all those lights!  Instead, enjoy the glimmer and twinkle of a winter evening for the long haul.  Enjoy the holidays and Happy New Year to you, fellow reader. I’ll look forward to seeing you again in 2012!
.... Frances Grossman

Friday, November 4, 2011

Every year in October, Larry & I escape to our ‘secret place’ in the Adirondacks for a week of much needed R & R.  When you put two tree loving, passionate gardeners in a car driving into the Adirondacks during peak color season, things are bound to get exciting between us. I think everyone feels a new sense of exhilaration while enjoying Mother Nature performing her symphony of color.  We eagerly look forward to this week like kids, and absolutely relish our time away together from the chaos of society, electronic media, work demands and anything else. I’m sure you know the feeling. The silence and beauty is so piercing, the world just seems to stop. We take the opportunity to renew ourselves by reading, hiking, biking, kayaking, and any activity which ends in ‘ing.’ For example, when we kayak, temperatures may hover from 40-50 degrees. My honey bundles me up and packs me into the kayak. So, Mr. Outdoors knows I prefer to hug the protection of the shore. He lets me go at my pace paddling sometimes fast and sometimes slow. I quickly warm up and may even tucker out. He knows just when to say, “Honey, why don’t you take a rest and let me show you a few things.” We don’t just see trees, rocks and birds. We have come to enjoy seeing Mother Nature’s traditions at this time of year. Realizing our family traditions are right around the corner.

Now back to reality. It is astonishing how soon the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving seems to be knocking at our door. Isn’t it enough just to catch up from vacation? Since I cannot slow down time, and it seems to accelerate more as we mature, facing the holidays is what I do; and I will do in earnest. Thanksgiving and beyond, I am grateful to have the memories and traditions from my family growing up. My parents made sure they were big celebrations. Cooking, baking, setting the table, decorating indoors & outdoors and gift giving involved the whole family; everyone!   Though I infuse something new into our preparations, I always find comforting how my childhood traditions weave their way into our holidays. I welcome them because they allow me to languish in past moments. Just as time stands still when we visit the Adirondacks, I love when it happens every year during the holiday. Those memories alongside the family activities of this year’s holidays make me thankful for the gifts the land bestows upon us with her beauty and bounty. It is now time to celebrate with family and friends this simple abundance.

Larry and I wish you and your family all the simple abundance you have to celebrate.
.... Frances Grossman

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Gardener Welcomes The Fall Season... Simplify and Slow Down

It’s mid-October and I’m feeling energized by the idea of finding simplicity.  I love autumn, the cooler temperatures, the colors and the idea of switching gears and slowing things down a bit.  Yet, when I think about the idea of slowing down I almost chuckle to myself!  Slow down – right?  Who does that or even knows how to these days?  We’re referencing every electronic gadget we possibly can to communicate, get answers, order dinner, get directions and all at break neck speed. Slow down! Ha! Speed up says the world.
One of my greatest pleasures along with gardening and cooking is the simple act of reading. There is nothing better than losing ones self in a book and being transformed by the author’s words. I am currently reading Greg Mortenson’s second book titled, Stones into Schools.  I highly recommend Three Cups of Tea, his first book for its profound story about building schools in Pakistan & Afghanistan and how he has changed the lives of countless individuals & villages by educating children, especially girls. Greg Mortenson writes: as any wise village elder will tell you, anything truly important is worth doing very slowly and worth the wait.  This sentiment has resonated in my mind the past several days; so simple, so true, so REAL.
As I was pondering my garden over the weekend, this statement came to me.  Larry and I have nurtured our plantings for years, enjoying the benefits we have experienced over time.  The growth of our mature trees and gardens has been a process, even a journey.  We cherish the privacy, scenery and beauty our wait has rewarded us. Then as the mind works and goes from one thought to another, my spring garden comes to the forefront.  I so enjoy the spring blooming bulbs, the first burst of what’s to come in the new season.  But here’s the deal… We are, in general an ‘instant gratification’ society.  We want it now. We want it done for us and at full peak/performance.  In fact, as a business owner, I would be remiss if the nursery did not offer ‘Grab & Go’ container gardens and mature plant material for our customers.  When it comes to spring blooming bulbs, planting them now forces us to wait 4 to 5 months for the color to arrive. Can’t have it now? Then most people just don’t see the benefits.  It’s difficult to grasp that a couple hours in the garden now offers hours, days and weeks of color, enjoyment and reward in the spring when we really yearn for it. So here, as I write to you, knowing that I too am a culprit of the ‘Do It for Me, Now’ mentality (I love those $6 meals), I am committed to simplifying and slowing down.  I’ll take a couple of hours now to plant those giant Alliums, Tulips and Grape Hyacinths which will over time and through winter’s rest become gorgeous and fragrant blooms heralding the arrival of spring.
On a final note and I know you can relate to this…  I do enjoy the thrill of the hunt; discovering the latest and greatest, the must have item or service of the moment (and I do love having a terrific purse on my shoulder at all times).  But then I pause for a moment and I hear my mother’s voice and Greg Mortenson’s words telling me, “Stay simple, stay true, and plant those bulbs.” Those reminders are what encourage me to wait with patience knowing that my rewards will be many.
... Frances Grossman

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Enjoying The Garden Harvest...

Now that the heat has disappeared and temperatures are back to normal, I’m harvesting and enjoying all kind of tasty treats from our kitchen garden. The squash, tomatoes and lettuce have all thrived and bring me a smile with every bite!
I’m also doing some gardening projects like pruning, trimming, cleaning and generally making room and getting the gardens ready for a new season of inspiration. I have all kinds of new ideas and thoughts as I sit outside drinking my morning coffee in the garden. Sitting, observing and listening to nature unfold is a true joy. Listening to the birds and bees and watching a hummingbird zip by reminds me that day by day, season by season the garden is changing.
Oh, I don’t see the magic every morning because sometimes my head is full of other things! Electronic devices buzzing, deadlines and meetings to attend…so it’s those moments of inspiration that really speak to me and that I can celebrate. Here are just a few of my morning ‘inspirations’…
Morning coffee inspiration #1: This year, harvest and dry my hydrangeas. Our hydrangeas were absolutely spectacular this year. I’ll be creating a wreath for a friend and a swag for my patio door. I want to keep those gorgeous blooms and color in mind as long as possible.
Morning coffee inspiration #2: Refresh my summer pots and create autumn pots. The summer annuals in my pots are done but I’m not ready for colorless pots yet. In our nursery we have flowers that are cultivated to intensify in color during the cool nights and warm days…we call them autumn ‘magic’ because they are just so special. I’m using a combination of red and orange Mums, some autumn ‘magic’ plants like Verbena, Sunscape Daisies and Nemesia, plus grasses to spice up my pots and keep the color coming until the snowflakes fly!
Morning coffee inspiration #3: Create a festive autumn front door this season! Yes, my front door will have the things you can imagine like corn stalks and pumpkins, but this year I’m giving it a twist. I’m using two black porch pots filled with autumn Pansies and Million Bells, purple and green Kale, then adding some grape vines intertwined with faux berries. The corn stalks on each side of the door will be accompanied by pumpkins of all sizes, preserved leaves, gourds and any other fun autumn inspiration I can find!
Autumn is a time of inspiration…new colors on our trees, new schools, new flowers and new ideas! I hope that you too can be inspired by the changes that happen throughout the fall and have some fun while you embrace nature changing around us.
... Frances Grossman

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Garden Ideas Complete Me...

As I look around my blooming garden I am transported to another world, it is my place of joy, my oasis. Luscious, colorful, green and diverse, and sprinkled all around are my favorite pieces of garden art.
Garden art can be created in many ways, all of which can contribute to that ‘finishing touch’ of your garden’s big picture. I know it sounds simple, but my garden art…the fountains, the stone dogs, the antique bench and the blue bird house are placed thoughtfully in my garden, and all delight me in different ways when I gaze upon them.
As long-time gardeners, Larry and I also have many flowering perennials, interesting pots, and window baskets filled with colorful annuals. Bringing art into our garden is a perfect way to adorn and personalize our outdoor space and makes it feel like the garden is finished (although I know it never really is).
Since I am a dog lover (yes, I have three), I have picked several entertaining dog sculptures, which make me smile. The bird bath and blue bird house mounted to an old Oak tree attract blue birds, which are intriguing to watch! Years ago I bought an antique bench, which now resides peacefully under a Japanese Maple. The rich toned, beautiful Italian Impruneta pottery that comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes creates a European tone…I sometimes feel like I’m sitting at an Italian piazza when I drink my morning coffee!
Whether you buy something that catches your eye or commission a special ‘signature’ piece, it usually ends up working, because you like it!  I never look for ‘just anything’ to fill a space, I seek out pieces and materials that reflect my interests and personality.
Copper is beautiful and makes striking garden art in the form of bird baths,  feeders and garden stakes and I love the patina it creates!  I also enjoy steel garden art because it can be painted, varnished or left in its natural state to age and rust. Many artists take old discarded steel - drums, nuts and bolts, bike and engine parts - and turn them into fascinating creations. Perhaps you like a more modern look?  Think about stainless steel, which can be used to create large modern, architectural pieces which reflect the light and stand the test of time.
Thankfully, garden art has moved far beyond the plastic pink flamingo and the garden gnome! So, whether your taste runs to the whimsical or formal, cast stone, recycled metal or classic copper, your choices are endless. The sky’s the limit when putting the finishing touches in your garden, so feel free to adorn your garden by following your instinct and then sit back and enjoy!
... Frances Grossman

Friday, July 1, 2011

My Gardening Colors...

Recently I had my ‘colors’ analyzed, yes, that’s right, my ‘colors’. I have to admit that at first, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to hear, but in the end, the session brought such enlightenment to my clothing, my jewelry and makeup choices (and it was fun!). I now know what colors fit me just right and help to bring out my best features naturally. The same holds true in art and of course, in the garden!

Nature is complex, but rarely, if ever, do the colors we find in nature seem to be wrong. There are so many ways to use color so I try not to over think it. The key to figuring out color is to be creative, invent your own palette and use some general guidelines – no rules here!

Color combinations in our clothes, in art, in flower beds are all about contrasts or complements and harmonies. Primary reds and greens, which are opposite on the color wheel will create powerful contrasts.  While mixing pinks, blues, and silvers or, even warmer yellows and peaches are very calming and work together. Neither scenario is ‘right’ or ‘better’, it all comes down to what you like! You can create a mood of drama or one of peacefulness – all in the color decisions you make.

Of course, there are the non-plant materials that can also create a certain feeling. The style and paint color of your house, the presence and sound of water…maybe a pool, a stream or a fountain, and the kind of furniture you have, all create a mood.  I just love to see a brightly painted Adirondack chair sitting in a yard, bringing a bolt of electric color into a cool green palette.

As summer arrives so do the hot colors (and the hot weather!). Think of Black-Eyed Susans, bright yellow Yarrow, sunflowers and of course roses…in all kinds of deep colors. And don’t forget about the greens! Greens are refreshingly cool and the many hues of greens make as much of a statement as color when used correctly. Ferns, Hostas and Sedum can all create a stunning palette as well.

There is still a lot of summer left, so it’s also a great time to give your annuals a quick trim to keep their shape presentable. Don’t be afraid to give your flowers a haircut to keeping them looking good! July is also a perfect time to fertilize and give your plants a boost of energy. Between the haircut and the feeding, your plants will be looking their best for the rest of the summer.

I could go on about color and how much fun it is to play in the garden. I just smile when I think about the gorgeous palette of color that Mother Nature creates and savor these long days before autumn arrives and a whole new palette of colors explodes before our eyes.
... Frances Grossman

Thursday, June 2, 2011

How To Make A Gardener Smile...

It doesn't take much to make me smile, especially this time of year when the days are long, the nights are warm and the world is in bloom. The warm weather always seems to move through Rochester too quickly, but in reality, there's a lot of summer left. Hot summer. The kind that reminds me of my childhood running through the sprinkler, late nights catching fireflies and drinking cool lemonade (and no commitments!). A walk in the garden seeing all the buzzing activity of the bees and the bugs definitely puts me in the mood to kick back, relax and enjoy the season.

I remember my grandmother telling me "If the corn is knee-high by the fourth of July, It'll make corn, wet or dry." There are just some things that will always remain true…like knowing that my garden will be full of color every summer. I relish each new bloom as it appears and joins the rest of those that make up the color palette of the garden.

This is also the time for revisiting what is growing in my garden and planning for the future. I evaluate what’s working or not working in the garden palette and then of course, I consult my husband Larry who tells me to follow one simple rule “Grow what you love and it will all come together”.

Traditionally, I’ve always focused on bright, bold colorful gardens. I love the saturation of lavender, dahlias, begonias, petunias and sunflowers. After so many months with no color, I sometimes go a little overboard!

Over the years, my taste in flowers has matured and I’m willing to try new flowers and combinations.  At one point I would have never considered growing a Hosta garden, now I love to linger through my lush (and low maintenance!) shade garden of Hostas, Astilbes and ferns. With all the interesting shapes, textures and sizes, my shade garden is just a delight to behold. Of course I’m proud of how beautiful my garden is (thanks Larry), but also proud that I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and tried non-traditional styles, shapes and textures.

So, even though I can always count on certain summer traditions, my garden is a gentle reminder to try new things and always keep growing. In fact, now is a fine time to enjoy my own summer tradition of sipping a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc in the beauty of my garden…cheers!
.... Frances Grossman

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Garden Diva Attempts to "Work Smarter, Not Harder"...

Hello ladies- Welcome to the glorious color & flower filled month of May!

If you’re anything like me, you just can’t get outside quick enough to doll up your porch, patio or deck with fabulous color and ‘must feel’ textures for the summer. I’m talking about passionate color and hues that fill and overflow in my gardens and containers. And… if you’re anything like me you’re feeling busy, a little out of time and maybe even a tiny bit overwhelmed about where to start.  Well, I’ve got some great news for you!  Decorating your outdoor spaces is fun, fast & easy when you have a few tricks up your sleeve. Pssst… My secret to outdoor color decorating in a snap is simply called ‘Grab & Go Color!’

This smart way of shopping means that the experts have done the work for me.  I walk into my favorite garden nursery (wink, wink!) and have a terrific selection of plants in a variety of amazing color combos, sizes & styles. I envision my outdoor space and think about the ‘feel’ and look that I want for the season. After weighing my options, I put the planted containers on my cart and I head home.  Viola’ - that’s it!

Like every woman I know, I’m all about making my life easier when I can.  In fact, one of my mantras is to ‘work smarter and not harder.’ I know that I can do many things well, but not everything.  As much as I love and enjoy color, my backyard living space is rather expansive and fenced in for the dogs to run and play.  My veggie and herb garden is adjacent to our patio with the flowering plants we have in the area as ‘Grab & Go’ Color Containers.  I depend on these fantastic kaleidoscopes of colors to make our space come to life and it does!  A few containers strategically placed make all the difference in the world and sets the stage for entertaining, kicking back to read the paper or enjoy a glass of wine around the chat table.    

Tips for your color success:
•    Color has power!  Add vertical pops here and there with hanging baskets and incredible tropical plants that love our summer temps. Don’t settle for the same old same old.  Choose baskets with dynamic color and texture combinations that bring your space to the next level!
•    Check out how much light your space does (or doesn’t get!) Some varieties thrive in hot blazing sun, whereas other are magnificent in the shade.  Choose and feature plants that will work in your personal space. 
•    Food = Gorgeous Blooms!  Imagine your energy level without food.  Ugh – no thanks!  Fertilize and water regularly to keep the beauty coming!

Well ladies… here’s to celebrating you and the strong, beautiful women in your life this month.  Here’s to color and celebrating what it does to make us feel alive and fabulous!
... Frances Grossman

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gardening Diva gives 'Chores List' to Husband

Now that the snow has melted and is in our distant past and spring makes it way into our lives, I always love what seems to be the awakening of the world around us. Winter is wonderful, but I would like to put in the order to Mother Nature that spring should begin earlier in March.  It is unfair how short our springs are in Rochester.  I would also do away with the mud!  I suppose we need to experience that ugly mud to appreciate the bright colors of spring, but haven’t we endured enough grey from our dark Rochester winters?

Now with the mud (ugh) and the first blooms appearing, Mother Nature is erupting with what will be some of her most colorful fireworks display in the year.  This is also the time when my mind starts racing – from one part of the yard to another. I search, evaluate and discover what havoc may have gone on through my winter hibernation. I make my lists on my Iphone of what seems to be the same things every year that need to be accomplished. I might as well just make them ‘repeating’ lists and save the time creating them! That’s a few more free minutes in my day.  Or my husband, Larry, would ask, “Why don’t you keep a garden journal?” Ha! Fortunately for me, I am married to a man that doesn’t always practice what he preaches; his garden journal is in his head. Compounding my visual overload is the realization that it’s planting time, now!  The bombardment of all the work to do in the yard is literally piling up and putting me into frenzy.  I want to do the plantings; that’s fun. Who wants to do the clean up?  I fret about when it will all get done and then Larry has to listen to me unloading to him as we are turning in for the evening.

But, I tell myself, let’s be practical. By spending the time now raking and putting down the granular weed preventer along with mulch where it is needed, I will have a much more enjoyable summer playing and not pulling weeds. Nobody should pull weeds anyways; it only creates more weeds and it is such a waste of time.  OK, an ounce of prevention now, will allow me the time to have fun in the gardens doing what I want to be doing – the planting, decorating and beautifying of my world!

I will admit, as for those nasty repetitive chores through the rest of the season, I am fortunate that I have my own personal horticulturist; my garden curator of our home. Larry prides himself in having our ‘outdoor home’ as beautiful as those he creates for all of our gardening friends and customers that visit the nursery.  He gauges my anxieties and tempers them with getting done what needs to be done so I can have my fun in the garden.  He takes care of me and I would say, “he has my back” in regards to our gardens.  What am I complaining about? It’ll all get done!  I have Larry…
.... Frances Grossman

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gardening Diva Gets Older...

The older and wiser (wink!) I get, I’m continually in awe of how life comes full circle. When I was young, growing up in Wisconsin, there was a small stretch of land that we affectionately called ‘Tree Island.’  The neighborhood kids would play for hours in and among these 5 gnarly multi-branched trees.  We’d climb all over the trees, swinging like monkeys from branch to branch, sometimes successfully, sometimes not!  I have one vivid memory of the ‘not so’ successful.  I was climbing and one misstep caused me to fall out of the tree and land so hard, that I encountered my first experience with having the wind knocked out of me.  Oh, how I cried as I ran home! Yet, as much as I remember that fantastic moment in time (note sarcasm!), I can’t escape the memory of feeling completely connected to my friends among those big old trees.  Countless hours of entertainment coupled with secrets shared and friendships sealed made those 5 funky trees an exciting destination and treasured safe haven.
I feel lucky to have those wonderful childhood memories as a professional in the horticultural industry. I know the technical aspects of growing trees; proper pruning and growing practices.  I tout the environmental benefits; trees produce oxygen, harbor wildlife, provide shade and wind barriers for our homes.  Yet, to be honest, it’s the emotional sentiment that I gravitate towards every time.
Our gardens are a mirror of each of us and how we live.  Larry and my gardens have been designed with several things in mind, but nothing more important than our sheer comfort and enjoyment.  We’ve planted several trees over the years to celebrate our loved ones as they’ve passed.  Celebrate being the key word. As each season unfolds, reveals itself and then revolves into something entirely different, you can’t help but feel connected to the person being remembered.  The aesthetic beauty and function are just additional benefits!
I got started on this thought process today as I ponder the March weather.  In past years we’ve experiences mild weather, but have also taken some severe hits via ice storms and heavy snowfall.  It’s easy to delight in the anticipation of upcoming as tree buds begin to swell, signaling their desire to pop.  Now however, I see the beautiful branching structure of the trees, appreciating the true splendor that lies beneath the leaves.  Soon, the branches will be leafed out offering a completely different perspective.
Here’s a suggestion.  Now, while we wait for nature to do her ‘spring thing,’ take a drive or stroll down Rochester’s East Avenue.  You’ll find some of the oldest and grandest trees in our area; trees that have become finer with age (many 100+ years old).  East Ave will take on a new perspective as you realize the incredible Beeches, Oaks and other trees that stand silently and majestically. As I have shared my small childhood memory with you, imagine the stories that these magnificent trees could tell as they have quietly witnessed years of history and happenings going on right beneath their beautiful branches.  Little did I know that day as I ran away from Tree Island to the comfort of home (and mom’s arms), I would as an adult come to appreciate the undeniable beauty and majesty that trees bring to our world.  Grow some beauty, memories and enjoyment in your world….
...Frances Grossman

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Teasing the Gardening Diva

Nobody likes a tease.  We’re taught early on it’s best to (respectfully) be direct and say or do what you mean. Winter, for me, is just one big tease!  Here’s why…
 I love the simple pureness and sheer beauty of a fresh snowfall. I find myself looking out the window mesmerized by the textures and gentle movements on the other side of the glass.  As a gardener, I view the changes in my landscape as remarkable.  It feels like only yesterday that I was brushing the soil off my knees after planting in that very same spot.  Today, I simply shake my head as I see Larry and the dogs tossing the ball around and running through my (snow laden) vegetable gardens when he doesn’t think I’m looking. Lucky for them; they’re cute and I’m in my winter tranquility mode. This would never fly any other time of year!  I embrace winter as a time to refuel for the boundless hours of gardening that the longer days bring and to nurture my favorite cold weather pastime.

My passion for gardening goes hand and hand with my love for cooking.  I must admit that I don’t spend as much time in the kitchen as I would like during the warmer months. But now, I take every opportunity to pour through cookbooks and search the web for new recipes. My free hours are now easily filled in the kitchen.  This is where winter becomes a big ‘tease’ for me.  I am so fired up to gather all of my fresh ingredients to add to my recipes.  I love the taste of freshly picked tomatoes off the vine and the delightful flavor that my fresh herbs bring to the plate. Oh… the fresh cucumbers and eggplant and the scent of basil on my fingers as I pinch off a few leaves.  WAIT!  STOP!  Screech… that’s the brakes as I remember that winter has stopped me cold in my tracks!  Agh, I can’t just step outside my kitchen door and pick those fresh veggies & herbs that my taste buds are dying for.  That’s the irony of winter; the old law that our good friend Murphy came up with.  Now that I have the time to nurture my love of cooking, my timing, or my garden’s timing is way off.

Yet as we know, one thing always leads to another. My discovery of new recipes has led me to daydream and ‘wander’ through my gardens.  My mental checklist begins. Plant more snow peas & lettuce for an earlier harvest (√).  Add a new savory eggplant variety (√). Place the tarragon near the end of the bed and locate another herb to the other side for easier access (√).  Oh! And I need a new pair of gardening gloves and the purple hose nozzle leaks a bit (√). You know where I’m going with this…  Still, I’m energized by thoughts of what else can be grown, how much, what can be harvested & preserved for next winter and on and on!

As I enjoy my time in our warm kitchen, flavorful scents all around, I enthusiastically anticipate getting back into my garden.  Meanwhile, I satisfy my cravings for all things fresh and simple by growing herbs indoors for cooking and placing fresh lavender, my favorite herb, throughout the house. Most importantly, I continue to feed my senses, my soul, my husband and our waistlines this winter with homemade cooking! In fact, as I read another cookbook last night, Larry asked, “How much do I have to expand the garden this year?”  I coyly smile (I would NEVER dream of being a tease) and think, ‘Hmmm…’
... Frances Grossman

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gardener's Calm January

Did you feel that?  It was the reverberations of the thousand pound holiday hustle and bustle weight that just toppled off my sagging shoulders and onto the floor! Can you feel it too?  The sense & knowledge that just around the corner, you’ll be able to reclaim some sense of normalcy and structure.  Did you hear that?  The sound of the cork flying off the top of my 2002 Premier cru Red Burgundy & the slow ‘clug, clug, clug’ as the delicious aroma of the soaring plumy and violet infused nose replete with soft notes of earth, leather and smoke fills my favorite glass.  ‘Ahhh…’ That’s me, falling back into my fluffy couch cushions, relaxing, savoring and loving this quiet moment.

Personally, January restores a sense of ‘calm’ back in my life. The nursery isn’t as busy as warmer months & my garden is taking a well deserved break; I can actually slow down for a short while. I embrace this time to reflect on the past year and feel boundless optimism about the upcoming year. Based on the media rush of goal setting articles & ‘sticking to it’ initiatives, I know I’m not alone! The true question is… How many of us really end up achieving those goals? So here I am, standing tall (okay, sitting quietly with my wine, but feeling tall!) vowing to make this year different... Better… I’m recruiting (or encouraging) you to stand tall with me.   Do something beautiful in your life, something beautiful for you.

Not many of us grew up learning how to garden, me included.  Unless our parents gardened, it wasn’t high on the priority list of what we needed to know before going off on our own (such as how to wash clothes, cook, and check the oil in your car.)  Let’s face it, when put in the same light as basic survival tactics; gardening doesn’t seem as fun or en vogue. We don’t need to talk about staking your tomatoes or why your hydrangea isn’t blooming. You can easily grab that info via Google or your iphone.

We’re going to talk about the Gardening of today. Easy. Fun. Rewarding.  Gardening can be done anywhere, on any scale and within any budget. We’ll talk short cuts or ‘aha moments’ that will make gardening and outdoor living all about your personal adventure towards beauty.  I sometimes hear women say they don’t know how to garden. Yet, I’ll bet these same women have a colorful potted plant in their window or a few potted herbs in their kitchen. Let me be the first to say… That’s gardening, girlfriend and You Are Doing It!

....Frances Grossman