Tag Archives: culinary

Houseplants: Brighten Your Home… and Your Mood!

The weather is cooling and, for many of us, we find ourselves moving increasingly toward indoor hobbies and activities. If you’re an avid gardener, though, this can be a tough transition that leaves you itching to dig in the soil, quietly nurture your garden, and watch your plants grow and thrive. A growing trend in home decor (and rightfully so) has been houseplants: they’re a perfect way to get your gardening fix, and bring a wealth of health benefits to your home!

Did you know that including living plants in your home’s decor improves your air quality, minimizes headaches, reduces fatigue and eases dry skin during the winter months? Additionally, for anyone struggling with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) houseplants can improve your mood, relieve stress and anxiety, and provide a calming effect through tangible interaction. All of these benefits come down to one simple concept: biophilia. Simply put, plants make us feel good! When we are out in nature, surrounded by plant life, or just in a room with living plant material, we are more happy, content, and relaxed. All the reason to introduce a bit of fresh greenery to your home! Houseplants are becoming increasingly popular and there are more varieties available than ever before. Below is a quick guide to a few of our favorites; be sure to stop in to our garden center to check these out in person, along with a wide selection of other varieties, and bring that positive biophilia home with you for the long winter!

  1. Pilea- Pilea peperomioides is an easy to care for, cute little plant that’s been growing in popularity quickly. Native to Asia, its generally considered to be an easy-going plant, preferring medium to bright indirect sunlight. Water your pilea every one to two weeks, depending on how bright of light its in, and making sure it dries out in between waterings. Dry, curled leaves indicate too little water, while yellow leaves and black stems indicate too much. Your pilea will also produce “pups” or “babies” on its own, which will pop up in the surrounding soil!

2. Spider Plants– A long-time houseplant staple, spider plants are making a comeback in the design world! These hardy hanging plants aren’t fussy, and can survive in a variety of conditions. A perfect spot for your spider plant is in bright, indirect sunlight, but they can tolerate a lower light setting, too. Water well during during the summer months, then cut back through the winter and mist occasionally year-round. Spider plants prefer fast-draining, well-fertilized soil, particularly during the summer months. Make sure to watch out for pests, though: spider mites, mealybugs, aphids and whiteflies can be attracted to spider plants!

One of the fun and unique attributes of this plant is how easy it is to propagate. Simply remove one of the small plantlets and place it in soil, then watch to ensure that it grows roots. Its a quick and easy gift, and one that’s easy to care for!

3. Croton– With its colorful foliage, the croton is a gorgeous accent plant for your home. Your croton will do best in a sunny location, with regular misting. If you notice that its new growth is dull in color and vibrancy, move it to a sunnier spot: this is a sign that its not getting enough light. Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet, and allow to dry a bit in between waterings. Crotons tend to attract dust, so you’ll want to wipe its foliage with a damp rag occasionally!

4. Zamia-Fully named “Zamioculas Zamiifolia” and often referred to as “ZZ”, this popular houseplant has a modern look and is easy to care for. The Zamia plant can tolerate low to bright, indirect light levels, and prefers to dry out in between waterings. Its a perfect plant for beginners, and is very forgiving if you forget a watering or two! The Zamia’s foliage can be considered toxic, though, so you’ll want to keep it away from curious pets or small children.

5. Sansevieria- Often called “Snake Plant” or “Mother-in-Law Tongue”, this hardy houseplant is one of the easiest to care for and, with its vertical shape, one of the easiest to incorporate into your space. Sansevieria will thrive best in bright light, but are well known to tolerate dim rooms with very low light, too. These plants prefer to dry out in between watering; one of the most common mistakes, in fact, is overwatering and root rot. As your sansevieria grows, you’ll want to continually rotate it to ensure that it is growing evenly (they tend to arch toward the light, so you can end up with a heavily leaning plant!). Sansevieria come in many varieties and sizes and tend to be slow growing, making them a great fit for just about any home or office!

Stop in at our garden center to check out these outstanding houseplants, plus plenty of others! Our knowledgeable staff is here to help you select the perfect plants for your needs and get you started on the right foot!

Festive Fourth of July Cocktails & Appetizer

Spice Up Your Summer with Fresh Herbs!

Nothing says “Summer” like the taste of a cool, freshly-muddled drink or the savory aroma of a crisp, garden dish on a hot night.  The use of herbs can enhance just about any meal or drink and growing your own will supply you with a bounty of flavorful ingredients, attractive plantings, and gorgeous patio aromas all season long! 

When it comes to summery dishes, you can’t go wrong with a classic Italian pesto, fresh-from-the-garden pizza sauce or an icy mojito, but the options don’t end there!  There’s a wealth of unique herbs to bring new flavors and colors to your herb bed; here are a few of our current favorites!

  1. Marjoram- Marjoram boasts a flavor of sweet pine and citrus, perfect for any Mediterranean-style dish, plus sauces, soups and meats.  For a pop of bright, chartreuse color in your planter bed, try Golden-Tip Marjoram (shown to the right). It’s delicious with tomatoes, pizza, and egg dishes!

2) Oregano Varieties– No Mediterranean dish is the same without oregano; it’s the go-to seasoning for the best sauces, salads, pizzas, and more!  If you like a little more pizazz with your dishes, try a Hot and Spicy variety; or if you prefer the mild side, try out a Variegated Oregano, perfect for use in salsa and vegetable dishes.  Oregano can bring more to the table, though!  Ornamental and Golden varieties provide a gorgeous pop of color and texture to your beds and planters all season long!

3) Pineapple Sage– For many of us, sage brings to mind hearty meat dishes, infused butters, and savory egg dishes.  Pineapple sage, on the other hand, is all about complimenting summer favorites!  With an aroma and flavor very similar to pineapple, this herb is a perfect addition to fruit salads, fresh garden salads and cocktails.  Growing 3-4’ height, it has gorgeous red blooms and is a fantastic pollinator!

4) Thyme Varieties-Thyme is a garden classic, and an excellent addition to both your culinary and ornamental planters.  Standard thyme is delicious in butters and spreads, meat marinades and rubs, and as a topping for roasted vegetables.  Some of the unique varieties that we love this year are:

  • Silver Thyme: A beautiful, variegated silver foliage that works great in mixed planters and gives off a lovely lemon scent, but can also be used in culinary dishes similar to traditional thyme.
  • Lime Thyme: a bright, eye-catching color and citrus scent make this variety a great pick for ornamental planers.
  • Lemon Thyme: Brings a fresh, citrus flavor to meat and vegetable dishes and is best added at the very end of cooking to maintain the most flavor.

5) Mint Varieties- Mint is a fast-spreading, easy to grow perennial that will be a garden staple year after year.  Adding it to your beds can even help deter ants and flies!  We’re all pretty familiar with mint as the flavor boost for fresh drinks and summery desserts, but there are plenty of varieties available besides just the standard:

  • Corsican mint:  A very low ground cover, this variety gives off an intense, refreshing peppermint aroma and flavor.  It’s a fantastic choice for beverages, especially tea.
  • Indian Mint:  This variety is perfect for hanging planters, and gives great flavor to tea, culinary dishes (especially lamb), and is known to relieve headache tension.
  • Apple Mint:  One of our absolute favorites, apple mint is a must-use for your summer beverages like lemonade, infused water, and cocktails!  Also try it out with peas, salad dressings, tomatoes and broccoli.

Whether you are a “seasoned” pro or new to the world of gardening, herbs are an incredible asset to your garden and an easy addition.  Most will thrive in containers as well as planter beds, and some can even be brought indoors through the winter months.  Note that plenty of sunlight and proper soil drainage are key in any herb planting.  Create a bed near your kitchen so that you can snip fresh herbs to add to meals as you are cooking; plus, you’ll enjoy their aromas all season!  

Stop in at our garden center to check out these outstanding herbs, plus plenty of others! Our knowledgeable staff is here to help you select the perfect plants for your needs and get you started on the right foot.  Also, keep an eye out for our herb classes coming up in July (click here to follow our events on Facebook).  Until next time, happy planting!