Nelson Mandela: prisoner, president…gardener?

I’ve read several quotes by Nelson Mandela in the last day or so that were garden related so of course my curiosity was piqued and I had to learn more. I simply googled Nelson Mandela garden and a page full of articles came right up.  He gardened for the same reasons that many of us do… for peace of mind, for control over what were uncontrollable situations, and perhaps for the simple joy of it. Here’s the link to a post published yesterday by the  Christian Science Monitor.

Nelson Mandela: prisoner, president…gardener?.

In the post Kurt Shillinger, former Africa Correspondent for the Boston Globe, describes his experience living in South Africa at the time of Mandela’s presidency and his association with him as a journalist and a gardener.

“Gardening is a metaphor for life, teaching you to nourish new life and weed out that which cannot succeed.” —Nelson Mandela

May you rest in peace, Mr Mandela, in the most wonderful garden of all.


Now THIS is Horseradish….

It started out like this.  I  remember saying something like “there’s the horseradish” and going on to my next thought.


Yesterday I was cutting back and cleaning up the garden and realized that the horseradish had died back from the frost and was ready for harvest. I thought I’d pull some out for Michael to enjoy. I didn’t get the horseradish gene but he and my mom eat it like it’s candy. So I started digging, for at least an hour.  Long story short, we have a lot of horseradish root out there and it’s buried very deeply.  There will be horseradish on our property for many years to come. 

IMG_4308Here’s what I was able to dig out. It was getting dark and I was tired. We had pizza for dinner.

IMG_4312… a view with my hand to give you a better sense of the size of this root.

IMG_4313I soaked it a little and washed the dirt off. My middle daughter, the Harry Potter fan, saw this and immediately went downstairs and put in the Harry Potter movie with Professor Sprout and the mandrakes and watched the whole thing, lol.

IMG_4322It looks like the large one is actually six roots that fused together. I might of missed it last year.

IMG_4314The smaller, normal size root was easily peeled and chopped.

IMG_4315Then I processed it with some water and red wine vinegar.

IMG_4320And my Michael was happy.

He doesn’t smile like this for just anything.

The larger root is still sitting on my counter. I think that I’m going to try to cut it into smaller pieces and freeze it to grate later since the refrigerated version only lasts for up to six weeks.

Looking forward to a nice horseradish cream sauce with the roast beef on Christmas Day 🙂

Enjoy everything!


Overwintering rosemary – Fine Gardening Question & Answer

Hi everyone! I miss you! I miss reading blogs, I miss blogging, I miss sitting down… but I am enjoying the good stuff that’s happening around here. I hope to post about some of that soon. Michael and I have been quite busy outside and my kids have been quite busy using this computer for homework and projects. Winter is coming so we’ll all slow down and settle in over the next few weeks.

Here’s my thought of the day…

If you want to save your rosemary, now is the time to take it in! We just transplanted a rosemary plant at work the other day that I had kind of randomly placed into a pot that had a good amount of bark mulch in it when we added it to our rooftop garden in June. I was surprised to find the root system absolutely thriving when I took it out to move it. It just needed to be in a more decorative container for it’s winter home, so I used the original soil right along with it when we transplanted it. Be sure to add bark mulch of some type and then don’t let your rosemary plant dry out.

“A dry rosemary is a dead rosemary”, Adelma Simmons, 1994 at Caprilands

Rosemary (Photo credit: cinnachick)

Here’s a helpful article about overwintering rosemary plants from Fine Gardening.

Overwintering rosemary – Fine Gardening Question & Answer.

Have you taken your rosemary plant in for the winter yet? It’s not too late!


Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day- September 2013

It’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day! I was away in August so I missed it and it feels great to be getting back on track.  As I wandered through the garden this morning I was struck by how much work I could do to introduce late summer plants. I think that I need to spend a good amount of time today reading the other Bloom Day posts for ideas! Here’s what I found today:

Lavender making a small comebackThe lavender is making a small comeback.

IMG_3124The mint is blooming…

IMG_3128as are volunteer morning glories and dill.
IMG_3132Of course I have a few zinnias..IMG_3134

IMG_3140 I always stick a weed in here somewhere. Some of them are just so pretty that I can’t help it.



IMG_3147Black-eyed susan hanging in there. They have suffered in the drought.

IMG_3152Juniper… does this count? It’s so pretty, I can’t help but include it.

IMG_3154Knock-out roses that we added recently. Everyone talks about how easy these are to grow and I absolutely agree. If your a timid rose grower this is a nice way to get started.
IMG_3156And of course chrysanthemum.

It wouldn’t be September without chrysanthemum.

Can’t wait to read the other garden blogs! Be sure to check them out at May Dreams Gardens.

Enjoy Everything!


My Beach, Gingerbread, Philly, Bear, Pretzels, Chicks and CIA Vacation

Okay, so here’s the thing; I have a really hard time blogging about gardening when I have other things on my mind, things like my vacation. So I have to write this post and fill you in so I can move on with my life sometime tomorrow, maybe after the ten loads of laundry are folded and this post is published. If your bored please feel free to stop now, click off, come back next week, whatever works for you. I completely understand.  If you can just bear with me we’ll be all set and back to the tomatoes before you know it.

It started with a quick plane ride (all by myself), then real Philly cheesesteaks with some of my bffs  and my college roomies’ beautiful new yard..DSC03232This is peace and tranquility. There are no children living in this house or in this yard. They are all grown up and it was very, very quiet here. I took a nice walk in the garden, out past the Willow tree. A little while later Room’s (do you call your college roommate Room? Room and I do)  husband showed us a photo of a five foot long black snake that he had removed from their deck a few minutes earlier.  I took a few photos from the deck. Mr Snake was probably watching me do that. You know how I love snakes. I was watching for them too. Sorry, I can’t help it, moving back to the vacation…

P1070727We completely surprised another roommate for her birthday (a gift from her amazing husband) and enjoyed a Cape May weekend full of relaxing beach time and the kind of conversation that you only have with your college roommates who have known you forever and beyond. It was a really, really, really (really) … fun weekend. I love those ladies, there’s no one else like them!
P1070809Cape May is known worldwide for it’s  awesome gingerbread trim. I absolutely love awesome gingerbread trim.
WP_000406Then I went back to Philadelphia where I had even more fun, this time with my wonderful sister and my niece.
photoShe very kindly took me all the way up to the Pocono Mountains to meet up with my family and this big bear that traipsed through my mom’s yard. I looked out the kitchen window and he looked back at me. The photo credit goes to my quick thinking littlest girl who grabbed her Dad’s phone and took this picture.

photoThis one was taken by my little guy with his ipod.
IMG_2581He hopped up on the big rock to the left then walked through the spot where I grew my very first garden, right where that white grass grows now. This happened on my little guy’s eleventh birthday. Needless to say it made his day!
IMG_2565We all enjoyed a visit with the Callie’s Pretzel Factory guy…
IMG_2606and a mother hen and her chicks, and some school shopping. No photo needed for that, you all know what school shopping looks like.
IMG_2632We made a quick stop at the the Culinary Institute on our way home to Salem. This just might be my oldest daughter’s next educational environment.
photoThe view from this school is spectacular and the gardens are beautiful too. Stay tuned for more about that next week.

IMG_2658We came home last night to lots of tomatoes (I told you we’d get back to the tomatoes)

and a very happy Winnie!

More Cape May and CIA coming soon! Gardens, more gardens, porches and gingerbread!

Whew, I think I’m back! Can’t wait to read my favorite blogs and catch up!

Thank you all! Enjoy Everything!


We Were There

Yes, we were there and I can’t really blog about gardening again until I write about it. I participated in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for the first time the other day. It was such fun to join in with other bloggers all over the world to talk about what’s blooming and I saw a nice big push in my views. Now I’ve taken ten steps back from that. It seems insignificant after what happened. I thought that it would be fun to take four of my kids in to see the marathon. As a family we’d participated in various ways over the years so it’s close to our hearts, as it is for so many people here in the Boston area. Michael had to work and I felt strong and confident on Monday, like the kind of Mom who can do lots of fun things with her kids. Michael dropped us off at the Wonderland T stop around 1:30 and we rode the subway in with a plan to come home on the commuter rail. It was a fun ride with conversation about riding the subway with my sister when she and her family visited last year and my brother’s Marathon runs. We got off at the Prudential Center stop and headed for the marathon route, enjoying the crowd and hoping to see the runners. Before I knew it we were on Boylston Street in a shoulder to shoulder crowd. We snaked our way up the street with my little guy in the lead, my hand on his shoulder and my little girl behind him with the big girls following us closely. We got to the corner of Boylston and Exeter Streets and something told me very clearly to turn right and get out of the crowd. I steered us over and we were in an open area. I said “lets head out this way and go around the crowd, maybe we’ll get closer to the finish line that way.”  We went up the next side street, stopping to take some photos. We were standing on the next corner in view of the medical tents when it happened. A huge, earth shaking noise erupted and the smell of smoke came over us. I knew right away that something was very wrong. A few seconds later there was another blast. I instinctively knew that we had to get away from there and said to the kids “we’re going to start walking now, as fast as we can, something’s wrong and we need to get away from here.” So we did. We walked, not knowing what happened. We called Michael and he hadn’t heard anything about it.  My sister in Pennsylvania saw it on the news and called and asked if we were okay. We were, but we wondered what happened. No one knew. People around us were crying. They were on their phones speaking urgently. The ambulances and police cars passed us endlessly. I knew that something terrible had happened.  In my panic, which I was working very hard to hide, I checked my phone map to try to figure out the best route. The subways closed immediately and I knew that it would be dangerous to consider getting on public transportation anyway. At first I thought we’d get to North Station and get on the next train to Salem. As we walked and I planned our strategy I started to think twice about the train idea. Michael agreed and made arrangements for us to meet co-workers of his at the National Park in Charlestown, across the river. We got a little lost but we slowly made our way from the Back Bay, through South Boston, into Chinatown and then into the financial district. As I looked at my map on a street corner a businessman asked if I needed help. I told him that I was trying to get to Charlestown, to the National Park there, where we knew people and would be safe. He walked us through to the view of the bridge that we needed to cross to finish our trip. It felt like a huge vacation to have a few minutes to think about what to do without having to think about where we had to step. As we walked I kept looking for open businesses and door ways in case we needed to get inside since we still had no idea of what had  happened. We were hoping that it had been a transformer explosion, not a terrorist. We made it over the bridge to the park and into an NPS office where we waited for Michael to come get us. As we sat there our phones told us more and more about the situation. The idea that we had walked up the street, right past the bombs was more than I could imagine. The fact that I subjected my kids to such a close call is still sending waves of guilt over me. Knowing that their innocence was stolen at the ages of eight, ten, fourteen and sixteen makes me furious. The reality that we are all okay leaves me thankful beyond measure. Now we’re working on figuring this out. We’re trying to process what happened and put it someplace. We’re also praying for the victims and their families. I’m going outside to plant radishes with my kids in the sunshine now. That’s how we heal around here. We pray and we plant and we carry on.