Serendipity Discovered, My Banister Garden and Butternut Squash and Bacon Quiche

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As you stroll through my garden’s you’ll notice many unusual things sprinkled here and there… peaking out of a cluster of tulips or bowing over a rash planting of zinnias… Friends say that I have a flair for mixing my passion for plants and garden junque, marrying them together into welcoming and intriguing garden rooms. As I place these abandoned and unappreciated objects throughout my gardens it allows me to express my passions using my innate creativity.

Recycling things that no one else wants is something I enjoy doing… I can see the ‘practical’ and artistic use of an old fashioned metal canner… a rusty old wagon wheel… wooden crates or drawers… a wash tub or even more exciting, a derelict water trough… tin buckets, old wheel barrows… garden bikes, chairs… oh the list could go on and on! In my last post I talked about that discovered element… stumbling upon some tiny treasure you’ve been unknowingly looking for. My eye has become quite keen to spotting usable junque at estate sales, thrift shops and even along the curbside. My minds eye is in tune with what I love in my gardens. I’ve been to sales and there and behold an old wooden crate and tin bucket cast off in a corner… yes that will sit beautifully on my porch topped by that tin bucket over flowing with double petunia’s in it!

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As my friends and I walk and talk meandering here and there I watch their faces… I delight in seeing the shocked look at how cute 'they think' my antique metal canner's look planted up with purple pansies… how whimsical that old banister appears in the garden surrounded by a cascade of nasturtiums… and the 'wow' when they see hot pink geraniums in a white enamelware bucket that now sits on a rickety old chair… I love inspiring people, especially in the home and garden.

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I name all of my gardens. When we bought our home the upstairs railing was kicked in and totally destroyed by the previous owners… but a beautiful, old white banister still stood. As the men were removing what was left of it and getting ready to toss everything in a ‘junk’ pile, I was quick to say, “Hold on to that! That’s not junk… that is going in a garden!”… and so was born my Banister Garden.

Legend for The Banister Garden
Here is my rendition of my Banister Garden. This garden is just under 200 square feet.

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1. Knock Out Rose Bushes- 2 pink
2. Daylily- 2 orange
3. Creeping Phlox- 3 lavender
4. Burning Bush shrub
5. Lavender- Hidcotte
6. Peony- 2 pink
7. Bee’s Balm planted behind Antique Two Burner Antique Canner filled with geraniums. The Banister stands behind the Bee’s Balm
8. Hydrangea- old fashioned white- just planted last summer
9. Iris- purple
10. Purple Bell Flower
11. Varrigated Sedum
12. Purple Ruffles Basil
13. Spirea- pink
~I have a garden chair that sets in the garden and I usually have a tin bucket planted up on it.
This garden like the Side and Bistro was dug up and replanted as well. I didn’t do all of these gardens in one year, it has been a process going on since 2009. This garden has had many faces as you will see in the photo’s at the end of this post under the recipes.

I’m a bargain shopper when it comes to plants as well as for garden junque. If I can’t grow it myself, swap or get from a family member or friend then I wait for stuff to go on clearance. In 2011 I ‘stumbled’ upon a great deal at a big box store on a couple Knock Out rose bushes. They were discounted 75%… now I never would have paid the full price for these even with all the hype about them… I can’t say that anymore! They are worth every penny… honestly, they don’t stop blooming except for about two weeks in mid summer. I would like to get several more and make a hedge with them in another garden… I always have a garden plan in mind!

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Here are some idea’s for things to combine in your gardens!
*Tin or Enamelware buckets with either geraniums or double petunias.
*Wash tubs- I purchase nice big hanging baskets and plant them right into them… instant wow! I have also planted them with cascading nasturtiums. (see photo).
*Wooden crates and drawers- I like to incorporate right into my gardens. I will take the bottoms out bury part way, fill with dirt and then plant herbs or again hanging baskets. I also like to use crates on my front porch as both planters and as objects to place other pots on.

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*Tea Kettles, coffee pots, old oil cans, any other type of metal container plant worthy. I have planted succulents like Hen’s & Chicks in these, pansies and petunias.
*Mailboxes- I have not done this, (yet) but I have seen some really cool ones done up. You need to use a ‘top’ door type- one where the top opens and the mail drops in (see photo at my blog 😉 )
…here are a few other ideas of some things I have seen, but haven’t done and don’t really fit into my garden scheme, but may be of interest to others…
*Old fashioned claw foot bath tubs- I would plant something tall down the entire center- zinnia’s, cosmos, cleome or all and then have something that trails out all around the edges- Wave Petunias, trailing nasturtiums.
*Row boat or other nautical piece- I would bury it and then do as with the bath tub- height and cascade
*Antique Metal Bed frame- Plant the bed’s legs or just set the frame down on the ground and then using appropriate flowers, plant a design of a quilt block- obviously not too detailed- maybe a Bow Tie, Diamond, Nine Patch or something along those lines.
… there are many other ‘found’ objects that you can use… be creative, you know what you like!
~The key to using any type of container is proper drainage!

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We are still in the grips of winter and here is Michigan we just got another six inches of the white stuff… so today I thinking comfort food! Enjoy friends!
Butternut Squash and Bacon Quiche

All purpose flour for rolling
1 recipe Flaky Pie dough (below)
8 slices bacon (Off course Garden Gates!)
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
Salt & pepper
3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy cream
6 fresh sage leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350 digress. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to an 11×15 inch rectangle. Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking pan. Fold edges of dough so sides are about 1 inch high. Prick dough all over with a fork and freeze until firm, 15 minutes. Press on dough, draping over rim of pan. Bake until crust is firm and edges are lightly browned, about 35– 45 minutes or until bottom is dry and light golden.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium until almost crisp, 10 minutes, flipping once. Drain bacon on paper towels. Add onion to skillet, season with salt & pepper, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 10 minutes. Spread mixture evenly in crust. Top with squash, overlapping slices and adding a piece of bacon every few rows.
3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and cream; season with salt 7 pepper. Pour enough egg mixture over filling to just reach top of crust. Top with sage. Bake until set in center and puffed at edges, 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes.

FLAKY PIE DOUGH:

In a food processor, pulse 1 1/4 c all purpose flour and 1/2 tsp slat to combine. Add 1/2 c cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/2 inch pieces; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp ice water; pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tbsp more water, 1 tbsp at a time). Form dough in a 1 inch thick rectangle, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerated until firm, 1 hour or up to 3 days).

“So… what are you going to do with a rickety old wooden chair with chipped paint Jean?” my husband asks me…”It’s serendipity Neil….”
Happy Day,
Jean
Please check out, Like and Share my Facebook page for my Dragonfly friends for daily extra recipes, photo’s and more at
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This photo was taken in Spring of 2009. This was the first ‘face’ she had… the tulips were beautiful and the creeping phlox looked stunning. Notice the lattice on the side of the front porch… The wisteria that now covers that side of the porch was just a baby in this photo.

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Here is a photo of the same garden, same spot but taken in 2012. You can see it is deeper and quite a bit different. The burning bush in the far left corner is larger and now there is the spirea bush in the front right corner.

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This photo was taken in Summer 2011. You can see the black ground cover still laying around the edges from the ‘re-do’ that this garden received early in the spring.

Houseplant Tips, Season Planting Guild, Name Bookmarks & Yummy Spinach Pie!

This the  Name Bookmark my friend made for me.

‘Tis planting time! How joyous this time is for all us gardener’s!  Gardening is a relief to my soul from the hum drum of life and all the expectations that surround me.  I love to care for all these little plants… nurture them… watch them grow and flourish… and then eventually harvest delicious food that feeds my family… use all the flavorful fresh herbs as well as dry some for winters use…  make lovely bouquets through the season that adorn our home!  Life is good, then you garden!  This month I am going to focus on giving some planting tips, harvesting advise, dividing and transplanting guild lines along with all the fun entertaining & gift ideas and of course lot’s more yummy recipes! So sit back and enjoy from my home to yours!

I am probably not the most likely person to be giving Houseplant Tips, but I decided to give it a shot anyway.  Taylor likes them and I have had great success with my Jade Trees- they require very little care.  Recently Taylor & I were at a house warming party and I noticed the hostesses giant African Violets! I didn’t even know they got that big!  Anyway, I asked if they were some new hybrid variety or something. No she said, they were not.  I marveled and said I have only ever killed them no matter what I tried- by the way, I have never read anything on them prior to this, so I probably didn’t care that much anyway, but these enormous plants amazed & intrigued me.  This sparked a lively conversation on the plants & what tips several of the others had. So here are some Do’s & Dont’s to African Violet Care, I hope they help!
*Do:
~ water them from the bottom by using a deep set plant saucer, using hot water.                                        ~ crush washed eggs shells and put in a bowl with hot water and set the pot in it until all water is      absorbed- this gives them needed calcium.
~ Let them totally dry out and then water deeply.
~ Put them in a window where they will have indirect light.
*Don’t:
~ever water the leaves.
~water with cold water- they are tropical plants.
~dead head- remove spent flowers.
These are just a few of the tips that I thought were most prosperous!

As I mentioned above I have had great success with Jade Trees.  They do not require a lot of care and grow to size according to the pot you put them in. My tree is about 3 feet tall and the trunk is about 6 inches in diameter.  It is quite beautiful and it gets a lot of ooooh’s and ahhh’s when friends come over. Although I will say, mine is small compared to some that I have seen.  Jade Trees are very easy to propagate- make new plants from. You can use one of three very easy methods, here they are-
1. Simply take a branch that is about 5-6 inches long and put it in a glass of warm water.  Give it clean water every 4-5 days and watch for little root hairs to start.  After it gets several root hairs plant in a pot with potting mix and watch it grow!
2. Take a branch as described above, but go ahead and bury about half of it directly in a pot with potting mix; Be sure to strip leaves off of the buried part; keep watered and moist to stimulate root growth.  Within about two to three weeks you will notice new leaves coming out of the stem.  In the meantime some of the original leaves may wither and fall off- don’t give up it will live!
3. If you only have a small plant and want to grow more but there aren’t any ‘branches’ to speak of, you can still propagate.  Take a leaf and lay on top of a pot of potting mix with the stem tip slightly in the dirt; keep moist, do not let it dry out- but don’t soak; a slight misting regularly will be good in between watering’s.  You will be amazed at fast it will take root and start growing.
      
It is time to start thinking about planting garden with all the early spring things that are readily available to you.  Here is a basic Planting Guild that will help you get the basics in your veggie garden through planting season.
Early Spring- that means now! Peas, onions, potatoes, lettuce, radish, spinach and chard.
Mid- Spring- around the end of April to mid May- Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, fennel. You can also do a reseeding of lettuces and radishes to keep a steady supply.
Late Spring- after the last predicted frost- end of May, typically- Beans, corn, cucumbers, melons, squash, and pumpkins.  Some things you need to grow as plants at this time, not seeds- eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and sweet potatoes. Plant your herb plants now too.

If a light frost does touch your late Spring crops you can save them by taking a watering can and sprinkle all the plants BEFORE the sun touches them.  Once the sun touches the plants they are burned and will more than likely die.  Certain things will only get tip burned- lettuce, chard, radishes, spinach and potatoes. These things will grow out of it if they had their true leaves.  Seedlings will need to be sprinkled.
Another easy way to prevent frost damage is to cover with light sheets, or if you want to be fancy, you can purchase ‘fabric row cover’ from green house supply companies.  Most seed catalogs even offer it now, but sheets work just fine for the small home gardener.  Do not cover with plastic though unless you have a way to prevent it from touching the plants.  The plastic on the plants will cause them to be tip burned as well.

A friend of mine makes these charming Bookmarks for all her family members and friends.  They are really special yet simple and easy to make.  She takes the persons name and puts a Bible verse next to each letter as it pertains to it.  I have attached a photo of it for you to get the idea. She laminates them so they will have a longer life and this adds a professional look to them. 

Yummy Spinach Pie
The spinach is in abundance right now and what else do you do with it except add into salads or steam you might be asking.  Well spinach is loaded with iron and is very tasty in many recipes including Italian Wedding Soup, quiches and lasagna.  Here’s one more to add to your spinach recipe folder!

6 cups  baby spinach from The Garden Gate, trimmed
1/4 cup sweet onion from Garden Gate, chopped
2 eggs from Garden Gate, beaten
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Colby jack cheese
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. salad dressing
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. celery salt

1.  Rinse spinach; chop and place in a large saucepan over medium- high heat; Cook covered for about 3-5 minutes, or until wilted; Drain, pressing out as much of the liquid as possible.
2.  Combine remaining ingredients; fold into spinach.
3. Spoon mixture in a well greased 9″ pie plate; bake at 375 degrees for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Happy Day,
Jean