A Sangria Salute to Memorial Day

imageHappy Memorial Day! A wonderful drink to enjoy today is a Sangria.

Sangrias are a light, citrus fruit drink that is quite refreshing on a hot Spring day! It is the traditional wine of Spain. Its made with fine red wine and natural citrus flavors.

TRADITIONAL SANGRIA (Four Servings)
1/4 cup of Orange Juice
1/4 cup of Orange Liqueur (optional), such as Gran Marnier or Cointreau
1 tablespoon of Sugar (I like to rim the glass with sugar)
1 cup of chilled Soda Water
Sliced apples, oranges, limes and whatever fruit you enjoy
Ice
Combine the wine with the orange juice, liqueur and fruit. Refrigerate for at least an hour, ideally overnight. Add chilled soda water and a small amount of ice right before serving.
YUMMY!!!


© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Annual Containers 2015

Here’s all the buzz!

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If you’re looking for sensational summer color, look no further! Summer pots are the way to go. Not only are they full of pizzazz, the color is often right in your face, literally, especially if your favorite container is on a pedestal.

You don’t need to remember a bunch of annual names. The only thing you need remember for a well-presented display is: Thriller, Filler & Spiller! The Thriller is that one large plant that is generally in the center and taller than the rest. Filler are those mid-range sized plants, often of ‘fatter or fuller’ stature. Spiller is just that, plants that hang over the edge of the pot.

Here’s what my company puts together:

Click HERE for 2013 or for 2014 designs – No worries, they never go out of style! ;-)

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This is my humble design, in my $20 pot. Can you tell I love fire colors?

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Spring Blooming Flowers 5-21-2015

Happy Thursday to all!
I’ll admit I scheduled this post to publish while I’m in down-state Utica, Illinois for the long weekend. This is one of my favorite areas of our state, however there is plenty of it I’ve not seen either. We’ve decided to roll the dice for the Labor Day weekend and drive 7 hours south to go to a campground with caves et all… WITHOUT RESERVATIONS! Gasp.

I hope you all in the US enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend, and for everyone else, enjoy your regular two day weekend =-)

Wanna see what was blooming in 2013 or in 2014? Click the year.
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Buddleia davidii ~ Butterfly bush

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Phlox divaricata – Woodland phlox

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Lamiastrum galeobdolon ~ Yellow Archangel 

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Arisaema triphyllum ~ jack-in-the-pulpit, bog onion, brown dragon, Indian turnip, American wake robin or wild turnip

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Osmundastrum cinnamomeum ~ cinnamon fern

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Eastern carpenter bee (Xyocopa virginica) on may night salvia.

These guys are very non-aggressive. The male doesn’t even have a stinger, however females do. If there is a bee you’d like to pet, this is the one for you.

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Annual Flower time at the office!!

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Paeonia suffruticosa – Peony tree – Holy cow! What a specimen!!

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Rhododendron ‘Stewartstonian’ ~ Red Azalea

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Rhododendron ‘Girard’s Pleasant White’ ~ Azalea

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 5-19-2015

Happy Tuesday!
Want to see what was blooming in the past? Click here for 2013 or here for 2014.
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Kerria japonica ~ Japanese rose

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Tiarella cordifolia ~ foamflower

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Digitalis purpurea ~ Foxglove

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Delphinium grandiflorum ~ Siberian larkspur

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Iberis sempervirens ~ evergreen candytuft or perennial candytuft

This is in the family Brassicaceae, which is the same family as broccoli. Can you see the resemblance? Botany used to be a science of observation, however now microscopes and DNA analysis has messed up this science and creates confusion among different sciences such as horticulture.

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Aronia arbutifolia ~ red chokeberry

Cancer research on anthocyanins where in black chokeberry preparations were first used to inhibit chemically induced cancer in the rat esophagus was found to reduce the disease severity by 30-60% and that of the colon cancer by up to 80%. Effective at both the initiation and promotion/progression stages of tumor development, these berries are a practical research tool and hold a promising therapeutic source since they contain the highest amount of anthocyanins among native North American berries

[J. Agric. Food Chem. 50 (12): 3495–500].

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Syringa reiculata ~ Lilac – white and purple varieties

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

These Are a Few of My Smelliest Things

There is no candle, can of spray or incense that compete with the real thing.

Right now, my Calamondin or miniature orange (Citrofortunella microcarpa) is in full bloom. It sits in the south facing window of my living room. While I relax in this room, I am encircled in the sweet scent of the blooms.

My lilacs are in bloom also. Out of the 6 bushes I have on my property, only one truly smells heavenly. These bloomed extremely early on 4/13/2012, when I had my wedding reception.

I love to put 2 or 3 vases full of blooms to sleep by. I truly feel that I get a better sleep with flowers that smell in my bedroom.

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Breck isn’t always my smelliest thing, but he tries as often as he can!!

Sweet Marjoram – Helps treat anxiety, headaches and insomnia. Effects of Sweet Marjoram: Soothing, Warming.

Lavender – Helps sooth and calm nerves, reduces tension, insomnia, headaches and depression. Effects of lavender: Calming, Therapeutic

Bergamot – Comes from citrus fruit rind. It does its job by relieving stress and enabling you to be able to relax. It has a lovely citrus scent that will make you feel refreshed and give you that sense of well-being. Interestingly bergamot is the main ingredient in Earl Grey tea.

Roman Chamomile Helps relaxation, reduces excessive anxiety and treats insomnia. Effects cause relaxation.

Jasmine – Helps sooth and relax, very beneficial for depression, insomnia, nervous tension and stress. Effects of Jasmine: Soothing, Relaxing

Sandalwood – Promotes relaxation, beneficial for depression, stress, nervous tension, and insomnia. Effects of Sandalwood: Warming, Relaxing

Mandarin – Has two different types of oil, one green and the other red. It has several advantages one of which is that it is gentle enough that you can use it with children as well as adults. Interesting, the scent is closer to that of a bergamot oil and less like the tangerine it’s expected to smell like. Mandarin oil is a very successful treatment for sleep difficulties almost rivaling lavender.

Clary Sage – Helps sooth, relax, and uplift the spirit. Effects: Warming

Rosalina – Would be a mild and effective change for those not fond of Lavender or just tired of it. Rosalina is sometimes called “Lavender Tea Tree.”

Sandalwood – Does indeed come from wood. To get the right intensity of oil from the trees they must be at least forty years old, but the older the better and a tree eighty years old will produce better oils. Sandalwood is a calming agent; it relieves nervous tension and helps you relax.

** The title was inspired by the song “These are a Few of my Favorite Things” from The Sound Of Music

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Ilex VS. Volutella Blight on Pachysandra

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This pachy is showing some stress under the newly planted trees and in full sun.

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This side was worst because it’s sunnier, which equals more stress!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pachysandrea terminalis is a beautiful, lush, evergreen ground cover for a semi-shady spot. One of the most common problems with pachysandra is a fungal infection called, Volutella Blight. Generally, pachysandra has very few issues when well cared for. However, when other situations stress the plant out, opportunistic pests can take over.

Volutella Blight has a fungal ring associated with the damaged lesions. Winter damage has an even-toned brown to the damage.

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Blight on the left / Winter damage on the right

How to not stress out your pachysandra:

    • Plant it in a partial shade or shade area. Not in the sun.
    • Do not overwater, water in the morning and use drip irrigation, not overhead.
    • Be sure to do a fall cleanup to remove any fallen leaves or plant debris from the bed to improve air circulation and reduce moisture levels. Blow lightly with blower.
    • It is also helpful to periodically thin the planting to prevent dense growth and increase air circulation.
      Use leaf mulch, not woody chips.

Fungicides such as mancozeb and maneb can be used to protect remaining plants and the new growth of any pachysandra that have been cut back. These treatments can help deter infection but will not cure infected plants. You would need to spray at 7 to 14 day intervals from spring until early summer. Generally this time would coincide with the blooming of serviceberries (Amelancheir) and Redbuds (Cercis canadensis), i.e. now in the Midwest.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 5-14-2015

Thursday is here!

Thursday nights are “Ilex Nights” as my husband goes to play in his pool league. These nights are usually reserved for blogging, sappy movies or GNO (girl’s night out). Tonight will be blogging. Blooms opening up like crazy here!! In all honesty, these ‘Blooming Flower’ (phenology) posts are the easiest to spew out. Name them (very few boggle me now) & link to two years of past info, done. Nature stops for no one!!

Although, I guess I hadn’t though about all the work (and DANGER) I put myself in to gather these photos. Have you ever played ‘dead car’ (hood-up or bonnet to my followers over the pond) to get a photo of a plant from the side of the road? Yup, that was me you honked at and flipped off… ;-) Or how about the time I noticed a tick in my ear and a class-full of horticultural students were too freaked out to help remove it. Kids these days are weak!

No worries though. I will continue to throw myself into the way of danger to bring you, my dear followers, these flowering posts, even if it kills me ;-)

Click here to see last years blooms and/or 2013’s.

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Helleborus ~ Lenten Rose – Not sure of flavor

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These are my apple blossoms. If you wanted blemish-free apples this year, the time has passed for spraying now.

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This is my shade garden now. It is flourishing with life, as in general, shade garden plants do receive some sunlight when deciduous (leafed-trees) are leaf-less. In this instance, my apple trees are the added shade to the area. Here there are very few weeds, however, I do need to take back the aggressive Lamiastrum ‘Herman’s Pride’ ~ Archangel (the yellow flower/variegated foliage) and the Viola blanda ~ Sweet white violet.

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Dicentra Spectablis – Bleeding Heart – Hand’s down another favorite of mine.

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Uvularia grandiflora – large-flowered bellwort or merrybells

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Asarum canadense ~ Canadian Wild Ginger – This is not the type of ginger you spice your cookies with…

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I spy with my little eye.. These are very small blooms.

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Aquilegia ~ Columbine – Not sure of flavor

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 5-13-2015

Hump day, whoop!!

Click here to see what was blooming in 2014 and 2013.

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Malus x domestica – Apple tree

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Malus – Crabapple

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Berberis Thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea’ – Barberry

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Malus – crabapple

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Salvia x superba ‘Mainacht’ – May night salvia

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Veronica ‘Waterperry Blue’ – Speedwell

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Geum coccineum ‘Cooky’ – Avens

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Phlox ‘May Breeze’

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Cerastium tomentosum – Snow in summer

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Asparagus officinalis – It grows soooo fast! I had to include a time lapse video below on just how fast this stuff grows. I’m harvesting a handful a day now.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 5-12-2015

Happy Tuesday!

Click here to see what was blooming in 2014 and 2013.
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Dicentra spectabilis ‘Valentine’ – Bleeding hearts

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Lamium ‘Orchid Frost’ – Spotted dead nettle

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Hosta ‘Dragon Tails’

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Hmm. A lily?

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Phlox stolonifera ‘sherwood purple’

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Euphorbia polychroma – cushion spurge

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Pulmonaria ‘Trevi Fountain’ – Lungwort

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Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ – Heartleaf brunnera

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Dicentra spectabilis ‘Gold Heart’ – Bleeding heart

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl