Flowery Prose

Sheryl Normandeau's growing words….


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Fairy Gardening Books – Giveaway Winners!

Drumroll, please…it’s time to announce the winners of my Fairy Gardening Books Giveaway! 

Without further ado…

Fairy Gardening 101 goes to Alys of Gardening Nirvana!

AND

Laurie from Notes from the Hinterland has won Fairy Gardening!

Congratulations to you both!  I hope you enjoy the books!  Thank you to everyone for entering!

Alys and Laurie, please let me know your mailing address via the “Contact Me” form on my blog (in the drop down menu below “About Me”), and I’ll get your books out to you in the next couple of days.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!  Happy gardening!

August 3, 2015 Begoniaresize


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Flowery Friday.

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We held a retirement celebration for a co-worker this past week and in honour of her adoration of bright colours (especially pink!), we were all encouraged to wear something pink. Big fail for me – I don’t own a single item of clothing in any shade of pink.

Considering that it is my least favourite colour when it comes to my wardrobe, my garden seems to have an abundance of pink – including this beautiful Saponaria ocymoides (rock soapwort), which has got to be one of the most reliable, tough, and rewarding plants I’ve ever grown.  I’m hoping now that the weather has cooled down somewhat, there will be a second flush of blooms.  The heat stress my plants have been under has meant that there hasn’t been much for flowers for about a month now – the plants have just been standing still, trying to wait it out.

What colours dominate your wardrobe and your garden?  Are you passionate for pink?


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Fairy Gardening Book Reviews – and a Giveaway!

I’m reviewing a couple of really fun gardening books today!

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Fairy Gardening 101: How to Design, Plant, Grow, and Create Over 25 Miniature Gardens – Fiona McDonald (2014, Skyhorse Publishing, New York)

Need some ideas to get you started on making your very own fairy garden?  Or maybe you’re already well-experienced in the art of designing fairy gardens and you’re looking for some new inspiration – either way, Fiona McDonald’s Fairy Gardening 101 is for you!

This purposeful how-to book gives you all the information you need to create a fairy garden, with lists of supplies, suggestions for interesting containers or settings, and tips for successful long-term maintenance of your beautiful creation.  Easy to follow, step-by-step instructions cover the making of miniature furniture, fences and other garden structures – and, of course, even the fairies themselves! What I’ve always loved about fairy gardens is the use of recycled/upcycled materials and found objects (either natural or man-made) that you discover in your home, yard, neighbourhood…or garage or thrift sale!  The sky truly is the limit when it comes to sourcing materials for your mini-garden – and that’s half the fun!

Putting it all together is where you can really let your artistic side shine, and McDonald offers twenty-five whimsical, artistic designs guaranteed to delight:  you’ll find everything from hanging gardens to ferneries and terrariums, even a Mexican garden!

One of my favourite chapters in the book covers “Wild Fairy Gardens,” where an old tree stump is converted into a castle – so fun!  I am also pleased to see that McDonald covers how to grow and/or sustainably source mosses for use in the gardens.  This is truly an inventive and enjoyable book!

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Fairy Gardening:  Creating Your Own Magical Miniature Garden – Julie Bawden-Davis and Beverly Turner (2013, Skyhorse Publishing, New York)

Julie Bawden-Davis and Beverly Turner’s beautiful book Fairy Gardening doesn’t delve into specific fairy garden designs such as the ones you’ll find in Fiona McDonald’s Fairy Gardening 101, but it is more detailed in all of the crafting aspects needed to make your own amazing fairy gardens.  One of the most charming reasons to create a fairy garden is the way you can tell a story with your living work, and Bawden-Davis and Turner cover everything from developing a theme to establishing a focal point, developing your story, and creating a sense of movement, all discussed in accessible, practical terms, with tips and suggestions to apply these ideas to your own gardens.  Additional chapters include comprehensive information about choosing containers for your garden, and selecting the perfect plants to grow.  Delightful photographs and a friendly, approachable writing style make this book a joy to read – and a wealth of inspiration for creating your very own fairy garden!

(The publisher generously provided copies of Fairy Gardening 101 and Fairy Gardening for me to review, but I was not compensated for my opinion).

I have one copy of each book to give away!  If you’re interested, please leave me a comment below – you can tell me what kind of fairy garden you’d like to create (or have created!), or just drop me a “count me in,” or “yes,” for your chance to win.  If you have a preference for one book over the other, please let me know that, too, and I’ll try to accommodate if you win.  Contest closes at midnight, MST, on Friday, August 28, 2015. (And yes, it is open to everyone!).  I will announce the two lucky winners on Monday, August 31, 2015.


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Recipe: Shrimp with Holy Basil.

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I stuck to my usual veggie and herb staples this year in my beds at the community garden: spinach, potatoes, shallots, garlic, Swiss chard, parsley (both Hamburg and Italian), carrots, and sweet basil.  I couldn’t resist trying something new, however – this year it was holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum, syn. O. sanctum; also called tulsi), the seeds of which I discovered at Harmonic Herbs, an Alberta seed company out of Barrhead.

Holy basil is often confused with Thai basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora), but although they both originate in the same part of the world, they differ in flavour and appearance.  My holy basil plants are very short (about 10″) – I’m sure this is due to my growing conditions, as they are supposed to reach about 2 feet.  The bees are completely gaga over the blooms so I haven’t pinched them off.  This is one fragrant, glorious basil!  I can’t recommend it enough:  the clove-like, peppery oils in the leaves are insanely delicious!

It seems that there is a dearth of recipes using holy basil on the ‘net, so I perused the contents of my fridge’s condiment rack and made something up.  I’m not into wildly spicy food, so this just has a minor kick, to my taste – feel free to alter this as desired.

Shrimp with Holy Basil

Place 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan and heat.  Add:

1 chili pepper, deseeded, destemmed, minced finely

3 cloves garlic, minced

Saute just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add:

1 large shallot (or 1 small onion)

2 scallions, trimmed, chopped finely

Cook 2 minutes, then add:

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp fish sauce

1/4 cup chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

20 large raw shrimp (I prefer them deveined and peeled)

Cook until the shrimp turns pink.

Add:

20 leaves holy basil, washed and finely chopped

Cook just until the basil is wilted, about 30 seconds.

Remove from heat and serve over hot cooked basmati rice. Serves 2.

(Metric conversion tables here).

Do you grow basil?  What is your favourite kind?  Did you grow any “new-to-you” plants this year?  Are you pleased with how they’ve performed?


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Flowery Friday.

Petunia truck

A Flowery Friday and an Alberta Snapshot rolled into one…if you head east of Calgary to the hamlet of Carseland, you’ll easily spot this eye-catching, petunia-festooned unrestored 1949 Chevy pickup in Downey Centennial Park, just off highway 24. The truck was donated by longtime residents and in its past life, regularly transported two adults and five kids on trips off the farm.

A couple of years ago, I posted a photo of a beautifully-planted piece of farm equipment I came across at the Saskatoon Farm in DeWinton, Alberta (check it out here).  Antique trucks, claw-foot bathtubs, rusted-out wheelbarrows, old leather boots…what unconventional planters have you seen or used?


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Owl art: Silver Springs Botanical Garden.

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The Silver Springs Botanical Garden here in Calgary has added a couple of instantaneous-smile-generating sculptures to their collection.  These little guys are pretty cute!

What are your tastes in garden ornaments and statuary?

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