Tuesday, December 20, 2011

West Point on Eno - Homestead Heights

Homestead Heights has been decorating the McCown-Mangum House for many years.  All decorations are in the 1800’s style.  The crocheted snow crystals were made by a member, as well as the tree skirt.  Many of the other decorations are ones made with our children many years ago and donated to the house.  This year due to sickness, etc., there was just a skeleton group to do the set up.  They did well.  The open house ran Fri. and Sat. for two weekends.

Group pix:  l-r, standing: Judy, Esther, Doris, Audrey, Diane, Fran, Denise, Mina, Carolyn
l-r, sitting: Bernice, Mary Ruth, Helen, Cathy, Phonetta, Margaret
Of course, Laurie was taking the pictures.

Heads Up, Garage Sale Aficionados!

Ardith's Jottings.

The Durham Council of Garden Clubs is responsible for the September 23-24, 2012 State Board Meeting.  One of the events will be a White Elephant/Trash to Treasure table staffed by our wonderful,  willing District 9 Garden Club volunteers and laden with goodies donated by our Clubs.  To that end, I am asking that you donate any unwanted gifts you may receive during the Holidays or any items you may wish to clear out to make room for the great gifts you received.  We are looking for things in good condition or new, things that you would be willing to buy yourself or not be embarrassed to have your friends know that this was your donation!  The funds raised will help offset the expenses of the Meeting.  Our treasury is looking a tad anemic after our  support of the Briggs Avenue project, so we need your assistance.  Look around your house for items you no longer need and remember our White Elephant table.  Arrangers-this is a great opportunity to get rid of old containers or accessories you no longer use.  This is a chance to give yourself space for those new containers you desire.   Gardeners-divest yourself of those too cute garden things  some well meaning people have given you.  Remember one man's trash is another man's treasure.   Email me at apugh21419@gmail.com if you have any questions or if you have items to donate.

Just because it is cool does not mean we can forget about the new plantings we put in this Fall.   They still need moisture.  We need to supply what Mother Nature doesn't.  So keep checking for watering needs.

'Twas the crabgrass before Christmas

'Twas the crabgrass before Christmas

When all through your lawn

Those seed pods lay waiting for an early Spring dawn;

To rise up and take-over control of your fescue

In hopes that you'll know-not how to come to the rescue;

But gather-round dear friends

This won't cause a disturbance

We'll teach you to deal with it prior to emergence;

Just click on to our website

And heed what you've heard;

Buy Prodiamine 65

From Stone Brothers & Byrd.

 - Byrdie C. Moore  of STONE BROS. and BYRD

Have you decorated for your community, church, neighborhood?

Have you helped your neighborhood, church or community get festive for the Christmas season?
Even if not part of your clubs activities we would love to have you share.
Here are a few photos Ardith has of the  Gathering Place in Fearrington Village.  "The only thing I did not do was the garland with ribbon across the front--door, basket on bench, corner containers  all mine."

Send you photos and blurbs to gmama4@gmail.com 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hope Valley Night of Lights

Hope Valley Night of Lights

In the past year Hope Valley Garden Club (HVGC) wanted to increase neighborhood beautification and general good will.  The discussion came about to create a luminary program.

HVGC quickly realized that with a neighborhood of over 900 homes help was needed to execute the program.  HVGC approached the Hope Valley Neighborhood Association to help create awareness about the event and help facilitate the sale of the luminary kits.  In an effort  for the event to truly be a community event we also enlisted the help of Town & Country Garden Club, another neighborhood garden club.  Hope Valley Garden Club (HVGC) initiated, created and executed the event with the help of these other organizations.

HVGC created a flyer that was used in an neighborhood association email as well as a mailing that sold over 7,780 luminaries!   The event took place on December 11, 2011.  All who participated lit their luminaries at 5 pm that evening in an effort of community good will.  Neighbors walked the neighborhood streets and enjoyed the scenery and their community.

All of the Hope Valley Garden Club members participated in the event by purchasing, packing and distributing the luminaries.  Proceeds from the Night of Lights went to Habitat for Humanity.

Twas the Season of Christmas - Garden Makers

Please drag to desktop and enlarge to read.  Great!!

The Flowers of the Season

Dave's Garden website
By Mitch Fitzgerald (MitchF)
December 17, 2011

Each year at this time of year we use plants and flowers to decorate our homes and declare the season. Ever wonder about the plants and flower we use? Ever wonder where they came from and just a hint at their meaning?

(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on December 6, 2007. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments. We hope you enjoy it as we count down to Christmas.)  

Amaryllis - Hippeastrum - This is a much loved plant to brighten up windows during the holiday season. The attraction is that these plants bloom in the dead of winter with minimal care. They come in the holiday colors of red, green, and white. Amaryllis can be grown in the ground up to zone 8 year round without difficulty. 

Christmas Rose - Helleborus niger – This flower is said to have sprouted from the tears of a little child at the Nativity who did not have a gift to give the Christ child. It was also used by many, including the druids, to ward off evil spirits which were believed to thrive in the dead cold months of winter. The snow white flowers are stunning and a welcome surprise in any garden at any time of year.

Holiday Cactus - Schlumbergera x buckleyi - A wonderful flower on a very hardy plant that will stand the test of time. I have seen stunning specimens blooming in the same dirty pots for 20 years and more. If the temperature is lower than 55- 60 F, plants set flower buds regardless of the length of the day or night. The story goes that a young Mayan convert was the first to bring these into the altar of the church and many churches in Latin America would not be without them on such a wonderful day, even though their popularity is waning with the rise of the ever popular Noche Buena – Poinsettia.

Holly - Ilex opaca - The single most important plant as a Christian symbol of Christmas. Christians have found meaning in the colors of the plant and in the leaves pointing to the crown of thorns. Scandinavians gave branches of holly and other green plants in winter to bring good luck. A simple plant to grow and branches can be cut and will keep for a rather long time. The fruits are very helpful to local wildlife in the cold harsh times of winter. 

Mistletoe - In the dead time of winter many a traveler has seen the mistletoe in the tops of the trees. Green, despite all the elements around it, it became a symbol of hope and new life. The story was told to me as a boy growing up in Oklahoma that at Native American funeral mistletoe was often placed with the body in the ground to ward off evil spirits and as a symbol of life starting again. Image thanks to kennedyh.

Poinsettia - Euphorbia pulcherrima – This flower was the Aztec symbol of love and purity and it can be seen in the wild in many of the mountainous areas around Mexico City. The Christmas connection came with a poor child bringing green flowers to Mass for the Christ Child and they turned the red color at the church. They are the favored flower and plant for all Christmas celebrations everywhere. 

Ivy - Hedera helix – It is ivy and not evergreen that used to deck the halls and walls during Christmas time. The ivy is a long standing symbol of the holiday season for many European cultures. It is the symbol of everlasting life and was used by most cultures in Europe during nearly every time period. 

Christmas Tree and branches – Many – Germanic tribes are the first to have used trees in winter with decorations on them to give a hope for the spring ahead. Some scholars tend to believe it was not until the eighth century that the tree was used with Christmas celebrations. Can you guess what the most common decorations during the early years were? They were bread and apples to represent the tree of life and the tree of good and evil. 

Oranges - Citrus sinensis – These wonderful fruits were the center piece on many a Christmas table for years. From before the colonial era to the Victorian times, the Christmas table would have a bowl of oranges built up like a pyramid. The meaning was a clear one to the guests at the table. Oranges were rare and valuable fruit so only the wealthy could use them in this manor. Thus, the taller the pile, the more wealthy the patron of the table.

More Classes and Seminars from Durham Extension Office

NC Cooperative Extension in partnership with Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Free classes; registration requested- 919-668-1707

Time: Sunday afternoons  2 - 4 pm
Location: Doris Duke Center
Fee: Free (registration required)
Sunday, January 22 -2-4 p.m_ "Gardening ‘With Herbs" Presented by Durham Extension
Master Gardeners-
Sunday, February 26 - 2-4 p.m. "Native Plants for Our Gardens" - Preserlted by Durham
County Extension Horticultural Agent - Michelle Wallace
Sunday, April 29, - 2-4 p.m. "Container Gardening" Presented by Durharn Extension Master

Durham County Center for NC Cooperative Extension
Sustainable Landscapes
721 Foster, Durham NC 27701
($25 Fee, includes lunch and materials) to register call (919) 560-0525 e-mail
 February 27, 2012, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Soil Management, Smart Watering, Rain Garden, Vegetable Gardening, Critter

Outreach Plant Information Booths
Durham Farmers Market
Located across from Measurement, Inc. on Morris Street
The market is open every Saturday from April through November, 8 a_m_ to noon- Master
Gardeners attend the third Saturday of the month_

Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Located in the Historic Terrace Garden next to the restroom (weather depending)
Spring (March _ May) first and third Wednesday of the month
Sunmer (June _ August) third Wemesday of the month
Farr (September _October first and third Wemesday of the month

Some Christmas and Holiday Videos to share

This past week my husband received these videos and I thought they were all good and hope you will enjoy them too.

With Christmas just a little less than a week away, and the Festival of Lights celebrating Chanukah on December 20 th, I think this would be a very appropriate time to listen to a song for our Christian and Jewish members.  Click on the link below, or copy and paste the address into the keyword, and give a listen

Merry Christmas to you all and may our New Year find our gardens bloom with our love.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Scrap Exchange Holiday Party
and Iron Crafter Competition
Friday, December 16 from 6 to 9 p.m.

at The Scrap Exchange
923 Franklin Street, Bay 1
Durham, NC 27701

Food! Drink! Live Music! Cake Walk! Competitive Crafting!

You are invited to the 2011 Scrap Exchange Holiday Party and Third Annual Iron Crafter Competition, this Friday, December 16, from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Scrap Exchange, featuring...

Holiday food favorites
Live music from the Resurrection Blues Band
Holiday Greeting Card and Craft-Making Stations
Iron Crafter 3: Secret Ingredients, Sewing Machines, Glue Guns, Celebrity Judges, Trophies, and more
Cake Walk ~ Pick a number, win a cake!

For more information about Iron Crafter 3, including how to participate as a contestant, please visit the Scrap Exchange blog or Iron Crafter Facebook page.

See you Friday!

Lectures of Interest from Johnson Co Arboretum

Start your new year right - and join us for our January events:

1/11 - Landscaping with Herbs with Tim Elliot
Arboretum Mobile Unit - 6:30-8:30 pm - $15.

Horticulturally, herbs are ancient plants. Yet herbs have reached a new wave
of popularity as improved varieties, especially those that tolerate Southern summers, are being introduced. The era of relegating herbs to a square garden in the back corner of the
property has passed. Today herbs are being incorporated into our sweeping borders
of flowers and shrubs, taking full advantage of square foot gardening on properties
which seem to get smaller with the influx of suburbia! Why plant Liriope, when you
may plant chives instead? This lecture will share a plethora of ideas for incorporating
useful herbs throughout the landscape.

1/17 - Cooking with Herbs with Lin Frye
Arboretum Brick Building - 6:30-8:30 pm - $25.

Herbs are fun and easy  to grow - but sometimes folks are not quite sure how best to preserve and
use them. Join Lin as she shares ways to cook with various herbs - from appetizers, to main meals to desserts. Participants will have a chance to sample all recipes.

Classes fill quickly!  Please call Lin Frye (919) 209-2052 or Minda Daughtry (919) 209-2184 to reserve your spot today!

From the Extension Office newsletter

Tuesday, January 17, 2012  "A Garden of Moss" with David Spain of Moss and Stone Gardens.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012: "Great Perennials for the Garden Bed," with Edith Edelman, Garden designer

Tuesday, March 20, 2012: "Herb Gardening," with Lisa Treadaway from the Little Herb House.

The entrance to the Briggs Ave Community Gardens
Photo taken by Amy Etheridge

As we prepare for the Christmas photos you might enjoy how a woman made herself beautiful in Elizabethan England

These beauty tips come from a 17th Century book of magic. With advice on everything from removing pimples to making fake tan, what follows are some of the more intriguing suggestions, demonstrating that women in 17th Century London were just as preoccupied with grey hairs and wrinkles as their modern-day counterparts.
How to correct the ill sent of the Arm-pits. The stink of the Arm-holes makes some women very hateful, especially those that are fat and fleshy. Use liquid Allome with Myrrh to anoynt the Arm-pits, or strew the place with dry Leaves of Myrtles in powder. The Roots of Artichokes smeared on doth not only cure the ill sent of the Arm-pits but of the whole body.
It is the singular care of Women to adorn their Hair, and next their Faces, for Women hold the Hair to be the  greatest Ornament of the Body, that if it be taken away, all the Beauty is gone, and they think it the more beautiful the more yellow, shining, and radiant it is.
To make Hair yellow, put Barley-Straw into an earthen pot with a great mouth, Feny-Graec [fenugreek] and wild Cummin. Mingle between them Quick-lime and Tobacco made into a Powder, then put them upon the Straw. Put one under the other [making layers as it were] until the whole Vessel be full. Pour on cold water and let them stand a whole day. Then open a hole at the bottom and let it run forth. With Sope use it for your Hair.
The most famous way to make the Hair yellow is to draw Oyle from Honey by the Art of Distillation. First there will come forth a clear Water, then a Saffron-colour, then a Gold-colour. Use this to anoint the Hair with a Spunge, but let it not touch the Skin, for it will dye it Saffron-colour and it is not easily washed off. This tincture will last many days and it will dye Gray-Hairs which few others will.
How Gray Hairs are dyed Black: Anonynt your Hair in the Sun with Leeches that have lain to corrupt in the blackest Wine for sixty days. For long black Hair, take a green Lizard, and cutting off the Head and Tail, boyl it in common Oyle and anoint your Head with it.
Curl'd Hair seems to be no small Grace and Ornament to the Head, and women do all they can to curl the Hair. If you will know how, boyl Maidenhair with Smallage-seed in Wine, adding a good quantity of Oyle, this will make the Hair curl'd and thick. Moreover if you put the Roots of Daffidils into Wine and pour this often on the Head, it will make the Hair curl more.
To dye the Eye-brows. Bitume or Sea-Cole being burnt it is a very fine black, or else the Marrow of an Ox-bone taken out of the Right-Leg and beaten with Soot
Before any thing be used to make the Face beautiful, it must be made very clean and fit to receive it, for oft-times women have excellent Waters and Remedies. This is the best: Bind Barley-meal-Bran in a Linen cloth and let it down into a Pot full of water, and let it boyl till a third part be remaining, and press out the juice. With this decoction wash your face and let it dry. Then bruise Myrhh and mingle it with the white of an Egg, and burn it on hot Fire-sticks or red hot Tiles, and receive the fume by a tunnel. Cover the head with a Napkin, that the smoke flie not away, and when you have received sufficient smoke, rub your Face with a Linen cloth. 
To make the Face very soft boyl two Calfs Feet in water, put in Rice one pound, and boyl it well. Let crumbs of Bread steep in Asses or Goats Milk with ten whites of Eggs bruised with their Shells. Distill all at a gentle fire, add to the water with a little Camphire and Borax. Put into a vessel two yong naked Pigeons, with their guts taken forth, and put in as much Milk as will cover them. Add one ounce of Borax, Turpentine three ounces, Camphire one ounce, five whites of Eggs. Put on the cover and distill them.
To colour the body, boyl Nettles in water and wash your Body with it. If you distill Straw-berries and wash your self with the water you shall make your Face red as a Rose.
How to make a Sun-burnt Face white. When women travel in the open Air, and take journeys in Summer, the Sun in one day will burn them black. To remove this, beat about ten whites of Eggs, put them in a glazed Vessel adding once ounce of Sugar-Candy, and when you go to bed anoynt your Face, and in the morning wash it off with Fountain water. If the Face be smeered with the white of an Egg, it will not be sun-burn. Women that have to do in the Sun defend their Faces from the heat of it with the white of an Egg beaten with a little Starch and mingled, and when the Voyage is done, they wash off this covering with Barley-Water. Some rub their foul Skin with Melon-Rindes, and so they easily rub off Sun-burnings and all other sports on the skin.
For a wrinkled face. When Eggs are boiled hard in water, cut them in the middle. Fill the holes where the yokes were with Powder of Myrrh, then over one with the other binder them with a thread. Then take a glazed vessel and lay sticks across it that the Eggs may lie upon them hanging neere the bottom. Put the vessel into a Well and let it hang one foot from the water. By the moysture thereof the Myrrh will dissolve into Oyle of water. Anonynt your face with it. The juice of the green Cones of the Pine tree, being applied to the Face with a Linnen-cloth wet therein will take away all wrinkles from the Face excellently well.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Yule Log

The custom of the yule log has been a part of Christmas ritual for centuries. Today, even though you may not have a hearth in which to build a blazing holiday fire, you can still enjoy a “virtual” burning yule log on your television or computer, or sample a delicious edible “buche de noel”.
The History of Yule
Some sources claim that the word “yule” derives from the Old Norse word for “wheel,” a reference to the cycle of the year. Language scholars think it more likely that yule derives from the Old English word “geol” or “geola,” from the Old Norse “jol,” which passed into English after Scandinavians invaded England and Scotland in the 9th and 10th centuries. As the customs of this pagan winter festival became folded into Christian beliefs, Yule and Yuletide became synonymous with Christmas and Christmastide by the 12th century. (The weeks surrounding the celebration of Christmas were called Christmas “tide,” in its original sense of “time.”)

Yule was widely celebrated throughout Europe around the time of the winter solstice. It is possible that the first yule festivals were held to take advantage of excess meat and drink, since at this time of year animals that could not be fed through the winter were slaughtered, and beverages set by earlier in the season were now fermented.

The Yule Log
The tradition of burning a large block of wood on the hearth at Christmas was first mentioned in writing in Germany in 1184, and subsequently in later medieval accounts. Seventeenth-century poet Robert Herrick provided the first mention of the custom of procuring a yule log in England, where in some parts the log might also be called the yule clog or yule block. The ceremonious lighting of the log was accompanied by feasting, singing and merriment. The last portion of the log was commonly saved, since it was believed to protect the home and its occupants until the following year, when it served as kindling for another year’s yule log.

Yule Log Customs and Superstitions
A Yule log was a powerful symbol to ancient Europeans, who credited it with the ability to bring good fortune and prosperity to their families and to protect their homes from evil spirits. Numerous customs and superstitions came to surround the gathering and burning of the log, and subsequent use of the ashes.

Beliefs and ceremonies varied from region to region. In Dalmatia, the log was adorned with leaves and flowers as it was conveyed to the home, where it was then sprinkled with wine or grain. In England, a person must have clean hands before he could successfully light the yule log. In Germany, a charred log taken from the hearth on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, called the Christbrand, was placed back on the fire when a storm threatened. Even the yule log’s ashes were credited with magical powers. People might sprinkle them under fruit trees to ensure fertility, place them in a well to sweeten water, or use them as a sort of charm to protect domestic animals from vermin.
The Modern Yule Log
You might think the yule log a thing of the past for urban families not in possession of a fireplace. But a mid-20th century television programming novelty based on a short film of a crackling fire provided the roots for a modern holiday tradition beloved by many. The station manager of New York City’s WPIX had the idea of presenting a commercial-free three-hour program called “The Yule Log,” consisting of a closeup shot on a log burning in a hearth and accompanied by Christmas music. The program debuted on December 24, 1966, and became an instant hit. The original 16mm film, shot at the New York mayor’s Gracie Mansion, was only 17 seconds long and ran in a continuous loop. Within a few years the film the station refilmed “The Yule Log” as a six-minute loop on 35mm film. This broadcast tradition continues today, appearing on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning on many television stations as well as at the website

The Edible Yule Log -- Buche de Noel
Eventually the yule log became a part of Christmas food traditions. In an old Catalonian custom reminiscent of a birthday celebration pinata, blindfolded children who struck at a hollow burlap-covered log were rewarded with candies. By the late 19th century, an enterprising French pastry chef introduced a log-shaped cake called “buche de noel” or Christmas log. Such cakes were traditionally created by filling and rolling a genoise, or sponge cake. Some bakers go to great lengths to transform their buche de noel into a realistic-looking chocolate log. Many recipes instruct you to cut the rolled cake at both ends on the diagonal, much as you might when cutting a real log. One of the end pieces is then placed atop the log. After the cake is iced, the extra piece looks like a “bump” on a log. Once you finish frosting the cake, you can simulate the look of tree bark by running the tines of a fork through the buttercream frosting. Decorating with separate spirals on the cut ends of the log gives the appearance of tree rings. Sifting a bit of powdered sugar over the cake and serving plate makes your buche de noel look as if it were freshly dusted in snow.

Garnish for the buche de noel can take many forms. Fanciful meringue mushrooms, lightly browned at the edges and dusted with cocoa add to the realism of your “log”. If you want to add more color to your cake, you can adorn it with ivy by piping on some green-tinted buttercream from a pastry bag. Or you can fashion green leaves and red holly berries from marzipan. While a yellow or chocolate cake filled and frosted with chocolate buttercream makes the most realistic-looking log, you needn’t confine yourself flavor-wise. A less traditional but equally delicious buche de noel can be had with yellow sponge cake rolled up with a delicate orange- or lemon-flavored mousse, then dusted with powdered sugar and adorned with strawberries or raspberries.

Buche de Noel Recipes
A search for buche de noel recipes provides inspiration for all kinds of log cakes, from simple to complex. To get you started, here are links to a few relatively simple recipes:

Buche de Noel recipe from Betty Crocker
a simple yellow cake with whipped cream filling and chocolate buttercream frosting
Mocha Buche de Noel from Good Housekeeping
a mocha cake with coffee cream filling and chocolate glaze
Kris Kringle Buche de Noel from Nestle Kitchens
a cocoa cake with a light chocolate cream 
Orange Spice Buche de Noel from Bon Appetit
a different take on the traditional form, with orange cream cheese frosting

Heritage Poinsettia Project

Thank you for thinking of the veterans this year.

The staff  and patients of the VA Hospital thank you for your
thoughts in remembering those who have served our great county.

Heritage Garden Club is just the agent to help
give the VA  Hospital Chapel a warm and
loving appearance.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Muriel Roberts has passed away

Muriel Dorothy Roberts - Obituary
June 26,1921- November 28, 2011
Muriel Dorothy Roberts passed away Monday, November 28th after a year of declining health. Muriel was born on June 26, 1921 to Philip and Sarah Mowrey in Newark, N.J. After graduation from Montclair State College, she taught in Cape May where she met her husband Martin Roberts. They were married on December 10th, 1944. After his service in the Navy, they settled on Long Island before beginning a lifetime of travel with Martin's career.
In every city, Muriel became involved in charity organizations, always involving children; The American Women's Club in London and homes for disabled children in Montreal and Houston. Her great love was flowers and how, in so many ways, they can bring joy into people's lives. Her floral passion was Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging, and was driven by the spirit behind the art. In 1984, she attained the title of Usu-Ban, master and teacher of Ikebana from the Ikenobo School of Floral Art in Tokyo, Japan.
On moving to Cary in 1986, Muriel immediately shared her passion and talents with the local community. As Director of District 9 of the Garden Clubs of North Carolina and of the Heritage Garden Club in Durham, Muriel initiated one of her most loved projects. Working with the chaplain of the VA hospital in Durham, she began a program whereby the area garden clubs supply floral arrangements to the hospital chapel every week. This program continues today. More recently, Muriel was pleased to have initiated the founding of a chapter of Ikebana International in the Triangle. Through this organization, and her teaching, this beautiful art form is flourishing in our community.
In spite of all of these interests, Muriel's first love was her family. Martin and Muriel raised three children, Phyllis Anne Macdonald of France, Bonnie Joan Dodwell of Bermuda and Cary, and Steven Edward Roberts of Raleigh. Her greatest love was watching them become adults and have families of their own. Her grandchildren, Stephanie, James, Penny, Ben, Claire, Dominic, Katie, Joseph, Thomas, Peter, Louise and Margaret Macdonald, and David, Brian, Jennifer and Christina Dodwell and two special girls, Liann and Claire Leidy, brought her immeasurable joy, and 14 great-grandchildren; Xavier, Laurie, Santiago, Pablo, Baudelaire, William, Henry, Ian, Annie, Alexander, Connor, Sebastian, Tassilo and Anna.
Muriel will be forever remembered for her adventurous spirit, delightful humor, generosity and amazing ability to bring joy to the lives of those who knew her. Family and friends are invited to attend her Mass at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, December 2, 2011 follow by a reception at the Archangel Center. Funeral arrangements by Browne-Wynne Funeral Home. In Lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Ronald Mcdonald House Charities.
Published in The News & Observer on December 1, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ardith's Jottings:

Quote for Chilly Days:

Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy marshmallows, which are kinda the same thing.


I just heard of a B&B in Blowing Rock, NC called Gideon Ridge Inn.  The views shown on the website look fabulous!  The Inn  sits on property that belonged to Moses H. Cone, a North Carolina textile magnate. Cone married Bertha Lindau, who transferred the property to her sisters.  A nephew in Boston built  the house with rock quarried from Grandfather Mountain.  He used it as his summer residence.  The parents of the current owners bought the property in 1984.  The food is tasty.  Other eateries are available in downtown Blowing Rock.  Visit Cone's original manor house and browse the offerings by local artisans. This is a quiet, tranquil get away spot.

Closer to home is the annual Open House at Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines.  The event which runs from November 30th to December 3rd is entering its 3rd decade.  All  23 rooms of the Georgian style mansion will be decorated for Christmas by area garden clubs and designers.  The house built by renown architect, Aymar Embury II, in 1922 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The funds raised by this event are used to support  the house.  A wide range of activities are offered.  Ticket prices range from $60 per person for a Gala Preview Party to $10 prepurchased house tour tickets December 1-3, 2011.  Information is available at 910-692-6261 or by emailing weymouthcenter@pinehurst.net.

Several of us are going on Friday Dec 2.  We are meeting at Sears parkinglot at Northgate Mall.
Thought we would pack into a couple of cars and go as a group.  Eat lunch in Southern Pines.
Call Marcia in Heritage GC for details.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ardith's Jottings for November

A Taste for Holiday Gift Giving

Want to have fun and a tasty day out while doing your Holiday Shopping? Get a group of your garden club friends together and head to Southern Supreme Gourmet Specialities in nearby Bear Creek.  Not only do they make a moist, chewy and nutty fruitcake (they offer a reduced sugar version), you can get  chocolates, relish, jellies, pickles, gourmet mustards and pecan pralines!  Open a jar of the pecan pralines and you will  not close it - it will be empty before you know it!  I received some as a gift last year which lead to my discovery of Southern Supreme.   Many of you are familiar with them from A Southern Season store  at Christmas time but go, visit where the products are created and have a tasty time.  You can browse the store in front of their kitchens and sample treats.  Call ahead to 336-581-3141 or 877-815-0922 to schedule a tour of the kitchen, take your out of town holiday visitors or just take yourself for a sweet time. 

Re-use that Pumpkin!

Think out of the box for your festive decorations.  Don't toss that pumpkin- cut the top off, scrap out the seeds( see Marcia's earlier tip for pumpkin seed snacks) and use it as a container.  Put a pot of mums in it or  take a small plastic food dish, insert some oasis in it and put in the top of the pumpkin.  Snip some of your flowers, greenery, leaves before the cold gets them.  Even use some windfall acorns or twigs to add interest to the arrangement.  Put it on your porch or front steps. Bring it indoors for your dining table, kitchen table or sunroom.  Place the flower bedecked pumpkin on some colorful Fall leaves for extra oomph.

Another use for a pumpkin is to simply place it atop an urn and put pyracanthra, Chinese lanterns, or miniature ears of corn around the bottom.

I even use that pumpkin for Christmas decoration!  I get a lot of mileage out of my pumpkin.  For Christmas I spray paint the pumpkin white paint my initial on it with red paint and place it in the same urn with evergreens tucked beneath it.  Sometimes when I have a number of miniature pumpkins, I spray them white and paint  the letters J O Y on them and line them up on my window sill with greenery tucked under.  If you have enough miniature pumpkins, you can also  paint P E A C E.   You can skip painting the large pumpkin white and simply paint your initial on it and then place it in the urn or on the porch or steps with other fall foliage and embellishments.  Re use what you have; use what is at hand.  You don't have to rush out and buy new stuff.

I just remembered a decoration I frequently saw in Williamsburg and other Colonial spots --Osage Oranges or Bois d'Orange as we called them.  Stack them on a plate, tuck small pieces of evergreen, holly or other berries around the base and throughout the pyramid.  If you want to splurge, you can use red minature carnations or partially opened small mums scattered throughout the pyramid.  It was natural and Christmasy.

The Scary Herbs of Halloween

I went on vacation and forgot to add this bit of trivia.  Save for the grand children for next year or use for conversation at the Thanksgiving table.
It’s a dark night in autumn. Days are becoming shorter and colder. Harvest time is ending, and pantries are being stocked with fruits and nuts for winter. Inside, beside a warm fire, an old uncle tells ghost stories. Firelight gleams on a bowl of red apples, ready for fortune telling and games. Spiced cider flows, and young people, some wearing odd costumes, dance under the flickering light of turnip lanterns.
Turnip Lanterns?
Many customs of the holiday we call Halloween date to traditions across prehistoric Europe. But turnip lanterns, at least in the United States, have been replaced by easier-to-carve pumpkins, with—let’s face it—more impressive, large, orange shapes. A glowing turnip or pumpkin, however, has the same purpose: to drive away the darkness, scare away the spooks, and light the way to the next party.
Centuries ago, when rooms were illuminated by fire, Europe’s inhabitants were farmers or herders whose lives depended on knowing the rhythms of the year. Halloween (or Samhain, as it once was called) falls on the midpoint between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. According to the Celtic calendar, which began its holidays on the eve before, Halloween was the start of the new year.
“To understand the significance of these seasonal festivals, we need to step back in time for a moment, closer to the food production cycle than most of us are today,” says Bettina Arnold, co-director of the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Celtic Studies. Certain food plants had important ties to the holiday’s meaning.
First the Apple
Native to eastern Turkey and southwestern Russia, apples have a long relationship with civilization and its myths and symbols. As members of the rose family, apples and their flowers have associations with Venus, goddess of love and fertility.
Poised on the threshold of the new year, Halloween was viewed as a time when it was possible to see into the future, and fortune telling often involved love and marriage predictions. An apple peel thrown over the shoulder, for instance, could predict the first letter of a true love’s name. Peeling an apple in front of a mirror by candlelight might reveal an image of a lover. And the first person to bite an apple floating in a dish of water would be the first to wed (not to mention that apple bobbing might provide quite an opportunity for real-time flirting).
Grown from seed, apples tend to revert to wild species with small, sour fruit. Gradually, over many thousands of years, improved selections were preserved by grafting. Carried by traders, invaders and Romans into Europe, apples were brought to the New World by the first colonists in the 1600s, and the first orchard was said to be planted near Boston in 1625.

Today, 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States, including 100 in commercial production. Red Delicious and Golden Delicious are the two most popular varieties, but one attraction of growing apples in a home orchard is to experience the rare, more historic types. The Lady or Api apple is one of the oldest, dating to 15th-century France. It’s aromatic and sweet, but susceptible to apple scab (a fungal disease) where springs are wet.

The Journey to the Otherworld

The Celts believed that the souls of people who had died that year journeyed to the spirit world during Halloween/Samhain. The holiday’s bonfires and glowing turnips helped the dead on their journey while protecting the living, according to Jack Santino, a professor of popular culture at Bowling Green State University who studies celebrations and their cultural meaning.
The living might have found protection by carrying a piece of asafetida in their pockets. Asafetida is an herbalresidue so vile smelling it was also called “devil’s dung.” A resin obtained from the root of Ferula assa-foetida  (fennel-like plants native to the Middle East), asafetida once was used widely in medicine and in cooking. (Its flavor reportedly improves greatly when diluted in hot oil.)
German immigrants brought the practice of carrying asafetida for protection to this country, and you still can find this unusual herb for sale in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where much of the German culture survives, herbalist Jesse Tobin says. Tobin is a founder of The Three Sisters Center near Kutztown, Pennsylvania, which offers an herbal guild, workshops and demonstrations of Pennsylvania German healing and spiritual traditions.
But perhaps the plant with the strongest ties to Halloween was the elderberry, Sambucus nigra. A small, bushy tree with white flowers and almost black berries, the elderberry was associated with the Germanic goddess Holle (or sometimes Hulda) and was named Hollerbeier for her. Guardian of the dead, the goddess survives today in caricature as a Halloween witch. But as Frau Holle, she was a caring grandmother and wise crone. She helped souls cross over and took messages to them—perhaps written in elderberry juice ink.
In North America, European immigrants found their elderberry’s close relative, S. canadensis, and continued their traditions. People carried pieces of its wood for protection, tied prayers to its branches and left apples beneath it as offerings. “When you think of the magical plants of the Pennsylvania Dutch, the elderberry is number one,” Tobin says.
The elderberry also has been revered for its health benefits since the time of Hippocrates. A tea from its flowers treats cold and flu symptoms, substantiated by the German Commission E (that country’s equivalent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration), and its berries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. “Elderberry was so important in Europe, and in almost all cases, it has the same associations,” Tobin

Joanna Poncavage is a Pennsylvania journalist and author who frequently writes about gardens, plants and the Pennsylvania Germans.


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More practical growers should consider the newer, disease-resistant varieties, such as Liberty, a type of McIntosh developed in New York in 1962. Between the old and the new are hundreds of choices for baking, cooking, saucing and eating fresh. Before planting an apple tree, consult your county’s cooperative extension for recommended varieties and regional advice. Then commit to a routine for pruning, fertilizing, watering and pest control.  

Pumpkins Light the Way

“Pumpkins carved as jack-o’-lanterns would not have been part of traditional Halloween festivals in Celtic Europe, since pumpkins are New World plants,” Arnold says. Instead, the Europeans hollowed out large turnips, carved faces into them and placed them in windows to ward off any evil spirits.
The turnip-carving tradition survives today. Every November, the village of Richterswil on Lake Zurich in Switzerland is filled with thousands of glowing turnips, brightened from within by candles. Cultivated in Europe for 4,000 years, turnips seem to have a greater appreciation there than here.
Arriving in the New World, colonists found Native Americans growing pumpkins and eventually adapted them to Halloween purposes. They also took a step toward pumpkin pie by filling pumpkins with milk and spices and baking them whole on the hearth.
Pumpkins with “sugar” or “pie” in their names, such as Small Sugar or New England Pie, are likely to have good taste and texture for pies, although butternut squash or neck pumpkins will provide smooth, flavorful, non-stringy flesh for recipes, too.
All pumpkins and squash belong to the genus Cucurbita. C. moschata varieties are widely used for commercial canned pumpkin. Looking to grow a big one? Choose one of the C. maxima varieties, such as Atlantic Giant or Prizewinner. For cuteness in a pumpkin, C. pepo includes miniature varieties such as Jack-Be-Little and Munchkin.
Pumpkins are easy to grow, given enough water, fertilizer and space. The sprawling vines can be vigorous, so allow about 100 square feet for each hill of two or three plants. Prepare the soil by digging in several inches of compost or composted manure. Sow the seeds in warm soil, after threat of frost has passed. The maturity date for the variety and the length of your growing season will determine the exact sowing date. Harvest when the pumpkins are a deep, solid color and the rind is hard. Leave 3 to 4 inches of stem attached to the pumpkins when cutting them from the vine, and store them in a moderately warm, dry place.