Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hanging Baskets - How They Are Hanging

Those of you that love the idea of hanging plants from your front porch railing, but struggle with hardware, look no further. These clever hangers involve no nails or screws. They simply fit between the vertical posts and are held up by counter weight from the basket. Hard to explain. Easy to use!

They can also be used to hold planter boxs!

Great for people who don't want to add decorating the front porch to their Honey-Do list.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The White House Kitchen Garden Breaks Ground

First Lady, Michelle Obama, broke ground for the White House kitchen garden with the help of White House Horticulturalist Dale Haney and kids from D.C.'s Bancroft Elementary School. This will be a functional garden that will serve the White House cooking staff.

Mrs. Obama might want to dress down, a bit, if she really wants to be considered a gardener. I recommend an over-sized Garfield t-shirt from 1985 or a heather grey sweatshirt, with the neck cut out, from the Flash Dance era. On the bottom, a pair of jeans with, "I (Heart) Barack" written in ink pen on the knee. Shoes? Reebok High Tops in white. Oh, and don't forget the slouch socks or leg warmers!

Friday, March 20, 2009

On the first day of Spring Hester & Zipperer gave to me...

It actually feels like we work at a plant nursery again. On Thursday morning we received a truck load of plants from Monrovia. An hour before the store was to open we were lightening the load of a tractor trailer full of killer plants. Mary-Ann calls us her A-Team.

"I thought the loud popping I heard was my back,
but it turned out to be Travis's Gun Show."
Christine Lucas

For the first time since I've been at Hester & Zipperer, we've gotten Prickly Pears! Imagine a cactus like this, at its mature 6ft stature, sporting vibrant yellow blooms in Spring. Right after planting it, you can begin writing your memoir, "Why All Of My Neighbors Are Jealous Of My Cool Yard." Dare to be different, but don't dare place it where its spines will jab you in the shin. I pulled one out of my jeans, and my leg, when I got home from work.

"Texture calling on line 2. Are you available?"

You may have seen Foxtail/Ponytail Ferns before, but the ones we just got it must have been juicing up with AROD. They are bigger than Brad and Angie, and only slightly less beautiful. Getting one will make you instantly a better person, or my name is Mrs. Hugh Laurie. Okay, it's not.

I am not saying that you're a loser if you don't buy one of the few Jacobinias that we have left. I'm simply saying that you are a loser if you don't buy it.

This shade-loving perennial will grow two to four feet tall and about three feet wide. It works well in containers, and would look like a million dollars next to Persian Shield.

Citrus Is Here - some of it anyway.

We have Limes, Improved Meyer Lemons, and Kumquats. Remember those delicious preserved lemons we mentioned a few posts back? Mmmmm.

Do you have excellent citrus recipes we should know about?
Email us at:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Grouping Herbs By Moisture Needs

Follow these groupings for watering success:

Thyme, Rosemary, Lavender, and Sage prefer well-drained soil and can exist on the dry side. They don't require soil with a lot of organic matter. The dry side does not mean bone dry. If your pots are small, you will still need to water them at least once a day-if not more.

Basil, Oregano, Cilantro, and Mint don't tolerate drying out well at all. It is best to give them a soil with more organic matter like Mushroom Compost.

Remember that plastic pots keep soil moist longer. Use this to your advantage, and place in a spot where terracotta pots might dry out too fast.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Container Workshop Supplement

I want to thank everyone who showed up for my container workshop on Saturday. I hope everyone got a few good ideas. The next few blog entries will have to do with container planting. Post a comment and let me know what you think.

Please visit this Proven Winners page for many container recipes as well. It is a wealth of information.

The container to the left is one that I did for the Savannah Garden Expo last year. I like it because of the contrast that has without a single bloom! I also dyed whole pecans with blue food coloring.

Plant list: Scottish Moss, Irish Moss, Red Dragon Coleus, Feather Grass, and Sedge
Light-full to part sun

Caladium bulbs are available now, and they make a dramatic statement in containers. Red varieties will take more sun. In a shade container they would work well with Impatiens, Persian Shield, or Creeping Jenny. Plant the bulbs with your favorites that are available and watch them show up to the party a little later.

You don't have to have a lot of plants to make a really big impression. Remember how I spoke about Fairy Gardens?
In this container someone has given them not just a bench, but a whole house. You can make this type of an arrangement with a birdhouse, child's old toy, or even old Christmas ornaments.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Contain Your Excitement!

Our Container Gardening Workshop will be tomorrow morning at eleven!
Take advantage of this free chance to be awesome.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Make Good Use Of Fresh Meyer Lemons

Gina Harrell visited Hester & Zipperer on Wilmington Island just the other day, and we got talking about ways to use Meyer Lemons. She was kind enough to email us the following:

If you are lucky enough to have Meyer lemons, try this easy fun way to make them last. These are preserved lemons that are a common ingredient in Moroccan recipes. Here's how:
Thoroughly wash and dry lemons. Cut a small slice off the stem end. Resting the lemon on the uncut end, carefully cut it into 6 wedges, but don't cut all the way through. You should have the lemon in wedges that are still joined together at the end. Remove seeds. In a glass crock or jar, layer a lemon in on its side, and press down firmly. (the juice, of course, will squeeze out) Next, cover the lemon with a generous layer of salt (about 3 Tablespoons). Repeat this layering process, covering each lemon with salt, until you have filled the jar.
Since the Meyer lemons are so juicy, I wound up pouring some of the juice off so I could get the jar filled to the top with lemons. Pack them in tight, and then make sure there is juice enough to cover them. (if you have poured some juice off, save it in case you need to add some back) Also, make sure you put in that final layer of salt.
Now, put the lid on tightly, shake them a bit to help dissolve the salt, and let them sit at room temperature for 24 hours. After this, refrigerate. The lemons need to sit in the fridge for about 4 weeks before they are ready to use. I shook mine gently from time to time. The juice will turn syrupy when they are ready to use. These will keep 6 months or more in the fridge.
You can do this with any kind of lemons, but Meyers are the preferred type. I am including a couple of recipes that call for these lemons, but you can find lots on the web. They make an interesting addition to salads, chicken dishes, and vegetables. I used them with asparagus, and they were very good:
*Wash and snap off the tough ends of fresh asparagus. Place in a microwave safe dish and add a small amount of water. Top with a few preserved lemon slices, a sprinkle of your favorite herbs, and a couple of small pats of butter. Cover and microwave about 3-5 minutes or until desired tenderness. Remember that you do not need to add extra salt, because the lemons are very salty already.
More recipes:
Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 quarter preserved lemon peel freed of pulp and chopped fine
1 shallot or mild onion chopped fine
4 - 5 Tablespoons of good olive oil (can also used walnut oil)
Put everything in a small jar with a tight lid and shake it well.
Moroccan Style Chopped Salad (from Recipezaar)
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 preserved lemon, chopped
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, peppers, onion, tomato, lemon and parsley and mix well.
Add garlic powder, lemon juice and oil and mix again.
Taste before adding any salt. The preserved lemon may be salty enough for the whole dish.
Allow to sit at room temperature for a half hour.
Mix again right before serving.
Meyer Lemon Curd
(uses less sugar, since the Meyers are not as tart)
3-4 medium Meyer lemons
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
Finely grate enough zest from lemons to measure 2 tsp. and squeeze enough juice to measure 1/2 cup. Whisk together zest, juice, sugar, and eggs in a metal bowl and add butter. Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, whisking, until thickened and smooth and an instant-read thermometer registers 160, about 5 or 6 minutes. Serve warm or cover surface of curd with wax paper and cool completely.
Serve with biscuits or scones, gingerbread, in tart shells, or stirred into vanilla yogurt. May be frozen for longer storage.
Another idea for using your Meyer lemons is to juice them, and pour the juice into muffin tins in 1/4 cup portions. Freeze in the tins, then dip the bottom of the pan in hot water to loosen, and pop the frozen juices out. Now you have 1/4 cup cubes that you can put in a gallon zip top bag in the freezer to use for recipes. Grate the rind of the lemons, (a microplane zester is great for this) and put it in a small zip top bag. You can just slip this bag into the bigger bag with the juice cubes and keep them together. The frozen zest is easy to fluff up and measure out as you need for recipes.
There is a recipe for Meyer Lemon and Thyme pound cake in the most recent issue of Victoria magazine. It looks wonderful. Enjoy!
Gina Harrell

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Frost Warning

Good Frost won't kill plants but delight you by a warm fire.