Thursday, September 9, 2010

Garden Wisdom


One of many beautiful Japanese maples in the collection
Road trips with the girls are always so much fun, and yesterday was no exception. 12 members of my local chapter of the Northwest Perrennial Alliance trekked to the Elizabeth C Miller garden in the "Highlands" area on the northernmost fringes of Seattle. The Miller Garden is a closely guarded treasure, open by reservations for tour groups only, and limited to 500 visitors per year. About three acres of the five acre Miller estate are in cultivation, showcasing Betty Millers love of Japanese maples, dozens of varieties of ferns, rambling tapestries of groundcovers and hundreds of plants that thrive in a woodland setting, both moist and dry.
As a gardener who struggles with enough  direct sunlight to grow colorful flowers, I was most interested in the amazing array of foliage plants that choose to spend their days luxuriating in the cool lushness of shade. A misnomer of shade gardening is that all shade plants prefer moist conditions, but at the Miller garden, we learned that many actually prefer dry feet!


Head Gardener Greg holds us in rapt attention as he weaves the story of the garden.

As the number of persons and vehicles permitted for tours is so limited, and the time frame so strict, we hedged our bets by stopping at Swansons Nursery for fall sale shopping and lunch before our visit to the garden. Lunching together gives us an opportunity to socialize a little and get to know one another better. Alexis Cafe at Swansons offers a wide array of beautiful, delicious and healthy lunch choices. Trying to trim a few inches off my middle in preparation for my 50 year High School Reunion, the end of October, I was most grateful for the wonderful Greek salad on the menu. Having discovered Dr Oz's "Your real Age" website lately, I learned Greek salad is a pemitted choice for lunch on the "You on a Diet" link. As the discussion came around to wellness, fitness, weight-loss, etc, I shared a recipe I found on and since several of my garden girlfriends asked for the recipe here it is:

Mediterranean Chicken and Herbed White Beans -2 servings

Chicken Ingredients:
2 bone-in chicken thighs without skin (I used breast meat)
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
8 pitted kalamata olives, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 small bunch fresh basil, chopped

Place each serving of breast on it's own large square of aluminum foil, mix remaining ingredients together and  spoon over chicken. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. While chicken is baking prepare the following:

Bean Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (15 or 16 ounces) white beans, rinsed and drained
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh mixed herbs, your choice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper (optional)

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; cook 5 minutes or until heated through. Carefully open chicken packets and transfer mixture to two serving plates; serve beans alongside chicken. YUM!

Bon Apetit!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

It's About Time

Where oh where does the time go??? My loyal mate sets up the coffee pot before bed every night so I wake up early (sometimes just a little after 6AM) and always get to pour a fresh cup of fragrant, deep roasted eye opener. Meanwhile, the computer is warming up and while enjoying those first few sips of  "joe" I open my email account to see what is going on in my little world... not much usually, though. World Market, Pottery Barn and Michaels are all featuring sales of the century; Ooh La La is enticing me with bargains on all sorts of things I don't need; Southwests "Ding" wants me to fly to places I've never heard of and oh! there is a note from an old friend, one from a daughter, and a notice about garden club. Tummy growling, I head back to the kitchen for more coffee and my cholesterol lowering breakfast of oatmeal, walnuts, cinnamon, and low fat milk, all drizzled with a splash of flax oil.. (don't laugh! I lowered my cholesterol 40 points in 3 months eating this concoction) and the good news is, the taste grows on you! Suddenly it's 9:30AM- Yikes where have the past 3 plus hours gone? I'll just betcha' that as we get older, the new atomic clocks we buy with the big numbers so we can see them from across the room are revved up on atomic time. I can prove this, because after putting the oatmeal dish to soak in the sink (loyal mate does the dishes and objects to chiseling cement-like goop off the sides of my bowl), I head down the hall, make the bed, get dressed and make my to-do list for the day. Now the clock says 11AM, and we all know it can't possibly take 5 hours just to check email, eat breakfast and get dressed. So either the clock is running at the speed of light or I'm losing a lot of time... So! Today I decided to keep closer tabs on my minutes and hours, and I really put them to good use.  Now if I could just find my glasses!

Lillipution studio  is cozy, bright, easy to heat and just the right size for me!
      Just to prove that I used my found time productively, I worked on pottery all afternoon today. I took this picture after tidying up, so I thought you'd like to see  my studio while it is relatively clean. It's 12'x16' feet, houses a rolling work table, slab roller, spray booth, potters wheel, 6' counter with sink,  and lots of shelves.
      Below is a shot of some projects left to dry on the deck. Drying clay is the biggest challenge a NW potter faces, so these few warm dry days are most welcome.
Leaf motif greenware drying in the sun
      Members of the Harbor Gardener chapter of the Northwest Perennial Alliance will be visiting in a couple of weeks to make clay projects with leaves from their gardens, so these pieces will give them an idea of items they may like to create. Now I see it is already time to go to bed, and in a few short hours the cycle will repeat itself, time spinning ever so rapidly into the future, while I'm jogging along, trying to keep up. I think it's about time to learn to fit my life into the time I am given, rather than trying stretch time to fit my life. Yes, it's about time!