Spring Planting? Plant A Seed With A Kiddo!

You’re a gardener, yes?  But are you also a parent or grandparent?  If so, why not involve any kiddos in your life in a wee bit of gardening this season.  After all,  we want our kids happy and healthy right?  It makes life a whole lot easier and more fun!

DSC_0126Have you ever thought about the garden as a place to foster happiness and good health in our children all in one-shot?  I have and I think there are some big rewards available if a  little time is invested.

Thinking a bit abstractly about gardening … there are lots of opportunities to bring out a smile or a feeling of contentment.  Imagine weeding. Uh….no, that was a joke!  Weeding might be satisfying to some but not to most and definitely not for kids!  So what else is there…

How about the opportunity to be creative and take ownership of something?  Freedom. Decision-making. That is something kids can usually rally around.  So if you have a garden or are starting one this spring, give a chunk to a child to call his or her own.  It can be their plot or pot to make decisions about.

kids1What about the chance to build confidence?  Anyone that plants a tiny seed and it grows into something big, beautiful and even edible, is going to feel a sense of accomplishment.  This type of positive experience can build a kiddo’s self-esteem giving them motivation to try other activities and interests.

And then there’s the old-fashioned thing of spending time together doing something.  Not being entertained by something, but doing something together or just nearby each other, outside. Hmmmm….

O.K. enough of the happy stuff, what about the health part.

DSC_0045If you believe food is the primary source of your well-being, (as I do) then you know gardens can play a big role in helping us feel good and live well.  This is because they produce highly nutritious, fresh food – pretty simple.

By growing some of our own food and getting kiddos involved, we have a great opportunity to help our kids build good eating habits which can contribute to a lifetime of good health.  We can get them to think beyond the supermarket as the place food comes from and maybe even beyond food commercials!  Scary cool!

And there’s a few extras, like lots of Vitamin D (from being outside), keeping active and keeping the electronics all tucked away on their charging stations for when the time is right.

Sounds like lots of plausible reasons to get kids in the garden right? If you’re a believer, here’s some tips on how to make it happen and have fun.

  • Start small, you can always add-on – Remember kids won’t want to spend big gobs of time in the garden. Short projects.
  • Plant crops that grow fast – Instant gratification appeals to everyone!
  • Go with non-supermarket friendly varieties – Things that look different compared to what we normally see or eat. Go for the purple carrots!
  • Have an attitude of experimentation  -  If your child wants to plant in intricate mosaic patterns or just willy nilly, it’s o.k.  If the plants are well cared for, they will produce.
  • Be patient and be a partner –  Perfection is not the goal, the goal is to keep your child interested and having some fun. Be a supportive partner when called upon (like when your child gets an in promptu invitation to go somewhere with a friend for a day or two).  Pitch in and make sure their garden is watered and keeps going until they return.
  • Follow Thru – Harvest, Eat, Enjoy! – Once the edibles become available be sure to consume them.  This is really the best part!

One more thing…if this all sounds good but you are unsure about getting your kiddos to eat from the garden, check out my Kid Eats page.  These are simple, yummy recipes that kids can make with the food they’ve grown.  You know, for bringing it full circle – from planting to plate!

For Local Readers:

Come to my seminar at the Boise Flower and Garden Show on Saturday, March 22nd, 1:45 p.m.  to learn more about “Sharing the Magic of The Garden: Digging In & Dining In With Your Kids.”  Plus, there will be lots of plants, bulbs, tools, pots, garden art and more (even flamingos) just waiting for you to spot and find a place for in your garden!  See a full list of the seminars here.

“Art In Bloom” From The Northwest Flower and Garden Show

If you read my last post you know I attended the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle.  One thing I love about this show is that the Washington convention Center is located in the heart of downtown Seattle, so if you’ve absorbed enough from the garden world, you can head out for a bite to eat at a fabulous restaurant, do some site seeing or shop to your heart’s content.  Everything is just a few steps away.

But getting back to the show… here are some photos of my favorite display gardens. This year’s theme was “Art in Bloom.”

“Peace in Motion – Sanctuary of Peace” is the name of this garden designed by Iftikhar Ahmed of Treeline Designz International.  Iftikhar has a beautiful way of designing a welcoming, relaxation garden that encourages thoughtful, reflective time and engages all of the senses. My favorite feature here were the beautiful prayer wheels.  So lovely, to view amongst the serene foliage and with just a soft touch, motion would begin.  The Buddha statue, carved from a single piece of stone, was captivating.  Easy to breathe in this garden no matter how many people were visiting…

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“The Art of Retreat – Two Generations Define Their Own Garden Studios” by (mom) Sue Goetz and (daughter) Courtney Goetz.


I absolutely love the color of this studio! Glad the two generations could agree on it!

col2The shots from this side (above) of the retreat reflects the mother’s preferences while the shots from the other side (below) show some of the daughter’s likes.

col3The Chartreuse green plant material shines brightly against the plum color of the studio and the sliding door is a knockout feature of the structure.  The use of iron around the garden was a hit with me as well, even the old box springs that are being used as an architectural element and a tool rack.

The Garden of Artful Delights, a collaboration between the Arboretum Foundation and Museum of Glass, as a tribute to the artist Ginny Ruffner was a definite eye-catcher!  This garden, I found out later, is a recreation of Ruffner’s real Seattle garden.

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The color incorporated into this space was really beautiful and the intermixing of so much glass was interesting as well.  I feel this garden definitely provided some ideas about how to get started adding glass into the garden.  My favorite piece is the iron arbor with the “squiggles” all over it.  But also notice how easy it is to add glass elements to pots or seating areas.



There were so many gorgeous display gardens at the show but I simply can’t do them justice here.  Instead, I hope this short viewing provides some inspiration to take in a Flower and Garden Show in your local area.  These shows are really a fun experience and undoubtedly you will learn something new.

For local readers, the Boise Flower and Garden Show is being held March 21-23 at the Boise Centre.  Don’t miss the wonderful vendors and the teaching seminars!  In fact, yours truly will be speaking!  Happy Almost Spring!


Interrupting Winter…With A Little Love for Spring…NWFG Show

A short interruption to Winter today…although hoping to not offend Old Man W- because he’s really just arrived in my area and the more precipitation dispersed in the next few weeks, in any form, the better!  Desert dwellers cannot be choosy about moisture…so just a brief interruption Sir Winter!

Seattle’s infamous Northwest Flower and Garden Show was last week and I attended for a couple of days of great seminars and to see the superb display gardens. Shopping around for new “garden finds” in the marketplace is another source of fun and I had a good share of it!

Now for a few eye-catchers and observations…

Tillandsia were very popular this year and used in many displays.  Tillandsia are epiphytes meaning they don’t grow in soil but get their required nutrients from the air.  Hence, their common name is “air plant.”   Some fun displays.


DSC_0071Lots of rustic iron at the show this year.  Or course, iron is very popular in gardens but I noticed some beautiful rustic screens and cages that could be used in many ways – entrances, privacy barriers, vertical elements…




I love iron in its natural form…it ages beautifully and the upkeep is almost nil.



Note the branches attached to the iron cage, getting even more vertical height. Lots of possibilities.


Like how this grouping is used as a backdrop for a seating area and lots fun accents can be hung from the iron. Love the purple heucheras with that chair!


Black mondo grass used as a hanging form. Lovely!

Another element used more than I’ve ever seen before – glass. Many show gardens incorporated glass sculptures and objects into their scenes  - intriguing and so beautiful.

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The theme for the show this year was “Art in Bloom” and the show gardens were exceptional.  However, this was supposed to be short so check pack in a couple of days to see some of the fantasy gardens.  Have a happy weekend!

Gardener ‘Shape Up’, Yummy Recipes That Take Advantage of The Garden

Courtesy of Mr. Andrea, the doodler, http://www.abeautifulrevolution.com/blog/2010/09/wee.html

Courtesy of Mr. Andre, the doodler, http://www.abeautifulrevolution.com

The 30 day ‘Gardener Shape Up, Being Mindful of Health’ is about to end.  I hope these posts have inspired you in some small way as you prepare to return to the garden in the next few weeks.

To wrap up this series, I’ve decided to post several good nutrition recipes I’ve been enjoying over the last weeks.  These recipes were sourced from blogs, magazines and websites and all include a crop or two or three you can grow in your YARDEN!

First up, is a delicious entrée from Karen at Backroads Journal.  (Click the link to see full recipe.) I’ve made these stuffed peppers twice now, once with lamb and once with beef.  I went very light on the cinnamon and all-spice flavors as I thought it may be too sophisticated for my children. I used Sriracha instead of Harissa and my husband and I enjoyed the bit of heat. Any color of bell pepper can be used, I chose green.


As for the meats, my family preferred beef.  However, if new to eating lamb, I think this is a great recipe to try for a representation of its flavor.  Easy to find in grocery stores as well.

Although many herbs and spices are incorporated, the stuffing is mild, comforting and very flavorful.  I love how the peppers turned out by blanching them just barely 1 minute instead of microwaving them before filling. The texture of the stuffing and the soft, yet firm (if that makes any sense) texture of the pepper go together nicely.

Another plus…my kids were eating an entire green pepper for dinner!  How often do you get an entire bell pepper worked into an individual portion?!  Thanks for sharing this recipe Karen!

Bell Peppers in the Garden

Keep this recipe in mind because bell peppers could be a part of your garden this season! They like a lot of sun and soil temperatures of at least 55+ degrees consistently. Similar to tomatoes.


I usually purchase starter pepper plants in May (USDA Hardiness Zone 6) and then directly plant them in raised beds as the soil is a bit warmer than the ground.  My 150 day growing season is adequate to get good color and ripening when purchasing starter pepper plants.  However, if you want to grow peppers from seed, and have a 150-180 day growing season, start the seeds indoors around 8 weeks before conditions are right for planting outside.  (Last frost has passed and soil has warmed above 55°)

There are several other ingredients in this recipe you can grow in the garden.  Onions, garlic, mint, oregano, and parsley are all easy to grow.  If you are fortunate enough to garden in zone 8-11 you can grow lemons too!  Sadly, my lemon tree succumbed to the cold of my garage last winter, so only if my CA friends ship me some, will I have homegrown lemons. Hint, hint! :)

How about you?  Have you been preparing physically to re-enter the garden?  Do you ever consider specific, favorite recipes when deciding what to grow in the garden?

Gardener ‘Shape Up’, Stretch Your Best Tools

No doubt, strength is a good thing when getting into the garden after winter and taking on spring cleanup and new projects.  And if you’re still doing the exercises from ‘Gardener Must-Have: A Strong Back,’ progress is being made.  My back is feeling sturdier and now the trick is to keep doing the exercises and not get lax about them.

However, it’s not all about strength when it comes to working outdoors.  Ever have a day when you have pruned/trimmed so many plants that your thumb joint is sore?  Or how about your wrist and forearm after digging with a trowel in clay soil for a few hours?  Hamstrings and quads also tighten up with all of the squatting with bent knees.

One of the simplest ways to stay limber and reduce the likelihood of these areas tightening up so much they become painful is to STRETCH.  When getting back to the garden in the next few weeks, take a few minutes (5-10) before you start working to stretch your best garden ‘tools’ – thumbs, wrists, forearms, hamstrings and quads. They will be much happier for it.

For wrists and forearms an easy stretch is to extend one arm out with palm facing down, put thumb of opposite hand in the crease of wrist and then gently pull down.


Another stretch for the thumb, wrist and forearm is to bend thumbs inward and cup fingers around them (making a fist with thumbs tucked inside).  Now extend arm and gently dip hand down gently.  Be gentle and careful not to create pain during the stretch. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat.


For hamstrings, there are quite a number of good stretches.  Here are some I like.


  • The top photo is called reclined hamstring stretch. Lye down on your back raise one leg as high as possible while keeping pelvis flat on ground and knee straight. Hold the leg and gently encourage it towards your head.  Only go as far as to feel a stretch, not discomfort.  This can also be done by placing a towel or strap of some sort underneath your foot and using your arms to gently pull the towel or strap towards you.  Hold this stretch for 30-45 seconds, keeping your back and head on the ground. Repeat with the opposite leg.
  • The left photo is called tip over tuck hamstring stretch. Stand with your feet hips-width apart.  Interlace your fingers behind your back, tuck your chin and bend forward at the hip keeping your knees straight.  Hands will gently go over your head.  If this stretch becomes to intense release hands and placing them at the back of thighs.  Only go as far as you are able with straight knees and no pain.  Hold for 30 seconds and engage core to roll up to standing position. Repeat.
  • Standing hamstring stretch is the photo on the right. Find a foot prop lower than your hip and place one heel on it flexing the foot. Balancing on the other leg, keep hips square and bend forward at the hip towards your flexed foot.  Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.

For quad stretches click here.  The first three stretches shown are very easy to do but I like the kneeling quad stretch for a bit deeper stretch for people with very tight quadriceps.  It is nice to have something soft under your knee while doing this stretch so it may be best to do inside.

When gardening we are looking to stretch our creativity, our climate boundaries, our dollars etc… but let’s not forget to stretch our body before we get started!

Gardener ‘Shape Up,’ Breakout Breakfasts

It’s all about breakfast on this triple-shot Friday!  The weekend is upon us and if you are in need of some new breakfast ideas, try one of these three fabulous starters.

Since starting ‘Gardener ‘Shape Up’, Being Mindful of Health,‘ breakfast has played a leading role in my nutrition intake.  I have always eaten a little something in the a.m., but many times as life gets busy this meal gets shoved down the priority list.  An Almondina cookie or half of a pear or piece of Canadian bacon is what I might grab before leaving the house in the morning. Great start for the day?  I think not!

Knowing full well breakfast is the meal that gets your brain going…and knowing I need as much brain and memory power as I can muster each day, I’ve changed my habits.  These Breakout Breakfasts (BB) can be made in about 10 minutes, are well-balanced in terms of nutrition and are approximately 300-400 calories if kept to reasonable portions.

BB #1   – Plain greek yogurt , chopped almonds, blueberries, a bit of honey


BB #2  - poached egg, whole wheat english muffin or toast, clementines or orange

DSC_0031BB #3 – Old fashioned oatmeal, Marion berries, bit of milk, bit of brown sugar, chopped walnuts


Do you need to breakout of old habits and get off to a better start?  If so,  which one would you be most likely to try?  BB1, BB2 or BB3?

By the way, I’m participating in triple-shot Friday with PRIORHOUSE Blog.  If you like things in 3s, you’ll like triple-shot Fridays!

‘Being Mindful’, A Positive Outlook Is Contagious

Something a little different today for ‘Gardener Shape-Up, Being Mindful’

Many of you may already be aware Dr. Cohan and her viral video. I was not, until a few days ago. And in the case that some of you may have also missed it, I’ve decide to share.

I was driving in the car and heard an interview with this lady, Dr. Deborah Cohan, about how she is recovering from a double mastectomy and is now starting chemotherapy.  As the interview went on I learned a bit about this woman…her demeanor through the voice and speaking style, personality through her choice of words and outlook on life through her unique way of facing fear and challenge.

Dr. Cohan faced down her fear of an invasive mastectomy surgery by having a ‘dance party’ (that included all attending medical staff) right before lying down on the surgical table. In this interview, she told of the incredible feeling dancing gives her, how she loves to see others dance, “be in their bodies,” and how this experience enabled her to deactivate feelings relating to fear. Her dancing moved out fear making room for joy and positive contentment to wash through her right before the surgery.

Wow! Strength and courage.

Dr. Cohan had asked others to join her dance party (via her CaringBridge site) at the exact moment the music began and if inclined to send her a photo or short video clip. She had, “visions of a healing video montage,” that would undoubtedly bring enjoyment and positive energy to her during recovery and the chemotherapy follow-up.

The world responded to this woman’s courage. She heard from many people of different walks of life, different ages, different cultures etc… And during the interview, as she discussed some of these responses, I heard something that made an impression and is why I am sharing it here.

You see, her perspective on the incredible amount of responses was not how SHE, (as in her individual, unique self) inspired people (although as you can imagine many told her she had).

Instead, she believes people were moved by a positive outlook. They were able to connect with something inside of themselves seeing the positive outlook she projected. They saw a bit of them self in her projection and the connection took root compelling them to respond. Dr. Cohan’s humble attitude and eloquent manner of conveying – the projection of a positive outlook is catching to people far and wide- was what I heard that day and it stuck.

Many of us are in the mode of reflecting and/or being mindful of health and life, so consider this message about the impact of a positive outlook… Engage in activities that enable you to feel it and project it.  Whether it be dancing, gardening, creating, spending time with family/friends, exercising, meditating, praying, traveling, cooking, etc… a positive outlook is contagious to others and that’s a good thing for our world.

Dr. Cohan’s courage has truly been felt by many. She was chosen by Bing as one of 2013′s Most Heroic Woman.