Saturday, December 22, 2012

Keep those poinsettias going

I've seen large trunked obviously old poinsettias in California and they probably have a lot of them in Florida and possibly in the Rio Grande Valley, but I never expected to hear of one this old in Lousiana.  I am sure someone could do the same here in the Rockport area. It's a great story of one poinsettias long life.

Giant 70-year-old poinsettia thrives in Lake Charles

Lake Charles LA (KPLC) Most poinsettias you see are just small potted plants in the stores or nurseries. But how about a 12-foot tall poinsettia?

For one Lake Charles resident, Karen Bryant, there's one growing right next to her home and it has been doing so for close to 70 years.

The poinsettia was planted in the 1940s and was owned by Bryant's neighbor. When Bryant moved into her current home more than 30 years ago, she would often help the woman care for her plants.

When the woman passed away in the early 2000s, and a new family moved into the home, Bryant asked the new residents if she could have the poinsettia.

"She told me if you plant it on the south side of a building, it will come back every year. So, when he decided he was going to destroy it, I asked him for the root system and he gave it to me," Bryant said.

And that's what she did. She removed the poinsettia roots and replanted them on the south side of her home next door.

"But this plant, this root system comes from the 1940s when this street, Auburn Street, was just a dirt road and that's when they built their home," she said.

Today, Bryant tends the plant every year. She even re-planted some around her home and she's given pieces of the giant poinsettia to her neighbors.

To Bryant, the plant is a gift that keeps on giving.

"She loved flowers. And I have a love of plants because of her," Bryant said.

Check out the attached video of the story to see more of the giant poinsettia.
I hope someone in our herb group has a story like this they can tell us.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Taste Test: Low-Cost Olive Oil Bests Pricier Brands

I found this to be very interesting.  Check it out. 

Here's how the brands ranked after the tasters voted for their favorite:

1. Goya. This cheap olive oil, the only one made entirely from Spanish olives, won the title of best olive oil with its "citrusy" flavor and hint of pepper. It even impressed one Israeli taster who insisted that no supermarket oil could stand up to those of her home country.

2. Pompeian. Although its name implies Italy, the runner-up in our olive oil review is imported from a mix of countries. Its "bit of spiciness" and "taste of olives" appealed even to those who disliked the sharpness of the aftertaste.

3. Colavita. The olives for this oil come exclusively from Italy and produce a taste our panelists described as "smooth," "tangy," and "very clean." The flavor is "neutral" and "not too sharp," according to the testers, some of whom considered this a detriment. They found the oil boring compared with other, more strongly flavored oils.

4. Trader Joe's President's Reserve. While two testers had strong adverse reactions to the taste, some liked the "strong olive flavor" of this Italian import. The "acrid" aftertaste is what put them off.

5. Bertolli. This "balanced" and mild olive oil, made from olives imported from four countries, elicited no delight from our tasters, although they commented it would be "easy to use."

Be sure to read the rest of the article at website:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Twelve Herbs of Christmas

I was going through some old emails and ran across this one. 

News From the Homestead:

The Twelve Herbs of Christmas

Post image for News From the Homestead: The Twelve Herbs of Christmas
by Ann on December 19, 2011
At this time of year the shortening days and cooler temperatures make make an end to our year of gardening. Although not much is happening in our gardens, they can still be part of the fun. In the spirit of the holidays, I have created my own lyrics to “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” For each day in the song, I have inserted herbs that have traditionally been associated with Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Here’s a quick rundown followed by the lyrics:

Gold Lady’s Bedstraw -Lady’s bedstraw was one of the Manger Herbs. Tradition states that before the birth of Jesus, the bedstraw flowers bloomed white. After the birth in the manger the abundant bedstraw in the barn was used by Joseph and Mary to create a soft, sweet bed for the baby Jesus. Ever after the herb’s blossoms turned to gold in honor of the royal birth.

To read the rest of the article check out website:

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Happy Winter Holidays or whatever you celebrate!  Have a wonderful season! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

We had our annual Christmas party and luncheon today. As usual Barb McSpadden provided a beautiful home and setting for our pot luck dishes. And if you didn't know, apparently everyone in our group is an excellent cook. We had some great food.

The biggest treat of all was the good fun and laughter we shared. We played that Wright game for the gifts, its a lot of fun and sometimes doesn't come out quite right, but never mind, no one was left out.

We had a tour of Barb's wonderful gardens, to me they are a wonder. I can't grow much out here with our salty water, leaf cutter ants and gophers.  This year the gophers managed to eat the roots to my orchid tree.  That was the major damage, there was much more of the minor kind.

When I checked my email I had the Aggie Horticulture update newsletter and there are some links in it I would like to share with you.

First: Christmas Cactus by Cynthia W. Mueller, Master Gardener, Galveston County
 The Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesi) is a favorite holiday season house plant, but one which needs careful attention to details if it is to live and flower again the next year. It is closely related to Easter Cactus (Schlumbergera gaertneri) and Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncatus), all with fleshy, flattened, segmented joints and showy flowers ranging in color from white through pink, red and purple. These are cacti which in nature live in the crotches of jungle trees, and benefit from light, porous soil mixed with leafmold and sand.
For the rest of the article be sure to click the link above.

Second: Possum-haw Holly (Ilex decidua)
Dr. William C. Welch, Professor & Landscape Horticulturist
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
 Each year in November and December, there is a flurry of interest by consumers, customers, and gardeners in what they call the 'yaupon-like plant without any leaves'. Ilex decidua attracts so much attention because of its spectacular and unique presentation of red, orange, and yellow fruit, which appear when the foliage drops in November or early December. The colorful berries usually remain all winter unless they are removed by the cedar waxwing or one of the other nine species of birds known to feed on the fruit. Possum-haw hollies are useful in the landscape as large shrubs or small trees, and may occur with single or multiple trunks. Female plants are preferred, since male selections are fruitless and provide little ornamental value.   Click above to read the rest.
Third: Dill, or Dillweed (Anethum graveolens) by Liz Ball, for the National Garden Bureau
 Dill (Anethum graveolens), a member of the carrot family, has been a favorite culinary herb for centuries, valued both for its flavorful foliage and pungent seeds. The name "dill" comes from an old Norse word, "dilla," which means "to lull," this plant having been frequently prescribed as a tea to treat insomnia and digestive problems. Dill is a delightful herb with many culinary uses. Native to southern Europe, it is a staple in Greek cooking. It is common in Scandinavian and German food as well. Fresh or dried, dill leaves add a distinctive flavor to salads, fish, vegetable casseroles and soups. Used whole or ground, dill seeds add zest to breads, cheeses, and salad dressings. The seeds are the best way to use dill in dishes that require cooking over a long time. Of course, dill is best known as a pickling herb for cucumbers, and also green beans, carrots and beets. Again, click the link for the rest of the article.
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