First Sign of Spring – Pussy Willows

One of the first signs of is Pussy Willows.(Salix discolor). I remember my Dad going out to the field to pick them up every year at this time. He never told me where his secret willows were and now that he has passed away, I’ll have to go on my own search for one. Pussy Willows are Native to  Canada and United States.  They grow in low-lying wet areas.  there are about 40 different species.Pussy Willow will grow to be about 20 feet tall and can spread about 20 feet.  They will need to be pruned, which is best done in late winter. They are fast growers and with ideal conditions can live up to 40 years.

According to Wikipedia, in popular fiction book Pussy Willow, a children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown (1951), tells the story of a gray “pussycat not much bigger than a pussy willow,” who names himself Pussy Willow after the catkins he finds around him in Spring.[2] When the catkins disappear with the passing of the season, he goes in search of them, asking each different kind of animal he encounters where he might find them. The animals all answer from their own perspective. Up in the air, says the butterfly; under a leaf, says the squirrel. Pussy Willow finally finds them a year later when Spring comes around again.In the book, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, the character Imogene Herdman argues with a girl named Alice over which of them will play the Virgin Mary in their school’s upcoming Christmas Pageant. Imogene threatens to stick a pussy willow down Alice’s ear where no one would be able to reach it. She said “And it’ll sit there and grow and grow and grow. So for the rest of your life, there’ll be a pussy willow bush growing out of your ear.”

Pussy Willows are wonderful to dry and include in arrangements throughout the year.  I think instead of trudging through the wet woods I’ll go and buy a pussy and put in my back yard to enjoy year after year.

Bunch of Pussy Willows 

Make it a Stew Sunday with Bay Laurel

It’s a rainy day(sometimes freezing), on days like this, it’s good to curl up with a good book or a good movie.  But what to cook for Sunday supper?  My favorite on days like this is stew.  Stew easy to put together and it fills your house with memories of childhood. My favourite is Jamie Oliver’s Steak, Guinness, and cheese pie with a puff pastry lid (recipe here). It calls for fresh rosemary, you can pick it up in the produce section of any supermarket. I like adding a bay leaf while it’s in the oven, it gives the stew more depth.  Which brings me to the topic of today’s blog, Bay Leaves. The Bay Laural Tree(Laurus nobilisan) is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region The laurel can vary greatly in size and height, sometimes reaching 7–18 (metres 23–59 ft) tall. (Wikipedia). Can you grow it inside during winter? Yes, you can.   Make sure you have a bright, even sometimes direct sun(east, west, south, window).  Make sure from about November to March you don’t water it a lot.  Most plants need what I call a time to sleep.  A rest between growing, most plants in their natural surroundings need a time of rest.  Make sure you do not give any fertilizer during this time, you don’t want it to grow.  Whenever you are pinching out (means trimming)  to make a fuller tree, save the leaves and dry (Click here for full instructions)them away from any heat or the sun.  Either lay them on paper towels or hang the branch you cut.  Make sure they are fully dry before storing them in a container (picture below)

         

I have had about 4 plants over the time I have been growing herbs(latest picture above). Yes, I know it doesn’t look great, most of the time they have died because I forgot about them during winter(like this time) or in the heat of the summer.  When you grow them make sure the pot is big enough and transplant starts to get root bound. They are not hard to grow and the rewards will have your food tasting great. I will start another one in the spring time, fingers crossed!

What to Grow in the Winter

Some people might think gardeners have an offseason.  Some may, but not the Goddess.  I have found ways to keep up with gardening by trying to grow different things in the winter months.  The last few years my curiosity has gone to Fruit trees.  If anyone has seen the movie Red(stands for Retired Extremely Dangerous), it stars Bruce Willis as a retired agent.  He starts a phone relationship with Sarah Ross a worker at the General Services Administration’s Pension Office played by Mary-Lousie Parker, please check it out, it has a sequel, best movie.  Anyways to get back to the point. In one the scenes, they are talking on the phone and you see Bruce’s character has started to grow an avocado tree from seed.  Yes, that got me thinking.  I started to researched how to grow an avocado tree.(click here for instructions). It can take 3 to 7 years for a tree to produce fruit, some might never. I have started two and they are in the third year, I am hoping I will have fruit this year. So in the interest of this blog, I have decided to start another and give weekly updates. The Goddess in me knows mine will produce fruit, before seven years.  When I went to started it (picture above) the first one I split in half.  I had to go outside and dumpster dive for the other avocado, then I realized I had just thrown it out and it was inside the house in the garbage.  The lengths I will go to for this blog. Back to growing the avocado.  As in the picture above put 2 to 3 toothpicks, in my case I used bamboo skewers(probably why it split) have them slightly down;  Make sure you have the root part facing down. The seed is not as hard as you might think. Place in a glass filled with water, making sure the water covers the bottom half.  Place in a bright but not direct sun location. And now we wait…

What to do in Gloomy Feburary

Well, it’s February 2, and Wiarton Willie has predicted an early spring.  That should lighten the gloomiest month of the year.  Shouldn’t it?  What is the percentage he has been right?  According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, The groundhog is only right about 37% of the time.  But, what they get wrong, they do bring some laughter and celebration during the winter months.   At this time every year, my mother and I have a tradition of visiting our local greenhouse to get some springtime inspiration. What I call my Happy Place…a gardening centre, usually Vermeer’s or Rice Road Greenhouses.  When I walk around the feeling of spring and summer come back.  I get excited looking at the new garden items that will be out and as I said before seeds are available.  This is the first time each year I get thinking about my gardens for the summer. I always pick up hyacinths (purple they have the most scent) because once they open your whole house smells like spring.  When I was young my mother had white hyacinths on the south side of the house and I would always pick them and bring them to her.  Little did I know she would be upset because she wanted them left outside so everyone could see them.  Whenever I smell the white ones, they always bring me back to that time.