Herbs for Cooking

With vegetable garden well established, now is a good time to consider adding some herbs to flavor those dishes!

Herbs can make a familiar dish new or lift an ordinary entrée to gourmet status. Their subtle magic transforms soups, stews, salads, bread, and even desserts. With a bouquet of herbs or a scattering of herb flowers as a garnish, your food will look as wonderful as it tastes.

basil Basil – It’s warm, heady flavor lends itself to Italian or Mediterranean cooking, especially tomato dishes or with eggs, cheese or salads. Special tips: Pesto Sauce: blend 2 c. of fresh basil, ¼ c. of parmesan, ½ c. of olive oil, 3 tbs. of pine nuts or walnuts and 3 cloves of garlic minced. Use on pasta and vegetables.
chives Chives – The subtle onion flavor of chives is perfect in omelets, salads, soups, or on potatoes and other vegetables. Special tips: Get rid of onion odor by chewing on a fresh parsley sprig.
dill Dill – Used for pickling, dill is also wonderful in salads, sauces, soups or bread on vegetables and fish. Special tips: Try pickling green beans, carrots, new potatoes or peppers with a bit of dill.
lavender150 Lavender – The addition of culinary grade lavender in tiny amounts can jazz up dishes as diverse as grilled pork chops, to scones, cakes, and even candy.
margoram150 Marjoram – Like oregano but sweeter, this flavor is perfect in Mediterranean dishes, meats, and vegetables.
mint150 Mint – The flavor of mint is refreshing, cool and sweet, especially good in iced drinks and teas, with lamb or in salad dressings. Special tips: Minty sun tea: Put 8 tea bags, ½ c. of fresh mint leaves and 1 gal. of water in clear glass jar. Set in a sunny spot for several hours. Serve over ice. Plant mint only in a container. it can take over a garden bed if planted in the ground.
parsley150 Parsley – For a clean sharp and peppery taste, add to vegetables and salads as a garnish. Include in sauces, soups, stews, and stuffing. Special tips: Parsley is high in Vitamins A, C, and B.
rosemary150 Rosemary – The flavor of rosemary is bold and piney. Use it in pickles, jams, preserves, and sauces, as well as meats and soups. Special tips: Use a branch of rosemary as a basting brush at your next barbeque, or put some on the coals for a great aroma.
sage150 Sage – Warm, slightly bitter, this flavor is a must for turkey stuffing, as well as pork, duck and sausage seasoning. Special tips: Dried sage leaves are used as a substitute for coffee or tea.
tarragon150 Tarragon – A spicy, sharp flavor with licorice and mint overtones, tarragon lends itself to French cooking, egg dishes, fish, and salad dressing. Special tips: Tarragon vinegar: Pour a qt. of cold vinegar over ½ c. fresh tarragon leaves, cap and store for 4 weeks.

 

 

Bonus Dollars

Bonus Dollar Season Opens August 1!

Bring out the Bonus Dollars you have been saving.

August is the month to redeem them. Bonus Dollars are distributed April 1 through May 31.

You earn 10% of your total purchases and are paid in Alden Lane Nursery Bonus Dollars. These Bonus Dollars are redeemable August 1-31

They are to be used for up to 50% of your purchases in August.
For example: if you have 10 Bonus Dollars you may use all 10 on a purchase of $20 or more.

(Bonus Dollars are not valid with other discounts or coupons. Bonus Dollars are not valid on sod, sale items or other special orders. Sales limited to stock on hand. Not redeemable for cash.)

Blooming this Week

This week in the nursery we settle into a peaceful and quiet time after an eventful week with Art Under the Oaks. The nursery is full of bright summer party colors and heat loving bloomers.  Crape myrtles are lined up in neat rows and spilling into the aisles with lovely color.   The following are pictures snapped this week. Come in and enjoy these beauties first hand.

Hybrid Hibiscus
Mounding Mandevilla
Canna Lily
Dynamite Crape Myrtle
Dynamite Crape Myrtle
Pink Bower Vine
Pink Bower Vine
Picotee Begonia
Picotee Begonia
Begonia
Begonia

Plant a Second Crop of Sunflowers

Many sunflowers planted this past spring have already sprung, their flowers are fading, and seed heads are forming.

Thanks to our mild California climate we can enjoy a bumper crop and second harvest by planting sunflowers a second time. Planting sunflowers from seed now will give an abundant crop of bouquet-ready blossoms for the fall table.

The best varieties for fall harvest are generally the shorter ones and the multi-branching ones. “Autumn Beauty” is a moderate grower with multi-branched habit and a color perfectly suitable for the season.

Sunflowers are easy to grow in any soil. Water to establish and expect blooms in six to eight weeks.

We Can Host your Birthday Party!

IMG_8048Through October 2017!
Did you know we host Birthday Parties for children 2 to 10 years old at Alden Lane? What could be more memorable and enchanting a venue than our Ancient Alden Forest to go on a Fairy or Pirate Adventure! How about our new Ladybug Lane or Grasshopper Garden Party?

Alden Lane will host a 2-hour party complete with hidden secret Fairy Houses, a bug expedition, or a treasure hunt for lost Pirate Booty throughout our magical gardens, where you will be led to the Enchanted Oak – a very special private party venue held in the shade of this mighty tree. Here you will find a decorated space complete with the birthday party table with goodie bags, a special throne and decorated arch for the birthday child, and table and chairs for the adults. But we are not done yet!

Alden Lane Staff provides fun “food craft” stations where the kids will decorate cookies, make “ants on a log” and yummy “acorns” from pastry, or fancy candy “crabs”. Each party follows a theme with decorations, food crafts and make and take artistic creations. Included in our package is face painting, and a “Fairy Godmother” to oversee all your party details.

All this . . . and we clean up, too! Take away the stress of party planning and hosting and what do you have? A relaxing time with your loved ones and friends, and being part of a memorable birthday experience. Call Sue or Cyndee (925) 447-0280, or email sue@aldenlane for details.

We have Secret Fairy, Pirate Adventure, Grasshopper Garden Party and Ladybug Lane themed parties available.

Birthdays may be scheduled Through October 2017.

Move Houseplants Outdoors for Summer

house-plantsSummertime R & R is beneficial not just for the humans, houseplants and orchids revel in a little outdoor vacation of their own.

In summer and even into fall conditions are perfect for moving some of your houseplants onto the porch or into an area where they get shade and shelter from the sun and strong drying winds.

Even in the shade, outdoor light gives your houseplants and especially your indoor orchids, an extra shot of light to refresh them and give them extra energy for the winter ahead.

Remember, outdoors the plants will need a bit more regular watering as they will dry out quickly. When it comes time to bring them indoors, check them over carefully so you don’t transfer unwanted pests inside.

Penstemons

Penstemons are easy to care for and beautiful and water-wise. A North American native; these living jewels thrive in the arid west tolerating poor soil… as long as it drains well. Amending our heavy clay soil with Gold Rush is an easy fix. Consider adding this showy perennial to your garden this summer.

Penstemons are perfectly sized for a bed or a border at about 30″ x 30″. The flowers look a bit like foxglove, tubular in shape, running the length of the stem. The colors are rich and vibrant, some with white throats. Color options range from pale pink to red, purple and lavender and from soft pastels to near true-blues. We even have California native varieties.

Care is easy. If you tend to neglect to fertilize and keep your watering on the dry side penstemons will be a welcome garden addition. Removal of spent flower stems ensures continuous bloom early summer through fall. Most Penstemons are evergreen and prefer full sun.

A fun fact from the American Horticulture Society: “Beautiful and clever, penstemon can regulate nectar flow on demand, nectar flow increases when regularly visited by hummingbirds.”

Cooling Water Feature

Our Latest shipment of water plants has arrived, and we also have a beautiful assortment of stone, ceramic and concrete water features. Add the cooling effect of a pond or water feature.

Add water for a psychologically cooling effect.

Recirculating water features fit well into a landscape even if you are conserving water. Recirculating water means a fountain uses surprisingly little water, but the pay off in comfort and beauty can be big. The sight and sound of water calm the spirit and cools the view.

Water Plants have arrived

Come see our water plants, we have a nice assortment including floaters as well as bog/marginal plants and also submerged plants. We even have a California native stream orchid!

Statuary Maintenance

June 13, 2006 087Now is a great time to renew your investment in your statuary and fountain collection. Just like your car, routine maintenance is the most important part of enjoying a fountain year round.

Clean out the filter on your pump and do so at least once a month or every two weeks. Don’t know where your pump is? Now’s the time to find out!

Drain or siphon out the water in your fountain or birdbath every two weeks. This will help with mosquito abatement too. Wash with mild soap and water and refill with fresh, clean water. Don’t use abrasive cleaners, brushes, or bleach or you could damage the finish. Never run your fountain without the submersible pump being completely under water so you may need to top off every day if it’s hot or windy.

Having algae problems? In addition to  cleaning, try a few drops of Physan. It’s safe for birds. Always read directions on the label.

Check for damage on your GFI outlet for your fountain and make sure you’re not using extension cords to plug your fountain in (this will prevent fires due to differences in electrical surges).

Remember, statuary is concrete that is made from natural products including sand and rocks. Your statuary will age and wear. This adds a natural beauty and life to the piece and is not considered detrimental to the value. Hairline cracks often develop and patinas form with natural stains, mineral buildup, and wear.

If you would like to reduce, or postpone this aging, cover and empty your statuary of water in the winter to protect from rain and frost and annually seal with a clear masonry sealer. Otherwise, enjoy the  individualized antiquing of your cherished statuary pieces year round.

Add a new statuary piece to your  collection and photograph it through the seasons documenting the effects of time and nature. Celebrate aging! It really is beautiful.

Protect your Japanese Maples

maple-coral

The fact is the climate of Japan is more closely like that of Portland Oregon than our much sunnier and warmer Valley. As a result, your Japanese Maples may suffer from heat stress until they get acclimated to our Valley conditions. Fortunately, there are quick, simple and inexpensive ways to protect your Japanese Maples while they acclimate.

Most Japanese maples in our climate do best if located in a spot that receives afternoon shade and wind protection. The morning sun side of a house is usually ideal.

Feed Japanese Maples with Dyna-Gro Protect to improve heat tolerance.

Also, place a layer of mulch under your tree to insulate the soil – just be sure to keep the mulch 3” to 4″ away from the trunk to prevent crown rot.

cloudcoverAnd you can simulate Oregon’s more northern summer sky and cloudy conditions with a simple spray product called Cloud Cover®. Cloud Cover is completely transparent and will not cloud or cover up the colorful beauty of your Japanese Maples. It merely reduces evaporation through the leaf tissues.

 

Cloud Cover protects your trees from our hot, dry and sometimes windy summers like an invisible umbrella and each application lasts an entire month. But the time to apply it is now before your beautiful Japanese Maples show the crispy leaf edges and other signs of heat stress. Alden Lane recommends you apply Cloud Cover® during the summer months starting as weather warms in June and monthly thereafter.