2008 Newsletter Archive

Newsletter 3

Newsletter 3 – March 20, 2008      Recipe     Events

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” Victor Hugo

Spring, Glorious Spring

Even though we have snow predicted again this week, everyone at America’s Best Flowers is working hard to be sure everything is ready for you when the weather finally breaks.  Our best guess for this is the weekend of April 12, when we will reopen for the season with our special Sneak Peak Weekend.  Watch the April 3 newsletter for more information.

While it’s still too early for most outside gardening activities, there are ways to use all that gardening energy you’ve built up during this extremely long winter. Start by removing debris, such as the zillion sticks and twigs the winter wind blew from the trees. We’ve had a few phone calls asking if it’s time to remove winter protection from trees, shrubs and perennials.  There are a lot of hungry rabbits everywhere, so wait a couple of weeks until they have some dandelions and clover for them to eat before uncovering your plants.  March is a good time to cut back your ornamental grasses before the stems start to decompose. This time of year care should be taken when stepping in your beds.  While the soil is thawing, weight can compact it, collapsing the naturally occurring air pockets in the soil.  This type of damage to the soil is hard to repair.

Keep a close eye out while you’re doing these early spring tasks.  The swollen buds on the maple trees, the greening of grass in protected areas, a tough-as-nails dandelion blooming against the south side of the house, and bulbs beginning to push their way through the soil are all proof that spring is near.

Did you hear the one about the Easter Bunny who sat on a bee?

It’s a tender tail.

Bird Watch

When your grandchildren are old, weathermen will still be talking about the Wisconsin winter of 2008.  More snow than we knew could fall is still melting.  But spring is almost here, just this morning the robin told me so.  I also saw a duck taking a swim in a nearby creek.  Sandhill cranes and red-winged blackbirds have been spotted by others here at ABF.  If you have seen other spring birds, please email us.  I will mention them in upcoming newsletters.

What do you call rabbits that marched in a long, sweltering Easter parade?

Hot, cross bunnies

Easter Traditions

Like many of our holidays, Easter has many faces.  From chocolate Easter bunnies to sunrise church services, from new Easter bonnets to white shiny shoes, from soft yellow chicks to dinner at Grandma’s, everyone has memories of Easter.  Perhaps the most common one is an Easter basket filled with colorful Easter eggs at the end of the hunt.  Whether you think Easter eggs are left by the Easter bunny, or the solemn symbol of the Resurrection, the tradition of Easter eggs has deep roots. For more information visit www.easterbunnys.net.

What do you get when you cross a bunny with an onion?

A Bunion!

Natural Easter Egg Dyes

Who doesn’t remember the little colored pills that, dissolved in water, turn the white shell of boiled eggs into bright spring colors.  While these are still available, you do have more natural choices for coloring your Easter eggs.  There are two ways to use natural materials to dye eggs.  You can boil the dye material and the eggs at the same time, or you can dye the eggs after they have been hardboiled.  Either way works.  Below are directions for boiling them together.

1.           Place eggs in the bottom of a large pan.  Be sure they are in a single layer, and not too cramped for space.  It is important that the water be able to surround each egg.  Cover with water.

2.           Add 1-2 tsp vinegar.  Omit this if using onion skins.

3.           Add the natural dye.  The amount varies depending on quantity of eggs and how dark you want them to be.  Suggested amounts are 1 cup berries, 2 T turmeric, and 2 cups of packed onion skins.

4.           Bring the water to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes

5.           If you like the color, remove eggs from water and put on a wire rack placed over paper towels.  If you want darker eggs, remove eggs, strain liquid, and put eggs back into the water.  Refrigerate overnight.  Remove carefully (the vinegar may weaken shell) and allow to dry on rack.

For red or pink eggs, try beets, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, or red grape juice.  For yellow eggs, turmeric works great.  You can also use lemon peels, carrot tops, celery seed or ground cumin.  For blue eggs, boil red cabbage leaves about 30 minutes.  Strain. Place hardboiled eggs in water. Crushed blueberries also work, using the “boil together” technique.  Shades of purple can be achieved by adding grape juice to the pot.  And green will come from boiling spinach leaves with your eggs.  Fresh or frozen vegetables and fruit work much better than canned, which produces lighter colored eggs.  If you want beige/brown eggs, try coffee grounds or brown onion skins.

Why did the magician have to cancel his show?

He’d just washed his hare and couldn’t do a thing with it.


America’s Best Flowers will REOPEN April 12, 2008.  Our SNEAK PEEK weekend, April 12 & 13, will be a special opportunity for our Loyalty Customers.  Watch future newsletters for more information.

April 25 – 27 is our annual Spring Open House.  In celebration of Earth/Arbor Day, we will be giving away FREE Black Hills Spruce seedlings with a purchase.  Saturday, April 26 at 10 AM we will feature FREE kid’s activities.  FREE hot dogs and popcorn will be served all weekend.

Other spring events will include several of our wonderful Container Workshops.  The first one is scheduled for May 3 – 4 from 10 – 4 pm.  Receive FREE soil and assistance & we’ll clean up the mess.

Sunday, May 4 is our annual “SALSA SUNDAY,” when we celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Latin music, free samples of chips and salsa from 11-2. Plant a salsa container at our workshop. Enter our salsa recipe contest and win a $50 gift certificate for the best salsa recipe. We’ll even have FREE salsa recipes for you to take home.

Special Mother’s Day activities, Tomato Days  and FREE classes on vegetables, herbs and perennial gardening will continue throughout the season, along with our Make and Take Workshops and children’s activities.

As the year progresses we promise you many more exciting surprises, including our July 4th Celebration, when we have FREE ice cream for everyone.

Our goal is to hold events that are interesting and helpful to our customers. If you have ideas for events, please let us know.  You can email us at ed@americasbestflowers.com or call 608-222-2269.

What would you get if you crossed the Easter Bunny with Chinese food?

Hop Suey!!


Chocolate Easter Nests

Perhaps you remember these from your childhood. Beautiful, easy, and oh, so festive! Recipe from Soupcon II, from the Chicago Junior League. Makes 20 nests

1 bar (9 ¾ oz.) milk chocolate

1 pkg. (4 oz.) sweet baking chocolate

1 pkg. (4 oz.) shredded coconut

2 cups cornflakes, crushed

Jelly beans

Melt milk chocolate and baking chocolate in top of a double boiler. Stir in coconut and cornflakes. Spoon onto waxed paper and form into nest shapes. Cool. Fill with jelly beans.

Mixed Baby Greens with Asparagus and Oranges

We ran this recipe last year, and had many positive comments. It really DOES make an elegant Easter dish.  It comes from Madison Junior League’s cookbook, Mad About You.

Serve this springtime dish with baked ham, muffins, or hot-cross buns and deviled eggs, and you’ve got a simple and delicious Easter brunch that will please your guests.  Don’t’ forget the plate of chocolate nests!  Serves 8


2/3 cup regular or low fat mayonnaise

½ cup buttermilk

2 T chopped fresh basil

2 T chopped fresh tarragon

2 T extra virgin olive oil

2 T white wine vinegar

Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Chill until cold.


24 spears fresh asparagus

4 oranges

8 cups (20 oz.) mixed baby greens

1 T chopped fresh basil

1 T chopped fresh tarragon

½ cup thinly sliced red onion

Cook asparagus in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain.

Cut peel and pith from oranges. Using a small knife, cut between membrane to release segments. Arrange orange segments in sunburst pattern on large platter. Place orange segments between asparagus spears. Mound greens in center of platter. Sprinkle salad with tarragon and basil. Top with red onion slices. Drizzle dressing over the salad. Pass remaining dressing.

I had spent the late winter months waiting impatiently for signs of spring.  When the first, warm, sunny Saturday arrived, I eagerly unlocked the storm door and stepped onto our patio deck.  I was pleased by the sight of green sprouts and the sounds of singing birds.  More than anything else, I delighted in the sweet aroma of the spring air.

Knocking on the kitchen window, I beckoned to my wife to join me in enjoying the pleasures of the season.  She quietly brought me back to earth when she reminded me that I was standing over the dryer vent, inhaling the scent of fabric softener.

Contributed to Reader’s Digest by George G. Busher



May the Holy Spirit Guide You!  God Bless
Edward Knapton says Keep on Smiling!
President Berry Hill Farms, Inc.
DBA Americas Best Flowers Garden Center
4311 Vilas Hope Road
Cottage Grove, WI 53527
608-222-2269 Fax 608-222-1234 Cell 608-698-5627
https://www.americasbestflowers.com/home.htmlAlso President of The Commercial Flower Growers of Wisconsin  http://www.cfgw.org/ an Organization that is a division of the six group Wisconsin Green Industry Federation (WGIF) a 3 Billion dollar industry with over 4700 businesses and over 43,000 employees in Wisconsin
Senator Representing Wisconsin members of the American Nursery and Landscape Association – ANLA
Also Board member of Garden’s Beautiful Garden Centers
Also member of legislative of Committee of WGIF
Also Board Member of (WGIF) Wisconsin Green Industry Federation


Carol and Ed Knapton, owners of Americas's Best Flowers You’ll Love Your Garden … It’s Our Promise! May the Holy Spirit Guide You! God Bless
Edward Knapton says Keep on Smiling!
Sec – Treasurer Berry Hill Farms, Inc.
DBA Americas Best Flowers Garden Center
4311 Vilas Hope Road
Cottage Grove, WI 53527
608-222-2269 Fax 608-222-1234 Cell 608-698-5627