Newsletter 2 – Thursday, March 17, 2011

You’ll love your garden … It’s our promise!

15 Days and Counting!

April 1st is opening day at America’s Best Flowers and we can’t wait for you to walk through our doors.  The fresh sights and smells of growing plants will put you in the mood to think about gardening.

Gardening 2011 starts with Al leading a Veggie and Fruit Gardening workshop from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday, April 2.  This is a great opportunity for gardeners of all experience levels to get a jump on the season.  We will provide free soil for your seeding flats and a work space for you to plant the seeds of your choice.  We’ll even clean up the mess.  All you do is buy the flats and seed packets.  This year we have dedicated 40 feet of our new slat wall to seed racks, providing you with the greatest selection of seeds ever.

Our schedule has never been so packed with fun-filled activities for you and your family.  Please mark your calendars for our April events.  The very popular Herb Class with Mary Lynn Haugh will be Saturday morning, April 9 at 10 am.  Stop out the weekend of April 16 and 17 for our Open House featuring free hot dogs and popcorn.  And be sure to bring the children in your life to our annual Free Community Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 23.  Watch future newsletters for more information.

May your blessings out number
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.


The colors of spring surround,
Lime greens, yellows, pinks and blue,
Throughout the greenhouse can be found,
Holding the promise of the season just for you.

By Bev Wilson

For each petal on the shamrock
This brings a wish your way-
Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.

Naturally, It’s All for You

The term ‘green’ has taken on new meaning, especially in the catch phrases that fill the pages and mouths of current media.  Historically the term ‘green industry’ has been used to refer to those of us actively involved in the growing of plants.  Now the definition has broadened to include anyone with the slightest connection to preservation of our earth.  America’s Best Flowers has always been committed to growing in a way that has the least impact on the environment.  This year we are taking it a step farther, by returning to the most basic principles of natural plant production.  Our herbs and vegetable transplants will be grown in our own customized soil mix (which you can buy!) and fertilized with compost tea made right here in our greenhouse.  Everyone gets a little buggy now and then. But this year America’s Best may have gone a bit overboard.  We are actually buying a fresh shipment of good bugs (beneficial insects) every week.  To find out why, read on.

Beauty with the Help of a Bug or Two

By Tim Norman

When Ed and Carol Knapton gave me the opportunity to help them implement a beneficial insect bio-control program at their greenhouse operations, I was excited with the progressive changes that the owners and management of America’s Best Flowers were working towards.  These new ideas are for more natural products to give their customers more sustainable choices for their gardens that are kid safe and pet friendly.

To transition the garden center with these new changes, many new processes had to be put in place, such as establishing a population of beneficial insects that would naturally fight off the invasion of pest insects on vegetables, herbs and flowers.  As a biologist by training I found that this opportunity was a great chance for me to assist America’s Best Flowers in some very exciting biocontrol methods.

Before coming to work for Ed and Carol I had gained experience in biological control and native plant restoration while working for an ecological consulting firm that worked to rehabilitate natural resources throughout the Great Lakes region.  I have always had a love for gardening and plants since I was brought up in northern Michigan in a family that were avid gardeners of vegetables and flowers and also hobby naturalists and sportsmen.

I am very excited to help implement all these new changes that will have a direct benefit on all our customers with the help of all of the great staff here at America’s Best Flowers.  I look forward to talking with customers more about the new naturally grown program and answering any questions that you have about our methods and ideas.

-Tim Norman
Grower/Biocontrol Specialist at America’s Best Flowers

May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light,
May good luck pursue you each morning and night,

Join Our Team

America’s Best Flowers has a few select openings on our team for the 2011 gardening season.  Our friendly staff is a diverse group of interesting, knowledgeable and fun-loving individuals. If you have a background that includes basic plant knowledge, plant watering skills, and/or retail sales, we would love to hear from you.  An ideal candidate would be interested in returning on a seasonal basis for years to come.  We offer a beautiful, smoke-free work environment and a generous employee discount.  You may occasionally be lifting up to 40 pounds.  We do require our staff to work on weekends, including both Saturday and Sunday through May.  If you would like to be part of our special family, we ask that you call us at 222-2269 for a short telephone interview and to set up a time to come out and apply.  We look forward to hearing from you.

May your home always be too small to hold all your friends.

Upcoming Events

Fri, Apr 1
Opening Day
Sat, Apr 2
Workshop – Get a Jump on Spring

10-2PM Ongoing workshop. Buy your seed packets and seeding trays and we provide the soil.

Sat, Apr 9
Class – Herb Gardens

10AM Mari Lynn Haugh, of the Madison Herb Society walks you through planning and designing your herb garden.

Sat, Apr 16 – Sun, Apr 17
Open House

FREE hot dogs and popcorn. 11-3PM

Sat, Apr 23
Community Egg Hunt

Ongoing from 10am-2pm Rain or Shine! FREE candy. Children 6 and under. Bring your camera to take pictures with the Easter Bunny.

As you slide down the banister of life,
May the splinters never point in the wrong direction!

Bonnie’s Kitchen

This cake was brought in for St. Patrick’s last year by one of our staff. There were so many oohs and aahs that we decided right then and there it would be our recipe of the week this year. Hope you enjoy it.

Andes Grasshopper Cake

Andes Grasshopper Cake
  • 1 devils food cake mix
  • water
  • vegetable oil
  • eggs
  • 16 oz. non-dairy whipped topping
  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 pkg. (4.67 oz.) Andes Crème de Menthe Thins

Follow mixing instructions on the package of your favorite devils food cake mix. Bake as directed for two 8 or 9-inch layers. Cool cakes thoroughly before frosting (about 40 minutes).

Meanwhile, with a vegetable peeler shave along side of each mint lengthwise to equal about ½ cup of curls. (It’s common to shave only half the mint before it breaks.) Set aside curls for sprinkling on top of assembled cake. Chop broken pieces and reserve for use in frosting (about 1/3 cup).


In a large mixing bowl with mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth then lower the speed and slowly mix in the non-dairy whipped topping with the cream cheese. Fold the Andes Crème de Menthe pieces into the cream.

Place one cake layer on a serving plate; top with half the frosting and spread evenly. Place second layer on top and use remaining frosting to top the cake. Sprinkle top with Andes Mint curls. Cover and refrigerate cake if not serving right away.

May you always have:
Walls for the winds,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire,
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire!

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