Day of Independence

Newsletter 20 – Thursday, June 27, 2013

Updated Hours

Starting July 1st

Monday – Friday

Saturday – Sunday

Perennial of the Week – Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’

Penstemon 'Husker's Red'
Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’
Click for Larger Image

The Penstemon Husker’s Red has an attractive upright growth of glossy, red-tinged leaves.  And its small white flowers provide such a lovely contrast.  This sturdy perennial likes full sun and will bloom from late spring to fall.  Both butterflies and hummingbirds are very attracted to this perennial. 

As always the featured perennial of the week is twenty percent off while supplies last!

What did one flag say to the other flag?
Nothing. It just waved!

Music in our Garden!

Decorative Musical Notes

Join us this Saturday, June 29, from 1-5 pm, for our first ever Music in the Garden event.  America’s Best Flowers is providing a garden setting for the young (and, possibly not so young?) talent in the area!  The stage is open for singing and/or playing music.  Grab your guitar, saxophone, drums, etc. and join us for a fun afternoon.  If your voice is your instrument, bring your recorded music and sing us a few tunes!

This summer perform at America’s Best Flowers Garden Center and next summer?  Well, who knows Madison Square Garden perhaps?  This could be just a warm up for ‘The Voice’ or ‘American Idol’…one just never knows!

Please keep in mind that we do not provide instruments or a microphone.  The ‘performers’ will need to bring their own equipment.  Electricity and extension cords will be available for electrical instruments and speakers.

Please be aware that because this is an open event we are not sure of the response we will have.  There may be only one person performing or possibly ten performing.  And performers can play anytime between 1-5 pm.  Kind of exciting isn’t it?   

In the event of inclement weather this event will be cancelled.  But don’t worry we have a second Music in the Garden event scheduled on Saturday, July 27.

If you know of any groups or solo artists in the area that sing and/or play musical instruments tell them to come on out and perform at America’s Best Flowers this coming Saturday!  

What would you get if you crossed George Washington with cattle feed?
The Fodder of Our Country!

America’s Best Flowers is having a Flea Market!

Clean out your garage, basement, and cupboards and bring your treasures out to our Flea Market on Saturday, July 13, from 9am-4pm.  To participate we require a non-refundable registration fee of $20.00.  After you arrive and have your space set up on that morning, America’s Best Flowers will present you with a $20.00 America’s Best Flowers gift card.  Each vendor will be allowed two parking spaces, which equals one booth, to display their wares.   

More vendor space is available for an additional $10.00 for each parking space.   Additional space must be requested at the time of the initial registration.  Each vendor is limited to only one $20.00 America’s Best Flowers gift card regardless of the number of parking spaces.

Rain or shine! Set up time is at 7am and the starting bell is at 9am.  This event will end at 4pm.  Vendors will need to bring their own furnishings, tables, awnings, chairs, etc..

For safety purposes all vendor vehicles must be parked in a separate area and will not be allowed in the market area until after 4pm.  Space is limited.  Don’t wait to register! 

To register please send a check to America’s Best Flowers for the number of booths you would like to reserve.  In the memo section of your check please put ‘Flea Market”.  For clarity include a short note stating how many booths you are registering for, a telephone number and/or email address for contact purposes.

There are a few restrictions on what may be brought to the flea market at our greenhouse.  They are as follows:

  • No firearms or ammunition,
  • No live animals,
  • No flowers and/or plants,
  • No alcohol or tobacco is allowed on America’s Best Flowers’ property.

Remember, one man’s (or woman’s) junk is another man’s (or woman’s) treasure.

If you are interested in joining us contact Shirley at or call the greenhouse at 608-222-2269. 

Did you hear the one about the Liberty Bell?
Yeah, it cracked me up!

Rain, Rain Go Away

By Bev Wilson

Wouldn’t it be great if only it would obey!   Continual rainy weather changes the care you need to give your potted containers and hanging baskets.   While in a typical year you need to water almost daily, this year you need to regularly drain the excess water that accumulates in the trays and saucers of your containers.  For hanging baskets, lift them down and tip them on their side for a few minutes.  This will allow water that has accumulated in the bottom of the basket to drain.  For containers that are in saucers, lift the pot out and empty the saucer.  Allow to drain for a few minutes before putting back in the saucer.

In addition to saving your plants from drowning, it’s very important to fertilize them regularly.  The constant flow of rain water through your pots is leaching nutrients from the soil.  That combined with the fact that you haven’t needed to water them using fertilizer water, is creating a pretty bleak diet for your plants.  To combat this, mix some liquid fertilizer a bit stronger than normal and carefully pour small amounts onto the wet soil, avoiding direct contact with the leaves, or you can add Osmocote time-released fertilizer to the top of your soil.  If you haven’t fed in a while, you might want to do both. The liquid fertilizer is absorbed quickly while the Osmocote dissolves slowly over time.  Even if you can still see the Osmocote you applied earlier, the rain will have leached the nutrients from it, so it is time to add more.

The heavy rain is especially hard on petunia and calibrachoa baskets.  These heavy feeders need a fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants, like Miracid.  If their leaves are turning yellow, try to get them out of the rain for a couple of days and then water thoroughly with a full-strength solution.  Repeat at least once a week until they’ve greened up again. 

Happy 50th Anniversary to the Sun Prairie Garden Club!
Join the Sun Prairie Garden Club as they celebrate their 50th anniversary at America’s Best Flowers on Monday, July 8.  Light refreshments will be served at 5:30 with a Miniature Garden demonstration following at 6:00.  This is a good opportunity to discover the benefits of joining a garden club, as well as how to create a fun garden in a container.   

Send Al your gardening questions!

America’s Best Flowers wants to help you succeed in your gardening efforts. If you have gardening questions send an email to Al Lunde, at Al will get back to you promptly.

Lucy’s Story – Chapter 12

Just like you and me Lucy has her morning routine.  When she hears me running water in the tiniest room in the house (okay, okay, the bathroom) she’ll come stand at the door and wait.  She knows she’s next in line to get freshened up.

How in the world did this get started?  Well, I’ll tell ya.  It started 5 years ago after our garage sale.  Our dear friend Sue stopped over to see what kind of goodies we had for sale (at least that was her story.)  Hubby and I both knew Sue was there to see her BDFWWW…Best Dog Friend in the Whole Wide World.  It’s pretty obvious I don’t have a clue about the Twitter world, so forgive me if this is not twitter correct. 

Lucy, working her charm as the welcome wagon dog, would gently welcome and greet every garage sale customer.  She knew dog-gone-well she was irresistible.  Who in their right mind would pass up a chance to stop and pet her?  Are dogs, calculating…I can’t help but wonder? 

Sue had watched as person after person petted Lucy.  And being Lucy is Sue’s BDFWWW, well, Sue was concerned.  Sue mentioned that maybe it would be a good idea to wipe Lucy off with a wet cloth because of all the different people that had petted throughout the day.  Duh, good idea!  I never would have thought of doing that.  I can’t tell you how much Lucy enjoyed getting freshened up that day with that cool wet cloth.

Times have changed a bit.  Lucy is retired, so no more ‘long hard work days’ for her. Instead, after Lucy gets freshened up in the morning she can enjoy a leisurely day in her back yard.   

It really truly is a dog’s life!

`til next time,
    ~ Shirley

If any of you other dog people want to share a dog story send it to

Teacher: Johnny, what are the last words of “The Star-Spangled Banner?”
Johnny: “Play ball?”

Upcoming Events

Sat, Jun 29
Music in the Garden

High School talent featured at the greenhouse!

Sat, Jul 13
Flea Market

9am – 4pm – Rain or Shine

Sat, Jul 20
Contest for Kids

10am – 2pm – Bring your colored chalk & color our parking lot! A prize winner for each age group (2-5) (6-10) (11-15) A PAPA JIMMY’S $20.00 GIFT CARD for the Grand Prize winner.

Sat, Jul 27
Music in the Garden

Musical talent featured at the greenhouse!

Sat, Aug 10
Customer Appreciation Day
Sat, Aug 17
3rd Annual Dog Wash Fund Raiser for the Dane County Humane Society

11am – 3pm Bring your dirty dogs out to the garden.

Our Kitchen

That ‘old dog new tricks’ rule is just plain wrong.  This week the old dog, that would be me, learned, for the first time, one of the ways fruit was preserved for use throughout the winter in the days before electricity.  I’m including several links so you can have the fun of learning too.  It all began at break time on Monday, when Diane opened a large glass jar and started ladling dark red liquid into glasses for all to taste.  Diane has worked here at the greenhouse for many years, and has a reputation of bringing in delicious food concoctions of all types.   She loves to try new recipes, and knows this is a good group to test them on.

Her current test was for Red Raspberry Shrub.  I had a hard time getting around the name, picturing a raspberry patch, rather than the dark red, bubbly beverage she handed me, so I decided to go online to see what I could find.  After checking out definition, history, more history and recipes, I decided this is a wonderful topic for this week-before-July-Fourth column.  This brilliant dark red beverage would be beautiful served in tall, clear glasses.  Alcohol free when mixed with sparkling water, it also makes a delicious base for a more adult beverage. 

A rectangular cake decorated like the US flag
Your basic US flag cake

When I asked Diane what would be good to serve with this for the Fourth, she suggested the traditional red, white and blue cake. So online I went, only to find about ten thousand variations.  The most basic of which is a white cake mix baked in a 9 x 13 pan, frosted white and decorated with strawberries (or red raspberries) and blueberries to resemble the flag.

A cake whose interior is sectioned to look like a US flag
A slice of patriotism

One of the more complicated is one that looks like a flag when you cut into it. For an even more awesome effect, stir some white star-shaped sprinkles into the blue layer.

Hope you enjoy!

Red Raspberry Shrub

From Southern Living Magazine (May,1997) Be sure to read the recipe thoroughly. While very simple, it does take a few days of fermentation.
Red Raspberry Shrub

  • 2 (12-ounce) packages frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 (3-liter) bottle club soda, chilled

Combine raspberries and vinegar in a glass jar; cover and chill 2-3 days, stirring occasionally. 

Mash raspberry mixture; pour through a non-aluminum wire-mesh strainer into a heavy saucepan.  Stir in sugar.

Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.  Cool.  Combine raspberry mixture and club soda, stirring gently.  Serve chilled or over ice.

Yield: about 3 ½ quarts.

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