Join us for food, fun and flowers!

Newsletter 11 – Thursday, April 25, 2013

Current Hours

Monday – Friday


Fun and excitement at the greenhouse this weekend!

Our first 2013 Container Workshop is this Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28, from 10 – 4 PM.   Bring your garden gloves with you because it’s a hands-on experience. If you forget your gloves we have a wide variety of reasonably priced gardening gloves to choose from.  Our knowledgeable and friendly associates will be happy to assist you while you do the planting and will help with any and all plant or design questions. 

Our workshop starts at 10 AM and is ongoing throughout the day till 4 PM.  Come in anytime between those hours.  After you have shopped for your plants, flowers and a container (if you didn’t bring one from home) pick your spot in our designated workshop area and let the fun begin!   

You are welcome to bring your own containers from home or purchase a few of our unique and gorgeous containers.  (We do ask that, if you are bringing in your containers from home, please empty all soil from them before bringing them into our greenhouse.)   We provide fresh and FREE potting soil for your creation and we also clean up the mess. 

If you are bringing in large containers please bring in packing peanuts, chunks of Styrofoam or Styrofoam egg cartons to help fill the bottom of your container.  It makes the container a whole lot lighter for you to transport back home and also, easier to rearrange in your garden if you want to change your outside decor.  

A few things you’ll need to know

In order to have a successful container garden there are some things you’ll need to know before you get here.  Such as, where are your containers going to be located; in the sun, in the shade or a little of both?  Different plants and flowers have different needs.  Do you want to just water them and watch them grow or are you okay with periodically removing the dead blooms from the flowers? It is this kind of information that will allow you to choose the right plant or flower for your situation.  Our container garden designers will be here to answer any and all of your questions.

Sometimes Life is Just Too Busy!

For those of you who would like to have a beautiful container of plants and flowers, but due to a busy schedule can’t participate in a workshop, we can help.  Our designers have created a wonderful variety of pre-made containers so you can just pick one out and grab and go!

Stress is when you wake up screaming & realize you haven’t fallen asleep yet!

Earth Day Celebrations

A tshirt with three handprints made to look like a tree
Let your creativity run wild!
Click for Larger Image

Hey, kids do you want to paint a T-shirt with your hands?  Our Educational Coordinator Deb Stevens, will show you how on Saturday, April 27th, from 10 AM – 2 PM.  Bring in your own T-shirt or buy one of ours for $4.00.   Deb will show you how to magically grow bean seeds without soil.  And, we’re saving the best for last, kids.  You can make seed balls which is a Native American tradition, using terra cotta clay and cow poop!  You’ll make seed balls with Marigold seeds.  And don’t worry, parents, the clay and cow stuff will be in a plastic zip lock bag.  The kids will not be touching it.

We support our troops

the logo of Boy Scouts of America

If you get hungry on Saturday stop on out and support the fundraising efforts of the Cottage Grove Boy Scout Troop 210.  Baked goods and coffee will be ready for you at 9:30 AM.  Can’t make it until lunchtime?  The troop will have hot dogs, brats and soda all ready for you.  Scouts honor!

‘A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions,
and the roots spring up and make new trees.’

Amelia Earhart

Arbor Day Celebration

We're giving away trees like these
We’re giving away trees like these
Which grow up to look like these

In honor of Arbor Day we are giving a free Black Hills Spruce seedling with each purchase while supply lasts.  Limit one per family.

Ancient Graffiti products are here, but they won’t be here long…

‘Cause everyone is going to want them.  Take a look at our new rustic-appearing metal garden and patio items.

Ancient Graffiti Wrought Iron Table Ancient Graffiti Wrought Iron Wall Ancient Graffiti Wrought Iron Basket Ancient Graffiti Wrought Iron Obilisk Ancient Graffiti Wrought Iron Stake Ancient Graffiti Wrought Iron Spinner

Digging in the Dirt

By Bev Wilson

One of the most frequent questions we get is, “Can I start planting yet?” 

The answer depends on what type of planting you are talking about.  If you want to plant your containers, the answer is yes.  In fact, our first Container Workshop of the season is this weekend. See above for more details.  Our only caution is that you may have to bring your containers in at night if temperatures drop below the comfort zone of the plants you choose.

If you are talking about digging in your flower beds or vegetable garden, however, there is more to the answer than the weather forecast. 

I can still hear my dad say “He’s going to be sorry,” whenever we drove by a farmer working wet fields in early spring.  A lifelong farmer, he knew that working the land when the soil is too wet, results in hard lumpy soil for the entire growing season. And no matter how you try, you will never get the nice soil texture you could have had by simply waiting for the soil to dry out.

Tilling wet soil also causes compaction by creating a “plow pan,” a layer of compacted soil, that restricts the flow of water through the soil as well as limiting how deep plant roots can grow, reducing yields. Compaction has many other effects on the health of your soil.

There is a simple test any gardener can use to determine if the soil is too wet to dig.  Scoop up a handful of soil in your hand and squeeze.  If you get a firm ball, it’s too wet.  If it forms a loose ball that crumbles easily, it’s just right.

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 our Operations Manager, Al Lunde, at Al will get back to you promptly. Let America’s Best Flowers be your go-to greenhouse for answers.

Opportunity for the young and talented!

This summer we would like to offer a venue for the young and musically talented! Our Music in the Garden event will be a great opportunity for kids to perform in a casual outdoor setting. The dates for this event are Saturday, June 29 and Saturday, July 27.  Play a little or play a lot!  Sing a little or sing a lot!  Sign up for a ½ hr increment of time or up to an hour. 

America’s Best Flowers will provide a safe area for kids to perform.  Our ‘blacktop’ stage will be in the front parking lot.  An open sided tent/awning will be provided for the kids to perform under.  Electricity will be available.   We do not provide instruments or a microphone.  So, the ‘performers’ would need to bring their own equipment. 

We will advertise the line-up in our weekly on-line newsletter and possibly local newspapers.  That is, of course, with the approval of the parents.

If you know of any groups or solo artists that either play musical instruments or sing and would like to perform at our greenhouse please contact Shirley at

Well, this day was a total waste of makeup!

Lucy’s story – Chapter 5

Lucy at her Wednesday morning acupuncture appointment with Dr. Sara
Lucy at her Wednesday morning acupuncture appointment with Dr. Sara
Click for Larger Image

At our first meeting, Lucy and I sat together on Marge’s kitchen floor for over an hour.  Lucy never left my side and, likewise, I never left hers. 

After watching us together, Marge said she had never seen such a perfect pair.  We were able to cut through the red adoption tape in record time and Lucy was mine or I should say we were ‘each others.’

It was a close one though.  Marge and her husband thought Lucy was such a wonderful dog they had seriously considered keeping Lucy for themselves.   

It gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it. 

Here is another significant fact about Lucy.  When Lucy and her pups first arrived at Marge’s house Lucy didn’t really have a name.  Marge said that she was kind of referred to as Blackie.  Well, it didn’t take Marge long to decide that Lucy was a far better moniker for her than Blackie. 

Saying ‘I love, Blackie’ just doesn’t have the same ring as saying, ‘I love Lucy’!

Don’t you agree?

`til next time,
    ~ Shirley

Hey, it’s not ALL about Lucy, so if any of you other dog people want to share a dog story with me send it to

Never trust a dog to watch your food.

Upcoming Events

Sat, Apr 27
Earth Day Celebration

10am – 2pm FREE children’s activities . Bring a white T-shirt to paint, make seed balls, plant cat grass, and more.

Sat, Apr 27 – Sun, Apr 28
Arbor Day Celebration

Receive a FREE Black Hills Spruce with purchase, while supplies last. Limit 1 per family.

Sat, Apr 27 – Sun, Apr 28
Container Workshop

10am-4pm – FREE soil and assistance. Create a beautiful container in our greenhouse and we’ll clean up the mess. Bring in your own pots or buy some of ours.

Fri, May 3 – Sun, May 5
St. Vincent de Paul’s ‘Pick-A-Pack’ Event

Come out and donate a $1.99 pack of tomatoes or Lady Bell peppers for their gardens. The veggies will be used for their Community Food Pantry. For every 4 pack sold, America’s Best Flowers will donate $.50 towards the SVDP gardens.

Sat, May 4 – Sun, May 5
Container Workshop

10am-4pm – FREE soil and assistance. Create a beautiful container in our greenhouse and we’ll clean up the mess. Bring in your own pots or buy some of ours.

Sat, May 4 – Sun, May 5
Universal Saw & Tool Sharpening

10am-4pm – Get those tools ready for easier gardening.

Our Kitchen

Bear Creek Country Kitchen soup mix

A few weeks ago, Cheryl brought a really good soup to one of our potlucks.  When I asked her for the recipe so I could share it with you, she told me it was really easy, just a Bear Creek Country Kitchen soup mix that she added chicken and potatoes to.  This recipe is proof of what a good job the food scientists of our world do to make it quick and easy to feed our families delicious food. Hope you enjoy.

Cheryl’s Easy Chicken, Potato and Bean Soup

By Cheryl Grassman

  • 1 pkg Bear Creek tortilla soup mix, 9 oz.
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 big boneless chicken skinless chicken breasts
  • Nature’s Seasoning, available at Woodman’s
  • 2 T butter or olive oil
  • 3 medium potatoes, cut into ½” cubes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Bring water to a boil in a large soup pot.  Add potatoes.  Cook 5 minutes.  Stir in soup mix. Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile cut chicken into small, bite-sized pieces.  Spray a non-stick skillet with vegetable spray, add butter or olive oil and place over medium heat.  When it starts to sizzle, add chicken.  Sprinkle with Nature’s Seasoning and cook until done, stirring often.  When chicken is cooked through, stir into soup. Serve along with thick slices of crusty bread.  Serves 4-6.

Nestle Toll House baking cocoa

I was planning on using one of those developed-by-food-scientists and sure-to-turn-out-good every time brownie mixes to fill the last care package of the year for our grandson who’s off at college.  But when I went to the cupboard, alas, there were none.  Not wanting to make a trip to the store, I pulled out my bright yellow box of Nestle cocoa.  And sure enough, right there on the side, was a recipe for homemade brownies.  Reading down the list I was delighted to find I had everything it took, except the walnuts or pecans I would generally use in baked goods.  The only nuts in the house were natural whole almonds and salted peanuts.  Deciding that toasted almonds should work just fine, I chopped some and put them on a pie tin in a 300 degree oven to toast while I mixed up the brownies.

I have to tell you – these were the best brownies I’ve eaten in a long time.  They went priority mail on Friday, hope he likes them as much as we did.

Nestle Chewy Cocoa Brownies

  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter (1½ sticks) melted
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Nestle Toll House baking cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350° F and grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

Combine sugar and butter in large bowl. Beat well.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, water and vanilla extract. Add to sugar mixture.  Beat well.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; stir into the sugar mixture. Stir in nuts.  Spread into prepared baking pan.

Bake for 18 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky. (Mine took 20 minutes) Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar

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