June is Perennial Month!

Newsletter 13 – Tuesday, May 29, 2012

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

The Perennial Family

It’s like a family reunion when our perennials start peeking through in the spring isn’t it?  What a thrill it is to see our family return and grow even more brilliant with time.  And the family keeps getting bigger…because there is always room for one more perennial!

Are you like me?  It’s not that it’s necessary to do a background check on people that you share your plants with, but do you only share them with special friends, family or neighbors?  After all, they are our babies and it’s important that they go to a good home. 

Perennial of the Week – Penstemon ‘Red Rocks’

Penstemon 'Red Rocks'
Penstemon ‘Red Rocks’

This is an essential for your perennial garden.  Its brilliant bright rose color will attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden. Cut it back after the first heavy flowering to encourage re-bloom. This beauty blooms in June and will re-bloom until our Wisconsin frost nips them back.  This is a drought tolerant plant.  Once established in your garden you will find it a very easy-to-care for plant.   The Penstemon Red Rocks is always beautiful but this week it is not only beautiful it’s twenty percent off in price.

Note: The perennial of the week is only available at our farm location.

Q: How well is your garden going to grow?
A: Only thyme will tell

Be a Successful Perennial Gardener!

Join Margaret, our perennial manager, for a free class on perennial gardening at America’s Best Flowers Saturday, June 2, at 10 AM and Tuesday, June 5, at 6:30 PM. 

Learn what it takes to create and plant a perennial bed that will provide successive color all season long.  Topics will include site selection and preparation, what types of plants grow best in shady areas, as well as the types that thrive in sun-soaked or rocky areas.  Garden design, colors and textures will be discussed too.  We’ll even have garden plans for you to take home.

A Word From Marty

Mahogany Splendor Hibiscus
Mahogany Splendor Hibiscus

Marty wanted to give a shout out for the Mahogany Splendor Hibiscus.  This is an awesome and dramatic annual accent plant.  It’s the perfect thriller for a container garden and is an ideal addition to any landscape.  It’s spectacular in the sun with its deep burgundy, maple-shaped leaves.  Another bonus is that this plant is deer resistant.


America’s Best Flowers wants you to succeed, so if you have gardening questions send an email to our Operations Manager, Al Lunde, at abflunde@yahoo.com.  Al will get back to you promptly.  We want to be your go-to-greenhouse for answers.  

Why do melons have fancy weddings? Because they cantaloupe.

Vintage Electric Range

Okay, I admit it, I have stove envy.   My brother and his wife have this beautiful 1960ish electric range that is the coolest thing since sliced bread.  I wanted to buy it from them, but nooo, they wouldn’t sell.  What’s the deal here I’m his favorite sister AND his only one.  What’s up with that?  I got over it (not really).

I did ask if he ever saw one to let me know.  That was four years ago.  I got the phone call a week ago.  He found one at a garage sale and, get this, it’s even nicer that his is.  Winner, winner, chicken dinner!  He got this baby for $30.00 and everything works on it.  

The only problem was that it was in Muscoda, WI.  So, Hubby called the brother-in-law, with the pick up truck, to see if he would be willing to drive to Muscoda to get it.  No problem.  Off the two of them went.  

Everything was going perfectly until, while carrying the ‘monster’ (hubby’s word) into the house there was an ‘oops’.  Hubby, brother-in-law and stove got banged up.   Wounds were bandaged, ice applied and sympathy dispensed.  The range/stove got a couple of dings in the front…nothing that can’t be touched up with a little enamel paint.

It has all the bells and whistles.  It is forty inches wide.  It has one normal size oven and a smaller separate oven right beside it. The larger oven has a meat thermometer and a rotisserie attachment.  There is a larger then normal work space on top next to the burners.  And a nice long florescent light that gives light to it all.  I had so much fun pushing buttons, turning dials, setting the timer…  I’m telling you it’s the Cadillac of electric ranges.

Then Hubby asked me what was for supper.  I wanted to say ‘Really, are you kidding me?  This is a work of art you don’t actually cook on it’, but after catching a glimpse of his bandage I thought better of it.  Guess I’ll have to get the cookbooks out…I don’t dare ask hubby to return it. 

`til next week,
    ~ Shirley

Upcoming Events

Sat, Jun 2
Perennial Gardening Class

10am Sun and shade garden plants.

Tue, Jun 5
Perennial Gardening Class

6:30pm Sun and shade garden plants.

Fri, Jun 8
Ladies Night at the Garden


Sat, Jun 16
Miniature Garden Workshop

10am to 3pm FREE soil and assistance. Create a beautiful container in our potting shed and we’ll clean up the mess. Bring in your own pots or buy one of ours.

Sun, Jun 17
Father’s Day

FREE Schoep’s ice cream for Dad and the family!

Sat, Jun 23
Herbal Bread Sampling

11am – 2pm Sample complimentary herbal breads and herbal dipping oils. FREE recipes.

Junk Vegetables

The elementary school cook prided herself on the healthy meals she provided with lots of vegetables and fruits. When the power failed one day, the cook couldn’t serve a hot meal in the cafeteria, so at the last minute she whipped up great stacks of peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.

As one little boy filled his plate, he said, "It’s about time. At last — a home-cooked meal!"

Our Kitchen

By Bev Wilson

Pan Fish Season is Here

Every year, about the time the cotton starts to fall, the pan fish in our many area lakes start biting.   Over the years my Jim has pulled hundreds of bluegill and crappie out of Lake Monona.  This farm girl from Iowa is not particularly fond of fried fish, so Jim developed the following recipe to humor my tastes.  It has become his favorite way to eat this early summer delicacy.  We always serve it with buttered rice and a fresh green salad.  A rhubarb pie for dessert would be wonderful.  Enjoy!!!

Jim’s Bluegill Fillets

  • Bluegill or crappie fillets – about 6 per person*
  • 1-2 T olive oil
  • 1-2 T lemon juice
  • 1 t worchestershire sauce
  • garlic powder to taste
  • 1-2 medium tomatoes cut into 12 wedges each
  • 1-2 medium onion cut into thin wedges
  • 1 c sliced mushrooms, or 1 small can mushroom slices, drained
  • ¼ – ½ cup mild banana pickled peppers
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat broiler to 500. Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with sides with heavy duty aluminum foil.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Adjust quantities of ingredients to match amount of fish you have. The lesser amounts are enough for up to 24 fillets.  If you have more use the larger amounts and cook all you can get on your pan – Leftovers are wonderful!

Mix oil, lemon juice, worchestershire and garlic powder on cookie sheet.  Using a basting brush, spread over entire pan.  Space fillets evenly over oil mixture, flipping over to coat.

This is what the fish looks like before you put it in the oven
This is what the fish looks like before you put it in the oven

Tuck vegetables around fish, keeping everything as flat as possible. Top with freshly cracked black pepper.  Broil about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes start to shrivel and the filets flake easily.

*If you aren’t lucky enough to have bluegill or crappie fillets, this recipe would be good with any fish fillets – larger ones may have to be broiled a bit longer to get them to flake.

This is the recipe for the basic rhubarb pie I grew up on.  Our farm in rural Iowa had a long row of rhubarb across one end of the garden.  Every spring it was my job to watch it carefully and let mom know when there was enough up to make a pie.  Throughout the season we would enjoy many of her rhubarb pies but none compared to that first one of the year.  

You can bake your pie the night before you plan to serve it.  Cool.  Cover with foil and leave on the counter overnight (hidden under something boring), then rewarm it in the oven after your casserole comes out.  Turn the heat down to 225 and warm your pie for 10 to 15 minutes.  For real decadence, serve with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

If there is no time for baking, pick your pie up at the store.  Warmed with ice cream it will be delicious.

Mom’s Rhubarb Pie

Mom’s Rhubarb Pie

  • 4 c rhubarb slices, ½ in thick
  • 1 – 1 ½ c sugar
  • 1/3 c flour
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 t cinnamon, or more to taste
  • 1 Frozen deep dish pie crusts or make your own below
Crust (Makes two 9" crusts)
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 t salt
  • ¾ c vegetable shortening
  • 5-6 T ice water

Be sure to wash and dry your rhubarb before slicing.  Mix sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon in large mixing bowl.  Stir in rhubarb.

The amount of sugar required depends on how tart the rhubarb is and how sweet you like it.  Usually the redder the rhubarb the sweeter it is.  The rhubarb I grew up with was the older green variety which was tart indeed.

Preheat oven to 400.  Mix flour and salt.  Cut in half of the shortening until the consistency of coarse corn meal.  Cut remaining half in until the size of small peas (I had been baking pies for 40 years before I learned that incorporating the shortening in two ways makes an extra flaky crust). Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, using a fork to mix it in, until the dough holds together when pressed gently with your fingers.  Divide dough in half.  Roll out on flour-covered board until your circle of dough is two inches larger than an inverted pie pan.  Fold crust gently in half.  Lift carefully and line 9” pie pan.  Fill with rhubarb mixture.  Roll other crust.  Cut some slits or a design in the folded crust.  Moisten the edge of bottom crust.  Cover with top.  Trim any excess crust, leaving about ½ inch beyond the lip.  Tuck edge under and crimp.  Sprinkle top with sugar.  Fold aluminum foil strip over edge to keep from getting too brown. Bake 45 – 50 minutes, or until your filling bubbles up through the slits.  Remove foil last 10 minutes.  Cool at least 20 minutes before cutting.

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