Getting to Know the Plants

I am an utmost beginner. I walk around the new property – overgrown with years of neglect – and seek out the plants. They’re all in half stages of growth: much past their humble April beginnings and not nearly in their full on July-August glory yet. I walk around, plant to plant, wishing I could know them – not just to identify them, but to really know them – as Rosemary Gladstar does, Helen Ward, Susun Weed, Lora Kroll… just some of my teachers. I want to touch a plant and know it’s inherent qualities instead of ripping up these “weeds” blindly – unknown to the medicines and properties they contain – and then replacing them with herbs bought with my hard-earned cash; when I could be using these plants dubbed weeds all along. Making teas and tinctures, healing my ails – visible and invisible; helping my friends and family. This is how I’m feeling toward the “weeds”.

The only way to know is to learn and experience. Come along with me and learn too. Begin at the beginning. I will share what I learn as I learn it.

Meal Planning

Trying to eat plant-based, non-processed, real FOOD and being organized pretty much go hand in hand. It’s near impossible to make good food choices without a bit of prep work behind the scenes and some thinking ahead. Beautiful salads don’t magically appear I’m afraid. I sure wish they did. So, with all this in mind, I finally had some spare time today to create a meal plan template that I can use for each week. It’s been a bit of a process….

I went from winging it every week (which means- a higher grocery bill, with more wasted food, and more nights of me wondering, “what should I make for dinner”???), to this:jvKME%ltTby2VbRZQ5dZhgTo this!XVuham2+RwaYFlIhu05JAAIsn’t it pretty?? I’m such a nerd for organization. I’m already seeing ways I need to alter it though. I know I won’t sit down and highlight different colors for each different grocery store every week, so I need to separate the lists out as I write: one list for Nature’s Green Grocer in Peterborough (If I were rich I would just buy everything there, but for now I just stick to their bulk items and beautiful produce and fish), Trader Joe’s (so far away from my house but you just can’t beat their prices for organic stuff!) and good ole Market Basket (close to home but an utterly depressing shopping experience lol).

I chose to start my week on a Wednesday you may notice, because that is the night I am able to do my grocery shopping. However, this is the tricky part for me since I shop at 3 different places… there’s no way I’ll go to Trader Joes and Natures in the same day. Some weeks I may have to alter the day of the week I start on is all. It will be tough, but I am determined to get into a good food rhythm for healthy (mostly) plant-based meals! Of course, this time of year is also excellent with the garden providing so much for us! The goal is to be totally garden-dependent in the summer for produce (someday!)

Here is a link to a PDF version of the Meal Planner  I made up so you can print it out for yourself as well! I hope it comes in handy. I designed it so it can be folded in half like so:4tBbd0VgQUqiIn%EmqwImQDanBWTERTw+KeytALnA I hope this meal planner is useful for you! Let me know in the comments if you have any other suggestions or helpful methods: I’m all ears! 🙂

Garden Centers: Southern New Hampshire

Memorial Day weekend is planting time for a lot of folks in New England, myself included. We actually got our veggies in last weekend, which is the earliest ever, so this weekend I focused on flowers! I managed to go to 8 garden centers between Saturday and Monday (for the blog, is what I told myself, but really, I just love garden centers) and now I’m going to tell you all about them 🙂

Rosaly’s Garden and Farmstand: Peterborough, NHimg_6206


For starters, we went to Rosaly’s Garden and Farmstand in Peterborough for all of our vegetables. It’s the oldest certified organic farm in the state of New Hampshire. They have a beautiful, sprawling property, with a great view of Mount Monadnock (the photos above were taken last summer-the blue skies give that away! We haven’t had much of those lately haha). Come mid-summer it’s fun to just stroll around their fields of flowers (which they allow and welcome). This year we planted a lot of cucumbers, in the hopes of trying to make pickles this fall. We also got leeks, plenty of onions, zucchini, grape tomatoes, lots of basil, curly parsley (to add to my perennial herb bed- thyme, mint, oregano and lavender) and I think that is it. We have very small beds for planting unfortunately. How I long for a flat yard sometimes! 🙂 We’ve always had great success with starter plants from Rosaly’s!
Getting There: Rosaly’s Garden and Farmstand, Route 123 South, just off of Route 101 in Peterborough (website in the link above provides more detailed directions).
My Verdict: The best place to buy organic starter vegetable plants around, hands down.

Amazing Flower Farm: New Ipswich, NHimg_6334

Settled on a back road in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, the Amazing Flower Farm sells everything from vegetables to perennials to very unique annuals. They have a whole greenhouse practically dedicated to annuals, with many ready-made arranged annual baskets and hanging pots. I love the “painted” variety of Violets they had this year, the petals literally look like an impressionistic painting. I got some for my mom, and also some pansies. The colors of pansies they offer are more muted, and delicate than some of the other ones I’ve seen, which I prefer. I remember last year they had “galaxy” impatients (or something like that)- dark purple flowers with starbursts of white speckled all over them, like paint splatters. I had never seen them before. Also, it is worth mentioning that all of the plants we purchased from them last year performed really well (even during the drought!) and the perennials have all come back nicely so far this year too.fullsizeoutput_1a90fullsizeoutput_1a94

Getting There: Amazing Flower Farm, 202 Poor Farm Road {off Route 124} New Ipswich, NH, 03071
My Verdict: A go-to spot if you love making elaborate annual planters, or if you love really unique annuals.

Mason Hollow Nursery: Mason, NHimg_6348

 


Definitely off the beaten track down a small dirt road in Mason, New Hampshire, Mason Hollow Nursery felt like finding a hidden gem. I didn’t know what to expect at all when I drove down the long dirt driveway. I was delighted when, upon going through the barn to enter, I saw a sprawling nursery surrounded by beautiful display gardens. They have a huge selection of Hostas. I mean, huge. Hundreds of varieties. I never knew that many varieties of Hostas even existed! My appreciation and fondness for Hostas is definitely growing as of late. I used to not like them, but lately I’ve been noticing their varied leaves more and loving the delicate contrast created when different varieties are planted side by side in a shade garden. I bought a couple of Hostas from Mason Hollow, along with a variegated Solomon’s Seal. They also have a really cute, friendly dog wandering around the nursery, a big Burmese Moutain dog named Nokken. Also, one tip I will mention is to bring bug spray. Maybe it was just the day I happened to visit, but there were a number of mosquitos buzzing around. That aside, it was a lovely place.img_6352img_6342Getting There: Mason Hollow Nursery, 47 Scripps Lane Mason, NH 03048 (603) 878-4347
My verdict: Expensive, but worth a trip, to see this beautiful family-run property with an elaborate and unique selection.

Pickity Place: Mason, New Hampshireimg_6357Pickity Place in Mason, NH is a magical place. Even more off the beaten path than Mason Hollow, it’s a little cottage tucked away in the woods off a winding, bumpy dirt road. Not only is it an exquisite place to have lunch and wander around their gorgeous gardens (I’ll do another, more in-depth post on Pickity someday), but it is also an excellent place to buy plants. Pickity Place has a large greenhouse out behind the restaurant which sells perennials, annuals, and a huge selection of herbs. Silly me, I didn’t take any pictures of the greenhouse while I was there because it was my 3rd garden center that afternoon and I was antsy to get home and plant, but just trust me when I say that it’s worth a trip. Also, the vast majority of their herbs and perennials are priced under 5 dollars.
Getting There: Pickity Place, 248 Nutting Hill Road Mason, NH 03048 (603)878-1151
My verdict: Excellent value in an idyllic setting. The place to go if you’re looking for a varied and unique herb selection.

Uncanoonuc Mt. Perennials, Goffstown, New Hampshireimg_6495img_6516


My mom and I drove up to Uncanoonuc Mt. Perennials in the rain on Memorial Day, but sadly they were closed (we should have called first) but just being there brought back memories from when I was little. I remember going there a long time ago and thinking their display garden was the most magical place. It still is! We poked around and snapped a few photos, and then drove on to the next nursery. I definitely want to come back here though, it looks like there is a huge selection. And it’s worth it just to walk around the display garden again!img_6542
Getting There: Uncanoonuc Mt. Perennials, 452 Mountain Road, Goffstown, NH 03045 603) 497-3975
My Verdict: Closed when I went so I can’t speak to the prices or selection, but worth going just to wander their display garden.

Tanglewood Gardens: Bedford, New Hampshireimg_6551Tanglewood Gardens is a classic don’t-judge-a-book-by-it’s-cover sort of place. Not going to lie, I didn’t have high hopes when we drove up to the somewhat overgrown property. We weren’t even sure they were open. But we opened up one of the greenhouse doors and were pleasantly surprised by a huge selection, and a very kind and attentive gentleman working there. They had all sorts of vegetables, even unique things like Okra and Sweet Potato plants. There also were annuals and perennials. We went through both of the greenhouses and were happy with the selection and the prices. The plants all looked very healthy as well. Mom bought plants to put together her annual planters. We will definitely come back to Tanglewood Gardens.img_6553
Getting There: Tanglewood Gardens, 424 Route 101, Bedford, NH 03110
My Verdict: Don’t let outer appearances fool you: they have a great variety and lots of unique selections.

Fitch’s Corner: Milford, New Hampshireimg_6557img_6560Good ole’ Fitch’s Corner in Milford New Hampshire (sorry they don’t have a website that I can find to link to it). A quaint farm store year-round, but also a great place to buy plants in the spring. They have a nice selection of cottage-type perennials, my favorites. I picked up some Foxgloves and Campanulas. Both in white, I love white gardens 🙂 Their prices are great, generally everything is under 5 dollars. I didn’t even go into their greenhouse, but they do have one, and there are many annuals and perennials inside.
Getting There: Fitch’s Corner Farmstand, 499 North River Road Milford, NH 03055
My verdict: Not a huge nursery by any means, but a nice selection of perennials and a great farm store too!

House by the Side of the Road: Wilton, New Hampshireimg_6576

 


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From houseplants, to shrubs, to Cacti, to Succulents, House by the Side of the Road in Wilton, NH has it all. Numerous greenhouses are packed completely full with plants of every kind and description. This is a place a plant lover could get lost in for hours. They have an indoor turtle pond, supplies to make terrariums, and even free popcorn and cookies! I had never been fully to their section outside before, and was amazed to see the varieties of perennials they offered. I even found one of my all time favorites- a Lunaria (silver dollar plant). A couple of those came home with me. What a fun place! And right on route 101, it is easy to find. It’s also an amazing place to wander around in during the winter time, just to feel some tropical air!


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Getting There: House by the Side of the Road, 370 Gibbons Highway (Route 101) Wilton, NH 03086 (603)654-9888
My verdict: An all around amazing and huge selection with generally pretty good prices.

Well there you have it, my Southern New Hampshire Nursery and Garden Center extravaganza. I hope this was helpful. There are countless other great garden places around- please share your favorites with me in the comments. I also plan to do a garden tour post, to share our plantings from this year, so stay tuned 🙂

Tropical Air in New England

When the months of March and April roll around, nearly everyone in New England (even a winter lover like me) is ready for some warm weather. It’s true we do get the occasional 70 degree day in springtime, but mostly it’s just in-between-limbo weather: not too warm to enjoy being outside and not cold enough to be snug in by a fire. This March was particularly cold. On one really raw and rainy day, almost freezing, my husband and I decided we needed some air that felt tropical, so we headed down to The Butterfly Place in Westford, MA. fullsizeoutput_15d7MagicWings2We are enormous fans of butterfly conservatories. Just sitting in the warm air watching the butterflies flit by is so calming. For our 3rd anniversary last year we chose to take a day trip to another butterfly conservatory in Massachusetts: Magic Wings in Deerfield. Both conservatories offer tropical plants, warm air, exotic birds, little quails running around (the quail are the “clean-up crew”), soothing background music, small ponds with fish, and of course, butterflies of all kinds. The photos in this post were taken from the two separate visits to the two separate locations.

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Overall, we enjoyed Magic Wings a lot more than The Butterfly Place, although, being in Deerfield, it is a much further trek from where we live. Magic Wings is much bigger then The Butterfly Place in Westford, and offers more secluded sitting spaces. It also has a wider variety of flowers; it is literally a large indoor tropical botanic garden. While both places have a pond, the pond at Magic Wings is larger and has a bridge over it, where one can perch and watch the huge, multi-colored koi fish swim. I’m not trying to downgrade The Butterfly Place, but Magic Wings is just a truly special experience that can be made into a day long adventure. When we went there last fall, Ethan and I sat under a plant covered arbor for nearly two hours, just soaking it all in.fullsizeoutput_15d4

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MagicWings16MagicWings1So if you need an escape into 80 degree air, and want to feel like you are in a tropical paradise for a couple of hours, look no farther than either one of Massachusetts’ beautiful butterfly conservatories. While Magic Wings holds a special place in our hearts, The Butterfly Place is worth a trip also. You might even have a butterfly land on you 🙂MagicWings11