Holiday Poinsettias

Read this excellent article by Michelle Gervais on Poinsettias.   According to it, Poinsettias are NOT poisonous to humans and rats. It doesn’t say anything about cats and dogs. It discusses how to choose the best plant, the care of the plant and it gives sites for more information on the plant.

Biblical Garden Foods for the Winter Holidays

Allium Cepa by Bambo

It is December and many of TheGardenLady‘s readers are celebrating either Hanukah or Christmas. The  house is decorated in the appropriate way for the holiday you celebrate and food will be a main part of the festivities.

So this year TheGardenLady is suggesting that her readers try to cook with some of the herbs (Bible herbs) or foods that are  mentioned in the Bible.

While friends and family are seated at the dinner table enjoying the special holiday treats, talking about the foods in the Bible might even add to your discussion – after all these celebrations are related to the Bible plus TheGardenLady‘s readers are those who are interested in plants, even ancient ones.  And these dinner discussions might encourage some readers to grow the Biblical favorites in their own gardens.

Some of the Biblical foods mentioned are garlic and onions. Onion, garlic or shallots are all in the allium family of plants, relatives of the Lily. The common onion is the allium cepa (see photo above), the garlic is allium sativum and the shallot is Allium ascalonicum named for the city, Ashkelon in Israel  from which it was supposedly brought to Europe by the Crusaders. (Alliums are now becoming a popular flowering plant for the garden; Allium giganteum is a particular favorite in TheGardenLady’s ornamental garden. Though ornamental alliums are not for eating.)

Lentils – Lens culinaris is another food mentioned in the Bible. Lentils are thought to be the oldest cultivated legume.

Some other foods mentioned in the Bible are honey, olive oil, and cinnamon.

This holiday you might try a Baked Honey Lentil Casserole as part of your menu. This casserole is composed of herbs, spices and vegetables that were eaten during Biblical times.

  • Baked Honey Lentil Casserole for 6 as a side dish.

Cook 1/2lb red lentils as directed on the package. (Do not add salt when cooking lentils.)

Make a mixture of 1 tsp. dry mustard (optional), 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 small onion in small dice, 1  clove garlic minced, now add salt- 1 tsp or to taste.

All the above items are mentioned in the Bible. (You can add ground black pepper to taste.) Mix this mixture into the cooked lentils and taste to see if you want to add more of any herbs or spices.

Put 2 Tbsp Olive oil on bottom of casserole- olives and olive oil were used in the time of the Bible.

Then pour the cooked lentil mixture into the casserole and pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of honey on top. It depends on your sweet tooth. (Honey is another food that was used during Biblical times.)

Cover the casserole tightly with the lid or with aluminum foil.  Put casserole in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake until tender- start checking after 1/2 hour- it could take up to 1 1/2 hour. When tender, take the lid off and let cook uncovered for another 10 minutes and serve.

Happy Holidays

Do you know what espalier means?

For those who don’t subscribe to a website called Wordsmith which has definitions and etymologies of all sorts of words, TheGardenLady wants to direct readers to this week’s words and photos. This week the words are related to trees: espalier, topiary, pleach, bonsai and pollard.

TheGardenLady has only cut and pasted the first word of the week-espalier– so that the reader has to enter the “A Word A Day” Wordsmith website for the other words.

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg

A few months back I featured this quotation from the journalist Hal Borland (1900-1978): “You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.”

Astute linguaphile Mark Germer wrote in response: “Recent work on information processing (even kin recognition) in plants suggests that there may be more going on there than we now understand; as for birds and mammals, it has long been appreciated that they are perfectly capable of deception and subversion. For my part, I don’t find these things odd or disturbing, as it’s the continuity of all life that intrigues me most. Humans are not alone in their baseness — though a few may be alone in their desire to rise above it.”

Mark said it well. There’s more to trees and plants than we think (see So next time you pluck an apple from a tree or trim that hedge, be aware that it may not be as oblivious as you think.

This week’s words relate to what we do to the trees: chopping, trimming, twisting, bending, and stunting as we shape them.  espalier

(i-SPAL-yuhr, -yay)

Chinese Garden Tour

TheGardenLady just received an email about a garden tour in China.  She knows nothing about the organization nor the people running this group so she cannot endorse the group. But she thought TheGardenLady readers might be interested in the following information.

China – Flower Blossoms & Peony Festival Tour April 7 – 21, 2009

Thinking of what to give yourself as a Christmas Present this year? Then think no further as this trip is the perfect answer!

We visit some of China’s most incredible gardens, sights and cities including Beijing, Xian, Luoyang, Suzhou and Shanghai.  Gardens that are thousands of years old beckon you to stroll through to capture
cherry blossoms and peonies in their full glorious bloom.   Gardens that will become your memories!

Continue reading “Chinese Garden Tour”

When to Plant a Magnolia Bush

Photo by Fadadomar

TheGardenLady received this questin from Betty:

When is the best time of year to plant Magnolia bushes?

TheGardenLady never heard of a Magnolia bush; but since there are about 80 different species of magnolia that are native to the eastern United States and southeastern Asia as well as hunderds of named hybrids, there might be a plant that has the common name of Magnolia bush.

One difference between a bush and a small tree, TheGardenLady was told, is the height- a bush is under 20 feet tall and a tree is over 20 feet tall. So you can see how arbitrary the word bush can be in a plant name. That is why it is imperative to ALWAYS give the Latin name of a plant when asking a question about a plant. With the Latin name, the person answering your question knows exactly which plant to talk about.

Continue reading “When to Plant a Magnolia Bush”