Winter 2018

The View From Up Here This Month

Winter | Jan - Feb - Mar 2018 |

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Most gardeners scoff at the idea of painting poinsettias. I haven't been particularly drawn to them in the past myself. However, I had the opportunity to change my mind about painted poinsettias. Before the holidays, I attended a behind-the-scenes event for bloggers at Bachman's main greenhouse. This was just before they released in excess of 70,000 poinsettias into the Twin Cities market (about 1/3 of everything they grows goes to charity). After getting a private tour and chat with the Dutch head grower, I was delighted to find myself in the company of Brad Meyer. Brad is the gentleman who paints the poinsettias - and the president of the Minnesota Rose Society. Next thing you know, I was donning an apron, gloves, and homemade sleeve covers - it was happening. 

Turns out, most painted poinsettias start out white - or some pale color that makes coverage painting easy.  For my white poinsettia, I picked a warm pink paint from a palette of rainbow colors and started spraying. Happily, I found out that the paint is a special vegetable-based mixture created just for the plants.

Next, it was time for a little spray-on glue and glitter. I'm sorry - did someone say glitter?

Mama loves the glitter.

Parmesan shaker full of glitter? Heaven.

Something as basic as spraying a little coloring on a blanc poinsettia can be very enjoyable. And the entire experience changed the way I perceive poinsettias with a little added glamour for the holidays.

As a gardener, this simple craft was a novel and fun experience.  I'm a painted convert now. In fact, I thought an activity like this would be perfect for book clubs or groups looking for a unique seasonal experience.

Btw, my painted poinsettia performed just as well as my natural poinsettia - both from the same event at Bachman's.

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With three boys in basketball, winter weekends are a nonstop blur of tournaments. I love searching out small breaks in our schedule. So, when we get a free weekend, we take advantage of it.

In late January, we went to the Saint Paul Hotel for one night.

We made reservations to have dinner at the hotel Grill with Chef John and to see the Ice Palace. This was actually something my mom and dad had been wanting to do for a while.

The media spotlight is on the Twin Cities for the Superbowl.  In fact, the NBC sports team was staying at the hotel and were busy getting ready for the pre-game events.

This year's ice palace is 70 feet high and our rooms were booked so tath they overlooked Rice Park.  A charming courtyard park in St. Paul, Rice Park is home to both the ice palace and all the ice sculptures that wrap around the perimeter.

After sorting through a few photos of the sculptures, I accidentally used an x-ray effect on this image in post-production and to my delight it reveals the amazing detail of this dragon ice sculpture.

Isn't this ice work incredible? I can't believe all the lines on the ice. The wings look like the sails on a ship.

Did I mention you should bring some pennies to the palace? You should - people walk around the palace warming up pennies in their hand and then they place them on the blocks of ice. Viola! They stick.

I heard my hubby talking to the boys and he says there's a scientific reason the pennies stick - I think the term was a covalent bond? Don't quote me.

From a distance, the pennies make the palace look like it has polka dots on it.

Another highlight of visiting the palace is finding the block of ice with the frozen fish in it.  (Note: It's on the back side of the palace.) 

This just seems like such a Minnesota thing, doesn't it?

Of course, no visit to St. Paul is complete without a stop at Cossetta's for lunch. As we were bundling up for the -5 degree day, we thankfully thought to get a group picture.

There were full tummies and happy hearts when this pic was taken. 

Thanks St. Paul.  We had a blast!

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This month, we've had more time to take walks with Sonny during the daytime (provided it's not -20!).

This winter has been very cold and every couple of weeks we get a new batch of snow. 

Here's the creek by a path we call squirrel alley (nuff said!).

To me, this clearing is as beautiful as any wildflower meadow.

I've spent the winter interviewing a few naturalists and I've often wondered what they would see here with their trained eyes. Naturalists are exceptionally curious and they fashion experiments at the drop of a hat. 

Though the seed catalogs are arriving in my mailbox, it's as thrilling to find seeds still on some of the branches.

By the way, if you're looking for a winter treat for yourself, don't forget to force some spring-flowering branches inside. Can't wait until my magnolia is ready to pop!

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Emma's confirmation was right before the holidays and we picked up a plain cake for her in the nick of time - right before Costco closed. Since they were just about to close, there was no one around to personalize her cake.

When we got home, I went to the garden and harvested some lavender, hydrangea, petunia, and coreopsis to decorate her cake. 

Here's a quick look at my little harvest of goodies...

The paper-thin hydrangea blooms were so easy to work with.

Emma loved her custom cake decoration and I loved the memory we created with a little help from Mother Nature. It was a wonderful way to cap off a blessed weekend for our girl. 🌸💕😊

Still trying to find a way to slow down time - but, haven't found it yet.

Meanwhile, the laundry keeps sailing down the clothes shoot. If we measured time by loads of laundry... On second thought, let's not.

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Wishing you a lovely Winter!
Still Growing,
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Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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