The Julia Fordham Collection

‘The Julia Fordham Collection’ is the summing-up of a decade of work, and a great introduction to those who’ve never heard Ms. Fordham’s extraordinary voice. Featuring new versions of the classics ‘Happy Ever After’ and ‘Where Does The Time Go’ (a duet with Curtis Stigers), ‘Collection’ spans a body of work that began in 1988 with her first album, ‘Julia Fordham’.

Also included here are 2 previously unreleased songs – “Kid” and “It Was Nothing That You Said” – recorded in 1998. Highlights include several tracks from the acclaimed 1997 album ‘East West’, including the haunting ‘Killing Me Slowly’, as well as one of my favorites, the title track from 1994’s ‘Falling Forward’.

This new CD has spent as much time in my player as East West did (which still ranks as one of my favorites from the past two years). If you’ve never heard Julia Fordham, you’ve really been missing something!

Preparing Aquatic Gardens for Winter

Aquatic gardens require a little attention in the fall to prepare them for winter conditions. The following tasks will help insure that the plants and fish survive the winter.

Remove dead plant debris:
Water lilies and other aquatic plants are vigorously growing plants that produce a fair amount of old, dying foliage, stems and flowers. Removal of the older deteriorating plant parts is a good cultural practice all through the growing season, but is especially important to do before winter. The accumulation of dead leaves, sterns and flowers causes murky water, stimulates excessive growth of algae, and stresses fish as it decreases oxygen levels. When the water’s surface seals with ice, the gases caused by the decomposition of this organic matter accumulate under the ice and can kill fish. After a hard freeze has killed water lily and other aquatic plant foliage, usually in late October, trim off and remove the debris.

Prevent tree leaves from falling into the aquatic gardens:
The accumulation of fallen tree leaves can be a more serious problem because of the volume of material. Tree leaves cause the water to develop an odor, become very dark colored and harm or kill the fish during winter. In early fall and throughout the winter, if practical, cover the pond to keel) leaves out. Some types of materials to use include leaf or bird netting, ½ inch hardware cloth or chicken wire.

Dispose of tropical plants
Tropical water lilies are perpetual bloomers, often right up to the last few days of their life. Unfortunately, they do not survive the winter outdoors. It is best to handle them as you would any other annual flower in the landscape and dispose of them at the end of the season. Because they are much more expensive than typical annuals, it is tempting to move them indoors for the winter. However, unless you have access to a green house, tropical water lilies usually do not survive well indoors. A nice tropical plant that is successfully kept indoors over the winter is the Umbrella Palm, Cyperus. Keep it wet and place it in a sunny location.

Move marginal plants into deeper water
The shelf along the edge of an aquatic garden is usually only eight to ten inches deep. In a very cold winter, plants left there may suffer extensive root damage from the ice. Lately, our winters in central Maryland have not been cold enough to do much harm to plants left in the shallower water of the pond’s shelf. To insure complete winter survival of marginal plants, move them in the fall down into the deeper part (18 inches or more) of the pond for winter.

Fish care
Goldfish and Koi do well over the winter in the pond as long as there is a water depth of at least 18 inches. Keeping the water free of excessive organic debris like leaves is important to prevent oxygen levels from becoming depleted. Stop feeding the fish as water temperatures drop to 50 degrees F (about mid-October). Fish that are accustomed to being fed daily will often engorge themselves with food. In the winter their digestion process slows dramatically and the undigested food decomposes in their stomachs and often kills them.

It is also helpful to keep a small area of the water surface free from ice to provide better air circulation into the water. This can be done using a stock tank or pond heater.

Disconnect and remove water pumps and statuary:
Don’t forget about mechanical features such as pumps, filter boxes and fountains. Ice can break concrete statuary, pumps and filter boxes if they become frozen in the ice. If the pump and filter box are in water at least 18 inches deep, they can be safely left in the pond as long as they are kept running. Running water will not freeze, and the circulation of the water will also aid in distribution of oxygen. It is still advisable to store expensive fountains or statuary indoors for the winter.

With a little preparation in the fall, an aquatic garden and its plants can survive adverse winter weather conditions in good condition. If your clientele needs more information about aquatic gardening, or any other type of gardening, refer them to the Home and Garden Information Center at 1-800-342-2507. Gardening experts are available daily, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. We also have a large assortment of Extension fact sheets and bulletins.

Herbs & Spices

Since ancient times herbs and spices have played important roles. Wars have been waged and the New World discovered in their pursuit. They transform and glamorize every day foods into a new experience for the palate. Ordinary becomes “wow”… children actually eat their vegetables (what a concept!) and hors d’euvres become an exploration of taste and style. Here are a few fast favorites from the 1999 Herbs & Spices Calendar (available from Avalanche Publishing & Judd Publishing) Each recipe is followed by some growing and other interesting tid bits of information for the herb/spice that was used. Bon appetite!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Now that the 2nd harvest is coming in, here’s a great way to serve your carrots. This combination of fragrant ginger root and sweet honey makes this tuber splendiferous!

2 tablespoons butter (real)
1 inch fresh ginger root (diameter of a quarter), peeled, chopped
1 ½ pounds baby carrots, steamed al dente
2 tablespoons golden honey
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

In a large, heavy saucepan, over a medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the ginger. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add the steamed carrots and toss. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 5 more minutes, tossing occasionally. Add the honey and toss until the carrots are coated. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 3 minutes until the butter-ginger sauce thickens. Serves 4.

GINGER develops from a bulbous root, and in good conditions will grow to three feet. It produces narrow leaves about an inch wide and up to 12 inches long. Their flower is dense, three-inch cone shaped spikes that are yellow with purple lips — not unlike that of an Iris. Although it’s a tropical plant, some gardeners have had success growing ginger in portable containers. When the weather grows cool, bring the container indoors to a window with full sun. The growing outcome isn’t guaranteed but it’s fun to try. Buy some fresh looking roots from the market. Plant them at an angle with the sprout ends up, in a pot filled with dryish, sandy soil. Soak the soil with warm water and maintain that moisture as the plant develops. Place in a window with full sun. Remember, humid means happy. If you are fortunate, within 10 days, bamboo-like stems and leaves will emerge. In six to nine months the roots will have substantially matured enough for you to dig some up, harvest what you need and then replant what’s left. Good luck!

Combined Prep & Cook Time (total, beginning to end) 45 Minutes

This divine little number is fabulous for entertaining – unusual and rich. Save what ever left-overs you have to spread over hot, toasted bread for a luncheon treat!

1 lb. portobello mushroom tops
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
2 rounded tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh pepper
2 teaspoons medium sherry
2 tablespoon light mayonnaise
3 small sprigs parsley
Water Crackers or similar

Break the portobello caps into thirds and finely chop in batches in a food processor. In large skillet melt the butter. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until all of the liquid is absorbed (about 10 minutes). Add the sherry. Cook stirring constantly until the sherry evaporates – about two to three minutes. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes. Return the mushroom mixture to the food processor. Add the mayonnaise and process for about two minutes, or until the mayonnaise is mixed in completely. The mushroom pate should be smooth, but still retaining texture. Turn into a small-medium serving dish. Garnish with parsley sprigs. Serve at room temperature with water crackers or similar. Makes two cups.

(TIP: Can be made a day ahead, covered and saved in the refrigerator.)

PARSLEY is used the world over by amateur and gourmet cooks alike to garnish and add lift to many dishes. It is also jam-packed with nutrients: 1 cup of parsley contains more vitamin C than an orange, more calcium than a cup of milk, more beta carotene than a large carrot, and 20 times more iron than a serving of liver!

Parsley is not strictly a garden dweller. It will happily grow in a container placed in a sunny window planted in average soil and kept moderately moist.

CILANTRO & AVOCADO SALSA with BALSAMIC (1998 Herb & Spice calendar)
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Rest Time: 30 minutes or more

To some, cilantro and/ or chilies are an acquired taste. This recipe calls for moderate amounts of each that everyone will agree is delightfully refreshing. Add more of either to suit your taste if so desired.

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
4 scallions, finely chopped white part
1 large clove garlic, pressed
1-4 oz. can skinned, mild green chilies, drained, rinsed, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh cilantro (or more to taste)
4 medium ripe, red tomatoes finely chopped
1 ripe, yet firm large avocado, skinned and diced
Salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

In a medium bowl whisk together the balsamic, scallions and garlic until well combined. Add the chilies, cilantro and tomatoes. Combine well. Toss in the avocado and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and allow to sit for at least 1/2 an hour or more. Can be served at room temperature or chilled. Makes approximately 4 cups of salsa.

CILANTRO is an ancient Asian herb that resembling flat-leafed parsley, but with a significantly more pungent and musky flavor. Cilantro is grown just like parsley: Buy a small seedling from your local nursery early in the growing season (from seed takes too long for most zones). Plant it in dry soil and full sun. Keep an eye on it when the weather gets hot or it bolts and become more or less useless.

Re-Engineering Your Garden

Re-engineering is a popular buzzword today. Corporations use it to describe changes they are making in their market focus or their corporate structure. Basically, it means taking a look at where you are and reassessing what you can do to capitalize on what you have. And what holds true for established corporations surprisingly holds true for the established home garden.

As landscape matures, things change. Trees get taller and cast deeper shade, bushes outgrow their original compactness and places in the garden. People’s lifestyles change, and that area given over to a sandbox or a swing set may no longer be needed. Or you may have purchased an older home with mature plantings that no longer work, or at least they don’t satisfy you. The time comes in almost every landscape plan when “re-engineering” is the way to go.

A Fresh Look
To start re-engineering a garden you have to take a hard, honest look at what you have. Because changes in the garden can happen subtly over years, you might overlook the obvious, such as an increase in shade or a physical change in your garden. For example, maybe you added a deck and now traffic patterns have changed, or you took down the swing set and the focal point of your garden is now in the wrong place, etc. Pretend you are the new owner of the house and garden you are surveying, and look at it with as much objectivity as you can.

Back to the Drawing Board
Is there an orderly look to your garden, or has it just “happened” over time? Even “natural” gardens have a plan behind them that keeps them looking natural instead of wild. If there hasn’t been a plan, this is the place to start. Depending on the size of your garden and how elaborate you want to make it, you can plan it yourself or call on professional help.

Even if you call on a professional, do have some plan in mind as to what you want your garden to ultimately look like. Take one area at a time and think about how you want that to look, and then move on to the next area. If your garden doesn’t naturally break into “areas,” think about creating them by varying garden bed sizes, shapes and what plants they will contain. You may want to add a garden bed or two, or take some beds out.

A planned garden doesn’t have to happen all at once. If you develop an overall plan, you can work on one or two areas at a time, and save work on other areas for later in the year or even until the next season or two.

Dealing with Shade
In evaluating your existing garden, you may find that some plants don’t perform as well as they used to. It could be that they need more light. Consider moving these to another area of the garden and finding new shade tolerant plants to replace them. Begonias, impatiens and other shade tolerant plants can give a bright show of color where petunias no longer perform well.

If you are uncertain about how well a plant will perform in a problem area, plant one or two plants of the types you would like there (in the ground or in a container) and test them for one season. Next time around, plant more of those that did well, and test some others for future plantings. Many gardeners annually try out “new” plants on a small scale before really committing any amount of time or money to them.

Trees and shrubs
One of the biggest changes that can creep up silently on a garden is the growth of trees and shrubs. They not only grow taller and larger, but they can dramatically influence what can or can’t grow under or around them. Trees can be trimmed professionally to thin out branches and allow more light to filter through to the ground. In extreme cases, such as too many trees planted too close together (or that somehow just grew there), removal of some of the trees in addition to trimming may be the answer. Professional advice and service from tree experts is highly recommended for trimming and removal.

Overgrown shrubs can also be trimmed back or removed entirely if no longer desirable. As much as it hurts emotionally and as much as it can be visually unattractive for a while, a severe trimming (almost to the ground) can often rejuvenate old and woody shrubs. Fall is often a good time to do severe trimming, because (in Northern areas, at least) the shrub may be “shutting down” for the winter, and will send up new shoots in the spring. Once they begin growing again you can control future shaping.

Plants planted around the base of a tree compete with the tree roots for water and nutrients. Creating raised beds for plants will reduce this competition, and can add a new feature to your garden. If raised beds are not practical or wanted, when planting under a tree or near its roots put the plants in pots and then sink the pots in holes around the tree. This, too, will reduce competition. For specific recommendations, ask a landscape professional or check information in books at your local library. Your local agricultural or horticultural extension agent may also offer some advice.

Problem areas
Almost every home has a problem area. Often it is the north side of the house, or a walkway along one side of the house, or an area behind the garage or a shed. Frequently, a simple cleanup is the first order of business. For example, once cleaned up, a dirt pathway can be spruced up with mulch or a layer of gravel and the addition of stepping stones. A north wall that never gets any sun can be brightened with containers of shade plants grouped or lined along the way. If there is an overhang, hanging baskets can be used, or they can be hung from wrought iron hooks made for baskets. Alternating tall and short containers, and varying plant types and colors can turn a formerly drab area into a “secret garden.” Focal Points

All gardens need a focal point. A small garden needs only one, and larger gardens may need several. A focal point draws the eye to a special feature or planting and helps give the rest of the garden a more orderly look. Focal points can be as simple as one spectacular plant or planting among the others, or a feature such as a gazing globe, a water pond or a piece of sculpture or statuary. In larger gardens focal points can be created for different areas. On a patio, for example, a grouping of different sized pots can serve as a focal point, with one large pot being the center of attention. Tall plants grouped in mass and surrounded by shorter plants can create focal point in a garden bed, as can a contrast in color or plant type. Ornamental features such as large rocks, a pedestal, a statue or a gazing ball are natural focal points. A quick and easy feature to add to a bed is a birdbath or a bird feeder. An arbor trellis planted with climbing plants such as morning glories or thunbergia can be an eye-catching focal point for an entire garden. Color coordination

A coordinated color scheme can really pull a garden together and refresh one that may have gone stale. Use a combination of three or four colors to create a color theme. Match the colors in your dishes or your placemats if you eat outdoors. Red, white and blue make your garden patriotic. Pink, white and green is cool and refreshing. Yellow, blue and white is a bright summery combination. You can break the scheme every now and then when you have a great plant that doesn’t fit the “rules,” and then it becomes the exception that points out what your theme is. Planning Ahead

Re-engineering doesn’t always have to be a major undertaking. Once you have a plan in place, small adjustments every year or two will keep you from having to start from scratch.