In ancient times, Egyptians dyed eggs as a rite of spring. People in Persia gave each other gift eggs to celebrate spring. The custom of dying eggs was probably brought to Europe by the Crusaders and was expanded in Germany to involve rabbits and hidden surprises. Until commercial dyes developed in the 19th century, people colored eggs with whatever roots, berries, leaves and flowers were available.
Some natural egg dyes include:
Garden centers are bursting with colorful flowers, thriving shrubs and blooming trees. These centers strategically place their best stock in prime viewing position for anxious spring gardeners to drool over and, eventually, purchase though they may not really need those specific plants. Before you make a landscape investment, check out the reputation of the garden center and consider your specific plant needs.
Where to buy plant material
A good green house should be clean - free of insect-and-disease harboring weeds and debris. Look for a display garden that shows how mature plants will appear. Always try to buy from a grower rather than a plant merchandiser.
A good nursery will have plenty of signs and tags on each plant that includes the genus, species, and cultivar names. Tags also should state color, height, blooming season, hardiness information, and the soil, light and moisture requirements.
Employees should be able to answer your questions such as where was the plant grown? Ask about guarantees. Many garden centers will either replace dead plants or offer credit toward a new purchase.
Selecting the right plant
Look for fat, stocky plants with healthy green leaves. Avoid plants with tall spindly stem and widely spaced leaves. Try to buy annuals before they bloom for a more spectacular show.
All plants should be insect-free. Check the undersides of leaves for pests, and damage such as speckling from spider mites or bite-shaped holes on leaf margins form weevils and other pests.
Discolored leaves indicate earlier watering problems, or plants with brown and dying centers. Plants should have well-developed root balls that hold their shape when slipped out of the pots. Short, white, "hairy" roots should just be visibly emerging from the soil. Disregard plants with dark or mushy roots or those that smell of ammonia.
By selecting a reputable garden center and the healthiest plants, a spring garden can be a very rewarding activity.
- Ann Wolski
- Ann Wolski
They pop up when you least expect it. They can overrun your yard with a sea of yellow and though pretty to look at, they can destroy all other living things. The origin of the dandelion is not known but probably came for Central Asia. It's name is a mispronunciation of the French "dent de lion" or "lion's teeth."
Dandelions have been the source of many old legends and beliefs. It is said that if the seeds are blown away by the wind in early morning, there will be good weather. If the seeds leave the stalk without having been blown by the wind, it will rain. If you can blow away all the seeds in three puffs your mother does not want you home. However, if any seeds are left, hurry home fast! After blowing hard count the seeds that remain to find out how many children you will have.
The English used dandelion roots as a spring tonic and was said to purify the blood, benefit the liver and help with rheumatism. The Irish used the dandelion as a tonic and cure for heart disease. The juice when rubbed on warts, supposedly, caused then to disappear.
Every part of a dandelion - leaves, stem, flowers and roots - are edible. Dandelion greens are an important source of vitamin A. Sauteed dandelion buds can be used in omelets; the petals in sandwiches; the stems and blossoms for making wine. By roasting the roots, dandelions become a coffee substitute and sometimes mixed with coffee. The roots contain a substance that is used as a laxative. The roots of a species of Russian dandelion produces latex from which rubber is made.
- Ann Wolski
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