Episode 5 – From the Earth
Today on Life In Bloom we’re taking inspiration from the earth including a visit to a local farm, building a berm of dirt for planting and managing rainfall and preventing erosion, and we’ll make a couple of arrangements with flowers harvested from the garden.
“Collaboration has no hierarchy. The Sun collaborates with soil to bring flowers on the earth.”
― Amit Ray, Enlightenment Step by Step
Flowers spring forth from the earth so the theme of today’s Life In Bloom is “From the Earth.” Many people know that the physical act of working with our hands in soil or earth, is helpful in many ways for our mental health. What scientists have been studying in recent years is what happens when certain bacteria in the soil get under our fingernails – that they actually are physically beneficial to our microbiome and therefore, our bodies, including acting as an anti-depressant. So let’s explore ways to interact WITH the earth and feel better in the process.
Creating a Berm with GUEST Mr. Bill Souffrou
J asks Mr. Bill – his landscaping guru- about working WITH the earth to mitigate occasional, excessive rainfall in the landscape. My home is a walk out- and thus the lower level of the garden is a full story below the front yard – and we have wonderful landscaped stone steps and path that lead from the front yard to the backyard cutting gardens. However- we tend to get heavy rains throughout the year- and those heavy rains – deposit water in the front yard that needs a place to go… and until this past year- the point of least resistance was the stone stairs and path.
Learn More about Mr. Bill and his landscaping business- COMING SOON!
After heavy rains- Kelly and I would have to fill in destructive erosion that at time would move the steps- or stairs- and move large amounts of soil, gravel, and mulch- into the cutting gardens in the back. I needed to get this fixed- and Mr. Bill offered a simple and effective solution- by removing lawn (That’s a Huge Priority for me… I hope to one day have NO LAWN!!!) and creating a cutting garden area- with plants from my Friend Natalie Carmoli- and Proven Winners- that will redirect the water- manage the overflow- and prevent erosion.
We follow the process- of removing the lawn- brining in top soil, planting plants. and redirecting the water flow- from the front lawn area- to the side of the yard… and also into the Garden that houses the amazing plants from Proven Winners.
Here’s a list of the Plants that we planted in the cutting garden and landscaping- that will be featured in future “J Schwanke’s Life in Bloom” Episodes- and flower projects.
· Kodiak® Orange Diervilla – a great native plant with a small, kind of inconsequential yellow spring flower, but nice, straight, colorful foliage for season-long filler. Can tolerate shade. This is an incredible foliage addition to any cut flower arrangement- I love it!
· Incrediball® smooth hydrangea. The classic ‘Annabelle’ type hydrangea but with bigger flowers and stronger stems.
· Invincibelle Garnetta® – a dwarf pink smooth hydrangea, would be a great hydrangea to layer in front of taller plants. New variety.
· Quick Fire Fab® – a GORGEOUS brand-new mopead panicle hydrangea that blooms up to a month earlier than other panicle hydrangeas
· Little Quick Fire® – same features as above, but with lacecap blooms.
· Oso Easy® Double Red rose – yes, it’s a shrub rose, but the flowers are so abundant, they will make great bright red filler sprays. Wonderful profusion of Red Blooms- in the garden all season long!
· Sunorita® rose, same as above but beautiful orange-to-yellow blooms. Buds look like little sweetheart roses. This Rose grew so big and bloomed all summer- constantly and consistently!
· Berry Heavy® Gold Ilex (plus a pollinator) – great for fall/winter cut flowers- Gold Berries on a Stem… This Ilex variety is WONDERFUL!
Then- just as we completed the project- Mother Nature- delivered a “gully washer”… that’s a term my Grandpa Carnation Joe used for a heavy rain back in Nebraska… (and we’ve had plenty more- both last year and this spring) with NO Incident… It worked- just as Mr. Bill had planned… and all is right with the world again- here a Woodland Bluff!
A Visit to Creswick Farms with GUEST Farmer Nathan
This week we visit Creswick Farms to visit with Farmer Nathan – someone who definitely works with the earth to grow nutritionally dense food. Let’s explore the farm and its animals learn Farmer Nathan’s philosophy, and discover why the food he raises is so darn tasty!
This isn’t just a local farm – here in Michigan- Nathan is also my friend- and raises the Food we Eat Every Week- in our Home… there are so many great benefits about knowing where your food comes from- besides the incredible taste- (and the amazing recipes Farmer Nathan provides in his weekly newsletters.
Learn More about Farmer Nathan and his Family and Local Farm- COMING SOON!
Creswick Farms- has a monthly drop off in our area… we call it the MEAT UP- where I get to order all the goodies on line (CreswickFarms.com) from my Pal Sherry- and then they deliver it- to the MEAT UP- and I pick up and take it home and fill up the freezer… it’s a wonderful process… and the Chicken, Beef and Pork are amazing… did I mention the farm fresh eggs, broth, lard, tallow… or the barbecue ribs???
I visit with Farmer Nathan Creswick, and his wonderful wife Andrea Creswick (who helps craft the amazing recipes- she has a Hanger Steak Recipe that to die for… ) and son Christopher Creswick, the next generation that is bringing BEE Keeping and Local Honey to the Creswick Farm offerings.
You’ll also get to me “BLOSSOM” the calf that will make a special appearance on this show- and you’ll see how she loves the “scritchies” she gets from Christoper… (that’s right a Calf named “BLOSSOM” – perfect for Life in Bloom!) You also might get a glimpse of “Peanut” the Creswick Farm Dog- that is a special friend of mine!
We ALWAYS highlight the health and wellness benefits of Flowers on Life in Bloom- So I want to do the same for Creswick… Kelly and I – KNOW we feel better- because we Eat Farmer Nathan’s Food… and it’s delicious… and we feel GOOD -because we know we are Supporting a LOCAL Farmer! it’s a win-win for everyone!
You’ll discover how we found out about Creswick Farms, How Farmer Nathan started his farm… and lots more about this West Michigan Farmer and his family- that we love so much! Nathan also tells us about the “Salad Bar Beef”… (grass fed) and his concept for Pasture Rotation and why the Free-Range Chicken (and eggs) provide Better Health Benefits for both the chickens and humans… (which is also why they are soooo Tasty!)
There are No Antibiodics, Hormones, or By-products- at Creswick Farms- and Farmer Nathan reminds us… “We don’t take short cuts- we do everything the hard way” is one of his favorite Quotes! I hope you enjoy this visit to Creswick Farms- and my Friend Farmer Nathan and his wonderful Family!
Egg Basket Arrangement
J makes a flower arrangement in a Vintage egg basket on location at Creswick Farms- featuring Local Eggs – laid by those free range chickens- and flowers from the Garden… You may not notice it… but the Creswick Farm Cat- is very interested in J’s Arranging Skills!
Learn more about this Flower Craft- COMING SOON!
Recipe in Bloom Chicken Fajita
This Local- Free Range Chicken is from Creswick Farms – featured on location in the episode “From the Earth” so let’s take Farmer Nathan’s Skinless Boneless Chicken Breast and make some amazing Fajitas! We’ll use my specially crafted Fajita Marinade that has evolved over the years- and includes fresh squeezed Oranges, Lemons and Limes- with the skins tossed in for extra Zesty appeal!
J’s Fajita Marinade
Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice from 2 Limes- Squeeze and throw in peel and all!
Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice from 2 Lemons- again- Squeeze and throw in peel and all…
Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice from 1 Lemon – finally- Squeeze and throw in peel and all…
1/2 a cup – organic fresh chopped Cilantro
1 Tablespoon- organic Chili Pepper
3 Tablespoons – organic Cumin
1/2 a cup organic Olive Oil
5 Cloves of organic Garlic – pressed
2 of Farmer Nathan’s Free range- Skinless – Boneless Chicken Breast
Sliced Bell Peppers – (one of each color or choose your favorite) Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red if desired
1 Medium Sliced Onions
Marinade for 6 hours to 3 days… depending on how much seasoning you like…
Then grill up the Chicken Breasts on your Grill- or inside in a pan-
Braise the Onions and Peppers in a skillet on your stove top- – and serve with
Organic Tortillas (J prefers Flour Tortillas to corn- but you can choose your favorite)
J likes to garnish with the following:
organic Grated Cheese
organic Sour Cream
fresh chopped organic Cilantro
fresh squeezed limes
Featured Flower: Scabiosa Pods
FACTS and Trivia About the Scabiosa Pod
- Scabiosa Pods are a species of flowering plant in the Honeysuckle family
- Sometimes known by the specific variety Scabiosa Stellata Pods.
- Scabiosa pods are formed when the flower finishes blooming.
- The globe shaped pod is an interesting addition to bouquets.
- Scabiosa pods provide an interesting texture for arrangements.
- Pods range in length from 18 – 25 inches and are typically 2 inches in diameter
- the Scabiosa flower, from which the pods are formed is also known as the pincushion flower.
- Scabiosa Pods are a species of flowering plant in the Honeysuckle family
Some species of Scabiosa are annuals, others perennials. Some are herbaceous plants; others have woody rootstocks. The leaves of most species are somewhat hairy and partly divided into lobes, but a few are smooth and some species have simple leaves. The flowers are borne on inflorescences in the form of heads; each head contains many small florets, each floret cupped in a membranous, saucer-shaped bract. The calyx has five sepals in the form of awns almost as long as the petals. After the flowers have dropped, the calyces together with the bracts form a spiky ball that may be the reason for the “pincushion” common name. The calyx is persistent and remains as a crown on the fruit after it is shed. The corolla has four to five lobes fringing a narrow funnel with a furry throat, the funnel being somewhat longer than the lobes. The florets have four stamens each, set high in the tube, and sticking out. Each fruit has just one seed.
Creating a Flower Snail – Arrangement with Plants
J creates arrangement with a plant (in soil) and fern fronds to represent snails. J was inspired by the Escargot Begonia Leaves- and wanted to create a Snail- and use the leaves to represent the shell of the Snail… it’s a fun way to represent the shell and to enhance the snail effect.
Trivia – Snail eggs are laid in the earth, the snail hatches and must emerge toward the light.
J uses foliage from FernTrust including Foxtail Fern & Fern Fronds – and Lime Green Kermit Pompons from Kennicott Brothers, the Escargot Begonia Leaves are from J’s garden- and the plants came from Jonkers Gardens- featured in Season 2 – The Garden Contained! – Watch it here!
Flowers featured are Bluplerum, and Hellebores from FabulousFlorals.com… and plants from Por la Mar. The Planting Saucer- container is from Arcadia Garden Products… an features a Succulent from Panang Nursery!
Learn more about this Flower Project- COMING SOON!
Harvesting from the Garden – Bouquet
J collects flowers from the earth (garden) and then arranges a bouquet. It’s amazing what you can harvest…from the garden- with a little planning… and the NEW Proven Winners addition- provide an additional resource for this lovely arrangement!
I hope you’ve enjoyed our episode “From the Earth,” and will take some time to commune with the earth - whether it’s with the soil in your porch pots or a visit to a local farm. Take a moment or two now and then – and enjoy the benefits the earth provides – for Life In Bloom, I’m J Schwanke.