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Vol. 22, No. 4 October / November / December 2014 - La Crosse Floral

In this issue:


Did you know?

Beekers Berries in their Netherlands is growing a number of exclusive strawberries in the greenhouses alongside of the regular varieties.  Since 2008, they are the exclusive Grower of the pineapple-strawberry and the raspberry-strawberry.  The popularity of the pineapple-strawberry is growing, and sales are starting to go beyond Europe.  Now they are ready to launch a strawberry with “bubble gum aroma” – the Bubbleberry!  This product will be available on a limited basis in 2014 in Europe.  Crazy!


Flower Facts

Tired of providing a spring salad for the deer?  Here are some spring flowering bulbs that the deer will not eat.  Plant them now.

1.    Fritillaria

2.    Allium

3.    Scilla siberica

4.    Muscari

5.    Daffodil

6.    Hyacinth

7.    Colchicum (member of the lily family)


Dr. Greenthumb

Every day as a lover of nature I stop and think how lucky I am to live in this part of the world commonly called the Driftless Area.  So many of the birds of the western U.S. come as far east as the Mississippi.  This is also the case of the eastern birds in the U.S.  At the same time, the northern pine forests are as close as northern La Crosse county and the open prairies sand dunes from the southwest are here also.  Add to that the diversity of the life zones, where we have the rivers, prairies, forests, bluffs and the hilltops.

To me our climate without the four seasons would be very boring.  Looking out my kitchen window with all the birds, deer, turkeys and those rascally raccoons is more enjoyable than watching television.  We are extremely fortunate to be living in the Driftless Area the glaciers did not touch.

The other day I counted all the places within 50 miles that I have visited with friends from the La Crosse Area Camera Club.  The list is up to 152 and still “growing”.  Each week brings new surprises.  Our next project is to find an area where there are fewer lights at night and the moon is in the dark phase to try and photograph the Milkyway.

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The Little Sprout

I know I have written about Hops before in this column.  A good family friend, Terry Baier, is a great grower of these beauties.  Last summer I came upon a few Hops Farms while traveling in Michigan.  I have also had a couple of customers come in this past spring looking for Hops.  We did have them for sale this spring alongside our Herbs.  As a Florist, Hops are attractive as a vining decoration over arches at weddings.  However, most folks are growing Hops now as Homeowners wanting to experiment with brewing their own beers.

If you want to play with the “Big Boys”, there is a Wisconsin Hop Exchange.  This is a cooperative located primarily in the Waterloo, WI area.  Wisconsin Public Television has featured the cooperative on a Wisconsin Foodie program.  I feel it is a growing and expanding part of Agriculture in our state.  I know of some Greenhouses that are growing Hops, even one called The Windsor Gardener in Colorado that has opened a brewery.  Because we are on The Great River Road, we are so used to the Great River Road Wineries.  However, right here in La Crosse, we have businesses such Pearl Street Brewery that brews their own beer (and I have heard of a Launch Party for a Hard Cider – my gluten free choice).

As a Home Gardener, here are some other plants that would make a great brewer’s garden, as suggested by Patrick Weakland of High Hops Brewery in Colorado.  Three varieties of Hops that are easy to grow just about anywhere and will produce a variety of beer types are:  Cascades, Centennial, and Chinook.  These can produce amber ales, India Pale Ales, Pilsners, and cream beers.  Lemon Verbena, when dried, can make a great Pilsner.  Cilantro – the every popular herb for salsas and such – produces coriander seeds if left alone.  The coriander seeds are great for wheat beers (which would kill the Little Sprout as a Celiac!) and spicy Christmas ales.

Berry plants, whether blueberry, raspberry or strawberry, all will make a great fruity beer.  Spruce or juniper can be used as essences for winter seasonal brews.  We definitely abound in these evergreens.  Mint – careful!  This can overrun a garden.  I like mint in a container, not in the ground – in particular, spearmint and peppermint, can add flavor to brews.  And finally – apples – whether you choose to grow your own, or purchase some of our local varieties – you can very easily produce a hard apple cider.

A Brewer’s Garden also needs to have a few flowers in it as far as I’m concerned.  At the end of a long day at work, it’s nice to come home to a beautiful outdoor room – be it your yard, an apartment balcony, a rooftop like the Little Sprout, or even a screened-in porch – and have a mug of whatever your vice is.  Mine lately has been Crispin Pear Hard Cider, although I am anxious for the new local Pearl Street Hard Cider. So – add a pot of flowers, or a funky succulent bowl.  Sit back, relax, and dream your worries away.

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Grower To Grower

As summers go, this one was very nice.  We had just enough rain to keep the lawns green and the flower beds looking nice.  The cooler start helped the flowers and vegetables get off to a not so stressful start.  Annuals like vinca, zinnia and marigolds were slow to size up because of the cooler weather, but as soon as the heat came, they sized up fine.  The gnats early on were very annoying however, and made working out in the yard very unpleasant.

I have a large vegetable garden and being very busy in the month of May, I plant on or after Memorial Day.  I managed to get my onions, kale, spinach, and broccoli planted earlier since they like cooler weather.  I was fortunate to receive some squash seeds from a coworker this spring.  She gave me two types of winter squash, “Sunshine”, which is a Kabocha winter squash, and “Jumbo Pink Banana”, which is a true winter squash taking 105 days to mature.  “Sunshine” looks very much like a pumpkin both in color and shape.  It does not store well and should be used 1-2 months after harvest.  I tried it for the first time last season and found it easy to grow and delicious.  The “Pink Banana” I was not familiar with, nor was I prepared for the size it was going to attain.  The official name is Curcurbita Maxima with the emphasis on maxima!  It can get to 50 lbs. and 30” long.  My five squash are easily 24” plus.  At this writing I had not weighed them yet.  Let me say I will be sharing my squash with family and friends.

I tried celery again this summer.  I grew it maybe 20 years ago and remember tying newspaper around it to blanch the stalks.  This year I let it stay green.  Celery likes wet feet; so this year was perfect.  You can harvest as you need them and keep the rest growing.

The cooler weather we had did have some negative effects on my vegetables.  The cool, foggy mornings got powdery mildew started on all my squash.  As September started, my vines looked horrible, but luckily the squash were almost mature.  My tomatoes also got septoria leaf spot which does not affect the fruit, but takes most of the leaves off and exposes the fruit to sun scald.  My plants looked bad, but I managed to harvest a lot of tomatoes, even though they were later.  My green beans were great this year and as I write this article, I am harvesting a good second crop.  Rust can be a problem on beans, but I was lucky.  On a positive note, I have had the best crop of broccoli in a long time.  Broccoli likes it cool, but in early June when the first head is harvested the weather typically turns hot.  Side florets will not form in the heat of summer, but this year the plants never stopped producing.

As I said earlier, my tomatoes did not fair well this summer.  I had very few in July and early August.  I will probably finish ripening many tomatoes in the house wrapped in newspaper and in a warm spot.  As an observation on my part this year, my garden climate is changing.  My trees, as well as my neighbor’s trees, are getting bigger.  My garden is in a lot of shade, more than ever before.  It’s hard to find a sunny spot for 6 hours straight.  I may have to start container gardening for items like tomatoes and peppers, so I can move more of them to a sunnier location.

Every year in the garden is different.  We have to try and work around Mother Nature.  I get frustrated, but I would never stop vegetable gardening.  It’s my stress reliever and it provides me with a wonderful supply of fresh vegetables.  So go with the flow and enjoy your harvest.

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Teresa’s Pieces

Alas!  Summer has come and gone; our dewy faces were all aglow.  Winter will soon be upon us, raising havoc with our skin, don’t ya know?

We don’t need to suffer through the cold days ahead with itchy, dry and inflamed skin.  Eating fresh fruits and veggies provide the vitamins and nutrients necessary to keep skin renewed and promote cell growth.  Drinking plenty of water keeps cells supple and plump.  Vegetable oils like EVOO or sunflower oil incorporated into your diet strengthens the skin to prevent dryness.

Along with the internal care of your body armor, herbs (yeah, I love ‘em!) can be the star of your external skin care routine.

Cytophylatics such as myrtle and lavender promote healthy cell growth, deodorize and cleanse the skin and have a soothing effect.  An infusion of the flowers, stems and leaves of these herbs can be used as a body wash in the shower or added to bath water.

Alternatives like red clover and nettle cleanse and detoxify.  A standard infusion of the clover flowers and nettle leaves soothes skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema.

Chamomile flowers can be used in a strained infusion, cooled and used as a body wash to reduce itching and redness from skin allergies.  When chamomile is combined with the leaves of comfrey and used as an ointment, it provides an anti-inflammatory effect to soothe, heal and repair sore skin.

Lemon balm and marjoram leaves scattered in the bath act as a sedative to ease stress by calming the nerves and overwrought emotions.  The essential oil of lemon balm is used in massage therapy to relieve symptoms of shingles and chickenpox.

Vulneraries like horsetail can be used as a tea, which should be drunk twice a day for dull skin and lifeless hair.  Applied as an ointment, it helps heal the skin.  The infusion can also be used to clean cuts and wounds.

Oat, another vulnerary, placed in a cheesecloth bag and tied over the tap in the tub, cleanses and soothes skin.  Combining oatmeal and honey creates a paste that, as a facial mask, exfoliates and softens skin.  NOTE *This mask should be used fresh; discard any remaining paste.*  A hot compress made from infused oats eases itchy skin.

Fresh basil leaves can be rubbed on insect bites and stings, or tossed into bath water to relieve itching and pep up tired skin.

Aloe vera (yes, it’s considered an herb!) is a succulent plant with thick, fleshy leaves.  These leaves, when cut of broken off, ooze out a gel that can be applied to the skin  This gel relieves itching from rashes, eczema, skinless or psoriasis and promotes healing of burns or wounds.

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KZ’s Kreative Korner

Are you tired of buying wreaths for all the different holidays? I am…and of course they can get so expensive! Guess what? You can make your very own wreaths. Let’s make 4 of them for the 4 seasons….

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 Styrofoam wreaths
  • 4 Cheap Satin Ribbon (Maybe blue for winter, pink for spring, yellow for summer, and orange for fall…it can be any colors you want)
  • Small Pins (the sewing ones works best)
  • 4 Colors of Tulle (the colors need to match your satin ribbon)
  • Scissors
  • White Chenille Stems (Pipe Cleaners)
  • Ruler, optional
  1. Wrap your styrofoam wreaths in the satin ribbon you chose. Use the pins to pin them in place so the ribbon does not unwrap itself. Each styrofoam wreath should be a different color. Make sure the white styrofoam does not show through at all.
  2. Pick one color to do first. Take the same colored tulle and cut multiple strips of tulle about 10-12 inches long.
  3. Take your cut strips of tulle and start tying them around your styrofoam wreaths. Double knot your tulle to make sure they will not be loose and come off when the wind hits them. You may have to cut more strips.
  4. Continue tying the tulle around your wreath until it is completely covered all around.
  5. Decide where the top will be and tie a white chenille stem around it. Create a loop with the chenille stem so you have a hoop to hang your wreath..

Once you have finished with all 4 wreaths, you can hang them outside, inside, or wherever you want. You can even add more decorations to your wreath.

Additional Decorating Tips: For the winter wreath, hot glue silver snowflake ornaments all around it. For the spring wreath, hang plastic eggs down the center of the wreath and tie a big bow to the top of the wreath. For the summer wreath, add flip flops to one side of the wreath. For the fall wreath, glue in artificial fall leaves all around the wreath.

Don’t want a wreath for your door? That’s ok! Make a silk artificial swag to hang on your front door instead. It’s super easy!

What you’ll need:

  • 2-5 stems of artificial leaf sprays/branches
  • a matching ribbon
  • bind wire or twistie ties from the boxes of garbage bags or stem wrap tape
  • chenille stems (pipe cleaners)
  • wire cutter
  1. Put your leaf branches together letting them hang upside down. Adjust to the height you want. The more stems, the fuller it will look. Use your wire cutter to trim them if needed.
  2. Use either bind wire, twistie ties, or stem wrap tape to bind the ends of your stems together.
  3. Use a chenille stem or tie around the end and create a loop for a hoop to hang the swag.
  4. Make a big bow with the matching ribbon and tie it to the ends of your stems (or top of your swag.

That is it! You can do this for Fall and Winter….I told you it was super easy! Happy Fall and Winter!!!!

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The American Floral Trends forecast for 2015 is out.  The upcoming year emphasizes the natural world and its multiple variations – from organic materials to natural elements expressed in modern fabrications.

Poetic Nature – This expressive style is very romantic with a vintage flair.  The use of lace, burlap, rose gold and champagne accents, pearls, and ombré tones abound in this look.  Linen and burlap add texture to the muted tones of dusty blush, to smoky lavender, brightened lilac, gray, and rose.  The flowers that create this look include Garden Roses, Roses, Peonies, Hydrangeas, Lilacs, Stock, Tulips, Lisianthus, Heather, Dusty Miller, and Lamb’s Ear foliage.  We see rose gold (think 1924 jewelry) making a strong comeback and this is where it really fits in.

Fluid Nature – This trend can best be described as having a spa-like influence.  This will feature flowers and accents that will focus on our emotional well-being and physical health.  The elements you will decorate with to display this trend include:  herbs, birds, lattice work, fluid moving patterns such as chevron, and blue and aqua glass.  The sea and the sky embody optimism and have a calming effect.  Colors are blues that range from tranquil pearly blue to dusty sage, oceanic blue and violet.  The palette also includes neutral tones such as almond and champagne.  Flowers that create this look include:  Hydrangea, Lavender, Delphinium, Iris, Liatris, Rosemary, Waxflower, Ranunculus, Bouvardia, Silver Tree, Lamb’s Ear foliage, and Variegated ivy.

Sustainable Nature – This trend is definitely more earthy – think food co-ops, CSA’s, and organic only crop production.  The color tones in this are closely tied to that of fresh fall produce, especially beet, pomegranate and fig.  Add into that teal tones, emerald green, grayed jade green and you can envision this trend.  Once again, burlap and linen have their place in this look, as does reclaimed upholstery (really) and well-worn and nostalgic “found” items.  Rummage sales and auctions are perfect for collecting elements.  As far as Flowers go, think of Dahlias, Zinnias, Gerbera Daisies, Proteas, Succulents, Artichokes, Kale, Celosia, and Eucalyptus.

Synthetic Nature – This is crazy, bold, young, and fresh.  The colors show a tribal influence.  The colors are not neon or too bright.  The level of saturation is a step above midtones.  Purple is appearing everywhere, starting here with pale lavender and medium violet.  This coordinates very well with Salmon and vibrant coral.  Remember a couple of years ago when “Tangerine Tango” was the color of the year?  Pair the corals with royal blue and an icy blue, anchor with a deep charcoal navy, and even throw in some yellow.  Remember – not too bright!  The Flowers perfect for this trend are:  Liatris, Gerbera Daisies, Kangaroo Paws, Calla Lily, Anthuriums, Bells of Ireland, Green Trick Dianthus (a Little Sprout fav!) and even ornamental peppers.  We have lots of fun “Florist” products such as midollino, Aluminum flat wire, and funky ribbons with names like Revolution.  Fun, fun, fun!

As we move into 2015, look to La Crosse Floral to always be on the edge with Trends.  You can feel confident that we, as Professional Designers, will keep you in the loop with what new products play well with Flowers.

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South American Butternut Squash Stew


4 lb. butternut squash (7-8 cups diced)

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb. link Italian sausage, casing removed

4 cups sliced onions

6 cloves garlic, sliced

1 can diced tomatoes in juice (about 14.5 ox.)

¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 jalepeno chile pepper, seeded and minced

1 tsp. minced fresh oregano leaves or dried oregano

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 lb. green beans, stems removed and halved

1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed

2 tsp. minced fresh cilantro leaves

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

crumbled feta or cottage cheese

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add sausage; cook, breaking up chunks with a wooden spoon, until sausage is brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.  Stir in onions; cook until they begin to soften, 8-10 minutes.  Add garlic; cook 1 more minute.

Stir in squash, tomatoes, broth, jalepeno, oregano, and smoked paprika.  Partially cover pot; reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook stew, stirring occasionally, until squash is almost tender, about 20 minutes.

Add beans and corn.  Partially cover pot; cook 10 minutes more.  Stir in cilantro.  Season stew with salt and pepper.  Garnish stew with cheese.