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Cuisine de Jardin with Chef Manu - “Cœur de Framboise,” or “Raspberry Heart.”
Cuisine de Jardin with Chef Manu - “Cœur de Framboise,” or “Raspberry Heart.”
Cuisine de Jardin with Chef Manu - “Cœur de Framboise,” or “Raspberry Heart.”
Cuisine de Jardin with Chef Manu - “Cœur de Framboise,” or “Raspberry Heart.”
Cuisine de Jardin with Chef Manu - “Cœur de Framboise,” or “Raspberry Heart.”

“Cœur de Framboise,” or “Raspberry Heart.”

It’s love at first bite with this raspberry heart confection created by our very own Chef Manu. Featuring a decadent mousse bursting with fresh raspberries sandwiched between two light and crispy heart-shaped cookies – the perfect recipe for Valentine’s Day! So, show a little love with this delish dessert and be sure to treat yourself to little bite too!

Cuisine de Jardin with Chef Manu - “Cœur de Framboise,” or “Raspberry Heart.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 package puff pastry
  • 1 package fresh raspberries
  • 4 egg whites
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Chocolate Mousse:

  1. Beat egg whites with electric mixer on high speed for 3 minutes or until thick.
  2. Next, add half of the powdered sugar and continue beating for 10 seconds.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over boiling water.
  4. Beat 3 cups whipping cream in a chilled bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff.
  5. Fold chocolate into whipped cream.
  6. Gently mix in the white eggs.

Instructions:

  1. Cut puff pastry with a heart shaped cookie cutter and place on parchment paper between 2 baking pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Mix half of the raspberries with 2 tbsp water in blender to make raspberry sauce.
  3. Fill a pastry bag with the chocolate mousse and spread over cooled heart pastry.
  4. Add the raspberry sauce on top of mousse mixture and top with a second heart pastry.
  5. Dust the top of pastry with powdered sugar.
  6. Chill 1 hour before serving

Solutions for Moles & Voles

Moles can be frustrating, especially when you go to mow your lawn for the first time this spring and realize they have taken hold over the winter months. Voles eat the roots of your plants and nothing is more disheartening then realizing a mole has taken out your plants in the early part of spring. Take action now to get rid of the frustration and enjoy spring without them. We have solved the mystery of how to get rid of them and the best thing is it is all organic. Moles have become a major nuisance in this area and can cause damage as well as frustration to any gardener. Here’s some helpful information to help you rid your yard of these pests with organic solutions that are safe for you and the environment.

MOLES: (M for meat eaters that feed on grubs & insects)
The best way to rid your lawn of moles is to control the insects in the soil that they feed on. Their main diet consists of grubs. Your lawn can be treated in several ways to remove the moles’ food source. Less food, less moles!

The best long-term control is Milky Spore. Safe for the environment, this natural spore is harmless to fish, birds, bees, animals, plants and people. It kills grubs in the soil and remains active in the soil for up to 15 years. This is a great long-term solution for moles. We sell the concentrated formula that is a one time application with max benefits, other products and formulation might require 4-5 applications a year.

Once you eliminate their food source, the moles may stay. They are stubborn and like your yard for reasons beyond food. Lush lawns, mulched beds, and good soil makes for easy digging and more insects and earthworms that they also feed on. (Moles are stubborn, so they may stick around after you get rid of their food source. ) So, the next step is to repell them. We recommend using . The main ingredient is castor oil, which burns their face as they dig, therefore forcing them out of your yard. Repellex uses a recycled newspaper granule, which allows the castor oil to slowly release into the soil as it biodegrades. This allows the castor oil to stay in the soil for up to 6 months - twice as long as any other product. It also has double the amount of castor oil than any other product. You’ll need 1lb. per 1000 sq. ft., so it goes a long way.

VOLES: (V for vegetarians that feed on plant material)
Voles do not like to dig as much as moles, so they follow the mole tunnels into your yard. Rarely do you see voles and no moles. Voles tend to cause the most expensive and major damage, as they eat almost all plant roots, as well as most bulbs -- though they don’t eat daffodils or fritillaria. They also will nibble away at trees and shrubs.

Repellants work very well for getting rid of voles. All repellants are organic and safe to use around plants. As with moles, REPELLEX MOLE & VOLE REPELLANT is the best for its longevity. It also contains cinnamon, garlic and white pepper, which voles particularly dislike. Also, the castor oil burns their face just like the moles making them leave the area.

Be sure to attend one of our FREE Moles & Voles seminars on February 11 & 18 and again on March 11 & 18, at 1:00PM. Moles and Voles seminars are offered at all year-round location, Hampton, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. For details click here https://www.mcdonaldgardencenter.com/events/solutions-moles-voles-0

Don't Forget About Your Outdoor Space

By Elaine Linn, McDonald Landscape Designer

We all enjoy our home sweet homes and know our favorite chair and our favorite room. And, we all know what it’s like to look around and wish we had less clutter, more space - more anything that looks like Chip and Joanna Gaines showed up magically one morning. Well what if we could create more space and beauty? And, what if we could do that for around the same price of renovating a bathroom instead of a whole house? You can! Especially in this fine State of Virginia, where we have an abundance of sunshine, salty air and beautiful weather for most of the year. I originate from Michigan, where we dream of vacationing in a place like this and get overly excited at the prospect of spending a week in the sun. I haven’t seen that kind of excitement here until our recent snow storm! I guess we all get enthusiastic about the out of norm. And as locals, it’s easy to take for granted our abundance of enjoyable outdoor days and extended growing season and forget that most Americans don’t have this luxury.

So why not use this gift of latitude and longitude to our advantage and create space out of doors? Sometimes this can be an overwhelming concept, especially if we don’t know how to start. As a trained landscape architect and urban planner, my first recommendation would be to consult with a design professional, who can help you envision the possibilities. And there are always plenty of possibilities! But at the most basic of levels, for most of us our immediate need and desire is to create a living room type experience where we envision ourselves lounging with our morning cup of coffee or unwinding with our evening glass of wine.

As designers, we understand the importance of key design principles such as color, line, texture, balance, etc. However, to accomplish creating an intimate outdoor space, we also need to be mindful of spatial relationships, scale, horizontal and vertical enclosure, and view sheds. To accomplish these design principles, your designer will seamlessly blend hardscape (in the way of a paver patio, seat wall, pergola, and fire and/or water feature, for example) and softscape. Softscape is like adding walls, artwork, rugs, throw blankets and decorative pillows to your living room. Softscape represents enclosure, interest, a sense of coziness, peace and tranquility. And it really takes the melding of the two: hardscape and softscape to create a successful space.


About Elaine Linn- Elaine has a Bachelors in Landscape Design and a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning with a Specialization in Land Reclamation from Michigan State University. She has over 15 years of design experience from large scale mixed-use master planning to the smaller, more intimate, scale of residential design. She couldn't be more excited to now call Virginia her home and get her hands on the vast and diverse plant material that grows here.

Visit https://www.mcdonaldgardencenter.com/landscapes to learn more about our landscape services.

Citrus Clair de Lune or "Citrus Moonlight" Cocktail

Make your winter a little sweeter with a glass of Citrus Clair de Lune (translated citrus moonlight), a fresh and fragrant concoction, prepared by our own Chef Manu. The blend of sweetness and tart complement each other beautifully, with the decadence of Cointreau and Perrier balanced with a fruity combo of lemon, orange and tangy grapefruit. Cheers!

Cuisine de Jardin with Chef Manu - Citrus Clair de Lune, Citrus Moonlight Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 3 grapefruits
  • 3 lemons
  • 4 oranges
  • 2 tbs. of white sugar
  • 3 tbs. of brown sugar
  • 1 small bottle of Perrier
  • 1 bottle of Sprite
  • 5 oz. of Cointreau or Grand Marnier

Recipe

  1. Cut and squeeze the citrus (3 grapefruits, 3 lemons and 4 oranges). Mix in a container.
  2. Add both white and brown sugars and mix well.
  3. Next add Perrier and Sprite.
  4. Add Cointreau or Grand Marnier.
  5. Garnish with fresh mint and serve over ice.

NOTE: for a fun twist on this citrusy cocktail, substitute mandarinquat for oranges.

Keep refrigerated.

Santé!

Top 5 Birding Essentials

We know you love your feathered friends. Here are some basic tips on birding, along with what types of products we recommend for success.

1. Feed the birds – It’s important to feed birds all year, not just seasonally. McDonald Garden Center offers a wide selection of birdseed to attract a variety of birds into your yard. Some types of birdseed, like Black Oil Seed mix from Wild Delight, appeal to birds that like to actually pick through the seed and open the shell.
2. Provide a home/shelter - Providing safe and properly placed birdhouses will keep the birds in your yard longer. There are different birdhouses for different sized birds and bird types. For instance, the small birdhouses at McDonald Garden Center appeal to the tiny birds like the titmouse, finch, chickadees, and sparrows.
3. Provide water -Birdbaths great for allowing birds to drink and bath in a safe place. We have a wide variety of birdbaths from the ornate to the simplistic.
4. Know your Birds - Know the species and types of birds you want so you can buy your seed and houses accordingly. Tube feeders are a great way to isolate the type of bird you want and MGC offers cardinal feeders, woodpecker feeders, finch feeders, and more.
5. Stop the Squirrels – Squirrels are one of the most popular reasons people stop birding. Get squirrel proof feeders and buy seed they may not like as much. We carry new varieties of birdseed like Sizzle N’ Heat from Wild Delight. This type of seed has hot pepper in it, which deters the squirrels but the birds still enjoy.

Check out our Garden Guru, Mike Westphal, for additional tips on Birding

Garden for Health

It’s a brand new year and statistics show that at least 50 percent of Americans make some kind of New Year’s resolution. The fact that getting healthy tops the list is no shocker — it's among the most common New Year's resolutions. However, you don't need to put on the Lycra for an exhausting aerobics class – just pop on your wellies and head out the back door to your garden.

Not only is gardening good for the soul, but research shows it’s also good for the waistline. But is gardening really good exercise? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, moderate intensity activities such as gardening, for 2.5 hours each week can reduce the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, colon cancer and premature death. Here are just some of the benefits you can reap from gardening:

Gardening Burns Calories - losing weight requires you to burn more calories than you consume, and the amount of weight you’ll lose gardening depends on several factors including your size and the work you are performing. When it comes to burning calories, digging and shoveling are at the top of the list followed by mowing and weeding. Spend a half an hour doing any of the activities below and expect to burn between 100 to 250 calories (examples provided by Iowa State University):

  • Digging and shoveling: 250 calories
  • Lawn mowing: 195 calories
  • Weeding: 105 calories
  • Raking: 100 calories

Gardening Tones You Up - not only does gardening burn calories – it strengthens and tones muscles as well. Gardening is a whole-body workout utilizing legs, buttocks, arms, shoulders, neck, back and abdomen. For example, hedge trimming helps shape your biceps while raking and mowing will all help to strengthen the arms and shoulders as well as tone the abdominal muscles. Lifting bags of mulch, pushing a wheelbarrow and shoveling also provide resistance training, which leads to healthier bones and joints. To get the most out of your gardening workout alternate gardening tasks to make use of different muscle groups.

Gardening Protects Your Heart - any activity that is brisk enough to leave you slightly out of breath and raise the heartbeat counts as moderate intensity exercise, which, according to the experts, can help protect against heart disease.
Like any other form of exercise, you need to be active for at least 30 minutes for there to be a benefit. So, if the sun is shining what better incentive do you need for getting out into the garden and digging in the dirt?

Gardening Relieves Stress - if you’re looking for ways to relieve stress, look no further than your own backyard. Many people who garden do it because they enjoy it, and say that gardening helps them to relax and escape from daily stresses. The psychological benefits of being outdoors and working in the sunshine and fresh air are also clear. Studies have shown the beneficial effects of simply being in nature for decreasing stress. In much the same way as a beautiful painting elevates the mood, looking at a summer garden, soaking up the colors, smells and sounds can help overall wellbeing.

The great thing about gardening is that it can be both energetic and relaxing at the same time. Gardening can also be and a year-round activity — even in the winter you can rake leaves, work in the greenhouse or do some pruning. And there is nothing better than being able to stand back and admire the fruits of your labor while improving your health and wellbeing at the same time.

Green with Envy - Tips for Healthy Houseplants

It's actually not that difficult to keep houseplants happy, but you do need to pay attention to their basic needs and take care of any potential problems right away. Here are some tips to help you have a green thumb indoors.

Avoid Over Watering - it’s counterintuitive, but overwatering is the most common reason plants fail – particularly in the winter. Overwatering can cause browning of leaves, fungus, gnats, and dropping of leaves. Wait to water your houseplants until they become dry. Test the soil with your finger. When the top inch is dry, then add water.
Nice Idea: Use the same watering vessel each time, so you know to add the same amount whenever you water.
Neat Idea: place a cork pad under your plant’s saucer. This will eliminate water stains on your carpet or hardwood floors.

Clean the Green - keep your leaves free of dust and grime this will keep your plants healthier – plus they’ll look better. Take a half of a lemon and squeeze it into a quart of water using a soft cloth. Wet it with the lemon mix and wipe gently. Support the foliage using your other hand so you won’t bend or break the leaf. Unless you live in a dust bowl, you’ll probably only have to do this once every six months or so.

Feeding - your houseplants need food during the winter, but less is more. If your directions say 1 tablespoon or 1 scoop we recommend cutting that in half. Feed only once a month until spring. Personally I believe organic fertilizers are better for plants.
Who knew: Using filtered or bottled water will help eliminate dead ends. The minerals in tap water will settle to the ends of the leaves and cause the dead ends.

Check for Pests - keep an eye out for pests. They usually will attack the new growth and also hide on the underside of the leaves and along the stem. They are not harmful to humans and are easily able to control. If you do discover pests grab yourself an organic insect spray. Lay out some plastic under the pot and start spraying at the bottom of the plant.
Spray the foliage on the underside and then on top, working your way up. Your treatments may take several applications 7 – 10 days apart. The sooner you discover those pests, the easier it is to get under control, so check your plants often.

Wait to Repot - if you feel your plant needs to be repotted into a bigger container, it’s best to wait to late winter or early spring. Longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures are more conducive to root expansion. Choose a container that is 4 – 6 inches larger than the existing pot. When choosing a pot the saucer is important. You want at least 2″ of space between the saucer edge and the bottom of the pot.

A Guide to Poinsettias: History, Care, and Maintenance

The History of the Poinsettia

One of the most recognizable and sought-after plants of the holiday season, poinsettias have had quite a journey. Though interesting in their own right, the origin of the poinsettia is more unassuming than one would think (as they now adorn not only the White House corridors, but the entry way of your local Applebees.)

The poinsettia was not prized by the Aztecs for their striking red bracts but for their medicinal purposes, as they were highly effective in reducing fevers. It wasn’t until 1828 that poinsettias made their way to America-a voyage that would change the horticultural-based retail market forever.

The story began when Joel Roberts Poinsett, the son of a French physician, was appointed the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico by President Madison. Even though he had followed in his father’s footsteps and graduated with a degree in medicine, Poinsett was fiercely dedicated to his love of botany. While visiting Mexico, in 1828, he found himself drawn to the strikingly red blooms. (Actually, they are not flowers but colored bracts, a kind of modified leaf.) He sent them back to his greenhouse in Greenville, South Carolina, as well as to his botanist friend, Robert Buist. Buist sold the plant as “Euphorbia pulcherrima,” meaning beautiful, as he was also taken by the plant’s vibrant hue. When the poinsettia broke through the cracks of his greenhouse floor, he also became impressed with the plants’ strength!

So though Poinsett is responsible for bringing what we now know as the poinsettia to America, others helped cultivate it to its smaller size. In fact, the large, original version still grows as a tree in Mexico.

Interesting Facts/Care and Maintenance
So now that we’ve journeyed to the present- what makes them special and how can you best care for them this holiday season?

Poinsettias are the #1 selling holiday plant in the USA but take caution if you have a latex allergy. The poinsettia is in the Euphorbiaceae family, a group known to ooze a milky sap. This sap has been known to produce a reaction to those who have an allergy to latex. This sap also causes nausea for our furry friends, so best to keep Fido and Fluffy away.

Though poinsettias have been referred to as the lobster flower and the flame leaf for it’s red color, there are more than 100 varieties available today. You can get still that traditional rouge at McDonald Garden Center, but rising in popularity are our painted poinsettias. Really want to up the glam factor? Try one with glitter!

There are varying stories about the origin of the poinsettia. Many in Mexico and Guatemala know the plant as “La Flor de la Nochebuena” or “Flower of the Holy Night,” while the Aztecs refer the plant as “Cuitlaxochiti,” or “flower that grows in soil.” In Spain, the poinsettia isn’t attributed to Christmas at all, but is instead called “Flor de Pascua,” which means, “Easter Flower.”

Care and Maintenance

• Poinsettias should be placed in a south facing area with lots of light or bright, filtered light.

• Ideally they should be kept at 68° during the day, and bit cooler temps at night.
•Water regularly and make sure the soil is moist to the touch.
•Keep away from windows and heaters

Can my Poinsettia come back?
If you want your poinsettia to “bloom” again next season, it is possible, but it takes some work. The best way to ensure success is to continue to water your poinsettia until the middle of spring. When you get to that midpoint, you can allow the stems to shrivel up by drying the plant out. Keep in a cool area until spring ends. Early summer, repot and cut all growth to a couple inches above the soil line. In about a month, move the pot outside, but only in the shade. Continue to cut growing tips until mid summer. Before the fall season, return the poinsettia indoors. Find an area with lots of sun, watering and feeding regularly.
When fall begins, its time to start the process of returning the leaves to whatever color they were the previous year. This can take up to two months. First, change over from a nitrogen-based fertilizer to one made for houseplants. (Plant Tone from Espoma is a nice option.) Place the plant in 13 hours of complete, uninterrupted darkness and 11 hours of bright sunshine per day. After about two months, remove the time spent in darkness and place in the sunniest area of your home. Then enjoy!

Two Takes on a Persimmon Treat

It's that tasty time of year where treats are aplenty, and sweet sensations steal the scene. A way to bring a bit of freshness into the festivities is by using one of our favorite fruits, persimmons. A beautiful and vibrant edible, persimmons add a depth of flavor with a brightness that fits well into any holiday menu.

We know how easy it is to get caught in the hustle and bustle, so we're bringing you two ways to prepare this fantastic fruit. The first is from our very own Chef Manu, a complex yet achievable torte with layers of hazelnut biscuit, persimmons mousse, and chocolate mousse. The second, is a quick but delicious creation from McDonald Garden Center founder Eddie Anderson. With these two greats offering up their recipes- how can you go wrong?

Cuisine de Jardin with Chef Manu - Hazelnut Persimmon Torte

A work of art with delicate, fluffy layers of flavors, this Hazelnut Persimmon Torte adorns your holiday table like a star on a Christmas tree.

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 cup Hazelnut flour
  • 1 cup Powdered sugar
  • ½ cup Butter, softened
  • 3 Eggs
  • Almond extract, 2 drops

Mousse Filling:

  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar Fruit 10
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Gélatin.
  • 9 oz. chocolate
  • Fresh raspberries, 1 small carton
  1. In a bowl mix softened butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at the time. Next, add hazelnut flour and the almond extract. Press in a sheet pan and cook at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. When done, remove from oven and let cool.
    In a bowl, mix the cream and the sugar until creamy. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. Open the persimmon fruit and extract the pulp and place in the pan on the stove to warm. Add the gelatin and let cool for 10 minutes. Gently fold in half of the whipped cream and the fruit mousse. Melt the chocolate and add to the other half of whipped cream mixture and mix together gently.
  3. Layer the persimmon, fruit cream on top of hazelnut crust and top with the chocolate mousse. Garnish with fresh raspberries. Refrigerate 2 hours.

Mr. A’s Easy-as-Persimmons Treat

This fresh, tasty, and colorful, concoction, created by our very own Mr. Anderson, is a delightful blend of sweet and tart and is the perfect escape into the whimsical this season.

Ingredients

  • Persimmons (ripe)
  • Greek yogurt or whipped cream
  • pound cake loaf (store bought)
  1. Cut the tops off the ripened persimmons.
  2. Scoop the inside of the fruit into small cups.
  3. Top with plain Greek yogurt or whipped cream.
  4. Serve immediately.

The Best of Gift Guide 2016

Thoughtful gifts from the heart always add warmth to a cold, wintry season. Family owned and operated, we’ve been in the heart-warming business since 1945 and remain committed to offering quality products our customers can be proud to give their loved ones. To take the guesswork out, we have thoughtfully compiled a list of our top six gift-giving items that sparkled bright this season.

6. Jewelry Boxes
These beautiful keepsake boxes are elegant and timeless-the perfect gift to be passed down generation to generation. With charming touches like pearls or high-quality beads, these delightfully delicate boxes both adorn and adore.
five different styles to choose from (from $9.99—$49.99)

5. Barebones Tools
Barebones tools are high-quality, superior products that every gardener covets. Their attention to detail and dedication to using exceptional materials inspires gardeners to “dig deep,” both literally and figuratively.
choose from cultivator, scissors, spade, square hoe and essential gardeners gift sets (starts at $19.99)

4. Simplux Candles
Simplux Flameless Candles are stunningly realistic and boast patented TRUE-FLAME Technology® that makes them virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. The three-dimensional flame will never burn out, always remains cool to the touch, and is safe around the home, children and pets. Those qualities make the Simplux candle perfect for weddings, events and everyday use.
available in pillar and melted candle styles, from 5-inch to 9-inch ($19.99-$34.99)

3. Heirloom ornaments
You can’t get more local than these hand-painted, Hampton Roads centric heirloom ornaments that commemorate some of the most unique, beautiful, and iconic places in our great community. Truly a unique and cherished gift item, these heirloom ornaments are exclusive to McDonald Garden Center.
starting at $29.99

2. Poinsettias
These exquisite beauties are the definition of classic Christmas. One, if not the most, popular plants of the season, poinsettias' timeless sophistication and embracement of the holiday spirit gives that lovely feeling of nostalgia to its recipients. Shopping for a non-traditionalist? Don’t worry, we have you covered with a full spectrum of colors and new, unique varieties.
red, pink, creamy white, coral, and more (from $4.99 to $39.99)

1. MGC Gift Cards
Cliché? Perhaps. Failsafe? Absolutely! With McDonald Garden Center’s wide variety of products- from plants to pottery and deco to daisies-give your gardener what they really want…Choices. Gift cards available in store or by clicking here.
$10-$300

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