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Strawberry Tiramisu

Oh the sweet taste of summer! Chef Manu is taking us to Italy this week with a McDonald Garden Center twist on tiramisu. Meaning “a pick me up,” this coffee confection is primed to perk with bold flavors of cocoa and espresso with mascarpone cheese and ladyfinger biscuits. With Chef Manu’s addition of our very own private label strawberry butter, this silky smooth sensation is sure to satisfy your summer sweet tooth. Perfect for those fourth of July BBQs, our strawberry tiramisu will say arrivederci to your culinary woes!

Ingredients:

2 packs mascarpone cheese
2 packages ladyfingers
50 cl heavy whipping cream
100g sugar
1/3 cup strong coffee
1 package fresh strawberries
Cacao powder
*McDonald Garden Center private label Strawberry Butter

Directions:

  1. Place the ladyfingers around and on the bottom of your pan.
  2. Brush a generous amount of coffee over the ladyfingers to soften.
  3. Whipped the heavy cream together with the sugar.
  4. Next, gently whip the mascarpone in a bowl and add the cream.
  5. Slice strawberries and mix with a little bit of strawberry butter.
  6. Place some strawberries on the ladyfingers and cover with half of the cream.
  7. Repeat layers of ladyfingers, coffee, strawberries and cream.
  8. Finish with powdered cacao on top.
  9. Refrigerate at least three hours before serving.

Plant of the Week: Perennial Hibiscus

When most people think of hibiscus they think of a tropical plant that grows in warm climates like Hawaii or Florida. Well, if you love the look of hibiscus but think it can only be grown in very warm climates don’t fret. If you crave a touch of the tropics, perennial hibiscus is a must. The perennial hibiscus should not be confused with the tropical hibiscus, which will not survive a winter freeze. Perennial varieties are true, cold hardy shrubs that die back each winter only to reemerge in the spring even bigger and better! And best of all, these beauties are easy to care for. Provide them with sun, decent soil and some pruning now and again and once established, they’ll provide your garden with years of fabulous color. There are many varieties of perennial hibiscus to choose from with plant heights ranging from 3 feet to 8 feet tall with giant, dinnerplate size blossoms in an array of colors. Make room in your garden for one of our favorite perennial hibiscus plants in stores now:

Summerific 'Cranberry Crush': A naturally compact selection that works well in large containers. Large 7-8”, deep scarlet red flowers are produced all over the dense, rounded clump of deep green, leathery, maple-like leaves. Garden Height: 36 - 48 inches.

Maintenance Tips: Perennial Hibiscus should be cut back to 4-6" from the ground in the spring. Since this plant doesn't leaf out until late, any time in spring before the new growth appears is fine. The stems are quite woody, so a saw or strong pair of loppers is necessary to cut through the thick stems. If you want to get really bushy and full plants, when the shoots start to come out of the ground and are about 6-10 inches tall, pinch them in half. The pinch should be made just above a set of leaves, this will improve branching. Improved branching will yield more flowers. Each time you pinch, take no more than half of the stem and pinch just above a set of leaves. You will get fuller plants doing multiple pinches. It is also perfectly acceptable not to pinch at all. The plant will have fewer branches, but it will perform perfectly well.

Check out more of our favorite plants! OUR PLANTS OF THE WEEK >>

Got Moles & Voles? We’ve Got Solutions!

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: (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.

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. So, the next step is to repell them. We recommend using REPELLEX MOLE & VOLE REPELLANT. The main ingredients is castor oil, which burns their face as they dig, therefor 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: (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.

Repellex also makes a systemic repellant, that gets absorbed by the plant and the roots, therefore protecting the roots from vole damage (designed for rabbits and deer, but works great for voles as well). Permatill is a kiln-fired slate product that is very coarse and voles can not dig through it. It is a great soil amendment by itself, but is also designed to be a vole barrier. Try using it to create a barrier along a bed line and sprinkle it in your soil when planting to protect the roots and amend soil.

Visit any of our three year-round locations on Saturdays, beginning June 19 through July 2, at 11:00AM for a complimentary class on solutions for moles & voles. learn more >>

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It's National Pollinator Week

Pollinators positively affect all our lives - let's SAVE them and CELEBRATE them.

How do pollinators affect your life? Well, if you’ve ever eaten a blueberry, chocolate bar or tomato, then you owe a big thank you to a small pollinator. Pollinators include birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, small mammals, and most importantly, bees. They are responsible for pollinating one out of every three bites of food we eat. But these invaluable creatures are facing declines. That’s why we are all collaborating together on efforts to help increase awareness and tackle challenges facing pollinators.

Seven years ago, the U.S. Senate approved and designated a week in June as National Pollinator Week. This was a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week has now grown to be an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles. The growing concern for pollinators is a sign of progress, but it is vital that we continue to maximize our collective effort. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture signs the proclamation every year. The state of Virginia now offers a Pollinator License Plate, whose proceeds help fund the flower plantings along highways for migratory pollinators.

You can do your part to help save pollinators, so set some time aside this week, June 20-26, to do something to help the pollinators! Here are some simple ways you can protect and support these important wildlife species:

Provide Food for Pollinators - one of the easiest things you can do to help pollinators is provide the right plants in your landscape. Plants form the foundation for pollinators by providing them with pollen and nectar for food, protection from the elements and predators, and a places where their young can thrive. There are two types of plants to consider when providing for pollinators: host plants and nectar plants. Host plants provide a site for pollinators to lay eggs, as well as, a food source and include herbs such as parsley, dill, fennel & milkweed. Nectar plants also provide food for pollinators while adding color, style and beauty to your garden. Recommended nectar plants include lantana, verbena, milkweed, butterfly bush, beebalm, coneflower, salvia, zinnia, lavender, tithonia, yarrow, scabiosa, and Russian sage. Bird seed feeders and hummingbird nectar feeders are also an easy way to provide food.

It’s also important to choose a mixture of plants for spring, summer and fall with a variety flower colors, shapes, and scents that will entice a wide range of pollinators. This will also ensure something is always blooming from early spring when temps begin to warm-up until the first frosts of fall.

Provide Clean Water for Pollinators – all pollinators need daily access to fresh water. Bird baths, fountains, or a saucer of water with pebbles will fit the bill. Make sure to refill daily and control mosquito larvae by using Pollinator-Safe Mosquito Dunks.

Provide a Haven for Pollinators - bees, butterflies, and other pollinators need access to safe places to nest, lay eggs, and raise their young. Pollinators also need protection for overwintering, so consider leaving perennials and grasses that will provide shelter and while providing winter interest to your garden.

Support Local Beekeeping - joining a local beekeeping organization is a great way to meet individuals who can provide hands-on help and share their knowledge of and experiences with beekeeping. You can find locally produced honey at the seasonal Farmers Markets in the surrounding area. McDonald Garden Center also holds monthly meetings on Backyard Beekeeping the second Sunday of each month from 2-4pm to help you become better acquainted with what is required for raising healthy honey bees.

Go Ahead, Make Dad’s Day.

Japanese Maples

Prized for its beauty, the Japanese maple is amazingly hearty and versatile and is one tree every dad should have in his landscape. There are hundreds of varieties of Japanese maples from the cascading dwarf or semi dwarf shrubs to the 30-foot version of this stately tree. With and endless assortment of leaf and color options, there’s truly a Japanese maple for every taste and space! Select from these varieties and many more and help make dad’s day ‘tree’mendous! And, did we mention that all three and five gallon Japanese maples are 50% off June 15 through June 21.

Sango kaku - this upright, deciduous tree has brilliant crimson-colored bark on younger wood making it a phenomenal accent in the winter garden. New leaves emerge bright green with soft red edges that soften into summer. Fall color includes golden yellow, apricot and light red. Sango kaku means "coral tower" in Japanese. Prefers sun/partial shade in well-drained soil. 10' tall x 4' wide in 10 years. Hardy to -20 degrees. USDA zone 5.

Bihou - small, upright deciduous tree with tiny yellow-green leaves. Fall color is yellow to orange. Bark on twigs and branches turns a vivid coral yellow with an orange overcast in winter. The Japanese name means "beautiful mountain range." Prefers sun/partial shade in well-drained soil. 7' tall x 3' wide in 10 years. Hardy to -10 degrees.

Seiryu – a vigorous deciduous tree eventually forming a broad canopy. Bright green, dissected leaves provide a wonderful texture. Fall color is strong orange. Name means "blue-green dragon" in Japanese. Prefers sun/partial shade in well-drained soil. 10' tall x 6' wide in 10 years. Hardy to -20 degrees. USDA
zone 5.

Bloodgood - a medium-growing, broad, deciduous tree popular for its strong deep-red foliage, which holds through summer. Fall color in vivid hues of crimson. Prefers sun/partial shade in well-drained soil. 12' tall x 8' wide in 10 years. Hardy to -20 degrees.

Ryu sei – a cascading deciduous tree with small green leaves. If grown naturally, it will become a groundcover. If staked, it will form a narrow weeping column. The Japanese name means "falling star." Prefers sun/partial shade in well-drained soil. If staked, 8' tall x 2' wide in 10 years. Hardy to -20 degrees. USDA zone 5.

Waterfall - a deciduous, compact, mounded weeping dissectum. In spring, large bright green leaves "cascade" to ground if left in natural form. Fall color has hues of yellow-gold with crimson. Stake for height. Prefers sun/partial shade in well-drained soil. 4' tall x 5' wide in 10 years. Hardy to -20 degrees. USDA
zone 5.

The Quintessential Climber

Boulevard Clematis

No garden is complete without the brilliant blooms and vining habit of clematis! This "queen of the climbers" creates a vertical element in the garden and is often seen lacing through fences, twining up and over mailboxes and garnishing trellises and arbors. Boulevard’s compact and bushy habit make it ideal for growing in containers as well as up against pergolas, trees and walls. A long-lived, evergreen perennial, Boulevard typically blooms from early spring until late summer and grows best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. This easy-to-grow, climbing vine is cherished for its incredible flower power and is a perfect choice for both the seasoned or beginner gardener. Clematis is sure to dazzle year after year.

Savory Salmon Quiche

Although quiche is now considered a classically French dish, it actually originated in Germany. This eggtastic wonder began in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule, which the French later renamed Lorraine (Chef Manu's hometown!) The word 'quiche' is from the German word 'kuchen', meaning cake.

This brunch favorite also works well as a light lunch or dinner and can be served hot or cold (although we prefer it hot). It's perfect with a fresh, green salad from the garden.

So ‘quiche’ you cooking woes goodbye and enjoy this latest addition of Cuisine du Jardin!

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium leek stalks
  • 6 slices smoked salmon
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Chef Jeff dill (to taste)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 package shredded Swiss cheese

Crust:

  1. Dice butter and mix with flour and salt until grainy.
  2. Add egg yolk, then assemble the dough into a ball.
  3. Mill the dough by pressing the palm of the hand on the edges of the dough to make it smooth. Repeat 4-5 times.
  4. Roll the dough into a ball and let rest 2 hours.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree.
  2. Wash and chop leeks
  3. Place butter in the pan. Once butter is hot, add leeks and let reduce (adding salt and pepper to taste.)
  4. When leeks are soft, add 1 cup heavy cream and let the cream reduce.
  5. Next add the sliced smoke salmon.
  6. Mix together all ingredients above (let cool a bit) and place in crust.
  7. Top with Swiss cheese.
  8. In a separate bowl, mix together 1 cup heavy cream, milk, eggs, dill, salt and pepper.
  9. Pour mixture over quiche.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
  11. Garnish with green onions, chives or dill.