A Woodland Nook in Progress

Woodland Nook 7

A New Woodland Sitting Nook

We recently created an informal sitting area in the margin of woods between a residence, a sloping meadow, and a path through the woods. The residents wanted a place to sit and enjoy the shade in the summer months. Here is a quick photo tour showing how the shady woodland nook fell into place.

Recently cleared wooded area

Recently Cleared Wooded Area

The existing wooded area was first cleared of invasive understory shrubs and vines, and a few dead trees were removed.

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Creating a Level Area

Once the vegetation was cleared, we needed to create a level sitting area. We re-graded the bumpy spots and added some clean fill.

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Building a Rustic Retaining Wall

We constructed a rustic boulder retaining wall on the lower edge of the sitting place.

Setting the Stones into Place

When the retaining wall was complete, we added good planting soil/compost mix, and raked it smooth. Then we set irregular bluestone in place, keeping the joints far enough apart for mosses and other ground cover to be installed later.

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Laying out the Irregular Bluestone

Now the Woodland Nook is ready for some shade loving plants to fill in the blanks. Add a few Adirondack chairs, and it will be a great respite from the summer sun. We’ll add more photographs when the planting is complete!

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Sitting Area Ready for Planting

Sweet, Edible Spring

When clusters of sweet violets recently popped up in the garden, food was not the first thing on my mind. I was thinking birds, blooms, and warmer weather must finally be on the way. But after spotting this flower recipe book at Eight Cousin’s Bookstore, cooking violets into sugary concoctions seems like the only logical thing to do. Cooking with Flowers: Sweet and Savory Recipes with Rose Petals, Lilacs, Lavender, and Other Edible Flowers by Miche Bacher and Miana Jun is full of beautiful photographs and recipes featuring edible blooms.

Cooking With Flowers  by MIche Bacher, Miana Jun

Cooking With Flowers by Miche Bacher, Miana Jun

Dandelion leaves are tender and tasty this time of year, but their yellow flowers can also be used. Toss them in bread crumbs and fry them up as fritters. Tulips? Not only are the petals edible, but so are the bulbs. They taste like onions. And right now is the perfect time to harvest violets, pansies, and dandelions from your garden.  With lovely sounding things like Calendula Orange Cake, Elderflower Marshmallows, and Blackberry Borage Fool, the only problem with this book is that you will want to eat everything in it.

A few edible* flowers to look for this spring:

Apple & Crabapple Blossoms (Malus)
Bachelor’s Button (Centaurea)
Calendula (Marigolds)
Clover (Trifolium)
Dianthus (Carnations, Pinks, & Sweet William)
Dandelions
Elderflowers (Sambucus)
Wild Geraniums or Cranesbill (Pelargonium)
Lilacs (Syringa)
Love-lies-bleeding (Amaranth)
Pansies (Viola)
Tulips
Violets (Viola)

*The flowers on this list are all fairly common, but be sure confirm the identity before eating any plants. Also, never eat flowers that have been sprayed with harmful chemicals. 

Viola Odorata - Sweet Violets

Viola Odorata – Sweet Violets

Now what to do with those Sweet Violets from the garden? Candied flowers are an easy way to add elegance to your favorite cupcake recipe. To make candied violets, all you need are egg whites, very fine sugar, a handful of violets, and water. There is a great How-to at Taste of Home. Don’t use your houseplants for these. African Violets are not members of the Viola family and are not edible. Use Viola Odorata (Sweet Violet), Pansies, or other edible flowers.

Taste of Home Candied Violets Recipe

Taste of Home Candied Violets Recipe

Happy Spring, Happy Flower Cooking, and if you know of any other great flower recipes, we’d love to hear about them.