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Butternut Squash Soup
 
2 Tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp curry powder
1 ½ tsp chili powder
6 cups chicken broth
3 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup pepitas
 
In a large stock pot, melt butter. Add onion, garlic, curry and chili powder and cook for 10 minutes until onions are soft. Add chicken broth, squash, and sweet potatoes. Cover and cook for 20-30 min until vegetables are tender.

In a blender, puree mixture in small batches until smooth and return to the pot. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with a dollop of yogurt and pepitas.




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Walden in Winter 
Last December, at the tail end of a 3-day arborist conference in Boston MA, I took a 30-minute Uber drive to Concord MA to visit Walden Pond. A beautiful tourist center resides across the road from the pond, so new you can smell the knotty pine. Admission is free. The house that Henry David Thoreau constructed is long gone but a replica has been built near the parking lot, to make the house accessible to the handicapped. I was immediately corrected by the gentleman at the desk who said we are at "Walden Pond not Walden's Pond" and I was smarting to be exposed as another ill-informed tourist.

The 335-acre property has been kept pristine and the panoramic views of nature are unmarred. I walked the 1.7-mile trail around the pond, entranced by the fresh air and silence. The trail is fenced off to keep people from wandering into the woods. The predominant tree species is white pine. Other species include oak, alder, hickory, black locust, birch, and aspen. The location of the cabin is marked by a plaque.

Thoreau built a ten-by-fifteen-foot cabin on the shores of Walden Pond. For two years from 1845 to 1847, Thoreau dedicated his life to frugality and writing the only two books he published during his lifetime: A Week and Walden.

Throughout his life, people did not see Thoreau as an accomplished author. It was not until years later, around the beginning of the twentieth century, when people started to appreciate Thoreau more when his books, essays, and journals, which totaled twenty volumes, were finally published.

Today, Thoreau's message resonates more than ever as we seem to be spending more and more time entrenched in our man-made society and glued to our devices; we don't fully appreciate the importance of nature to mankind, and how people cannot survive without nature, physically, mentally, and spiritually. A visit to Walden Pond is an opportunity to spend time self-reflecting about who you are and how you want to live.


"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." 


"I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society."


"However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is."


"And not till we are completely lost, or turned round, - For a man needs only to be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost, - do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of Nature."


"I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor...My house was on the side of a hill, immediately on the edge of the larger woods, in the midst of a young forest of pitch pines and hickories, and a half a dozen rods from the pond, to which a narrow footpath lead down the hill."

For more information on Walden Pond  
My Prediction for 2017 Garden Trends

1. The Sustainable Garden 
Sustainability is on most people's minds these days.
How can you enhance sustainability?
  • Increase biodiversity at all levels. The more wild your garden, the better.
  • Use plants that will survive. Emphasis on the "right plant, right place". Drought tolerant natives will be in high demand.
  • Plant more trees.Planting trees can slow down climate change. A tree can absord as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide (a major greenhouse gas) per year, and can sequester one ton of carbon dioxide by the time it reaches 40 years old.
  • Incorporate more flowering plants. This helps bees and pollinators.
  • Use natural pest control and limit the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Letting good bugs get bad bugs, hand pulling weeds and applying fertilizer on a prescription basis are options.
Diverse landscape planting   
 
2. Edible Landscapes
Every spring during our neighborhood tree sale, I watch as fruit trees are the first to disappear. Ever since Michal Pollan challenged the urban gardener in his book, The Omnivores Dilemma, creating something productive from our tiny plot of earth is becoming wildly popular. The edible landscape provides gardeners with bountiful harvests of fruit, vegetables and herbs while minimizing the waste land of turf grass. Not only can edible landscapes serve a utilitarian function, they also are aesthetically pleasing.

Some edibles for the Minnesota landscape:
 
Mt Royal plum, LaCrescent Grape, Bali Cherry, Chestnut Crabapple, Elderberry, Hazelnut, Parker Pear, Honeycrisp Apple, Serviceberry, Honeyberry, Gooseberry


Mt Royal Plum

3. Dwarf Shrubs
American yards are shrinking as more people live in the city and on ever-smaller lots. Along with less space for plants, I am hearing ever more requests for gardens that require little day-to-day maintenance. Dwarf shrubs are a big hit due to their low maintenance needs. If you only need a 2-foot plant, why plant something that'll grow to 4 feet and then spend the next 20 years clipping it? It's all about plants that are the appropriate scale for the garden.

Plant breeders are responding by cultivating an increasing variety of dwarf shrubs with variegated foliage, compact size, disease resistance and longer bloom time.

Dwarf Shrubs to try: 
Artic Sun Dogwood, Bobo Hydrangea, Tiny Wine Ninebark, Rainbow Sensation Weigela


Artic Sun Dogwood
 

4. Lawn Re-imagined 
Long a symbol of the American dream, the expansive and neatly manicured lawn continues to take a hit, due in part to drought, water shortages, and concerns about the environmental impact of fertilizing, pest-control treatments and high energy maintenance. Lawn-like alternatives such as Low-Mow grass and native plants lawns, however, are hot. While I don't anticipate the end of traditional lawns anytime soon, more homeowners are opting for smaller ones than in the past. Some of the ways to reduce the lawn to create large planting beds and exaggerate woodland boundaries. Ground-covers and low growing plants can take the place of grass, often in addition to stepping stones and pathways.


Native plants lawn

5. Container Combinations
There will be more beautiful container combination gardens to choose from next year. A new trend in this area is the addition of natural elements, perennials and edibles to these combinations.
Bringing nature inside is a way to green up our homes and workplaces. Truly tiny t errariums ar e an excellent option for city dwellers without access to outdoors.
 
They provide a self-contained garden for novice botanists. The key is to always decorate the surface of the compost with moss, as this will transform the most mundane planting into something special. Even if you have no outside space you can create something beautiful to enjoy.


Tiny Terrarium
 
For additional insights on landscaping trends

Thanks for reading.  
Happy Planting!    

Faith

Faith Appelquist

President & Founder

 

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