Author: edmin

December in My Garden

Happy December! I worked in retail for two major companies for a really long time, so the holiday season for me involved looong hours, not much time with my family, and cranky customers. It also involved beautiful wonderland store displays, easy shopping (I worked in a store with a discount!), and congratulatory champagne in the store manager’s office on Christmas Eve. Not having a personal life between Thanksgiving and Christmas was so much the norm that when I left retail for the entertainment industry (that doesn’t work a whole lot during that time), I hardly knew what to do with myself or my kids. Now that I have my own business, December always feels like a month of possibilities, reflection, planning, and joy. I am busy, and I love it!

December includes selling my hand blown glass miniature terrariums at my younger son’s school’s holiday boutique and the incredibly popular Unique USA Holiday Market in Downtown LA. It’s all about my garden art and supporting local, handmade, and made in the USA designers and artists. This year, I am sharing a booth with a very talented jewelry designer, April Laird, of Smithy Jewelry. Through 12/02/2014, you

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Basil, King of Herbs (and a cocktail, of course)

Somehow in my series on culinary herbs and how to use them in cocktails, I left out one of the best known and most widely herbs: basil. You would think that an herb with a nearly 4000 year history (mentioned first by the ancient Egyptians and used an an embalming herb) and whose Latin name Ocimum basilicum references a Greek warrior and the Greek word for “king” would have been first on my list. It is my favorite herb!

Basil is known in India (by the name Tulsi or Toolsi) as a holy herb. Hindus believe that basil is sacred to all the gods and acts as a protector. It is often planted around temples and cemeteries. Other cultures view basil as a love token or even as a protector against evil. Oddly enough, through much of history, basil was thought to be poisonous and a symbol of poverty, hate, or abuse. Victorians, in their love of floral symbolism, categorize basil as representing both hatred and best wishes.

The numerous modern cultivars of basil include scented basils like cinnamon, lime, licorice, and lemon. Other varieties include Thai basil, lettuce leaf basil, Genovese basil, amethyst basil, and Christmas basil. One of

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November in My Garden

While I wait for potential clients to decide whether or not to hire me, I contemplate my own garden. It’s November, and in most parts of the country, gardens have been put to bed for the season. It’s already snowing in so many places. Hey, I wore a sweater for most of the day yesterday – it only got up to 68 degrees AND it was cloudy! Unfortunately, I can’t use the excuse of the impending winter to keeping me from garden chores.  My garden has been a bit of a disaster lately, but there’s nothing like having company over to get me moving and cleaning. I am doing a series of DIY terrarium classes in my front yard, so some sprucing up was in order. The tables for the class got set up over the patch of n0-lawn, and I went to work dead heading and popping in some fall color.

Thankfully my white iceberg roses decided to bloom again just in time for the first class. I also planted some drought tolerant plants along my fence (mallow, salvia, and milkweed for attracting butterflies). Now that the two dead Elm trees are gone, there is more sun on the

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You’ve Ripped Out the Lawn, Now What? 6 Tips for Planting Drought Tolerant Gardens

If you live in Southern California, unless you’ve been living in the dust under a rock, you know we are in the midst of a terrible drought. When it does rain, people get all excited; the local news media goes on “STORM WATCH!”; and the complaining starts. No one can drive in the rain. Mudslides! No one can drive in the rain (yes, I know I said that twice). People are taking this drought seriously. Dead and dying lawns pepper our neighborhoods (well, maybe not in Beverly Hills – appearances need to be kept up you know). We show pride in how dirty our cars are. We discuss the merits of grey water and rain barrels. And we jump for joy that our Mayor, Eric Garcetti, just approved an increase to the Department of Water and Power’s (DWP) turf removal rebate program. If you are approved, you can receive a rebate of up to $3.75 per square foot to get rid of your water thirsty lawn and replace it with drought tolerant plants.

Herein lies the problem. Pulling up the turf and popping in a few Agaves and other succulents probably won’t  do much for the

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October in My Garden

I think it’s finally fall in Los Angeles. The Liquid Amber trees are starting to turn a brilliant red. The nights and early mornings (the dog wakes me up at 5:30am!) are cool. Daytime is warm and dry, and if you’re very still in the afternoon, you can feel just the tiniest bit of chill in the wind. Fall is very subtle here, but it is also the time when the garden starts to wake up again after the summer’s oppressive heat. The roses are starting to bloom again and my herb garden is starting to recover. It is time to plant again!

I have 5 4′ x 4′ raised beds in my backyard garden and assorted containers in the front. I’d love to rip out what is left of my lawn in front and add some metal feed trough beds and a pomegranate tree. The husband is still holding on to his love of lawn although I am not sure why since it’s pretty brown and more weeds than actual grass. Like shoes that mysteriously ‘appear’ in my closet, I am sure the beds will start to increase.

What tree, honey? Oh, the pomegranate! Don’t you remember how much

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Long Live Sage!

“How can a man grow old who has sage in his garden?” ~Chinese Proverb Tweet: “How can a man grow old who has sage in his garden?” ~Chinese Proverb

 

Common Sage (Salvia officinalis) is considered by many cultures to be a sacred herb. In fact, Salvia means ‘savior’ or ‘sacred’. It has been used since ancient times as a medicinal herb to cure everything from sore throats to rheumatism, as a sacred ceremonial herb to cleanse spaces of evil spirits or negative energy or to impart wisdom and immortality, and more recently as a culinary herb.

As a garden designer, I like to use culinary sage planted among ornamental plants. Its many varieties show off soft grey green, purple, and even variegated leaves. The plants grow in low, mounded clumps, and in the summer they bloom with purple flowers. Sage reminds me of fall: fireplaces, roast turkey, and pumpkin ravioli. As I write this, however, it is 106 degrees Fahrenheit in Los Angeles, and, frankly, roasting a turkey is about the last thing I want to do. But I have sage in the garden, and as long as I keep watering it, it

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Lovely Lavender – Herb of the Week

If you had to think of one herb that has been used since ancient times and is probably the most popular scent in a dizzying array of bath and body products from shampoo to soap to lotion, it would be lavender. If you had to come up with a flower that epitomized the Provence region of France, the cottage gardens of England, and even the drought tolerant native gardens of California, it would be lavender. However, name a culinary herb off the top of your head, and lavender probably won’t make the list, which is too bad because lavender can bring a lovely floral herbaceous flavor to so many dishes (and cocktails, of course).

The history of lavender goes back more than 2500 years. Ancient Egyptians used lavender in their mummification processes. The Roman word lavender most likely comes from the Latin verb lavare, which means ‘to wash’ or  livendulo, which means ‘bluish’. They used lavender for bathing, cooking, healing, and for scenting the air. In Christian history, lavender has been used as a ward against evil. It is mentioned in the Bible as spikenard, with which Mary anoints the feet of the baby Jesus causing the air to be

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Grapefruit Cilantro Margaritas – What I’m Drinking This Week

I will say that folks are pretty passionate about their feelings for cilantro. In my very informal and unscientific pole, the cilantro lovers came out ahead! So, in your honor, here is a cocktail that highlights this aromatic herb:

 

Grapefruit Cilantro Margaritas

Ingredients

Kosher salt for rimming the glass

1 oz simple syrup

2 oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice – pink or white

1 oz. silver tequila (I used Patron silver)

1 large cilantro sprig (and more for garnish)

1 lime wedge

Directions

Make a simple syrup by dissolving 1 cup of white sugar into 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil until all of the sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature, and then cover and refrigerate until cold. Simple syrup will keep in a covered jar for 2 weeks in the fridge. In a cocktail shaker, mix 1 oz. simple syrup, grapefruit juice, tequila, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. Add ice to the shaker and shake until well chilled. Rim a rocks or martini glass with the lime and dip into the salt. Strain the liquid from the shaker into the glass and garnish with a sprig of cilantro. Makes 1

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Treading Into Cilantro Land – Herb of the Week

When I was in my late teens, I went on a backpacking trip in Northern California. The weather was warm, and I clearly remember being on a hike near a reservoir. At some point in the hike, I slipped down a small slope that was covered with wild cilantro. At that point in my life, I would have rather fallen into a pit of poison oak because I hated the smell of cilantro so much. Flash forward way too many years to count and even more culinary adventures, and I can proudly say that I actually like cilantro!

And so I tread carefully into cilantro land this week as I know there will be many haters. Did you know there is actually an I Hate Cilantro blog as well as a Facebook group with over 3000 members dedicated to haters of cilantro? Even Julia Child hated the herb! Apparently, there is scientific evidence to indicate that cilantro hating may be genetic (oh, good, something else to blame your parents on). I’m not sure what turned the tide for me. All I can say is that I hated the stuff and now I think it is a culinary necessity

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Dilly Martini…What I’m Drinking This Week

I picked dill as the herb of the week, so what would work with dill in a cocktail? I kept thinking of dill pickles, and thought why not? If you can have a dirty martini with olive brine, you could have a dill martini with dill pickle juice. The vodka is smooth, the pickle brine adds some pucker, and the dill adds a bit of freshness. Garnish with a pickle slice and serve it up chilled with a corned beef or Reuben sandwich, and you’re all set! Cheers!

Dilly Martini

Ingredients

2 oz. vodka (I used Skyy Vodka)

1 0z. dill pickle juice

splash dry vermouth

sprig of fresh dill

garnish: a pickle slice and sprig of fresh dill

Instructions

Muddle dill in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add ice, vodka, pickle juice, and vermouth. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with the pickle slice and fresh dill.

Please sip responsibly.

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Testimonials

"Angela took our weed infested mess of a front yard and turned it into a beautiful xeriscaped, Palm Springs style desert landscape. We couldn't be more delighted with the gorgeous results. She listened to our ideas for the space, was responsive to our questions, and made the experience hassle-free. She and her two man team worked wonders. Thank you! Highly recommended."
Vivien and Matt
North Hills
My wife and I hired Angela to bring our little patio to life. From the moment Angela came over, we knew we were going to hire her. She was easy to speak with, knew her stuff, and when she put a bid together, it was affordable and beautiful.
Adam and Jennifer
Burbank
Angela is such a gem! We have utilized her several times and have always had our expectations exceeded every time.
Sharon
Los Angeles
Angela is amazing. Her extensive knowledge and eye for design as well as her flexibility in combining her expertise and our vision, gave us an end result we couldn’t be happier with.
Laura
Sherman Oaks
(Angela) listened to every minute detail of my vision for our front yard cottage garden, and like magic, (she) created a dream come true in our front yard.
Mary and Will
Culver City