herb tables

Herbs still look great and are ready to plant in pots for the patio or in  your garden! 

Triple Oaks Nursery & Herb Garden Newsletter

4th of July issue

July 2011



We will be closed July 4th 

in observance of our Nation's Birthday.

in this issue
4th of July Blooms
July is 4 pickle/ month of orgorki
Sourwood tree/ a great native !

Dear Triple Oaks Friends,


The days are long and its summer. July 4 is the real beginning of summer for many folks. We use to say summer begins the at the shore then. Jersey tomatoes are beginning, so is local corn. 
Ted worked so hard in our garden, but that darn woodchuck has eaten most of it which is very discouraging.There is little left. Anyone for woodchuck pie ?

I know that many of our customers are real nature lovers. If you have never heard of the Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River please check out their web site.Many good summer events.


http://cumauriceriver.org/pages/maurice.html I have never seen a group sponsor so many educational events. http://cumauriceriver.org/pages/calendar.html There are Eagle programs, horseshoe crab events, and coming up so a Purple Martin festival.  Most of these are open to the public. The web site is a wealth of information and there is a really good botany page 


with many southern New Jersey wildflowers on it.  Hats off to Jane Morton Galletto who has spear headed this group forever. 

Here is a message from Jane 
"Lorraine- please share with your correspondents-
We are planning two nights of viewing purple martins. Don't miss out on the migration of these magnificent birds as they blacken the sky over the Maurice River at dusk.   We hope it will be a super year for viewing and would love to have you join us.
The event is August 12 &13 .
Please make your boat reservation as soon as possible for either the 12th or 13th at http://cumauriceriver.org/donate/index.tpl  You can use your credit card on this page or you can mail your check to CU, PO Box 474, Millville, made payable to CU.  Be sure to tell us it is for the Purple Martin Spectacular and let us know which date you are selecting.

We have only 65 slots on each boat and it fills up fast!  Please encourage your friends to join us, too, and to reserve early to be sure of a place.  The boat departs the Port Norris Marina in Bivalve, NJ at 6:15. Reservations are required.
Jane Morton Galetto, 
Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and Its Tributaries, Inc.
PO Box 474
Millville, NJ 08332

Come to our nursery soon. It is still a great time to plant.  Keep paging down to see some neat plants.  Let me know what you would like to see in future newsletters. 

Discount coupon at the end of this newsletter ! ! !

Some favorite plants now




abelia 2Glossy abelia glossy abelia 2

First photo shows this easy to grow shrub with colorful new growth, it is ready to burst into fragrant bloom. Second shows an old shrub under our oak tree that blooms all season until frost. This plant attracts butterflies and hummingbirds and is easy, easy easy to grow!

gardenia standard

Gardenia standard. 
this is a great patio plant that is full of buds and blooms. It is fragrant and can be brought in to a sunny window in fall.  We also have hardy gardenia if you would like the challenge of growing one outside year round. 

carnivorus plant
Carnivorous plant
make a bog garden with these colorful ,easy to grow natives. Add some interest to your garden. 

red maple
Dwarf Red Maple 
Plant one of these colorful sun lovers as a focal point in your yard.

native fruit

Native fruit table of plants
Blueberries, elderberries, cranberries, beach plum,persimmons and more!  Both you and the birds will love having these easy to grow fruits in your yard.

Come see what is in our nursery. There are lots of plants that you will not find anywhere. walk in the display gardens and check our the 
discount coupon at the end of this newsletter. 


4th of July Blooms in the Garden

monarda 2

When mid summer is nigh and it is the 4th of  July the the swamap  magnolia is heavy with lingering bloom of fragrant waxy white flowers. The 'fire works' plant as  I have named my red Monarda  (bergamot, or bee balm) is bursting with spectacular red bloom and the blue hydrangea adds the third color for a holiday vase of blooms for the 4th of July table.

    Monarda, which is the botanical name for Bergamot is a true native plant here in United States. It was brought to the attention of the Europeans in the 1500's when a Spanish botanist, Monardes discovered it and cataloged it in his book of botany. Since he thought it smelled like the bergamot, a small citrus fruit found growing along the Mediterranean coast, he called in bergamot. Later it officially was classified Monarda.

     A favorite of the Native Americans this fragrant plant was used medicinally for many ailments. It was also popular with our Colonial people for tea and as a cure. Any plant with balm in its name is a sure fire medicinal plant.. It sure is appropriate that it blooms on July 4th because many say it was the tea substitute during the revolutionary war.

    A square stem plant, fragrant Monarda is in the Labiatae family and is known to spread. It is a hardy perennial that will easily adapt to sun or shade and the hummingbirds love it.  

      The violet blues of butterfly bushes are beginning now too. But,the shy little gentian is the bluest of all. I had never seen a gentian when I had to memorize the poem October's Bright Blue Weather, in 6th grade. From that time on I wanted to see a gentian. I don't remember when I finally did, but it was well into adulthood. Now I grow them in the nursery

   The gentian is found in many places of the world, but most often in mountain meadows. There are prairie and also bog gentians,and even some here in southern NJ.


These ancient plants date back medicinally to the second century BC when Gentius, King of Illyrua discovered their medicinal value. They were popular with the ancient Egyptians and continued to be regarded as a panacea until well past the Middle Ages. The bitter tasting roots were used against stomach complaints, ulcers and even skin problems. Used to stimulate appetite and digestive juices as well as cleansing wounds, the ancients made bitter liqueurs with gentian.  I have recently planted some in my gardens, in part sun where they seem to do ok. While in Colorado I saw hundreds of them blooming in late August and early September in mountain meadows. Bluer than blue, blue as the sky, the beautiful gentian is a sign of fall to many, but they are in bloom now in New Jersey.gentian


High summer in the garden is a great time in the garden! Everything is growing at a rapid speed. If you have vegetables, it is important to keep picking,feeding and watering so they keep producing. Remember with any annual crop,including flowers the more you pick,the more they produce! BUT, you have to supply food and water to keep the production going.We have never had such a lousy garden because the woodchuck is eating everything! We got rid of one, but there are several.


I find that getting on a daily schedule of maintenance, either in the morning for a few hours before going to work or at night after dinner helps keep up with the garden. It is a great opportunity to get much needed exercise as bending and weeding, hoeing, raking and pulling weeds are all very good for people of all ages! Keep moving and you won't rust! But I hate to do it when it is hot and humid. My husband Ted does however keep working in the garden in most weather.


We use lots of compost in our sandy soil but also feed most plants in the spring with osmocote, a time-release fertilizer. This, as well as all of the compost, leaves and straw put in all winter feeds the soil. Sometimes when beans or tomatoes just seem to peter out in late July it is because they are starving or too dry. When you water a lot to compensate for the hot, sunny weather,food leaches through the soil, so supplemental feedings are needed.


Now about those weeds! Think of it as a challenge, one that will keep you in shape. First, bend, bend, bend and pull all those weeds.  Do 1/2 hour at first, and then work up to an hour a day whenever you can get the time. Soon you will love the early morning "weeding sessions". You will see and hear birds singing that you never saw or heard before, you might see different butterflies, smell fragrant blooms, meet a neighbor if you have any, or like me, just chill out. I can't wait to get outside.


Then after dinner each night, grab a handful of basil or orange mint and rub your arms and legs to keep the mosquitoes away and go out there again. You will use muscles you never knew you had, be sure to take deep breaths too. Pulling weds is good for a tired mind and body, it invigorates and refreshes. ( when it is too hot the bycycle wins out over weeding)


Another mid summer chore is to pick herbs for use and delight. The thyme is in pretty bloom, the nasturtiums are awesome and so bright and fragrant, the basil is lush and the dill is ripe for cucumbers !  Don't let them go to seed, but cut blooms and hang them up to dry.  Tie up bunches with rubber bands to compensate for shrinkage and hang them in the kitchen, family room, or dinning area.  They not only look pretty, they smell good too.



Remember that many of the insects, such as spiders, lady bugs, praying mantis and butterflies are an indication of a healthy environment. Don't be too quick to use chemicals since many of the beneficial insects will also be destroyed. Natural garden dusts of pyrethrum and sulfur can be sprinkled on plants such as eggplant or tomato when beetles are eating their foliage.


Remember, like the frog that became prince charming, some of the most ugly caterpillars become the most beautiful butterflies.

   Happy Gardening.


Make a red, white and blue bouquet in honor of our nation's birthday! Email Lorraine at   lorraine@tripleoaks.com  for  info on two flower arranging classes coming up July 10 and July 23. Call 856-694-4272 for more information.




July is Ogorki Season - Polish Pickles
pickles 123

July is Ogorki Season - Polish Pickles


 The smell of dill pickles is reminiscent of many things, but mostly of old fashion kitchen in July. In places like Poland many often call the time from mid July to mid August the season of  ogórki  and the wonderful smell of dill pickles is everywhere ! But here in southern New Jersey both cucumbers and dill are also lush and beautiful  and I made pickles tonight . 


I have fond childhood memories of walking through dill up to my chin in my Polish grandmother's (Babci's) garden. Of course I was quite small then, but the wonderful warm, cozy aroma of dill takes me back many, many years to the crocks of pickles she made. My own dill never quite meets my expectations, except when it reseeds and comes up in early spring. The strong, tall stalks go for the sky with dancing heads of gold look like a scene of umbrellas from singing in the rain.


The smell of dill pickles is reminiscent of many things and more recently it calls to mind our three summer visits to Poland. Folks call July the season of Ogorki (dill pickle). Dill is lush in gardens and especially in all the wonderful open markets! Crocks of pickles stuffed with dill and Ogorki (pickling cukes) fill the air with a never to be forgotten aroma.


Dill is a medium-sized annual herb, with ferny foliage and umbrella like yellow flowers that produce oval seeds. It grows best when given a rich soil and compost and adequate water, and it is also is happiest when nights are a bit on the cool side.


Dill is best grown from seeds. These can be planted from early spring to fall, about every 3 weeks. This successive planting is most successful for such a short-lived annual. It will reseed successfully also if allowed to do so. Moral to the story, you need to plant dill several times, once or twice in fall and then in late winter, as well as in spring and throughout the summer. Have a dill patch and as it begins to reseed, you will not have to plant it. It is best to plant your dill seeds right in the garden where you want them to grow. Dill likes to be planted in cool weather, but I plant it about every two weeks from now until fall.. Cover the seeds lightly, keep moist and allow a week or two for them to germinate. I usually plant my last dill in early to mid fall and it goes well into winter. Planting them close together helps keep them from blowing over. When growing it in containers, use a deep pot to accommodate the long taproot, and remember that the plant can grow three feet tall. Plants grown in containers may require staking.


Dill is not an herb that remains tasty when dry. I buy fresh at the store in the winter. When you grow a lot of it, you might stuff a jar with fresh dill and cover it with vinegar. This can be used with sour cream over cucumbers in winter. However, the seeds can be dried for up to six months if they are stored properly in a cool, dark place.

Old timers brew a stomach-soothing tea with two teaspoons of mashed dill seeds per cup of boiling water. Steep this for ten minutes and drink it for stomach and digestive problems. Much the same as fennel, it is said to help with colic or gas in babies if they are given small amounts of the weak tea.


Freshly cut, chopped leaves enhance the flavor of dips, herb butter, soups, fish dishes, and salads. Try fresh chopped dill, parsley and chives with lots of butter over boiled potatoes. Use seed heads in pickling and try grinding the seeds to use as a salt substitute. Both the flowering heads and seeds are used in flavored vinegars and oils. Fresh dill should always be stored in the refrigerator either wrapped in a damp paper towel or with its stems placed in a container of water. Since it is very fragile, even if stored properly, dill will only keep fresh for a couple of days.


Dill is native to Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean region. It has been used for its culinary and medicinal properties for centuries. Dill was mentioned both in the Bible and ancient Egyptian writings and was popular in the earliest Greek and Roman cultures, where it was considered a sign of wealth and was revered for its many healing properties. Dill was used by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in a recipe for cleaning the mouth. Dill's name comes from the Old Norse word "dilla" which means "to lull." This name reflects dill's traditional uses as both a carminative stomach soother and an insomnia reliever.


We love fresh dill with cucumbers, beets, potatoes and fish. We cut it fresh from the garden during the growing season. I find that cutting it often keeps my dill from going to seed. I try to cut often until I need the seed heads for pickles.


Be sure to plant plenty of seeds, as the caterpillar of the swallowtail butterfly likes the pungent foliage as well. The international herb association has picked dill as the 2010 Herb of the Year.

                                          Dill Pickles

pickle class 

There are probably as many recipes for dill pickles as there are Polish housewives. I don't remember my Babci using any vinegar in her brine, just water and salt, but today most recipes have at least one cup of vinegar to every 10 of water. I have been told that this is to compensate for the lack of acid in the city or softened water.


   1. Wash the pickles well and then soak them, covered with water (3 gallons of water to one cup of salt) overnight or all day.

   2. Drain them and layer them with a generous amount of dill and garlic in a ceramic crock some folks put clean grape leaves in to keep the cukes crisp.

   3. Cover with brine, 1 cup of salt to 20 cups of water and 2 cups of cider vinegar that has been brought to a boil. Be sure all is covered with brine and then place a glass or china plate to weigh cucumbers down and cover all with clean dishcloth.

   4. After 4 -5 days, either refrigerate the pickles or seal into jars. Pickles put in jars should also be covered with brine and then sealed with two-part jar lids and processed for the given time (usually 20-30 minutes in boiling water that covers the jars and allowed to cool and seal). I prefer to just keep in refrig and  use up  in summer.


In looking over many recipes in Polish books, I notice that they are all different. Some use vinegar, some don't. Some add onions, others horseradish, or red pepper, or even alum. Some add a peach pit or grape leaf. I have tried all of these things. I just like lots of dill and garlic. Be sure to test at 4 days and refrigerate if ready, The more dill the better!

Email Lorraine@tripleoaks.com if you are interested in a pickle making class. Crocks available. 


Article Headline


(Oxydendrum arboreum)

One of our favorite versatile trees is the somewhat slow growing sourwood tree. It has interesting fragrant lily of the valley type flowers June to July that hang down and often cover the tree with blooms. Later the seedpods are yellow, changing to brown and are still visible in winter. The attractive light green foliage emerges as an almost iridescent shade in spring and becomes a cool dark hue in summer.  But it changes to spectacular bright red, orange or yellow in autumn.

         Sourwoods love a sunny or partly sunny spot in moist, well-drained, peaty acid soil. They do really well in our area if the sandy soil is supplemented with some humus. Once established it can with stand some drought and is not fussy about soils.   


This plant is native to the east coast and is a popular tree because of its amazing fall colors in the Smokey Mountains where   Sourwood is found growing with Rhododendron maximum, Magnolias, Tulip trees and White Pine. The locals there  sell Sourwood honey at roadside stands where it pleases tourists.

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