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Hawthorn tree or the Irish fairy tree

If you have a windy and open yard to all types of weather, then it's time you plant the hawthorn trees, which are known as a form of protection from the wind. Also, for filtering of the wind rather than stopping it. A wall or thick evergreen hedge that blocks the wind will allow the wind it to move over it, causing a form of turbulence in your yard. The hawthorn will simply slow down the force of the wind. The roots of the hawthorn are very strong and they will tolerate the wind at the seashore like no other tree. Do not block the wind, slow it down.


When planted close together to form a hedge they will keep out anything on the other side of it. The hawthorn has wonderful strong, long thorns which grow 1 to 3 inches long and will keep out everything from the neighbors to their pets. Dry soils and excessive moisture will be tolerated by the hawthorn tree, but a sandy soil will give you the best growing tree. This small tree can be pruned to control its size, but if allowed to grow naturally it will grow to 25 feet tall and just as wide.


The hawthorn tree has many uses in medicine, helping the heart and circulation. In the middle ages it was planted to celebrate spring, marriages and fertility. The hawthorn was dedicated to the Roman goddess of childbirth, Cardea, and when Zeus' wife touched the blossoms, she was able to conceive twins. So be careful when planting this tree in your yard.


The leaves look like small maple leaves-- glossy, with 5 lobes, and some teeth along the edges. The leaves are one to three inches long and dark green in color during the spring and summer. In the fall, look for great color from orange, red, and purplish-colored leaves.


The thorns and leaves are great but in the spring the flowers are its crowning glory. Depending on variety, look for single white or double white flowers. The flowers develop in May and last until early June, with tiny clusters about one inch wide that cover the tree. The flowers will last up to 4 weeks, depending on the weather. Heavy rain will knock them off, making a carpet of white petals that will last for several days.


In the fall another bonus, clusters of red fruit about 1/4 inch in diameter that are glossy and the birds love them. Because of the number of berries they will last well into the winter months or until the birds find them. The bark is brown to gray and as it ages it will peel a bit.

Plant in a full sun area but it will tolerate a bit of shade and still flower. The hawthorn will tolerate acid soils like the dogwood tree family. When planted near large evergreen trees the fall color and red berries will stand out more, especially during the winter months. I love to see them planted near a window on the corner of the house so you can watch the birds feed on the berries.


The best varieties are:
* The'Toba' hawthorn, with fragrant double white flowers that will change to pink as they fade.
* The 'Snowbird' Hawthorn has double flowers.
* The 'Washington' hawthorn with creamy white flowers and foliage that tends to be more disease resistant.


When planting, use a lot of organic matter to get them established quickly. Fertilize them in the spring and fall when young; when they are established, feed in the spring only. I love Plant-Tone or Dr. Earth General Purpose 4.4.4. with Pro Biotic (new to us east-coast gardeners this year but well-known on the west coast).


 In the country of Ireland Hawthorn's are called the Fairy tree because legend says that fairies live in the trees. I was told while in Ireland that no one will cut this tree down because it will bring you bad luck for destroying their home. Enjoy!

Sourwood Tree in the fall

You all know that my favorite flowering tree is the 'Kousa' sogwood, but what tree do you think is number two? The number two tree is the sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum). It would be number one, if only more nurseries carried it. I first saw this tree growing in a yard in Cohasset, Massachusetts my first summer home from college. I stopped the car and got out to get a better look at this unusual-looking tree.


It was early July and the tree was covered with large clusters of white flowers. The flower cluster was different, because each stem of the cluster grew horizontal--not drooping like most plants. The small white bell-shaped flowers seem to hang from these ridged stems, evenly spaced on the stem. The flowers looked like lilies of the valley. The stems numbered 10 or more to make up the cluster and each stem had 6 to 12 flowers on it. The flower stems that held the flowers were also white--like the flowers.


The flowers opened from the middle of the flower cluster, working their way to the tips. When looking at the flower cluster I saw faded flowers with white pods, flowers in bloom and buds to open in the days to come. It was just beautiful; the foliage was shiny dark green and clean-looking like a flowering pear tree--this made the flowers stand out even more. Another quality for this tree was that the flowers were fragrant!


I went straight home, took out my books from school at University of Massachusetts, The Stockbridge School of Agriculture, and began to search for this tree. In my prized landscaping book, Dirr's Hardy Trees And Shrubs, I found it and read all about it. There were more qualities of this tree listed, and as the weeks passed I travelled to the tree to see those changes. Those flowers faded, but the flower clusters seemed to stay just as beautiful as when they were in full bloom weeks earlier. I had to see what was going on, so I got out of the car again and walked to the tree. I found the faded flowers had changed to white pods, like tiny peas hanging from the stems. This tree was always in color starting in late June--and it was now August.


When September came, I headed back to school and talked to my teachers about this tree. They told me to go back home in early October and take a new look at this tree, as it would change again. I did, and my teachers were right--the beautiful sourwood tree was now covered with bright red leaves--almost like the burning bush. The clusters of white pods were now drooping clusters; as the berries filled out, the weight made the clusters droop down, so they were no longer horizontal on the plant. As the cold weather came, the color of the pods changed to brown and they lasted most of the winter on the tree. The leaves were oval--4 to 8 inches long, and stayed bright and shiny even when they changed from dark green to red in the fall.


The sourwood will grow to 25 to 30 tall and up to 20 feet wide. It loves to grow with evergreen trees in the background for winter protection and to show off its color. Like the dogwood it will grow best in partial shade. If you think you would like this tree, visit your local nursery during the winter and see if they can order it for you. When we bought our first house, I planted a sourwood tree on the end of the house in place of a dogwood. The neighbors loved it and were jealous that they did not have one.

Martina McBride et Jim Brickman- Valentine
Martina McBride et Jim Brickman- Valentine
The European mountain ash

Let me tell you about a beautiful flower tree that most of you do not know much about but will fall in love with once you see it. This tree is called the European mountain ash (commonly known in Europe as the rowan). It will grow to 35 to 50 feet tall and 25 to 40 feet wide. There are other varieties but this one is the best of its type. When young this tree tends to grow erect and oval. As it ages, the branches spread out and fill in. It will grow anywhere in New England, as it will adapt to those climates easily.


Select a site with full sun and give it room to grow. The European mountain ash will grow best in a soil that is well drained, with no standing water. It prefers moist soils during the growing season but not sandy, as low soil moisture will slow down the growth and keep the tree smaller.


In the spring, the tips of most of the branches will produce clusters of small white flowers. The flower cluster will be 3 to 6 inches wide, each cluster containing 25 to 50 or more of the flowers. When the wind and insects do their job of pollinating properly, you will be treated to small fruit the size of a pea. Early in the summer, the fruit is green and in the fall season the fruit quickly changes to bright orange. The weight of the fruit tends to make the branch bend to show you the fruit better. With a little bit of luck you will get to enjoy the fruit on the tree until Thanksgiving. The birds love the fruit and it is common to hear flocks of birds on the tree eating the feast of wonder orange fruit. Waxwings and robins love this fruit. My grandfather told me many years ago that the fruit on this tree was cherished during the days of Prohibition. He told me how he and friends used to make a fine liquor in the basement in those days.


The foliage is also unique, as the leaf has a center stem 6 to 10 inches long and contains 11 to 17 small leaflets that are arranged opposite each other on this stem. The leaflets are one and half inches, long with a wavy edges. The leaflets are bluish green and the underside is somewhat hairy. The trunk is smooth when young, becoming scaly and rough as it ages. In the winter, the buds on tip of the branches are very noticeable and are hairy and whitish--almost like a pussy willow.


When planted in a row, 20 feet apart between trees, they will make a great windbreak or barrier. But the best part of this tree is that disease problems of the foliage are rare. Unlike the flowering crabapple that has great color in the spring, but quickly develops spotted foliage in June, the European mountain ash has no such problems. Clean foliage all year and no spraying! To keep the tree healthy and growing properly, fertilize the tree each spring with organic slow-release fertilizer such as Plant-Tone or Tree-Tone. Use one pound of fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter. Make holes in the ground about 6 inches deep with a crowbar and place a hand full of fertilizer in each hole. Make the holes at the drip line or near the tips of the branches in your lawn. Space holes 12 to 18 inches apart and if more holes are needed make another circle of holes under the tree moving closer to the trunk.


Plant the tree with a lot of compost and animal manure and then stake the first year after planting. Also make a 3 ft. wide mulch bed around the tree to prevent damaging the trunk when mowing the lawn. Plant flowers around the tree, and that will insure that you keep it well watered that first year.  Enjoy!

Ginkgo Tree with bright yellow foliage in the fall


This spring, when you are considering planting something new in your yard, and are considering a tree, look into the Ginkgo biloba. The ginkgo has existed on this planet for over 150 million years. The leaf of the ginkgo tree has been found in diggings where dinosaur's remains have been found. The leaf has a very unusual shape, and once seen is not easily forgotten. The ginkgo leaf is in the shape of a fan, 2 to 3 inches long and wide. During the spring to fall seasons, the leaves are bright green in color but when the cold temperatures of fall arrive, they quickly change to bright yellow. When all leaves are a bright yellow color, they will drop to the ground in just a day or two. You will never forget the sight of the leafless tree with a ring of bright yellow leaves around it.


Ginkgo trees are easy to grow and will survive from Maine to Florida, and west to California. They will not tolerate wet soils at all. They grow well as street trees, trees for a park or on your front lawn. They love the sunshine and, when young, tend to grow open and unruly. As the tree ages, it will fill in all the holes and become very dense. The ginkgo has an upright growing habit to a height of 75 feet tall and 50 feet wide. When you purchase this tree make sure it is a male tree! Unlike most trees, that have male and female flowers on the same tree, this tree comes in different sexes. The female tree

produces fruit that when ripe will have a very rancid smell. The fruit is edible but you do not want the mess. Your local nursery usually carries the male plant but ask for the male plant to be safe. The male tree has flowers that look like catkin and the female has two ovule-shaped petals on a long stem. The fruit looks like a small plum. Insect and disease problems are minimal. Care for this tree as you would any other tree on your property. Feed spring and fall with Plant-Tone or Tree-Tone. 


The fruit is eaten in Asia and the seeds are used to treat cancer and promote digestion problems. Oriental medicine uses the leaves to help sluggish circulation and improve memory and concentration. Work on the ginkgo tree for migraines and Alzheimer's is also being done.


This is not a fast growing tree and is some time called the "Grandfather-Grandchild Tree," as it takes up to 3 generations to mature to 75 feet. You grow this tree for its unusual foliage and fall color, as well as its history. The ginkgo was once thought to be extinct, but was found in Eastern China. Seeds were sent to all parts of the Orient by explorers. In the 1700 Century, seeds from the ginkgo were sent from Japan to Europe, were they were grown and treasured for their beauty. Japan has many tree estimated to be over 1000 years old and many were planted near temples, as they were thought to be sacred.

In 1945, the city of Hiroshima in Japan was bombed with the atomic bomb. Every living thing around the epicenter of the blast was destroyed. The exception was 4 remarkable ginkgo trees that survived, and in the following spring flowered, their remaining branches becoming filled with leaves. All 4 trees are still thriving today. Ever since then, the Japanese people regard the ginkgo as the "bearer of hope". When visiting Japan, look for the trees. Plaques on them bear prayers for world peace.

need less care. Enjoy indoors now and plant outside for years of enjoyment in your garden outside.. Enjoy!



"Nobody sees a flower - really- it's so small. It takes time-we haven't time-and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time
Georgia O'Keeffe
Tri Color Beech great color all year long

Many years ago, I took a group of radio listeners on a tour of Italy. One garden we all anticipated was the home of Dictator Mussolini, where we were to see the gardens and property. The property was just beautiful, the gardens outstanding, but a single tree caught everyone's attention. The tree was a tricolor purple beech and this sunny day it was magnificent. The sun was right behind it and the tree seemed to be lit up like at Christmas tree with wonderful purple and pink variegated leaves. The tree was at the back of the property and a good walk but we all walked towards the tree with amazement.


The tree was densely branched and you could see the branching structure like a skeleton holding the leaves. The bark is silvery-gray and as smooth as stone from the trunk to the tip of the branches. The tree grew upright but had many horizontal branches filled with brightly colored leaves on the tips of the branches. When standing under the tree you have the feeling of being under a tent, because the inside branches have no leaves except on the tips. The young leaves, when first open, are purple-red in the spring and early summer. As they begin to mature, streaks of cream and pink color begin to develop on the leaf margins. The variegation is brighter when planted in an area with bright sunshine. In shaded areas, you see less color and more purple.


This tree is a member of the European Beech family and is found all over Europe and the northern half of the United States. When mature, the branches will touch the ground and have a rounded appearance; when the tree is young, the look is more oval. These elegant trees have leaves that are 2 to 4 inches long, oval with a point on end. The margins of the leaves are also wavy. Beech trees will hold the leaves late into the fall. With the cold weather, they slowly turn golden brown. When the tree is leafless during the winter the silvery-gray bark stands out in the winter landscape. They will grow 50 feet tall and just as wide in warmer climates; for us in New England they will be a bit smaller.


When we got home from Italy, my wife Christine--who never asked for much in the garden--wanted the tricolor beech for our yard. We searched for the tree in several nurseries and finally found one at a larger nursery in the Portland, Maine area. We planted the tree in the middle of the back yard where the tree could be enjoyed from our back deck during the summer and kitchen window during the winter. The tricolor beech is not fast-growing, so we placed it in a fishpond garden as a focal plant surrounded with many other variegated and red-leafed plants. It has been growing about six inches a year now and on those sunny days of July and August it reminds of our trip to Italy.


There are many varieties of beech, many growing wild all through New England. The bark color, late ability to hold on the leaves in the fall, and the length of its life in the forest will make this tree family one to plant in your yard. Beeches are strong-growing trees and can live well over 100 years. Whether the tree is green, purple or tricolor, it will be a show plant in your landscape. If you like unusual, look for the weeping beech at your favorite large nursery or ask if they can get this tree for you. Enjoy!

Jason Parent Onion Dip Supreme

This homemade onion dip is the best onion dip you have ever eaten.  It is great for the Super Bowl

 or a party with friends and family.  Whenever I make it, I double the recipe, it's that good. 

Great with potato chips, pretzels or fresh vegetables like celery, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, 

or cherry tomatoes. Tell your friends it's an old family recipe and hesitate to give them the recipe, 

but give it to them if they promise to keep the secret. 



8 ounces of real Mayonnaise not light or olive oil types, the good stuff

8 ounces of sour cream

3 small sweet onions, 2 to 3 inches across chopped finely

 teaspoon of sea salt

 teaspoon of pepper



Cut onions into small pieces, then cook in a light oil until caramelized 5 to 10 minutes

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, blend well and place in the refrigerator, cover with plastic wrap until chilled.

Make it the night before so all the ingredients have a chance to blend together for a much better flavor.

You won't have any leftovers guaranteed.  Enjoy!



               ONLY 2 Cabins Left - don't miss out on this wonderful trip




Monday July 27 - Boston, MA -
Depart on your overnight trans-Atlantic flight to Prague, Czech Republic.

Tuesday, July 28- Prague, Czech Republic
Settle into you hotel, Hilton Praguea,for the next two evenings. Explore Prague at your leisure.

Wednesday-July 29 -
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, and a free day to explore the city at your own pace. Perhaps visit the Communist Musem: sample the local plum dumplings and Pilsner; stroll along the Vltava River(B)

Thursday- July 30
After breakfast at the hotel, you will have time to discover Prague's treasures. You will depart your hotel in the early afternoon to embark on the Avalon Visionary in Nuremberg (approx.. 3 hour drive) Welcome Reception and Dinner onboard (B, D)

Friday - July 31 - Nuremberg
Today, choose from an included guided sightseeing tour and marvel at this 1,000-year-old city's medieval fortifications. Extraordinary gothic churches, and Kaiserburg(Imperial Castle) or join a more specialized Nuremberg Rally Grounds Tour. Enjoy a tranquil afternoon of cruising. Take in an interesting onboard lecture about the engineering marvel that is the Main Danube Canal (B,L,D)

Saturday, August 1- Regensburg
Some of today's highlights during your guided wall will include Altes Rathaus (old Time Hall), Porta Pretoria and 12th-century Steinerne Brucke (Stone Bridge). Enjoy an included snack at historische Wurskuche, one of the oldest restaurants. Before Dinner, join us for a beer tasting of some of Germany's most famous beers.(B,L,D)

Sunday, August 2 - Passau-Linz, Austria
This morning, dock in Passau uniquely located where the INN, Ilz and the Danube Rivers converge. Passau is a maze of cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses. St Stephen's Cathedral, a masterpiece of Italian Baroque architecture, house one of the world's largest church organs with 17, 774 pipes. Take in the highlights on the included guided walk. Then sail to Linz, Austria's 3rd largest town, which lies on both banks of the Danube (B, L, D)

Monday, August 3 - Melk-Vienna
This morning enjoy a included guided visit of Melk's magnificent 11th century Benedictine Abbey, which houses an ornate library with over 80,000 printed books and 2,000 manuscripts. During lunchtime, cruise through Wachau Valley a UNESCO world Heritage site. Arrive in Vienna this evening.(B, L, D)/p>

Tuesday, August 4 - Vienna

Your included city tour with your local guide includes sites such as the lavish Hofburg Imperial Palace Complex, the Neo-Renaissance Vienna Opera House, and St Stephen's Cathedral. Spend some time in the delightful pedestrian Karntnerstrasse to enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel Depart for Budapest. (B, L, D)

Wednesday, August 5 - Budapest, Hungary
On your guided sightseeing tour, see Heroes' Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex with its remarkable Fishermen's Bastion & 11th century Matthias Church, the coronation spot of several Hungarian menarches. Be sure to take note of the city's 8 bridges - many famous sites in and of themselves which connect ancient Buda on the right bank with pest on left bank. You may even want to walk across Chain Bridgebuilt in 1849 and a symbol of Budapest. (B, L, D)

Thursday August 6 - Budapest (disembarkation)
After breakfast you will be transferred to your hotel. The day is free to explore Budapest at your leisure (b).

Friday, August 7 - Budapest to Boston
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before you prepare for your transfer to the airport and you flight home.

For more information :
Largay Travel Inc.
625 Wolcott Street
Waterbury, CT 06705




              Garden Journal - A garden is a friend you can visit any time. Gardens require planning and cultivation, yielding beauty and joy. This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This book makes a great gift for gardeners, family, friends, birthdays, Christmas, new home or as a self purchase.

Cover holds a 5 x7 or 4x6 photo, Heavy-duty D-ring binder

1. 8 tabbed sections
2. 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags....
3. Weather records page
4. 6 three year journal pages
5. Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
6. 3 annual checklist pages
7. Plant wish list page
8. 2 large pocket pages
9. Sheet of garden labels
10. 5 garden detail sheets
11. 5 graph paper pages for layouts
12. 5 photo pages holds - 4- 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Journal, Planning, Inspirations. 

 To Order call 207-590-4887

Regular price $34.95  Special Price $31.95!  special!

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  Written by Paul Parent                         Produced by Christine Parent

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