Triple Oaks Nursery & Herb Garden Newsletter


First Day of Spring March 20
Spring newsletter March 2013
In this issue
Garden Classes
Edgworthia dn camellia in bloom
Plant on ST.Patty's Day
Fairies in our garden/ Egg Hunt too
Easter food blessing babka recipe
 Dear Triple Oaks Friend,
 This is our spring greeting to you.  Are you ready ?  It is time to plant peas, radishes and lettuce. We have great organic seeds from Renee's Garden. 
We have camellia, edgeworthia  and hellebores in bloom and ready for your garden. Stop by and take a look. Pansies and Easter plants in later in the week. 

This Saturday is our annual palm braiding class, you can still call to join this one o'clock class, It was moved from next week, so please take note. 
Another event that has been moved is the Pansy Flower Fairy event with egg hunt. It will be next Saturday March 23  at 1 and there are still a few spaces for your little one. 

If you would like to be in our 6 week natural gardening class please register now. This is held at Triple Oaks , but is sponsored by Gloucester County college. Call    G C C  at  415-2217 to register.  Later on is the 6 week herb class. Page down to see flyers. They do cancel if there are not enough students so please do not wait. 

We are having a free garden demo on Sunday March 24 , see seed planting and natural gardening methods.

If you like traditions page down for my Polish food Blessing info and Babka recipe 

Come see our glorious natural looking silks in our silk loft. Bring in your favorite vase or basket and we will fill it with fresh or silk for you.

Visit to  see our cute bunnies and Spring decorations. 

Remember we have seed starting flats and organic mechanics seed starting soils on our back porch. Heirloom , Organic Renee's seeds indoors.

Easter plants and pansies in mid week, but call first.

garden naturally

herb class
Blooms winter into spring. Edgeworthia, witch hazel, camellia


Blooms !Winter into spring/ Edgeworthia, witch  hazel ,camellia


Well, Spring arrives on March 20 this year in our area. I remember it often being March 21 years back and wondered why the change. So I googled it ! More info than i really wanted to know and I did find out that in some places it is March 19 and in some March 21 different years. All depends on earth's orbit etc. etc.  It may still feel like winter or we may have a day or so that feels like summer, but from March 20 to June 21 it will be spring.


Daily there are changes happening i the garden.  I see daffodils and crocus now catching up with the hardy snowdrops. There are several shrubs in bloom and poppies and larkspur seeds from last year have appeared.


As I look out the window I see  a  blooming white shrub, edgeworthia. This fragrant , beautiful plant was one of our most popular at the recent flower show. It is quite unusual and a real show stopper planted where you and others can smell and enjoy its long bloom season.


This plant looks like it has hundreds of white buttons all over the bare branches and it smells similar to a gardenia. But the best thing of all is that it blooms for a couple of months from winter into spring ! Not many people are familiar with an Edgeworthia, but it is a fantastic plant that should be in every garden. It is easy to grow, it blooms in February and March but peaks in April and it is fragrant.  Edgeworthia is in the Daphne family with  flowers that appear on the branch tips like little spheres made up of many tubes.  Individual flowers are tubular with bright yellow and  creamy white and  are clustered together into orbs that are densely packed on a shrub.


These fragrant flowers open in late winter from buds that have been noticeable from the previous year. Edgeworthia is not difficult to grow and it is a joy waiting for their moment of glory when they are in full bloom. Edgeworthia's common name, paper bush, comes from its utilitarian bark, which is processed into a high-grade paper product in Japan and China. 


The plant's native habitat is the woodland edge, often in moist areas near a stream, which tells you something about its culture. Edgeworthia needs evenly moist soil through summer. I only water ours when it is hot and dry out, but when i do I let the hose soak for hours. Because it grows vigorously from the base, it quickly makes a multi-stemmed shrub. This particular year was a spectacular year for flowering.  Come by and see our plants in the garden.


There are many other fragrant spring bloomers in our garden. There are witch hazel with brilliant yellow blooms as well as red varieties. These small trees are so very tough the blooms last all through the snow and ice of February well into march. Although sun or semi shade and moist well drained sites with acid soils are recommended by most tree books, the plant will adapt to many spots.  witch hazel


If you love bold red, white or pink flowers plant some camellia now for years and years of off season bloom. Some bloom in late fall( winter) and others spring (now) Camellia Spring Promise

Our son Joe grows some very nice camellias and has planted more than 50 here and there in our wooded and shaded areas. He told me that although they are often thought of as a southern plant, many substantial plants can be found around gardens in the Delaware Valley. Our area of southern New Jersey is considered to be zone 7, and colder areas to the north or west of here are zone 6, both areas in which these plants can grow. I have seen some of the largest and most beautiful blooming in shady sites at the shore; with Cape May having some of the most awesome I have ever seen. We have several in our display gardens that are planted in very woodsy soils with a lot of organic matter and light mulch.


Two breeding programs, one from the National Arboretum in Washington DC and another from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, have produced outstanding and very tough Camellias which have survived   -10 on occasions with minimal damage.  These cold enduring Camellias are very exciting for colder climate gardeners who need a shade loving evergreen as a specimen or for screening.   A protected site is very important when growing Camellias in colder areas and spring planting is highly recommended. 


 Camellias love semi- shaded conditions in Southern New Jersey   and well-drained acid soil.  Both light pine needle mulch as well as composted organic materials in the soil is quite beneficial.We have them both under white pines and oaks and they do well.


 These showy bloomers win the hearts of gardeners with their beauty, and the ability to flower at off times of the year, which delights all, who see them. They are the best for bringing bright colors to the fall, winter and spring shade garden. They even look great floating in a dish on the dinner table.   


Many spring garden classes now. see calendar, Pansy flower fairy tea and egg hunt March 23 at 1. Registration a must. see calendar or call 856-694-4272






Golden Beet Seeds Renee
Plant peas and other hardy seeds on St. Patty's Day


There are some things we plant early on St. Patty's Day such as peas, lettuces, radishes, parsley, dill, and what ever else needs a long cool spring.   Kids love to plant radishes! 

So do I !


Radish seedlings need water when they first come up!
plant radishes now with some kids and they will be thrilled at how quickly they can pick them.

When seeds absorb moisture they swell and germinate. The tiny seed root and then leaves emerge. This is the most important time to keep them moist. If the soil is dry these tiny roots will shrivel and die. Moisture is essential to all life and the tiny seeds are no exception. Do not allow tiny seed roots to dry. On the other hand, mud will also kill them. Be sure the garden is well drained. If it isn't lots of organic material, maybe some very pebbly sand (extra coarse and even perlite must be added. It is really important to prepare the soil well. Compost and organic materials work best in all soils. 


Be sure that all the weeds are gone before planting. A freshly tilled garden can be covered with black plastic for a week or so to kill weed seeds. The soil heats up under the black plastic, this forces the seeds to sprout, but the heat and darkness kills them, thus getting rid of weeds organically. If time permits, wet the soil and do this a second time. Cinder blocks or any weights can be used to keep the plastic tight. 


When you are ready to plant, rake well and mark the rows with a string. 

Follow directions on pack of seeds for depth and distances. Keep moist, but not soggy. Choose seeds that you really want to grow and limit the amount to what you can care for the plants. Mark the row so you don't forget what has been planted. 


Planting and Care
Prepare the soil with good compost.  Avoid fresh manure or high nitrogen products, as this will produce a jungle of leaves but little or no fruit.  Some old timers suggest
using lots of compost

Hoe or cultivate shallowly to keep down weeds without damaging roots in and around plants.  Mulching is recommended once the soil warms.  I used cardboard one year and although I didn't like the way it looked, it worked well.  Your objective is to keep the soil moist!   You may also use grass clippings o to keep the soil moist.  A tad bit of extra fertilizer works best when the mulch is new. 

I sure love planting a garden with my husband Ted. I have gardened all my life, first planting with my grandmothers and parents. I don't remember a spring that I didn't have a garden. The one we have now is more than 40 years old. My biggest problem is planting too many things. I love to plant all the new varieties as well as old favorites.

Spring is an exciting time of the year! So whether your garden is big and old or new and small, dig in!  Gardening is great! 

Email garden questions to [email protected] or visit 


seed info click here


Fairies in the garden! 
 We love make beleive at Triple Oaks and have many seasonal flower fairy parties and events. Next Saturday at 1 we have our annula pansy party egg hunt and tea. Please call to sign up now if you would like to come.

 Pansy Party & Egg Hunt Fairy Tea

Sun., March 24, 2013 @ 1:30pm

$25 child + $10 adult + 7%tax

Plant a pot of pansies. Taste pansy flower

foods. Make pansy crafts. Hunt for

colored eggs in the gardens. Wear a pansy




polish easter food blessing jola

Easter Food Blessing, an ancient Polish custom 


Holy week customs that go back at least 1000 years are still being observed   in the Delaware valley.  Many people of Polish or other Eastern European descent make a basket of Easter foods to be blessed on Holy Saturday and take it to their parish priest. This custom is a very important part of a Holy Week rich in traditions passed on from one generation to the next. This basket was called Swieconka and usually has food symbolic of the Easter holiday. 

A Paschal Lamb, representing the Lamb of God can be made from cake, bread or butter and is often centerpiece of the food brought to the church. Eggs, both decorated and plain are a symbol of new life or rebirth.  Meat, usually ham or sausage (kielbasa), Horseradish, bitter herbs that signify the bitterness of the suffering of Christ, and salt a Polish sign of hospitality are all found in this basket. Greenery, usually in the form of boxwood or branches of pussy willow represents the awakening and gringo of the earth. Bread is always in the basket, both a symbol of communion, the bread of the last supper and the traditional sweet breads or Babe. 

This basket is often taken to the local church on Holy Saturday around noon, but in old times the Parish priest often visited each home and thus blessed the food and the house. Today many local parishes still observe this custom, but probably the most traditional and well attended food blessing is at one of the oldest Polish parishes in the south Jersey area, St. Joseph's in south Camden which is at 1010 Liberty St.  Call for times  on Holy Saturday. Directions can be obtained by calling the Parish office at 963-1285. This beautiful old church is visited by many people who drive long distances to revisit the church of their grand parents and parents and keep the tradition. Ted will play the organ at 9 AM on Easter Sunday at a Polish mass at this church. 


There will also be a food blessing at my parish , St. Michael the Archangel . This will be at the Clayton site at 3 in teh St.Catherine chruch on Delsea Dr. 

More information of this and other customs may be found in The Polish Traditions or country cookbooks  by Sophie Hordorowicz Knab and many of the recipes are also in the Church of the Nativity cookbook. Both are found locally at Triple Oaks Nursery and Herb Garden in Franklinville N J Call Lorraine Grochowski Kiefer at 856-694-4272 if questions.


Also is the butter mold to make your own butter lamb.


 my babka recipe


Easter Babka Recipe 


Makes 3 med/ or 2 large  Breads 

2 c Milk

1/2 lb (2 sticks)   butter

2 pk (2 T) dry yeast

1/4 c Warm water to which 1 tb. Of sugar has been added

5 lg Eggs

3 lg Egg yolks

1 c Sugar

1 ts Salt

Zest  and juice of 1 lemon

1 ts Vanilla extract

1 tb  brandy or Orange-flavored liqueur

9 c   unbleached flour

1 c  raisins

1 c Golden raisins

3 tb Confectioners' sugar


make crumb topping before baking ( optional)

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup flour

5 tablespoon of cold butter 

cut butter into dry ingredients  until crumbs are formed


glaze , mix

1 1/4 c Confectioners' sugar mixed

with 1/2 stick of melted butter and a few drops of milk 


In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat or microwave, scald milk. Add butter and stir until melted. Remove pan from heat and let mixture cool to lukewarm. In a small bowl, stir yeast into warm water; let sit for 10 minutes, or until foamy. In a large bowl, beat eggs, yolks, and sugar until thick. Add salt, zest and juice, vanilla, and liqueur. Stir to combine. Stir in milk mixture, then yeast.


Add flour, a cupful at a time, until dough is moist but not sticky, mixing with a  dough paddle on electric mixer , a  wooden spoon or your hands. Stir in almonds and raisins. Knead dough on a floured board, adding more flour if dough is too sticky, until dough comes away from your hands, about 6 minutes. ( some folks use a dough hook on electric mixer, i often do this too )


Place dough in a very large buttered bowl. Cover dough with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled, about 1- 1 1/2  hours. Punch down and let rise again until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Heat oven to 350'. Butter three 9-or 10-inch kugelhopf or angel-food-cake pans or large loaf pans prepared ( greased and floured )  .     Divide dough into 3 portions and   arrange in pans , sprinkle with crumb topping  and cover loosely. Let dough rise to tops of pans, about 30 minutes. Some folks keep dough  in the refrigerator over night  at this stage , but rising time would be doubled when it is taken out.  


Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until cakes are golden brown and tops make a hollow sound when tapped with knuckles. Cool for 5 minutes in pans; turn out onto racks and cool for 20 minutes more. Spoon glaze onto babka, allowing it to drip over sides.


babka 2  

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