Seed to Flower to Seed

Part of the fun of gardening that I love is planting by seed. Two years ago in the late fall, I planted a package of Hungarian Blue Bread Poppy Seeds from Botanical Interests in my small herb garden on a whim. Have I ever been rewarded! Last spring there were dozens of the purple-blue blooms. I let many of them flower and go to seed. I gathered several of the beautiful brown seedpods and put them in an old copper container that one of my sons had given me many years ago. What memories it invokes. What I have not done yet is use the seeds in baking – that is this year’s project!

And we here in Texas know that cilantro bolts and goes to seed as soon as the weather warms up. I let this happen and harvest the coriander seeds when they have fully dried. You might try Santo, a slow-bolting variety. What I am most excited about this year is a new–to-me variety called Dwarf Lemon. The coriander seed it produces is supposed to have a citrus flavor to it – I can hardly wait.

A Spring Stroll

Cool drizzly days are a treat here in Texas, and I thoroughly enjoyed walking around our neighborhood this morning. Looks like there is going to be another good harvest from the pot of Sunshine Blue blueberries I planted last year in a pot. I moved it out of the sun for the dog days of summer and back to a sunnier locale for the winter.

The snowball viburnum is just being to bud out – can hardly wait to see its spectacular blooms.Walking by the Mexican plum in bloom next door kept me thinking – which do I enjoy more – its bloom or its captivating sweet fragrance?


Need an impenetrable hedge and a habitat for nesting birds? Consider Mermaid roses – the foliage is shiny green and it is covered in large creamy yellow fragrant flowers on
an off throughout the season. And bees love it!

Redbuds are in full bloom. I cannot decide which shade of pink/purple I like best. I just know it is spring when they are blooming.

And I have taken the ultimate leap of faith in planting several tomato plants.
They are thriving…so far…

The Vegetable Garden

When I opened Redenta’s 25 years ago, most of my personal gardening had been vegetables. As a child, back in Ontario, Canada, we spent May to September out in the large vegetable garden planted by my Mum and Dad. Potatoes, onions, beets, carrots, and turnips were harvested and kept in the root cellar under the front porch. Beans, peas and broccoli ended up in the freezer. Tomatoes were canned, some made into sauce. Cucumbers and some beets were pickled. Every evening before dinner my Mum would go down to the garden and pick fresh lettuce – her salads were amazing. Raspberries were made into jam, as were peaches we bought from the Niagara peninsula each Labor Day weekend.

When we bought our first home in Texas we planted the same large vegetable garden. There was no large root cellar, but I did continue my

My dad with my boys

Mum’s example of preserving as much as I could. It was difficult for me in the early years of the business as there was very little interest in the part of gardening that I loved the most. It has come back and I am thrilled!

Now back to my Mum’s salad, so simple and easy:

Ingredients usually consist of fresh leaf lettuce, a little chopped red onion, maybe some cucumber and a bit of tomato. Olive oil, only enough to coat the leaves – toss gently. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper, red wine or balsamic vinegar and salt, tossing gently after each addition. After many years of making salad just like my Mum, I do not even think about proportions, it just seems natural and I think of her each time I make it.

Unplug and Re-connect

I’ve been back in our Arlington store training a mostly new crew these past few weeks. Redenta’s started there and we recently celebrated our 25th anniversary. Gardeners (we don’t call them customers) from the early years recognized me and it was great having a hug and doing some catching up. I’m getting to that age where everyone tells me it’s time to slow down and smell the roses. I prefer to stay active and smell the roses in my stores. It’s where I belong.

In the age of “devices”, there must be somewhere to unplug and connect—with other people and with nature. I’ve always strived to make the stores that kind of place. Dick was making deposits at the bank last week and the teller told him how much she loved our store and that she sometimes takes her lunch there to just sit and soak up the atmosphere. Perfect! That’s exactly what we are trying to create.

It feels like spring already. We are all excited and invigorated and ready to share our enthusiasm with you. I will be giving the class on Spring Vegetable Gardening at our Arlington store at 10:30, this coming Saturday, February 25th, and will be there most of the day to answer your gardening questions or just to say hello. Oh, and put your devices on “silent.”



Aunt Redenta

Dick and I are walking down a back street not far off the Piazza del Campo in the heart of Siena, looking for the address of the convent. Finally, we are ushered into the reception area and I’m reunited with my aunt, Sister Redenta. I’ve brought photos of our garden centers that bear her name (it’s also my middle name). All is going well until she sees her name on the side of one of our pickup trucks. “Mama Mia!, Mama Mia!”

When I started Redenta’s Garden, 25 years ago last month, I wanted it to be a special place that reflected some of my European heritage (mum was British; dad was Italian). Over the years, together with some very talented and dedicated staff, the goal is still to offer a personal shopping experience. It’s also a family business – my son Michael and daughter-in-law Lorie have developed our landscape design and installation business. Now, if I could just get one of my four grandsons to come aboard, we would be good for another 25 years.

My goal here is to share some thoughts about gardening with you and listen to your thoughts and feedback as well. Let the journey begin.