Thursday, July 29, 2010


Summer has reached its zenith and it is now time for the exciting process of making jam. This season I will be using blackberries, black and red currants, aronia berries and elderberries in my jam-making. All of these are vitamin rich and full of anti-oxidants. More importantly, they are bursting with rich juicy flavor. Before jam, fruit pectin must be made. Pectin is readily available in the grocery store but at a very high price- it is the most expensive ingredient in the making of homemade jam. I like to make my own pectin using a very simple process.

These Dolga crab apples are not quite ripe yet which is perfect. Very high in natural pectin, they are wonderful for making homemade pectin since the flavor of their juice will not overpower the fruit used for the jam.

The apples are washed and coarsely chopped in a food processor. The chopping makes the extraction of the pectin from the skins and cores of the apples much faster than if the apples were left whole.

After the apples have cooked on low heat for almost 2 hours, the pulp is placed in a muslin jelly bag and suspended to allow the juice to slowly drip over night. This is a slow process but will result in more available pectin and the liquid will be very clear because the pulp was not squeezed. The liquid pectin will be stored in the refrigerator during the jam making process.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


There were some serious tufa-makers in this bunch.
This group rose to the task and created
great pieces to enhance their gardens in textbook-style!

Phil and Gary put a layer of concrete over the leaves they have arranged on a mound of sand. These will eventually become beautiful leaf platters.

Brandy does the same to her arrangement of leaves. She is also preparing to cast grape leaves to use as decoration on the rim of her platter.

Ah...time to mix the hypertufa. Here comes Blaze with the mixed up recycled paper and sand. Now the Portland cement needs to be worked in by hand.

Mixing tufa is a good work out. You can tell from these happy faces that there's plenty of fun involved too!

Bryan wanted very deep nostrils on his grot and Haley decided hers needed a pair of glasses.

Sara carefully applies concrete to the back side of hydrangia leaves to cast a life-like concrete leaf.

Hypertufa 5's stones on display

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Lisa and several members of her family recently completed a memorial project in honor of her son, Jordan, who passed away unexpectedly on May 26, 2007 of a congenital heart abnormality that went undetected because he had no symptoms. The family has chosen to honor his life by establishing the Jordan Robert Mann Foundation which funds heart health assessments for athletes at participating schools. Click here to learn more about Jordan and his foundation.

Lisa held on to Jordan's penny collection and decided it was time to use them in a series of memorial garden stones created at From the Summer's Garden.

Lisa, her mother, sister and niece each made a mosaic butterfly stepping stone for their gardens and each incorporated pennies from Jordan's collection.

Jamie puts the final pieces of glass into her mosaic butterfly stone.

Here are the family's finished memorial butterfly stepping stones glittering in the sun,
a wonderful tribute to Jordan and his foundation.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


One of the activities you'll learn in the handmade paper studio is how to sculpt a model and make a plaster mold for creating your own hand-cast paper ornaments and garlands.

Connie and Nancy are carefully removing the clay models from their newly formed plaster paper molds.

Paper pulp is a versatile medium and can be cast into endless shapes.

Nancy prepares the paper mold and deckle for pouring a sheet of recycled paper. She gathered mint leaves from the garden and added them to her pulp. After making several sheets of mint paper, she formed them into a beautiful bowl, a gift for her her grandson who loves the fragrance of fresh mint.

Once the freshly cast paper has started to dry on the plaster molds, the paper bowls are removed and turned right-side up to finish drying.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Mary Ann brought her Southwood Garden Club for a visit to the garden. It was a beautiful sunny day to meander through the flowers and vegetables.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


The fireworks from 4th of July celebrations survived the rain of the holiday weekend. We experienced heavy rains once again for our first Hypertufa Studio in July. The weather didn't bother these busy beavers who made some great planters and ornaments for their gardens.

Sculpting Grots, a Danish terms for garden gnome, is always a popular project. Diane is thinking of bringing her Girl Scout troop to the studio to make them. Creating their own Grot is a wonderful activity for kids. The uglier you can make them, the better!

In fact, Judy's granddaughters joined her for the studio and they proved to be very creative helpers. Here, one of them sculpts her grandmother's Grot.

Sculpting Demonstration

Garden stone display for the week

Connie made a really stunning leaf platter and decorated the bottom using an old rosette iron. She used used wine corks as legs for her platter.