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Sensi Magazine

From Garden to Table

Mar 28, 2019 09:53PM
Spring is coming, and it’s the perfect time to impress your guests and nurture yourself. Keep your flower vases filled with beautiful blossoms picked from your garden, add brightly colored foliage using containers, and fill the dinner table with tasty, colorful, award-winning tomato varieties that you grew at home.

Selected tomato varieties are tested nationally by All America Selections, a nonprofit plant organization. Volunteer judges evaluate tomatoes for flavor, growth, and pest resistance in the garden. Judges award All America Selections (AAS) titles to new, non-GMO varieties.

Small tomatoes, such as Firefly tomato plants, are perfect for salads and snacking. The sweet pale white to pale yellow fruit will stand out in the garden, on the relish tray, or a salad topping. The slightly larger striped Red Torch tomato is ideal for slicing, canning, and sauces. The oblong fruit, which can grow to over 1½ inches, is red with thin yellow stripes. Red Torch tomatoes are tasty when picked fresh from the garden. Try cooking them as a sweet and sour cherry tomato sauce perfect to serve over chicken, bread, and green vegetables such as broccoli.

Valentine grape tomatoes boast of a vivid deep red color with a sweet flavor. Their harvest is plentiful to supply a delicious treat for snacks and salads. Add some purple with Midnight Snack, a cherry tomato that ripens to red with a blush of glossy black-purple. In fact, AAS judges have declared Midnight Snack the most flavorful of purple-colored tomatoes.

Red Racer cocktail tomatoes, the size of ping pong balls, are a welcome addition in stuffing and salads and are hearty enough for stews and soups.

Dress up your salads and sandwiches with colorful Chef’s Choice beefsteak tomatoes. A rainbow of colors brightens up the relish tray with shades of red, orange, pink, yellow, green, and now black-fruited varieties. Its flavor combines the right balance between sugar and acid, perfect for eating fresh and cooking.

As you plant your garden, add tomato varieties in with your ornamental plants. A few tomatoes tucked in a flowerbed add color, texture, and interest. Support taller varieties with decorative obelisks and towers. Patio Choice tomatoes are an excellent choice for your patio, deck, or tabletop. Each 18-inch plant can produce up to 100 yellow cherry tomatoes. One fruit-covered plant in a decorative pot can create a centerpiece as colorful as a bouquet of yellow flowers.

Speaking of floral variations, along with fresh-cut bouquets, seeds, plants, and tender bulbs can dress up a table or guest room. It becomes easy to create bouquets to share with family and friends as well as add to the decor of any home.

For early spring flowers, look to spring-blooming bulbs like tulips and daffodils and cool weather annuals like pansies and snapdragons. Clipping branches from trees and shrubs such as forsythia, quince, and Daphne is another good way to bring spring into your home. Your perennial garden can provide bleeding heart, iris, hellebores, peonies, and much more.

Gladiolas and dahlias add pizzazz to summer and fall bouquets. These spring-planted bulbs combine nicely with other summer flowers, and they continue to bloom. Get some free help planning your additions with the “How to Design a Cutting Garden” at Longfield Gardens.The flower packed spikes of gladiolas are available in a rainbow of colors that will inspire your creativity. These inexpensive bulbs are easy to plant and take up very little space. Pop them into containers, flowerbeds, or even your vegetable garden. Start planting in mid-spring and continue every two weeks until midsummer for months of colorful flower spikes.

With dahlias, you can choose from dozens of different flower sizes, flower styles, and colors. For natural, eye-catching bouquets, plant a color-themed blend such as the Sugar Plum Mix from Longfield Gardens. Another option is to select colors that will harmonize with flowers that are already in your gardens such as phlox, sunflowers, asters, and lilies.

Hybrid lilies are perennial garden favorites as well as fabulous cut flowers. Plant the bulbs of Asiatic lilies, Oriental lilies, and Oriental trumpet lilies in spring for color and fragrance that lasts all summer long. To ensure months of flowers, be sure to plant a few bulbs of each type of lily. Annuals play an essential role in any cut flower garden. Extend your budget by starting zinnias, sunflowers, larkspur, and cosmos from seed and supplement with greenhouse-grown transplants of snapdragons, celosia, amaranth, and statice. Foliage can elevate an ordinary homegrown bouquet from good to great, and your garden can provide all sorts of exciting options. Incorporate the leaves of perennials such as hosta, baptisia, artemesia, and sage as well as flower-farmer favorites such as bells of Ireland, bupleurum, and dusty miller. Shrubs such as ninebark, boxwood, viburnum, and holly are another source of attractive foliage, and some offer colorful berries as well.

Boost your confidence and eliminate the guesswork by including winning varieties proven for their performance in gardens and containers. AAS rates plants based on their performance, flavor, and unique qualities and offer suggestions for the best edibles and flowers suitable for container gardening.

Pick a color theme. Red, white, and blue combinations are perfect for patriotic holidays like the Fourth of July. Another choice is to select one color and display it in patriotic pots. Consider Summer Jewel red salvia, Viking XL Red on Chocolate begonia, and Double Fire Zahara zinnia. Add a light, airy touch with Sparkle White guara, and Gypsy White Improved baby’s breath. Evening Scentsation petunia, Strata salvia, and Lavender Lady lavender provide the blue. Add an explosion of texture with fiber optic grass or Fireworks penstemon.

Bring the garden to the party with a few edible containers for a bit of interactive dining. Encourage guests to harvest herbs and vegetables as they create a salad, season their dinner, or flavor their favorite drink. Then dress up the meal with edible flowers like calendulas and Baby Rose nasturtium with its peppery-flavored flowers and leaves.

Make any outdoor wedding, reception, or rehearsal dinner at your home memorable by creating planters that complement the bride’s color scheme. Include white flowers like Summer Jewel White salvia, Mont Blanc nierembergia, Starlight rose zinnia, and Gypsy White Improved gypsophila. White is the perfect neutral and lights up any evening celebration.

Cut flowers and delights from your garden such as tomatoes and edible flowers will create the blossoming of spring indoors as well as outside.

Foliage can elevate an ordinary homegrown bouquet from good to great, and your garden can provide all sorts of exciting options.