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Let’s Cook: Planting Joy

By Chuck Repnow - | Jun 12, 2021

Chicken Salad By Jan Norsby

With their gloved hands and shovels, the sleeping winter soil in the flower beds was being refreshed. Clumps of dirt were made soft as they added new potting soil.

The planting canvas was made black like coal. Once ready, pots of snapdragons sporting colors from light pink, maroon and lemon yellow, deep rose-colored geraniums and golden marigolds were the first to arrive. They were swiftly joined by lime green potato vine, deep green German ivy and marbled coleus. Next came the plan to arranging them according to height and color blending.

You have just witnessed in words the planting of Deb Fauske, Liz Mueller, Terri Hoskin and Lynda Langseth. For the past three years, Edgewood Assisted Living been blessed to have gardeners who are involved with the NDSU Extension Master Gardener Program bring our planters to life. This idea came from Ken Eraas and so far, none of the volunteers have thrown in the trowel!

These ladies are amazing! They know how plants and planting can add beauty, joy and color to our world. These beautiful flower beds are a product of their thoughts, kindness and certainly energy. Long before the planting begins, they stop by to plan the flower planters. It is here that we enjoy conversation about hollyhocks, zinnia, tomatoes, Swiss chard and so much more. Did I mention that some planters are for vegetable? They also take time to plant an herb garden. These are not the type of ladies who purchase seed packets and never plant them. They do not have empty planters sitting around, and they don’t let weeds rule.

Residents are welcome to join in the planting process. And throughout the summer, residents enjoy watering and tending to these beds. The glory lies in not only when planting – which includes stories of residents gardening days, but in the attempt to daily bring residents outdoors for a walk and sunshine. Several of the gardeners that come to help are retired. With this change of pace in life, they have decided to work in the sunlight, dig in the soil and add color to so many lives. Most stages in life can be improved if we ask ourselves this simple question: What are we doing for others? In this case, both parties involved are certainly blooming.

Upon meeting Deb Fauske, it was easy to see that this 30-plus-year teacher continues to be a life longer learner. Recently the meaning of flowers and also herbs sprouted with her. She enjoys this sort of research. The language of flowers is interesting, and here are few tidbits from Deb’s research.

Zinnia: thoughts of absent friends

Sage: domestic virtue, skill and wisdom

Rose: love, beauty, friendship, congratulations, reward of virtue

Daffodil: respect, gracefulness

Delphinium: sweetness, well-being

Hosta: devotion

Ivy: fidelity, constancy, friendship and wedded love to name just a few.

Now Deb did not just stop at the meanings – she expressed that combining flowers with their meanings to send can be powerful, fun and interesting. For example, tie a stem of lavender-luck and happiness; add rosemary-remembrance and welcome and finish it off with a touch of thyme-courage. What a beautiful and powerful way to express yourself.

Now if I were to send a thank you bouquet to these fine gardeners it would include the following: chrysanthemum for joy and optimism, forsythia for good nature, and some mini pink carnations for admiration. Deb, Liz, Terri and Lynda are determined to never be idle. It is wonderful to be in their company and see how much can be done when we simply say “yes” to doing. Thank you ladies for volunteering your time and talents.

We will invite these shovel-holding gardeners back in later summer to view the planters in full bloom. At this time, we will discuss what grew well, color patterns and what plants were admired by the residents most. In order to keep improving our flower bed and planters, we not only have to practice but take note of what does well and what needs to be changed.

I have found in life that almost every situation, meeting or review can be improved with the serving of food. It is something that people remember and enjoy, and it just may help them to remember what was actually discussed. Our plan will be to dine out in the gazebo with a light and enjoyable summer salad – one that is refreshing and not too filling that will allow us to walk about the gardens with easy after lunch. It will include drinks, lovely napkins, a coordinating tablecloth and dessert. Dessert will be served after the stroll about the grounds – perhaps some sort of homemade pie, with a yellow filling to remind them that marigolds always do well.

Chicken Salad

By Jan Norsby

This recipe has been a favorite with readers, and I have been asked to reprint it. It is worth a second run and more. You can garnish the salad as you like, and by all means, add garden flowers to the table.

2 cups cooked chicken

1 tablespoon onion, minced

1 tsp salt

1 cup green grapes

1 cup diced celery

1 cup ring macaroni cooked

1 cup mandarin oranges

1 cup Miracle Whip (with 4 Tablespoons sugar added)

1/2 cup slivered almonds (toasted, if desired)

1 cup whipping cream (whipped)

Mix together chicken, onion, and salt. Add grapes, celery, macaroni, oranges, salad dressing with sugar, and almonds. When ready to serve, fold in chipped cream. Serve on a lettuce leaf.

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