Free Tree

A Free Arbor Day Tree Seedling - 4/29/16

A Free Arbor Day Tree Seedling – 4/29/16

FREE TREE Giveaway!

That’s right–this casual blogger is doing a casual giveaway. By “casual giveaway” I mean that I’m just offering to share some of the free trees I got at the tollway oasis today (courtesy of The Morton Arboretum and The Illinois Tollway) with my LOCAL subscribers. I am not going to ship or deliver anything to the winners, so don’t enter unless you could come by and pick it up next week if you win a tree.

Here’s how to enter:

If  you are not a subscriber to this blog:

  1. Subscribe by clicking on the subscribe button in the upper right corner of this page and entering your email address.
  2. After you have subscribed, leave a comment below this post that says “just now” and say how you heard about this giveaway.

If you are a subscriber to this blog:

Leave a comment below this post that says “already amazing” if you had already subscribed to this blog (before 4/29/16). That’s all that is required for one regular entry!

For a bonus entry:

Share this giveaway publicly on Facebook by following the directions there.


The limit is one regular entry and one bonus entry per subscriber to The Well Watered Garden blog. The deadline for submitting entries is midnight on Monday, 5/2/16. Winners will be randomly selected on Tuesday, 5/3/16, and must pick up their trees from Chez Rea as soon as possible.

Here is the information I received along with the trees.

Plant a Tree on Arbor Day Information

Plant a Tree on Arbor Day Information

Happy Arbor Day!

Tree Giveaway Update 5/5/16

I’ve already given away 3 trees and have sent emails to 3 more people who responded both here and on Facebook.  By the way for anyone interested, I also have raspberry plants available from my kitchen garden–several are coming up in the paths. Or how about miscanthus? Mine has donuted.  I need help digging it up though–it’s huge!–and then I could separate and give away several.

Natives for Illinois

In the meantime, I’m going to post the links that I shared with the recipients of the trees. These are my two best sources of information for choosing plants native to Illinois.

Illinois Wildflowers

Possibility Place (plant finder)

Trees for My Garden

For my own tree planting adventures, I potted up the Asian pear trees I grafted at this year’s Midwest Fruit Explorers grafting workshop. Six of the eight grafts I tried showed signs of life, and it looks like four of them have growth above the grafts.  I plan to let these trees grow in the pots for a while and then plant them in my back yard in early fall.

Asian Pear Tree Grafts - 2016

Asian Pear Tree Grafts – 2016

IMG_0991 IMG_0992

Posted in Fruit, Ornamentals | 3 Comments

You Say Potato, I Say Experimento


"Sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste." -Shakespeare

“Sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste.” -Shakespeare

Shakespeare's Birthplace - 4/23/11

Shakespeare’s Birthplace – 4/23/11

Happy Shakespeare’s Birthday! This is a big year for Bard lovers like me and my husband because it’s the 400th anniversary of his death. Five years ago today we were at Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-Upon-Avon and bumped into the man himself out in the garden.

Today, however, I stayed close to home. Here in my own garden I planted potatoes for the first time ever. Not only that, but I planted them in containers! This is quite an experiment for me. I got the idea from Nina Koziol when I saw her fabulous container vegetable garden last year. She was growing many potatoes in large black nursery pots. I was reminded of this idea when I was trying to decide what to order from Gardens Alive a couple months ago (I had to order something because I got a super good coupon.)  and saw that they sold Purple Majesty seed potatoes. I ordered them, and they arrived over a month ago. I’ve been keeping them in my basement.

Purple Majesty potato tubers - 4/23/16

Purple Majesty potato tubers – 4/23/16

I knew I needed to plant them soon, and today was the day. Indeed, they had already sprouted quite a bit inside the bag. I emptied ten large pots and filled them back partway with old, used potting mix.  I put two potatoes in each of the three larger pots and one in each smaller pot. (I didn’t have enough pots to cut and space them out more.) I also added a cup or two of BuffaLoam per potato and more used potting soil. Then I watered them.

Partially Filled Containers with Potato Tubers - 4/23/16

Partially Filled Containers with Potato Tubers – 4/23/16

Containers Planted with Purple Majesty Potatoes - 4/23/16

Containers Planted with Purple Majesty Potatoes – 4/23/16


And there you have it–my first ever planting of potatoes! I got the tubers for free (paid less than $3 for shipping) and bought the BuffaLoam on clearance a year or two ago, so all together this experiment cost me maybe $7-8. We’ll see how many potatoes I get!

What’s in Bloom at Chez Rea – Spring 2016

Like the Bard says, “sweet flowers are slow and weeds make hast.” Here are some of the blooms we’ve had so far this spring. This is the first year I’ve had Greek Anemones as I planted them just last fall after buying them from the garden club.

Greek Anemone - 4/23/16

Greek Anemone – 4/23/16


Dwarf Iris, given to me a few years ago by my friend Sue F. – 4/23/16


Tete-a-Tete Daffodil – 3/23/16


Pink Hyacinth – 4/15/16


BEFORE Spring Cleanup – 4/15/16


AFTER Spring Cleanup – 4/15/16

Speaking of what’s in bloom at Chez Rea, I bought flowers for the Bard’s birthday. Actually, I couldn’t resist the prices since Meijer’s had 10%-off and Menard’s had an 11%-back rebate. That is why I bought them TOO EARLY, of course. Now I have to keep them alive until I can get them established in containers.

Sweet Flowers for Shakespeare's Birthday - 4/23/16

Sweet Flowers for Shakespeare’s Birthday – 4/23/16

As you can see, I succumbed to buying myself one of those ridiculously expensive salad bowls, too, all because it included edible flowers–violas.  I just LOVE edible flowers! Alas, all the pansies I managed to start back in January have died.

“Pray, love, remember: and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.”  -Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act IV, scene 5)

Posted in Containers, Herbs & Edible Flowers, Vegetables, What's in Bloom at Chez Rea | 4 Comments

2015 Kitchen Garden Photos

This gallery contains 68 photos.

The 2016 garden is well underway already both indoors and out. In the meantime, here is a pictorial review of last year’s kitchen garden. *CLICK ON ANY PICTURE FOR LARGER VIEW and/or SLIDESHOW: Journal Notes: Less kale, more chard! To Try: … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

2015 in review

After reading the following report, I have resolved–once again–to be a more active blogger. Many thanks to those of you who have been active subscribers to my blog! Your comments and referrals are very encouraging.  And now here’s the report.

Your 2015 in blogging

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 390 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in What's in Bloom at Chez Rea | Leave a comment

Winter Weather Report 2015

RAIN on the First Day of Winter 2015

RAIN on the First Day of Winter 2015

It’s the first day of winter, 12/21/15, and we had 0.64″ of RAIN at this CoCoRaHS station this morning.

Because of how mild the weather has been, I STILL HAVE KALE IN THE GARDEN! In fact, I harvested some a few days ago and used it in my favorite spinach salad recipe. I’ve been making this salad since 1993, when I first got the recipe from a sweet friend at church, Ruby Spencer. I altered the dressing recipe a bit (a little less oil and sugar) back then to make it healthier. Of course, I also have a tendency to use more eggs and bacon than the recipe actually calls for, so it’s not really healthier–I just feel better about it. However it’s made,  it has been a favorite at MANY family gatherings and potlucks over the years.

When I made it with kale for the first time this last weekend, I massaged a bit of olive oil into the kale to soften it a few hours before assembling the salad and used a little less canola oil in the dressing. (I’ve also used a combination of sugar cane vinegar and apple juice in place of the apple cider vinegar.) What a wonderful and delicious way to use my winter kale!

Chez Rea Spinach (or Kale) Salad

Serves 8 (May double for a large salad.)


1 bag spinach, raw

1/4 pound bacon, fried & crumbled

2 whole eggs, hard-boiled, sliced

1/2 whole red Bermuda onion, sliced

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced



1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup oil

1 teaspoon salt [I substitute a salt-free blend of herbs.]

1/4 cup catsup

3/8 cup sugar



Shake the dressing, and toss everything together.

NOTE: Whenever I transport this salad somewhere, I put the bacon bits in a little baggie, the rest of the ingredients in a covered bowl, and the dressing in a shaker container. Then I mix everything before serving so the salad is not too soggy.



Posted in Recipes, Vegetables | Leave a comment

Weather Warnings

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 8.29.06 AM

Look at those lows, people! It’s time to start bringing in our houseplants and tropicals. (See this post’s section on First Steps of the Plant Dance for what to do.)

Also, it looks like we’re going to have a first frost alert here Friday. (See this post’s section on First Frost Alert for what to do.)

Sorry, family–it’s time to bring the jungle back inside!

Posted in Containers, Houseplants, Tips and Tools, Vegetables | Leave a comment

Here’s Flowers for You

First, it's all about the food--especially when I have time to plan and prepare a special meal for the occasion. I got this appetizer ready at home--cantaloupe wrapped with prosciutto and herbs (basils and mint) and even some edible flowers.

Using edible flowers at a Shakespeare picnic – 7/15/15

Here’s flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun
And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age.

William Shakespeare – The Winter’s Tale

I just LOVE edible flowers! Those of you who know me personally know that I also love to go to Shakespeare plays. Thus it’s natural that I should combine these two loves whenever I get a chance to have a picnic at an outdoor summer Shakespeare performance. We (husband, #2 son, and I) just enjoyed the first Shakespeare picnic of this season as we went to see First Folio‘s production of The Winter’s Tale. I hope these pictures give my fellow edible flower fans some inspiration for how to use your own blooms. (Click on a picture for the larger gallery view.)

Perfect evenings like this make me thankful to God, who created this amazing world, for the excellent gifts He has given, especially the creativity of humankind. It was an awesome delight to experience the art of the theater, the art of a great writer, and the art of food and presentation–all at the same time we were outside on a cool summer evening. This year’s summer Shakespeare season is off to a great start!

Recipes and Notes

I’ve made prosciutto wrapped cantaloupe before, but it was recipes like these two that inspired me to add the herbs (lemon basil, lime basil, Thai basil, and mint) and edible flowers (lemon gem marigolds, bachelor’s buttons, oregano) this time.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Melon with Mint & White Balsamic Vinegar

Cantaloupe and Mozzarella with Prosciutto and Basil

This recipe has become my go-to guide for making taco meat from any ground meat: Taco Lettuce Wraps. And this is the recipe that gave me the idea for taco pie, which is much easier to handle on a picnic than tacos: Easy Crescent Taco Bake.

The salad was all from my garden: kale, pea shoots, broccoli, snow peas, and radishes. The white flowers in there came off those same pea shoots.

The dessert I brought was actually a back up I pulled out of the freezer when I realized that the dessert I’d planned had failed. Either way, I wanted to use some of the raspberries my garden is producing so abundantly this year.

Raspberry-Cream Cheese Muffins

And I thought last year was a good year for raspberries! I'm getting even more this year. 6/27/15

And I thought last year was a good year for raspberries! I’m getting even more this year. 6/27/15

Those of you who are interested in the particular production we saw may want to read my husband’s review of it on his Bardwatching Facebook page.


Posted in Fruit, Herbs & Edible Flowers, Recipes | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments