That’s the ad I answered in the paper about 25 years ago.
Today, every time I go to a barbeque or social gathering and meet new people, the conversation inevitably turns to what people do for a living. There’s always a doctor or lawyer or insurance guy bragging about their work. My wife cringes because, I always answer, “I mow grass for a living.” Then after the initial awkward silence, I say “It’s a good living too.”
While the old ad may have been a tiny bit of an exaggeration; our fast-paced business weeds out the weak, the unwilling, and the untalented. Today, The Hilltop operates a very lean business led by seasoned employees and many of our foremen and department heads have been with The Hilltop for twenty plus years. Even the owner of our company, Jim Forrester, started out in the field. It’s this dedication that has set our company apart from others.
So, business is good and we are looking to add another Landscape Architect/Designer to our team. This individual will be able to work in a highly productive environment. They will be experienced in project design and management of residential and commercial landscapes. Having knowledge of CAD will be helpful. The ideal candidate will have excellent hand graphics skills and be strong in formulating design concepts for projects. Must be able to digest and interpret design concepts and directions from the sales team and proceed with design development.
Does this sound like it’s for you?
Send resumes to:
Designer Hilltop Landscape
PO Box 10630
Albuquerque, NM 87184
Or by Email:
PLEASE NO PHONE CALLS
One more thing, if you get hired, we’ll supply the crayons. We’ll introduce our new Architect/Designer in a subsequent post.
*UPDATE* This position has been filled. Thanks for the tremendous response. We’ll introduce you to our new designer soon!
If you missed it—and I’m not sure how you did, since it seemed to be everywhere—there was a Royal Wedding last month. Whatever your personal issues with the Royal I Do’s, there was a repeated theme that I found quite intriguing—trees and flowers and their folkloric meanings. All the flowers in the royal bridal bouquet had a symbolic meaning to the royal family, Middleton family, as well as conventional knowledge.
We all have heard that red roses are a message of love, yellow roses a note of friendship, etc. I personally am a Jane Austen fan. I often have visions of being an Emma or Elisabeth, taking a turn in the garden, collecting a nose-gay of forget-me-nots on my way to town, hoping to conjure true love. I find the concept fascinating, and mourn the loss of the subtleness of the custom.
I understand the difficulties in the practice of carrying flowers in these times (I can just see a clients face as I enter the conference room holding a briefcase, a set of plans and a tiny bouquet of larkspur and calendula—oh my!). But it would be lovely to set aside a tiny area of your yard to a dedicated tussie-mussie garden. The language of flowers is a time-honored tradition dating back to the sixteenth century and can be incorporated easily into your landscaping.
Plants that are Common in a Tussie-Mussie Garden
A classic Tussie-Mussie garden includes:
- Hybrid Tea Rose
- Blackeyed Susan
This display conveys protection, cheerfulness, comfort, hidden loves and united family.
Mint Sauce over Roasted Lamb
Small bunch of mint
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp boiling water
1-2 tbsp vinegar
Place the mint and sugar on a board and chop finely. Put in a sauceboat and add the boiling water. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the vinegar to taste.
Tussie-Mussie in a Teacup
Keep your beautiful tussie-mussie garden all year by drying a few flowers and arranging them in an old castoff china teacup filled with floral foam. You will need your dried flowers, small amount of green sheet moss (to cover your foam) a knife, scissors, floral pins and glue. Remember, a nose-gay is meant to be diminutive so keep it simple and sweet. Fit the foam to your cup and cove with a thin sheet of moss. Put your largest flower in the center, and arrange the smaller ones throughout.
Thank yous to Ellen Dugan and Gillian Haslam for ideas and plant meanings.
Lavender- Très magnifique! Lavender is a lovely plant to provide at the access to your home so that it fragrances your guests entrance and exit to your abode. It can be planted in a more natural & xeric concept, strategically placed to provide the pop of color against a chamisa or Mexican evening primrose. Or perhaps in a more traditional layout, in front of boxwoods and Indian hawthorns with autumn blooming bulbs peeking up around the masses of silver and purple. Or, if you have some time on your hands, perhaps a Lavender Knot Garden… Too intricate? Try the very Zen art of Bonsai or Topiary on a potted Lavender plant.
Lavender has an amazing selection of different varieties, from the dwarf at 8 inches tall to the taller plants which reach 40 inches in height. Leaf, shoot and flower colors vary as well, from silver-white to blue-green to spring green, with yellow, white, pink, and varying purple flowers. Color, leaf texture, height and flower are all items of consideration when planting your Lavender. Not to mention hardiness zones.
Spring is such a trying time for us folks that cook with our landscaping plants. The garden veggies are just now sprouting (if the wind hasn’t blown them away), the fruit trees have months before they bear edible fruit, and your semi-evergreens are no where close to being mature enough to use. So, this is where last years “harvest” comes into play (or some hunting for the appropriate ingredients). English lavender keeps well in a mason jar of sugar: just bundle your lavender together, use a string to keep together and pour sugar around the flowers while holding your bundle down, so the stems are up out of the sugar and easy to pull out. Now you not only have preserved lavender to use, you have a fragrant sugar for your teas, cookies or cakes.
Don’t have any lavender on hand? Not a problem. Albuquerque Metro has an amazing lavender community; tea houses, co-ops, health food/herb shops, and weekend farmers markets where you can buy lavender wands, bags of dried lavender, lavender sugar and even Lavender scented teas.
Lavender is a wonderful herb to use in summer savories, but for spring I like to use it in sweet indulgences. Easter weekend I made a new recipe I found in my Tea Time Magazine for Earl Grey Lavender Cheesecakes. A table of 8 skeptics turned into 8 new lavender fans. I was so pleased!
Earl Grey Lavender Cheesecakes
24 mini vanilla flavored wafers
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1-1/2 Tablespoon Earl Grey-Lavender black tea leaves
1 tea. Dried lavender
2 (3-oz.) packages cream-cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
Garnish: Fresh Lavender
Preheat oven to 325°F
Line a 12-well mini cheesecake pan with paper liners. Place a wafer in the bottom of each cup. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, bring cream to boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Add tea leaves and lavender to saucepan. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Strain, discarding tea and lavender. Cool cream for 1 hour.
In a medium bowl, beat cream-cheese and sugar at high speed with an electric mixer until smooth, approximately 3 minutes. Add eggs, mixing until combined. Add cream mixture to cream-cheese mixture, mixing until combined.
Pour batter into prepared wells of cheesecake pan. Wrap bottom of cheesecake pan with aluminum foil to keep out water. Place cheesecake pan into a roasting pan. Carefully add enough water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cheesecake pan.
Bake until set, approximately 25 minutes. Remove cheesecake pan from roasting pan. Cool in pan for 1 hour. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
To remove cheesecakes, place a cutting board over pan, and invert pan and board in one motion.
Garnish with fresh lavender if desired.
Yield: 24 mini-cheesecakes
Prep: 10 minutes
Bake: 25 minutes
Cool: 1 hour
Refrigerate: 2 hours
Honestly, lavender is one of my absolute favorites. It’s all over my house. Hanging from lacy ribbon bows to dry, dried buds mixed with glass baubles in my candlescapes, bunched together in the linen drawers, stuck here and there in dried arrangements for a pop of color and fragrance, I even pour some dried buds into my lavender oil salt scrub for extra character and a froufrou spa like experience worthy of Provence, France (OK-I’m easily entertained).
You would never think about buying a house without having the roof, plumbing or electrical inspected. What about the trees at the home of your dreams, did you have them inspected?
It is that majestically wonderful, mature shade tree in the backyard that really sold you on the house. You’re dreaming about sitting under this tree in the summer and having barbecues with the family. It will be a delightful spot. But, is it really a safe tree?
Then, after you purchase the home you call in arborist to have your tree trimmed. The arborist notifies you that the tree has multiple structural issues that deem it a safety hazard and you need to remove the tree. The cost for removing the tree could run into the thousands! Now, not only have you lost your prized shade tree—the whole reason you bought the house—but it’s going to cost you thousands of dollars to remove it! Your idyllic backyard is now becoming a money pit and the sweltering sun is cooking all your dreams of lazing around the backyard enjoying the cool shade of the magnificent tree.
Hiring an ISA certified arborist to inspect the trees before you buy a house could save you money in the long run. An arborist could point out the positive aspects of the tree as well as any of the negative aspects, such as structural issues that may lead to limb failure or entire tree failure. The arborist may also identify disease or insect infestation. These issues could all be addressed and accounted for, if necessary, during your negotiations of the final purchase price for your new home.
Some of the things a Cerified Arborist will look for include:
- Top-heaviness, e.g., as indicated by excessive swaying in the wind.
- Lifting root plate, tearing out of roots, extensive root damage, or root loss.
- Cracks or splits in trunk or large limb.
- Broken trunks or large limbs.
- Hanging broken large limbs.
- Large amount of decay in a trunk or large limb.
- Forks involving big limbs that show signs of weakness or possible failure at the center of the fork, e.g., cracks, bark-to-bark contact,
- Hollows that may be full of decay
- Bulging growth
- Fork failures, leading to shed branches
- Signs that the tree is in poor health, or may be dying, e.g., smaller than normal leaves, dead leaves in summer, dead limbs, much fungal growth.
- Cuts and other indications that the tree may have been damaged by machinery, vehicles, or construction
Having established trees inspected during the purchase of a home is important because you can avoid the expense of taking down trees that are unsafe after you purchase the home. Although a tree inspection does not guarantee that your tree will never die at the least you can get a general idea of the health of the tree and plan accordingly.
In this series of posts, I’ll be sharing my favorite uses for my favorite plants. Culinary uses, artistic uses and general landscaping uses.
Waiting for your newly planted tomatoes and cucumbers to grow? Stop twiddling your thumbs! You already have options from your own landscaping that you can use to make a great meal. What better way to welcome the warmer weather than to spark-up the grill?
Upright Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is one of my favorite plants—evergreen, unique form, fragrant and attracts bees/butterflies while blooming the lively purple flowers. I typically plant this guy next to an entrance, so you might gently brush by it and come away smelling lovely. It’s also a great backdrop to lighter green flowering plants such as Mexican Evening Primrose and Lambs Ear.
If you haven’t cut back your ornamental grasses yet (hint: you need to), here is a great showpiece for your table: cut some ornamental grass blades (Pampas, Maidengrass, etc) , 3 Rosemary branches, a hyacinth or winter jasmine branch, a small branch from the smoketree, and a few wisps of English ivy. Arrange in your favorite vase and add a simple lace ribbon. The look is very American Prairie; romantic and down-to-earth.
Rosemary is a fantastic accompaniment to poultry. I always throw in a large sprig when boiling a chicken to pick apart later for chicken salad or whatnot. It’s also a great way to skewer meat and veggies for a shish kebab (recipe below). Simply cut of some branches of mature Rosemary and with a rubber glove on, slide your hand down the branch to push off leaves and little branches. Don’t forget to save the leaves to dry and use another time. Use a knife or scissors to cut away any knots or wooden hang-ups that your meat and veggies might get caught on while skewering them. Since the branches are ‘fresh’ you won’t need to soak them in water like you would store-bought (dried) wooden skewers. But always ‘wash’ any herbs or flowers that you bring inside.
One of my biggest pet-peeves when it comes to the grill is a Chef’de’Grill who leaves his station in between checking, rotating, flipping. Stay on deck and watch that meat!
Marinade for at least half an hour, then skewer meat and veggies. Assemble on Rosemary skewers with cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper, mushrooms, onion chunks and pineapple or apple.
|¼ cup||Soy Sauce|
|¼ cup||Chicken Broth|
|2 Tbsp||Sesame Oil|
|2 Tbsp||Apple Cider Vinegar|
|1 tsp||Grated Ginger|
|1||Garlic Clove, pressed|
Save marinade after assembling skewers, and add 2 Tbsp apple butter, brown sugar or honey. Baste shish kebabs with this mixture while grilling. Fantastic with cheese, herb risotto and cubed fruit.