Parsley is not merely a garnish. Besides its wide-ranging multicultural culinary uses, it has, like many culinary herbs, significant nutritional and medicinal values and important roles in the garden. And in Ancient Greece, parsley was used to crown heroes. Every part of the plant is useful.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is an attractive, very cold-hardy biennial herb in the Apiaceae (bee-flower) family. It is available in flat-leaf and curled-leaf forms, both of which have rich, glossy green serrated leaves on slender stalks. In the first year, parsley continually produces a mass of foliage, which can be freely harvested as needed. Parsley usually survives our winters, and begins to grow fresh foliage the second spring. As the second summer approaches, it stops producing foliage and sends up 2’ flower stalks, which branch indefinitely, holding many flat lacy clusters of tiny yellow flowers, throughout summer. Then it makes seed, and dies. If permitted, it will self-sow and perpetuate your parsley patch forever. If you dig up your plant at the end of the first summer, then you lose the tiny yellow flowers, containing loads of nutritious nectar, that are highly attractive to honeybees, other pollinators (many species of bees and butterflies) and beneficial insects, such as Hover Flies, whose larvae eat aphids and thrips. Like many members of its family, parsley is an essential host plant for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, so grow enough to feed them, too.

Parsley is also beneficial as a ‘companion’ plant. It is said to increase the fragrance and essential oils of roses growing near it, and to benefit the growth of chives, peppers, tomatoes, carrots and especially asparagus. Avoid planting it near mints and lettuce.

Medicinally, parsley leaves, seeds and root have been used for centuries. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant values for relieving stomach problems and rheumatoid arthritis. It is said to inhibit tumor formation, increase circulation and help dissolve kidney stones. Commercial parsley essential oils can be very strong and should be used with caution. Parsley is very high in Vitamin K and rich in vitamins A, C and iron. It is not only nutritious and delicious, but chewing a few fresh leaves is enough to cleanse your breath of garlic or onion odor.

For culinary use, curled-leaf parsley is tasty, but has a milder flavor and stiffer texture than flat-leaf, and is the ever-perky type used to garnish a platter. Varieties include: Triple Curled, Forest Green, Pagoda and Frisca.  But the Italian, flat-leaf type is preferred for cooking and drying. It is commonly used in soups, stews, pesto and curries, and I love it in salads with tomatoes. Varieties include: Giant of Italy, Wild Parsley, Italian Dark Green and Survivor. My wife, Eve, makes one of my favorite summer foods: Quinoa Tabbouleh, with lots of parsley. (see the recipe below). She also sprinkles it fresh over bowls of her Greek Egg-Lemon Soup. Yum!! And a sprinkling of fresh parsley over boiled potatoes, elevates them above bachelor-fare. And parsley pesto is a delicious, vitamin-packed sauce or condiment. Hundreds of years ago, parsley varieties were selected and bred for thick, carrot-like roots, which give parsley flavor to soups, etc., and are known as Hamburg parsley, or Parsley Root. The book ‘Parsley Greats’ offers 100 tasty recipes using parsley.

Parsley is easy to grow in full or part sun in most soils, but it does prefer composted soil, watered once or twice a week. Parsley even does well in containers that can be brought indoors in the winter, where it likes a cool, sunny location and some misting. It over-winters outdoors in the ground and can be mulched with straw or leaves to be harvested through most winters.

The gardener must be patient to plant parsley from seed, as it is slow to germinate. It helps to soak the seed in water overnight just before sowing in early spring, 8-10 weeks before the last frost. It can be sown in the ground, or indoors in pots. Parsley seedlings should be hardened-off and planted out when they are 2” tall.

Parsley is native to the Mediterranean region, and both wild and garden forms were known to the ancient Greeks. Heroes of the Olympic Games were crowned with olive, but for 450 years, winners of other athletic games were crowned with parsley. It was used in cooking in England before the Norman Conquest, and was brought over to America on the Mayflower.

We should all be growing and using more parsley, even if it does get caught in our teeth.

Byline: Mikl and Eve Brawner are co-owners of Harlequin’s Gardens nursery specializing in organic veggie and herb starts, pollinator-friendly, neonic-free plants, hardy roses and xeriscape.


Japanese Beetle is one of the most damaging insect pests in the Eastern and Midwestern US, but until recently, Coloradans were spared that challenge. It entered the US in 1916, but took until 2003 before a population was established in Colorado. This first infestation was in the Palisade area on the Western Slope. Even though eradication efforts were mostly successful there, established populations have been found since 2005 in Pueblo, southern Denver, Englewood, at DU and at Denver Botanic Gardens. Smaller populations are being seen now in Boulder and Jefferson County.

Japanese Beetle is a scarab type beetle about a half inch long, with a metallic green body and copper-colored covers on its wings. In its larval stage, it is a white C-shaped grub, an inch long at maturity. According to our state entomologist, Whitney Cranshaw, adults emerge from soil or turf in late June, July and early August. They only live 4-8 weeks, but can cause significant damage in that time. After mating, the female lays eggs in moist turf, the eggs hatch into grubs that eat the roots of grass. When the numbers of grubs is large, they can kill areas of the lawn. The grubs are mature by September and they burrow down and go dormant over the winter. In spring they feed for 4-6 weeks, then pupate for a few weeks before emerging as beetles.

Japanese Beetle is the most widespread turf-grass pest in the US. The adult beetles eat the foliage and flowers of over 200 species of plants including: grape, crab apple and apple, rose, linden, Norway Maple, birch, cherry, plum, apricot, peach, raspberry, vegetables and some ornamental shrubs. Virginia Creeper and strawberries are particular favorites. Veggies that are eaten are: green beans, okra, corn, asparagus and basil.

Plants that are resistant to Japanese Beetle are: lilac, spruce, chokecherry, elderberry, Bur Oak, Bittersweet Vine, boxwood, forsythia, hydrangea, juniper, mockorange, pear, pine, smokebush, snowberry, Silver Maple, Red Maple, sumac, spirea, yew; as well as coreopsis, larkspur, foxglove, Coral Bells, hosta, poppy, columbine and pansy. Many vegetables are not attractive to them. A few plants act as repellents: catnip, garlic, chives, tansy and annual geraniums.

How can we manage Japanese Beetles to reduce their damage in our gardens and farms?

Cultural Methods: Like most pests, Japanese Beetles are attracted to weaker plants, so we can support soil health with organic matter, micronutrients, minerals, sufficient water and supplemental biology like mycorrhizae and beneficial bacteria. Plant resistant varieties and natives and xeriscape plants. The beetles are very vulnerable when the grubs are small. So xeriscapes that are watered deeply and sparingly will dry out the grubs and reduce their populations. Bluegrass can be allowed to go dormant in July to save water and seriously reduce grub population. Then water normally in September to bring turf out of dormancy. Or just follow CSU advice and “water as deeply and infrequently as possible.” Dr. Michael Klein, a Ohio State U authority on Japanese Beetles has stated that “compulsive overwatering is often to blame for grub damage.” He also recommends cutting grass to a 3” height, making it less attractive to egg-laying females. And he suggests that we do everything we can to prevent adult damage early in the season, because early feeding attracts LOTS of other beetles.

Non-toxic solutions for the grubs: Milky Spore is a bacteria that only affects grubs and must be eaten to work. Apply a teaspoon amount every 4’ and water in for 15 minutes. Though said to be effective, it may take a few years for adequate protection. It is best applied in early Aug/Sept when the soil temperature is above 65 degrees. Montana Cooperative Extension says it does not provide adequate control.

Nematodes of two varieties are effective but do not work in dry conditions, may not overwinter and are pricey.

Dr. Mike Klein recommends the aerator sandals called Spikes of Death. He says that whereas they are not effective for aeration, if you wear them while Dirty Dancing on your lawn in late Spring when the grubs are near the surface, studies have shown a better know-down than from chemical insecticides.

Non-toxic solutions for the beetles; these may not give total control: insecticidal soap, diatomaceous earth, neem that contains its active ingredient azadirachtin.

Some of our Boulder customers have had success with Veggie Pharm, a solution of vegetable oil, garlic, rosemary and peppermint; and a thyme based spray with Wintergreen called Garden Insect Killer by Liquid Fence is also said to kill the beetles.

Of course hand picking is effective. A bucket of soapy water can be held under the plant while knocking the beetles off into the bucket. This is best done in the early morning when the beetles are slower.

Lower toxicity solutions: Pyola-a combination of pyrethrins and canola oil, and other pyrethroid products do break down faster than more toxic pesticides, but they are still lethal to bees, birds, fish (and cats?). There are many variations.

Higher toxicity solutions: The Colorado Dept. of Agriculture says, “Historically this insect is a target for large amounts of insecticide use.” Organophosphates as well as Neonicotinoids are used. The Palisade Colorado population was nearly eradicated using two different neonics: Merit and Arena. But because neonics kill or undermine the health of most insects including bees, earthworms, lady bugs and beneficial insects, they are not a sustainable solution. And because they are systemic and always in the plant, they do not work in an IPM (Integrated Pest Management) program. Birds that feed on the beetles can also be killed.

Traps: using floral or sex-attractant scents do attract the beetles, but are not considered a solution since they usually increase insect damage.

Japanese Beetle is yet another foreign pest that does not have natural enemies here. Since it is new to us, we will have to watch, experiment and learn more to keep their populations below damaging levels.

New sightings of Japanese Beetle should be reported to the local CSU Cooperative Extension office.


At last! Spring is officially here and more plants are starting to bloom, providing much needed pollen and nectar for bees.  You should be seeing honeybees and queen bumblebees feeding on dandelions, the ubiquitous and pretty weed Redstem Filaree (Erodium cicutarium), the fantastic, long-blooming Golden Storksbill (Erodium chrysanthum) – not a weed!, Creeping Phlox, Maple trees, tulips, crocus, Crown Imperial Fritillaria, and other spring-blooming bulbs.  Soon the willows that grow along our creeks and ravines will have their inconspicuous bloom which provides pollen, and there have even been a few flowering crabapples starting to bud and leaf out. The time of abundance is near as apples and other fruit trees unfurl.  Native bees will begin emerging from their winter nests and will be flocking to these plants as well.

Engrid says “Our family first moved to a large old piece of property thirteen years ago with a couple of huge crabapples. I could stand under the trees and hear them “hum” with the sound of pollinators.  Alas, that hasn’t happened for at least five years even though the trees bloom just as prolifically. There are still bees in the blossoms, but not like before.  An experienced local beekeeper told us in beekeeping class that it is up to the hobby beekeepers to sustain the populations of bees as the number of professional beekeepers has declined.  He also said that the bees are on “life support”. We are so fortunate in this area to have a large and growing population of these hobbyists who tend to hives in their backyards or on property owned by others.”

There is a sense of urgency for both new and experienced beekeepers to prepare their equipment for the new season.  New beekeepers must either purchase and assemble their hives and frames, or buy pre-assembled hive equipment (and Harlequin’s Gardens new Bee Barn is well-stocked with hive boxes, frames and all the other equipment you’ll need). It’s also a good time to practice lighting (and keeping lit) those pesky smokers which can be quirky and challenging.  Smoke helps to keep the bees calm when opening the hive to check on them, which must be done frequently. There are a wide variety of options for smoker fuel including untreated burlap, straw or dried grass, herb cuttings such as lavender or thyme and the seed heads of Rhus (Sumac) collected in the Fall which are purported to help control varroa mite.  Some beekeepers swear that the corky, dark wood from the cottonwoods along local creeks are the best fuel.   There are also beekeepers who prefer to use a water-based spray with a bit of lavender oil or sugar for keeping the bees calm.  Calm bees are easier on the beekeeper. There are times when neither smoke nor spray will work.  Bees are sensitive to temperature and weather and should be “worked” on calm days when it is not too hot or windy, or when there is an approaching storm.

These fascinating and important creatures need the help of local beekeepers and organic gardeners to survive and thrive.

Mikl wrote the following article as a contribution to the Audobon Society’s Habitat Heroes Program blog, and it also appears on the Friends of the Earth website.


Toxic pesticides were never a good idea. They were designed to make money for the petroleum industry, not to benefit the public good. Pesticides, fungicides and herbicides are poisons that were developed to kill life. Not only has this approach poisoned our earth and ourselves, it has failed to control Nature. Our soils are less productive, and weeds and pests have adapted by becoming resistant. Stronger poisons are not the answer.

In the last 20 years, the new “nicotine” pesticides (neonicotinoids) have become the industry standards because they are less toxic to people and animals than the old organophosphate pesticides, and that is good. But the neonicotinoids (neonics) are even more toxic to insects; these nerve toxins remain active in plant tissue for 3 months to 5 years; all parts of the plants are poison, and the poison goes into our soil and water.

It has become difficult to buy landscaping plants that do not contain neonics. From the root hairs to the pollen, this systemic poison kills or undermines the health of honeybees, wild bees, butterflies, beneficial insects, ladybugs, earthworms, soil insects and insect-eating birds. We are heading into a dead end.

Insects are not enemies of plants; they have co-evolved together. They coexist where there is balance and where nutritious soils grow strong and healthy plants. This is not romantic thinking; it is the basis of the organic way that has proven effective all over the world.

At our nursery, Harlequin’s Gardens, we have been growing plants to sell for 23 years without using any toxic pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The plants we grow are neonic-free. Like most sustainable or renewable energy systems, the costs are higher in the beginning and lower as time goes on. We pay extra for nutritious soil ingredients, but we spend little time and money on pest management.

This year the plants we buy from other growers will be 100% neonic-free. We have hired a custom propagator to grow pesticide-free plants for us. And we just purchased the one acre property next-door to us to build an energy-efficient commercial greenhouse to grow even more pesticide-free plants. We don’t need any more proof that neonics are killing our bees and undermining the vitality of our environment.

This year we will also be carrying beekeeping supplies to support honeybees and beekeepers. We will be teaching classes on beekeeping and organic gardening, and as always, we will be carrying soil-building supplies and non-toxic pest management supplies.

Science and history will prove that supporting Life is a more sustainable, economical and successful method than poisoning life. This is the 21st Century direction that will replace petroleum-thinking.

Mikl Brawner

Harlequin’s Gardens

“We cannot command Nature except by obeying her.”  Francis Bacon

Please check out our Class Schedule at for classes on gardening without toxins, gardening for pollinators and wildlife, beekeeping (both Langstroth and Top-Bar), native wild bees, and much more!

Happy Spring! We look forward to seeing you soon!

Harlequin’s 2015 Opening & new Bee Barn!


ANNOUNCING the new Harlequin’s Gardens BEE BARN & our new WHERE the BEES ARE Bi-Monthly Reports

Harlequin’s Gardens is now open for the 2015 season!

We at Harlequin’s Gardens have loved and supported bees for a long, long time. We also know that many of our customers keep bees, or would like to learn more about how to support bees and other pollinators and how to keep honeybee hives.

Now we are very excited to announce that we are inaugurating a Neonic-Free policy, (about which we will tell you more in our upcoming Spring Invitation & Newsletter). And, we are now offering an extensive line of beekeeping supplies! By the Herculean efforts of Mikl, several fabulous helpers who pitched in at just the right time, and our staff of amazing Wonderwomen, we have transformed the back portion of our building into The Bee Barn (painted the color of honey, of course!).

The first shipment (over 80 boxes and 3 pallets) of beekeeping supplies have arrived and more is on its way.  Our new Bee Barn is full of a good selection of products including Langstroth hive equipment such as starter kits, Deep, Medium and Honey Supers (both assembled and unassembled) as well as a selection of Top Bar hives.  We have locally constructed Top Bar Hives made with Beetle-Kill Pine and screened bottoms. Come and check out our great selection of Hive Tools, Equipment, Protective Gear, Feeding supplies and great books including the recently published, “Beekeeping Mentor in a Book”  by local beekeeping expert, Don Studinski. Special Ordering is also available and we will be expanding our product line in coming months.

If you are a new beekeeper, we can help you decide what you need because we have beekeepers on staff to answer questions and give advice. You will find our prices are quite reasonable. And we are offering three different classes about honeybees (in which you’ll be able to visit the bees in our own Top Bar and Langstroth hives) and native bees, as well as other great bee-related subjects. Please review our extensive class offerings here.

~Introducing a new Blog~

We are happy to present the first edition of our new feature, Where the Bees Are, a bi-monthly report on what’s happening in beehives around the Front Range area, and what bee-supporting plants are blooming, both in the natural landscape and in gardens. We plan to send this informative report to you twice a month through the bee season, and post it on our website as well. We hope it will give gardeners and beekeeper-gardeners some new ideas for choosing plants and sequencing bloom in their gardens to make the garden a haven for honeybees, wild bees (Boulder County is home to hundreds of species!), and other pollinators. If you have feedback about Where the Bees Are, please contact us by sending a note in the mail to 4795 N 26th St., Boulder CO 80301.

WHERE the BEES ARE, ed. 0315Aphoto

As we all know, late February and early March have been bitterly cold and snowy, which is very hard on honeybee colonies.  Honeybees are the only bees that over-winter as a colony. This makes hive management interesting and challenging.  Temperatures in January and February were unseasonably warm, which triggered the bees to get out and take cleansing flights and search for forage. The Maple trees bloomed about 3 weeks early this year and pollen was eagerly collected. In some sunny gardens, early Crocus and Species Iris, like I. reticulata and I. danfordii, began blooming as early as the first week in February. One of our native shrubs, Silver Buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea), was blooming in February – inconspicuous to us humans, but definitely noticed by the bees. Honeybees will leave the hive if the weather is sunny and temperatures are over about 50 degrees, but when conditions are cold they stay in a cluster in the hive, shivering to create the kinetic heat that keeps the Queen and the brood warm.  The rest of the bees in the hive rotate from the outside to the inside of the cluster and back again for warmth. The brood is very limited in size to 50-100 bees and the brood cycles overlap and become larger over time as forage and weather begins to be favorable.  Hopefully, there is enough stored honey for them to make it through these lean times, but many beekeepers supplement with pollen patties and sugar cakes. Even so, prolonged cold can cause hive losses as the bees are reluctant to move away from the cluster and the brood to tap into nearby reserves and may starve within an inch of stored honey as they will not leave their brood unprotected. Sometimes robbing occurs and the bees entering and leaving the hive are not the residents. Beekeepers check their hives for dead-outs caused by weather, starvation and disease whenever temperatures are warm enough to observe the bees out and about around the hive or by opening the hives on warm, sunny days.

As this latest cold snap recedes and throughout the month of March, things become a lot more exciting for beekeepers. Equipment needs to be cleaned, repaired, replaced and built in anticipation of bee packages and nucs (brood frames), ordered at least 45 days ago for delivery and installation in April. Inspections will be conducted more frequently as Queen health and brood sizes are checked. Colony strength is assessed for the possibility of splits and old comb may be removed from the bottom of Langstroth hives.  It’s also time to scrape off burr comb and remove uneaten candy, if any.

As temperatures warm a very important bloom time begins – Dandelions!  Dandelion pollen is moderately nutritious and the nectar is abundant and they bloom just in time to feed over-wintered colonies. Dandelions are a vital source of food for honeybees at a time when almost nothing else is available. And they often occur in large groupings, which makes foraging more efficient.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Special thanks to Engrid Winslow for providing much of the content of this report!

Look for our second edition in your mailbox later this month.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

In MARCH we are open Thursday, Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays, from 9am to 5pm

for soil amendments, potting soils, seeds, seed-starting supplies, gardening supplies and tools, seed potatoes, onion plants, early cool-season veggie and herb starts, beekeeping supplies, great classes, gift certificates, and much more!

Beginning APRIL 1, we will be open daily. Please see our upcoming Spring Invitation & Newsletter for more details.

Eve & Mikl Brawner and the fabulous staff at Harlequin’s Gardens


SOUPE AU PISTOU [vegetable soup with garlic, basil & herbs]
from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Early summer is the Mediterranean season for soupe au pistou, when fresh basil, fresh white beans, and broad mange-tout beans are all suddenly available. The pistou itself, like the Italian pesta, is a sauce made of garlic, basil, tomato and cheese, and is just as good on spaghetti as it is in this rich vegetable soup. Fortunately this soup is not confined to summer and fresh vegetables, for you can use canned navy beans or kidney beans, fresh or frozen string beans, and a fragrant dried basil. Other vegetables in season may be added with the green beans as you wish, such as peas, diced zucchini, and green or red bell peppers.

For 6 to 8 servings

3 quarts water
2 cups each: diced carrots, diced boiling potatoes, diced onions
1 Tablespoon salt
(If available, 2 cups fresh white beans, and omit the navy beans farther on) Either boil the water, vegetables, and salt slowly in a 6-quart kettle for 40 minutes; or pressure-cook for 5 minutes, release pressure, and simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes. Correct seasoning.
2 cups diced fresh green beans or “cut” frozen green beans
2 cups cooked or canned navy beans or kidney beans
1/3 cup broken spaghetti or vermicelli
1 slice stale white or wheat bread, crumbled
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of saffron Twenty minutes before serving, so the green vegetables will retain their freshness, add the beans, spaghetti or vermicelli, bread and seasonings to the boiling soup. Boil slowly for about 15 minutes, or until the green beans are just cooked through. Correct seasoning again.
4 cloves mashed garlic
4 Tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup chopped fresh basil or 1½ Tablespoons fragrant dried basil
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ to ½ cup fruity olive oil Prepare the following pistou while the soup is cooking: place garlic, tomato paste, basil and cheese in the soup tureen and blend to a paste with a spatula or wooden spoon; then, drop by drop, beat in the olive oil. When the soup is ready for serving, beat a cup gradually into the pistou. Pour in the rest of the soup.

Serve with hot French bread, or hard-toasted bread rounds basted with olive oil.


LOVAGE AND CELERY SOUP from “Scarista Style” by Alison Johnson
Scarista House is an award-winning hotel and restaurant on the west coast of the Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

You will be glad of this recipe if you grow lovage, as it will have taken over your garden and you won’t know what to do with it. “The root grows thick, great and deep, spreading much and enduring long…It is planted in gardens, where it grows large,” says Culpeper blandly, adding that “a decoction of the root is a remedy for ague.” If you don’t live in a malarial marsh, you will find you have a large surplus of this particular herb.
This is one of my favorite soups, and worth suffering the rampages of the plant for.
2 medium onions
1 head celery
2 large potatoes
2 ounces butter
3 large handfuls lovage leaves
425 ml water = 14.3 fluid ounces
275 ml milk = 9.3 fluid ounces
150 ml cream = 5 fluid ounces
Chop the onion, celery and potatoes coarsely and sweat them in the butter for a few minutes. Add the water and lovage and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer till the vegetables are very soft. Stir it occasionally, as the mixture will be thick and inclined to stick.
The soup now has to be sieved, as celery is hairy stuff. It is easier to do this if you liquidise it first, adding the milk as you do so.
Return the soup to the pan, add salt to taste, and the cream. Reheat without boiling. Serve with a blob of cream or some freshly chopped lovage on top.
Makes about 2 quarts—serves 6.

Carol’s notes:
½ teaspoon salt is about right. I converted “milliliters” to “fluid ounces”, as noted above.
I don’t use cream. I hardly ever use cream in anything—too many calories—and it tastes just fine, as far as I’m concerned. In fact, most of the time I just use skim milk.
I don’t sieve the soup, as the recipe says—instead I run it through the blender, adding milk as suggested. I think this works out just fine. But it is probably a matter of personal taste.
The soup doesn’t freeze well, but I discovered that it works okay as a cold soup.


Carol Gerlitz

3 cups water (I use 1 to 1½ cups red wine if I have some to use up)
¾ to 1 pound beef brisket, cubed—or stew meat or chuck—whatever you wish
½ onion, chopped
3 medium stalks celery, cut into ½” lengths
3-4 medium carrots, pared and thinly sliced
2-3 medium beets, pared and sliced
½ head cabbage, cut into reasonable-size hunks
1 bay leaf
1½ teaspoons salt

1 medium to large beet, pared and coarsely shredded
3-4 oz. tomato paste
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

½ pint dairy sour cream

In a large kettle place the first 9 ingredients. Simmer, covered, about 2 hours. I use a 6-quart pressure cooker, and cook 20-25 minutes at 15 lb pressure; you can either release pressure by running cold water over the pressure cooker, or just let it sit until the pressure is back to normal.

Add the next 5 ingredients and simmer, covered, 20-25 minutes. You can cool and refrigerate at this point—or serve it right up.

Serve topped with sour cream.

Makes about 5-6 servings, depending on the size.


from Mary Lou Carlson as adapted by Carol Gerlitz (originally in Fine Cooking magazine, June/July 2001)
Yields about 1½ cups

3 cups packed basil leaves (about 6-7 ounces of leaves)
¼ cup ice water
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
½ cup + 2 tbsp. pine nuts
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. salt
3/8 tsp. black pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Bring 2 quarts water seasoned with 1 tablespoon salt to a rolling boil. Prepare an ice bath by combining ice and water in a large bowl. (Be sure you freeze a lot of ice cubes ahead of time for this.)

Divide the basil into 2 or 3 parts, so that one part of basil will fit into a large metal strainer (about 5 or 6 inches in diameter). Put the basil (in strainer) into boiling water, pressing it gently under the water with a rubber spatula, and cook for 2 or 3 seconds. Remove the basil from the water and plunge it (still in the strainer) into the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Let cool in the ice bath for 1-2 minutes, until completely cooled. Loosen it up with your fingers to aid the cooling process.

Remove the basil from the ice bath and squeeze it lightly with your hands to remove most of the excess water. Set aside until all basil is prepared.

Chop the basil coarsely with a sharp knife and then put it into a food processor. Add the garlic, pine nuts, cheese, ½ tsp. salt, pepper, and ¼ cup ice water. Blend until the basil is coarsely pureed, scraping down the sides (and adding more water to facilitate blending only if needed).

Be patient; don’t add more water if it isn’t necessary.

With the food processor running, add the oil in a steady stream until the pesto looks creamy and emulsified. Cover and store in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for up to a few months. Serve over 12-16 ounces of cooked rotini or fusilli, or your favorite pasta. Or dream up some other good uses for the pesto and let the rest of us know! (I’ve used it as a topping for pizza instead of tomato sauce—tastes wonderful that way)


My handwritten notes also indicate that several times I’ve done about 1½ pounds basil in three batches—3 cups, 3 cups, and 4 cups at a time—which resulted a total of 5-6 cups pesto. I’ve also kept it frozen for much longer than a few months!

Harlequin’s Gardens Fall Newsletter 2014

Harlequin’s  Gardens

Fall 2014 Newsletter       303-939-9403      


Dear Friends and Fellow Gardeners,
Welcome to Autumn and to Harlequin’s Gardens Fall Plant Sale.
We are grateful for the kindness of this growing season, with the good rains and cooler weather. Not all states were as lucky as Colorado. We are also grateful for the healing progress of Eve and for the recovery of those hit by last September’s flood, though the healing is not over.

Every season has its challenges and its opportunities. Fall in Colorado can turn suddenly into winter before some plants have gone dormant which can cause freeze-drying of plant tissue and die-back. And sunny, dry weather can cause drought stress. But the opportunities of fall are many.

Cooler air means less water loss through the leaves so more water is available for rooting. The soil is still warm so microorganisms flourish and root growth is promoted. The food made by photosynthesis is supporting less flowering and less active growth, so more energy goes naturally to the roots. Plus we usually get more rain in autumn. This is why early fall is an excellent time for planting most plants and for seeding turf and meadows.

Also, because plants store carbohydrates in their roots during fall, this the best time of year to fertilize with organic fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers (like urea) are water soluble and stimulate rapid growth which can freeze before it hardens off. Organic fertilizers feed slowly over months. Research at CSU has shown that fall is the most important time to fertilize turf grass. We carry 2 organic fertilizers that are good for lawns. September is the best time of year to aerate. Follow that with fertilizer and ideally with a quarter inch of compost topdressing. This will thicken up thin lawns and help to prevent fungal diseases.

Nature Cycle Lawn Fertilizer: made from chicken manure, blood meal, feather meal

Alpha One: alfalfa, cottonseed meal, blood meal, sunflower

Lawn Topdressing: composted chicken manure and wood chips

Meadow Grass Seed Mixes: low water, for Mountains, Plains and Very Xeric natural lawns

Perennials, Roses and Trees are also most effectively fertilized in early fall. If soil lacks sufficient nutrition in the fall, plants make fewer flower buds and fruit buds for the following year. Good fall nutrition will also reduce or eliminate diseases the next year, improve establishing success and yield more flowers, fruit and overall growth.

Mile-Hi Rose Feed: with alfalfa and kelp; excellent for Sept. use; promotes repeat flowering & strength

Yum Yum Mix: cottonseed, rock dust, alfalfa, rock phosphate, kelp: perennials, shrubs & xeriscapes

Biosol: fungal mass with many nutrients; certified organic; for lawns, perennials, veggies, shrubs

Tomato & Vegetable Food and Harlequin’s Fertility Mix: both great for fall veggie planting

Planters II rock dust and Kelp for micronutrients; Humate to make nutrients available; Dry Fruit

Organic Fall Veggie Starts:  More people are catching on to planting cool-season greens in the fall. This can be very rewarding & the season can be extended with row cover & mulch 5 kinds of Kale, 11 kinds of Lettuce, Arugula, Beet Greens, 3 Spinach, 5 kinds of Swiss Chard, Broccoli Raab, Winter Cress, Asian Greens, 3 kinds of Bok Choy, Shallots and 4 varieties of Garlic.
These new premium plants cannot be sold at a discounted price
 We also have a great selection of Botanical Interests Seeds for cool-season greens

Our Fall Sale has graduated discounts that change and increase through September. Our discounts might not dive as rapidly or as deeply as some stores, because we are not dumping the dregs before they crash. Our plants are still strong and healthy. We choose our plants carefully, buy from the better suppliers, and we grow thousands of plants organically in nutritious potting mixes that we blend ourselves. We have worked hard to find plants that are free of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides.  We go to great lengths to insure your planting success, and to support your organic methods. See page 4 for Fall Sale details.

BULBS: (no discount)
This year we will offer a number of delightful new species and varieties as well as many reliable old favorites. Check our website under Plants/Bulbs for detailed descriptions and photos of this year’s selection. Buy bulbs in September, while the selection is best, and hold for planting in October & November.

DEEP DISCOUNT AREA: Opens Sept. 1  Plants for rock-bottom prices. Many customers been thrilled with how quickly they grow and look beautiful. This area will contain perennials, roses, shrubs and trees. For example: 2 ½” pots only $1.25; 1 gallon beautiful John Davis Canadian Rose reg.$22 now $15; vibrant shrub rose The Gift, only $15; evergreen Euonymus vines reg $19 now $11; Heritage Irises #1 for $7, Ft. Laramie Strawberry, Hen & Chicks from Mikl’s Mother’s Bonanza  Special $1

And before we lose you in the fall sale details, we want to be sure you see the announcement for our incomparable Holiday Gift Market, when we will be offering locally-made artisan goods & products.  You will want toprint off a copy of the invitation ‘postcard’ as a reminder, and because it is also your entry form for a drawing for three $100 Harlequin’s Gift Certificates!  One entry per customer, please. Here’s the link: Printable Postcard

Here is a taste of some of the great plants available at our Fall Sale

NATIVES: Native plants are adapted to dramatic ups and downs of weather and drought. They support local pollinators & birds and help create a successful western landscape.

Golden Dome-Gutierrezia- a local native subshrub forming a 12”-16” dome of vivid green thin stems that bloom a rich yellow. Very drought tolerant. Similar to Dwarf Rabbitbrush, but smaller. Use as a specimen, in a meadow or hell-strip. Shear after bloom

Many-Flowered Puccoon-Lithospermum multiflorum-you won’t find this Boulder Co. native at other nurseries, 10”x10” mound with soft yellow bells; likes well-drained soil and is showier in part shade, even dry shade. Slow to develop but tough; from local seed

Pitcher Sage-Salvia azurea: stunning blue flowers in summer on 6’ plants, lax growth is better with a buddy like big rabbitbrush which blooms yellow at the same time. Xeric

Wild Grape-powerful, cold-hardy grape that quickly covers anything, flowers are not showy but smell very grapey; the small fruits make a great pie and are excellent food for wildlife

Hackberry Tree: the fastest-growing hardwood tree and most drought tolerant; very adaptable (moist is fine); grows to 50’; good for hot, windy western exposure to make shade from the late afternoon sun; attractive bark, strong branching, good replacement for ash

Plus: Pussytoes, Penstemons, Compass Plant, Gaillardia, Aster, Goldenrod, etc.

VINES: Aunt Dee Wisteria- every year 10” purple racemes of fragrant pea-like blooms

Honeysuckles: fragrant Hall’s, Red Major Wheeler, Yellow John Clayton, Goldflame etc.

Wintercreeper Vines-Euonymus fortunei: we love them because they are all tough, evergreen, water-thrifty, and can fulfill many functions. Purpleleaf Wintercreeper-E. coloratus: deep, glossy green leaves turn purple in winter; groundcover, shrub or vine.

E. Minima: small leaves, the most delicate; for a trellis in part to deep shade, to 10’

E. Vegeta: strong vine 20’ evergreen screen; orange berries in the fall; very cold hardy; to 2

And many Clematis: Betty Corning, Nelly Moser, Princess Diana, Native & Trumpet Vines

HERBS: Spearmint, Mountain Mint, And many other herbs, nearly all grown organically.

SHADE PLANTS: Bergenia- tough evergreen with red-pink flowers, English Ivy, Hardy Geraniums, Campanulas, Waldstenia-strawberry leaves& yellow flowers,Boxwood, Mahonia

ORNAMENTAL GRASSES: Giant Sacaton-7’; Blue Grama, Indian Grass, Shenandoah Switch Grass, ‘Undaunted’ Muhlenbergia reverchonii, Sideoats Grama, etc.

ROSES: Our proven, sustainable own-root roses will be 20% off during the Members Sale and 10% off for the entire month of September. A huge selection of premium plants

TREES: many varieties, container grown have complete root systems and are easy to plant: Mt. Ash with white flowers and red berries-not affected by Emerald Ash Borer, Crab Apples, Hawthornes, Aspens, Chokecherry, Buffaloberry, Mayday Tree, Rocky Mt. Juniper

Shrubs: both native and non-native, some in #2 pots are Harlequin-Grown in nutrient-rich soil mix with worm compost and mycorrhizae; economical and premium quality:
Cotoneasters: Peking with red/orange fall color, Sungari and Szechuan with white flowers and red berries; Fritsch Spirea with white flowers and red fall color, Clematis Mongolian Gold 4’ with golden bell flowers; Viburnam lantana-big, tough & beautiful.

HUNDREDS OF PERENNIALS: like Mrs. Bradshaw Geum, ‘Harlequin’s Silver’ Germander, Reiter Thyme, Stiff Goldenrod, Sedum populifolium, Tuscan Honeymoon Dianthus, Russian Sage, Anthemis marshalliana, Lamiastrum ‘Herman’s Pride’, Ruella humulis, Yellow Columbine, Hymenoxys scaposa, Firecracker Penstemon etc.

Winter-hardy Cacti: Mt. Ball, Snow Leopard Cholla, Lloyd’s Hedgehog-orange, Claret Cup-red-orange, Fendler’s Hedgehog-purple, Pincushion Ball- deep pink & prickly pears

Excellent selection of Fruit Trees and Berry Bushes (no discount but great value)

6 kinds of Grapes, 4 kinds of Currants, Gooseberries, Thornless Blackberries, Serviceberries, Apples, Cherries, Plums, Purple Raspberries & Strawberries

ACANTHOLIMONS: AT LAST, Prickly domes, pink flowers, prefers dry, rare (no discount)

Corn Gluten Meal-9% nitrogen winterizer for lawns that also acts as a Non-toxic pre-emergent herbicide, suppressing the germination of weed seeds. Apply in Sept/October and again in late February/March for significant weed control.

Newsletters by Email: Please choose to receive our newsletters by email. Go to our website @ and click on  Subscribe, or leave your information at the front desk at Harlequin’s Gardens.

Special Event September 6:  don’t miss the 2014 Taste of Tomato: festival & tasting (see for complete information)

For a variety of reasons, we have decided to implement a system for accepting credit and debit cards.  We expect to have our system up and running very soon.

Open:  Daily 9-5 and  Thursday 9-6 ;  October: daily 9-5     303-939-9403


CLOSED FOR THE SEASON: OCT 31  Reopening Nov. 28 for our Holiday Market

FALL SALE: We cannot offer our plants at deeper discounts, because our neonic-

free plants are hard to find and our Harlequin-grown plants are premium quality.

(You pay more for plants grown in poor soil with chemicals that struggle, die and/or poison our Earth)

MEMBERS SALE: Monday, August 25 thru August 31: for your special support, you are rewarded with first pick: 20% off all plants and 25% off books (Membership is still $20)

FALL SALE begins for everybody: Monday, Sept 1 thru 7:  20% off most plants except veggies, berries and fruit trees.  10% off Roses, books & 10% off soil products in big bags. The Deep Discount section will be opened with perennials, roses, shrubs and trees.

September 8 thru 14 enjoy 25% off perennials, shrubs & trees.  And 10% off Roses and books, AND 20% off soil products in big bags and Compost Tea

Sept. 15 thru 21 take 25% off perennials, shrubs and trees; 10% off Roses and books; and 30% off soil  products in big bags; AND Compost Tea: buy one, get one FREE

Sept. 22 thru 28 take 30% off perennials, shrubs and trees, and 30% off soil products in big bags, 10% off Roses and Books; Compost Tea-buy one, get one FREE

 Sept.29 thru Oct. 30 there will be a 30% discount off perennials and shrubs and trees.  And 30% off soil products in big bags, 30% of Compost Tea; 10% off books. 


Opens Green Friday Nov. 28-Dec. 21 every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 10-5

Offering: exceptional local artisan goods, Eve’s gluten-free shortbread cookies, Engrid’s jams & preserves, local specialty foods, herbal body-care products, garden sculpture, jewelry, scarves, gift certificates, books, gardening tools, planting calendars, gloves, Mikl’s  Aftershave, illuminated magnifiers, and other great gifts. Door-prize drawings daily !!!