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Homemade Pretzels

I haven't made homemade pretzels since we were in Alabama and I had forgotten how easy they are if not a little time consuming. I made these last week for Oscar night. They keep a long time in an airtight container. 1   (.25 ounce) package   active dry yeast 1 tablespoons   brown sugar 1  teaspoons   salt 1 ½   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 3   cups   all-purpose flour 1   cup   bread flour 2   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 2   tablespoons   baking soda 1-2   tablespoons   butter, melted 2   tablespoons  kosher salt Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Place the yeast, brown sugar and salt in the 1.5 cups of warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in the flour. Knead for about 7-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover. Let it rise for an hour (I place mine in the oven with the light on). Combine the two cups of warm water with the baking soda in a square shallow pan. After the dough has risen, cut it into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each section into a

The Simpson/McKitrick garden - another spectacular Huntsville garden

Following the Huntsville Garden Tour (see the previous post), we were invited to see the garden of Tom Simpson and Dan McKitrick who lived just a few blocks away. Wow, I'm glad we saw it. This garden was completely different from the tour gardens. This garden had more sun and much more color. It was small too but jam-packed with plants. The word that came to mind as I walked through it was "electric". There was so much vibrant color from both plants and decorative objects. This was obviously a garden belonging to an obsessed gardener!

The garden filled the entire property, the front, side and back of the house.
This is the front as seen from the street.

There was so much to see at every turn, not only plants but whimsical
touches as well. Love the purple chair!

This was just one of the bottle trees in the garden. This is along the pathway leading to the back of the house.

The back garden is lush with plantings, surrounding a firepit and water feature. An elevated
back porch to the right overlooks the garden. The focal point is a dramatic Blue Atlas Cedar.

Tom is fond of Japanese maples and there are several throughout the garden. I also noticed a variety of pine trees. I have always loved pine trees, although I have never planted one. I loved the way there were incorporated into this garden.

A beautiful Barberry grows alongside the small pond. Branches of the
Blue Atlas Cedar hang above.

A view of the back of the house and porch area.

At the back of the property was another building.
Climbing Hydrangea was growing under this balcony.

So glad we got to see this - it is a great example for plant lovers with limited space!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I LIKE it. It's chuck-full of beauty and ideas!

  2. Tom adds his whimsey with a sure hand, the difference between an artful garden and a random collection. I admire gardeners with a good eye for placement.

  3. What a great place. I wouldn't want to leave!

  4. Beautiful but not pretty as yours!

  5. Really interesting garden. The Mahonias look spectacular.

    I love the Atlas cedar. I was under the impression that they grow to be enormous (100-feet tall), which is why I've shied away from considering one for my garden. Does anyone know if there are dwarf cultivars available?

    As for pines, I thought many did not do well in the SE, but clearly I'm mistaken.

    I feel I have a LOT to learn on conifers!!

  6. Oh my, I bet you couldn't hardly take your eyes off all those plants. One wouldn't want to leave there. FUN

  7. I just love this garden. And taking another virtual garden tour. It is the season and there are so many new ideas.

  8. Hi Phillip! Looking at the pictures it's difficult to imagine that it is a small garden. So lush and full!

  9. Hi Phillip, since we have only a small property I am always particularly interested in seeing gardens of a similar scale. This is indeed a spectacular one! I love that it has a total personal tough, only a true gardener can live there! I really admire how lush and full everything looks. My favorite tree is the 'Blue Atlas Cedar' and the pond area is very lovely, too. Thanks for taking us on the tour! Warm regards,

  10. I very much enjoyed showing you this garden, Phillip! Tom and Dan are wonderful people, and their garden exudes their warm and generous personalities.

  11. This garden is popping with color, and little of it from flowers, which shows the importance of of good foliage and carefully chosen man-made items. My only concern was the Blue Atlas Cedar. It is truly gorgeous, but I think that plant grows to be about 50 feet tall and wide! Will it someday overwhelm the garden?


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