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Denver Brownies

These are sooooo good. I think these may rank as one of my favorite of Maida's numerous brownie recipes (my favorites are the Palm Beach Brownies and the Santa Fe Brownies ). Maida Heatter says she got the recipe at a television station in Denver and was told that Julia Child had raved about them. I can see why.  3/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 tsp. baking powder 1/4 tsp. salt 1/3 cup honey 2 tbsp. water or coffee 4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, in pieces at room temperature 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped 1 tsp. vanilla extract 2 eggs 1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) walnuts or pecans, cut into medium-sized pieces 2 tbsp. bourbon, brandy, or rum Preheat oven to 325. Line a 9-inch square pan with foil. Butter the foil and set aside. (Note: It is helpful to cut the foil large enough so that it drapes over the sides of the pan. This will make it easier to remove from the pan). Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place the honey, water or coffee, butter and choco

Green Neighbors Natural Garden Tour

Plitt garden (Vancouver, Washington)

A few weeks ago, we went on the Green Neighbors Natural Garden Tour which featured ten eco-friendly gardens in the Vancouver (Clark County) area. We saw all but two gardens and got a chance to see parts of the county that we had not visited before, like Washougal, which reminded us a lot of North Carolina.

The gardens ranged in size, from larger ones with more than an acre to very tiny ones. All of the gardeners practiced sustainable gardening techniques (no chemicals, pesticides or herbicides).

This small front garden was a rain garden and a good example of how to prevent storm water runoff. This is something I am interested in. I have been thinking about ways to add a rain barrel to catch water that would otherwise be wasted. We have gutters all around our house but I know there has to be a way around that.
I loved the color combinations here. I am suddenly a big fan of orange, a color that I tended to stay away from in our formal garden. (Garden of Barbara Samuels)
This beautiful combination was in the only garden (Brenda Wilson) on the tour located near our neighborhood.
The Ferguson garden in Washougal was located on the banks of a river and was full
of wildflowers and herbs.

Brenda Calvert's garden in Brush Prairie had chickens, bees, an orchard and large vegetable garden.
A beautiful Sumac ('Tiger Eyes') in the garden of Monica Zapulla.

We almost skipped the Karen Plitt garden in Brush Prairie because we thought it was too far away but I am so glad we ventured on. It was the largest garden with several ponds, water features and beautiful perennials and native plants.

This was a fun tour and very educational. It is an opportunity to see how gardeners in the area use sustainable techniques to keep our environment safe and still have beautiful gardens. And it was free! I will be looking forward to next years tour.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Wow. I love the colors in that birdbath too!

  2. It looks like this wa a great tour with so much inspiration. Thank you for your comments on my blog. The Cameleon Plant is indeed invasive for a lot of people but it has never been a problem for me. The only thing I can think of is that my soil tends to be really dry. As for your Fuchsia, it may not bloom very well in full shade. I've found that they do best with 2-4 hours of sunlight, preferably AM sunshine, with consistently moist soil. (Yes my water bill is crazy high.) :)

  3. Beautiful! I like the first picture so much. Thank you for sharing.

  4. It's interesting that you became a fan of orange after moving here. The same thing happened to me! I wonder if it's something to do with the quality of PNW light. Or maybe the lack of bright sunlight for so much of the year makes us crave an alternative.

    1. Alison, I think it might be the quality of the light. The colors seem so much vibrant here. I am thinking about using a lot of orange and purple combinations in the new garden.

  5. I like orange too. It sings out loud in the garden.

  6. Orange and red have grown on me too. Looks like you had a great time on the tour; thanks for sharing the fun!

  7. Man, that sumac is pretty. Tempted to try one, but I've heard that Rhus typhina (the species that 'Tiger Eyes' is part of) can sucker rampantly...though Tiger Eyes is supposedly tamer.

  8. Gorgeous, and positive proof one can have a beautiful garden without using harmful chemicals!


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