Discover the Many Uses of Lavender

  • Written by Sue Goetz, Molbak’s, guest writer
 The July garden features blooms of many colors but none more vivid and inspiring than lavender growing in the sun. Lavender is one of the most prized and fragrant summer herbs. The release of its essential oils in the air is natural aromatherapy at its best. Lavender is popular because it can be used in many diverse and interesting ways. Long favored for its perfume qualities it can also used as an earthy, herbal sweetener in desserts, teas and lemonade. As herbal medicine it has a reputation for healing skin, relieving migraines and is mildly sedative. The flower buds hold fragrance well after drying and can be used in sachets, potpourri and fragrant crafting.

Over 20 genuses of lavender and hundreds of named varieties exist, but only a few are commonly harvested for their useful purposes. The true lavenders (Lavandula angustifolia) known as the English lavenders like ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’ are among the most popular. The large and abundant ‘Grosso’ and ‘Provence’ have become popular for their heavy oil and flower production. Once a gardener grows lavender, the next discovery becomes all the creative ways to use it.

Harvesting lavender

The essential oil that gives lavender its fragrance and flavor can be found in all parts of the plant but is most concentrated in the tiny purple flower buds. On the stem most lavender flower buds have a gray appearance before the flowers open. When the color becomes more purple but the petals are not yet open, then it’s time for harvest. Harvest on a dry day in the morning, after the dew dries, but before the hot sun begins release precious oils. Cut the full length of the flower stems. Bundle stems into a 2 inch diameter bunch, bind with a rubber band and hang to dry. When the buds dry and start to drop off, tie a grocery-type paper bag over the bundle and shake the stems until all the buds fall into the bottom of the bag. Store completely dried buds in a clean glass jar.

Favorite uses for lavender buds

Fill fabric bags with dried lavender and place in clothing drawers and closets for a natural air freshener and to help repel moths.

Chocolate and lavender make flavorful companions; add fresh "Hidcote" lavender buds to brownies or chocolate frosting to infuse an earthy perfumed sweetness.

Tuck small envelopes of dried lavender buds in book pages to keep away musty smells.

Promote relaxing sleep by tucking sachets of dried lavender in pillowcases.

Use as a carpet freshener. Place dried buds on carpet, allow to sit for at least 15 minutes then vacuum up.

Freeze fresh lavender buds and chopped spearmint into ice cubes; use to chill down lemonade or iced tea.

Add fresh buds to shortbread cookie recipes to infuse a perfumed sweetness.

Want to learn more? Join me for a free seminar, "In Love with Lavender" at Molbak’s Garden+Home on Saturday, July 30 from 10-11 a.m.

Sue Goetz CPH, is a garden coach, designer, speaker and writer from Gig Harbor. She is also the author of a series of garden booklets, including "In Love with Lavender." Visit her website at for more information.

Tiny tweaks yield big results in bathroom remodeling

  • Written by ARA

(ARA) — Bored with your bath? While remodeling high-profile items, such as flooring, a vanity and the tub/shower, will make a big visual update ... these projects also come with a hefty budget. And, if you’re like most homeowners, you may not have the time, knowledge or budget for a major overhaul.

Luckily, in a small space, "remodeling lite," or making tiny tweaks, can make a big difference in the style and functionality of your bath. Here are a few ideas that anyone can do within a few hours (or even minutes) — and with minimal budget — that will make the space more usable and stylish.


Unique accessories

If your bathroom is like most, you have builder-basic, chrome towel bars. To start your update, add new accessories.

"For less than $100 and an hour’s time, you can refresh your bath with new accessories," says Tim Bitterman, group marketing manager at Creative Specialties International, the bath accessories division of Moen. "And, today’s accessories add flair to function, allowing you to also alleviate some of the most common bathroom pet peeves while you’re remodeling."

Not replacing the toilet paper is the No. 1 pet peeve among men and women, according to a poll conducted by Moen. Why not make everyone happy in the bath by eliminating this pet peeve with Moen’s pivoting paper holder? This innovative, "why didn’t anyone think of this before" holder enables users to change the roll by simply lifting the bar — no unwieldy spring needed. And if you’re seeking a specific style, look no further than the Bradshaw, Vale or Iso collections to coordinate with your decor.


Mirror makeover

Mirrors tend to take up the majority of real estate in the bathroom ... yet they’re often unattractive and plain. Uniquely shaped, decorative mirrors are an ideal solution, however they may involve a bit of wall touch-up from the removal of your current mirror. Another option is to add a decorative frame around your current plate-glass mirror. You can measure and create a frame yourself, or simply purchase a kit, such as Mirrorscapes Mirror Frames. This unique system, which is available in five different styles and a variety of metallic and wood-tone finishes, features a unique installation system that is quick, easy and secure ... even for a novice do-it-yourselfer.


Simplify storage

The bathroom is host to many activities, which means it also needs to store a lot of "stuff." Adding simple storage solutions, such as hooks, shelves and decorative jars can add some sanity and style to your bath ... and luckily many solutions are extremely inexpensive.

Both men and women ranked leaving clothes or towels on the floor as their second biggest pet peeve in the Moen survey, and this percentage increases when the bathroom is also shared with children.

Hooks are an ideal solution to keep items, from towels to robes, close at hand, yet off the floor. Most accessory collections offer matching robe hooks, or for a tool-free installation, try a new towel bar or shower rod hook, an S-shaped hook that fits right onto your current towel bar or shower rod.

And, since 20 percent of men think that leaving toiletries on the counter is an annoyance, adding a shelf near the sink can be helpful to keep the vanity neat and clean. To also maintain a stylish look, use decorative jars on the shelf to conceal items ranging from cotton balls to toothbrushes.

Green with envy

When tackling your remodeling project, follow the lead of the experts at the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Their most recent report states that green tones are the new hottest trend, increasing in popularity from 14 to 24 percent of bathroom remodels in the last year. So, whether you add a splash of green to your walls or a hint with bath towels — your new stylish bath will surely be the envy of your guests.

With minimal investment - both time and money - you’ll have a bath with maximum style and functionality. For more information on Moen accessories, visit


Secrets from the pros for a lush, eco-friendly lawn and landscape

  • Written by ARA

DOGWant a thick, green eco-friendly lawn and eye-catching landscape filled with beautiful trees, shrubs and flowerbeds?

It’s really a lot easier than you think. Just follow these helpful lawn and garden tips from turf experts and you can grow a healthier green lawn full of abundant plants that are the envy of the neighborhood.

1. Take a test. According to Dr. Tom Samples, Ph.D., turfgrass extension specialist at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, "a pH of 6.5 is considered ideal for turf grass."

Since the pH level of your soil can determine the types of trees, shrubs and plants that will do well in your yard, he recommends that you buy a soil tester from your local retail store or garden center and find out the pH level of your soil and then adjust accordingly.

2. Take a walk and pull. Spotty patches and weeds are, literally, easy to spot. To avoid using harmful chemicals, pull existing weeds. Before you start, soak the soil in the area of the garden you’ll be weeding to ensure that all the roots come out to reduce re-growth. And use a claw tool cultivator to make it easy to get at stubborn runners.

3. Lose the spots. If your lawn is blotchy with ugly yellow burn spots where your dog does his business or from winter de-icers, don’t tear up the grass and reseed. Instead, the pros use organic SpotGone! from NatraTurf to turn burned-looking patches and high traffic areas into lush green grass again.

The organic, easy-to-sprinkle pellets are chemical free and OMRI-listed by Organic Materials Review Institute and complement any lawn care system, have no foreign grass seed and are safe to use around kids and pets. Just shake on affected spots any time of the year and your lawn will grow back uniformly.

4. Go au natural and reduce water use. A natural soil amendment like gypsum saves water and helps reduce your need for chemical fertilizers. Gypsum-treated soils retain moisture over a longer period of time and decrease evaporation on top of the soil. This reduces water run-off, letting you water your grass and plants less frequently. Plus it’s an excellent source of calcium - a necessary plant nutrient - and removes harmful salts from your soil.

"Calcium bonds to the cell walls and improves cell strength," says Samples. "Gypsum supplies additional calcium and sulfur to lawns and plants without changing the pH level and is essential for plant growth."

Look for a high quality pelletized gypsum product like OMRI-listed HydroSave Residential from NatraTurf. It reduces "soil crusting" and loosens soil, making it more porous and a better home for earthworms, nature’s aerators.

The pay-off is your grass and plants will develop stronger, more vigorous roots for a thicker, greener lawn, more robust flowers and even tastier vegetables.

5. Just a little off the top. Remember to use an energy efficient mower when you cut your grass and keep your grass at two to three inches high. Keep your mower blades sharpened for less damage to your grass.

With these quick tips your lawn and landscape will look like you left it in the hands of pros. But only you’ll be the wiser. For more information visit

WGC awards scholarships from Tour of Gardens proceeds

  • Written by Ann Parrish

Bamboo water pipe. Courtesy photo.
The Woodinville Garden Club (WGC) is pleased to announce the winners of their 2011 scholarships. Applications were received from students of horticulture, environmental sciences and landscape design, from throughout western Washington.

The Garden Club has awarded scholarships throughout its 27 year history, recently increasing the number and amount to two $2000 scholarships annually. Promoting environmental education is an integral part of the club’s mission. These scholarships are made possible by the support of the community, participating in our plant sale and Tour of Gardens.

This year’s tour is on Saturday, July 16, featuring six private gardens.

The tour is self-guided, and tickets are available online at, Molbak’s in Woodinville, Classic Nursery in Redmond, and Ravenna Gardens in Kirkland and University Village.

Following the tour, a reception will be held at Molbak’s with wine-tasting provided by Columbia Winery and a drawing for prizes.

Prizes include an overnight getaway at Willows Lodge, Molbak’s $100 gift card, four yards of DeJong’s mulch, original poster art, signed by the artist, an hour of landscape design service by Cain Landscape Design. Proceeds from the tour benefit the Club’s scholarship fund, civic beautification, garden therapy, and youth gardening.

Luba Fetterman will be awarded the WGC Memorial Scholarship. She is working towards a Landscape Design ATA at Edmonds Community College.

Her interests lie in creating beautiful, sustainable, wildlife-friendly gardens that enrich her clients’ lives, while restoring the health of the environment. Besides being a student, she currently works in landscape maintenance, is a Rain Garden Mentor and Master Gardener (both at WSU Extension), and volunteers her time maintaining the gardens at the Bainbridge Library garden. All this, while rearing two teenage children!

Curtis Rusch will be awarded the WGC Founder’s Scholarship. He is a graduating senior at Redmond High School. He will be attending UW in the Fall, where he plans to explore the field of Environment Engineering or Environmental Science, in combination with horticulture. His dream job would be something where he could use horticulture to solve an environmental problem. He has volunteered time at Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center, keeping the grounds maintained, as well as worked the fields at the South 47 Farm in Redmond during the summer. Curtis has also participated in numerous Stream Restoration Projects and native plant salvages in Redmond and Woodinville.

Each will receive $2000 for college tuition and fees.

Summer Entertaining

  • Written by Molbak’s guest writer, author Alexandra Hedin

Picture1A memorable event is more about engaging conversation and a relaxed time than almost anything else – especially in the summer. Both are easily achieved if the hostess is confident and the atmosphere is relaxed.

Here are my tips for making your next outdoor event fabulous (it could even be tonight!)

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