Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Pairie Garden Completed!

After 25 Years It Is Finished!
I know that cross-stitch is not why you read my blog.  Although during the last 9 or 10 months, I have become quite obsessed with my needlework to the detraction of my garden.  I will be honest with you, I am not sure that will change.  I have discovered quite a few WIP pieces from my stash box that I am going to finish this year if possible.   I was so glad to get the coverlet finished and I would like to give a big shout out to Lori Antonetti of Good Time Quilts for doing a fabulous job on the quilting and finishing.  She had never worked with a cross stitch coverlet before, but I was confident in her skills and the equipment she has that she would do a wonderful job and she did! 

And where did July go?  I can't believe I am writing this in August.  We have had a lot of rain.  Two inches in one day and then an inch here and there.  Many people in the tri-state area were flooded.  It has been a disastrous summer for them.  The weeds are growing nicely though.  One of my Facebook friends had a poster that reads:  Pardon the weeds, I'm feeding the bees!  Thank God for the bees!  So I hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  I will talk to you later. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Lemon Verbena Living, How Did I Miss This?


A Very Early Bloom on My Favorite!
Well, it had to happen sooner or later.  There is a blog that is really and truly about my favorite, lemon verbena.  It is called Lemon Verbena Living from Mia Sherwood Landau in North Texas.  Mia lives, eats, breaths, grows and sells lemon verbena, live and dried.  She also found a book called A Plant of Lemon Verbena by Alicia Amy Leith from 1895 from England!  How did I not hear about this book or this blog?  I have been in my stitching cave, stitching!  That's why!

So I have linked her blog here in this post and in my favorite blogs in the U.S.  Hopefully, I will get some time to sit down and read the entire blog.  Looks like I have a bunch of reading to do Mia from 2014, but I think I will enjoy doing it and I will probably learn a ton about our favorite, lemon verbena.  Glad you found me Mia!  I am very delighted you did!

Since I talked about an Herb Companion post or two last post, I will give you links to my favorite posts about lemon verbena here:   In 2009 I did a post called The Lemon Verbena Lady's Favorite Herb.  In 2010 I did a post called A Summertime Favorite:  Lemon Verbena Jelly.  In 2011 I did a post called The Lemon Verbena Tales:  New Pests and Harvesting Tips.  In 2012 I did a post called The Herbal Harvest:  3 Lemon Verbena Recipes.  So that should give you few thoughts about my favorite in one place.

Here in the 'Burgh, IT IS STILL RAINING!  I have made a box of raspberry jam already.  We are supposed to have our last day of rain tomorrow and then we are to dry out.  I got the great news that my coverlet is finished and so Monday I will pick it up and hopefully show it to you then.  Hope you had a great day in your herb garden.  Ours is a jungle at the moment!  Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Going Big in the Herb Garden!

The Elecampane Has Started to Flower!
One of the activities I do when I am not blogging in the winter is get out my copies of The Herb Companion magazine and come up with topics.  I have always been interested in herb garden design.  In the end I am basically just an herb plunker, herbally speaking!  But this winter when I pulled out my magazines, I came across a wonderful array of lists and plans of herb plants for different situations.  Maybe this will be my light bulb moment, herbally speaking!  I was attracted to the elecampane when we were in France in 2011 and stopped at Chateau Val Jonais.  Bonnie was kind enough to give me hers and now I need to plant some others to give it a bigger punch!

The Elecampane Made a Statement at Val Jonais!
I was just reminded that as a guest blogger for The Herb Companion aka Mother Earth Living, I wrote a post called Growing Big Herbs:  Angelica, Borage and Tansy.  That post talked about the tansy attracting all of the ladybugs and their eggs into the herb garden among other benefits.  So big is just not taking up space.  In this post I also referenced the article that I found this winter by Rob Proctor from a January 2000 magazine called Big is Beautiful:  Grow Big Herbs for a Beautiful Garden.  As I get older and want to do less weeding, I am looking to bigger fuller herbs and herbal shrubs to take up spaces and make a statement.  Hopefully, you will find the right combination of herb plants from his list for your herb garden.  Don't forget to use the Mother Earth Living website because they have the archived articles from The Herb Companion magazine available to you.  I will try to keep sharing my finds in posts along the way!  Also if you go to my home page that gives you a page of my guest posts for The Herb Companion and Mother Earth Living!

The rain just continues to fall and the ickies and stickies are back.  I have made several batches of raspberry jam already.  So there is a silver lining in the rain.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  I will talk to you later.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Sporadic Blooming, Christmas in July and Raspberry Jam!

Butterfly Bush Starting to Bloom!
My Favorite is Blooming This Season.  Second Year Plant in the Ground!
Swordleaf Elecampane, a Shorter Version of Elecampane!
Echinacea, a Staple in the Herb Garden
Monarda Blooming in Time for the Fourth!
I Thought This Monarda Was a Lighter Color Last Year!
Really 'Hot Papaya' Echinacea!
'Hall's Pink' at the Mailbox
The Really Big and Tall Elecampane!
After 27 Years in the Stash Box, Three Herbal Bouquets Finished!
An Apple Tree Ornament!
A Christmas Lantern Ornament!
The Start of Jam Season!
Really can't believe that it is July already!  We are still getting rain.  So the weeds are monstrous but there is sporadic blooming going on.  As I sit here typing, the skies are darkening again and we are about to have another rain storm.  Our blooming is spread out through our gardens, but not nearly enough to make a statement.  Will have to work on that for next year.

We do have some butterflies and bees, but they are not as present as in other years.  I think that has to do with all of the rain we are getting.  Hopefully starting tomorrow, we will have a few dry days so that the butterflies and bees will be visiting. 

One of my friends asked on Facebook if Monarda reblooms.  Yes, if you pick the petals off and keep the head intact, the flowers will rebloom.  You can use the petals in salads or dry them to put in your tea blends.  The leaves of the monarda do get mildew in this area and once the blooming has finished you can cut the leaves back and it will generate a new crop of mildew free leaves.  My two different varieties of elecampane are blooming.  The small one is in the herb garden and the large one is back in the flower bed I began last season.  I like the large enough to get more for next year.  I think I will continue to go big in the back beds and let plants take over.  Elecampane doesn't take over, but it does have a large presence.

I have been concentrating on my stitching because of the heat, humidity and rain.  As you can see, I have completed the three herbal bouquets from cross stitch magazines that are from 1990!  They each took about two weeks to finish.  Very excited!  I am also working on some small projects including the Christmas ornaments shown above.  Very happy and fulfilled to be stitching again.

And the raspberries have started to produce and I have already made two batches of jam.  Really raspberries are like clockwork.  I made my first batch of jam around the same time last season.  Christmas presents will include jam this year.   So hope you have had a great season so far in your herb garden.  Let me know what you are up to!  Also as always, I am up for any herbal questions you may have.  Hope you are having a fabulous day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Friday, June 23, 2017

You Might Have Missed This, Herbally Speaking!

Photo Above is Double White Feverfew!  Borage Flowers, A Bee Favorite!
Clary Sage, Lamb's Ears and White Rose Campion in Bloom!
Apothecary's Rose!
Viburnum nudum 'Winterthur'
Calendula and Golden Feverfew!
One of My Favorites, Golden Feverfew!
The Pink 'Fairy' Rose is Outstanding!
The 'Hot Papaya' Echinacea Has Come Back
The Roadside Day Lilies Have Started Their Display!
Part of the Old Grape Arbor Made Into a New Entrance!
Another Part of the Grape Arbor Into the Front Garden!
Our Deterrents!
Well, June is a week from being history.  I have been struggling mightily to blog.  This post has been a challenge.  I did want you to see what is going on in the garden.  Lots of blooming!  And as I look outside, lots of rain!  Cindy has made its way to the 'Burgh.  We really didn't need her!  It has been raining so much that I mowed in the rain earlier this week.

This is one of my favorite times in the garden.  Lots of herbs are starting to bloom as you can see above.  The bee balm will be in its glory for the fourth of July!  Also wanted to show you the extra items The Herbal Husband made with the old grape arbor.  I think they both add character to our already quirky garden.

We are having a surge in wildlife in the garden, including but not limited to, a groundhog (eating on the driveway), skunk (several sightings at night), possum (having dinner out of our recycling can), raccoon and yesterday a doe brought her two fawns with her for a visit plus the three or four feral cats that roam the gardens.  It's a zoo!

Hope you are having a great day without rain!  I have definitely had enough rain, but the weeds are enjoying the extra rain as always!  Will talk to you later.

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Rainy June, Herbally Speaking!

My Purchases from Beech Creek Botanical Garden & Nature Preserve!
Basil in a Container Until the Temperatures Heat Up!
Beneficial Insect Found the Calendula Flower Right Away!
And So Too the Rue Flowers!
The Lemon Balm Scented Geranium is Flowering!
I Know I Have Written About This Rose!  Can't Remember the Name!
The Yarrow is Blooming As Well!
My herbal companion, Bonnie and I had a splendid day at Beech Creek Botanical Garden & Nature Preserve in Alliance, Ohio.  We were pleasantly surprised by the school buses with children learning about nature and gardening.  They don't have nearly the selection of herbs that they did at their previous location, Lily of the Valley Herb Farm.  The quality of their plants is very good.

Well, well, well, June is busting out all over here in the 'Burgh!  We have had so much rain over the past few weeks.  Almost every day The Herbal Husband reports that we have received an inch of rain!  My weeds are letting me know how good it is for them.  I have voluminous amounts of weeds in the bad bag and still it keeps raining.

As you can see from the sampling of herbs and flowers in the photos, the rain has helped in great measure to liven up the landscape.  The mild winter helped as well.  I had verbena bonariensis come back from the plant itself.  I think they generally self sow here.  I have also lost some plants that I thought would come through.  The French tarragon had two very tiny stalks.  They didn't last.  Although my Texas tarragon that was in a container in the basement all winter is flourishing!   I thought a chocolate flower that never is hardy here, was going to make it through.  Sadly it died.  I also wanted to mention that we put the sweet basils I purchased into a container because we have not been consistently in the 80's in the daytime and the 60's at night.  Basils do not enjoy cold soils!  May was a beautiful month for gardens here and June is on pace to be equally as nice.

Hope you are having a great day in your herb garden and you will stop by from time to time to check out what is going on in my herb garden.  I have started the process of cutting my chive blossoms.  Make some chive blossom vinegar if you have some that haven't gone past!  Just go out and enjoy the beauty of your herb garden every chance you get.  You will get pleasure from growing fresh herbs!  Talk to you soon!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Blooming May, Herbally Speaking!

The Angelica in Bloom!
Dianthus 'Sunburst'
Dianthus 'Sunflor'
'Linear Leaf' Thyme
Comfrey Attracting Bees!
Favorite Ladybug on Joe Pye Weed!
May Means Chives Are Blooming!
And A New Addition to the Garden!
I can't believe May will be over soon!  I have been busy on everything except blogging!  Not sure how to get this blogging motor started!  Maybe I will try once a week?  I think I tried that once before without success!

This has been an outstanding spring here in the 'Burgh!  The Rhododendrons have been spectacular and everything else has as well and as always the weeds are surpassing size and tonnage.  Of course, I was behind last year and it just keeps adding up!  We are moving towards a wild forest like garden in the back.  So the weeds will fit in?

All of the spring herbs are up and turning black from the four-lined plant bug! Ugh!  Our abnormally warm winter hasn't deterred them.  Some of my favorite spring herbs are pictured above.  I also try to use my lovage plant before it flowers in our favorite chicken stew recipe.   I love angelica because it is big and takes up space!  I love dianthus because they are an edible flower and a lot of them smell of cloves.  All of the thymes in flower attract bees.  Comfrey is such a pretty plant in flower.  And of course, chives and the herb omelets begin!  Oh and I almost forgot to share my new favorite foxglove!  Isn't it beautiful?
This Apricot-Pink Digitalis Is My Favorite!
 It is also a good time to get started trimming some herbs to dry them before they flower.  As I was walking around the front garden last week, I noticed that the spearmint is up and looking good.  I will try to get out on Tuesday when it is dry to cut some for drying.

As you can see by the last photo, we have a new addition to the garden, a new arbor for the grapes!  It is long overdue.  It is much shorter than the previous version, but maybe it will be more manageable.  We are also planning to recycle some of the old arbor into features and entrances into the gardens.  So stay tuned!

Tomorrow my herbal companion, Bonnie and I are taking a road trip to Ohio to buy some herbs!  Always an exciting day.  We have a rainy day here at the moment!  I hope you are having a fabulous spring day wherever you may be.  Have finished several cross-stitch projects and that has taken a lot of my time up.  I also have been doing reading about herb garden design and the 2017 Herb of the Year, Cilantro/Coriander.  Hopefully I will get my blogging hat on and will be blogging about those subjects and other topics that have been crying out for attention.  Will talk to you sooner than later!    

Monday, May 1, 2017

All Mixed Up, Herbally Speaking!

The Angelica Is Taking Over!
Not Quite Lemon Verbena! :(
May already here in the 'Burgh!  Just can't seem to find the extra time to blog at the moment.  Everything has just exploded here.  Blooming bushes are REALLY blooming!  Weeds are REALLY big!  And herbs I thought would survive, didn't; and herbs I thought would not live, survived.  The angelica is just big and bigger!  I said to The Herbal Husband at the end of last season that we were losing the angelica!  Not so fast.  It has come back with great gusto, herbally speaking!  It is going to start blooming shortly.

My great experiment with the cover on the lemon verbena outside did not work.  A field mouse or rodent of some kind made a nice little house under the cover and dug up the lemon verbena.  What is coming up in that space is the Greek oregano which is already being attacked by the four lined plant bug.  It has the most damage at the moment.  I have the wild oregano along the driveway and it hasn't been attacked yet.  I give up trying to figure this out!

So I was looking up on the hillside and herbs I thought would come back haven't and I think the chocolate flower that isn't particularly hardy here, did!  Who knew I would be excited about a chocolate flower coming back to life.  We decided not to have much of a vegetable garden and so what is coming up in those beds, wild garlic and onions!  Grass abounds where it shouldn't be.  Deer are making beds (no pun intended) where some of the only perennials are planted!  It figures!  So we have a lot of work to do and if it would stop raining maybe I could get started.

Got caught up with some of my book reading, Laura Childs tea series and Susan Wittig Albert and the China Bayles novels.  Of course the stitching is progressing.  The coverlet is on course to be done in late June/early July.  We are waiting for a big rainstorm to hit later today.  Still have chances for frost!  So if you are in the Pittsburgh area, watch the forecast before planting some of those tenders outside.  Hope you are having a fabulous day.  I will try to blog a bit more!  Talk to you later.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Scented Geranium Flowers and Redbud Too!

Mint Scented Geranium in Bloom!
Cercis canadensis, The Eastern Redbud, One of My Favorites!
Gosh, time is flying by and the heat has come again to the 'Burgh!  That means that gardening will begin in earnest soon.  Got out and weeded some and need to dig grass out of places it shouldn't be in!  You know the same old tasks!

The mint scented geranium that lives in a container and in our garage in the winter has started to bloom.  Beautiful pinkish white blooms and then the scent of the mint scented geranium hits you!  Just glorious.  Also if you have a shady garden, this is the one scented geranium that needs shade.  That is why we have it in a container.  Do you have an herb that has been inside that is a favorite?  We have had a bunch of casualties of the herbal variety this winter.

My favorite tree with edible flowers is blooming right now, the Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis).  Thought we might lose the blooms in the last (I hope!) cold spell the other day and they weren't quite open which helped them survive.  The flowers taste like lettuce in a salad.  The blooms are closely held on the branches unlike other blooms of trees.  This tree does come with its issues.  It is really native to limestone outcroppings of the Carolinas.  Soo it is probably at its upper reaches when it resides here.  It gets canker and when it gets below zero a ways (like 22 degrees below zero), it will not survive.  Other than that, it has heart shaped leaves that turn a bright yellow in the fall.  What's not to love?  We have lost several over the years and they keep seeding and coming back which is a good thing!  So do you have a favorite tree that is in bloom at the moment.

Our landscape is coming alive finally.  Only three weeks until May?  Yikes!  Just crazy how the time is flying by.  So I will try to be posting more as we get into the garden and work.  Let me know if you have any questions or concerns, herbally speaking in the new season.  Talk to you soon.