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.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Prairie Garden Finished Almost!

After 25 Years Done, Almost!
Well, we are still up and down weather wise here in the 'Burgh!  Yesterday we had to bring the corduroys and heavy coats out again to go out to dinner.  Yikes!  Today is a better day, but of course I am here typing on the computer.

Just wanted to show you that the stitching is done.  Now I have to find someone to finish the project.  I was hoping just to fringe the edge, but the material after being in my stash box for so long is quietly coming apart.  So I need someone with a big sewing machine to finish it.  Put a backing on it so that I can use it as a coverlet for our bed. It is after all 62" x 48"!  I have someone in mind and will let you know the outcome in future days.  She has projects ahead of mine.  Good things come to those who wait!

And oh by the way, it is APRIL already!  As I say, the weather has been up and down and soon we will get on the right track.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  I will talk to you later.  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Will Try This Again, Herbally Speaking!

Lovage is Popping Its Leaves Up!
Don't Forget to Leave The Dandelion Flowers for the Bees!
Angelica is Quite Perky on a Sunny Day!
Square Eleven Done!  One More to Go!
Seems like a while since I have been by.  The weather has continued to be up and down.  We finally have daffodils blooming.  Some of the bushes and trees that had started to leaf out will have to start again.  We covered a lot of plants with ornamental grass clippings.  Will probably have to pull more grasses than normal this year because of seeds growing.  We have gotten out in the front garden and clip things down and took out a redbud that had died.  It was right by the walk and I don't want anything to happen to the mailman or delivery people!  We had one car stop while we were working and tell us how much she loved our garden!  That really means a lot!  Thanks to her!

So the lovage is up in the main herb garden.  We had planted one in the back gardens and I don't see signs of it.  The angelica is up and looking very happy.  Hope the building of the new arbor doesn't hurt their leaves!  We looked for signs that the lemon verbena has come back that we left in the ground.  No signs of life yet.  And please, please don't take out all of your dandelions.  Leave some flowers for the bees.  It is one of the first flowers of the season for them.

Been very intently trying to finish this cross-stitch throw.  Coral bells is square eleven as you can see in the photo.  I am working on the twelfth and final square.  Hoping to get it done by Friday.  We shall see.  There is still a chill in the air here.  So we will move with baby steps to get covers off.  Hope you are having a fabulous day wherever you may be.  Still have so much to say and hopefully will get back on track soon!  Talk to you later!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Day of Herbs For Health and Well Being with the Western Reserve Unit at the Cleveland Botanic Garden!

A Folder Chock Full of Great Herbal References!

The Beautiful Centerpieces Made with Mulberry Creek Herbs!

A Full Room Eager to Learn About Herbs for Well Being!

At the Lunch Break, Bonnie and I Had To Go Out in the Herb Garden!

The Thyme Garden and the Mill Stones Give Structure!

Two Happy Herbies in the Winter Garden!

Even This Walk Is Grand Among The Roses!

This Is One of My Favorite Parts--The Knot!

Someone Found Some Green Shoots to Nibble On!

One of the Beautiful Tussie-Mussie That Was Won By Someone At Each Table!

We Even Made An Herbal Product to Take With Us!

And the Delightful and Old John Bartram Paid Us a Visit!
Bonnie and I are always looking for herbal escapes in the dead of winter.  This so-called winter has not been as bad as usual.  So when our wonderful herbal Ohio friend, Kathleen Gips mentioned last fall that the Western Reserve Unit of the Herb Society of America was having a Day of Herbs for Health and Well Being in March, 2017 we thought we should go.  Madame Vice Chair also offered us a room or two at Chez Gips.  We were definitely in then.  The day started at 9:00 AM and to be in Ohio at that hour from Pennsylvania would have had started about 6:30 AM for us to get there on time.  So thank you gentle herb lady and her bionic husband, Jack for being gracious hosts.

The speakers were a wide variety of subjects, including ancient herbals and their histories, historic medicinal gardens, a visit from John Bartram, American Medical Herbalist, creating a personal herbal retreat where we got to make an herbal product to take home and enabling gardens for the older herb gardeners.  Then there was a break and an additional evening programs were cocktails with an herbal twist along with a visit by Frederick Olmsted.  Bonnie and I decided that we needed to leave after the afternoon programs and head home.  It was a break that both of us needed to get recharged for the season to come.

As I have said on many occasions in this blog, any garden should have four seasons of interest and when you have a winter such as we have in the north, pathways, monuments, fountains need to be the structure to define your garden.  It doesn't have to be as elaborate as the Cleveland Botanical Garden but I hope you get the idea to have a visual feature in your herb garden.  Something for the birds to sit on or the chipmunks to dig around.  You get the idea.

I didn't realize that Holden Forests & Gardens a/k/a Holden Arboretum is part of CBG now.  I think I will have to pay them a visit because I have some old herbals, but the ones that were shown in the talk were very interesting.  The rare book room houses collections from Warren H. Corning, a founder's collection of the Holdens and the rare books of the Herb Society of America.  An extra road trip this summer.  The room is only open certain days and by appointment as well.

I also got some additional names of medicinal gardens to visit during our travels.  Some of them I have written about in this blog such as the Chelsea Physic Garden and the University of Oxford Botanic Garden which is England's oldest.  I just got to see the Oxford one last year and have yet to post about it.  The speaker talked about The Poison Garden in Alnwick, Northumberland, England where you must be escorted by a guide so that you are not tempted to touch the plants!  This is one that I think I must see soon.  She also showed The Cloisters garden north of NYC.  One of my favorites.  You get the idea.  I will work on putting a post together of some of the other medicinal gardens she spoke about.

The Western Reserve member who did the Creating a Personal Herbal Retreat talk talked about being the owner of a jewelry store and that she used to go out to her car to escape at lunchtime and took time for herself with various herbal aids.  We did a workshop at the end of her talk where we made a sugar exfoliating scrub with lavender and bergamot oils.  Delicious!

There was also a speaker who talked about making the garden more accessible and isn't that what some of us need right now.  She showed us many raised beds and tools that would help reduce fatigue in the garden.  Got me thinking for sure.  I think it would be good for The Herbal Husband to garden for as long as he can and these raised table beds from Gardener's Supply she showed maybe just the ticket.

So can't really have a great conference without the reenacting of Kirk Brown.  This time he was John Bartram.  Bonnie and I are always amazed that he embodies the character he is portraying and he never misses a beat.  You forget he is a contemporary.  All in all it was a wonderful day and we got home safely even with snow showers.  So glad we were able to go.

Very cold here.  Yes, I know I was too cocky about our weather and OK Phil you were sorta of right.  Maybe we are going to have two feet of snow this season, our normal.  So I really need to talk about my England trip and so that will be what I will concentrate on.  I have also started to read about Cilantro/Coriander.  So as always I have a lot to talk about, herbally speaking.  Hope you are staying warm and dry.  Will talk to you again soon.


Monday, March 6, 2017

A Giant Roller Coaster of Weather This Winter!

First and Maybe Only Crocuses to Bloom!
Square Six-Thistle!
Really where did winter go?  I hope it doesn't appear in April or May!   Now I am afraid we will just jump right into summer from here.  It has happened before.  I am pretty sure that we are under our "normal" snowfall totals for the year less than two feet!  It is pretty amazing.  I really do like to be snowed in just one time during the winter.  We are two weeks or so away from spring beginning.  The daffodils still just have leaves, but soon the flowers will be appearing!  The trees and shrubs and rose bushes have started to leaf out and although we are not out of the woods as far as frost goes. We have had frost as late as mid May some years.  But it has been a giant roller coaster of weather this winter!

We were hoping to get out in the front garden this morning and work, but it just didn't materialize.  I guess we have time to do things, but the chores will just start piling up.  Also hoping to get the elderflower tree dug and transplanted.  Probably should have done it last fall, but we ran out of energy!

The afghan had a brief interruption for some gift making.  As you can see Square Six is a thistle.  The spines of the thistle actually work quite well to trap the stink bugs, but only some, not all.  Working hard on Square Seven which will probably be done for the next post for certain.

Hope you are having a fabulous day wherever you may be.  Waiting for rain to arrive.  In the 50's today and 60's tomorrow.  Still a roller coaster of weather!  Talk to you soon.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Wild and Crazy February in the Herb Garden!

Time to See What is Coming Up in the Herb Garden!
Maybe This Has Started to Grow for You--Wild Oregano!
Got a Ton of Cleanup Done in the Back Gardens!
Square Five Done Just in Time for Spring!
This winter so far as been a puny one!  I really love to be snowed in once and while and that is when we get some of blue sky days in the 'Burgh.  We have had blue sky days, but no snow.  Yesterday it was 76 degrees here!  We were one degree short of tying a record for February 24th!  It has been unbelievable!  The Herbal Husband and I have gotten a huge amount of cleanup done in the back gardens, including the raspberry patch that hadn't been touched in two seasons.  And we got all of the ornamental grasses cut down thanks to the extension cord and electric hedge clippers.  Still remember the days when we took the old hand clippers and trimmed them!  We had six straight days of cool to very warm weather.  It has been a blessing.  Was so behind the herbal eight ball last season with everything.  I would like to be on top of things this season.

We are going to have cold days going forward into March and maybe even some snow.  Take a deep breath.  I get a bit excited and want to start drastically trimming herbs.  Not so fast Lemon Verbena Lady!  So I started out on a patch of wild oregano which is quietly taking over the front of the herb garden.  It doesn't have too much flavor, but what it lacks in flavor it makes up for in lovely purple flowers and I sometimes when I think about it early, I make the branches and flowers into wreaths for the gate.  The bees also love the flowers as well.  So it is a win-win, herbally speaking.

That last photo is my progress on the afghan.  Square Five is daffodils just in time for spring.  I am almost done with square six which means I will be halfway finished!  It has been a fun fun project.  I have already decided to keep digging in my 30+ years of stash to get those projects that were started and not finished or ones that I need to do done.  I had better find that pill that will keep me stitching into my next life soon.

So can't believe that February is about to end.  What will March bring?  It is always an interesting month here in the 'Burgh!  How are you doing with your break from the garden or in some cases already planting anew!  Please let me know!  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you soon.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

My Favorite Getting a Quick Dose of Sun and Other Stuff!

The Lemon Verbena is More Like a Topiary These Days!
George, One of Three Feral Cats The Herbal Husband Treats!
Four Squares Down, Eight To Go!  This Square Are Cornflowers!
Well, we are not having February weather at all!  I do like to be snowed in and Mother Nature is NOT cooperating!  I am not sure that she will.  Today is a beautifully sunny day in the mid to upper 60's.  This is February?  Usually this means we will have a crappy March or jump from spring to summer in a couple of days!  I am only complaining because the bug populations needs to be really really put in the deep freeze and that has not happened this season.  We usually get about two feet of snow per winter.  Sometimes we are wildly over that amount, but this year we are under, but not by much.  Well the one thing about warmer weather that I love are the spring bulbs and they will be popping here soon!  I am sure a lot of herbs will be showing their leaves if this continues.

So the lemon verbena has turned into a topiary which isn't all bad, but hopefully getting it out in the fresh air and sun will stimulate the lower branches to produce!  Your lemon verbenas that are inside should be showing signs of life.  As long as you have been watering them about every two weeks, they should be starting to produce leaves.  Took the cover off the lemon verbena we left in the herb garden and it was very wet.  So while we have about a week of really mild weather, we are going to leave the cover off and let it dry out!  We have had a very mild winter so maybe we will get lucky and it will come back.  Can I just mention that I pulled from the shelf one of my favorite herb books, Mrs. Reppert's Twelve Month Herbal.  I think I talked about this book on many occasions.  It is so much fun to read day by day and in some cases for me, it mirrored the happenings in my herb garden.  Really, really fun to sit and hang out with Mrs. Reppert in her herb garden!  Fortunately, it is still available on The Rosemary House website. 

That second photo is of one of the feral cats called George that The Herbal Husband has become fond of.  I think I mentioned he started "treating" some cats while I was in England one year.  I came home to find treats on the table in the basement where I do laundry!  George has become a wide load and in this photo he was rolling around on the driveway getting the dust off!  I am allergic to cats so they are all his!

The third photo is of my progress on my afghan and the first row is complete.  I need the step stool to get an aerial view.  Oh, maybe I need a drone for that!  Probably not!  The photo is the fourth square in the first row, cornflowers.  I am enjoying this stitch so much.  I have already plotted my path for the next row.

I hope you are enjoying your break from your herb garden.  Many of us in the northern half of the U.S. have not had a normal winter.  I hope that it mostly a good herbal thing!  I will be back out there soon enough.  Actually looking today to see what I could start doing and I may share that in my next post!  Talk to you later!