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!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Gray and White Day in the Herb Garden!

Yes, Sun and Snow At The Same Time!
A View Into The Back Garden!
I think I have mentioned that I am a four seasons kind of girl.  I love all seasons but particularly spring, fall and winter.  Summer gets too hot for me.  So I can't see me ever living in the south for example.  After whining about not having snow, I got my wish today in the form of about four inches of the fluffy white stuff.  I was not prepared though to find the sun coming out AND snow falling to the ground!  It was sort of an unreal experience.  The banner photo shows St. Fiacre being blinded by the snow.   The only other problem with snowy days in the 'Burgh is that it is very dark!  Lights seem to be always on these days.  It is OK!  We have turned the corner as far as light at the end of the day and by the end of February, we will accumulate another 1-1/2 hours of light.  So spring is near really!  A few more days of snow and cold and another winter will be in the back of our memory banks.

I still have lots to talk about.  I still want to talk about herbal teas, celebrate my love/hate relationship with cilantro, the 2017 Herb of the Year, and talk more about savory, the 2015 Herb of the Year.  You get it.  I am planning a special Valentine's Day tea for The Herbal Husband.  Sshh!  Don't tell him, but it will include some of his favorites and some of mine.  I will share it with you next time.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you soon.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Gray and Green of the Herb Garden Even in Winter!

Still Trying to Make the Germander a Hedge!
I Love the Gray of the Artemisia!
Wow, This Lamb's Ear Has Taken Its Share of the Herb Garden!
Always A Green Source in Winter in the Herb Garden, Salad Burnet!
Well, I didn't think I would be sitting here talking about 40's, 50's even maybe 60 degrees in the herb garden in February.  We may get up to 1/2" of rain tomorrow before we head back to more seasonal temperatures!  I got a memory of February past in my Facebook account this morning that went back to 2011. We had a lot of snow that year. This year not so much.  That is a bit worrisome.

It is such a nice day that I ventured out and took some photos of my favorites in the herb garden this time of year even when it is very snowy.  I also wanted to try and get a list together of moving herbs so that we are on top of it this season.  I need to think about the oregano population in the herb garden.  It is spreading everywhere and taking space where I could have other varieties and you know how I like other varieties of herbs!

Two of my favorite green plants even in the cold of winter are germander and salad burnet.  Germander is a traditional hedge in the herb garden and mine is looking more like a small hedge each day.  And salad burnet that gives you a cucumbery taste in salad and makes a lovely vinegar.  It does not taste so much like cucumber this time of year.  It keeps you in suspense!  The gray favorites are artemisia and lamb's ear.  The artemisia was transplanted late in the season last year and hopefully it will make a hedge similar to the germander.  The lamb's ears are volunteers that need to be moved around.  It will continue to grow out of scale again where I could plant other herbs!  What are your favorite green and gray herbs in the winter garden.

Almost the second week of February and I have been busy with my stitching.  Here is where I am on the afghan.
Square One of Twelve!
I think it will be close to two months of stitching to get all of the squares done.  I will be sprinkling posts in and among the stitching days.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be!  It is another blue sky day and I may get out and take a walk since it is so nice.  Rain tomorrow and maybe even a clap of thunder!  Talk to you soon!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

An Herbal Design That Might Stick!

The Spring 2017 Issue of Herb Quarterly Magazine!
Sorry I have been happily stitching away and forgot that I should and could post a couple of items before the end of the first month of the year!  How did that happen?  I got the latest issue of Herb Quarterly magazine the other day and was happy to see a lot of great articles, herbally speaking.

Jekka McVicar when she was here in 2011 called our garden a forest garden.  One of my favorite authors these days comes from our friends to the north, Canada and specifically Calgary.  Sheryl Normandeau  from Flowery Prose has once again written about what The Herbal Husband and I are doing without knowing it.  The article in the Spring 2017 magazine is called The Forest Formula.  Is that the herbal chaos I think it is?  No, the forest has layers and our garden has some of those same layers!  Besides providing food for you and your family, "a forest garden also provides a beneficial habitat and food for wildlife, birds, and the insects you wish to attract as pollinators or as biological pest control."  She gives a list of herbs to use and here are some of those that have worked for us including:  artemisia, bergamot and calendula.  There is a longer list in the article and a complete list of the layers involved.  You can pick up the issue at Barnes & Noble and even some grocery stores carry it in my area.  You can also subscribe to Herb Quarterly if you are so inclined!

A Delightful Representation of The Rosemary House Herb Garden!
I have thoroughly enjoyed my stitching projects so far.  I have been getting a bunch of small patterns done that have been languishing in my stash boxes or ones that I have purchased recently from new to me designers.  One of my favorites is the one above called Mrs. Reppert's Herb Bag.  It is a very charming representation of The Rosemary House herb gardens.  I will just place it in a gold frame and hang it so that I can get inspiration from it every day.  It is from designer, Sharon Verbos.

I also am starting a fairly big project that I am not sure how long it will take.  It has taken me 25 years to get it out of the bottom of my stash box one.  So hopefully it will keep me busy until spring gets here.  It is an old Prairie Schooler pattern called A Prairie Garden.  This is so old that the gals that started Prairie Schooler have retired!  So it is twelve different flowers and the afghan has twelve squares.  Inspired by my finish of The Herbal Husband's citizenship sampler last year, I thought I should pick another long forgotten project to stitch!  This one is for me.
An Afghan to Cross Stitch 25 Years in the Making!
Winter has returned to the herb garden and the forest garden in the front and back.  The birds and other animals are more demanding of water and food.  We have not had too much snow yet and have only had to shovel a handful of times.  We were in the 60's last week.  It has been a crazy year already.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  I will talk to you again soon.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Texas Tarragon Will Work in Florida!

Texas Tarragon Even Works Inside!
Can't seem to stay away for long!  Since I answered Linda one of my readers from Florida who asked a question about savory, the 2015 Herb of the Year.  I have decided to answer FlowerLady Lorraine's question with a post of its own.

Her question was did I think she could grow Mexican or Texas tarragon in Florida.  I did give her a positive response, but I thought I would give the Florida herb gardeners a bit more information.  From the University of Florida extension here is a publication called Herbs in the Florida Garden.  It gives a good overall view of herbs that fare well in the Florida heat and humidity and says that tarragon struggles.  So here is Texas or Mexican tarragon (Tagetes lucida), a link from Bonnie Plants that gives some good information on the growing aspects of this licorice flavored herb.  Also it has a flower similar to the flowers of a 'Lemon Gem' marigold.  And I will add that for us Pennsylvania herb gardeners, it definitely is an annual, but it survives through the heat and humidity.

I asked The Herbal Husband when I was going away in November to cut it back and bring the branches in so they could dry inside.  But bless his heart, he dug up the entire plant and brought it in.  I have tried to minimize his plant work inside, but he just falls in love, herbally speaking, for all of the herbs we grow especially the annuals and wants them to get through the winter with us.

It really isn't winter in the 'Burgh at the moment.  We are supposed to be in the 50's all week!  What?  I still like winter and as I have mentioned it is good for the plants to have that break in the season.  I am afraid we may lose a few more plants than normal.  I am reminded that it is National Hot Tea Month.  So with that in mind, I may work on a few herbal tea blends for the next post.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you soon.    

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Nice Lunch on a Cold Icy Day in the 'Burgh!

My Favorite Yinzer Tea, Black and Gold!
Roast Cauliflower, Mozzarella and Arugula Sandwich with Spicy Lentil Chili!
A Huge and Delicious Cranberry Scone!
Well, The Herbal Husband and I finally got down to have lunch at Tupelo Honey Teas Cafe in Millvale, PA.  Danielle the owner has been peddling her teas in a loft in an industrial park for several years and late last year opened a cafe in Millvale.  I love Danielle's spirit and passion for teas.  Her shop is cozy, homey and all about tea.  I forgot to take some interior shots, but next time.  Was enjoying the food and that scone!  And sadly we took home two more, lemon poppyseed ones and they were gone with our evening tea!  This wheat free thing isn't going too well.  I must say that the food is vegetarian/vegan and delicious.  The chili was a bit too spicy, but to the rescue was my favorite tea blend which has ginger in it and it calmed my stomach right down.  Next time they have a spicy soup, I will try one of their salads.  I also want to say that her shop is connected literally to the Millvale Community Library.  She and the library have planned lots of fun events on the first Saturday of each month for adults at nominal fees and with treats by Tupelo Honey Teas through May, 2017. 

I am looking forward to January 22nd when Tupelo Honey Teas and British Emporium & Tearoom will host The Art of Afternoon Tea with a traditional afternoon tea of sandwiches, scones and desserts.  They are having two seatings, 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM and if you are in the Pittsburgh area, think about attending. There are openings in the 4:00 PM hour or there were.  It is $27 and you must reserve a seat and pay in advance.  Hopefully the weather will be bright, sunny and snow and ice free!

As you can see by the banner page, as of this morning the snow has melted.  We are going to be in the 50's today and 60 tomorrow!  Oh the bulbs will be confused!  By Friday we will be back in the 30's again.  Off to see Hidden Figures today at the movies and have a Panera lunch!  Hope you are having a great day!  Talk to you later!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Celebrating the Herb of the Year but Which One?

This blog is all about answering your questions about herbs.  I think I am behind in that goal.  So I am going to do my best to catch up.  Linda, a reader from Florida has asked about growing and using savory, the 2015 Herb of the Year!  Linda, you are in luck!  My little red notebook is still filled with my reading about savory!
My French Bowl Filled with the 2015 Herb of the Year Savory!
I haven't finished posting everything I wanted to about this wonderful peppery herb.  I did 12 posts about savory, the most about any of the herbs of the year.  So let me give you some links to those posts and hopefully I will continue to add to those postings this year.

Twenty Days In And Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year, Savory, All of Them!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year, Savory--Part Two!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-The 411 on Summer Savory and Winter Savory, Part Three!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories, A North American Native Savory--Part Four!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Five!
My 1,500 Post and A New Jelly Recipe Using the 2015 Herb of the Year!
An Extra Post
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Six!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Seven!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Eight!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Nine!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Ten!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Eleven!

Linda, I hope I have given you some reading material and I will try and get some more posts written in the coming days about the new 2017 Herb of the Year, Cilantro/Coriander and drain my red notebook of my reading about savory, the 2015 Herb of the Year.

As you can see we are covered in snow at the moment, but that will end by the end of the week as we are supposed to get to 60!  What!  Got to go eat lunch!  Remember your herbal questions are very important to me.  Talk to you again soon!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Getting an Early Jump on 2017--Herbally Speaking!

The Rue is Doing Nicely Next to the Lemon Verbena!
The Santolinas Are Also Doing Well!
Always Love to See Salad Burnet in the Winter Garden!
A Bit Too Late to Trim the Germander!
I Am Hoping We Will Have More of These This Winter!
My First Selfie of the Year!
Well, here I am doing what I said I wasn't going to do, post!  We don't get many sunny days in the winter here in the 'Burgh.  I had to take exception and show you what is going on in the herb garden.  I love the textures and color differences in the herb garden even in winter.  So many herbs stay green or gray throughout the winter which is always a plus when it is snowy and cold.  Some have taste like thyme and sage.  The salad burnet while looking pretty loses its flavor.  By the time I think to trim the germander to make it more hedge like, it has flowered and attracting bees and you know the rest.  The santolinas on the wall got moved from the bed in the back.  They are just small balls at the moment.  Hoping this season, they will get a bit larger.  I am going to talk about what we are trying with the white container and the lemon verbena maybe next time I am here. 

I actually took a walk yesterday to try and lose the pounds that I put on with that rediscovered food group at the holidays, COOKIES!   It was a glorious blue sky day here!  So I will be around periodically.  Always here if you have questions.  We are back to gray skies and rain here.  Cold is coming by mid-week.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you soon!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016, An Herbal Year in Review!

January--Very Cold and Snowy!
February--My Favorite Selfie of the Year!
March--Wildlife of All Kinds Are Welcomed!
April--One of My Favorites in the Spring-Forget Me Not!

May--One of the Highlights of My Trip to England-Sitting in Jekka's Garden at Chelsea!
June--Means Roses Blooming in the Garden!
August--A Volunteer Sunflower in the Herb Garden!
September--The Butterfly Bush is Blooming and Butterflies Abound!
September--Couldn't Pass Up Giving You This Sunflower in Bloom!
October--My Favorite, Lemon Verbena Was Huge in the Herb Garden and in Bloom!

November--Celebrated 29 Adventurous Years with The Herbal Husband!
December--Potpourri Wreaths Finished with Wired Ribbon!
December--Spice Wreaths Finished with Gold Ribbon!
Wow, looking back on the year 2016 wasn't as bad as I thought it might be!  I just needed to take a few more photos in the winter months!  I would say that our winter last year killed a lot of the pests that would have been problems during this growing season.  

Our spring was beautiful, but I think I need to plant more bulbs!  As it has happened in previous seasons, May was very hot, very early and I came back from England to a garden that was already passed bloom in a lot of cases.  I will be posting about my May travel to England in the coming months.

Summer here was very hot with some rain, but not enough because I lost some herbs, both from weather and rodent damage.  BTW, just for the record I made 112 jars of raspberry jam which are just about gone and another 80 plus jars of herbal jelly.  Just staring at that 19 pouches of Certo made me find new herbal flavors to try!

We had a beautiful fall as usual and I got a lot accomplished in my basement work space for Christmas giving, herbally speaking.  I found a whole box of dried material and depending on scent, I will be using it as filler for potpourri in the worst case and for scented potpourri in the best case.  So I am going to stitch in the next months, but I will try to work in some days where I will post what I am doing inside, tea blends, potpourris, reading about the 2017 Herb of the Year, Cilantro, the love or hate it herb!  You get the idea!  

I just want to take a moment to thank each of you who has hung in there with me and read each and every post that I have written over the past year.  Your sweet and questioning comments are what has kept me going.  Every time I think I have had enough, you keep encouraging me to go on.  So I wish you all a safe and peaceful new year and Lemon Verbena Lady will be posting in 2017!  Talk to you soon!