Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Herb and Garden Festival, Downton Abbey Costumes and Terrain!

Well, as I said in my last post, my herbal companion, Bonnie and I went down east as they say here.  We spent the afternoon at the 16th Herb and Garden Festival in York.  Where were we for the other 15 I asked?  Then we spent a beautiful day both outside and inside at Winterthur in Delaware on Saturday and ended our traveling herbal extravaganza at Terrain on Sunday.  This is just a small bit of our adventures.  I'll show you more later.

Posters from Past Herb and Garden Festivals
Duncan, our Garden Tram Operator at Winterthur
One of My Favorite Dresses of the Downton Abbey Collection
An Embroidered Map of Pennsylvania with the Counties!
The Garden Conservatory at Winterthur!
Terrain Decorated for Easter!
We had great weather and a fun time.  I'll write more in my next post.  That 4 letter word (SNOW) that I have come to hate is falling from the sky.  Fortunately for us, the ground is warm and it is just melting on impact.  So hope you are having a great day.  We do have spring flowers blooming in the garden.  Hope they don't get covered by snow!  Talk to you later!
Three More Daffodils!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Finding Old Friends, Herbally Speaking!

Nepeta x faassenii 'Walker's Low' or Catmint Has Walked to Other Places in the Herb Garden!
Levisticum officinale or Lovage
Angelica archangelica or Angelica
I Don't Think My Santolina rosmarifolia or Rosemary Leaf Santolina Made it Through!
Hard to See but I think my 'Linear Leaf' Thyme is Coming Back!
My Thymus serphyum  'Elfin' or 'Elfin' Thyme Looks Good!
Alchemilla mollis or Lady's Mantle is Waking Up!
Even the Rumex sanguineus or Bloody Dock Sorrel is Coming Back!
I was out in the herb garden this afternoon taking stock of what might be alive.  I'm seeing more signs of life than I thought.  Although I think I have lost one of my favorites, the rosemary-leaf santolina.  I guess it didn't like the minus 9 temperature we had.  I think one of the herb categories that took a big hit this winter were my lavenders.  Although I'm hoping that they will come back from the ground and I can prune them all back.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.  I'm going away for the weekend with my herbal companion, Bonnie.  The Herbal Husband has a list of items to do.  Probably not anything I've given him!  Of course, it is supposed to be very nice here!  I guarantee you will enjoy where we are going.  I promise to blog about our adventures next week.  Have a great weekend.  I'll talk to you later.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

High Tea at the Savoy, London, England 2013!

The Savoy Hotel Entrance!
A Very Cozy Entrance to the Hotel!
The Traditional English Gentlemen Club
A Sitting Area Waiting for Tea
The Thames Foyer Where Tea is Served
Our Menu for High Tea!
China by Wedgwood Exclusively for The Savoy!
Wedgwood Tea Cup Ready for My Tea!
Lovely Flowers Adorn the Table!
Assortment of Tea Sandwiches.  Fillings will be Discussed Below.
Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs!
Very Toasted Crumpets!
 An Assortment of Cake.  Types Described Below.
My Choice, the Pistachio and Raspberry Galette!
My Partners in Tea, Gloria and Susanna!
I always want to have a new experience when I go to England.  So in May of last year, my English herbal companion, Gloria suggested we have high tea instead of just afternoon tea.  High tea was more of a meal than just sandwiches, scones and tea.  Well, I love afternoon tea so high tea should be even better.  Gloria does like The Claridge's for afternoon tea and so do I but we had have this adventure.

The Savoy is a very beautiful hotel and the Thames Foyer where tea is served is light, airy and magical.  We all ordered our teas and I ordered jasmine.  Then came the tea sandwiches.  The fillings were lemongrass chicken salad, smoked Scottish salmon with mild horseradish, Wiltshire bone ham with honey mustard, egg salad with chives and tobiko and cucumber and tomato with basil cream.  Then came breakfast (or what I would consider breakfast) scrambled eggs (light and fluffy), smoked salmon and Melba toast.  Instead of scones and clotted cream and jam, there were crumpets with butter and jam.  Finally we had our choice of cakes, Gugelhupf cake, traditional Dundee cake and pistachio and raspberry galette.  Gugelhupf cake is a marble or bundt cake and with chocolate being the primary ingredient in this one, it was out for me.  Dundee cake is fruitcake and not my favorite.  So I chose the pistachio and raspberry galette which was delicious.

After a very wet day in London, the only one we had, it was wonderful to have high tea at The Savoy with Gloria and Susanna!   It is just about lunch time here!  So hope you enjoy it!  It is a beautiful day here in the 'Burgh!  Hopefully we will get out in the garden and tackle the cleanup!  More rain coming tomorrow!  Hope you are having a great Sunday.  Talk to you later.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Finally Something Green Popping Up in the Herb Garden!

Fine Leaved Chives
Just the Regular Garden Variety Chives!
Yes They Are Along the Edges Too!
There are At Least Three Clumps Here!
And One Clump Trying to Break Through This Lavender!
There is not really too much going on in the herb garden!  The one or several bright spots herbally speaking are the chives!  Even when you have as cold and snowy a winter that we had (and I guess it was #10 worst in the 'Burgh!), the green blades of chives coming back are a welcomed sight.  In 2011 I did a post for The Herb Companion magazine (now Mother Earth Living) called Spring Favorites:  The Good, the Bad and the Curly Chives.  In it I give you a couple of my favorite ways to chives and their blossoms.  A big reminder once they start to bloom only use florets of the chive blossom.  Don't use the entire blossom in your omelet unless you really want to have onion breath all day!   They are very pretty in a mixed salad and there you can stand the flavor of one blossom in an entire salad.  How do you use chives or their blossoms in your cooking?

We are getting ready for the rain to come and then cooler temperatures over the weekend.  Hope you have had a great day.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Surviving Another Mowing!

Before
After
Not quite an herb post, but was happy to be out in the garden today!  The Herbal Husband and I are both feeling the pain of the first day back.  Of course, we had gusts of wind so it made it challenging at times to collect the grasses cut.  Thank goodness for the electric hedge trimmers!  Hope you had a great day.  We were close to 80 degrees today!  Really enjoyed the day outside!  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

We Went A Little Nuts Here for The Herbal Husband's Favorite and A Death in the Herbal Family!

My Favorite Going a Bit Crazy!
The Herbal Husband Got Carried Away!
Well, once again, we were given the dilemma of what to do with the lemon verbena.  You know instead of clipping leaves throughout the winter which is what should have been done, we wait until now!  The favorite insects of lemon verbena indoors are spider mites and white flies.  We had one of the two, the white flies!  Spraying the plant with insecticidal soap would take care of the bad guys.  We have just chosen to freeze the heck of them to banish them as described below.  So we got it out of the windowsill and went to town.  Probably not a good thing, but The Herbal Husband is having his favorite lemon verbena bread  (The reference to going nuts in the post title.) and I'm getting several cups of lemon verbena tea!  A couple of good things!  I put a couple of Chinese takeout soup containers full of lemon verbena leaves in the freezer to kill any hangers on.  A couple of hours should do the trick.  As we like to say, we get a little more protein some times!  So giving a trim to an indoor herb is not always the best plan. 
The Tender Lavender Was Overwatered and Over Trimmed!
When The Herbal Husband went to Peru in November last year, I took VERY good care of this tender lavender!  I say this all of the time.  When two gardeners have two different styles, it can be a problem when it comes time to watering.  When he came back, he overwatered it and to compensate, he drastically cut it back to try and save it and it died!  I don't have a photo of the end result because it was too heartbreaking.  I was so proud of myself that I didn't kill it and then this happens.  So clip along the way and don't get into a situation that you have to cut it way back and hope it will come back.  Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don't!  Hopefully the lemon verbena will raise to the occasion and start producing new leaves!

We are still cold here in the 'Burgh and that four letter word that I've come to hate, SNOW is coming later.  Not much, but just enough to whiten the ground and make the commute home tricky!  Hope you are having a great day!  Talk to you soon!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Just Asking to be Uncovered!

These Daffodils Were Only Slightly Covered!
These May Still Take Awhile to Bloom!
You Can Barely See These Trying to Pop Out From the Leaves!
These Need to Get Some Light!
These Are Trying to Get Out!
I Can't Remember What These Are!


The Chives This Year Need a Bit of Help!

I just looked at a spring post from last year and it wasn't until late April that we had Daffs in the 'Burgh!  The thermometer says 50 degrees, but the wind is still blowing and I had to have a winter jacket on to take these photos.  So I would say if we warm up late April is about when these will bloom, but we have work to do first!  We have had one of the coldest winters and now I think spring will just follow and not warm up right away.  A couple of years ago my chives were in bud in April!  I called my post Even These Are a Bit Early!  I know, I know!  Once it does warm up the plants especially the daffodils and the chives in the herb garden will be growing and blooming like crazy!  Did I mention it has been a very long winter?  Yes, I guess I have.

Seems I can't read fast enough nor get posts together these days.  Brain freeze!  So I will continue to post when there is something to talk about.  It may get busy here shortly, but we are going back down in temperature for the foreseeable future.  It is March in the 'Burgh.  Just looking for a sign that spring is here and it isn't quite yet!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Seed Order Has Arrived!

One of My Favorite Seed Companies, Renee's Garden Seeds!
We really didn't go overboard in ordering seeds mainly because we still have a nice selection from last year.  We do always have to have new nasturtium and sunflower seeds.  The Herbal Husband loved our cilantro (or as he says coriander) production last year and it was from Renee's Garden Seeds.  They have a beautiful website.  I found 'Sungold' tomatoes which are my favorite and I also bought a 'Pepperbox' poppy.  In case you can't read the packets, here they are:

'Slow Bolt' Cilantro
'Alaska Mix' Nasturtiums
'Whirlybird' Nasturtiums
'Cup of Sun' Nasturtiums (Very productive)
'Vanilla Berry' Nasturtiums
'Pepperbox' Poppy
'Lemon Queen' Sunflower
'Royal Flush' Sunflower
'Van Gogh' Sunflower
'Sungold' Tomatoes

We are closing in on the first day of spring in the coming week and we are still in the up and down pattern that is generally March!  The sun is out today, but the wind is still blowing.  Hopefully we can get sun and some warmer temperatures without the wind soon.  We have a lot of clean up work and it is just piling up!  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Amazing Annuals--Master Gardener Style!

One of the Zinnias That Gives The Pollinators Food!
Beautiful Colorful Zinnias!
Butterfly Bushes Attracting Butterflies!
This Butterfly Bush Has Attracted Tiger Swallowtails!
Globe Amaranth or Gomphrena Can Be Dried for Arrangements!
'Coral Nymph' Salvia
An Overall View of the Garden!
The Black and White Garden!
A Closeup of the Black and White Garden!
How Did He Get in the Photo?  He Should Have Been a Master Gardener!
The Master Gardeners in Allegheny County don't always get the credit they deserve.  This is last season's demonstration garden at North Park.  My buddy, Lyn Lang has written an article highlighting the annuals that made a difference last year in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called Amazing annuals.  Trying to get our  juices flowing for this gardening season.   She talks about different varieties of annuals and I tossed in a couple of photos of the butterfly bushes they are growing.  I also wanted to mention for the gardeners in the Pittsburgh area, she gives the names of the nurseries who graciously donate plants to the demonstration gardens during the growing season.  So please patronize them when you are looking for annuals to prolong the growing season.

I don't grow enough annuals in our garden and some of them I used to grow like the globe amaranth are some of my favorites.   The demonstration garden has grown and become a destination for the bees and butterflies thanks to all of the flowers and herbs grown for the pollinators.  The master gardeners also show you how to plant a bed with a color scheme like the black and white garden.  The combination of plants used was very interesting.  If you live in the Pittsburgh area especially the north or south hills, please visit the demonstration gardens in the summer.  You will see and learn about annuals and perennials that maybe you haven't seen before.   It is a true learning experience.   Each August there is an event called Garden in the Park at both gardens, both north and south.  A great family event!  Checkout the extension website later this year for details.

That last photo is of The Herbal Husband and his favorite plant in the demonstration garden, the golden pineapple sage.  This was more than one plant, but I'm going to have to ask Lyn where they got it!   It looks like a must have in my herb garden!   I mentioned that The Herbal Husband should have been the master gardener, but I think some of his gardening ideas would have turned the program upside down!  The Latin master gardener!  And please don't encourage him to start his own program!  He is retired and too busy working in our garden to start the Latin master gardener program!

I sure hope you are warmer than we are in the 'Burgh!  We are going from 20's to 50's tomorrow.  An up and down March.  A little more extreme than normal but still March.   Working on a couple of posts.  Reading takes a lot of time for me, but it is enjoyable.  I will share my thoughts soon.  Talk to you later.