Wednesday, June 30, 2010

An Insect Magnet!

I got this swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) last year and it didn't do very much.  This year is a different matter.  I guess the old saying, first year it sleeps, second years it creeps, third year it leaps really doesn't work in this case.  This milkweed just jumped over the second year!  It was a delightful day in the garden.  Picked raspberries and weeded and trimmed around beds.  Oh, made my first batch of lemon basil jelly.  The jelly season has begun!  Hope you had a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Hummingbird Favorite!

Lots blooming in the garden now.  The hummingbirds should start coming around.  The Monarda didyma or bee balm has started to bloom.  This one is called 'Jacob Kline' and is supposed to be less susceptible to powdery mildew.  We try to have flowers around for the hummingbirds.  Bee balm is also an edible flower.  You should use the flowers in fruit salads or to decorate a plate for dessert.  Of course, the leaves and flowers are used in teas as well.  The leaves were a replacement for tea during the early tea party days!  It is truly one of my favorite flowers in the herbal garden.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

The Herbal Husband wanted you to see our other bee balms.  I keep forgetting that it has been warmer than usual already.  This one is a light pink.

This is the regular magenta bee balm with a dead butterfly bush in the background!  Ooops!  Click on the photo to see both up close!

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Didn't Think This Was Supposed to Happen!

Leave it to Martha Stewart to set me straight about Lambs Ears 'Helene Von Stein'.  Of course, they flower!  How silly of me to think that they don't.  I was led to believe erroneously that Helene doesn't flower and is grown for its tight mat and foliage!  There are websites that say Helene doesn't flower.  They would be incorrect.  So another misconception bites the dust or mud in our case!  Hopefully the rain is done and we are going to have some nice sunny days and NO RAIN, PLEASE!  Hope you are having a wonderful day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

'Goodwin Creek Grey' Lavender Up Close!

Hopefully this will help with your ID of your lavender plant, Pat!  This is from Goodwin Creek's catalog.  'Goodwin Creek Grey' is a hybrid of Lavandula dentata.  It blooms throughout the summer and will even bloom in winter in mild climates.  (It blooms through the winter on a western facing windowsill for us.)  An excellent choice of large containers and topiaries.  (Ours is not in a large container and is doing just fine.)  It has silvery grey leaves and deep purple corollas.  A good choice for hot, humid areas.  Zones 7-10.  Sentences in parentheses are my comments.

This is a French Grey (Lavandula dentata var. candicans).  Hope these closeups are a help for anyone trying to decide what kind of lavender you may have.

A Ring of King Tuts!

Here is my hand compared to the blooms of the 'King Tut' sweet peas Lathyrus sativus.  It says on the seed packet that they reach up to 3 feet and are adaptable to both cool and hot regions.  They aren't fragrant, but boy, aren't they cute?  You can purchase seeds from Territorial Seed Company in Oregon state.
I cut them so they would continue to bloom.  I put them in a shot glass for this photo!  Gardening is so enjoyable, isn't it?  Had a hot and muggy day.  The Herbal Husband watered and that brought the rain!  He can't seem to wait!  Loves his plants!  Hope you had a good day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Don't Forget Herbs in Containers!

I know we all have herbs in the ground in our gardens.  Don't forget to put some herbs in containers that you can move around your garden and fill in those empty spots during the summer months.  I have tried to do that over the years and they somehow return to the main patio every single time!  I wonder WHO could be messing up my design plans!  Never a dull moment gardening with The Herbal Husband.

This is one of my favorite lavenders, 'Goodwin Creek' lavender Lavendula x 'ginginsii' from Goodwin Creek Gardens in Oregon.  I would use the flowers for potpourri not for food consumption.  It is a beautiful plant and makes it through our winters indoors just fine.

I have written about this particular lavender more than a few times!  Here are my previous posts:

Lavender Survives the Winter Indoors!

What's that Blocking My View?

A Happy Indoor Lavender!

One More Lavender to Bring Inside!

Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be!  Talk to you later!

Friday, June 25, 2010

A True Butterfly Bush!

This 'Black Knight' butterfly bush is a magnet for the butterflies.  I think this one is a Viceroy.  The Monarchs come later in the season.  Butterflies coming to the garden is a great thing!  Less humidity and rain today.  Hopefully you are having good weather wherever you may be.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cheep Rooms on Thursdays!

I have a small collection of small log cabins and here is another that is also a cheep room.  I'm going to have to scout out new options for the coming weeks!  I have run out of indoor Cheep Rooms!  Hope you are staying cool wherever you may be!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Time to Weed The Thyme!

A majority of my thymes are on my rock wall.  They have really thriving there.  The lawn is interfering in their ability to expand.  This is my woolly thyme with grass growing in the midst.  Here it is cleaned up!

I apologize for the quality of the photo, it was quite steamy out today.  I think it looks better, using the best tool you can, your fingers and an occasional pull with the tweezers.  It also helped that it rained last night.  This morning was much easier to work than later in the day.  The rain had already drained out the chipmunk holes!

This is my creeping lemon thyme that is quite happy, but had a little too much lawn growing in it.
 Here it is cleaned up.  Why does my head start draining when I put gloves on and lean over to weed any plant!  It just drives me nuts and then today, I just dripped along with the draining!  It was not pretty, but I did get through the important part.  The thyme can once again thrive and I may take a little more lawn out so it really can!  Sorry for the really late post.  I got to go see if I have a Cheep Room for tomorrow!  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Differences between Pokeweed/Poke berries and Elderberry!

You know I love questions and seanymph has given me one that I want to share with all of you.  She thought she had elderberries on her property, but now she thinks it may be pokeweed or poke berries.  What is the difference?  Well, the Rutgers website talks about the raw fruit of pokeweed can cause stomach aches if eaten.  Cooked or baked fruits are apparently safe.  The large taproot is poisonous and is capable of killing people and livestock

Elderberries are smaller berries than poke berries and it seems that pokeweed berries are held closer on the stem than elderberries.  I just have not had enough elderberries to make anything.  The blog about elderberries has a lot of information as well.  Maybe this year I will get some elderberries to make a sauce, a tart or even jelly.  I just read in Jekka McVicar's book, Herbs for the Home that "elderberries should not be eaten raw, nor fresh juice used.  Be sure to cook very slightly first."  So be careful when you use either pokeweed berries or elderberries.  I think if you click on both of the live links, seanymph you will see differences!  Let me know if you need more answers.

Beautiful Tree and Flowers!

This is my elderberry tree (Sambucus canadensis) with a cut leaf.  It is partially in the shade of a Chinese chestnut.  It would probably be doing much better with more sun.  We take what we get sometimes!  I just added a blog to my blog list with all things elderberry.  Hope you enjoy it!  I don't think I will have enough elderberries for jelly, but hopefully some day!  Here is a flower closeup.
We had a lot of rain this morning so we will be doing things inside today!  Hope you have a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Herbal Memories--Celebrating the Summer Solstice at Caprilands!

I had all of these wonderful memories flood back to me as I read MoonCat Farms post over the weekend.  I have decided to do a series of posts about my herbal visits over the years.  I have done a lot of traveling  to wonderful herbal places and I'm going to relive my favorite moments with you, dear herbal readers.  Here I am (Yes, that's me!) with Adelma Simmons at Caprilands Herb Farm.  You can't miss that beanie of hers.  Also, there is a sign above her head.  Here she is looking at a picture of my garden at the time and telling me what lovely artemisia I had!  I remember that gave me chills in a good way!

So back in the day Caprilands was an herbal Mecca of sorts.  Here is the main house.  The Herbal Husband and I visited on the Summer Solstice, a high day of herbal celebration.  We had lunch in the main house with the floors strewn with rose petals.  We had mugwort wreathes on our heads to revive the weary traveler.  Photos do exist at least of me and maybe in another post, I will share them!  Here are those rose strewn floors.
The star of the lunch was a big bowl of edible flowers, herbs and lettuce that made a grand entrance.  It has the WOW factor, doesn't it?

I remember we started with Strawberry Soup and that's why when I read Julie's post from MoonCat Farms, the wonderful herbal memories came back to me.  Here is Caprilands Strawberry Soup recipe:

Caprilands Strawberry Soup

2 cups of strawberries
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sour cream

Run strawberries through blender, add cream, blend.  Add sour cream and a few whole berries before serving.

It was decadent in its simplicity.  As I recall recipes, I will share them with you.  I remember she took a recipe from this book and another recipe from another book.  She was a very smart herbal business woman!  I remember a chicken (The more I think about it the more I think it was a seafood casserole and The Herbal Husband ate it!  He is not a big fan of seafood!  I happily make up for his dislike of seafood!) casserole of some kind.  Adelma had a fabulous cook, but in the end it was all about herbs.

You can always find Adelma's books on Bookfinder.  As you know, I get in a lot of trouble on that website.  If you click Caprilands Herb Farm link above, it does not take you to a website for Caprilands, but to a story on that describes a visit to Caprilands in 2001 or so.  I tried to get on the Caprilands website and could not find it.  I read on another site that it is closed.  So hope you live vicariously through The Herbal Husband and I.  Enjoy Caprilands Herb Farm!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Guest Blogging for The Herb Companion Magazine!

This was a beautiful Lavendula angustifola in full bloom last night in Chagrin Falls.  Sorry I'm not sure which cultivar it is, maybe 'Hidcote' or 'Munstead'.  It is an angustifola because it has narrow leaves and that is what angustifola means in latin.  Those are the two hardiest for the Northeast area.  They would be my number one choices to use in cooking.  An L. x. intermedia called 'Provence' would also be acceptable.  Here is my latest post for The Herb Companion magazine called Now is the Time to Prune Lavender.  It includes my favorite lavender lemonade recipe from my friends at The Rosemary House with an addition of hibiscus flowers from my friend, Tufa Girl in Texas.  Hope you enjoy it!  Doing this early 'cause we have places to go and things to do later!  Hope you stay cool wherever you may be.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Long Overdue Friendship!

Fifteen years ago, The Herbal Husband and I took a trip out west and rode down the coast to Cambria, California to see the Hearst Castle.  The most important part of the trip for me was to meet Sharon Lovejoy and see her wonderful shop and gardens.  Well, I wasn't disappointed in the shop and the gardens, but I was sad not to be able to meet Sharon.  She had left the day before to travel to Sweden!  I know there was no hidden message.  She didn't even know I was coming all the way from Pennsylvania to meet her.  Well, last evening I finally had my chance and it was worth the wait!
I could hardly contain my excitement!  Can you tell?  I had to give Sharon a few of my herbal jellies and raspberry jam for her stay in Maine!
I think it was just as exciting for Kathleen Gips who owns The Village Herb Shop because she has known Sharon since 1982.  Kathleen is the author of wonderful books on the language of flowers and she presented Sharon with a beautiful tussie mussie.

Kathleen had a delightful tea set up and made the Town Hall a magical place.  I'm so glad my herbal companions, Bonnie and Shelley got a chance to meet Sharon.  She is a treasure and while she was speaking I was watching the children in the audience and they were wanting to do the activities Sharon was talking about.  It is all about participating and engaging your children or grandchildren.  Sharon's stories in her books make it easy for you to participate.

So a long overdue friendship has started!  I'm so glad I blog and have been able to meet so many wonderful people blogging.  I did say hello from each of you who asked me to do so!  She loves to blog as much as I do!  I think I'm going to add a celebration to your list, Sharon.  June 17:  The day Chagrin Falls and surroundings, Kathleen Gips and The Village Herb Shop staff and Lemon Verbena Lady celebrated Sharon Lovejoy and her books.  Hope you have had a safe journey to your home, Sharon and Jeff.  It was a delight to meet both of you and I hope I see you again some day soon.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cheep Rooms on Thursdays! (UPDATED)

Under the grapevine and attached to the arbor, The Herbal Husband placed a couple of bird boxes that were meant for bluebirds.  Alas, no bluebirds and almost no birds.  The squirrels gnawed the holes larger and no birds were taking up residence.  Then The Herbal Husband came up with a metal fitting that was perfect to fit over the larger hole and allow the birds to use the boxes once again!  I say genius!  Mostly sparrows use these boxes, but I have seen the chickadees think about it.  So join us on Thursdays with your own Cheep Rooms!  This is an update for Messy Missy!  Here is a closeup, Missy.  The Herbal Husband thinks it's in the bath section of Home Depot to hold a shower curtain rod?  He isn't really sure.  You know can't remember what happened in the last 15 minutes?  I think if you take this photo with you, an Home Depot employee will be able to help!  I hope!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Come Meet Sharon Lovejoy At Chagrin Falls Town Hall Tomorrow Evening!

These are two of my absolute favorite books by Sharon Lovejoy.  Trowel & Error is chock full of tips and remedies and Sharon's adorable drawings!  The second book is the one I'm going to have her autograph tomorrow.  A Blessing of Toads is a collection of Sharon's wonderful articles that she wrote for Country Living Gardener magazine.  I have every issue and it is one of my all time favorite gardening magazines.  I'm giving a copy of Sharon's new book, Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars to my friend, Shelley, a new grandmother!  I know she's going to love it!

If you are going to be in the Chagrin Falls, Ohio area, Sharon will be speaking at the Chagrin Falls Town Hall on tomorrow evening, June 17, 2010 at 6:30 PM sponsored by The Village Herb Shop.  Tickets are $15 and includes a fairy thyme tea as well as meeting Sharon and having her sign her new book, Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars or any of her other books.  I'm really looking forward to meeting her!  The Village Herb Shop will be open for special shopping 10 AM to 9 PM on June 17th.  You need to call (440) 247-5029 if you are in Ohio or out of state (like me) 1-800-836-9120 to reserve your ticket or tickets.  Hope if you are in the area, you will think about spending an evening with Sharon Lovejoy. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Road Trip-Rosemary House Comes to the Herbal Wild West!

This is the gardenia bush in bloom at Rodef Shalom Biblical Botanical Garden and this garden was the first stop for The Rosemary House bus tour to Pittsburgh this morning.  The gardenia flowers were intoxicating!  Opened in 1987 next to the Rodef Shalom Temple, the garden is a natural setting depicting ancient Israel, with a waterfall, a desert, and a stream which runs through the garden.   The biblical garden has a themed garden each year that is different.  This year's theme is What Shall I Wear in Clothing and Perfume?  Hence, the gardenia flowers.  I also have to say that they were wise in their research and they included what else but a lemon verbena!
That's it bending over in the bed!  I was in the Biblical Garden about ten years ago and in those ten years, trees are larger and shading more of the garden.  Below is a bay laurel and fig tree that are very much in the shade of a walnut tree and both are not as vigorous as they could be.  This garden is a labor of love because a lot of the plants are tropical and need to be indoors for the winter months.  Rodef Shalom has their own greenhouse. You don't hear of that much, do you?
This is a view of the waterfall and river through the garden.  It is really very inspiring.

The wonderful part of The Rosemary House is not only do you get wonderful herbal information, have fun, but you eat well.  Nancy Reppert's cookbook is chock full of goodies and her lunches are a very special part of the trip.  Click on the link to order a cookbook where you can find the recipes.  Just look at the presentation!  I unfortunately didn't take other photos because I was enjoying it too much!  Oops!  Sorry about that!  There was a savory cheese spread with crackers, a fresh fruit cup, marinated roast beef, potato, vegetable & mint pesto salad, lemon chive pepper muffin and lemon verbena rosemary butter bundt cake.  It was all delicious.  The Herbal Husband got some leftovers, but truthfully not much!  You don't go hungry on a Rosemary House bus tour. 

I got permission to post the following photo.  Susanna and Nancy are two very special people and if you find yourself out in central Pennsylvania, you should make a special effort to stop by The Rosemary House or Sweet Remembrances Tearoom.
Hope everything went well with the rest of the trip.  Susanna was already talking about a return trip!  Maybe they can stop in my herb garden next time!  Don't tell The Herbal Husband!  Judi, my eyes were closed for our photo!  We'll get a good one next time!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Another of The Herbal Husband's Favorites!

Rose campion, Lychnis coronarius, a cousin of the Maltese Cross, an another favorite of The Herbal Husband is blooming away.  I love the silvery foliage.  Although it looks a little on the green side here.  We briefly had a white campion from English seed, but it died out.  You have to remember to scatter the seeds where you want them after it has bloomed.  A true cottage garden favorite.  FlowerLady, I share your pain!  It is still sticky and icky out.  I'm meeting the Rosemary House bus tour tomorrow.  They are coming to the Herbal Wild West!  They'll be in Pittsburgh tomorrow morning!  Hope you are having a good day.  Talk to you later.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Is it an Entrance for the Fairies or a Hiding Place?

The Herbal Husband liked this photo.  He liked the idea of a hiding place for the fairies or from me, or maybe where I go in the garden to get away if you know what I mean!  It is sticky, icky outside!  Only weather for people who enjoy hot and humid and there are a lot of you out there.  Fortunately, there is World Cup to keep The Herbal Husband occupied.  He is happily screaming at the TV.

It is a little more than five days until Sharon Lovejoy's visit to Chagrin Falls, Ohio!  If you are going to be in the Chagrin Falls area, Sharon will be speaking at the Chagrin Falls Town Hall on Thursday evening, June 17, 2010 at 6:30 PM sponsored by The Village Herb Shop.  Tickets are $15 and includes a fairy thyme tea as well as meeting Sharon and having her sign her new book, Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars or any of her other books.  I'm really looking forward to meeting her!  The Village Herb Shop will be open for special shopping 10 AM to 9 PM on June 17th.  You need to call (440) 247-5029 if you are in Ohio or out of state (like me) 1-800-836-9120 to reserve your ticket or tickets.  Hope if you are in the area, you will think about spending an evening with Sharon Lovejoy. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

A New View of the Herb Garden!

We were sitting in the garage having a popsicle and this is the view we had of my herb garden.  The grape has come back with leaves not fruit and the figs all have tiny figs on their branches.  It is growing like a wild herbal weed!  Hope you are having a good day wherever you may be!  Talk to you later.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Herbal Husband Favorite!

I'm always talking about my favorite plants in the garden.  Here is one of The Herbal Husband's, Lychnis chalcedonica or Maltese cross.  A cousin of the rose campion.  I got the seeds several years ago when I was a member of the Royal Horticultural Society in England.   They grew wild outside Roman stadiums and were used to crown the champion, usually the lion.  You can make up your own ending!!  Hope you had a good day.  I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Climbing Graham Thomas in the Garden!

I must start this post by saying that this is not a climbing rose typically .  In our garden, it appears that Graham Thomas has become a climber. Graham Thomas is a David Austin rose.  This year it survived the February snow and it is fighting to stay above the shrubbery.  So tall I need a stepladder to cut it!  It has many, many blooms and if all goes well, it will bloom until the frost comes in fall.  It has a beautiful scent of tea to it.  Hope you have a beautiful rose to clip and smell in your garden.  We were very soggy today.  We have had enough rain.  The heat of summer can start, please!

I just want to send my prayers to one of my favorite extension educators who lost her sister in a tragic truck accident yesterday.  Also I want to send prayers to the Reppert sisters' dad, Byron.  He broke his hip this week and is in a Reading hospital.  Get better soon, Byron!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

St. Fiacre's Garden

We moved St. Fiacre around so he is overlooking smaller plants.  Everything is growing so well.  He was being buried in plants!  I guess it's a good thing.  St. Fiacre is sometimes called St. Fiasco in our garden.  He is doing a good job helping the plants to grow big and strong!  I smell dinner.  I had better look interested!  Talk to you later.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hangin' Out At the Pool!

Oh, I mean the birdbath!  This grackle is an old guy or maybe sick.  He moves slowly (Except when he is dashing for a broken peanut!) and he shakes a little (sort of what I'm going to be like soon!).  He seems to be enjoying the day after taking a drink and a bath!  We love the birds and hope this guy will be around a bit longer.  When The Herbal Husband threw him opened peanuts, he got them in his bill and then went into the sage bed in front of my herb garden.  He has good taste.  Hope you are enjoying the weather wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Fairy Trough Makeover and Sharon Lovejoy Visit!

I thought my fairy trough needed a makeover.  The new plants are a silver thyme, a dwarf curry plant and a compact sage from last year's trough.  The plant signs were The Herbal Husband's idea!  The Victorian rosemary got planted into the garden and if I remember I will show you a photo in a few days.  It is doing very well.  It will not make it through the winter so we may be frantically digging it up later this season!  Never can give up on a blooming indoor plant!

It's less than two weeks until Sharon Lovejoy's visit to Chagrin Falls!  If you are going to be in the Chagrin Falls area, Sharon will be speaking at the Chagrin Falls Town Hall on Thursday evening, June 17, 2010 at 6:30 PM sponsored by The Village Herb Shop.  Tickets are $15 and includes a fairy thyme tea as well as meeting Sharon and having her sign her new book, Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars or any of her other books.  I'm really looking forward to meeting her!  The Village Herb Shop will be open for special shopping 10 AM to 9 PM on June 17th.  You need to call (440) 247-5029 if you are in Ohio or out of state (like me) 1-800-836-9120 to reserve your ticket or tickets.  Hope if you are in the area, you will think about spending an evening with Sharon Lovejoy. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Look What I Found!

We planted nasturtium seeds in a couple containers and we will plant them in spots around the garden where they will fit in the bare spots.   These are seeds from last year's wall crop!  They look like 'Alaska' because of the variegated leaves!  Never had this happen.  I guess I can't move them too easily!  We saw a couple of movies today because it was raining too hard to walk to our favorite dinner place.  We saw City Island which was very funny and Los Secretos de los Ojos, very good as well, but more reading for me (subtitles in Spanish).  I understood the swearing!  I wonder why?  It won the foreign Oscar this year.  It was a mystery/thriller, but very well done.  Hope you had a great day wherever you may be!  Talk to you later.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Blooming Sage in the Herb Garden!

Salvia officinalis 'Nazareth' and Saliva officinalis 'Compacta' are mixed in this bed.  As I blogged earlier, the 'Nazareth' sages have gone mostly green in the second year.  Not quite what I was looking for.  I wanted that silver color and it has disappeared.  They are both happily blooming in the herb garden!  It has gone a little crazy, don't you think?  Hope you have a great weekend!  Talk to you later.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Natural Cheep Room on Thursday!

OK, it is a little big for a typical birdhouse, but if you had been here this morning, the babies were real chirping for their food.  The ivy and sparrows are a perfect fit.  They are very happy here and have had many baby birds in it. It is amazing to see the babies in the feeding box learning to eat food.  They are fluffy and funny!  We are getting hit by rainstorm after rainstorm.  Hopefully, it will end soon.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.