Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Took The Slow Train to NYC!

Dinner at the Turkish Kitchen with Friends
One World Trade Center

The Survivor Tree-A Callery Pear

The Memorial North Pool
Finally I Get to See The Herb Garden at the BBG!
Afternoon Tea at Bosie Tea Parlor!
Dancing with Maks and Karina at "Forever Tango"!  Ole!
One of Many Containers Making NYC a Greener Place!
Times Square
When in NYC, A Corned Beef and Swiss Sandwich on Rye
Looks Like the Cheesecake was Trying to Escape the Forks!
Let It Be!  From the Sgt. Pepper's Time!  Copyright 2013 Nancy Heraud

View from the Rooftop Bar at the Refinery Hotel
I know I have been highly invisible, but I had an excuse.  The Herbal Husband and I took the slow train (It takes 9 hours!) to NYC for a long weekend.  The photos are a very brief record of our visit.  I do want to say that the Let It Be photo was taken with my camera without a flash.  They didn't announce anything about not taking photos or audio.  I have a story about that with Phantom of the Opera that I will share some day, but please if you copy that particular photo, if you would give me credit I would appreciate it.   I'm getting ready for The Herbal Husband to go to California for a family celebration.  I'll stay home and make jelly and take care of the garden.  We are having beautiful weather here.  So I'll do a more descriptive post later tomorrow or when I get a chance.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wild and Crazy in the Back Garden Too!

We Do Like Sunflowers in This House!
Don't Know Exactly Which Variety This May Be!  A Volunteer Maybe!
Yes, Paths Have Narrowed and Plants Have Grown!
Well, we just keep getting rain.  Our gardens are VERY overgrown or growing VERY well.  I will leave the decision up to you.  I used to say it was controlled chaos, but now it's just chaos!  I just took a walk around and it is wild and wacky in the back garden!  Thanks to The Herbal Husband it has some control to it, but not much.  We are supposed to have some days with cooler and DRIER weather.  The plants will like that.  We found we have a leafhopper problem (Thanks Shelley!) and the sparrows are taking care of some of those.  Now it looks like some kind of borer is killing my scented geraniums.  Grr!  Going to move them over to the herb garden and see if that helps.  Sometimes it gets them out of the direct path of the predator.  Will talk about that in a future post.  A very busy season this year in the herb garden.  Enjoy your time in your garden.  Talk to you later. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Closeup Flowers and Seeds in the Garden!

Bumble Bee on Teasel!
Volunteer Sunflowers are the Best This Season!

The White Feverfew Manages to Sneak into the Coreopsis Photo!

Angelica in Seed!

Spent Butterfly Bush Flower
Really This is Only One Nasturtium Flower!
I have been really trying to practice my closeup shots with my new camera.  In England I wasted a good many shots trying to get the perfect closeup.  It is very irritating!  I think with some advice from our friends in California, I have gotten the hang of it.  Now if I have the patience to do it consistently!  That's the key.  Time is flying by and harvesting time has started.  Yesterday I calculated empty jars and how much Certo I would need to make my jelly for this season.  So I'm ready to start the process.  You can find all of my jelly recipes and the ones that aren't mine as well under the label, Herbal Jelly Recipes.

We somehow still have the ickies and stickies.  Can't seem to shake them.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Wild and Wacky Spearmint and Other Thoughts!

A Happy Clump of Spearmint!  
You can't ignore this spearmint.  It is filled with bees and it is very happy along the street in our front garden. Probably keeps the dog walkers on the other side of the street.  I would not advice you to grow your mint like this.  More like these.

Plant mint in containers!
I was just outside and to tell you the truth, we still have the ickies and stickies.  It is cooler than 90, but the humidity is a killer for me.  The garden is growing very well.  (Translation is that is an overgrown, wild and crazy mess!)
It Has Gotten Way Out of Control!
Hope you are enjoying your weekend wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Lemon Verbena Dip Recipe With Permission!

I worked in a law firm for almost 17 years.  The Herbal Husband says, "I'm by the book."  So in my ongoing effort to come up with recipes that use lemon verbena, here is a sweet recipe (most of them are) using lemon verbena leaves.  It is from The Herb Society of America's Essential Guide to Growing and Cooking with Herbs on page 118 if you have this cookbook in your herbal library.  This book is a combination reference book on herbs and cookbook.  It has some fantastic recipes using herbs.  As you know, The Herbal Husband does most of our cooking and I'm the baker and canner.  That sounds a bit bad!  My notes on what I used is in parenthesis.

So with permission from the Herb Society of America's Executive Director is:

Marilyn Rhinehalt, Western Reserve Unit

8 oz. cream cheese, softened (I used the tub of Philadelphia low fat cream cheese.)
8 oz. lemon yogurt (I used low fat and just used the 8 oz. tub as my measurement.)
1/4 cup lemon verbena leaves, very finely minced (use tender leaves)
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

I used my food processor to mix the cream cheese and lemon verbena leaves and then added everything else.  You could use a blender or mixer.  Just so the cream cheese is incorporated with the yogurt well.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

Serve with fresh fruit or plain cookies.  (It was very delicious especially with Nilla wafers!)

Thanks Marilyn.  It is a very delicious recipe and thanks to the Herb Society for letting me share it with you.  Great for those hot summertime get togethers.  If you go on to share it, please give the Herb Society and Marilyn Rhinehalt from the Western Reserve Unit credit!

It is just ridiculously hot and humid!  Relief coming and I hope the air stays until we get it on Sunday!  Hope you are staying cool wherever you may be.  Have a great weekend.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Something Weird Going On, Herbally Speaking!

My Beloved Lemon Verbena in Miniature!
This One is on the Opposite Side of the Miniature!
I Think Drainage Has Become a Factor!
Really it has been a very strange year in the herb garden.  Besides not getting the herb plants I normally get, the ones I did get have been dying.  The third photo shows the worst area.  I have lost (or killed) two lavenders, the two nasturtiums (They may have just died because of too much water and early blooming at the greenhouse!)  The echinacea 'Primadonna' is going well and the pineapple sage towards the back near the wall is going well too.  The green bit in the front is a feverfew volunteer.  The rest is a mess.  Now I heard we got 1.2" of rain yesterday and maybe more today.  I think I'm going to get a bag of compost and manure and dig this area up and replant the lemon verbena and small lavender in the front and see if that helps.  If not, I'll get a soil test and really try to find out what's going on.  It has been 8 years since this garden was designed.  I have added new soil every so often, but I think I might need an major infusion of good soil.

Hot and very humid here.  Tropical like it gets in DC.  Hope you are having a great day.  I will be doing more posts of my England adventures soon.  Talk to you later.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Visitor of the Beneficial Kind!

Egg Case of the Preying Mantis!
A Bit Bigger Than the Last Time We Saw It!
It Turned Its Head to Watch Me!  Yikes!
Well, we almost pulled the egg case out in the spring.  Earlier in the summer, we spotted a tiny one on our fence.  This morning the praying mantis had made its way into the herb garden!  Yippee!  It was trying to look like the chives, but slipped on to the oregano!  Hopefully it will get all of the bad bugs and leave the good ones behind.  They tend to be nonspecific when eating (They eat their own as they are coming out of the egg case.  Survival of the fastest out!), but hopefully, they will take care of the stink bug nymphs!

It is hotter than heck outside!  Either we have rain and humidity or hot and humidity!  We had a brief bit of nice summer, but it didn't last.  Hopefully you are having a great day.  I'll talk to you later.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Guest Blogging for Mother Earth Living, Part Two!

I wanted to give you the link for my Part Two post for Mother Earth Living called Adventures at the 100th RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Part Two.  I think you will enjoy it.  These are some of my favorite herb related displays at the 100th Chelsea Flower Show in May.

It has finally stopped raining here.  Lots of people have flooding issues to contend with.  Fortunately, we are not one of those families.  The humidity has gone down temporarily and they may finally be able to mow our yard or should I say field!  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Don't Forget, Herbally Speaking!

Don't forget to cut your herbs and flowers for a summertime bouquet for your dining table or any room in your house.  It has been raining like crazy here.  Flash flooding.  Parts of Pittsburgh closed this morning that haven't closed ever to my knowledge.  I think we have had several inches of rain since this pattern has started.  We got an inch overnight with more to come today and finally tomorrow, the cycle will be broken and we will be drier and sunnier and LESS humid.  The humidity kills me.

I just wanted to also remind you of chores in your herb garden:

You should always be harvesting your herbs for drying, freezing or using fresh BEFORE they flower.

Deadhead annual herbal flowers such as calendulas and nasturtiums to keep them blooming.  I'm just about to cut the last of my chamomile flowers to make tea bags.

Harvest lavender flowers when they are not fully opened for drying or using fresh.

Deadhead spent flowers from roses, sages, rue, chives, dianthus to tidy up your herb garden and possibly get some reblooms.

Cut back herbs that have been damaged by four-lined plant bug.  They are gone for the season.

Make herbal jelly when necessary.

If you are in the northeast or mid-Atlantic areas, you want to start thinking about any herbs that you are going to dig up and bring in for the winter.  Ideally you want to do that about August 15 or so.  I'm always a last minute Nelly, but again, ideally it should be done earlier so the plants can get accumulated to the containers. 

We are having an infestation of a bug that we haven't seen before and it is eating the buds of flowers like phlox.  I haven't been able to get a closeup photo and haven't been able to find it on the web.  The insect world is getting the best of us this year and it might be because of all of the rain.  I'll add to this list and you can jog my memory as well.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Solitary Confinement, Herbally Speaking!

Yes, you are seeing a net mesh bag over a purple basil.  We had to confine it for its own protection.  Our smallest birds, the sparrows have a pension for clipping the leaves of gray plants, mostly the curry plant or a santolina.  This year it has been the purple basil.  We thought at first they used the clippings to line their nests, but it is just to drive The Herbal Husband nuts!  He always comes to me for a solution.  I say exclusion is the only way to keep them from clipping the leaves.  So far it has worked.  If this is happening to you with another herb, please let me know.

We went to see The Lone Ranger.  Johnny Depp is the movie and a white horse called Silver as well.  He also stole the show. Hope you have had a great day.  Talk to you later.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lemon Verbena Blueberry Muffins for the Summer!

Seems like this time of year no matter the heat, I'm in the kitchen making muffins.  We don't grow our own blueberries, but we always seems to have an overabundance of them.  I also decided that before the summer ends, I'm going to find more recipes with lemon verbena and use and share them with you.  So I found a very good recipe from one of my favorite herbal cookbook authors, Marge Clark in her The Best of Thymes for Lemon Verbena Blueberry Muffins.  These were the first attempt and I decided that they were a bit over baked.  So here with my notations in parenthesis is the recipe.

Makes 12 muffins

8 fresh lemon verbena leaves
1 cup of super-fine sugar
3 tablespoons of fresh lemon verbena leaves, finely chopped
1-1/2 cups of fresh blueberries
1 cup of walnuts or black walnuts, finely chopped
2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of milk
1/3 cup of safflower oil
1 egg

One day before making muffins, bury the 8 lemon verbena leaves in the 1 cup sugar.  Place in a closed container.  ( I didn't do this step.)

Grease a 12-cup muffin pan, with cups about 2-1/2 inches across.  In a medium bowl, combine the chopped lemon verbena leaves, blueberries and nuts.  (I put the lemon verbena leaves and nuts in the food processor and pulsed them to the consistency I wanted.)  In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and sugar.  In another bowl, beat together the milk, safflower oil and egg.  Pour milk mixture into flour mixture and stir just until blended.  Add the blueberry mixture and fold in gently.  Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups.  Sprinkle each muffin with 1 teaspoon of the lemon verbena sugar. (I didn't do this step.)  Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes (I baked a second batch for 20 minutes and they came out better not as over baked.), or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool a few minutes, then remove muffins. 

Use remaining lemon verbena sugar to flavor other desserts or to sweeten your tea.

Hope you enjoy these.  They are a new favorite of The Herbal Husband.  Hope you enjoyed your 4th of July holiday if you are in the USA.  The rain has stopped here, but we still have the ickies and stickies.  More Chelsea Flower Show next post. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Artisan Gardens at the 100th Chelsea Flower Show!

Herbert Smith Freehills Garden for WaterAid
Le Jardin De Yorkshire
Walker's Pine Cottage Garden
Un Garreg (One Stone)
The Brothers Rich
What will we leave?  NSPCC Garden of Magical Childhood
Motor Neurone Disease--A Hebridean Weaver's Garden
An Alcove (Tokonoma) Garden
Get Well Soon
The Artisan Gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show were some of my favorites this year.  They are the small intimate gardens full of plants and character.  Some have a very powerful meaning and others are very whimsical.

The Herbert Smith Freehills Garden for WaterAid was inspired by the work of the charity WaterAid in India.  It reflects the transformation that clean water provides a community in improving hygiene and sanitation.

The second garden is the Le Jardin De Yorkshire and gives a nod to Yorkshire's successful bid to host the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France.  Loved the sheep made from wire.  It looks like the Olympic rings, but they are actually bicycle rims colored in the French flag.  Everything has a meaning.

Walker's Pine Cottage Garden features a front garden with topiary pines, one of the owner's main interests.  It also has a wall-mounted sculpture celebrating 100 years of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.  I loved this interpretation of a cottage garden.

Un Garreg (One Stone) was designed by Harry and David Rich signaling the growing separation between man and the natural world.  It was crafted from a one single stone.  Just a brilliant piece of gardening skill and boys are cute as well.  Click the link and you will have a short video about the garden from YouTube and Better Homes and Gardens.

What will we leave?  NSPCC Garden of Magical Childhood depicts a traditional children's tea party taking place under a tree house surrounded by natural plantings.  This garden has been designed to reflect on the preciousness and potential of childhood and the legacy to be left for children.

The Motor Neurone Disease--A Hebridean Weaver's Garden is set in the 1950's and is based on a traditional blackhouse on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.  The remoteness and bleakness of the island are reflected in the design.  The weaver living here weaves Harris Tweed cloth from natural dyes from the plants in the garden.  The cloth is protected by the Harris Tweed Authority.  It was a beautifully executed garden.

An Alcove (Tokonoma) Garden was named Best Artisan Garden and in my photo you can see the designer, Kazuyuki Ishihara with his award.  It was RHS Member's Day and he was showing off.  He was delighted to say the least!  Just a beautifully designed and executed garden.  Very intimate but had so many great elements.

And last but not least is the Get Well Soon garden designed by the National Botanic Garden of Wales.  The link will take you to Wales Online where you will meet the designers and they describe what it took to put this beautiful garden together.  In the catalog of the show it states that this garden "illustrates the many ways in which a garden and its plants can improve your health, through ancient, traditional, modern and alternative forms of medicine."  This was the other favorite of mine of the artisan gardens.

Overall these eight gardens were among my favorites in the entire show.  These designers were on top of their games when designing and executing their visions.  Truly inspiring and amazing.  Take a minute to jump over to the Mother Earth Living blog site for my latest post on my Adventures at the 100th RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Part 1 and my brief visit with Jekka McVicar.  So you know there will be a Part 2 shortly!  I will continue to post some more posts from the flower show in the coming days.

We have the ickies and stickies back in the 'Burgh.  Hope you are ready for the 4th.  Hope you have a safe and happy one.  Talk to you later.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Some of the Show Gardens of The 100th Chelsea Flower Show

RBC Blue Water Roof Garden
B&Q Sentebale Forget-Me-Not Garden
Stockton Drilling's "As Nature Intended" Garden
The Telegraph Garden
East Village Garden
The Homebase Garden
The Food and Environment Research Agency Stop the Spread
Trailfinders Australian Garden Presented by Fleming's
The Wasteland
Stoke-on-Trent's Story of Transformation
The Laurent-Perrier Garden
My British herbal companion and I had two full days at the 100th Chelsea Flower Show.  I took a ton of photos and these are some of the show gardens of the show.

The RBC Blue Water Roof Garden is "an urban rooftop garden that integrates recreational space with innovative biodiversity and habitat features."

The B&Q Sentebale Forget-Me-Not Garden was inspired by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho's charity Sentebale which helps vulnerable children in Lesotho in southern Africa, who are victims of extreme poverty and Lesotho's HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Next is Stockton Drilling's "As Nature Intended" Garden which was "created to promote the use of natural materials and crafts and highlights the ways in which mankind has exploited nature over the years, becoming heavily reliant on natural resources."  If you click the link, you will be able to see closeups of the materials used in this exhibit.

The Telegraph Garden is a representation of England as a wooded landscape from openings were cleared to allow settlement, civilization and cultivation.  If you click the link, you'll see a small video of the designer talking about his design.

The East Village Garden was formerly the Athletes Village and will soon be London's newest neighborhood when it opens to its first residents later this year.  Really my photo doesn't do this garden justice.  I'm glad you have a video to help you see this wonderful design.

The Homebase Garden-"Sowing the Seeds of Change" was done in association with the Alzheimer's Society was designed with a small family in mind.  "The garden provides an environment to help a younger generation understand the natural world.  If you click on the link, you can see a more detailed map of the garden.

Stop the Spread was supported by a partnership of government, charity and industry hoping to inspire the public to action.  Working together, we can stop the spread of plant pests, diseases and invasive non-native species.  I know something about this topic!

The Trailfinders Australian Garden Presented by Fleming's was Best in Show winner.  When you see it on the video, it looks quite large if you click the link, but in fact it was an intimate space.  The flower structure in the center is actually a studio space.  It was a show stopper!

The Wasteland "has been created on an unloved and unused piece of former industrial ground.  Some of the waste from the site's industrial past has been reused within the garden."  Part of a larger development, this seems to be very private and intimate garden.  Click the link to see an interview with the designer. 

Stoke-on-Trent's Story of Transformation was designed to showcase Stoke-on-Trent's revitalization from its pottery times until now.  Click on the link to see a few more photos.  One of my favorite show gardens.

The Laurent-Perrier Garden is a contemporary take on a romantic garden.  It was designed by an award-winning Swedish landscape architect Ulf Nordfjell.  If you click on the link the designer will talk about his vision for the garden.

My opinion of the show gardens this year were that they all had an understated elegance befitting the 100th Chelsea Flower Show.  The Best in Show winner was over the top in the best way possible.  Really to be a garden designer and have that overall vision is brilliant!  Hope you utilize the links I have provided to see a bit more of each of these show gardens.  There were 15 show gardens at Chelsea and so I hopefully have four more to show you in a future post.  Hope you are having a great day.  It's still raining here and humid!  Talk to you later.