Thursday, December 31, 2015

An Herbal Break!

My Project for the Winter!
Well, since I blogged each day of December, I have decided to take a break for a time.  I'm not sure if it will be all of January or possibly longer.  You see I was in my cross-stitch stash (patterns and fabrics) the other night and I have some really great projects, but the project above is my greatest challenge.  And every time I mention doing another project, he reminds of this project!  Near and dear to his heart!  The Herbal Husband became a naturalized citizen in 1992 and a friend charted a sampler for him and I am the stitcher!  I haven't kept my end of the project up too well!  It is a project I just can't do 15 minutes at a time.  I need big chunks of time to work on it and get in a rhythm.

I may pop up periodically when I have something to say and maybe it will be about savory since I do have more to say on that topic.  So bear with me as I take an herbal break and work on cross-stitch and my presentation for March!  BTW, I will be around and please if you have any questions or comments about herbs, I will always be available to answer!  Hope you are having a great day!  Talk to you later!

2015, An Herbal Year in Review!

January-Very Cold and Snowy!
February--'Mabel Grey' Enjoying the Windowsill!
March--Just As Snowy and Cold!
April--Signs of Spring and Coltsfoot Blooming!
May--Finally Plant Shopping, Herbally Speaking!
June--My Favorite Rose in the Garden--'Apothecary's Rose'!
July--A White Sphinx Moth and Bee Balm!
August--My First Selfie in the Herb Garden!
September--Still Picking Raspberries and Making Jam!
October--My Favorite Knot Garden Disappearing at the Garden Museum, London, England!
November--The Herbal Husband and I Celebrate 28 Years Married!
December--Almost Looks Like March in the Herb Garden!
Well, we have come to another end in the herb garden.  Even though it is finally cold in December, the herb garden has just kept going and going this year!  And I thought it was going to be a dud!  So many great photos I could have used, but you will remember your favorites perhaps with a memory jog from me!  It was nice to look back and see what was accomplished and what is yet to happen.  Had a strange year weatherwise and lost a few herbs more than usual including a lemon verbena!  That should never have happened!

Hopefully in 2016 I will come up with a different plan of attack or maybe go back to the lemon/lime garden theme.  That was a particularly great season.  So your herb garden should be tucked in if you live in the northern half of the U.S.  I am not sure what to expect going forward in the weather department!  We need to have snow and cold or I'm afraid I will lose more plants in the coming year, but on the positive side more new herbs to try!  Had fun blogging these days of December.  Hope you enjoyed it!   Even though the 2016 Herb of the Year is Capsicum, I have a boat load of posts with savory as the topic to still write.  Just want to give a shout out to my adorable and very garden worthy husband, The Herbal Husband.  Without him the garden is not too spicy or wild and crazy!  Thank you Sweetie!  And thank you to my loyal readers for reading my blog.  I will see you next year!  Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Lost Ladybug Project!

Harmonia axyridis on Green Pepper Basil
So I have mentioned a while back that I am a contributor to the Lost Ladybug Project which is a ongoing research project of Cornell University, an extension university and one of the best IMO.  They are trying to discover why the native ladybugs that were once common are now so rare.  It all started for me when I wanted to get rid of (move) a patch of tansy in the herb garden and the tansy was attracting all stages of ladybugs.  I wrote about it for Mother Earth Living and my post was called Tansy, Russian Sage and and Ladybugs, Oh My!  Here is a link to my contributor page on the Lost Ladybug Project website.  So if you find a ladybug or a bunch of them, take photos and upload them to the site for identification.  We need to help map where the ladybugs are and help keep the populations up of the natives ones!

The weather has started to turn to winter and we are very gray here.  Sixth straight day without sun, but that is how it is in the 'Burgh!  Can't believe we have come down to the last day of the year!  One more post in the month!  Bet you know what it is going to be!  Hope you are having a wonderful day wherever you may be.  I'll talk to you tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Herbal Memories Preserved!

A Calendar Full of Memories from 2015 for 2016!
A Photo Book from My 2015 England Trip!
Sometimes it's all about memories in the garden!  As the seasons and years are seemingly flying by, Shutterfly has made a big difference in remembering for The Herbal Husband and me.  I also get coupons from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.  So every once in a while and there have been at least three occasions already this year, Shutterfly has offered "free" (You pay shipping and handling.) items as you see above through Jo-Ann Fabric's coupons.  The Photo Book was first right after I came back from my England trip and then the calendar came as a year end perk.  I think they both turned out very well.  Shutterfly is always offering deals of some kind!  I am sure that I will have to do the calendar again for 2017 and make two, one for me and one for The Herbal Husband!  He was a little jealous!  Two posts left until the end of the year and I already have my topics lined up!e

We are deep into the depths of our gray days here in the 'Burgh and we are having one more mild day today before the chill sets in.  The weather has just been crazy and not good for a lot of you in the Midwest and South!  I will be back tomorrow with an insect update!  Talk to you then!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Eleven!

Another Favorite English Herb Book
I do have too many herb books which I haven't read!  This is one of the ones that I need to read through in the near future.  H.L.V. Fletcher's book Herbs is the next on my bookshelf.  He talks about there being two savories, summer, the annual and winter, a sub-shrub, but their uses (assuming he means culinary uses) are similar for both.  He calls savory a neglected herb and this is from a book of the 1970's.  Fletcher does admit that nurseries have both seeds and plants for sale.  He calls it out of fashion even if it has a more pleasant flavor than many of the more popular herbs.  It is traditionally used in most stuffing, in sausages and in many meat dishes.  He says that he has heard that it has been used a good deal on the continent.  That there is a recipe for stuffed marrow (a member of the squash family) that needs a bit of savory to liven it up.

He also says it is out of fashion to use it medicinally.  It was once used for indigestion and colic.  There were a dozen other illnesses it was used for, but the medicinal claims were quite modest.  Although it is said to be good when used on wasp and bee stings.  And that is all he has to say about the savories!

Well, the tide has turned in the weather department.  We are on the cusp of winter.  Not quite there yet, but by the end of the week, we will be having temperatures in the 30's and a taste of winter weather.  So the clock is ticking down until the end of the year.  Will I take a break?  Will I keep posting every day?  In any case, I'll talk to you tomorrow!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Rumor Has It, Herbally Speaking!

The Salad Burnet Is Being Eaten!
The Herbal Husband came in from the herb garden last night and said "I have bad news.  (With a Spanish accent.)  The salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor) is being chewed by something."  I said "What, deer?  It doesn't seem likely."  Well, in our case it could be so many things.  We do have a skunk now which might like the cucumber flavor and be rooting around for insects at the same time.  And our neighbor has seen it in her yard and says she is going to call the Township to trap it and removed it!  Good luck with that!  The deer are more likely to pull the plant out of the ground while chopping it.  If the stems are cut at a 45 degree angle, it would be rabbits.  Pill bugs can have voracious appetites as well, but they choose young seedlings or young plants to eat, but the continuing warm weather may make them hunger for cucumbers!  The Herbal Husband is clipping stems for our salads almost every night.  So it might be good news instead and we are still enjoying the herbs in our early winter herb garden!  I will let you know what happens.  The one thing I love about salad burnet is that it stays green throughout the cold weather. We might have to put a camera up to see who is merrily clipping away in the herb garden!  Please stay tuned!

We are having rain at the moment and the temperatures are rising.  A cold front is on the way and we will be finally cold and maybe snowy.  Can't believe it is four days from the end of the year!!  What!!  It will be a potpourri of posts to the end!  Talk to you tomorrow! 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Ten!

A Reprint of Culpeper's Complete Herbal
Well, now that we have Christmas over and done with and my travels to England are complete, I will continue onward and upward about the 2015 Herb of the Year Savory.  I have much more to disclose about savory than the last 6 posts will allow!  I may have to continue into 2016 if permitted.

So continuing down the book shelf, here is a reprint of a classic herbal by Nicholas Culpeper.  In it he states that winter and summer savory are so well known in our gardens, that no description of them is needed!

Under Government and Virtues, he states that "Mercury claims the dominion over this herb, neither is there a better remedy against the colic and iliac passion than this herb; keep it dry by you all the year, if you love yourself and your ease and it is a hundred pounds to a penny if you do not; keep it dry, make conserves and syrups of it for your use, and take notice that the summer kind is the best."

He goes on to say:  "They are both of them hot and dry and especially the summer kind which is both sharp and quick in taste, expelling wind in the stomach and bowels, and is a present help for the rising of the mother procured by wind; provoked urine and women's courses and is much commended for women with child to take inwardly and to smell often unto.  It cureth tough phlegm in the chest and lungs and helpth to expectorate it the more easily.  It quickens the dull spirits in a lethargy, the juice there of being snuffed into the nostrils.  The juice dropped into the eyes cleareth a dull sight if it proceed of thin cold humours distilled from the brain.  The juice heated with oil of roses and dropped into the ears easeth them of the noise and singing in them, and of deafness also.  Outwardly applied with wheat flour as a poultice, it giveth ease to sciatica and palsied members, heating and warming them and taketh away their pains.  It also taketh away the pain that comes by stinging of bees, wasps & c. (whatever & c.) might be!

Many of his cures and remedies came from Gerard or Parkinson.  John Gerard came first and then Parkinson and Culpeper were pretty much contemporaries.  So when you are reading this remember to do careful research.  I am just giving you herbs for thought!  Just be sure of their use before using them as medicinal remedies!  I do have most of a notebook filled from last winter's reading.  So with your permission, even though the 2016 Herb of the Year is capsicum, I may just continue to interject savory posts from time to time!

We had a great Christmas yesterday and now it is gone for another year.  It is still mild and looks like we will have rain starting tonight.  Again no snow!  It is a miracle called El Nino! Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you tomorrow! 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Tower or Tree and Merry Christmas to You All!

The Tower of Babel by Barnaby Barford
I thought this was a perfect interpretation of a tree and maybe not a perfectly decorated Christmas tree, but Barnaby Barford put together this installation for The V & A (which is already gone and sold off) of 3,000 china shops photographed by the artist from the most derelict at the bottom to the richest at the top.  The project speaks at its base level about London, the British society and economy and the British as consumers, but it could speak to our economy as well in America.   The Herbal Husband being an architect was why I was drawn to this Tree/Tower as my first thought, but once I knew it was called The Tower of Babel, it made sense to me more and more.  In the Bible, The Lord comes and scatters the people and stops their building of the tower to the Heavens.  We need to find something that will give us more tolerance and understanding of every language and bring us together because we are in the end all human beings and we need to treat each other with dignity and respect.

So Merry Christmas and The Herbal Husband and I hope you are having a wonderful day with your family and friends.  This month has flown by but there are a few more posts to come in my 31 days of blogging!  Continues to be a California Christmas here.  Rain is arriving later this evening, could have been snow!  Going to walk some of those delicious cookies we have gotten from the neighbors!  Here is our Christmas card to you from the Kew Gardens!  I'll talk to you tomorrow!

Season Greetings from Kew Gardens!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

My 2015 England Adventure to the Victoria & Albert Museum!

What Do These Buildings Make Up?
A Medieval Fabric
Examples of Stained Glass
An Interesting Face
A Beautiful Tapestry
Handwritten Book
Another Beautiful Tapestry!
And Another Tapestry!
A Brass Marker
Some of Their Miniature Portraits!
The Reference Library
Just One More Raisin Scone and Earl Grey Tea!
My last full day in London was spent at the Victoria & Albert Museum or as it is affectionately called The V & A.  I really wanted to see the collections of embroidery and stitching and textiles from many ages.  I didn't do enough research to discover that they have opened The Clothworkers' Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion in Blythe House.  You can also search their vast collections online and that maybe what I will do some snowy winter's day!  So instead of textiles I turned my attention to their Medieval collections and other items.  You get a bit of a taste of what I saw!  Of course there was one more scone and tea just for me!  My last day was filled with travel nightmares.  I started at 8 AM at Heathrow and ended at my house at 11:45 PM which was actually 4:45 AM London time!  It was a very long day, but I had a fabulous trip.  I am a very lucky and blessed lemon verbena lady!  Hope you enjoyed my adventures.  More to come in 2016!

Well, I will let you see what that top photograph really was tomorrow!  It will be Christmas day!  I hope you are having a wonderful day with family and friends.  We will be with our friends, the Devereauxs for Christmas.  Even though it is Christmas, I will be posting a brief post tomorrow!  Continues to be a California Christmas here as our neighbor said.  Safe travels for everyone!  Will talk to you tomorrow. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My 2015 England Adventure in Stratford-Upon-Avon!

Shakespeare's Birthplace and Gardens
Medlar Tree Ready For Picking!
Is That You Will?
Anne Hathaway's Cottage and Garden
Mary Arden's Farm
Dinner at the Arden Farm
The Kitchen at the Arden Farm
Hall's Croft
A Bed Chamber in Hall's Croft
The Hall's Croft Garden
A Small Herb Garden at the rear of Hall's Croft
Holy Trinity Church
Shakespeare's Tomb
Harvard House
The Dining Table of Harvard House
Teasels to Keep You from Sitting!
Discovering Painted 'Wallpaper' on the Walls of Harvard House
Tea at the Hathaway Tea Room
A Substantial Afternoon Tea Tray
Had Enough for a Picnic Dinner for the Train Ride Back to London!
I am doing a presentation in March of 2016 on the herbs and flowers of Shakespeare.  Ironically enough I had planned a train ride to Stratford-Upon-Avon during this trip before I decided to do the presentation.  It is fate!  I had had such lovely weather up to the day I went to Stratford and I should have known it would rain!  So I didn't get to spend as much time as I would have liked in the gardens taking photos.  They do have a wonderful double decker bus that goes from major point to major point in and around Stratford that did help.  I could not waste time or enjoy looking around as much as I would have liked.  I call it power touring!

I did go to Shakespeare's birthplace first because it was in town and not far from the train and before I got the bus.  There are costumed guides that take you through that time period and the last little guide asked me what was my favorite Shakespeare play!  Yikes!  Had to think quickly and so I said A Midsummer's Night Dream and she quoted something by Puck!  Really wonderful the young mind!  I would have been fumbling to get the quote out!

So next I got to the bus and made my way out to Anne Hathaway's Cottage and Gardens.  I sort of rushed through the cottage so I could get out in the gardens before it rained harder.  And got the next bus to go to Mary Arden's farm, a working Tudor farm.  Got to see the blacksmith at work and the tail end of the dinner the Reppert sisters told me to attend.  If they weren't drinking real alcohol, they were acting very well.  Let's just say they enjoyed their meal and drink!  Then it was back to town and a stop at Hall's Croft, the house of Dr. John Hall who married Shakespeare's eldest daughter, Susanna.  The gardens contain many medicinal herbs that would have been used by Dr. Hall.  Then I walked to the Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare was both baptized and buried.  A beautiful church inside with lovely stained glass windows.  The last house I got to see was called Harvard House and was built and owned by Thomas Rogers, a butcher and corn and cattle merchant.  It was a townhouse of that time.  Shakespeare purchased New Place nearby which was the largest house in Stratford.  I discovered yesterday that New Place was really the gardens that I needed to see, but sadly New Place and gardens are closed until April of 2016.  So hopefully I will get to see the traditional gardens of Tudor times when I go in May.

I finished off my day in Stratford with an afternoon tea at Hathaway's Tea Room.  The tea itself was very good and very well priced.  I had roast beef, egg mayonnaise and prawn Marie Rose sandwiches, a scone with strawberry conserve and clotted cream and two desserts, a lemon meringue tart and a coffee cake.  The service the day I was there was lacking.  In fact people left when they weren't waited on right away.  I took a box away that's how much food was left!

I headed for the train station.  I had a late direct train (9:30 PM) and as the trains came and went I soon regretted my choice.  A young girl with a gym bag came and sat down beside me.  She was eating a bag of crisps (chips) and putting her finger into the bag to get the flavor and licking her finger.  I said to her, honey those crisps must be good.  She nodded her head.  I asked her if she would like to share my dinner.  She nodded again.  I opened it and it had flipped around, but she picked out the lemon meringue tart and she said she would like it.  I asked her what her name was she said Maya and I told her my name was Nancy and I was from Pittsburgh.  Her eyes lit up when I said Pittsburgh and she told me she had a friend that lived in Pittsburgh.  I told her she would have to come and visit and then her train came and she was gone.  As the train master locked the bathroom and the room where they sold newspapers and snacks, I grew more apprehensive.  There was a lone young woman on the other end of the bench.  She was eating her dinner.  She was carrying a floor lamp with her.  I went down to her end of the bench and asked if I could join her.  She said sure in a hybrid American/English accent.  A young actor trying to make it work.  Long story short she convinced me to take the train with her.  They will never check your ticket.  Well, they did, but I was OK.  Hope to see you next time I am in England, Blake!

So we are getting down to the end of my Adventures in England.  One more post to go!  Still  surprisingly warm here in the herb garden.  Not Christmas like at all.  Hope you had a great day.  Talk to you tomorrow!