Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Language of Flowers-Texas Style

My passion is herbs and my second passion is collecting books on herbs and the language of flowers. I found this little gem in Texas and the seller said that he would send a picture of the owner with it. The information I got is that the Caston family lived in Corsicana, Texas. The oldest daughter was named Texana. In the 1880's she and her sisters all attended college. A big deal for that time. It is unclear who is the girl in the picture, but this little book got a lot of use. I will say more about the language of flowers in another post.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Not Your Typical Oregano!

Actually Cuban Oregano (not a true oregano) Plectranthus amboinicus (what a mouthful) is known by a lot of other names: Spanish or French thyme; Mexican or Indian mint and country borage. It is native to the tropics and best grown as a pot plant. The Victorians used it as a bedding plant. If it is grown outside, it requires warm weather. It stops growing when temperatures drop below 50 degrees F. If lightly frosted, it goes to mush. This plant above is a second year plant! They are fast growers. Don't dry the leaves. They are a favorite in Jamaican and other tropical cuisines. In India, where the herb is known as Suganda, the leaves are dipped in batter and fried. My information comes from one of my favorite herb books. It is The American Garden Guides Herb Gardening by Patricia Hopkinson, Diane Miske, Jerry Parsons and Holly Simizu. I like it because it forces you to think in botanical names. Sometimes hard to do. Here is a Cuban oregano that has been in the pot just one year! These plants both need some more pinching to keep them more balanced.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Confused Xmas Cacti!

Just because we were in Arizona recently I thought I would talk about our indoor cacti. Lots of Christmas cacti are confused and bloom for Thanksgiving. This one is called 'Christmas Fantasy' and obviously it is blooming early. There are two very happy in an east facing window in our kitchen. Here they are as of this morning. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More Snow in the Herb Garden for Thanksgiving!

I'm getting like a broken record! This is quite ridiculous! We have a surplus of snow in November! It doesn't happen all that often. I usually make our turkey with fresh herbs! They may be a little bit frozen this year! Hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Parsley Soup and Herbal Hockey Pucks!

Today was the perfect day for parsley dill soup and Italian Herb Biscuits. Snowing outside. I know, it doesn't stop! The soup was wonderful and biscuits like herbal hockey pucks!
I bought the mix from my favorite herb place, The Rosemary House. Unfortunately, I don't remember when and I think the baking powder was not active enough! The herbal husband still thought they were good. I just get tense when a recipe says roll out. I have to practice some more, but that adds inches to the waistline! Nancy Reppert makes the most magnificent scones on the planet for her afternoon teas at Sweet Remembrances! I think I just have to practice more! I usually overwork the dough also, but not this time. As we go back on the baking sheet they get more irregularly shaped! The back one of the left looks a little like a fish or a bowtie. Taste is what counts and they were very good.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Herbal Husband's Veggie Harvest

Sometimes I get ahead of myself in this blog. I already talked about the Carrot and Lovage Soup I made with the white French carrots and the Parsley Dill Soup that I have made. I'm going to make some more tomorrow with the 'Nelson' carrots this time. The carrots somehow get lost with everything else we harvest and somehow we come out with a pretty good harvest in time for soup making in the fall. There is nothing like a good bowl of homemade soup!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Name This Herb

This is a wonderful herb if you have trouble eating green peppers like I do. Peppers talk to me as my mother used to say. It is called 'Green Pepper' basil. So it is the best of both worlds. It has a beautiful leaf shape not like the typical basil plant. I found it at Mulberry Creek Herbs several years ago. When it is in flower, it drops several seeds in the pot it is growing in. Perfect, it perpetuates itself! It does have some disease issues indoors. Sometimes it doesn't survive. Herbal husband sometimes overwaters it! A sure herbal death. It does make a lovely herbal vinegar.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Veggie or Fruit Salad?

We have a fruit salad almost every morning with our breakfast. It is just a great start to the day. I was looking at my fruit the other day and saying that it looked more like a veggie salad than a fruit one! Honeydew, kiwi, papaya and green grapes a great selection of fruit/veggies.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Red and Purple Hot Chili Peppers!

As the snow flakes flew the other day, these cuties made their way upstairs to the south facing livingroom window! From the left, they are 'Chilly Chili', 'Peruvian Unknown' (my name, not correct) (It has a tiny little pepper on it!), and 'Explosive Ember'. The two on either end graced our patio this summer. I got them down east near Mechanicsburg. My favorite herb shop, Rosemary House and my favorite tearoom, Sweet Remembrances are there. The plant that is trying to get in the picture is Cuban Oregano and I will write more about it in a later post. Until then stay warm!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Herbal Indoor School

At the moment we can't park the herbal husband's car in the garage. When we went to Arizona, the pots came into the garage even though we had a beautiful week while we were gone! It always works that way! The scented geraniums, the lavenders, the rosemaries and our herbal trees, bay, allspice and bay rum did just fine and are continuing to do fine in the garage. It has a south facing window and cooler temperatures than in the basement. All we have to remember to do is turn them periodically. When we get further into the winter season, we may be jockeying plants around so that the car can come in too!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Radishes and Parsley, Oh My!

The herbal husband came in today all excited about the above, radishes and parsley. Still picking radishes and parsley before we really get below 20 degrees tonight! The bounty was great this year. A lot more parsley soup on the way! Whoo Hoo!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snow in the Herb Garden!

As my herbal husband said this morning, "Isn't this a little bit early for snow?" It is not only early, but it is very cold also. We have had snow as early as late September, I think. I remember snow on Halloween several years ago. Hope this doesn't mean a long, cold winter!

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Herbal Husband Strikes Again and SNOW!

October 9th, my herbal husband asked, "Are we bringing in the lavenders?" Well, today the last one came in. Better late than never.

The first seed catalog came! One of my favorites. Very reasonable prices and more heirlooms than before.

Then there was SNOW! Here is my garden and the rudbeckia struggling to bloom!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Our 21st Anniversary in Phoenix!

Jeanette and Larry made our 21st Anniversary very special the last day of our stay. Thanks to you both. First a candlelight breakfast. Then a fire in the fireplace. It was actually a chilly morning in Phoenix!

Then we went over to the Biltmore Hotel because that was where our anniversary dinner was going to be later. I just have to say that it is really a beautiful place and they have a small herb garden by the side of the dining room.

It was a very pleasant space. Herbs both in the ground and in containers.

But the best part of all was dinner where we got free champagne and a free chocolate souffle for dessert! What a beautiful dessert it was!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Herb Gardens of Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix

This is the entrance into the herb garden at the Desert Botanical Garden. In the distance is St. Earth Walking, a sculpture by Robert Wick. The herb garden has seven themed gardens: the Mediterranean Garden whose herbs thrive the best in the desert environment; the Picante Garden which grows a cornucopia of chile pepper varieties; the wildlife garden which grows a combination of different herbs attractive to wildlife; the Medicinal Garden growing plants that are native to the Sonoran Desert; the Sensory Garden, the herbs grown in this garden offer fragrant foliage or blossoms; the Tea Garden, has mints and lemon flavored herbs among other plants and the Culinary Garden, the annual herbs are grown in Arizona in the fall and spring because of the harsh summer weather which they would not stand.

A bench in the Tea Garden gives you shade to rest and enjoy a glass of iced tea. It's Arizona!

The culinary garden has some shade also and basils in bloom!

Here is the Barbara B. Weisz & Family Plaza which holds many of the mediterranean herbs which do so well in the Sonoran Desert area of Phoenix.

A pot full of scented geraniums is surrounded by a bench so that you can relaxed and touch the leaves of these scented marvels. It is a wonderful idea.

The Wildlife Garden yielded a hummingbird and I was so excited because the herbal husband had been "buzzed" several times while we were in Tucson and even at the Honey House, our bed & breakfast! I was rewarded with a visit to the stand of pineapple sage, one of their favorite herbs and a break in the nearby tree!

This herb garden is just a part of the wonderful Desert Botanical Garden. A great part of the Phoenix area.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Last Beautiful Day in the Garden

I'll get back to Arizona tomorrow. Today the herbal husband and I worked out getting the leaves raked and pruning the trumpet aggressive vine back. It was warm, sunny and the perfect weather for getting things wrapped up. Here is a little bouquet to brighten our day. We still have calendulas, a small piece of pineapple sage, golden sage, fairy rose, oxeye daisies and peppermint. The weather is going to turn wintery this weekend.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sedona, the Verde Canyon RR and Cowboy Dinner!

This is the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona. Sedona is a mess at the moment so this was the most tranquil place in the area. There is a huge construction project going on plus they are making roundabouts where there used to be traffic lights!

Along side the chapel are these pots with pansies and a rosemary in a bonsai form! The wind was howling and here were these plants managing to survive in the wind!

We barely made our train trip on the Verde Canyon Railroad with 5 minutes to spare! The scenery was amazing. As you can see by the locomotive, eagles were the main attraction but they were not to be found only in paint on the train. Their names are Black and Decker!

We had a chuckwagon dinner at the Blazin' M Ranch and then a show of cowboy songs. It was a lot of fun. More adventures tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Taliesin West and Soleri Bell Factory

Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home for the Taliesin Fellowship, Taliesin West is a complex of buildings which includes a theater, music pavillion (he collected grand pianos) and sun cottage and offered a new challenge in building materials. He first started work on the site in 1938 with apprentices from Taliesin North. For the first two years of construction they all lived on the desert in tents or temporary wood and canvas shelters. Life was primitive with no water, electricity, heating or plumbing. Every winter for the next 22 years, he and his students would continue the work, revising and enlarging the complex. It was built using what Wright described as "desert rubblestone" construction, which involves large stones set in concrete, to produce a more colorful and natural effect than pure concrete. Wright built much of Taliesin West from linen canvas on redwood frames, which diffused the harsh desert sun.

Then in the afternoon we visited Cosanti, the windbell factory and Arizona historic site, designed by world-renowned architectural innovator, Paolo Soleri. They make both bronze and ceramic windbells. I loved all the different sounds of the bells and of course, had to get one for our garden. My herbal husband usually goes crazy to ring bells. He was somewhat subdued on this occasion. Maybe he didn't want to be throw out for making too much noise! Mr. Soleri has also created Arcosanti north of Phoenix. Arcology is a term coined by Paolo Soleri to describe the concept of architecture and ecology working as one integral process to produce new urban habitats. Here are some pictures of Cosanti, the windbell factory located in Paradise Valley.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tucson and Herbs!

This is the beautiful and intimate herb garden at the Tucson Botanical Garden. I never thought about herb gardening in the desert. It can be very tough and I thought herbs could be the toughest. These tips are from A Tucson Herb Garden:

Some Tips for a Summertime Herb Garden

1. Use Pots (10" or larger and group them closely together.)

2. Use Quick-Draining Soil (Perlite added to potting soil improves drainage.)

3. Water Adequately (This might be daily during the hottest months of the year.)

4. Use an Eastern Exposure (This location will expose herbs to morning sun and afternoon shade.)

5. Some Herbs are Inappropriate for Summer (Including annuals that bolt easily, dill, chervil, cilantro, chamomile, borage and caraway.) Plant these in the fall.

6. Most Herbs Adore Heat (It is best not to place them in all-day sun until fall.)

7. Feed as Needed (Once a month is fine, for pots. Water first, then feed.)

8. Pinch Leaves Whenever You Like for Crafts and Cooking (Try not to take more than one-third of the plant at any one time. This goes for other locations in the U.S.)

Then it goes right into the desert areas with the cactus and succulents.

Tucson Botanical Garden has many areas for young and old. The sign says butterfly gardening and it lives up to the billing. This plant was full of butterflies!
The garden below is called Nuestro Jardin which honors Tucson's tranditional Mexican-American neighborhood gardens with a representative collection of flowers, trees, herbs and objects frequently seen in barrio gardens.

At the Tucson Botanical Gardens, there are 16 specialty gardens within 5-1/2 acres representing a variety of gardening traditions and botanical themes. Hope you will visit this wonderful garden when you visit the southwest.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It Was an Architectural Adventure Too!

My herbal husband being an architect and Frank Lloyd Wright lover wanted me to see these architectural wonders while we were in Arizona. The Gammage Memorial Auditorium of the Arizona State University at Tempe has a circular arcade of 50 tall concrete columns supporting the outer roof. The exterior walls are made of brick and a marble-like composition called marblecrete. It was Wright's last non-residential design to be built. It is also known as the wedding cake!

The First Christian Church was designed in 1950 and built after his death. It was the last project of Mr. Wright to be built in Arizona. Wright first produced plans of a university campus for the Southwest Christian Seminary in 1951 When the university failed to proceed, the First Christian Church decided to go ahead with the chapel, starting work on it in 1971, 12 years after his death in Phoenix.

It has a beautiful reflective area with fountains also. It is an amazing structure. My information about the Wright buildings is from a book called Frank Lloyd Wright, A Visual Encyclopedia by Iain Thomson. More of our adventures tomorrow!