Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dried is Even Pretty!

This picture is not the greatest, but Monarda didyma or bee balm is an edible flower that also makes a beautiful dried flower.  It is very delicate, but I just love the twists and turns of the petals.  I need to make a note to self to dry more next year!  Probably will have a senior moment!  So remind me please!  Wet here in the garden and going to be cold this evening.  Need to cut some rose geranium and pineapple sage leaves for jelly and cut what basil is left for vinegar or pesto.  Hope we get a dry moment to do it!  Talk to you later!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Busy As a Bee, But I Have To Use An Iron!

Sunday was sort of a down day, but I used it to clean up my work table in the basement. Again!  There was chamomile a plenty on the table and I found my teabags and started filling them.

Here they are filled and it looks like a honeycomb.  Then the part that is really easy, but it involves an iron!  You seal the bags with an iron.  Very easy!  I got forty little bags, but then we had to use two to make tea!  So wonderful to have herbal harvests that you can enjoy through the winter.  Hope you are enjoying a cup of tea wherever you may be!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Blooming Irish Rose!

I'm truly amazed that this rose is still blooming!  It's a good thing, but still amazing.  This is a climbing rose called 'Dublin Bay'.  Sometimes plants bloom despite what you do, don't they?  We moved this late in the season last year and it is getting crowded out again, yet it is still beautiful!   Quit complaining, will you?  Yes, I will!  Hope it is dry where you are.  It is very wet here!  

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Herbal Kitchen Gardens!

I got a chance to speak for the Butler County master gardeners.  Had a great time and I hope they enjoy it too!  I just wanted to make clear that you should feel free to mix vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers together in your garden whether you call it a kitchen garden or just your garden.  My message got lost in wanting to give them other information.  The garden above is from Surreybrooke off of I-70 in Middletown, MD.  A great family owned establishment!  Please keep these kinds of nurseries going!

One of the definitions of kitchen gardens is that it has an enclosure meaning a fence or wall or other enclosure, an entry gateway, a path system whether it is an "X" or a "T" or a cross to define the beds and a rich mix of vegetables, fruit, flowers and above all (my words) herbs!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Flower Protection Program!

The summer was really crappy as far as sun and heat!  The night blooming jasmine had not bloomed all summer!  Soo The Herbal Husband said we are going to leave the awning in so that the jasmine will flower.  I agreed whole heartily.  Now because we are having rain just at the WRONG TIME, we have had to leave the awning out night and day to keep the flowers from falling off.!  They are very delicate and it does not take a whole lot to lose them. It is working and the aroma from the flowers in the evening is intoxicating.  Well, have to run and make raspberry jam and get ready for my presentation tomorrow!  Talk to you later!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Bring Your Camera!"

When I hear those magic words, I know The Herbal Husband has created food that is beautiful!  Not just beautiful looking, but also delicious!  When we have company over for dinner, he always gets great compliments on his presentation.  So as I have been saying the nasturtiums are going wild as usual this time of year.  Those jewel like colors!  Hope you enjoy a beautifully made salad wherever you may be!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thyme for Herbal Vinegar!

This is the perfect time to preserve the herbal harvest by making herbal vinegars.  Some years I have really been carried away making herbal vinegar!  Still using that!  Here are the ingredients for Nasturtium Peppercorn Vinegar.

You need:  2 cups of nasturtium flowers, 1 cup of nasturtium leaves, 2 sprigs of rosemary, 1/4 cup chopped chives, 2 tablespoons of peppercorns, one sterilized canning jar (leave boiling water in the jar for 10 minutes) and white wine vinegar.  Easy, peasy as Jamie Oliver would say.  This recipe is from The Complete Vinegar Book by Kathy (Kathleen) Gips.  She owns the Village Herb Shop in Chagrin Falls, OH.  I think it is very pretty in the jar before you decant it.  I put it in a sunny window for two weeks.  Mine is going to be ready just in time for my presentation on Saturday.  It gives you a peppery taste for your salads and stews.  I'll put a picture on this posting of the finished product.  Got to go make raspberry jam!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

One of My Favorite Scented Geraniums!

Well, this little gem is a scented geranium called 'Fingerbowl Golden'.  I actually thought its name was 'Goldfinger'.  Like the James Bond movie!  Its official name is Pelargonium crispum 'Aureum Minor'  The leaves were used by the Victorians to scent water in their guests' fingerbowls!  We'll keep it in The Herbal Husband's office over the winter.   He will enjoy the tiny lemon scented leaves.  Scented geraniums are one of the easiest herbs to bring in for the winter as long as it is getting enough light.  A southern exposure is best.  It is time to think about what herbs are going to come in.  Our list is usually way too long!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Good News and Somewhat Good News!

Had to show you that the green fig is a different color inside and a little less sweet than the brown fig!  Now for the good and somewhat good news!  All of the figs are ripening at once!  Maybe fig jam is in order!  I will let you know how it goes!  A few too many exclamation points!  Oh well!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Twice Gorgeous Flower!

The Monarda didyma or bee balm or bergamot has been beautiful this year.  I also usually have the annual bergamot or Monarda citriodora in my garden.  It is also called lemon mint. It has a double or more flowers blooming just like this.  Only this is a perennial bee balm.  Not sure which one, but isn't it doubly gorgeous! 
Talk to you later!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Definitely Beautiful This Time of Year!

I always have red flowered sage in our garden.  It attracts so many beneficial insects and one bird in particular, the hummingbird!  So please think of planting this annual workhorse in your garden.  If it likes the spot you plant it, it may self sow!  Teashop Girl asked if the leaves would be good for tea and I told her the leaves have the faint smell of paint thinner!  Not a tea kind of sage!  Have a great weekend wherever you may be!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Slim Pickings!

Isn't that a country singer?  No, it's definition of my grape crop this year!  This is just one recipe of grape jelly.  I got to make three this year!  Far below the 150 glasses I made one year!  It was a bumper crop back then!  Now that I have the magic steamer, I didn't have a lot of grapes this year!  It was just the crazy warm instead of hot weather.  I just love the color of the finished product!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Love This Time of Year!

The plant in this post is probably the green fig.  We have several.  One that has green figs, one that has no figs because it is a young plant and one that has brown figs.  I really love the brown fig.  I didn't really like figs until we started growing them.  I loved Fig Newton cookies as a child, but fresh figs are even better!  We have great success with figs in containers.  We tried burying the one that is in the ground, but it always comes back from the roots!  It is just too much work!  This fig was just delicious and sweet.   A great combination!  Off to make raspberry jam!  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

They Smell So Good At Night!

These three nicotianas are really smelling good.  The Herbal Husband and I were out putting the figs inside last evening.  The smell was really lovely.  The Herbal Husband just mentioned it's 1:00 o'clock in the morning here!  Who's going to wake you up?  It may be difficult!  I have grape jelly to make LATER TODAY!  The juice is waiting in the refrigerator!  My steamer makes the process so much easier.  The house was filled with the smell of grapes.  Delicious!  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Brother Cadfael in the House!

Just had to say it!  This rose has made a slight comeback in the garden.  It smells wonderful and as you can see it a glorious flower!  Just love, love, love it!  See you later off to make grape juice for jelly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Harvest Stew!

The Herbal Husband cooked a wonderful meat stew the other night with fresh tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and beans from our garden and a little curry.  It was yummy!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Yikes! What Is This?

It may be a little hard to see, but The Herbal Husband found this insect shell attached to a raspberry leaf the other day.  He always likes to scare/surprise me with these little gems!  The more scared I am, the better!  He thinks it's a bee molt, but I'm not sure. I'm thinking it's a cicada.  Click on the picture to enlarge it.  I'm going to a Master Gardener recognition ceremony in a little while and I'm going to take it there.  See what my fellow master gardeners think!  You can take a guess if you want and I'll let you know later.  P.S.  Tufa Girl is correct.  It is a cicada skeleton!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Poor Confused Tree!

This poor 'Liberty' apple tree was the one that we needed to prune to get the esplaier back!  Well, guess what it thought that it should bloom again!!!!  Big mistake!  When I'm at Gardenline I tell callers not to prune any tree or shrub later than July 15th.  Then it doesn't get the idea to grow new growth!  YIKES!  Now there isn't enough time for the fruit to mature!  Oh, well, pray it makes it through the winter and then we can prune it correctly in early March!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Never Forget!

This was Ground Zero in New York City.  The construction has begun on the World Trade Center Memorial & Museum and the buildings that are to be rebuilt.  It was a very moving experience to be there.  The Herbal Husband and I went the New York City in 1999 with friends from Uruguay and were up on the observation deck of the World Trade Center.  So ten years after that visit, the renewal begins!  I hope we always remember those people who lost their lives in New York City, also the Pentagon and at Shanksville, PA on September 11, 2001, but we also need to rise above those who would try to harm us.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sunflower and Fairy Garden!

Going to take a break from Travel Thursday!  It will make a comeback soon with great herbal trips I have taken in the past years, maybe the great bus trips I have taken with The Rosemary House.
I have been lamenting the fact that I have no big sunflowers in my garden this year!  Well, this one has a large flower, but is about two feet tall.  Another bird planted seed!  Can't get these to grow if we tried!  The Herbal Husband moves the mini birdbath and fairy around my herb garden.  I think it looks good with some shade from the sunflower!  Speaking of fairies, if you are in the Mechanicsburg, PA vicinity this weekend, check out The Rosemary House's fairy festival!  Lots of fun for the whole family!  Wish we were closer!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Guest Blogging for The Herb Companion Magazine!

My latest blog post for The Herb Companion magazine is about preserving the herbal harvest and making scented basil jelly.  Hope you enjoy it.  Here is the link.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

There's a Frog Trying to Get in the House!

The Herbal Husband was picking figs at night!  That's a story for another time!  He ran upstairs and interrupted my nap while watching the U.S. Open tennis with...there's a frog trying to get in the house.  Bring the camera for a picture!  Well, I knew it was not a frog, but probably a toad.  Maybe it's the toad from earlier in the year that I found out in the front garden.  It was really dark on the patio and the first photo missed!

This photo is a little better, but here is a little better one.  The Herbal Husband thinks it's the one from the front.  He/she was really exposed on the patio and when we looked for him/her this morning, it had vanished!  Toads do a good disappearing act!   Here is the earlier post.  I think it might be a relative.  You decide!  Hope you have toads or frogs in your garden!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Leaning Lavender!

This sweet lavender (Lavandula heterophylla) has had a tough season in the shade a lot of the summer!  The Herbal Husband finally said to me the other day, this lavender is leaning.  Should I put it in the SUN?  Yes, please, I said!  It is still leaning a little, but it is better than it was!  Lavender is the herb of devotion and that is imprinted on the container it is in.  Hope you are having a good Labor Day holiday in the USA!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

It Finally Has Bloomed!

When we came home from England and Spain this spring, I noticed that one of my favorite viburnums had not bloomed.  We had a few days of late frost and I think that is what took the blossoms early.  This viburnum is called 'Newport'.  I got it because it doesn't get taller than four feet!  It is a little taller in this garden.  Well, I'm happy to see a few blossoms than none at all!  Hope you have great weather wherever you may be!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Last Gasp of Herbal Summer!

I must admit that the late summer and fall are my favorite times of the year here in the 'Burgh!  I think I might have mentioned it before!  It bears repeating again and again!  I was busy in the kitchen today making a couple of recipes of cinnamon basil jelly.  Didn't quite get enough cinnamon basil to make three recipes!  Will have to make a note that I need to plant more cinnamon basil from seed or buy more plants next year.  I get really lazy and it is so easy to buy the plants already grown!  Well, I hope all of you in the USA have a very happy and safe labor day on Monday!  Can't believe summer is almost over!  Hope you are enjoying great weather wherever you may be!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Look What Popped Up in the Herb Garden!

In the last incarnation of this bed, I had placed germander, santolina in an overgrown knot garden and for a surprise in the center I placed two 'Golden Jubilee' anise hyssops.  During one very cold winter several years ago, I looked out the kitchen window and spotted a rabbit poking his/her head out of the center of this bed.  It had made a home in the ice and snow on top of the anise hyssops!  The next spring I only had one 'Golden Jubilee' left!  I think the rabbit made a nest around the other or just sat on the poor thing and it rotted!  This anise hyssop needs well-drained soil and full sun, but it will also tolerate light shade.  It has chartreuse foliage and lavender-purple flowers.  The flowers are edible and tasty.  Like Good 'N Plenty candy!  It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.  It is very drought tolerant!  It is a plant that the deer don't eat it!  Whoo! Hoo!  Next season, we will have to move this one to another spot in the garden.  It's a herbal keeper!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's Travel Thursday--Can I Really Take These Plants Home With Me?

I can't believe it is another Thursday!  Wow!  The weeks are just flying by!  This photo was taken on our trip to France several years ago.  I'm always lamenting the fact that I can't take plants back from foreign countries!  This was part of an exhibit at the International Garden Festival in France at Chaumont Sur Loire.  The 18th edition is going on now in the Loire Valley in France.  The theme this year is Colorful Gardens.  This photo was one of my favorite exhibits the year we were there using borrowed views.  We were there late in the exhibit.  If you are in France, you need to go.  It is a very interesting day for gardening buffs!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Looks Like a Weed but It Smells Good!

I was in the back by the fence the other day and came across this little gem.  It is a coconut scented geranium that has self sowed itself for several years.  Last year we had to have a new air conditioner.  The air conditioning unit is like a small house.  I'm sure somewhere in a developing country, they could use it.  So that took out my scented geranium garden, but some scented geraniums self sow more easily than others.  Apple and coconut come to mind most often.  It is tucked into a clump of sweet woodruff.  Enjoy those self sowers wherever they may be in your garden!  P.S. I got a box of lemon basil jelly done yesterday.  The kitchen had an intoxicating smell all afternoon!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Don't Forget Those Late Herbal Bouquets and Herb Jellies!

This has been such an unusual year in the herb garden!  We still are cutting sweet peas in August!  I have to see whether there are any to cut today, September 1!  I try to have a bouquet on our dining table each day in the summer.  Doesn't always happen, but I try.  This morning when I turned the Maggie Oster 2009 calendar to September, I found the subject to be herb jelly!  Guess what I'm making this afternoon, lemon basil jelly.  The basil has endured temperatures in the low 50's and high 40's.  It is time to start cutting basil and making jelly.  You can find the recipe I use by clicking on the link for Renee's Garden and then click on cookbooks/recipes and then click on herb jellies.  It is my very favorite recipe to use for the scented basils, lemon, lime, cinnamon and anise basil among others.  I will be making cinnamon basil jelly later this week.