Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Spring Bouquet for His Return!

We were into the 20's last night!  Yikes!  After the weather we have had, but it is still March!  It's just a wake up call.  Well, I'm going to take a few days off.  The Herbal Husband gets home tomorrow and I need to get a few things done.  Thought I would bring some daffs in for his return.  Fortunately the ones I left outside look OK as well.  I did OK by myself, but it's a lot of work.  Like it better when he is around.  Will be back shortly.  Don't worry still have a lot to talk about.  Talk to you later in the week.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Here for the Wrong Holiday!

The turkeys were here for Easter and not Thanksgiving!  They paid a visit to my neighbor's the other day.  I looked out the kitchen window and saw these enormous blobs on the driveway!  Sparrows on steroids!  I thought can't have them ingesting the sage now!  Wait until later!  OK, enough silliness for one post.  Going to hear Miss C play in Honors Band today.  A brief but lively concert!  Hope you are having a great day.  It has cooled down here.  Maybe frost tonight!  Yikes!  Talk to you later.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Going Around the World at Phipps!

The World as a Topiary at the Phipps Entrance

The United Nations of Flags

The Welcoming Image in the Palm Court

French Polynesian flare in the Serpentine Room
The Ferns were thriving in the heat

And So were the orchids!
The Crotons were even in bloom!

Homage to Holland and the Fragrance Was Amazing!
The Tropical Rain Forest Highlights India

Lots of Interactive Displays for Learning

Of course I had to find an herbal arrangement of rosemary, celery and lemon thyme!

The Tranquil Japanese Garden

Chihuly in the Desert Room
Lots more to see at the Spring Flower Show at Phipps through April 15, 2012.  The flowers were being changed out in the entrance exhibits because of all of the warm weather we've been having!  We also went over to another treasure that I have talked about before, The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation.  They have an exhibit called Pennsylvania Native, A Wildflower Walk through June 29, 2012 in cooperation with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.  It is a very interesting display of both wildflower drawings and the process of making an herbarium.  Need to go see the Herbarium at the Carnegie some day.  Well, the rain has arrived.  It is a bit cooler, but it will cool down even more tomorrow.  Hope you are having a great day.  I have a few things to "clean up" before The Herbal Husband gets home.  Talk to you later.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Don't Want You to Miss What's Going on in the Neighborhood!

I took my walk in two parts today, half of it was early and then the other half around lunchtime.  I wanted to take photos of the trees blooming in the neighborhood that The Herbal Husband might not see when he gets back on Wednesday.  The magnolias and weeping cherries are just fabulous this year.  The last photo is of a electrical transformer that a woodpecker is using to (I think) try and drum up a mate!  An original.  Got so much work out in the garden that I thought I would come in and blog for you!  Rain overnight and through the weekend and cooler temperatures.  Sorry don't like 70's and 80's in March.  This is unpredictable like March can be but I like my cool weather until it's time for warm and hot!  I'll see you again.  You know where I'm going.  Out to the garden.  Talk to you later.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Holy Cow or I Mean Holy . . .!

A Wild Turkey!

His Family!
TURKEYS!  I was waiting for my ride today and looked across the street in my neighbor's front yard!  We have a lot of wildlife but I think this is the first time we have had turkeys!  It is a beautiful day in the 'Burgh and I'll share my adventures at Phipps tomorrow.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Something for Everyone in the Catalog Category!

The Herbarium from Massachusetts and Horizon Herbs in Oregon

Botanical Interests Seed Catalog

The Antique Rose Emporium-Don't Forget Roses are the Herb of the Year 2012

Goodwin Creek Gardens in Oregon

White Flower Farm in Connecticut
The seed catalogs have started to wind down.  That means the the plant catalogs have started up.  The top photo are catalogs from The Herbarium in western Massachusetts and Horizon Herbs in far away Oregon.  Both very good medicinal herb sources.  Probably one of my last seed catalogs of the season from Botanical Interests  in Colorado.  A very good source of roses, 2012 herb of the year, for you southern folks from the Antique Rose Emporium out of Texas.  Goodwin Creek Gardens from Oregon has a great herb plant and seed selection and other plant choices as well.  And last but not least, I got White Flower Farm from Connecticut.  I ordered The Works (100 daffodil bulbs) many years ago and they are still producing beautiful flowers.   The weather continues to be summer like, but we are supposed to cool down over the weekend!  Thank goodness.  I would have had to take the cover off the ac if it hadn't!  Continue to work in the garden.  Tried to make a dent in cutting down the front!  I need a machete!  Hopefully I will be able to get that done by next week when you know who gets back from Peru!  I'm going to the Phipps flower show and the Hunt Institute tomorrow.  Will share some photos.  Hope you have had a great day.  Talk to you later.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Some Views of Spring Before Spring Comes!

'Tete a tete' daffodils

Part of "The Works" from White Flower Farm

A White Rugosa Rose leafing out!

A 'Dublin Bay' Rose leafing out!
A Primula of Some Kind!

Pieris japonica in full bloom
Daffodils Coming in Bloom This Morning!
Some views of the garden before the 80 degree days come.  That really will take a toll on the daffodils.  Getting very green after the nice and warm St. Patrick's Day we had!  It is just silly and ridiculous and I hope this doesn't lead to an overly hot or cool summer!  Well, I'll enjoy it while it is here.  Thanks for all of the thoughts on the cat issue.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cat Solution Not Working!:( March Has Turned to May-arch!

Well, came out in the front garden and found a pile of poop!  Orange peel not working as well.  When The Herbal Husband comes back, we will have to come up with another game plan.  The weather is more like May than March.  Looks like we are going to have rain this afternoon.  Good, I can watch the Pens and the Flyers!  Hope you are having great weather.  Talk to you later.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Reader's Request: A List of Perennial Herbs!

This all started when a reader from northern Michigan asked what herbs were perennial in her climate.  She already had chives, lavender and parsley (which I grow like an annual even though it is a biennial).  OK, Janice from northern Michigan here is a list, not the list, just a list.  I think you are in Zone 4a or b or you can pinpoint it better with an e-mail to me.  This list is in no particular order.  I'm just trying to get a list in a post and will refine it later if it is helpful to do so.  I will also add links to earlier posts if I can.

Angelica (Angelica archangelica) (A biennial but if you let it seed, it will be perennial.) Zones 4-9  I call this a big babe herb.  With flowers, can get six feet tall and four feet wide.  Good for the back of a border

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) Zones 4-9 One of my favorite edible flowers.  Tastes just like a box of Good 'n Plenty.  Probably a mid range plant or front of the border.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) Zones 3-7  This herb is a summer tea favorite.  Once you have this herb, you will have it forever.  Cut down by a third throughout the summer if you don't want it to bloom.  Once you have let it bloom, it will seed wherever.  I was pulling out little lemon balms in the garden today!  Put this one in the front so you can clip it and use it.  Has a musky lemon scent.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) Zones 3-9  If you have cats, you'll maybe want a fence around it to keep them off of it.  They do love it.  I have never grown this but I would say it would be a mid range or front of the border herb.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) Zones 3-9 Janice already has this in her garden.  It is a staple in my herb garden.  Love those edible flowers in my omelet in the spring.  This makes a lovely border especially when it is blooming.  Cut down and chop up and freeze for winter use.  Mid range or front of the border.

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosumZones 3-9 The difference in garlic chives from regular chives is that garlic chives have a flat leaf and chives have a tubular or round leaf.  Garlic chives have beautiful white flowers in August when you are looking for a flower in the herb garden.  Just make sure you cut those flowers the minute they finish blooming or you will end up with a garden of garlic chives.  Leaves are very good in stir fries.  Mid range or front of the border.

Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata)  Zones 3-7  This is a good sugar substitute with an additional anise flavor.  It reminds me of tansy.  It does march along.  Not super invasive and it does like the shade.  It would be a good back of the border herb.

Bloody Dock (Rumex sanguineus) Zones 4-9  This is a red-veined sorrel.  It is very ornamental.  It does not have the lemony taste of regular sorrel.  Does well in water or by a pond.  It has gently spread itself throughout my garden and/or its seeds were composted and it has been spread that way.  Front of the border of your herb garden. 

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) Zones 3-10  Trying to give you herb flowers as well as just herbs.  This flower is a favorite of butterflies and the seedheads are loved by the finches and other birds in my garden.  They do get sown around by the wind and the birds.  One of my favorite flowers in the mid to late summer.  They are not just purple either.  Lots of color choices, but the granddad is the purple one.  Mid range for an herb border.  Two or three plants together make a nice stand of flowers.

Elecampane (Inula helenium) Zones 3-8  This is another big babe herb.  I have always wanted to grow this plant but haven't always been able to find it.  It has leaves similar to the mullein and the flowers are small and resemble a double sunflower.  It would be a back of the border herb.  It is used for dyeing and the root is used in the manufacture of absinthe.

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) Zones 4-9  I have trouble growing these flowers.  They do need some shade.  Although when I have grown them in shade, they reach for the sun.  They are a poisonous flower and are a source of digitalis, the heart drug.  They are a mid range flower in the herb garden.

Johnny-Jump-Up (Viola tricolor) Zones 4-9  Very front of the border.  Many gardeners get these to reseed in the garden.  I have not had that luck.  Love these little faces in the herb garden.  Need some shade to keep going into summer.  An edible flower and easy to start from seed.

Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) Zones 4-8  Horehound is a lovely little plant with gray pebbly leaves.  Make cough drops to help sooth your cough.  Front of the herb garden border.

Horseradish (Armorica rusticana) Zone 3-10  Horseradish was the 2011 Herb of the Year and can be very invasive in a garden.  You might to make a horseradish garden on its own.  It would be a perennial herb, but just be aware that it will take over the garden unless you control it either in a pot that is deep because you are harvesting the root or by exiling it to its own bed.  Has a beautiful flower in the second year.

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) Zone 3-9 Very aromatic and may be not in the best way.  Slightly bitter leaves used in soups or stews and with game meat.  I do love the tiny blue or white flowers around July 4th.  I would use it as a hedge in the front of the border.  I need to use this herb a bit more often.

Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) Zones 3-10  I have this in the back of the border.  It is another big boy herb!  It does alright in shade.  It is a native of the eastern US.  It has rosy purple flowers in the fall.  Richters catalog talks of when the leaves are crushed the smell is vanilla.  Another plus!

Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris)  Zones 3-8  This beautiful clumping herb is a beautiful addition to your herb garden.  It has chartreuse flowers.  The leaves are like little capes hence the name mantle.  I would use it in the front of the herb garden.

Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina) Zones 4-9  Wooly leaves that are a delight for children.  Were used as bandages for wounds.  Front of the herb garden for these.  Silvery leaf color is a nice contrast for other herbs in the garden.

Lavender 'Hidcote' or 'Munstead' (Lavandula angustifolia) Zones 4-8  These are two of the hardiest lavenders.  These lavenders are the ones I would recommend you use to cook with.  Any angustifolia cultivar would be edible.  The other lavenders are too camphorous and not hardy in Zone 4.  Mid range or front of the herb garden for these.

Spearmint (Mentha spicata)  Zones 3-8  Most mints are invasive.  If you don't want it everywhere in the garden, put it in a container.  Spearmint is one of my favorite mints.  Not as strong as peppermint.  Delicious in tea blends.  Richters calls it the best cooking mint.  There are tons of mints not all of them are hardy to Zone 3 or 4 so make sure you check before buying it.

Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) Zones 4-6  This is a bee magnet and very fragrant.  It is beautiful in fresh flower arrangements and it dries very nicely.  It can be used in the back of the border or mid border.  It does run but is not invasive like regular mints.

Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) Zones 3-10  I put this in because Janice loves this in the garden and Janice, I have good news that Richters in Canada sells seeds for a reasonable price.  Check it out through the link above.  I had this in my garden for quite a few years.  A beneficial insect magnet.  I would put this in the back or mid range part of your garden.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare dulce) or Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare dulce 'Rubrum') Zones 4-9  Both of these fennels can be used in cooking.  Regular fennel has green fronds and bronze fennel has purple ones.  I have had bronze fennel at various times.  Just cut the flower heads before they seed everywhere!  Use either of these in the back of the border.

Garden Sage (Salvia officinalis) Zones 4-9  I really love this species of herb.  Garden sage is so versatile.  It can be used for cooking or in potpourri or for an herb wreath.  I love the gray green leaves in contrast with other herbs.  I would use this herb in the mid range part of the herb garden.

Garden Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)  Zones 4-8  Mostly famously used in sorrel soup.  It is a spring herb that has a bright lemony flavor.  It has an interesting red flower spike that dries very well.  The leaf is shield shaped.  We use the small early leaves in our salads.  I would use this herb in the front of the herb garden.

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) I would find a place of exile for this herb.  It is used to repel ants and a couple of summers ago it was a haven for the various stages of the ladybug.  So it doesn't repel good insects!  Don't be too quick to get rid of this herb.  It has fern like leaves and can be in the back of the border but it does run so it can take over a bed if not careful.  Not for culinary purposes, but mothchasers can use a bit of tansy.  It has very nice yellow button flowers and I have made a very nice wreath with tansy at the end of the season.

French Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus sativa) Zones 3-7 This is the only tarragon to use in cooking.  It is not propagated by seed.  If you purchase tarragon seeds, you have the more inferior Russian tarragon.

English Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) Zones 4-9  This is the one thyme to have for cooking.  Silver Thyme (Thymus vulgaris 'Argenteus') Zones 4-8  I have some problems getting this through the winter.  Sharp drainage is key.  Lemon Thyme (Thymus x citriodorus) Zones 4-9 Can be creeping or upright.  I really love the flavor of this thyme.  Does it have anything to do with lemon?  Maybe.  Mother-of-Thyme (Thymus praecox) Zones 4-8  A very robust creeping thyme.  Used in cooking.  All thymes are good in the front of the border.
Other thymes may be hardy.  Need to check your zones.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) Zones 4-9 Fern shaped leaves and white flowers that have a very fragrant scent of vanilla.  I don't have this enough in my garden.  It needs a bit of shade in the heat of summer.

Well, this is my first take and I will probably be editing it as I find other choices.  I have tried to give you a variety of herbs.  Obviously these will work for you all in the middle and south of the US.

It is just crazy warm here.  Everything has started to bloom and the bad bugs are out!  I'm worried that we are just going to go into summer with very little spring!  Well, I will be adding other herbs as I go so I will put a link on my homepage.  If you think of an addition, let me know!  Talk to you later.   

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I Think I Have Found a Solution!

I apologize for not being around much.  I have found that moving the laptop to the TV is not conducive to my working on my blog.  So back to the dining room table I will go.  Too many distractions with the TV going.  You say how can that be when there isn't anything on TV, Lemon Verbena Lady? Well, we are getting down to the hockey playoffs and since Pitt was a bust in college basketball, I have nothing to watch there.  So I have been living and breathing hockey.  Don't want to jink the team, but they are playing very well at the moment.  I'll leave it at that.  I actually watched NHL:36 about James Neal TWICE!  How crazy is that?  Well, I really do get the easy end of the deal when The Herbal Husband is home.  Soo I have been a little crazy trying to get everyday tasks done.  It rains.  I can't feed the birds.  I started working out in the garden over the weekend.

Oh, almost forgot to talk about the photo.  Found a remedy for the cats pooping in the garden.  My master gardening friend, Shelley told me that cats don't like the smell of orange.  Easy enough.  Except for a time when we had snow cover and it melted and I didn't get out there with a new orange peel.:(  It has worked since then!  I just eat an orange a day and tear up the peel.  I think I will start replacing some of the old peel with new bits.  Try it if you are having the problem.  I also read that used coffee grounds works as well.  If this weren't working so well, I would go on over to Starbucks and load up!  So some of you may be waiting for the herb list and once I get situated back in the dining room I will give you a list.  The weather is too warm here at at the moment.  I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Warm and Windy!

We went from snow and cold to no snow and warm (in the 60's) and windy.  I have so much to do (as usual) that I'm just going to take one thing at a time.  I did a garbage patrol today because out front someone had dumped some drinks in what they might of thought was a garbage bin.  We had to put up a wire fence to keep out the dogs from leaving deposits.  It has worked for the dogs, but the humans need a little more training!  This is a great time to be weeding the grass out and trimming the herbs back.  My pineapple mint invades everywhere and I don't mind it too much.  I do try to control it at this time of year so that it doesn't become a problem later.  I also didn't get carried away because I don't want to be sore tomorrow!  I want to be able to get back out there and keep working!
It may not look like much but the mint survived above ground this winter more than any other year.  It will be easy to see where it needs to come out.  Hope you are having a good day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Another Favorite Catalog Arrived!

Some catalogs I don't receive every year if I don't buy anything from it.  Logee's is one of those catalogs.  They specialize in fruiting, rare and tropical plants.  I think I got a $25 gift certificate one year that I was a master gardener.  A great gift.  Logee's is a gem of a nursery in Danielson, Connecticut.  I was there 13 years ago with my herbal companion, Bonnie when we went on a Rosemary House bus trip.  Really if you get the chance to visit them, do it.  If you can't visit, you can order plants and enjoy exotic plants in your garden or house.  You can order your own catalog and they even have an e-mail newsletter.

Getting adjusted to life without The Herbal Husband.  Was chasing cats out of the bushes today.  Two cats sitting in the rhododendrons near the bird feeder in the front.  I can't make this stuff up!  Had five inches of snow this weekend.  Supposed to be 60 degrees by Wednesday. Hope you are having a good day.  My thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their homes and memories in the latest tornadoes!  Talk to you later.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Have to Wish Him a Happy Birthday!

Well, The Herbal Husband has turned another year older.  As I always say, I am the younger woman!  I made blueberry muffins and I will admit to forgetting to put in the baking powder!  Yikes!  I think I'm the older one when I do things like that.  Like every husband, he ate three muffins and pronounced them edible!  Wish the guy a good trip and a happy birthday, won't you?  Going to be in the 60's today with storms later!  Hope you have a great day.  Going to Friday's for dinner.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

One of My Favorite Herb Catalogs Has Arrived!

I know the world is OK if my Rosemary House herb catalog arrives in the mail.  It is very comforting to know that The Rosemary House started in 1968 is still going strong.  Bertha Reppert would be pleased.  They have great classes, bus trips, products, plants, gardens to visit and with Nancy and Sweet Remembrances they have special tea events going on all year.  They are two of my favorite rosemarys!  Remember The Rosemary House and Sweet Remembrances if you are in the area of central Pennsylvania near Gettysburg or Harrisburg.  It is worth a visit!  Hopefully my herb companion, Bonnie and I will be able to take a bus trip and have tea with Nancy later this summer!