Thursday, August 30, 2012

Stink Bugs Are Lurking!

I just wanted to alert you that if you have a stink bug infestation and you have a lemon verbena plant, this is probably what you are seeing in your garden.  Last year I wasn't paying attention and it really damaged this particular lemon verbena.  The one that came back from the ground.

Those darker brown cuts are the damage they do.  First it is the four lined plant bug in spring and then comes the Japanese beetles in early summer and the stink bugs are overlapping both of those pests!  It may be very bad before they come along with a parasitic wasp that will manage them!  Stay away from my lemon verbena!  A great day in the garden here in the 'Burgh.  Inside making grape juice for more jelly!  Hope you are having a great day.  Will share my birthday adventures in the next post.  Talk to you later.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Grapes Everywhere!

Our grapes have ripened.  Again, a bit early!  On Saturday we made grape juice and yesterday I made 53 glasses of grape jelly!  It was a long day and just as I thought I was done, I found one more container and had to make one more batch.  I have found over the years that trying to keep the juice passed one day doesn't work.  The juice crystalizes and becomes grainy.  I leave you now with a photo of one of my jelly jars.  It is my favorite of all of the jelly I make.  I have more grapes coming.  So there will be more jelly to make!  The stink bug has started to attack the same lemon verbena it did last year! Agh!  More on this later!
We are off to the movies later.  Don't know what we are seeing.  Is that blind faith or what?  Talk to you later.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Another Brief Bee Hive of Activity!

We were out in the garden the other day and were thinking about pulling out the arugula, but we just couldn't because of all of the bees that were swarming around.  It was fun to watch all of the activity so I thought you would enjoy it as well.  A beautiful day here in the 'Burgh.  Made some raspberry jam this morning.  Dusting books and bookcases this afternoon.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Guest Blogging for The Herb Companion Magazine!

Talking about my favorite herb this time for The Herb Companion, lemon verbena.  My post is called The Herbal Harvest:  3 Lemon Verbena Recipes.  If you like it, please click the like symbol at the top of the post.  I hope you enjoy it and I was totally surprised to find that lemon verbena leaves can be frozen.  I had it in the dim recesses of my memory that the leaves didn't freeze well.  That must have been some other herb.  As you will see in the post, they froze just fine.  Long term, unsure, but I will be making a lemon verbena bread throughout the fall and winter and will let you know if they worked.  I just don't like to use dried lemon verbena in a recipe.  It is just not the same.  Well, it is a beautiful day out there and I have a lot of trimming and weeding to do.  Sooo got to go.  Talk to you later.  I'll leave you with a photo of my English muffin spread with the Lemony Strawberry Butter from the post.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What Time Is It? It's Time for Four O'Clocks!

These flowers never bloom at four o'clock.  This was about 10:30 AM the other morning!  By now you understand that we have Peruvian influences in our garden and this is one of those.  They also have a slight fragrance which The Herbal Husband likes very much.  I think this is considered an old-fashioned garden plant. They are very easily planted because the seeds are particularly large.  Good for those small hands to plant and succeed.  These are volunteers and they seem happy in a semi-shaded space along the fence.  Well, it is another beautiful day.  We had our shopping and Panera lunch day.  Always a good thing.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Less Mowing! Yippee!

My dream has always been to get rid of the lawn mower someday!  Unfortunately it hasn't happened fast enough.  Although I started at about an hour and a half, almost two hours worth of mowing and I'm at around an hour.  Hoping for near zero in the next few years.  Hope you have had a great day.  Just submitted my next post of Herb Companion on my favorite, lemon verbena.  Some different recipes and one surprise that I didn't expect from a reader who had a question.  Weather is beautiful here in the 'Burgh.  Talk to you later.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Whatever Their Names Might Be They Are Still Sunflowers!

Planted by the Birds or by the Chipmunks
Planted with Seeds Purchased from Renee's Garden
Whether the birds or chipmunks planted the top sunflower, I'm not sure but we enjoy the goldfinches this time of year coming to pick off the seeds.
Goldfinch Working on Picking Seeds from Volunteer Sunflower
The dark sunflower in the second photo is from Renee's Garden and I think it is called 'Moulin Rouge.'  It might be 'Chocolate' though.  We didn't make a map after we planted them.  We did stick sticks into the ground with names on them, but they can get moved about as they grow.  I might just have to send this photo to Renee for a decision!  Any way we love them whatever their names might be.  Remember sunflower petals are edible.  You can cook the buds like artichokes, but then you won't have any flowers.  Just eat the petals.  Got to get my post set up for The Herb Companion.  Beautiful day here in the 'Burgh!  Have a great day!  Talk to you later!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Beautiful Day at Garden in the Park-North Park Edition

It was a great day for the Garden in the Park for both parks.  I was at the North Park edition and really want to applaud every master gardener who put their time and energy into the event.  It was really a great day.  My master gardener friend, Shelley and I answered the public's questions pretty much nonstop.  Shelley a bit more than me.  My photos don't do the gardens justice.  They are beautifully manicured and watered gardens.  The sign for the Demonstration Garden mentions that it is a pollinator friendly garden.  My goodness is that a correct phrase.  Pollinators everywhere.  Nancy Knauss has done an beautiful job organizing the master gardeners as a group and keeping them motivated to work at their maximum output!  It was great to see old friends and meet some new faces.  Job well done!  It is a beautiful day here in the 'Burgh!  Hope you are having a good one.  Talk to you later.

80th Division Monument Transformed with an Herb Garden Surrounding It
Some of the Annuals in the Demonstration Garden
I Remember When This Sign Was First Installed
Sorry Had to Put My Favorite in the Photos!
This Spider Had Something Trapped in its Web!

People Enjoying the Tasting Booths, Basil, Tomatoes & Garlic!
Looks Like Everyone Enjoyed the Day!
Today's Table & Tomorrow's Garden

Friday, August 17, 2012

Nasturtiums Are Going Crazy!

We had The Herbal Husband's famous guacamole the other day and here were the nasturtiums waiting to be filled with avocado goodness.  Really this is the time of the year that the nasturtiums shine or bloom with reckless abandon!  I'm getting ready to test my Master Gardener skills at Garden in the Park, a local event at two of our county parks in Allegheny County.  I have been meaning to show you something I purchased last summer when we were in France.
A Nasturtium Funnel with a Lady Bug on the Rim!

Here's the Underside!
I think it is very cute, don't you?  Hope you have had a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Cool Insect in the Garden

This is a tachinid fly.  It is absolutely in love with the variegated mint flowers on our patio.  I don't think I will talk about its cute hairy butt or may be I should.  Better not!  I can see the Google searches now!  There are like 1,500 species of tachinids that provide biological control in your garden.  That is why it is so critical to avoid chemicals if you can.  When I was an active master gardener, I was always reminding the callers that the bad bugs are only about 2 or 3 percent of the total insect population.  I know most of you don't even think about spraying these days, but on the off chance you do, think about all of the good insects that are trying to get those bad insects under control.  Quiet day here.  The Herbal Husband is taking a well deserved break from the garden.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I Thought This Was Going to the Compost!

2009 Bay Was the Herb of the Year!

Last Year Looking Like It Was on the Way Out!

Look At All of These New Shoots!
This poor tortured bay tree.  We have one that is in its 20's and going strong.  Then there is this one that has had scale every year and we have cleaned every leaf and moved it outside to do its thing.  We didn't get it out as soon as I would have like this year.  It is making a big comeback at the moment.  Saving its leaves from being composted!  Just like that fig we planted in the ground earlier!  It is getting it together!  I will leave you with a post I did on the bay laurel from 2009 when it was the herb of the year.  Bay is a wonderful plant to grow, really it is!  Cooler weather.  Fall weather before fall.  Hope you are having a great day!  Talk to you later.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Path is Back!

So Glad to Have the Path Back!

This Area Still Looks Overgrown, but It is So Much Better!

Viburnum x burkwoodii
Our weather has turned decidedly like the Pacific Northwest!  It is cool and cloudy!  We complain when it is too hot and now it has gone the other way.  Just wanted to show you the finished product.  We are going to move some big hostas to this area as well because of the shade of the apple tree.  Hopefully we can tackle the front garden as well.   So hope you are having a great weekend wherever you may be.  Oh, Hope Springs is great!  Really has a lot of laughs.  Steve Carell as the therapist is very good.  I think you will like it.  It was packed.  Good to finally see a good movie and that lots of other people were out to see it as well.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Bee Hive of Activity!

Well, we are going to try another video!  This was yesterday and I was working on the maintenance path and very close to the mountain mint and the humming sound was wonderful.  So hopefully you will get a sense of how great it was.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Fourth Blogging Anniversary!

I can hardly believe that it has been four years today that I started my blogging journey.  Here is my very first post.  Not much to look at!  I have been very blessed to "meet" such wonderful people during this blogging experience.  I hope that you have learned a bit about herbs and I hope in the coming year you'll learn a bit more.  This photo represents a more wacky looking herb garden this year.  I'm a bit of a control freak and letting the mullein and volunteer sunflower grow are both not me.  Then there is this 'African Blue' basil in the left front corner that really should be in a container, but isn't!  OK, OK!  I'm just taking a deep breath and letting it go!  But basically I have loved guest blogging for Herb Companion.  You can take an herbal vacation without leaving your house with this latest post called Herbal Travels:  Visiting Gardens During My Herbal Vacation and hope to continue blogging for them for many years to come.  I also promised a giveaway and once I get that organized, I'll post the prizes and there will be some for the US readers and some for the World readers.  Postal rates are just skyrocketing, but I want to include something for everyone!
So I'll leave you with a look at the back garden.  We are slightly preoccupied with the Olympics at the moment.  All those covered bikinis on the "beach" at the Horse Guards Parade!  We got mulch and peat moss for the reclaimed garden in the back.  Maybe photos later in the week.  Hopefully, you are having a great day!  Talk to you later.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My Tribute to Kary!

Kary Loved Apples and Making Pie!  My First Apple Pie of the Season!

My Feet and Shoes Aren't As Pretty As Hers!
Well, my heart is breaking today because I read in Sharon Lovejoy writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island that Kary from My Farmhouse Kitchen has passed away.  It just leaves me breathless to say that.  She popped up on my blog comments a couple of years ago.  I cherished every time she stopped by.  I got caught up in her beautiful photos and recipes, her dear poodles, Buddy and Teddy, her kitty, Dandelion and her dear husband, John.  She loved the seasons and fall was one of her favorite times of the year because of the apples.  Well, I didn't plan this and I didn't know she had gone before I made it, but I made an apple pie with our apples for Kary today.  Oh, the photo of the feet and shoes was when she was cooking in her kitchen.  My tribute to you my blogging friend.  I know you are without pain and I hope to meet you at a farm stand buying apples one day.  RIP.  Talk to you later.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Garden Tag with a Colorado Connection!

Reclaiming That Maintenance Path!
A Plant Tag with a Peruvian Connection!

A Colorado Nursery Tag in a Pennsylvania Garden!
When I got online this afternoon, I was pleased that Bernideen from Bernideen's Tea Time Blog was having an "Open House" and invited me to participate.  So Bernideen, you won't believe it when I tell you that in reclaiming a maintenance path in the garden and some garden space, we dug up this tag from the previous owner.  We have been in this house 23 years!  It has both a Peruvian (four o'clock flowers) and a Colorado connection.  The plant was from a nursery called Little Valley Wholesale Nursery in Brighton, Colorado!  The plant is long gone, but the nursery still is in existence!  It's Kismet, Bernideen!  One day we're going to meet Bernideen!  I'm looking forward to it!  Hope you all have had a great summer day!  It is hotter than you know here in the 'Burgh.  We are supposed to get some relief in rain and temperature tomorrow.  Talk to you later.

Friday, August 3, 2012

This Plant Got a Big Trim!

The Herbal Husband really wanted some of his bamboo sticks for other areas.  Sooo he give the peppermint geranium a big trim!  I am drying the leaves he cut.
I think I will use them in tea blends or in potpourri.  We are still working on reclaiming part of the garden.  It's supposed to be in the 90's AGAIN!  Getting tiresome.  I can imagine the folks who are in the 100's aren't happy either.  OK, got to run and keep clearing and cleaning up.  Will give you some photos over the weekend.  Stay cool!  Talk to you later.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Swallowtails Everywhere!

Been working hard in the garden trying to reclaim another section where some invasive shrubs had taken over.  The Herbal Husband did most of the digging and I did most of the cleaning up.  A slight diversion above the swallowtail butterflies have been everywhere.  Lots of fun to watch!  Hope you have had a good day.  Talk to you later.