Tuesday, March 25, 2014

We Went A Little Nuts Here for The Herbal Husband's Favorite and A Death in the Herbal Family!

My Favorite Going a Bit Crazy!
The Herbal Husband Got Carried Away!
Well, once again, we were given the dilemma of what to do with the lemon verbena.  You know instead of clipping leaves throughout the winter which is what should have been done, we wait until now!  The favorite insects of lemon verbena indoors are spider mites and white flies.  We had one of the two, the white flies!  Spraying the plant with insecticidal soap would take care of the bad guys.  We have just chosen to freeze the heck of them to banish them as described below.  So we got it out of the windowsill and went to town.  Probably not a good thing, but The Herbal Husband is having his favorite lemon verbena bread  (The reference to going nuts in the post title.) and I'm getting several cups of lemon verbena tea!  A couple of good things!  I put a couple of Chinese takeout soup containers full of lemon verbena leaves in the freezer to kill any hangers on.  A couple of hours should do the trick.  As we like to say, we get a little more protein some times!  So giving a trim to an indoor herb is not always the best plan. 
The Tender Lavender Was Overwatered and Over Trimmed!
When The Herbal Husband went to Peru in November last year, I took VERY good care of this tender lavender!  I say this all of the time.  When two gardeners have two different styles, it can be a problem when it comes time to watering.  When he came back, he overwatered it and to compensate, he drastically cut it back to try and save it and it died!  I don't have a photo of the end result because it was too heartbreaking.  I was so proud of myself that I didn't kill it and then this happens.  So clip along the way and don't get into a situation that you have to cut it way back and hope it will come back.  Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don't!  Hopefully the lemon verbena will raise to the occasion and start producing new leaves!

We are still cold here in the 'Burgh and that four letter word that I've come to hate, SNOW is coming later.  Not much, but just enough to whiten the ground and make the commute home tricky!  Hope you are having a great day!  Talk to you soon!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Just Asking to be Uncovered!

These Daffodils Were Only Slightly Covered!
These May Still Take Awhile to Bloom!
You Can Barely See These Trying to Pop Out From the Leaves!
These Need to Get Some Light!
These Are Trying to Get Out!
I Can't Remember What These Are!

The Chives This Year Need a Bit of Help!

I just looked at a spring post from last year and it wasn't until late April that we had Daffs in the 'Burgh!  The thermometer says 50 degrees, but the wind is still blowing and I had to have a winter jacket on to take these photos.  So I would say if we warm up late April is about when these will bloom, but we have work to do first!  We have had one of the coldest winters and now I think spring will just follow and not warm up right away.  A couple of years ago my chives were in bud in April!  I called my post Even These Are a Bit Early!  I know, I know!  Once it does warm up the plants especially the daffodils and the chives in the herb garden will be growing and blooming like crazy!  Did I mention it has been a very long winter?  Yes, I guess I have.

Seems I can't read fast enough nor get posts together these days.  Brain freeze!  So I will continue to post when there is something to talk about.  It may get busy here shortly, but we are going back down in temperature for the foreseeable future.  It is March in the 'Burgh.  Just looking for a sign that spring is here and it isn't quite yet!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Seed Order Has Arrived!

One of My Favorite Seed Companies, Renee's Garden Seeds!
We really didn't go overboard in ordering seeds mainly because we still have a nice selection from last year.  We do always have to have new nasturtium and sunflower seeds.  The Herbal Husband loved our cilantro (or as he says coriander) production last year and it was from Renee's Garden Seeds.  They have a beautiful website.  I found 'Sungold' tomatoes which are my favorite and I also bought a 'Pepperbox' poppy.  In case you can't read the packets, here they are:

'Slow Bolt' Cilantro
'Alaska Mix' Nasturtiums
'Whirlybird' Nasturtiums
'Cup of Sun' Nasturtiums (Very productive)
'Vanilla Berry' Nasturtiums
'Pepperbox' Poppy
'Lemon Queen' Sunflower
'Royal Flush' Sunflower
'Van Gogh' Sunflower
'Sungold' Tomatoes

We are closing in on the first day of spring in the coming week and we are still in the up and down pattern that is generally March!  The sun is out today, but the wind is still blowing.  Hopefully we can get sun and some warmer temperatures without the wind soon.  We have a lot of clean up work and it is just piling up!  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Amazing Annuals--Master Gardener Style!

One of the Zinnias That Gives The Pollinators Food!
Beautiful Colorful Zinnias!
Butterfly Bushes Attracting Butterflies!
This Butterfly Bush Has Attracted Tiger Swallowtails!
Globe Amaranth or Gomphrena Can Be Dried for Arrangements!
'Coral Nymph' Salvia
An Overall View of the Garden!
The Black and White Garden!
A Closeup of the Black and White Garden!
How Did He Get in the Photo?  He Should Have Been a Master Gardener!
The Master Gardeners in Allegheny County don't always get the credit they deserve.  This is last season's demonstration garden at North Park.  My buddy, Lyn Lang has written an article highlighting the annuals that made a difference last year in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called Amazing annuals.  Trying to get our  juices flowing for this gardening season.   She talks about different varieties of annuals and I tossed in a couple of photos of the butterfly bushes they are growing.  I also wanted to mention for the gardeners in the Pittsburgh area, she gives the names of the nurseries who graciously donate plants to the demonstration gardens during the growing season.  So please patronize them when you are looking for annuals to prolong the growing season.

I don't grow enough annuals in our garden and some of them I used to grow like the globe amaranth are some of my favorites.   The demonstration garden has grown and become a destination for the bees and butterflies thanks to all of the flowers and herbs grown for the pollinators.  The master gardeners also show you how to plant a bed with a color scheme like the black and white garden.  The combination of plants used was very interesting.  If you live in the Pittsburgh area especially the north or south hills, please visit the demonstration gardens in the summer.  You will see and learn about annuals and perennials that maybe you haven't seen before.   It is a true learning experience.   Each August there is an event called Garden in the Park at both gardens, both north and south.  A great family event!  Checkout the extension website later this year for details.

That last photo is of The Herbal Husband and his favorite plant in the demonstration garden, the golden pineapple sage.  This was more than one plant, but I'm going to have to ask Lyn where they got it!   It looks like a must have in my herb garden!   I mentioned that The Herbal Husband should have been the master gardener, but I think some of his gardening ideas would have turned the program upside down!  The Latin master gardener!  And please don't encourage him to start his own program!  He is retired and too busy working in our garden to start the Latin master gardener program!

I sure hope you are warmer than we are in the 'Burgh!  We are going from 20's to 50's tomorrow.  An up and down March.  A little more extreme than normal but still March.   Working on a couple of posts.  Reading takes a lot of time for me, but it is enjoyable.  I will share my thoughts soon.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Gourmet Lunch!

Getting Low on Frozen Herbs!
Some Pretty Tired Parsley!
Chive Muffins and Parsley Dill Soup!
One of My Favorite Cookbook Collections from the Culinary Artist, Nancy Reppert!
The title of this post came from The Herbal Husband.  He came down to have lunch and I surprised him with chive muffins from Nancy Reppert's Sweet Remembrances Recipe Collection.  He already loves Nancy's afternoon teas at Sweet Remembrances Tearoom.  Oh, I mean he loves her scones and of course, everything else about afternoon tea.  He always hopes that when Bonnie and I have tea with Nancy, I will bring him home a box of scones!  No chance!  They come out of the oven warm and Bonnie and I never wait to eat them.  We always have them first when we have tea.  But I digress.

Every winter season I always say I'm going to make more soup and I don't.  So I wanted to end winter with an herbal bang.  I found some parsley that had been hanging around in the freezer for a while and needed to be used.  Here is our favorite parsley dill soup recipe and to go with it, Nancy's Chive Muffin Recipe.  I know you will enjoy them.  The Herbal Husband had to have several so my share has been reduced!  So with her kind permission, here is Nancy's recipe.

Chive Muffins
Yield:  1 Dozen
2 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1/4 c. dried chives (I used frozen.)
1 T. sugar
1 T. brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c. milk
1/4 c. margarine, melted

Combine flour, baking powder, chives (if using dried) and both sugars.  Mix well.  In another bowl, combine egg, milk and margarine.  (Because my chives were a bit wet, I put them into the wet ingredients.)  Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.  Spoon batter into a greased muffin tin.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned.  (I baked mine for 17 minutes and they were perfect.)

Truly Nancy is a culinary artist and loves to play with food.  Which is a very good thing!  Her book would make a great Easter gift or for Mother's or Father's Day.  I have gotten a lot of cold winter days this season to have soup and bread!  In nine days or so, I hope someone flips the switch and we get warm weather with a lot of sun!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be!  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Looking for Any Sign of Green, Herbally Speaking!

Have to Start with Deer Poop!
Mache for Salad!
Mountain Mint Thriving!

Mullein in a Good Place!

The Rosemary Santolina Took a Hit!
Well, we had a nice warm day here in the 'Burgh!  You know it isn't going to last especially this season.  We are ALL tired of winter here, but tomorrow we are going to get more snow.  It will come first as rain so by the end of the day, we will get a couple of inches of slushy snow.  Not my favorite.  Could bring a power outage.  Although we have not had one power outage all winter.  Quick knock on wood!

So on this beautiful day, I decided to trek to the middle range of the garden to see what might be green and see what the deer have been browsing.  So you see above some of our green that has already come out.  We have a lot to clean up, but I enjoy it.  It is my favorite time of year.  I think we have lost a lot of plants, but never fear The Herbal Husband says we can get new ones!  Yippee!  We will see when we actually find what is alive later on.  So hopefully  you have had a great day wherever you may be.  Spring can't come soon enough, but not yet!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cliveden House with Ros in England in 2013-Part Two!

Always Have to Start with Herbs and Veggies!
The Grand Entrance to Cliveden House!
The Fountain of Love on the Grand Avenue!
A Lunch of Spring Vegetable Risotto for Ros!

A Ham Salad for Me!
Cliveden House from the Lawn!
The Parterre Designed by John Fleming in 1855!
Wisteria Blooming in the Walled Garden!
The Bedding Plants Just Getting Started!
A Japanese Influenced Pond!
Ros and I Enjoying Our Day Together!
A Perfect End to Our Day, The Cottage Bookshop!
As I hope you can see from the photos above, Ros and I had a fabulous time at Cliveden House!  We enjoyed our lunch at the cafe there and walked the grounds and just had a great time chatting and spending time together.  We did end the day at a bookshop near her house.  Of course, I found a few books that I did not have in my collection.  We went back to her home and had a light supper of my favorite, chicken and salad.  I got to meet her husband, Mike and their son, Tim.  They showed off the robot they were working on.   Sophie, their daughter is studying chants at the University of Bristol and Tim was going to study the cello at University of Cardiff!  Ros is the glue that keeps this family together!  They are a very special family.  So blessed to have met them and I hope to see them on a future visit!  I got this postcard of one of my favorite English flowers, bluebells.  Hope to get to see them one day!

Bluebells among the beech trees of Dockey Wood at Cliveden!
Believe it or not I have a couple more posts about my 2013 visit to England!  I'll get to those soon.  It has been a windy day but mild here in the 'Burgh!  Hope you have had a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

It Started with a Seed Packet and Postcard! My Visit with Ros in England in 2013-Part One!

Blogger friends come and go in our lives I have discovered.  This postcard and seed packet arrived a couple of years ago from my blogging friend, Ros from Rosa-Munda.  She got my packet of seeds from Renee's Garden Seeds for catmint that I got from entering my cat photo in their contest.  Not having a cat (only the outdoor kind), I thought that Ros would enjoy the catmint for her cat.  So a friendship was born.  When I decided to go to England last year, she kindly said that she would love to meet me during my visit.

The Postcard and Seed Packet from Ros!
As you may recall, I met Debs from Herbal Haven early in my 10-day trip and wrote about our visit in two posts, one called My Day in Derby with Debs, Simon and One Very Entertaining Cat! and the second one called Derby Part Two--Herb Plant and Book Collector and Poppy!  I blogged through most of the trip in 2013 except for my wonderful day with Ros.  So here is our adventure together.

What I love most about England is that a train ride whether short or long gets you to your destination.  It is always an adventure.  I even went passed Wembley Stadium.  It is massive as the English like to say.  Ros was waiting at the station when I got there.  We started off with the cup of tea and a tour of her gardens.

Lovely Front Bed Full of Flowering Shrubs!
Raised Beds of Veggies!
Ros is Lucky to Have a Greenhouse As Well!
Her Cat Posing Just for Me!
A Very Tranquil Setting with Herbs Near Her Patio!
Her Pet Rabbits!
Ros has a very traditional English garden for me, long and narrow, but still with room for lots of different plants and yet cozy.  When reviewing my photos, I didn't take any of her herbs around the patio.  Maybe you can just tell in the long shot of her garden, the chives are coming into flower!  She also has the pink flowered comfrey which is what I need!  I have the purple flowered one which may take over the garden some day soon!

When we first talked about our visit, Ros mentioned John Milton's Cottage and gardens and Cliveden House.  I said I thought I would like to do both!  Fortunately Ros was up for doing both.  So here is John Milton's Cottage and gardens first and I'll do a post on Cliveden House in the coming days.  We also stopped at the Quaker Meeting House that was in the neighborhood of John Milton's Cottage because it is the burial place of William Penn and a Victorian/Edwardian House called Oak Lodge.

John Milton's Neighbors
Decorative Touches Throughout the Garden!
A Sundial and Topiary Shrubs!
A Rustic Arbor Makes a Destination in the Garden!
A Plan of John Milton's Cottage Garden!

William Penn is Buried at the Quaker Meeting House in England!

Oak Lodge!
Very Ornate Building, Oak Lodge!
So Ros warned me about the host or guide at John Milton's Cottage.  He is quite a character.  I really knew very little about Milton and his life except for some of his writings including Paradise Lost.  The guide was very informative but he asked questions that I had no idea what the answers might be.  Fortunately we had a grad student join us and he got most the questions answered.  We were making our way from room to room and ended in the dining room.  There was a leather bound book on the table entitled The Friends of Milton's Cottage.  I opened the book and I couldn't believe my eyes.  There was the signature of my next door neighbor from my childhood!  He and his family had given a contribution in the 1970's to repair the cottage roof.  I think my visit with Ros was meant to be.  Then when I told the guide and he asked where I was from, Pennsylvania, he asked if we had seen William Penn's grave site.  He thought it was a must.  So when we got a chance (more people came into the cottage), we ducked out the back door to enjoy the garden.  A wider lot but with seating and vignettes of plantings to enjoy and of course, you can't miss the neighbors in the field.

We headed over to the Quaker Meeting House and walked among the gravestones of William Penn, his wife and five children.  We also saw the grave of Thomas Ellwood who was the editor of George Fox's Journal and a reader for John Milton when he became blind.  My mother's middle name before she was married to my father was Elwood.  Not the same spelling, but you understand that it was a surprise to see the name in connection with William Penn.

Ros also thought I would enjoy seeing Oak Lodge.  It seemed to be a Victorian/Edwardian house.  What a great shop or restaurant it would be.  Really love the old architecture in England.  Here in America we are so likely to demolish than save buildings.  So this was Part One of my adventure with Ros.  Part Two will be our afternoon at Cliveden House!  Please stay tuned.

We have finally had a mild day or two here in the 'Burgh!  Hope you having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.