Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's Travel Thursday--Off to Spain!

This is our friends' home outside Malaga on the Costa del Sol. The Herbal Husband's classmate from 50 years ago lives with his wife and their three dogs and enjoys life! It is a beautiful place with almond and olive trees, and we really understand why they came here to live. The views are breathtaking! You will see the one behind this curtain later today! Waking up to the view below was a fabulous bonus! The Herbal Husband and I are very lucky people and we enjoyed that view each and every day were we with our friends! I hope you look forward to my next travel post.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What is This Herb? Guest Blogging for The Herb Companion Magazine!

Here is the link to my latest posting for The Herb Companion magazine. Please take a guess what the herb is in the photo before you go to the link. The picture is from the herb garden at Villandry in France. You won't believe it!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Believe it or Not!

We are trying to grow grass! I know it's hard to believe! Our street was repaved late last year. Our front yard was not level with the street. It was the only really "nice" (I use that term loosely) grass we have left. The paving crew dumped topsoil and threw grass seed, but it didn't take. Frankly, I was too tired to try and get it started then! Fall though is the best time to plant grass seed! I know this answering people's questions about grass when I take calls on Gardenline. I guess it hasn't sunk in yet after ten years! I'm interested in more varied plantings! Good excuse. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it! Send positive energy this way, PLEASE!

Monday, April 27, 2009

In Record Time!

A lot of years these are still in the garage at the end of the season! Here they are all put together ready to go in the garden before May even gets started! I think a little pressure is a good thing for us! Happy Birthday Miss C!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Favorite Spring Passalongs!

The plant above I think is a perennial forget-me-not (Brunnera macrophylla). It was dug up for me in Ohio when I went for an herb buying trip many years ago. It has self-sowed around the front garden in a good way! The plant below is Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica) and was given a piece by my neighbor and herbal companion. It got a good chewing by a rabbit its first year. Then we caged it and it has survived by our picket fence. It does sucker, but it has beautiful green stems in the spring and these beautiful single flowers. It brightens the cloudy spring days! It was another hot one in the 'Burgh! 88 on the thermometer! Hope you had a great Sunday where you are!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hot, Hot, Hot in the 'Burgh!

It was a record hot day today in the 'Burgh! 87 degrees! The garden is greening up nicely. We worked on getting weeds out and plants cut back. I mowed for the first time. The grass was a little long! The apple tree is in bloom. It is just beautiful this time of year. Hope you enjoyed the weather where you are.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Herbal Moving Day!

Well, it is finally done! The Herbal Husband and I moved all of the germander and santolina that was in this bed out! We moved some small boxwoods Buxus microphylla 'Morris Midget' from one of my favorite herb farms (that isn't going away!) Mulberry Creek Herb Farm into this space. I think it looks really good. I'm going to add some dwarf santolinas to fill in the spaces and keep them clipped this time! The linear leaf thyme that is in the concrete container looks a little sparse because it was shaded by the santolina. Well, hope you enjoyed the day wherever you may be!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Travel Thursday--Afternoon Tea At the Lanesborough!

It's OH MY GOSH time! One of my favorite afternoons in London was at the Lanesborough Hotel for tea! The Herbal Husband said I don't think I have ever been pampered like that before! It is very ritzy! Our friend and tearoom owner, Nancy Reppert, who owns Sweet Remembrances Tearoom, recommended the Lanesborough. You didn't let us down, Nancy! As you can see the lobby flowers were amazing!

Mango and Passion Fruit with cream to start! Then we had a Stilton Cheese and Red Onion Tart. Very good.
This is our whole tea tray. It was very lovely. Here are some of the choices. (I wish they had had a menu!) The bottom plate contained the tea sandwiches: tuna mayo and caraway seed bread, cheddar and chutney on onion bread, curried egg salad on white bread, sundried tomato bread with cucumber and cream cheese and smoked salmon on a roll. Delish!!!! The middle plate had an apricot cheesecake (I don't think I got mine!), lemon poppyseed bread and carrot bread with crushed nuts. The top plate had a chocolate surprise, caramelized banana tower and hazelnut cake. YUMMY!

Then the Herbal Husband couldn't wait to try the clotted cream (it's his middle name). So here come the scones and tea cakes. Nancy, your scones are still the best! Of course, there were endless cups of Lanesborough Afternoon Blend tea poured from a lovely teapot! With the piano music in the background it was a lovely afternoon of tea at the Lanesborough Hotel. Next time, our hotel in London.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Just did a presentation for the Perennial Garden Club about Herbal Kitchen Gardens. I will tease you by telling you to check out my guest blog next week for The Herb Companion magazine. It is related to this talk. I will give you a link when it is up. Definitely a great audience and a fabulous lunch! Thank you ladies for a great day. Also in the small world department I worked with the husband of the woman who hosted us today when I was a legal secretary! It was nice to catch up with their lives. So enjoy this earth today and take care of it, you never know how long we have to enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Early Figs!

I can't believe our figs have baby figs! It is unbelievable! Mid April! They may drop before they mature, but it is exciting! The weather is cool and rainy, but mid 70's by the end of the week. So goes April.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Neighbor Gave Me These

My neighbor gave me these after Mother's Day one year. Most of the time when you get a Mother's Day gift of bulbs, they do not bloom again. I guess these little guys weren't done. I think they are a species tulip. Hope you enjoy them!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mowing of the Grasses!

Yesterday morning was a beautiful time for the mowing of the grasses. This year I came to my senses and we borrowed our neighbor's hedge clippers. It went soooo much better! I knew about this, but every year HAND CLIPPED them! What was I thinking!!!! I wasn't!
By early afternoon, it looked like this and by later in the day this!I think we are going to invest in our own clippers for next season. It is the only way to take care of this gardening job.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Look Who's Back!

"Our Cat" was out sunning itself yesterday morning! It was enjoying itself until it spotted me taking a photo. Then it split over the fence, but gave me a parting shot!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Good Herbal Friendship!

Yesterday I spent with my herbal friends of the Piccadilly Herb Club. I was a past president of the evening group a long time ago. Then I needed to be in my own garden more so I changed course. This was the lunchtime table. Loaded with delicious sandwiches, cookies and pineapple upside down cake. Thought that was more than enough and then the speaker, Jason Culp brought more!

Jason is the executive chef of The Pines Tavern and it was where the Herbal Husband and I had our wedding reception almost 22 years ago! Well, what makes the Pines so special is that Jason is growing his own produce in a garden across the street from the restaurant. I'm going to go out there some day soon and have a little lunch and take some pictures so you all can see it.

Unbelievably, he brought their famous crabcakes with herb aioli sauce. YUMMO! There was also a beautiful garden herb salad with lots of different herbs, spinach and arugula, with a Dijon Vinaigrette. It was an herbal feast for all of the senses!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's Travel Thursday--A Sea of Humanity!

Saturdays on Portobello Road in London. One of my favorite things we do when we are in London. You hear every language imaginable. The shops you see here are open most days and I actually like the shops better than the Saturday stallholders who sell antiques and all kinds of new stuff. They are renovating the stallholders and upping leases and rearranging things. It was still a lot of fun and I will give you links to the shops that are pictured here.

Octopus is an fun shop with a range of gift items. (Sorry it doesn't have a website.) When I was there in 2005 I bought a hot pink watering can purse. I know you don't believe it, but it's true. I'll take a picture of it some day soon and post it with this post. Blenheim Books is a lovely bookshop with inspiration for architects, gardeners, designers and children. The Spice Shop is a small shop loaded with herbs and spices. The smells are out of this world! A true delight for me! There were even bay standards for sale. Hope you enjoy the virtual visit! The world converges on Portobello Road.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Herbal Trough Report

The picture to the left was my herbal trough in July of last year. I had planted a Victorian rosemary, a compact sage and a 'Moonlight' thyme. The only survivor from living in our basement over the cold winter is the Victorian rosemary (Westringia fruticosa), a native of Australia. Have to get a couple of herbal additions and trim the rosemary up for the season. Summer can't come soon enough!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Favorite Peruvian Dish

Two of the Herbal Husband's favorite foods are on the plate to the left, beans and rice. He even likes burned rice at the bottom of the pot! He spiced the rice up with a little turmeric, organic peas and red pepper. Curcuma longa or turmeric comes from the Arabic kurkum, meaning saffron, a yellow dye. The plant is grown in India, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. It is a dark yellow powder, tasting similar to ginger, slightly bitter and pungent, gives a pleasant flavoring and a golden yellow color to food. The color is long-lasting, the flavor is fleeting, so it is used in small amounts. Turmeric is one of nine standard ingredients of Indian curry (the others being ginger, cardamon, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, cloves, pepper and cinnamon). It is also used as dyeing materials and leathers. I found this information in Simon & Schuster's Guide to Herbs and Spices. I have always thought it strange that beans and rice are on the same plate. The Herbal Husband told me that in the 17th century Chinese coolies were brought over to Peru to work in the fields and rice was grown. Always learning something new!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Guest Blogging for The Herb Companion Magazine!

Here is the link for my latest blog at the Herb Companion website. All about our visit to this wonderful herbal clinic in Peru. Hope you enjoy it!

Look What I Found in the Garden!

A TOAD! I was busy cutting perennials back in the front garden on Saturday and out came Mr. Toad with a handful of sticks! I put him in a safe place, but now that we have the cat issue, I hope they don't enjoy toad! I looked out this morning and he is tucked away staying quiet at the moment. WHOO HOO! Don't needlessly use chemicals in your garden, please!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

The Herbal Husband and I and my bunny from my childhood wish you a very Happy and blessed Easter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Cotton Tree in Time for Easter!

We are a little wild and crazy this time of year! The sparrows live in the ivy that grows up the front and sides of our house. It's taking over! The Herbal Husband loves to put cotton in this honeysuckle bush that we have formed into a tree. The sparrows love the cotton to soften their nests almost as much as their food each day in the spring. Hope you are enjoying this beautiful spring day wherever you may be!

Friday, April 10, 2009

We Always Do This!

The Herbal Husband planted our seeds yesterday! He always makes a map of bed so we remember (that's getting harder) what we planted! Hopefully the empty bed will soon be full of radishes, spinach, beets, coriander, kale, sorrel, arugula, lettuce and dill! Hope you have started a garden wherever you may be! Gardening is a great thing to do whether you are old or young!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's Travel Thursday--Royal School of Needlework, V & A Museum and The National Gallery

I spent a lovely afternoon taking a tour with Jessica, a graduate of the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace, the former home of King Henry VIII. The School has a very small section in the Palace and could use a little more room! Their collection comprises 60,000 pieces plus of embroidery of all shapes and sizes. We saw a tiny fraction of that collection that was displayed on the walls and saw work in progress on both new and preservation of old pieces. There were ladies on our tour that come once a year. Wish that could be me! The staff was anxiously awaiting the UPS truck for a delivery of material for a commission piece for Dover Castle. Have my fingers crossed that you get the commission work finished!

As you can see below, it was a little too early for the magnificant gardens, but they were getting ready for the season.

The next day the Herbal Husband and I went to the Victoria & Albert Museum in the morning and the National Gallery in the afternoon. Here are a couple of pictures from the V & A collection of textiles. Truly another amazing collection of embroidery!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Catching Up on My Favorite Mysteries

Here are my two favorite authors, Susan Wittig Albert and Laura Childs and their latest paperback releases. They, of course, have a hardcover installment that is out at the same time. Susan Albert's latest is Wormwood and Laura Childs' is Oolong Dead. They write about other topics. I just happen to love herbs and tea. OK? Pretty soon there will be no more paper books I fear! I read Laura Childs on the plane coming back from England. I love the adventures of Theodosia Browning and the Indigo Tea Shop she owns in Charleston, South Carolina. Then there are the adventures of China Bayles in Pecan Springs, Texas by Susan Albert. I have said before that China is living my life except for all of the dead bodies! Loved The Silver Needle Murder and have just started Nightshade and will let you know how it is. Susan is just starting out on her book signing trip around the eastern half of the US. I have met her a couple of times. If you haven't, try to hear her if she is in a town near you. The links are their official websites. Well it's one of Susan's sites. She has a lot. Enjoy!