Friday, July 31, 2009

It's Travel Friday--Our Home Town!

I have been talking about far away places in my other travel postings. I decided to go local in this one and talk about Pittsburgh, PA. Everyone has the impression that Pittsburgh is a smoky city or the steel city and those definitions are furthest from the truth! Here it is on a beautiful May day this year.
We always take company up Mt. Washington on the incline. The incline is two cars that travel in opposite directions and travel up and down the mountain. Commuters use it every day, but it is an excellent way to get back and forth from Mt. Washington to downtown Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh is also known for many famous people who lived and worked here. Andrew Carnegie, George Westinghouse and Henry Clay Frick who built and lived in a place called Clayton. They even made a replica of Phipps Conservatory on the property as a greenhouse. They have a wonderful cafe that serves afternoon tea. The Herbal Husband has taken me for my birthday.

Phipps Conservatory is a beautiful glass house in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. They have a lot of different exhibits and classes for the whole family and a beautiful herb garden as well. You know me I had to end in an herb garden! So this is a little slice of Pittsburgh and I will talk about my home town again in the future postings!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Guest Blogging for The Herb Companion Magazine!

What do tansy and Russian sage have in common? Find out when you read my latest posting for The Herb Companion magazine! Here is the link.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

We Can Grow Plants Anywhere!

This mullein decided to grow right by our back door. It was in full bloom when I took this picture. It is a member of the Verbascum family, Verbascum thapsus. I'm giving you a link to an article in the latest Herb Companion magazine. I will admit that I am herbally deficient in medicinal herbs and so I will be learning along with you. I did read that the plant hairs may be irritating to some people, including me. So as always, be careful when using an unfamiliar herb! It is a favorite in our garden and I will let you know what else I learn about mullein in future postings!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Visitor and a Friend in the Herb Garden!

Five years ago when my herb garden was redesigned, a rock wall was added. It's been called a condo for the chipmunks! So periodically we spy chippie eating or sitting on top of Mary's head. I don't always get a chance to get a photo. Mary the statue is named after our friend Mary who designed and sculpted her. I hope you have plants or ornaments in your garden that are reminders of friends and family!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Heavenly Herbal View!

The Herbal Husband was busy in the bathroom this morning. He was taking aerial views of our garden in the early morning light. It really looks nice! It is always a beautiful day in the garden.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Library Garden Tour!

Well, The Herbal Husband and I thoroughly enjoyed opening up the garden to the public! Here is the front garden before everyone arrived. Then the rain came! It poured buckets before they came and even after the tour started it was raining. Fortunately, gardeners are hardy folk and took things in stride. The sun finally did make an appearance. The Herbal Husband had all of his tomatoes with name tags at the top of the stakes so that people could read them and he could remember their names also!

But I think the herb garden really looked beautiful! I'm a little biased! I worked very hard this season even if some of the plants didn't live up to expectations! I think my favorite part of the herb garden are my containers this year particularly on this stepladder of my mom's. Everyone who came up from the back garden mentioned how much they loved my fairy trough. I need to do a couple more next year! Don't tell the Herbal Husband! Hope the library made lots of bucks! Support your local library wherever you may be! They always can use a helping hand! Happy Birthday Mar!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Harvesting Garlic!

We had to start harvesting our garlic because of the rainy weather we are having. It is important to have a little green when they are pulled because the bulb can start to split and the cloves separate. I have wanted to pull the rest of the bulbs because it continues to rain, but The Herbal Husband is reluctant to do it! We are also ready for the garden tour tomorrow morning. It is supposed to rain heavily tonight and then clear up some time in the morning. I hope the harvesting of your crops is going well. Talk to you later.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Good Comes From Cool Summer Weather!

The Herbal Husband was shocked the other day when we were cleaning up for Sunday. We found these delicious snow peas. You forget about the spring veggies when you are worrying about the summer ones. I see a wok dish in our future or just steamed with a little herb butter. 'Oregon Giant' is the variety and they were growing under the radar during the cool wet summer. I really know how Seattle feels in the summer this year! See you later!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's Travel Thursday--An Herbal Gem in Ohio!

This is the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Last year the Piccadilly Herb Club took a trip to see the garden and the Western Reserve Unit's Herb Garden and I tagged along. It is said to be one of the finest public herb gardens in the country. I would agree. It is in its 40th year of existence. Here is a plaque detailing the garden.

This is a thyme lawn with millstones for a path. On my wish list! Don't tell The Herbal Husband!

This is the culinary garden.

Finally, the English knot garden. It is said to be one of the largest English knots in the world! It was an herbal work of art!

If you are thinking about joining a unit of The Herb Society of America, please do so! They have groups all over the country and are always looking for new members. You can also join as a member at large and just be a part of the national organization as I do. The Western Reserve Unit has a wonderful herbal festival in October. You can find the exact date and time through the link for the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Hope you can visit this herbal gem soon! It is a real herbal treasure!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Busy on the Coneflower!

We are starting to get butterflies on flowers, but it has been a struggle with the weather. I think everyone including butterflies likes it warm and sunny. It has been sunny, but not as warm as it should be. This swallowtail opened up for me to get a decent photo! Off to the garden to keep cleaning up! Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fresh is Best!

It starts with the perfect carrot and then you add some new potatoes and purple beans and snow peas and a jar of canned tomatoes. All from our garden. It turns into this delicious stew. The Herbal Husband loves his stews! Not unlike the American casserole. He eats his stew with rice on the side. I have to have my stew on top of the rice. It was all good. Every time The Herbal Husband says it is too much work to plant and grow a garden, I think of favorite salads or meals like this. He will be growing vegetables for a while longer!

Monday, July 20, 2009

They're Baaack!

My favorite bird is back. It's the hummingbird! If you click on the image, you will see her! The hummers have been more feisty this year. I actually saw a male for the first time also. He almost flew into my car the other day! We usually have females around here. Here are some more photos and the last is one of her resting on the string! Too cute!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Late Bloomers!

Too late for the master gardeners to see, but the nasturtiums we grew from seeds from Holland are finally blooming! One flower whoo hoo! Then this morning The Herbal Husband came in and said that I had to take a picture of the blooming sunflower before the squirrel gets it! I don't make this up really! The irony is that the chipmunk planted the sunflower seeds that grew these plants! It will be just in time for the library tour next Sunday. Whoo hoo!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Favorite Hasn't Bloomed! Ever!

I discovered this rose several years ago when I spoke at the PA Lavender Festival. This is Rosa rugosa 'Alba'. It has the most beautiful white blossom and it is absolutely delicious. I think because this one has been moved multiple times, it hasn't gotten established. Every time we move it, it ends up in the shade! I just hope that some day soon, I will be able to taste it!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Well the Forecast was Right, but We Survived!

It poured buckets, but the skies cleared and we were able to get out to see the gardens. I never take enough pictures when I'm in the middle of the excitement! Here are the master gardeners in our garden. I think they really enjoyed themselves. We certainly enjoyed having them! If you have the opportunity to become a master gardener, do it! It is a very rewarding experience.

Tie Up a Loose End!

Well, Leslie from Comfrey Cottages here is your kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix). It was literally down to one leaf. The Herbal Husband brought it back from the dead. Would not eat this leaf. It is similar to the bay laurel. It is very fiberous and is tough to chew! Really hope the weather forecast is dead wrong tonight! Start praying! Off to help get set up for the master gardeners! Talk to you later!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's Travel Thursday--Edible Flowers in Giverny!

One of my favorite edible flowers is the nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus). These are outside a little restaurant in the quaint village of Giverny where Claude Monet lived and painted. I always thought Giverny was the name of his home. We took the train from Paris and it was a really pleasant ride. Monet's garden reminds me of ours in a very small way. Lots of herbs mixed with annuals and perennials. This is a famous view of more nasturtiums at Claude Monet's home. Wish ours were even starting to blossom. They aren't! It is finally hot and humid, but only for one day! Well, hope you are having great weather wherever you may be!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Is It Me or Are There More Bad Bugs This Year?

These red aphids are on the big Rudbeckia herbstsonne in the front garden. If you click on the photo, you will see them up close and personal! The Herbal Husband is so frustrated with them that he just squishes them in his bare hands. Maybe your kids would enjoy that job in the garden. It leaves your hands temporarily red! I promise it's not permanent or I'll be in a lot of trouble with moms and grandmoms out there. It doesn't seem to be affecting the blooms. They are going to bloom shortly! I'll give you a blooming photo when it happens! I love them because they make a statement and bloom late into the fall. Always a good thing!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Please Dry These on the Dryer!

I can't make this stuff up! Those were the words of The Herbal Husband when we were cleaning the herbal trees in containers the other day. These are kaffir lime leaves. We use them in our wok cooking. Really fragrant and flavorful! Just don't eat them. Too tough and like a bay leaf has a lot of sharp edges. Off to the garden! Talk to you all later.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Picking Raspberries, But Not These!

If you click on this photo, you hopefully will see why I couldn't pick these beautiful raspberries. We have a lot of spiders this year. That's the good news. The sort of bad news is is that you can't always pick berries when they are ripe! We had a beautiful day here getting ready for the master gardeners on Friday.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New Mexico in the House and Garden!

Our dear friends, Rich and Rosemary, came for a visit last weekend. They were here for the funeral of a dear family member. So to give them a break, we invited them to come to the garden and then we went out to the Original Pancake House for breakfast! It was so great to be with them! Hope you are enjoying a visit from a good friend!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Like A Deer in the Headlights!

No, I haven't seen deer this season. This was one of Santa's reindeer come for a visit last year. Although we have had some deer damage, but I'm referring to this time of year. I really sometimes admire my herb garden too much and forget to harvest the herbs! It was supposed to rain today and so I thought I needed to get to my chamomile flowers after seeing The Essential Herbal blog. Tina has some really good tips and helpful hints. So I need to keep moving forward to the next project. I need to dry some herbs for tea like I did last season. Hope you are enjoying your weekend wherever you may be.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Guest Blogging for The Herb Companion Magazine!

I'm always searching for herbs in our travels. I found some unusual ones during our 20th anniversary trip in 2007 to the Loire Valley, France. Here is the link. Hope you enjoy it! Please let me know if you do.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It's Travel Thursday--Plants I Couldn't Take Home!

I had to give you another glimpse of Spain. We visited this beautiful nursery when we were on the way to lunch one day. I, of course found the herb table right away. It was a wonderful combination of sights and smells. Dianthus were in full bloom. The Spanish lavender grows wild here. It was very tempting in these pots! Of course, the scented geranium leaves are very fragrant! It was sad that I couldn't take any of these beautiful plants home to the 'Burgh!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

From One Pest to Another!

It's another PEST! We just got rid of the four lined plant bug and it's on to the Japanese beetle! As The Herbal Husband said, "There are MILLIONS of them!" I said, I don't think that is quite true! I'm on constant watch now. Of course, they like pretty much everything we have roses even if they aren't blooming, raspberries, grapes and even if they aren't doing damage, they may just land and rest on other plants! We were lucky for a couple of years to not have too many. Well, they are back!

Here is my method of capture! Very low tech! I affectionately named the jar, Beetle Juice! I just put water and some dishwashing soap in the jar. I get out early in the morning or later in the evening. During the day I can get them, but they are more likely to be alert to my patrols and fly or drop to the ground! I am even resorting to catching them in my bare hands! Don't try this at home unless you are a trained professional beetle wrangler! Hope for warmer weather. We just got the last tomatoes planted.