Saturday, May 29, 2010

Got Back Some Herbal Space!

In the space where there once was tansy is now the basil (lemon, cinnamon and sweet) bed with the lemon verbena that was in the house for the winter.  The lemon verbena has come back nicely since being attacked by white flies.  I think I will put the lemon verbena in the garage this coming season.  I think it will stay dormant and have better air circulation.  Some seasons our lemon verbena holds its leaves and actually gets a little stronger.  That's what happened this past season.  We went to Florida for a week and came back to a bonanza of leaves and then it struggled through the winter on a windowsill.  It is doing just fine now.  I'll be making lemon verbena bread soon.  The Herbal Husband's favorite.  Here is the recipe if you would like to make it as well.  I'll be able to monitor the basil as well and make jelly and salads when necessary.  We got the new kids planted today.  We'll take a break tomorrow since it is supposed to be in the high 80's.  Too hot to work.  Hope you are having a great weekend wherever you are.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Queen Elizabeth In Hiding!

I just had to do it!  Sorry, Your Majesty!  After the scandal broke the other day with Fergie (The Duchess of York), we spotted Queen Elizabeth starting her faithful blooming!  This time though she is slightly hidden as if she is embarrassed by the whole ordeal.  Hope you all have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.  We will be planting the new kids we bought yesterday.  I'm going to make some Pickled Radishes from Herb Companion magazine's blogs.  Hope it works for you.  I'll let you know how mine turn out!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Guest Blogging for The Herb Companion Magazine!

If you are seeing damage like this on your herbs, you may have the bug that I have been dealing with for years now.  Unfortunately, this bug likes members of the mint family!  Here is the damage on my oregano.  Check out my guest blog for The Herb Companion entitled Herbal Pests:  The Four-Lined Plant Bug.  Hopefully, it will help you fight off this herbal pest!  Very hot here.  You know the saying when it's hot, buy more plants!  I just made that up.  I'll show you the new kids in the coming days.  Hope you had a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Herbs in Bloom!

One of my favorite edible flowers is the Dianthus.  This one is called 'Cheddar Pinks'.  They have that star shaped appearance and as you can see are growing without much soil on top of a red flowered thyme!

This is a happy thyme called 'Linear Leaf'.  I'm married to an architect so sometimes we need those architectural names in our herbs.

Herbie, the Hedgehog is guarding a dear little thyme that is surviving under this about to bloom rosemary santolina.  I'm not sure what kind of thyme it is, but I am admiring its herbal tenacity!  It has gotten hot here FINALLY!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be!  Talk to you later!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Sweet Smell of Angelica!

The angelica has started to bloom!  Everything this season seems to be going at warp speed!  It's too bad there is no smellovision or similar way to smell the fragrance of the angelica.  Here are a couple posts that I wrote in the early days.  One post has a recipe for crystallized angelica that was a Bertha Reppert original and the another is a post about purple angelica.  Mulberry Creek Herb Farm is no longer mailing herbs.  You have to visit them in Ohio.   Hope you have had a great day wherever you may be!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lifeshighway, The Answer Is. . .

that there are 18 or 19 true mints.  There are more combinations or hybrids.  I'm not sure of the number exactly.  There are three mints that should never be used as food, Corsican mint (Mentha requienii), Japanese mint (Mentha arvensis var. piperascens) and the pennyroyals (Mentha cervina, Mentha pulegium) all of these contain a toxic oil that can cause convulsions and coma.  The mint family, the family Lamiaceae or Labiatae is a combination of herbs and ornamentals that includes Mentha.  The mint family includes among other herbs, basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano, lemon balm, catnip, lavender, hyssop, horehound, patchouli and sage.  I think you have heard of at least some of these if not all of these herbs.  The other link that they have is that their stems have four sides.  The ornamentals include Bee Balm (Monarda), obedience plant (Physostegia virginiana) and Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).

There is a wonderful herb farm in Ohio and I have written about them several times in my blog called Mulberry Creek Herb Farm.  While they no longer ship plants, their on-line catalog will give you a lot of information about mints.  Papa Geno's also has a lot of information.  The photo above is silver mint.  Most of my other mints, peppermint in the backyard, spearmint (yes, it is a mint) in the front yard, orange mint, basil mint and pineapple mint are all in the ground.  They are easily pulled out when out of bounds.  I would love to have them all in containers, but we don't have room to take them in in the winter.  One problem I do have with the peppermint especially that when it flowers, it does spread seeds.  So I am pulling plants out across the garden to make sure that it does grow in too many places.  I hope I have helped be less herbal challenged, Lifeshighway.  I will take a photo of each of mine and will post them in the coming days.  If you have more questions, please let me know!  Hope you have all had a great day!  Talk to you later.  

Saturday, May 22, 2010

It Has Survived!

Just when I thought apple mint was going to take over my front garden, it has slowed down and found a small space to reside.  I forget that it is still in the garden so might use it in a tea blend soon.  I like it because it has that grayed green color and is fairly tall and upright by itself without the aid of The Herbal Husband's sticks and strings.  I do love him, but sometimes the sticks and strings can be a bit too much!  I just keep repeating to myself,  "He is a good helper in the garden and he does love plants including the weeds!"  I actually swept the house because it is pouring outside! Didn't get to dust!  Ooops!  I guess I should have dusted first!  Hope you are enjoying your day wherever you may be.  Off to see my boyfriend, Russell in "Robin Hood."  White horse, Russell Crowe and Kate Blanchett.  I'll forgive him for kissing Kate and then there's the violence.  Oh, well, Russell will make it OK! 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Free Can Be Beautiful Too!

My free peony 'Tom Eckhardt' just started blooming.  Will try to update this post later when more blooms are open.  We finally have it in a space that it likes!  Whew!  Why was it free, Lemon Verbena Lady?  Well, I participated in a local symposium where I heard Roy Klehm, owner of Klehm's Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery speak about peonies and he was giving away free peonies!  Life doesn't get any better except if they were herbs!  There I said it!  OK, I need an herbal timeout in the garden.  I have to finish planting my herbal kids.  I'm buying a few more later today.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

If You Have Chive Blossom Flowers, Make Vinegar!

I filled a quart jar with chive blossoms yesterday and filled it with white wine vinegar.  In two weeks, it should be done.  I really like this vinegar because it imparts an mild onion flavor to salad dressings, sauces, soups and stews.  I really can't have too many raw onions any more, so this vinegar works very well for me.  Hope you had a great day wherever you are.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Great Season of Bloom!

Two feet of snow didn't seem to harm our rhodies!  Rhodies all over the area are blooming like crazy.  This spring has been really beautiful!  Here is another shot of our front garden.
Hope you had a great day.  We planted some more kids in the garden!  Hopefully we will be done soon!  I'm running out of room!  Really!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The First of the Season!

I do love this time of year!  All the plants have renewed themselves and the flowers of the fruit have started to mature and make delicious fruit.  After losing the grapes the other day, the strawberries have stepped up.  Oh you know what I mean!  We have a fruit salad in the morning and these beauties will make the salad extra delicious!  Hope you had a great day wherever you are.  We are in the rain clouds and hopefully, that will end tomorrow and we can get other plants planted in the garden!  Always something!  Talk to you later!

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Little Friend in the Garden!

Like PeggyR of My Affairs With Art & Daily Life, I found my little friend as we were planting the scented geranium bed the other day.  He has the perfect toad cottage under the Sedum 'Autumn Joy.'  You'd better click on the photo to see a better view.  Our friend is much smaller than PeggyR's but it is still exciting!  It's all good when you have toads in your garden!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A New Boxwood Garden, the Real Curry Plant and a Bouquet of Radishes!

Well, the sages took over my mini boxwoods so they got their own space.  Looks a little bare, but they have been overshadowed in several locations.  Hopefully not here.  This is a space overlooking my herb garden and possibly in the future (;>}), I will open up even more space for other herbs!
Meanwhile, we also moved a number of herbs that were being swallowed up by the sages as well.  I got two curry plants (Helichrysum italicum) through the winter which are usually tender here.  Whoo Hoo!  Doesn't happen often.  I love this plant for its gray foliage and it smells just like the spice.  This is not the plant however that is used to make curry.  In fact, curry is a complex mix of spices, just not from one plant.   Here is an article by my friend, Jim Long several years ago in The Herb Companion which explains the difference.  The edible curry plant is (Murraya koenigii).

I will end my post with a bouquet of radishes for you, French Breakfast, Cherriette and Easter Egg.  We always have an abundance of radishes.  Here is a recipe from Letitia Star who blogs for The Herb Companion.  I'll let you know if I try it.  Hope you had a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Planting Day for the Scented Geraniums!

Always happy when we plant this bed.  Got some great scented geraniums including Old Fashioned Rose, Chocolate Mint, Frensham, Variegated Rose, Apple, Nutmeg, Staghorn Oak, Rober's Lemon Rose and Lemon Crispum to name a few.  Will give you some closer shots later in the week.  Going to plant other herbs tomorrow.  Think we have turned the corner as far as frost possibilities!  Hope you had a great day wherever you may be.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cheep Rooms on Thursday! Oh, but It's Friday!

I thought this was a wonderful display of Cheep Rooms at Kathleen Gips' Village Herb Shop.  I'm sure if you see something you like, they will ship it to you!  Hope you had a great day wherever you may be.

Celebrating Dill at Herbfest!

My friend and I spent the day in Chagrin Falls, Ohio celebrating Herbfest at The Village Herb Shop.  The 2010 Herb of the Year is Dill and Kathleen Gips, the owner, did a wonderful program and then we had a workshop and made several items made with dill.  The Herbfest continues tomorrow so if you are in the Chagrin Falls area, please check it out at the link above.  The program is free and begins at 10:30 AM and then the workshop starts at 11 AM and goes until Noon and costs $15.  Lots of recipes and information about dill that will enhance your learning experience.  Even if you can't get to Chagrin Falls, you can sign up for their monthly e-mail herbal newsletter.  It is jammed packed with wonderful information and recipes.

Kathleen's shop is chock full of herbal goodies, gardening goodies, aromatherapy goodies and antique goodies.

The Village Herb Shop has a beautiful display garden in the front of the property that is divided into various gardens and in summer is an herbal haven.  Kathleen is an herbal treasure and I am glad to call her my friend!

Also, I would like to mention that author Sharon Lovejoy will be speaking at the Chagrin Falls Town Hall on Thursday evening, June 17, 2010 at 6:30 PM sponsored by The Village Herb Shop.  Tickets are $15 and includes a fairy thyme tea as well as meeting Sharon and having her sign her new book, Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars or any of her other books.  I'm really looking forward to meeting her!  The Village Herb Shop will be open for special shopping 10 AM to 9 PM on June 17th.  You need to call (440) 247-5029 if you are in Ohio or out of state (like me) 1-800-836-9120 to reserve your ticket or tickets.  Hope if you are in the area, you will think about spending an evening with Sharon Lovejoy. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Jasmine Needed Help!

We have mostly put together wooden arbors for our garden.  Eventually they rot.  We had a metal arbor (and I use that term loosely) that was adequate, but it finally collapsed under the weight of a 2' snowstorm and a very healthy jasmine vine!  This arbor is sturdy and beautiful and easy to put together.  We purchased it from Plow and Hearth.  I have purchased items for our garden for many years from them and have always been pleased.  They were sold earlier this year and unlike Smith & Hawkin, they have managed to stay in business.  The other good thing about the assembly was there were no Spanish words screamed or uttered while we were putting it together!  Always a good thing!  Trust me!  Here is the finished arbor.
The dark opening in the center is the back gate.  The jasmine is just about to start blooming little pink flowers.  I'm going to dry some for tea.  It is hardy for our area which is Zone 6 on a good day and Zone 5 in a very cold winter.  I purchased it from Well-Sweep Herb Farm.  If you are in northern New Jersey this summer, check out their farm.  They are family-owned herb farm.  Cy, Louise and their son, David Hyde do a wonderful job with display gardens, a very nice gift shop and lots of unusual plants, herbs, perennials and annuals.

The only other problem is we can't open the back gate!  It opens in and the only slat by the door handle hits the curve in the arbor!  Ooops!  There weren't even Spanish words then!  So once that slat is taken down to size, it will be great!  One more project on The Herbal Husband's list!  Hope you are having a great day.  I forgot to take a photo of my Cheep Room.  Hopefully over the weekend!  Have a great day wherever you are!  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jack Frost Got the Grapes!

The Herbal Husband was crushed when we woke up yesterday!  He may get a few grapes to eat, but there won't be jelly this year!   Will have to make more herbal jelly instead!  Got a new arbor for the back gate and the hardy jasmine!  Will show it to you tomorrow!  Hope you had a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Guest Blogging for The Herb Companion Magazine!

My herb garden has been taken over by big but beautiful herbs.  This is my angelica patch.  I should have tamed this in March when they were small!  Here is my latest guest blog post, Growing Big Herbs for The Herb Companion magazine.  Hope you enjoy it!  It's a little wet outside and cool.  Off to exercise.  Talk to you later!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Favorite Herbal Flower, Tussie Mussies and Happy Birthday 90th, Roz!

Here is one of my favorite herbal flowers, Dianthus 'Tiny Rubies'.  They come and go so quickly that I wanted to use them in my 90th's birthday tussie mussie over the weekend.  I ended up using the only larger Dianthus I had in bloom.  It worked out well.

A tussie mussie is usually centered by a rose or other significant flower.  Rose means love and gentle; dianthus for mother's love; lemon balm for memories; lemon verbena means enchantment; oregano means joy and happiness; sage for a long life (that has happened) and good health (for the most part that is also true); mint for wisdom and lavender for devotion and, finally, rosemary for remembrance.   There is also a piece of 'Silver King' artemisia for contrast.  It doesn't have a meaning.  Maybe it should be just for Roz!  So here's to you, Roz!  Happy 90th!  May you have many beautiful days to come.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Bouquet of Scented Geraniums on Mother's Day!

The weather is not cooperating to get these in the ground so they are giving you a bouquet for Mother's Day!  My mom would be 99 if she were alive!  She passed away 19 years ago at 80!  Hope you have had or are having a wonderful day with your family surrounding you!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Period of Variegation!

I went through a period of variegation several years ago and this is the result, a variegated weigela!  It is beautiful this time of year.  Went to an ageless 90 year old's birthday party today.  It was a lot of fun!  Hope you had a great day wherever you may be.  It was freezing here today!  Hoping spring hurries up because it certainly isn't here today!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Barely Visible!

I really do love the Allium family.  This is one of my favorites, but you couldn't tell because it is barely visible!  I got these alliums 'Purple Sensation' from the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in Sagertites, NY.  It will be held on September 25 and 26 this year.  It was a really fun experience.  Note to self.  Move these when they finish blooming!  They are blooming despite the shade!  Hope you had a good day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cheep Rooms on Thursdays!

Looks like a little log cabin, but in reality, it is a Cheep Room on Thursdays.  Here is another view.
Hope you had a great day.  Was busy out in the garden, but didn't get much done!  Talk to you later!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I Just Couldn't Wait!

The 'Provence' lavenders survived the February snow.  They are on either side of St. Fiacre.  I planted a couple of Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue' and a Dianthus called 'Jan Louise'.  Hopefully, they will survive the 30's over the weekend.  Cold weather is not done with us yet!  Hope you had a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We Are Having a Beautiful Spring!

The Herbal Husband took this picture the other evening.  This azalea has been blooming each spring since we moved into our house 21 years ago!  Some years better than others!  I guess the February snow had a good effect on this bush!  Planted a few perennials today.  Couldn't wait!  Hopefully they will be OK.  Will show you pictures of them soon!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Time for the Faeries to Appear!

My trough from several years ago did well in the garage over the winter.  The Victorian rosemary will be in its third year and the compact sage is blooming happily  It's in year two.  The only plant that did not do too well is a 'Lemon Frost' thyme.  I am trying to decide whether it needs a change of soil or whether I will keep things as they are and trim back the rosemary after it is finished blooming.  Will keep you updated!  I just want to thank everyone who has confirmed my blog on Facebook.  I need just one more person.  I think it will add to my "wall".  Whatever that means!  Talk to you later. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It Bloomed a Little Last Year!

Maybe it was saving its energy for this year!  This is a viburnum called 'Newport'.  Supposed to be a smaller size!  Ooops!  It got bigger than the four foot height.  It is about four feet wide.  I had a gentleman call Gardenline the other day and rant (in a nice way) about why the Penn State publications don't specify better sizes of plants.  He didn't let me tell him that it is an estimation because of your garden soil and your managing the plant are other factors that cannot be estimated!  Usually they are industry sizes that are used!  Gardenline always interesting never boring!  Hope you have a local extension office in your area and that if you are gardener, you take advantage of the great resources they have.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I Need Your Help If You Can!

I've got a small favor to ask.  I'm trying to get my blog connected on my Facebook page.  If you are a Facebook member, could you please go to the following link and verify that I'm the author of Lemon Verbena Lady's Herb Garden?  There is a question on the right hand side, Know the Author?  Click on that and confirm that I am the author of this blog.  I only need 7 more followers.  Thanks as always for your support and your help! 

Happy May Day!

My favorite part of spring and May is sweet woodruff.  If you have shade, you need sweet woodruff, Galium odoratum.    It has whorl leaves and tiny white flowers.  It is a native of northern and central Europe.  When we got a new air conditioner several years, The Herbal Husband frantically moved clumps of sweet woodruff to the back of our property under the birdbath.  It was used as a strewing herb and a mattress-stuffer and it is still used for potpourris and air freshners.  It is used in Germany to make Rhine wine into May wine.  In the long days of summer, it does need to be kept moist.  Adelma Simmons, owner of Caprilands, loved to celebrate May Day.  Here is her Caprilands May Wine recipe:

Caprilands May Wine
1 gallon Rhine wine
12 sprigs or more sweet woodruff
1 10-ounce package sliced frozen strawberries
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups brandy (optional)
1 quart fresh strawberries or 1 twenty-ounce bag frozen whole strawberries

Pick the woodruff and heat 3 or 4 leaves in the oven to bring out the coumarin which has the fragrance of new-mown hay and is a fixative for other odors.  Let stand in the wine 3 to 7 days to bring out the flavor.  Or, follow the suggestion of a German friend and get this woodruff flavor by putting the herb in a bottle of brandy for use at any time through the year.

To prepare the bowl:  Put in a block of ice, ladle the wine mixture over it to chill; add the brandy if you wish.  Mash sliced strawberries with sugar.  Stir into the wine mixture.  (Remove the dried woodruff or not, as you wish.) Garnish with fresh woodruff and scatter spring flowers upon the pink surface of the punch, as Johnny-jump-ups and purple and white violets.  Put a whole strawberry in each cup and a floating flower as you ladle in the punch.  Makes about 50 punch-cup servings.

Hints:  Champagne is tradiitional for May wine punch.  Sometimes we use half champagne and half Rhine wine.  With champagne, the punch must be served immediately.  To avoid diluting the wine too much, especially if you are serving for several hours, pack the bowl in a large vessel of ice.  Do not use quick-melting ice cubes, but a large block of ice in the bowl.

For Wine Jelly of fine flavor, use leftover punch, allowing 2 cups of it to 2 cups of granulated sugar with commercial liquid pectin to make it jell.

Recipe taken from Simmons, Adelma Grenier, Herb Gardening in Five Seasons, New York: Plume, Page 82.

Just thinking, maybe there is a new flavor of jelly in my future!  Hope you had a great day and you can use this recipe some other day in May!