Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Plant Whisperer!

The tall yellow flowers in the background of this photo are native sunflowers.  They can be aggressive and take over a space.  We always use the sticks and strings to conquer this giant.  The Herbal Husband and I tackled the job today.  At one point, The Herbal Husband was muttering to himself.  I asked what was wrong and he said he thought he had trained the stems to stand upright so that we could put the string around them easily and they would listen!  I can't make this stuff up!  I thought he is thinking he is the plant whisperer!  Well, hope you had a great day.  I had to mow the yard.  So I'm fading fast.  Will talk to you later.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Birthday Flowers!

Just had to share my birthday flowers.  No, not from The Herbal Husband, but from our dear friends in Uruguay!  I'm a very lucky girl!  They are from Pro Flower.  They came very well wrapped and lots of instructions and information to make the flowers look good and last.  So if you need flowers for a special occasion or just as a treat, try them.  Well, we had a beautiful day in the 'Burgh and I was inside cleaning!  The Herbal Husband was out watering the garden so I would have gotten wet weeding!  He is sort of like a dog who hates the vacuum noise.  I know he probably has more than selective hearing.  He probably could use a hearing aid or two.  Oh well, hope you are enjoying your day.  Some of you are still without power and we are praying you are OK soon.  Talk to you later.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Day of Celebration and Multitasking!

Had to Make Blueberry Muffins for Breakfast!
The Herb Garden on My Birthday
A Candlelit Breakfast Table
Raspberries from the Garden in Our Fruit Bowl
Made Two Batches of Raspberry Jam
The Century Inn in Scenery Hill, PA
My First Course was Seared Scallops with Arugula Salad and Bacon!
A Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
A Lemon Tart for My Birthday
A Beautiful Sunset to End the Day
I feel kind of sad that I had such a fun and full day and others are in the dark and flooded out!  Hurricane Irene was a terror and stayed way too long in some parts of the country.  As you can see by the photos I did way too much on my birthday, but Mother Nature had us picking raspberries yesterday and I had to make jam today.  Raspberries don't keep, but it went quickly this morning.  Usually the early crop doesn't set up well for jam, but it was already set up before we left for dinner tonight.  I forgot to take a photo of my entree.  It was grilled salmon and The Herbal Husband had maple glazed pork.  Yes, I pigged out.  Back to writing everything down tomorrow.  I'm picking up a few extra pounds and need to focus on getting them off!  Always something!  I'm thinking of all of you on the East Coast that got battered by Irene!  Hope everything gets back to normal for you quickly!  Talk to you later.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tansy Workshop at the Village Herb Shop and It's My 900th Post! WOW!

Tansy Blooming in My Garden

Getting Ready for the Tansy Workshop

Ant and Insect Repellent Bags

Kathleen Gips, Herbal Owner of the Village Herb Shop

A Fragrant Pet Pillow

Breaking Up Cinnamon Sticks!

Corn Cob Fixative Waiting for Essential Oil

Moth Chaser Closet Bags

The Beautiful Herb Garden at VHS

Look Out Kathleen, the Garlic Chives Will Take Over!  Not On Your Watch!

Wish I Had Noticed That Truck!

Lots of Statuary and Bird Baths to Look At

The Edible Flowers Garden
Well, my herbal companion, Bonnie and I went up to Chagrin Falls for the day and spent time with our dear friend and herbal teacher extraordinaire, Kathleen Gips at her first tansy workshop at the Village Herb Shop.  Both Bonnie and I have a thick file of recipes and information from Kathleen that we have accumulated over the years.  We keep learning so much from our visits.  We enjoyed lunch with Kathleen as well at Rick's Cafe.

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) can be an invasive herb that should not be used as a culinary or medicinal plant.  Never ingest tansy.  It is toxic. Tansy contains thujone which is a relatively toxic compound, capable of inducing both convulsions and psychotic effects in human beings. If you have older herb books, they may have recipes using tansy.  Please do not use those recipes.  It was trial and error back in the early days and sometimes mostly error!

In the workshop today, we started by stripping the tansy leaves from the stems to make up 1/2 cup of material and added a couple of stems of lemongrass chopped up and placed half in one small muslin bag and the other half in another bag to make ant/insect repellent bags.  They can be used on windowsills or any place where ants are getting inside your house.  They are also known to repel flies.  We also made a pet pillow (Bonnie took mine home for her kitties.  I couldn't call The Herbal Husband a pet!  Could I?)   Then we also made a couple of moth chaser bags and they are already smelling the closets up nicely.  Kathleen clips all of her very aromatic herbs through the season, drys them on trays in her dining room and then places them in bins to be used for her workshops.  In this case, santolina, tansy, and southernwood to name a few.

In the link above, it talks about interplanting tansy with potatoes and that reduces the Colorado Potato Beetles by 60 to 100%.  That sounds like a very good thing!  They link the reduction in populations from the avoidance of the beetle to the essential oils of tansy.  I would say if you are going to plant it, plant it in a back corner of your garden.  It will take over in a short period of time.  Tansy did attract ladybugs in all stages a few years ago when I wanted the tansy moved!  Yikes!  That was a dilemma!

So a few photos of the workshop and then the Village Herb Shop's lovely gardens.  Kathleen has classes where you work in the gardens and learn about the herbs and how to maintain them.  They may be just about over for the season. You can check out the Village Herb Shop to see what events are upcoming.  They are definitely ready for Halloween!  Hope you had a good day.  Keeping our fingers and toes crossed for all of you on the east coast, especially all of my blogging friends up and down the United States.  Please stay safe and blog when you can to let us know you are OK!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Visit to Middachten

A Castle Still Owned and Lived in by Generations of the Same Family!

A Beautiful Setting
Even a Moat with Koi!

A Storks' Nest on the Chimney!

A View to the Garden

The Rose Garden

One of The Herbal Husband's Favorites, A Fig Tree!
One of My Favorites Growing Beneath the Fig, Nasturtiums!

Part of the Perennial Border

A Boxwood Hedged Garden
Our Dutch hosts treated us royally!  Middachten is a beautiful castle and gardens.  It has remained in the same family for generations and has never been sold.  It is still lived in today.  It was first mentioned in the history books in 1190 because of its defenses and it was destroyed in the late 1690's.  Once rebuilt around 1698, the gardens were also redesigned in the style of Versailles and in the late 18th century, the English garden was added.  It had a lovely herb garden and I will be sharing that part of the visit on The Herb Companion blog next week.  Hope you are having a great day.  It's off to see One Day with Anne Hathaway later today.  Will let you know how it is.  I did see The Help and liked it, but thought it could have been shorter.  It just dragged a little for me.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Great Repeat Herbal Flower!

If you can keep deadheading your calendulas, you will have them until frost.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that I keep repeating myself!  Yikes!  Why don't you tell me these things?  You just let me blab away!  It's a slow garden year and I feel disconnected at the moment.  I spent a good part of yesterday weeding which was very fulfilling.  A good weeding always helps me get back in touch with my garden.  Maybe I should get back to traveling and take you with me?  More traveling tomorrow!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A New Favorite Basil!

Since we were away so much this summer, we didn't buy a lot of herbs like usual.  I found several sweet basils at the nursery and one 'Siam Queen', a spicier version with an anise flavor.  It is nicely ornamental with purple flowers and one of the leaf stems is variegated.  Usually variegation comes from a virus, a good one not a bad one, I think.  'Siam Queen' has added an interesting note to our tomato, feta, olive and basil salads sort of a Greek caprese salad.  The Herb Companion had a great article on the original Italian caprese salad in the last issue.  Hope you enjoy it.  It was a beautiful day in the 'Burgh and I was sitting in Home Depot trying to get my door order straightened out!  Ugh!  That's all I have about that!  Hope you had a great day!  Talk to you later!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Enough for Another Tree!

I think you remember the artemisia tree I made last Christmas.  Well, I got three bags full of artemisia this time so I think it may be even better than last year's.  I'll let you in on a secret last year's is still in the dining room.  The Herbal Husband thought it was a good every day decoration.  Well, after how he decorates.  Let me remind you if you have forgotten, The Herbal Husband's Holiday Decorating.  So it is looking hopeful that I will have a much fuller Christmas tree or maybe we should call it an everyday tree this year.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Late Summer (OMG) Garden!

The native monarda (Monarda fistulosa) is blooming nicely.  It is leaning a bit trying to get the most sun.  We propped it up with some sticks and strings this afternoon.  We had some blooming when Jekka was here in June and now the late summer (OMG) plants are blooming away.  Having a long vacation in the middle of summer has thrown me completely for an herbal loop!  I'm slowly finding all of the weeds that were just about to bloom.  They can disguise themselves very well.  There was one weed in the raspberries that was at least 7-1/2' tall and had a stem like a small tree trunk.  Had to make sure I got that one out before it sprang forth and multiplied!  Rain tomorrow.  Hope to get my handouts for Seven Springs finished.  Will show you more garden photos tomorrow.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Always Glad to See These!

We usually have an early crop of raspberries from last year's canes.  Between our July trip and the heat though, there were very few or no early raspberries.  These were delicious!  So I have been in search of jelly jars to make sure I have enough for the incoming crop.  Yippee!  Have to get back to my handouts for The Zen of Making Herbal Jelly.  I'm not so sure there will be much zen, but hopefully there will be a lot of good information exchanged!  Beautiful day outside.  Should be out there!  It's been one of those years!  Hope you are having a great day everywhere you may be.  Talk to you later. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011, Mother Earth News Fair, 3:00 PM

Well, it's official.  I'm going to be at Seven Springs on Sunday, September 25, 2011 on the Eating Well stage at 3:00 PM at the Mother Earth News Fair demonstrating how to make herbal jelly and you will get to try some as well!  So if you are in the area, please come and join me.  You can click on the photo in the upper right hand corner where the jelly jar is to get a list of speakers who will be there over the entire weekend.  My name will be added shortly to that list.  The weather outside is very pleasant and I'm in here on the computer.  Something wrong with that.  Well, hope you are having a good day.   St. Fiacre has taken Mary's place guarding the herb garden.  More about that in a later post. Talk to you later.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Think Peggy R and I Have the Same Idea!

My blogging friend PeggyR from My Affairs with Art & Daily Life and I have the same idea and it's all good, PeggyR!  I know that they are tiger swallowtail butterflies and they have just been everywhere for us this year.  They seem to love our butterfly bushes (good thing!) and there were about seven or eight the other evening flying around.  You might have to click on the photo to get a better look.  Hope you are having a great day!  Need to go work on my list of things to do!   Talk to you later. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

We Do Have Figs!

The brown fig is usually the last one to give in a season.  This season our green figs lost their leaves when they spent July in the garage.  Do you blame them?  The brown fig held on to its figs and it has started to produce.  You can tell they are ready when the ants are rummaging the fruit.  We have been having them in our morning fruit salad.  Delish!  Got another day of weeding in the garden today.  Tomorrow looks like the laundry may get down because the rain is going to move in.  Hope you have had a great day wherever you may be.  Had to get more storage for my photos for this blog.  Changing my banner photo tomorrow.  Have a changing of the guard to talk about.  Stay tuned.  Talk to you later.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Zen of Weeding!

It was such a beautiful yesterday and today in the garden.  I spent some time weeding before I mowed today.  Makes it so much easier.  Here is an article I found in the latest issue of The Herb Companion magazine.  I could swear it was called "The Zen of Weeding."  It's called Garden Maintenance Methods online by Tammi Hartung who wrote a book called Homegrown Herbs.  Have it on my wishlist.  She will be speaking at the Mother Earth News Fair on September 24 and 25 up at Seven Springs.  I think I will be speaking there as well.  Hope I get to meet her.  Well, in a nutshell, she says to embrace weeding because in the end, it helps you and your herbs.  Hope you had a great day.  Sorry this is so late in the day.  Been really busy.  Talk to you later.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

This Poor Tree-Herbally Speaking!

This poor bay tree is on life support!  It has been in the living room until we came home from Europe.  It probably should have been outside sooner.  Although it might not have made it with the heat we had while we were gone.  The good news is is that it is growing new leaves and if any plant can make it, it would be this one.  The Herbal Husband has had some herbal miracles happen on his watch.  We had a Kaffir lime get down to one solitary leaf and survive to be big and beautiful.  So expect nothing less than that from the bay!  It was a beautiful day in the garden.  Was out weeding and will talk about it tomorrow after I mow!  Enjoy the day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Dutch Breakfast

Well, I really don't eat much chocolate any more, but I had to try what my Dutch hosts sometimes have for breakfast.  The top photo is shaved chocolate that comes in a box.  You butter a piece of white bread and then shake the chocolate on to the bread.  Devine! The second photo is of a spice cake or gingerbread.  It was very good as well and very Dutch.  Everything in moderation!  The heat has broken here.  We ordered our doors yesterday.  Yippee!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Egg, My Favorite Dutch Herb and The Special Gift!

Rooster and Possibly the Chicken That Laid the Egg!

One of These Eggs is the One I Saw Laid!

My Favorite Dutch Herb, Basil!

Dragonfly on Rudbeckia

I have so many stories to tell you of our fabulous vacation.  We only had a few short days in The Netherlands and I got to see and experience so much including a chicken laying an egg!

Our Dutch hosts keep chickens and one rooster.  I was relaxing on the back patio when one chicken came up to the corner of the garage and fluffed her feathers out and squatted down and laid an egg!  It is one of the two in the second photo above.  Can you believe it!  It was amazing.

Then that cutie in the third photo is my favorite Dutch herb named Basil.  He is quite a character and for his age still a puppy!  He even tried to be a lap dog the same day the chicken laid the egg!  You see where I'm going with this!  The final photo is of my new garden ornament Dragonfly on Rudbeckia by Marjolein Bastin.  You see Marjolein Bastin lived in the same city as our Dutch hosts do and at one time our host did her accounting work for her.  I decided to put it in my herb garden surrounded by my favorite, lemon verbena.  I'll post a better photo of it later.  Well, there are more adventures to come.  I seem to be moving at a snail's pace, but I don't have much to report in the garden at the moment!  I have a couple more Dutch stories to tell.  Hope you had a great day. We are supposed to have rain tomorrow.  Maybe we'll order our new garage door and back door.  Really need new ones.  Talk to you later.