Friday, July 31, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away

It is around 2:30 in the morning,the rain pounding on my slate roof invaded my sleep. Rain is not what we need in this part of the world. We have had way too much rain . It also was the coolest July on record, the temperature never reached 90 degrees the entire month!

Consequently the roses, lavender and tomatoes are all crying for relief.It has made it extremely difficult to tend to my garden activities after work. It is either raining or the bugs are so bad that they force me to retreat. I feel very frustrated walking around the garden and looking at what needs to be accomplished. The grass and fields love it, but not my husband who is mowing non-stop.

I work full time at our family owned business. We build post frame buildings, that are used for everything from horse barns,churches to commercial buildings. Although, I love going to work and seeing my son everyday, I remain constantly pulled by the urge to get in the garden. Soon I plan to work only part time, which will make everyone happier including my gardens!

If the need arises for a great building, check us out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Herb Butter

Herb butters are a great fav of mine. It is such a wonderful way to showcase an herb. I know there are lots of combinations of herb butter but I prefer the very simple one herb/ per butter. My favorite, of course, is Basil butter. I love using the spicy globe basil, because of the tiny leaves( no chopping) and of course,mixing it with real butter. I use the food processor to mix the two and let it chill for a couple hours. Gosh, have you ever tasted fresh vegetables with this butter over them ? It is to die for. I love to take a baguette and slice it and in between the slices add the basil butter as well as a few small basil leaves. Wrap it up in foil and then heat it. Man o Man...I cannot do justice to the taste. What about fresh corn on the cob,
Try It!! You'll like it!
Of course, I will have more on various types of herb butter in later posts.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Purge the Surge

Butter and Eggs

Cushion Spurge

Purge the Spurge

Cushion Spurge (Euphorbia polychrome) is a nice ground cover. However, it can be invasive, but is easy to control with weeding or clipping back. I really enjoy it in the spring as it is one of the first perennials to appear. It was given to me by one of my Master Garden friends and I never refuse a plant.I think if I had put it in a proper place, one where it could have covered the ground and appeared with spring bulbs it would have been lovely. However, I put it along the walkway to the Gazebo which was already a mess with a collection of odd plants. That was several years ago and now I am spending many hours digging and cursing free plant gifts!

My wish is to have an outdoor kitchen encompassing the back porch, gazebo, and the surrounding gardens. A very wise Landscape Designer told me that she felt I needed a space to enjoy that would not make me feel like I needed to get up and work. I really think she was taken back by the number of plants I had in each garden, so I have since then been trying hard to purge the gardens of easy multipliers. My first attack was on the “Road Lilies” they were crunching over the “Finer Lilies”. I actually like the old “Road Lilies” but not in a garden I am trying to control.

Gloves on, I began the Purge on the Surge. Beware! Cushion Spurge has a white sap that can irrate the skin. I started out digging the individual clumps and then after a short while just started pulling! The ground was soft enough that they came right up. I found a new spot just for the Spurge and also found a buried treasure! Under all the Spurge was the wildflower Butter and Eggs,( Linaria vulgaris) it had been given to me my Grandma Goldie many years ago. Butter and Eggs has many other common names, like toadflax and figwort. It is also very invasive and I probably should have just let it be smothered out,but this treasure had been given to me in love, from my kid’s great grandmother. It had to have a place and so I found the perfect spot. Now my walkway is neatly lined with Lady’s Mantle and Hydrangeas, well at least until some other friend or relative tempts me with a plant!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Herb Cheese Wedges

Gosh.. I have spent every second this weekend working in the garden. I have much to share as I did accomplished a major task. But I am too tired I am going to share the great quick bread I made for dinner...more to follow tomorrow.

Herb Cheese Wedges

2 cups Bisquick
2TBLS sugar
2 teas dried minced onion
1/2 teas each dried dill, basil, oregano
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup Sauterine Wine
1/3 cup shredded cheese
Combine Bisquick, onion,sugar and herbs. Mix the eggs and milk together, beat slightly. Add the butter and wine to the dry ingredients. beat until blended. Turn out onto a well greased 8' cake pan. sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake t 400 degrees until brown and crusty, about 25 minutes.
Allow to sit for 10 minutes and then cut in wedges.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Siberian Elm

In our backyard we have a magnificent tree. It is a Siberian Elm. During every storm we sadly watch as Mother Nature does way too much pruning. For years my friends have urged me to enter the tree into the Kentucky Champion Tree Program, so I finally called the Kentucky Forestry Dept. Early this spring an Agent came out and measured the tree and told me it received a score of 320,but that it could not be entered in the Kentucky Champion Tree program as it was not Native to Kentucky. She did however check the National program, disappointment again,my tree was just short. The Biggest Siberian Elm in the United States has a score around 360. I wish it had been measured when we first moved here about 14 years ago, as so many limbs have fallen.

Under the arching branches of this amazing tree much of our life has evolved. From gatherings for both my children's weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, to casual dinners and meetings, the shade of this tree has hosted it all. Our property was originally part of Squire Boone's property (Daniel's Brother) so that old tree has seen it's share of history.The Forestry Agent told me that someone many years ago brought Siberian Elms into the country and planted about a dozen in Shelby Co. I feel blessed to have four.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Borage..Yuck!! There are spiders in my tea!!

Borage is an annual, that is well worth growing. It is beneficial to tomatoes and needs room to sprawl, so the vegetable garden is a good place for it to grow. Borage grows easily from seed and will also readily reseed itself. Often times it will pop up in totally unexpected places. The pictures are of very young reseeded borage plants.

The young leaves are best and have a cool cucumber taste. The flowers are lovely and edible. I have used them in salads as well as freezing them in ice cubes. I gave my Mom this hint, so for a Club meeting she was hosting, she picked some Borage flowers and froze them the ice cubes.
However, I had failed to tell her to pop out the seeds, so when she served the drinks with the frozen borage flowers, her ladies shrieked! The seeds still frozen in the borage flowers looked like frozen spiders floating in their tea!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Our Poly--too much catnip

This is our Poly...she is a Polydactyl Cat..i.e. Mitten Cat or Hemingway's Cat, She has 6 toes on each paw. When my Mother was moving from her house in Brown County, there were kittens under the porch, my Mom did not want to leave until they were safe. My sister crawled under the porch and got them. They were very wild. I took two and kept them upstairs in a room and slowly(it took 6 months) tamed them. I love them dearly, Poly is one and Stoner(my maiden name) is the other. They are very special and boy do they love the catnip!!

It is no wonder that long ago Farmers knew to plant the catnip around the fields, thus keeping the rats away, because the cats would hang out!!

I spread catnip out for Happy Hour for the is Poly enjoying it!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tarragon-my forgotten herb

In the past, I have not had the best of luck growing Tarragon. Every year I would buy a new plant and then it would disappear by the following growing season. But recently it has seemed to thrive in my garden. It also has grown prolifically in the Herb Garden at the park.(This is part of the Master Gardener's Arboretum. Two of my Master Gardener Friends and I have been working and developing the Herb Garden portion.) So I felt it was a sign, I decided to give it another try! In the picture,Tarragon is the plant spilling out into the path, behind it is catmint.( this picture is form the Herb Garden at the Arboretium.)

I had a recipe I wanted to try that had Tarragon in it, so I picked what little I had and made the soup. Wow oh wow, I had forgotten how wonderfully fragrant tarragon is while it is cooking. When I put it into the soup the whole kitchen smelled heavenly!!

The growing conditions at the Arboretum are perfect for Tarragon. It is full sun with well draining and fertile soil. At the park it is about 2-3 feet tall which is normal, mine at home is about 8 inches tall.

The most important fact about Tarragon is that you want to buy the French Tarragon, not the Russian. The French can not be grown from seed, you will have to buy a small plant. But it is so worth it. To test the tarragon, pinch off a small bit of the leaf, it should taste of anise. In fact when my friend and I tasted a bit at the Park, we were both amazed at how strongly it tasted of anise.It was easy to see why in ancient times it was used to freshen breathe.

My favorite thing to do with Tarragon is to make a herb vinegar with the leaves. When making Tarragon Vinegar, I will use a good white wine vinegar for the base, other herbs do great with just a white vinegar but not Tarragon. This Herb vinegar is great for sauces and for Fish!

Use this herb sparingly as it is strong and bold! I used way too much in my soup, as that was all you could taste. Live and learn.

This recipe is from a cookbook my sister in law gave me from England. It has wonderful recipes, including this recipe for Tarragon and Chicken with Peaches. I have changed this recipe a bit, but it is a hit time after time.

Chicken with Tarragon and Peaches

4 chicken leg portions( I use chicken breast..or thighs)

3 oz butter

6 fresh peaches

3/4 pint Sauce a la creme

3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

salt and pepper

Oven temp 350 degrees

Preheat the oven , Season the chicken with salt and pepper and saute the chicken in butter for 10 to 12 minutes. Peel and slice the peaches and lay them in an ovenproof dish. Place the chicken pieces on top of the peaches, heat the sauce gently and stir in the chopped tarragon. Check the seasoning and pour over the chicken. Bake in the Oven for 10-12 minutes and sprinkle with more careful don't overdo!

Recipe from "The Herb Cookbook"

by Rosamond Richardson

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pop Ups

Long before we all had to deal with computer pop ups, Mother Nature provided us with pop ups of her own. How is it we can work so hard on our soil and then pop there she is growing in the worst possible conditions! I wish we could just press a key and they would not be allowed! No such luck, and I actually let many of the pop ups stay. I figure if they feel that strong of an urge to grow, have at it!!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Great Day!!

Wow, today it is only going to be in the 70's.
I have a list of projects. I am still working
on the tree damage from all the winter storms,
tons of mulching,weeding and because the weather
is so wonderful, I may do some transplanting.

Stay tuned!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Give me your thoughts? What is this?

This plant was here when I invaded it's space. It is invasive, but controllable. It blooms right now. I think it might be a Soapwort or a Bouncing Bet. I would love to know what you think.


The Lillies are in bloom.... Each one is unique and wonderful. One word of warning, while some lillies have parts that are edible to humans all parts of the Tiger Lilly are toxic to cats! So do not plant catnip near the lillies. I have vowed to start labeling all the different lillies that I buy...but I have not done that task. Maybe in the future I will.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bee Balm

Hummingbirds have found the Bee Balm! Yeah..I have been waiting for them to come!
This a Native American Plant. It was discovered by the early Botanist John Barrtram near Oswego New York. So sometimes it is called Oswago. When the Colonists dumped all the tea from Britain in the sea....this was the foundation of Liberty Tea! The Revolutionaries used it in lieu of tea after the Boston Tea Parties.The plant was carried over from Virginia in 1637.
There are over 30 varieties and many colors!! It grows best in dappled shade to full sun and should be divided and transplanted every couple years. After the first round of blooms, I cut the plants down almost to the ground. They soon grow back up and sometimes give me another bloom. The worst case scenario is no bloom but nice foliage. This also helps with the powdery mildew they are prone to get.
Bee Balm grows all over Brown County Indiana. (this is where we lived before we moved to Kentucky) When our son Jake was very young, he never wanted to take a nap. I would put him in the car and drive through the countryside and have him look for Bee Balm. I would hear this little voice in the back seat " Bee Balm, Bee Balm..Bee...." and then he was out! So I love this plant. It has free range in my gardens!! It gave me time when I needed it most.

Garden Hats

It is a major struggle for me to get into the habit of wearing a hat while I work. They seem to just get in my way! My Dermatologist is insistent that I protect my face! I would love some suggestions. These lovely hats can all be found at

Which one is your favorite?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Today has been a day for the pets. I believe if you add a pet to your family is just that, a member of your family. My pets live forever. They are loved, even though their many issues have caused us some difficulties. Tasha is 12 years old. She is a Tibetan Mastiff. She is so gentle with the cats!! They all love her.

TM's blow their coat one time a year. We have to rake and rake her coat to keep her comfortable. So I had heard about this thing called The Furminator. Wow it is great. See the pile of dog hair! I will put this by the garden. It will help keep the bunnies out and the birds will use it for nesting!

This product can be viewed at:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Basil Fun

Weeding the potager garden, specifically the basil patch, is not a chore. First and foremost the bugs don't bother me!! They don't like basil's strong scent.

Last night, after having worked outside for many hot hours...I poured a glass of wine and headed out to the potager garden to weed the basil. The basil garden stimulates all my senses...the aroma is sensual and the color of the different basils are candy to the eyes! I love this garden, it is a mix of vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

In an addition to the potager garden,I grow basil in the planter outside the kitchen door, that way I can pinch and cook. It also thrives in the culinary herb garden in front of the Herb House. Often times I will use a combination of basils in the landscape. I have used African Blue Basil by the mailbox, because it has beautiful hues of purple and green and becomes a big busy plant.When I combine it with either Opal Basil or Purple Ruffles Basil , it is stunning. One of my fav's, Spicy Globe Basil makes a wonderful border plant! This is like having your cake and eating it too. Just make sure that basil is planted where it receives full sun. Remember that basil is a native of Asia and Africa, so it loves hot dry summers!

It is important to pinch the tops of basil. This is great because you can start harvesting and using the young basil and create big bushy basil plants. The basil plants should not be allowed to flower,because all the energy of the plant then goes into the blossom. My exception to that rule is in late fall when the first frost is looming, I let the basil flower, then I cut and air dried the seed heads. They are very nice in a basket and I smell the scent of basil all winter long. That is the cool thing about herbs, they keep giving all year long.

I was inspired by the young squash and zucchini popping up in the vegetable section of the potager garden so I found a great recipe to try that incorporated both the squash and fresh basil. I loved it and it was a 2nd day hit at the Office. I found it in the June Southern Living Magazine.


Summer Squash Stacks With Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce

1 medium-sized yellow squash, cut diagonally in to 8(1/4 inch thick )slices
2 medium zucchini, cu the same as the squash
2 TBLS olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp salt
1(8.8 oz) package fresh mozzarella cheese
16 basil leaves

Garnish: freshly shaved Parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 350. Brush squash and zucchini with oil: place in a single layer in a jelly -roll pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.

2. Cut mozzarella into 8(14 inch-thick) slices. Cut each slice in half. Place half of zucchini on a serving platter. Layer with half the mozzarella cheese and the basil. Top with yellow squash.

Layer with the remaining zucchini, cheese and basil. Top with roasted red bell pepper sauce. I garnished with small basil leaves or small basil blossoms.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

1(7 oz) jar roasted red bell peppers drained
2TBLS chopped fresh basil( I used the small leaves of Spicy Globe Basil)
1TBLS olive oil
1tsp salt
2tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp sugar

Process all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Thank you today for...

Everday I am going to post what I am grateful for today!!!

Today I am grateful for:
Going to the Farmer's Market and getting some super Kale and seeing my great friends who sell the most beautiful bunches of Flowers.

For Melinda and the great Pilates class!

For no rain all afternoon so I could cut and weed.

For having great phone calls from both my babies( they will always be my babies even thought they are 25 and 27)

For seeing a hummingbird. I have not seen one all summer. The Scout that came in April, hit the window and died and I have not seen one since. I plant every plant on the list for attracting Hummingbirds.( no surprise)

For going to a great dinner with one of my Best Friends in Shelbyville!!!

For how amazing it is that nature has recovered from the awful winter we endured in Kentucky!

(see photo)


I have promised myself I would blog everyday....We are going out to eat with a great friend tonight and I have been on the go all day. Farmer's Market at 8:00am, hilltop(local market), Kroger..then pilates class...then home to work all the rest of the day in the garden.

Here is another reason I love Basil: It was very humid today, I could not find a place to work where I was not being eaten up alive. So out to the Potager Garden. I weeded in the basil and no bugs!!! Basil is so aromatic that it repels bugs.

The roses are planted between the basil, chives and lavender. All in an effort to let nature protect and not sprays. They look good but unlike other years, I am already battling black spot. We have had so much rain!!......

I cut some lavender, to give to friends. Lavender is for remembering. Tomorrow I am driving up to Indiana to take my 90 year young Mom to her fav...Bob Evans!! I will take her Lavender and a bunch of Black Eyed Susans!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Orange Basil Cookies-continuing with Basil!

I have not been eating many cookies these days. I am down 23 lbs and still going. Ladies my age know what this time in our life can do! But if I were going to eat a cookie, I would make this one. Very easy and very tasty!

1/4 cup butter
3 oz cream cheese
1 egg yolk
1TBLS orange juice
1teas orange peel
i box orange cake mix
1 cup nutmeats and raisins
2 TBLS dried basil*

Mix together butter, cheese, egg yolk, juice and cake mix. Stir in nuts and raisins, orange peel,and basil. Chill dough. roll into 1/2 inch balls and place on cookie sheets(I spray Pam them..can use butter) Flatten each with a fork. bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

* 1 teaspoon dried= 1 tbls fresh


I have been trying to garden tonight. Sometimes I come home from work and my gardens seem overwhelming. I have such a passion for gardening that when I go into a nursery I can feel my body start to tingle.
This addiction has led me to plant gardens all over our 20 acres. Every spare minute is spent on a garden project. But tonight my hand is still swollen from my run in with the bees, the bugs are pesky, and it is HOT so I am inside.

I have decided that for ever herb I focus on, I am going to have a section on: "What I Know". Since I use the definition of an herb as any plant that has any use for Mankind, this could a very lengthy blog!

Please note: I studied Anthropology not Horticulture in college. What I know I have learned from reading, gardening, attending and teaching herb classes and seminars. I have been on this path for over 30 years. I am not great with Latin names, I prefer the nick names. However I bring to the table years of study, hands on experience and a passion or shall I say an obsession with gardening. I am a Master Gardener in Shelby County Kentucky as well.

If you disagree or have anything to add to "What I Know"
please write me about the subject. I would love to learn
"What You Know". There is a wealth of information on herbs; from history, to uses, to growth patterns, to all the myths and lore's. I want to learn it all.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


My Father passed away last year after a long struggle with Alzheimer's, however during his lifetime he spent many hours planting thousands of daffodils and Black Eyed Susans on their property in Brown County Indiana. He moved Black Eyed Susans to every inch of bare land. Then he started on his six kid's properties. When I moved to Kentucky from Indiana, our moving van was full of Indiana Black Eyed Susans. If anyone has ever grown the native Indiana Black Eyed Susan they will understand how quickly my yard filled as well as all my neighbors. Nothing is better than giving away plants to good friends. Every time I move a bunch or give a bunch of Black Eyed Susans, I feel my father close and get a very special warm feeling in my heart. All the plants my Dad nurished love my garden.....even the violets! I love you Dad.

Hey Dad..the first Black Eyed Susan has opened!

Today is a very special day.

The first Black Eyed Susan opened up. For as many years as I can remember my father recorded in his special black book the date of the first daffodil bloom as well as when the first Black Eyed Susan opened. It is today!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin