Thursday, December 15, 2016

Beautiful Camellia's


I just recently discovered this beautiful southern charmer. What is more captivating than a bush that blooms during the winter months. This bush is next to my daughter's house in Athens Georgia. I was  down there the first of December and was taken in by this roselike bloomer.  Although I have spent a lot of time in the deep south, these are not as prevalent down near the Ft Meyers area.

The south is defiantly this beauties soul. In fact it is the state flower for Alabama. Camellias (Camellia japonica) are originate from from eastern and southern Asia. With over 3,000 named varieties there is no end to the color, forms and sizes available.

I have never attempted to grow this amazing plant in my Kentucky garden.  There is some hope, however as the species C. oleifera,  might possibly make it in a shelter area. It can withstand  temps as low as -15 degrees.

I have read that they make great container plants, I might try it as I have been able to keep a gardenia
alive in a container and overwintering it in the Herb House. I will let you know.

We will be in Charleston over the Holidays, so I am going to explore the botanical gardens that were established by Andre Michaux.  This enthusiastic French plant explorer and botanist first introduced these to this region in 1786.  He shared many of his prized camellias with his friend Henry Middleton, who had a plantation right next to Michaux.

Today the grounds are both open and boost of beautiful landscapes, plus much more. I will check out both...So more pictures of these southern belles to come.



Monday, November 28, 2016

Love From Above



This is my Mom's Christmas Cactus...but Mom love Thanksgiving and it always blooms for me on Thanksgiving....I get it Mom.

Much love ....

Friday, November 25, 2016

Some Sage Advice




Yes…it is Sage, but specifically Salvia officials ‘Berggarten’.  I love this sage, the leaves are such a beautiful shape, much more attractive than the sharp pointed narrow leaves of garden sage. Yet, it has just as good as flavor if not better. 
The bright green new growth in the spring gradually fades to a soft downy gray. If this plant is grown in the full sun, the plant can develop a purple hue. What I love about this variety is that it stays much more compact and beautiful. It rarely blooms, so that energy is put back in to the plant and so it stays very handsome longer. My regular garden sage tends to get straggly and I have to cut away back every spring. This variety is just flat out prettier. 
My ‘Berggarten’  is planted in full sun and continues to comfortably spread throughout the garden. 
I trim it often usually about 3 to 4 inches at a time. I use the trimmings for not only culinary but also decorations and drying as well.  Would stop this process early fall, as I feel it can weekend the plant. 
Right now it is still a mass of soft grayish pillows in a winter garden. Try it you will love it. I used it in my homemade turkey stock yesterday as well as my stuffing. Both were packed with flavor. Nothing makes me happier than being able to walk outside and pick fresh herbs, even at this late date, I still have plenty that can be used. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tarragon...but not a True Tarragon


This one was a little tougher…..  it is  Tagetes lucida  or Tarragon, Four Seasons. It is not a true tarragon but a good substitute.  It is also sometimes mistakenly referred to as Mexican Mint Marigold as it is from the same family. I have also heard it referred to as Spanish Tarragon. 


The long narrow bright green leaves have a sweet anise smell and taste. Thus making it a good substitute for French Tarragon. (Artemisia dracunculus).  Since I fail miserably at growing the real tarragon, I have used this as a substitute in many of my fish and chicken recipes that call for tarragon.  It dries nicely so I have substituted it in my blends like Fines Herbes, Herbes de Provence, and Bouquet Garni.  I have not tried to use it in Herb Vinegar, but I will let you know as that is part of my harvest plan for this herb. 

The bright daisy like blossom is adorable but taste like grass, not a great additive to most dishes. It blooms late summer to early fall. It is still blooming proud and strong today in my garden. 

I love the way this plant stands straight up (up to 30’) and spreads out. It is only hardy in zones 8-10, so has to be treated as an annual in my neck of the woods. Mine is in full sun and responded nicely to it’s summer home. It resists drought and likes poor soil. Perhaps that is why it has done well this year.   

Time for me to either bring it in or harvest the leaves. It survived the last light frost last week but I think I am pushing my luck.  My plan for next year is to buy two, put one in the ground and one into a container.



Saturday, November 12, 2016

Beautiful Mexico Sage....








Yes…it is Mexican Sage ( Salvia leucantha) and it is blooming in my garden now.  I love the purple and white velvet blossoms.  They resemble  a lavender blossom on steroids. Plus they dry so nicely. Just bundle up a few and hang upside down. I love to use them in wreaths, they add such a great pop of color. 

Here is the low down:
Common Name: Mexican sage, Mexican bush sage
Varieties To Look For: ‘All Purple’
Color: Purple or white flowers, gray-green foliage
Blooming Period: Depending on your location, blooming starts in late August to mid-September and continues to frost. This is November 12th and it is still blooming!!
Type: Tender perennial or warm-weather annual
Size: 2 to 4 feet
Exposure: Full sun …don’t crowd them. 
When to Plant: Mid to late spring
How to Plant: Level with soil surface
Soil: Well-drained, average to rich fertility
Watering: Evenly moist, no wet feet

This plant needs to have a commanding spot in the garden. It will be a show piece in your fall garden and attract hummingbirds and butterflies get the last nip of nectar. 

Thanks to  statebystategardening.com  for the low down info. Now I am heading to the Herb Garden at the Park to cut the Mexican Sage to dry. We are expecting a hard frost tonight and I cannot let the blossoms go….


Monday, October 31, 2016

YES...They are Toad Lilies

So...here is my excuse for taking so long to answer the What is it Wednesday Question.....
Visitors over the weekend and who could stay inside and write?


Anyway...this one was no fun! Everyone guessed it correctly. It was Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis hirta)

These first photos are of the common Toad Lily. It is an easy to care for, slow spreading, clump forming perennial

The leaves alternate along many stems about 30" to 36" long and produce an orchid like blooms. These bloom from late summer well into the fall. (They are still blooming now)

The blooms are very intricate and special. They are either white or pale yellow to a pinkish color but the coolest thing are all the spots. Each flower boost hundreds of dark purple to burgundy colored spots.  Get it....the toad part of the name!!


There are several different varieties, all very unique. These little gems like a moist environment with partial shade of full shade.  The leaf damage on the last picture, I believe is due in part to the dry late summer and fall we are currently experiencing.

I have never tried to grow these from seed, but has been one of the easiest shade plants I have grown. I love anything that blooms late.....well worth a try!



Friday, October 21, 2016

Where Cotton is King!!

Yes... So many of you  guessed the correct answer.   The "What is it Wednesday" was cotton.  I had picked up the stem at the Athens Georgia Farmers Market.

Interesting enough this corresponded to a visit to Waco Texas. I am a big fan of  "Fixer Upper" on HGTV and been watching the progress of the Magnolia Farms Store and Silos. So while in Dallas with my husband, I took the opportunity to drive on down.  Wow is this a super place. Plus it seems that they have many fans and the whole area was swamped.  I was struck by the details and the obvious unbelievable level of personal energy Chip and Joanna Gaines have put into this project. All the employees were so friendly and helpful. Here are some photos:



I think the Gaines's style stirs a sense of calm, family and better times. When life was just a bit simpler and we all slowed down more to enjoy each other. It certainly appeals to me. 




Oh yes....back to the cotton. It was everywhere in the decor. 


So if you are anywhere near Waco Texas or not this is a great place to visit. I left feeling very relaxed and excited about the future for a once deserted downtown.  Way to go Gaines!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What is it Wednesday .....the wait is over.



Time to end the suspense ….It is Japanese Perilla or Shiso (Perilla frutecens).  This purple, leafy plant used most commonly in oriental cooking. People often looked at it and think it is Opal Basil or Coleus. But it is not. I must admit, it is very pretty and adds nice color to a garden. 

 However, I do want to attach a very strong warning with this plant. It is definitely invasive. It reseeds readily and will quickly fill a space with pretty purple and green plants and blooms. I actually pull it like weeds and only plant it in a pot. After all it is a member of the mint family. 

Shiso also  known as beefsteak plant or purple mint, is a valuable herb to many and a problematic peak to many other. It is toxic to grazing animals and even deadly to coast, sheep, cattle and horses. 

This plant is defiantly part of the “If You Can’t Beat it, Eat it Family”  Personally, I have not used it culinarily but keep collecting recipes to give it a try.  It must be tasty since it is used in Japan, China, Korea, Laos, Vietnam and South Asia  cuisines. 

So give it a try, if you are adventurous but be ready to weed!!!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Digging and Dividing....and eating Orange Basil Cookies!

Thanks to all the great folks that came out to my gardens Thursday night. I enjoyed sharing why I feel the fall is one of the best times to dig and divided perennials. 

Although many feel this is a time when the gardens look as if they are dying back, I feel the crisp cool fall days plus the potential for more rain makes fall gardens yearning for a new look. 
Here are just s few basic tips for Fall Dividing:

  1. A general rule of thumb is that it is best to divide spring and summer blooming plants in the fall and late summer and fall blooming plants in the spring. (There are always exceptions to the rule, like lilies or some non-picky plants such as BlackEyed Susan's that always like an adventure)
  2. If possible pick a cloudy day with rain in the forecast. Might as well let Mother Nature help with the work. If a warm sunny time, be sure to shade the transplant and keep well watered. 
  3. Be sure to dig around the plant to get all the roots. Lift out the mom and divide. Careful examination of the plant will help you determine how best to divide. 
  4. Replant the strongest ones, allowing enough space for new growth.  Don't allow the transplant to dry up during the move. 
  5. A good feeding of compost or organic fertilizer, is a nice extra. 
  6. More than enough?   They make great gifts as Pass A Long Plants.



Last night I made one of my favorite cookies!! Orange Basil Cookies. I had several request for the recipe.Enjoy

Ingredients 
1/3 cup butter (softened)
8oz cream cheese (softened)
1egg yolk
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 Box Orange Cake Mix
1 teaspoon orange zest grated
1cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
2 tablespoons dried basil

Mix together the butter, cream cheese, egg yolk, and orange juice.  Add cake mix  then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Chill dough.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees; butter cookie sheets, Roll chilled dough into 1/2 inch balls and place on cookie sheets. Flatten each ball with a fork. Bake about 10 to 15 minutes. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

OK..Mom Enough is Enough

              Mr Mother loved her cats!!  She had a small cat named Burky that she found the day my father went into a Nursing Home. The cat was very young and mom bottle fed it. It became my mothers companion for the rest of both of their lives.

But flash back, while my mom still lived in Brown County at Stoner's Lonesome, she faithfully feed an army of stray cats. It was very important to mom..They all had names from Stray Ray to Stoner...etc.

Before my mother would leave the house and move to assisted living, she had Janet(my older sister) and myself crawl under the house and get Stray Ray's kittens.  We each took two. One of mine was a paulydextrial cat.(a extra toe on each paw) and a duplicate of Stray Ray ...who I named Stoner.

They were feral cats so it took me many months of having them locked in a room and sitting with them to get them to come to me. They are tame, but still really skidish of anyone but myself.

So to make a long cat story short....I have them in the upstairs of my house, my son brought me a recuse kitty that claims the first floor of my house..Millie.  Chaos happens if the three ever meet up!!

But the story does not stop there. We had a momma cat in the barn two years ago and she had three babies. I began to feed them and now they have progressed from barn cats to gazebo cats.

As the story continues, when you feed stray cats the word goes out... So I am trying to trap, neuter, spay, and give away.

I hope my mom has found a good place for cat ladies in heaven, because I am not far behind her....



Thursday, September 22, 2016

Blackberry Lilly Plant

It is not a Blackberry or a Lily, but it is  Belamcanda chinensis,  Blackberry Lily Plant. It is actually a member of the Iris family and has recently been renamed  “Iris domestica’ 

This plant is very easy to grow and with its small star shaped bright orange blossom, adds good summer color. Each petal host some spots, which give it the nick name of leopard flower or leopard lily. What is very cool about this flower is that each blossom only last one day, then each night they begin the process of folding and twisting in upon itself to form the blackberry looking seed head.  Have no fear the plant produces many flowers during the growing season so it remains a pop of color through out late summer. 

The leaves are similar to iris and can reach from 1 to 3 ft tall.  They do best in full sun and require very little additional care. 

They are a great pass along plant, as they can easily be divided. The plant has a bulb for its base, but also can be shared by harvesting and planting the seeds. 

This plant is fun, unique and pretty!  What more could you want in your perennial border. 



Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Wonderful "Pass Along Plant"

 The 'Think About it Thursday Plant' is a great old fashion "Pass Along Plant". One of the plants you  will not be able to find it in nurseries or the big box stores.  You have to find someone special to pass it on to you.... That is how I received it.  It was from a wonderful lady who I have lost contact with but helped me with  my kids when I really needed the help and love.  Thanks  Michelle...

Hardy Begonia ' Begonia grandis'   spreads to form a large mound of beautiful foliage and very sweet pink blooms.


This quite beauty likes the shade, and a moist environment. It thrives wonderfully behind my herb house in partial shade along with ferns. I have tried to move it with no luck....

Michelle told me it was invasive but I have not had that luxury, in fact I worry about it year to year. It seems to be happy with the first place I planted it but no place else.  

I will baby it because it is a very unique wonderful shade pass along. 



Monday, September 12, 2016

Yes...It is Turtlehead ......

Yes, the 'What is it Wednesday' Plant is Turtlehead or  Chelone.  This plant is a win/win. It gets its name from the shape of its unusual flowers, which look like the head of a snapper turtle. Here is why you need it in your garden.

#1  It is blooming now.  When so much is dying back for the year.

#2  It thrives in part sun, actually mine grows in more shade than sun.

#3  Very reliable perennial that spreads but is not invasive.

#4   Grows from 1 to 8 feet....and spreads into a great clump.

Try it I think you will like it!!!


Answer...sorry for the delay.

The answer is.......  but first. I am so sorry for the delay. This has been a traumatic couple days. Our beloved Dixie succumbed to her Cushing Disease and left us to go to Doggie Heaven.  We are very sad for a beloved dog found in a ditch, thirteen years ago
in Cadiz KY.  RIP Dixie our "Pretty Pretty ", we will miss you so much. You are amazing!!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Cool Website for Butterfly and Moth ID

Check this cool sight out.....

Butterflies and Moths of North America..collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera.

www.buterfliesandmoths.org

You have to set up a free account, but then you can submit a picture and answer few questions and they will supply you with an identification and some wonderful information.

They use your picture and info to track the butterflies and moths.  Very Cool.

My Garden has been alive with activity .....I love it!!

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