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  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….


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