Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Fall Blooms

Ok..I had planned on posting on the wonderful sages blooming now, but I went outside and could not believe all the blooms.. so here is just a collection of photos of fall blooms....ENJOY!

So much to enjoy...this year...

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Another Great Fall Invasive: Aster Tatarian

Aster Tatarian (Aster tataricus)  in my humble opinion is the best aster ever!!  Twenty three years ago, when we moved here I noticed this plant appearing in mass around my various gardens. We moved here in May and I immediately made the commitment not to dig anything up until I had lived at my new abode for a full four season cycle. That was a very wise decision, although difficult, because my gardens had been loved by several generations of plant lovers and held so many hidden treasures. 

This aster starts appearing as clumps of leaves early on in the late spring, then continues to grow taller and taller until it finally blooms in late August. 

Tatarian aster is a very impressive, stately perennial with a flowering height of 3 to 6 feet. It can look you in the eye yet require no staking. More important, this aster flowers longer than any other garden aster, beginning in late September and early October and continuing into November. The 1-inch-wide, light lavender flowers are a magnet for local and migrating monarch butterflies. This plant tolerates many soil types, can form large colonies in a few years, and is easily divided." (Fine Gardening )

I can not describe effectively enough how many pollinators love this late bloomer, hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, lightening bugs they swarm all over it. But it is not only the pollinators, every human pollinator that visits my gardens this time of year, immediately asks me about this show stopper. 

I have transplanted and moved this sweetheart all over the garden. It seems to do well wherever  I plant it. In fact, I have quit buying New England Asters, just too floppy, way too much work and not nearly as beautiful. P.S. It out blooms any mum on the block as well.

This Aster was first introduced to to west in 1818. It's fame was spread by Thomas Jefferson as he used it intensively in his Monticello gardens. The Chinese have used properties of this perennial for centuries, many excellent medicinal uses. 

Take my advice and add this beauty to your gardens. It can spread but I control it by thrilling my garden visitors with pass along clumps. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by ...so happy to share.

 Monarchs seem to love this plant...I can always find several on the various groupings. Just yesterday I saw 6.

6 ft. to 10 ft.
1 ft. to 3 ft.
Growth Habit
Full Sun to Part Shade
Medium Moisture
Attracts Butterflies, Showy Flowers
Bloom Time
Early Fall, Fall
Flower Color
Island Paradise, Niagara, Primrose Yellow
Beds and Borders
Cottage Garden, Meadow Garden
Seasonal Interest
Summer Interest
Frost Tolerant

Thank you Fine Gardening Magazine  for all the great information.  And thank you to the past gardeners that worked my land many years ago and planted this gem just for me to love and passalong. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Part 2....Fall Invasives...Garlic Chives...

Garlic Chives are another one of my Fall Invasive's that I love. Garlic Chives get such a bum rap but not by this gardener or nor by all the many varieties of pollinators that flock to them this time of year.

These chives look similar to the regular chives except that their leaves are flat blades rather than the thin hollow roundish leaves of regular chive.  Another difference is that the regular chive blooms in the spring as a delightful pink puff. These blooms make an exceptional vinegar that turns a beautiful pink hue. But back to my Fall Chives....

Allium tuberous  are one of the oldest herbs recorded. In fact over 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.  They grow in clumps and have very fibrous small onion like roots, which are not edible. However, the flower head and leaves are great additions to vinegars, salads,soups, compound butters, soft cheeses, just about any where you want a mild garlic accent. 

I love them along the borders of my gardens, I keep them from getting to lanky by frequent haircuts during the growing season. Then when I notice the stem coming up I back off the haircuts. They have  minimal requirements and reliably return each year. 

When they are done blooming the heads transform into a really decorative seed pod. But beware this is when they become dangerous.   So it is off with their heads time or else you will have garlic chives absolutely everywhere. Please heed this warning unless you want a 100% chive garden. 
But I love the amount of pollinators that swarm over them from bees, to butterflies to lightning bugs.... this time of year my garden is a Chive Blossom Party. 

Not to be forgotten are all the wonderful companion planting properties of these plants.  They love and aid roses, grapes, tomatoes, and even help with scab on apples. I often use them as a green mulch around the bases of my apple trees. 
All these reasons are why when grown with caution these guys are a win/win. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

BASIL BECKY..... Gardening from the Heart: Love My Fall Invasives Part 1 - Fall Blooming Clem...

BASIL BECKY..... Gardening from the Heart: Love My Fall Invasives Part 1 - Fall Blooming Clem...:           Fall..I love it, but when I need blooms I sing the praises of some old fashion favorites that get a bad rap. I know what yo...

Love My Fall Invasives Part 1 - Fall Blooming Clematis

          Fall..I love it, but when I need blooms I
sing the praises of some old fashion favorites that get a bad rap. I know what you all will be saying, these plants are invasive. Yes, they can be, but at this time of year plentiful white blooms add so much. So I work aggressively with my favorites and it makes my pollinators and neighbors so happy!!
          This is Fall Blooming Clematis. It blooms this time of year for several weeks. Every year  I have so many people stop and ask me about this plant.  I do not have a hard time controlling this plant but I am very aware, and the wow factor is so worth it.
           Plus the bees love it and it smells out of this world..... I have great fencing for it to aggressively climb over so

I let it spread....

Here are facts about this fall beauty from an article I published on this plant for Kentucky Gardener.

Clematis paniculata ( C. terniflora)  will quickly cover a bare fence or an unsightly shed.  It can easily grow up to 30 ft, but I have found it is easily controlled with pruning in the spring.  

Common Name: Fall Blooming Clematis or Sweet Autumn Clematis

Botanical Name: Clematis paniculata ( C.terniflora)

Color: White Star shaped flowers with dark green leaves

Blooming Period: August through September

Zone: 4-8 S/ 4-10 W

Type: Perennial (readily self seeds, lots of babies to give away or transplant to different locations)

Size: Can grow up to 30 ft in a season. Does best when it can spread out as well as up…and needs just a bit of guidance at first!

Exposure: Full to Part Sun (needs at least 6 hours of sun)

When to Plant: They need to be planted in the early spring, when they are small and manageable. Plus this will help encourage proper growth and abundant flowering.

How to Plant: Plant in amended soil, making sure the crown is at least 1 to 2 inches below the surface. Take care that the hole is deep and wide enough to fit the existing root system. Cut the existing stems back to 1 foot in height to encourage branching while growing.

Soil:  I amend the soil with compost to help with drainage and soil aeration.

Watering: Regular deep weekly watering .Because of the deep root system, this plant prefers regular thorough watering during the season. About 1 inch of water per week.  

When to Prune: Prune in February or March to encourage proper growth and more prolific flowering

When to Fertilize:  I mulch with compost during the season making sure not to put too close around the crown. Other than that an occasional feeding of miracle grow will keep this heavy feeder happy.

This beauty adorns my wooden fence, it holds court with the spikes of the blue Russian sage, purple butterfly bush and white garlic chive blossoms all adding their touches to a stunning last hooray! It can be used as a ground cover but there is no question that this beauty is best displayed growing up and out! It is like a mountain of glistening snow in September!!!  

I do make sure and cut it down, pruning is the key. If you skip this step, you will not have blooms the following year and will have many seedlings.
So please don't be afraid. When I drive down to visit my daughter in Georgia this time of year, I see this growing in the woods along I40. It adds a highlight to the fall forest.  

Stay tune for the next Fall Invasive Beauty...

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Great Friends Reunion....

Last weekend we hosted our Supper Club. These three couples, we make four, are like family to us. We have been meeting for over 40 years. So many amazing trips together, weddings of all our kids, anniversaries, baptisms, funerals, and just fun get aways....we have celebrated and cried all together.

I cannot tell you how important this group of loved ones are to Randy and myself. There are friends but this group are beyond friends...I consider them family.

Most of these dear friends had not been to Kentucky for many years.. we tend to travel to unique destinations such as St John's, Eleuteria, Santa Fe, etc etc....

But as time as gone on, we all have grand babies, so many obligations it gets so hard to get together. But not a one of us are willing to let this special group go.

So last weekend we joined together in Kentucky at Colony Springs Farm.  We have so much work to do on our 150 year old house that I was hesitate to have everyone staying here. But this is about friendship, love and history and not my Fixer Upper.

It was such a great 24 hours.. I smoked a brisket for over 8 hours, plus added recipes fresh from the garden. Everyone brought great side dishes and lots of great drinks.

So we ate hardily and drank freely and loved our time together....  Although it was only 24 hours it was so amazing... I feel blessed to have friends that I have loved for so long to stroll though my gardens and see my garden heart and soul.

Most of them are heading out to great adventures.. We are more low key this year. But how great to have these great friends in my Kentucky Gardens for 24 hours...

Hey..here is the best thing..they left some great food. So I took the brisket to the office and they al were so happy as well as they love the Blackberry Cake.

But tonight I took the left over Artichoke dip and Olive dip and stuffed it into fresh tomatoes...Then baked it and topped with great cheese. We will eat great tonight.

A big zucchini left behind has gone into the spaghetti sauce for the spaghetti squash we are having for dinner tonight. ( Thanks Peggy)

So much love to my amazing friends... And thanks for the left overs..the Kirts's have eaten great tis week.

Just a few images of what i did with left overs...

I wish I had my friends here to eat the tasty left overs.....much love

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

BASIL BECKY..... Gardening from the Heart: More Dill Needed

BASIL BECKY..... Gardening from the Heart: More Dill Needed: So tonight I went out to harvest some Dill Weed. My husband loves fresh cucumbers with dill and onions. So I was trying to make a quick sid...

More Dill Needed

So tonight I went out to harvest some Dill Weed. My husband loves fresh cucumbers with dill and onions. So I was trying to make a quick side for dinner. I had some fresh cucumbers from the garden so....

However.....when I went out to the Herb Garden someone else had eaten all the dill weed.????

It is ok...I will plant more dill and I still had enough to make the following recipe. My pollinators come first..I can always eat something else

I was trying to mimic a recipe my mom use to make. Not sure it is the same recipe but very similar. 

4 Cucumbers , thinly sliced 
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
1cup white vinegar 
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons or more fresh dill
Toss together the cucumbers and onion in a small bowl. Combine the vinegar, water, and sugar in a sauce pan over medium though heat. Bring to a boil and pour over the cucumber/ onion  mixture. Stir in dill weed cover and refrigerate until cold, at least one hour. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

BASIL BECKY..... Gardening from the Heart: Here come the Surprise Lilies.. AKA Naked Lilies

BASIL BECKY..... Gardening from the Heart: Here come the Surprise Lilies.. AKA Naked Lilies: They are here....I love this plant. I  did not know about it when I lived in Indiana... but it is so cool and beautiful this time of ye...

Here come the Surprise Lilies.. AKA Naked Lilies

They are here....I love this plant. I  did not know about it when I lived in Indiana... but it is so cool and beautiful this time of year.... Here is an article from the Kentucky Gardener I wrote about 5 years ago.  I am really fascinated by them!

 Enjoy the Article!!

We bought the house we currently live in 20 plus years ago in the early spring. When we moved in I was so thrilled to see all the spring bulbs popping up everywhere. There were patches of daffodils, snowdrops, and hyacinths in many different spots. Plus in the out buildings I found many empty boxes from Brecks, Springhill and more. All this gave me hope of what the spring and summer would behold. I was not disappointed  when the first bulbs appeared. Although the plantings were randomly planted, the plants were just waiting for me to move them to the right spot.
 However one bulb had me stumped. Late spring I had strap-like, greenish, gray leaves up to 12 inches long and 1 inch wide in groups all over the yard. As early summer arrived and the leaves died off, I was very tempted to dig them up and throw them out. Luckily, I ran out of time doing more pressing garden projects, and let them grow.  Then in the late summer, I noticed arrow like spears shooting out of the ground. Each sheath would grow about 2 feet tall, and would open into 5 to 7 funnel shaped rose tinted pink blooms.  What a surprise!  
  After doing some research, which mainly consisted of asking garden friends, neighbors, and reading blogs, I discovered that they were Lycoris squamigera.  This is a plant with many aliases including Naked Ladies, Resurrection Lilies, Magic Lilies or Surprise Lilies. I love the variety of names. You may know them by a different name. If so please pass it on!!
Here are a couple words of advice I have learned about this very unusual plant. This may be the only bulb I know that needs a warning label.
#1) If you have an obsessed mower, like my husband, you must watch for the arrival of the stems emerging from the ground or they may be mowed down. I have slowly transplanted my” Naked Ladies” to flower beds. However, I bet if you let your husband know being careful and not mowing in certain area will result in a group of “Naked Ladies” appearing, he will greatly improve his mowing game!
#2) Be careful where you talk about your Surprise Lilies! I heard a story about a 
man who was going to his choir practice at church. He began to talk about the fact that he 
had several” Naked Ladies” in his front yard. The Music Director looked at him and said something to the effect: if this is true, then why in the heck are you here? 
#3) Practice self discipline when weeding in the spring. No one has ever needed  to warn me about this, as I have a long history of leaving “unknown” fast growing “plants” way too long only to discover I have nurtured a weed. If you get frustrated with the lack of flowers and discard the bulb, you will miss the big show.
#4) “Naked Ladies” do need to be transplanted and shared or replanted every so often. I read a blog email from a person who was complaining that he had too many  
“Naked Ladies” in his front yard.  Perhaps this is why this plant was included in Steve Bender and Felder Rushing’s great book. Passalong Plants.  However, do beware, as Felder Rushing mentions Lycoris, may skip a couple years before blooming when they are messed with.  I loved his comment about the transplanting problem, “You really can’t complain about all if this. It’s just the price you pay for disturbing Naked Ladies.” (Felder Rushing Passalong Plants.

So all jokes aside, I am thrilled that one of the previous owner’s of my house, felt the urge to plant this wonderful bulb. Previous owners include a missionary/ retired author, a psychiatrist, (who is probably responsible for the cage in my attic) and an owner of a fertilizer company who was looking to build a retreat far from the big city (Louisville)  This owner had connections to the bourbon industry in Kentucky. Or perhaps they might have been planted by the owners of the original house on the property that burned. I just don’t know who is responsible for planting them.  And even if I did, would they admit to wanting hundreds of “Naked Ladies” in the yard??   

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Party Time

Last night I hosted a baby shower for a dear friends daughter. It was a very hot night but we kept cool under the shade of the Big Siberian Elm. I love hosting garden parties. I always try to use any fresh veggies and herbs from the garden in all the recipes. To say I get a little obsessed with these parties is probably an understatement. 

So every dish had an herb in it...mostly Basil, plus we have tons of Blackberries in the garden so of course they had to be included. Here was the menu...

Dill Snack Crackers 
Cauliflower/Broccoli Marinated Salad
Blackberry Cucumber Caprese Skewers
Basil Lemon Chicken Salad on Croissants 
Limoncello Blackberry/Mint Fruit Salad 
Baby Girl Sugar Cookies
Blueberry/Mint  Infused Water
Moscato Lemonade

All the food was great tasting and beautiful for the eye as well...

Here is the recipe for one of everyone's favorite:  Opal Basil Broccoli/Cauliflower Salad
Ingredients:  1 head cauliflower; 1 bunch broccoli ; 2 stalks celery; 1 cup sugar ; 2 TBlSP Poppy seeds; 1tsp salt; 2 tsp dry mustard; 1 onion finely minced;  1/2 cup Opal basil Vinegar;  1 1/4 cup oil.
Break Veggies into bite sized pieces. Add Celery that has been cut into bite sized pieces. Mix sugar, poppy seeds, salt, mustard, onion,  vinegar and oil.  Add to Veggies and and refrigerate for at least three hours. I like to turn it over at least once...  So Yummy!!

This gets better the next day .......

I will put up more of recipes on later blogs or by request.  Now I am going to go finish off some of that Lemonade...

Friday, June 30, 2017

Here is My Excuse or Excuses...

So I came home from work early this afternoon with one objective to plant the herbs I had purchased for my talk last Friday in Owensboro.  They had been sitting for a week, since we left for a family vacation at Vero Beach the very next day.

First..I got side tracked by the news that I was on the cover of "Shelby CountyLife" .

Thank you so much for the garden love!!

Ok..then I got distracted putting together some vases of flowers for a special friend!

So finally to my mission:  but oh no a big distraction.  In all my talks I say my Herb Yarb in front of the herb house is totally culinary herbs.  However, Celosia has invaded and taken over.  I love it but it is not edible so it needs to be moved. 

There is so much and I hate just throwing it away. So I will transplant some and pull the rest and toss on a compost pile, so it does have a chance to grow. 
These flowers dry so nicely and I love using them in arrangements, but they need to not be in this garden. 

I did not get done...but got a good start...  tomorrow is a long day. We will see...

Monday, June 19, 2017

Clary Sage...the bloom worth pondering all weekend!

This bloom is well worth pondering about all weekend long, in fact, I feel it worth putting in any garden.....

Yes…this is one of my favorite Sages, of which there are over 600 varieties.  Clary Sage is the icing on the cake in the garden this time of year. When little else is blooming, this beauty breaks out its loveliness and blooms for several weeks. 

I love the bloom as much as it opens and when it is totally opened. It just unravels itself into beauty.  Starting out as a knuckle of loveliness with purple hues, it slowly evolves into one of the greatest blooms ever.  Don’t believe me, go by the Shelby County Park Herb Garden at the Tim McClure Botanical Gardens and be prepared to be wowed!!

Here is some of the most complete information I could find. This is copied off www.seedaholic.com. Please visit that site they have very complete information on many cool plants. 

Article from  Seedaholic.com: (pictures are mine!!) 

Salvia sclarea var. turkestanica, better known as Clary Sage has been grown in almost every botanical sanctuary in human history. Its uses are considerable: a flavoring for wines, an oil for perfumes, potpourri and incense. Medicinally, it's supposed to ease stomach ailments and even stop aging. Most importantly, it's gorgeous and thrives on total neglect. 
This plant has many plus points, it is easily grown in well-drained soil in sun or even partial shade. It grows well in poor soil resists slugs and other beasties, and doesn’t slump or need staking. In full sun, with almost no water, the large, grey-green leaves remain attractive all season long. 

Salvia sclarea var. turkestanica 'Vatican White' is a choice white cultivar that is not that easy to find. This is a nobly architectural Sage, each of its branched stems is topped with a profusion of lilac-white blossoms and brilliant white bracts. The flowers are boosted in impact by the large petioles that surround them. They stand above the large, aromatic, mid-green leaves, which can grow up to 23cm (9in) long and remain attractive throughout the season. 
Coping well in sun or light dappled shade, the blooms are a magnet for bees and butterflies.

Sowing: Sow in late summer to early winter for flowering in spring the following year. 
Salvia sclarea is a biennial plant and like all biennials, seeds are generally sown in early summer, the young plants develop their first leaves and a good root system by the winter. In the coldest months they die down and return with a vengeance in spring ready to put on a first rate flower show

Sowing indoors:
Surface sow in pots or containers containing good quality seed compost (John Innes or similar) Cover with a fine thin layer of compost or vermiculite.
The compost should be kept moist but not wet at all times. Seed germinate in seven to 10 days at 20°C (68°F).
Prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10-15 days before planting out after all risk of frost.

Sowing Direct:
Seeds may also be sown outdoors directly where they are to flower or in a reserve bed in a sheltered position. Prick out to 15cm (6in) apart and transplant in October. 
Although drought-tolerant once established, a moderate amount of water must be supplied to young plants.

Salvia sclarea is a very obliging plant, it will put on a show under almost any circumstances. If you grow clary sage in poor garden soil, it will hang in and produce tough little plants that need no extra watering to survive. But the richer the soil and the more water they receive, the bigger and lusher the plants get.
If you have a limited water supply, and can’t or don’t wish to amend your soil, it’s good to know plants that will survive under those conditions. Clary sage is one of them. It’ll even grow in semi-shade, though it much prefers sun. The only places it won’t do well are in full shade and boggy, permanently wet soils.
Clary sage is a biennial plant, it will grow a rosette of leaves in its first year, the following year it will send up stalks, flower, produce seeds and then will die leaving its offspring ready in the soil to return in its place. However, as with a number of biennials, if you stop the plant producing seeds, the plants will very often return the following year. They have not expended energy on producing seed and have enough reserves to see themselves through the winter to try again next summer.
Pruning the spikes is a difficult choice, because the bracts are so beautiful in the garden. However, the cut stems do look ever so pretty in flower arrangements. 

Plant Uses: 
Flowers Borders and Beds, Wildlife Gardens, Cut or Dried Flowers. Medicinal or tea herb, Beneficial plant, Culinary herb. 

Other Uses: 
Like all sages, the plant contains oil Clary Sage is an ancient species that has been grown for economic, culinary and medicinal uses, as well as for its handsome ornamental virtues. It is grown as a farm crop for the cosmetic and fragrance industry for its valuable sclareol resin. It is used widely in perfumes and flavouring for vermouths, liqueurs and wines.
Other varieties used for distillation are S. verticulata and S. candelabrum. All yield oils which are similar in composition and therapeutic properties. The world annual production of the essential oil is about 100 tonnes.

Salvia sclarea var. turkestanica is It is native to the northern Mediterranean, along with some areas in north Africa and Central Asia. It was one of the first Salvias described by the Ancient Greeks, who used it medicinally to make eye washes and other remedies.
It belongs to the Lamiaceae, Labiatae (mint) family

The genus name Salvia from the Latin word salveo meaning 'I am healed' or 'I am well', referring to the medicinal qualities of some of the species. 
The species name sclarea is derived from the Latin clarus meaning 'clear' or 'bright'. Tea made from the plant's leaves said to clear the brain so that one might see into the future.
The variant turkestanica means 'of or from Turkey'. 
It is commonly known as clary, clary wort, muscatel sage, clear eye, see bright and eye bright (but not to be confused with the wildflower herb Euphrasia also called eyebright). 
Muscatel is a sweet wine made from muscat grapes, the word is also used for an elusive taste found in some teas. The word denotes a unique muscat-like fruitiness in aroma and flavour. 
In the Middle Ages it was known as 'Oculus Christi', meaning the 'Eye of Christ' and was a highly esteemed medicine.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Did you ponder this photo all weekend?

The “Think about it Plants for the Weekend” are Bronze Fennel with Elephant Garlic in front of it. 
First the Fennel, I love this Bronze Fennel and so do many pollinators. This is such a strong butterfly plant. It grows to over 5 feet tall and has beautiful displays of copper feathery  leaves, then the golden umbrella flowers emerge and develop into anise tasting seed heads. 
To me it looks like a dark storm cloud in the garden and just adds such an amazing contrast of color and leaf texture. It is edible and makes a very unique vinegar.  Once established it will readily reseed and can become invasive. But worth sharing babies to any special garden friend. Beware it does have a long tap root so it is more difficult to transplant when it is larger. To me it is a must in the herb garden. 
The Elephant Garlic is more like a leek than a true garlic. It has a much milder taste and very easy to grow. The bulbs can be dug up and eaten, plus the seed toppings are also edible. It will spread easily, so another great one to share.  I love how the seed head sheds its papery cover to reveal the bloom. It is like a person taking off a cap to reveal a head of purple hair!
These are two great herbs…enjoy!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Happy Hour in the Berry Patch

Nothing better than a Friday Night in the Berry Patch.  I will be forever grateful to whoever planted these jewels in my garden 50 years ago or more.

It is always a race against the birds to get to these treasures. This year we have gotten two good picks.  Over 5 years ago, thanks to my son-in -law, we organized the berry patch and set up rows of trellis's. Over the years, the trees surrounding my patch have grown and unfortunately there is too much shade. Since both the berries and the trees are too massive to move, I just have to go with the current show.

These are Everbearing Raspberries, which just means I get two crops out of them.  Summer and maybe fall.  Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately over the years the Thornless Blackberries have pushed out many of the Raspberries.  Since I love these berries as well, I have not made the effort to save my red jewels. Maybe this year....

I will make some Raspberry Vinegar,  maybe a cheesecake, but mostly we will just have Fresh Whipped Cream and Berries.  As you can see I hit the strawberry patch first for the last few strawberries left.

Anyone you eat it, this HAPPY HOUR IS ONE OF MY FAVORITES.  Now where is my glass of wine?


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