Saturday, August 12, 2017

I know many people poo-poo butterfly bushes as a plant for pollinators. It's not native, some people say it's invasive, although I've never seen that in any of my garden settings, and it's not a host plant. But as a nectar source for a wide variety of butterflies, it's hard to beat. When I took these photos, in addition to the swallowtails and monarch, there were skippers, sulfers, a buckeye, and some small frittilaries feeding.



Although milkweeds serve as both a host plant and a nectar source, that's fairly uncommon. Many plants are either a source of nectar for adult butterflies or a host plant for the caterpillars. Plants like parsley, dill, fennel and rue are host plants for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, but don't produce much nectar in their flowers. That's why having a wide variety of plants in your garden is so important.

Here is a native plant, Joe Pye weed, providing a meal for a bumblebee.


With the regular rainfall, there's lots to harvest from the garden. Mints, basils, chamomile, savory, lemon balm and verbena, oregano, calendula and more are all drying on my racks. Take advantage of the good weather and harvest now so you can enjoy the garden's bounty after the growing season ends.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The pollinator situation has improved this summer. We saw quite a few honeybees, more than in the last few years combined. They were all over the thyme walk when it bloomed and now the clover in the yard is keeping them occupied.

We've had a number of monarch butterfly sightings. There are at least a pair, because we've seen two at once. And happily, I found a caterpillar on the swamp milkweed recently. I hope there are more and we have a good crop this year.


There are a lot of swallowtail butterflies around - both the tiger and the black. Caterpillars on the dill and parsley and according to my book, this is a swallowtail chrysalis. The two points on the top seem to be the identifying characteristic. It's on the inside front wall of the greenhouse, which is a protected spot.


Our plant sale continues. We still have a number of nice perennials available and a new crop of basil and dill.

I'm thankful for the break from the very humid weather. Much easier to work outside!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The heat makes it a bit more difficult, but our garden work continues. I'm harvesting perennial herbs for drying and beginning to harvest annuals as they size up. I've cut back all the lavenders, except the later blooming varieties, which still have lots of bee activity.

And I was very happy to see dozens of honeybees on the flowers in the thyme walk. I hope this means things are improving for the bees.

Our plant sale continues. We have lots of nice perennials and a few annuals left. Plus, you get a free basil with your purchase!

Notes on some great garden plants:

Verbena is an easy and very pretty plant to grow. Although not winter hardy, it has reseeded every year, even after a severe winter. The bright purple blooms are on tall, wiry stems. It's a see-through plant - even planted in the front of a bed, it doesn't block the view of plants behind it. Attractive to both bees and butterflies.



Ammi is a new addition this year. Delicate Queen Anne's lace like flowers come in white, but also pink and purple. Looks good in the garden and also works as a filler with fresh cut flowers.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

It's funny how, once a topic crops up, it often reoccurs. My most recent example was in discussing tags with customers. My advice is, "Don't believe everything you read on a tag." Overall, they can be helpful, but they are written in general terms. It may say perennial, but when you read closely, it's only perennial to zone 7 ( we're zone 6.) Some perennial tags say "blooms all summer." Perennials have a season of bloom and a month is a long bloom time for perennials. It's actually annuals that boom all summer, in many cases.

A customer complimented us on the hydrangeas blooming in front of our house. She asked what I did to produce such a result. I replied, "Absolutely nothing!" A combination of the mild winter and wet spring produced a floriferous display.


Now that we're into summer, I'm harvesting regularly from the gardens. It's still mostly perennial culinary herbs like mints, tarragon, savory, sage, oregano, etc. at this point. I'm also picking flowers to dry as they bloom. Beautiful yellow yarrow is very productive and dries well.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Before these recent hot temperatures, I really enjoyed the week of pleasant spring weather. Luckily, it coincided with the first lavender harvest. I harvest and dry for bunching and make woven lavender hearts and wands, all of which we sell in the shop.

Lavender flowers should be harvested in bud, before the small, individual florets open. Many florets will drop, if cut when they're open, resulting in the loss of a lot of fragrance. The dark purple variety is Hidcote and is at its prime for harvesting.


The lavender variety is Munstead. Many of its florets have opened, so it is past its prime. However, this is the stage when the bees are anxious to work it. I let it go as long as the bees are interested, and cut off the spent flower stems when they are done with the flowers


After flowering is also the time to shape your plants. As long as there is new foliage at the base, I'll cut it back hard and remove the lanky or spindly stems.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Thanks to everyone who visited us at the Landis Valley Herb Faire. Although Saturday was a wash out, plenty of people came out on Friday. We see a lot of our regular customers from the farm who stop by or wave. And it's nice to see returning customers who visit us each year at the faire. We appreciate all the compliments we receive on the health and appearance of our plants and our large selection.

We still have plenty available at the farm. If you feel like you're behind with the unpredictable weather, you have plenty of time to plant both perennials and annuals. Stop by and we'll help you make selections that will work for your setting.

Here are some things that are looking particularly nice in the garden. Baptisia or false indigo, is a native plant in the pea family. The beautiful blue flowers are followed by blue seed pods.


Oriental poppies are perennial and also reseed, so you can get a big patch fast. The delicate pink petals remind me of tissue paper and they surround a beautiful blue-black center. It's easy to stand and admire these flowers when they bloom.

The four square garden contains mostly culinary herbs.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Many thanks to everyone who came out to our spring open house last week. What a success - it was our best open house ever! We met a lot of nice folks who were visiting the farm for the first time. And we always enjoy greeting returning customers that we haven't seen for awhile.

People are so complimentary - they comment on the health and appearance of our plants, the wide selection we carry and the interesting items in the shop. Some folks strolled through the gardens. I gave John all the credit there because he's been working on the gardens while I've been working with the plants.

It seems that my cautioning people not to plant basil in the ground yet is on target. I see nighttime of 40 degrees at the end of the week. Young basil plants will not even happy with that. Hold off a little longer. Don't worry, we have loads of beautiful basil!


I always say, " Who can resist a flower with a face?" Like Johnny jump ups...


Or  "Jolly Joker" pansy...