Thursday, January 4, 2018

With the extremely cold weather, I'm glad there's some snow to provide insulation to the plants in the gardens and the stock plants that are buried in what serves as our vegetable garden in the summer. Cold temperatures and high winds without any type of protection are very hard on plants, particularly those that hold their foliage in the winter.

I'm preparing myself to lose my large outside rosemary plant. It has survived two winters, but I'm afraid this cold snap will do it in. The larger the plant, the larger the root systems, which gives it a better chance of survival. But an extended period of cold, like this one, usually means the end of the plant.

On a springy note, my first batch of pansy seeds have germinated. So spring is just around the corner!

Due to the extremely cold weather, we have delayed the opening of the shop. Beginning January 11, the shop will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9am to 5pm.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Thanks to all who came to our recent holiday open house. The weather was cooperative and we had good turnout both days. We realize how many things are going on this time of year and we appreciate the fact that you took time to visit us. We still have lots of unique and fragrant herbal gifts in the shop plus live topiaries and a small selection of culinary herbs available. If you didn't get to our open house, stop by and visit during our regular hours - Tuesday-Saturday from 9am to 5pm through December 22.

This Sunday, December 10, we'll be a vendor at the Lancaster Liederkranz Christkindlmarkt at the Lancaster Liederkranz pavilion. The show is free to attend and is open from noon until 6pm. There are vendors selling a variety of products, (we're the only herb business) plus German singing and dancing and lots of German food and drink. That's what John is really looking forward to!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Most of the leaves are off the trees, revealing some treasures that were previously hidden. I'm always intrigued by birds' nests. Like their makers, there is a lot of variety to be found. There are different shapes and sizes, lots of materials used and quite a range of craftsmanship involved. Some are carefully and intricately woven while others are more slap dash in appearance. I guess birds can be like people in that way. This nest even had a bit of plastic woven into it - maybe a bit of weather proofing.

And I also came across a praying mantis egg sac. I always wonder how many hatch out of each casing. It looks is it could be a lot.

The shop is nearly ready for the holiday season. Our holiday open house will be held Friday and Saturday December 1&2 from 9am to 5pm. We'll have specials in the shop, plants available in the greenhouse, prize drawings and herbal refreshments. We hope you can stop by and enjoy our herbal take on the holidays. Our regular hours (Tuesday-Saturday 9-5) continue through December 22.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Now that it's November, there are some signs of fall. Our maple tree finally colored up, although I noticed it took ten days more for the front of the tree to turn red than it did the back of the tree. It looks like we're at the peak of fall leaf season.

In contrast, yesterday John and I worked outside weeding flower beds in T-shirts. I walked around the yard and counted two dozen different varieties of flowers blooming - everything from blue flax to zinnias. We've lived here twenty years and I know we didn't do much outside work in November when we first moved here, except for final clean up. If the weather forecast is correct, we might have a killing frost this week.

When I'm not working outside, I'm preparing the shop for the upcoming holiday season. I wait until November to bring out Christmas items. Before Halloween seems way too early for Christmas decorating to me.

Be on the lookout for our holiday newsletter which will be out in mid-November. Our hours are Tuesday-Saturday 9am to 5pm until Christmas.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Mexican bush sage puts on quite a show at the end of the season. The  flowers are bright purple, fuzzy and dry well. It's a good late season nectar source for pollinators, too. I've also noticed a few honeybees at the red pineapple sage flowers and some late lavender.

Some plants are not as showy, but are still very worthy garden additions. One is nicotiana, or flowering tobacco. It has pretty, white tubular flowers, but what makes it a stand out is fragrance. It's botanically designed to be fragrant at night, in order to attract certain pollinators. When I took Lucy for a walk after supper recently, I stopped to sniff, and was amazed by the sweet aroma of a single bloom. If you have an outdoor seating area that you enjoy at night, nicotiana should be planted nearby.

Even though the gardens are still going strong, I've been busy in the shop gearing up for the holidays. But I'm waiting until November to put out Christmas items!

If you're thinking about making some of your own gifts for the holidays, remember that we have essential oils, DIY supplies and containers and dried herbs and spices in our shop.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The buckeye butterfly, seen below, is one of the species I've been seeing in increasing numbers this year, as compared to the last few years. Its host plants are verbena, snapdragon and plantain, all of which we have in our yard. Although, while the verbena and snaps are by design, the plantain is not! It does show that having a wide variety of plants will help draw in different varieties.

I just talked to a woman yesterday who wants to add different plants to her yard next year to attract pollinators. People are really interested in increasing habitat and feeding opportunities for bees and butterflies. I think it's paying off, because I saw more species and a larger number of butterflies overall this year.

I'm still seeing an occasional Monarch, too. Yesterday, one fluttered by the kitchen window and today, one few out of a maple tree as Lucy and I walked by.

The hyacinth bean vine outside the shop is at its peak. The flowers are attractive, but the shiny purple pods are the real star of the show.

People sometimes dismiss annual vines since they must be planted each year. But with just one season to grow, you get lots of coverage quickly, making them ideal to shade a outdoor seating area. It's easy to save seeds from the hyacinth bean by letting pods dry up on the vine and then harvesting the seeds inside

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Some things are worth waiting for, and pineapple sage is one of them. You can enjoy the fragrant foliage throughout the summer, but the red flowers don't appear until the end of the season. Mine has been budded up for awhile, and with the return of sunny, warm weather, the flowers have popped.

Although the leaves have a pineapple flavor, the blooms, to me, are reminiscent of honeysuckle - just a sweet taste. I have made pineapple sage jelly by steeping the leaves in pineapple juice, straining out the leaves and combining the liquid with sugar and Certo and following the directions on the Certo box. Very yummy!

Plumbago looks attractive from mid-summer on. It's a low maintenance, easy to grow perennial that spreads without being invasive like mint. The cobalt blue color is spectacular, especially when combined with white flowers. Remember that it's late to emerge in spring, so don't think it has died over the winter.

Had another question about our hours this week. We're still open five days a week, Tuesday-Saturday 9 to 5. Those hours will continue until Christmas.