Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring Open House!

Spring Open House Week Specials

Join us for our spring open house,
Friday and Saturday, April 24 & 25 from 9 to 5
featuring shop specials,
herbal refreshments
and prize drawings.

Greenhouse specials Wednesday through Saturday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bay Laurel


Herb of the year for 2009 is a popular culinary herb—bay or Laurus nobilis. Where it's hardy, bay grows into a tree. Here in Zone 6, it's not winter hardy and must be brought inside before frost. Bay is usually the most expensive herb in the greenhouse. It's difficult to propagate, and slow growing when young. However, when they reach a certain maturity, they grow easily and fairly rapidly. My 15 year old bay is about my height. Bay is not difficult to overwinter. Put in a sunny window, water thoroughly when dry and check for scale insects. Check to see if it needs transplanting in spring or summer, but move up only one pot size.
Bay leaves, fresh or dried, are used in many soups and stews. Remove leaves before serving due to sharp edges. Fresh leaves have an almost spicy flavor. We'll feature a bay flavored treat during our spring open house.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cutting Celery

Cutting celery is a great, but rather uncommon culinary herb. It's in the parsley family and grows like parsley, but tastes like celery. You use the foliage, because it does not develop a stalk. It looks similar to flat leaf parsley, but with a darker, larger leaf and a distinct celery flavor. It often survives through much of the winter. It seems more perennial than biennial, although with age, the flavor becomes stronger. Occasionally, I'll replace the plant and start fresh. Cutting celery can be substituted for celery in almost any recipe—the flavor is that good! I use it in soups, stews, tuna or chicken salad, green salads, etc. The foliage is easily harvested. Use it fresh, or freeze it or dry it for winter use.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring at Cloverleaf

Spring is here - although it's coming slowly. One or two beautiful days and then more of the cold, rainy stuff. Since we didn't have much snow this winter, we really do need the rain. So I try not to complain about that. I'll stick to complaining about the wind - that doesn't serve any good purpose. Spring is in full swing in the greenhouse, though. I haven't moved perennials outside yet. We had some frost here this week and I hate to move small plants out in the rain. Maybe next week- or when I run out of room in the greenhouse - whichever comes first.

We still have openings in each of the classes on our spring class schedule. One class each in April and May and two in June. We always have a good time in the classes - it's always a nice bunch of people. So treat yourself or plan an evening out with a friend. We'd love to see you!

Don't forget our spring open house will be held Friday and Saturday april 24 & 25 9am to 5pm. Herbal refreshments, prize drawings and some shop specials. We'll also have specials on plants during open house week. Tuesday and Wednesday will be $1 off large perennials (second year plants) and Friday and Saturday will be 25 cents off small herbs, flowers, vegetables and scented geraniums (excluding bay.)

Lucy has been wild the last couple days - even more so than usual. Our poor helper, Zach, was sitting outside working when Lucy decides to jump on him and play. She grabbed my hat right off my head and ran happily around the yard. with it. She also got to chase a rabbit which was very exciting for her. I'm chalking it up to spring fever and hoping it doesn't last too long.

We've been cleaning up outside as time and weather permits. I've cut back sages - pretty hard this year. New growth is coming out on lavenders so I'm trimming just the deadwood from those. Thymes and hyssop are trimmed back to just above where new growth is emerging.

If you haven't been out yet, hope to see you soon.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fragrant Flowers

Along with their usefulness, fragrance was a quality that attracted me to herbs. In addition to herbs, we offer fragrant, old-fashioned ornamental plants. Fragrance adds another dimension to your garden along with flowers, color, form and texture. Think about adding one or more of these plants to your garden to enjoy.

Nicotiana – or flowering tobacco is fragrant at night. This is the plant's mechanism to attract particular pollinators. White, tubular flowers rise on 24"-30" stems. The annual flowers are sweetly fragrant and usually reseed readily.

Moonflower – is a white, fragrant, night-blooming morning glory. It's an annual vine that needs a post, fence or trellis to climb. The large, white blooms unfurl slowly at dusk. Both moonflower and ruicotiana are wonderful planted next to a seating area you enjoy in the evening.

Dianthus – The perennial dianthus we offer goes by the common name clove pink. The name describes well the spicy-sweet fragrance emitted by the single pink and/or white flowers. Flowers bloom in spring and are about 12" tall. Plant in front of a bed or along a walk so you can enjoy their fragrance. There are many varieties of dianthus, but often hybrids are not fragrant.

Heliotrope– It's old-fashioned name is cherry pie plant. To me, it's more of a sweetly vanilla-like aroma, but it's certainly fragrant. Dark purple flowers top 12" annual plants. Very nice in a sunny container near a seating area.

Jasmine – Jasmine's sweetly fragrant flowers bloom in summer. Sources say jasmine isn't hardy here, but ours has survived outside since we had the farm. The jasmine on the sides of the pergola is five years old. Consider it a woody, perennial vine and give it something substantial to climb. Attractive cut foliage succeeded by sweet, star-shaped flowers.

Catmint – Catmint is often mistaken for lavender when in bloom since it has similar, spikey purple flowers. But it's the foliage that's truly fragrant. The scent isn't floral, but more in the minty vein. Catmint makes a great border or edging plant since it spreads easily, but is not invasive. It produces the same look as lavender, but it's a much more tolerant plant.

Valerian – Sometimes called garden heliotrope, but very different in appearance. Valerian has tall (36"+) flower stalks with pinkish-white blooms. Like heliotrope, it's flowers are made up of multiple florets. The fragrance is clean and musky, rather than floral. Valerian is a perennial, which increases in size, so place it at the back of bed or border.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Our Shop and Classes

The shop is filled with our unique mix of herbal products. Our display gardens offer a chance to see many plants we sell in a garden setting and give you ideas on plant combinations and garden themes. Inside, you'll find a spring class schedule. We offer classes on a variety of herbal /gardening topics. Classes are informal and great fun. I learn a lot from class participants— people always have a great tip, recipe or idea to share. We will again participate in the Landis Valley Herb Faire in May. Look for us in our regular spot. When you plan your garden or choose an herbal product, please think of us!

Marrying Herbs & Ornamentals April 16
Topiaries May 14
Salves & Balms June 4
Fragrant Potpourri June 18

"Now the earth with many flowers puts on her spring embroidery. Sappho

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"Hardening off" plants

Q & A "How and why should I 'harden off' plants?"

Hardening off is a process that helps plants acclimate as they move from a protected greenhouse environment to the more demanding one in your garden. Start by placing plants outside in a protected spot without too much direct sun or wind. Each day, move them out to a more exposed position. If it gets below 40 degrees at night, bring them inside. Water thoroughly as they dry out during this time. At the end of the week, they are ready to plant. For annuals, harden off your plants 7-10 days before our last frost day (mid-May) and they'll be ready to go when planting is safe. Hardening off really helps—it lessens a lot of transplant shock. You can do "reverse hardening off' in fall as you bring plants inside, gradually acclimating them to lower inside light levels.

Friday, April 3, 2009

New for Spring!


Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) An easy to grow groundcover, plumbago's foliage reaches about 12". Lovely blue flowers cover the plant late in the season. Tolerates full sun to light shade and wants well-drained soil, although rich soil isn't necessary. Good fall foliage color. Shear established plants in spring to encourage new growth. (12" P)

Brazilian button flower (Centratherum intermediurn "Button Beauty") I wasn't familiar with this flower, but the glowing catalog description and photo convinced me to give it a try. It produces a fuzzy, lavender flower and fragrant foliage. Once established, it's heat and drought tolerant. Suitable for sunny beds and large containers (up to 24" A)

Cockscomb (Celosia argenta cristata) To complement the spike celosia we offer, here's a burgundy cockscomb perfect for drying. Velvety texture, dark flowers on well branched plants with center bloom and many smaller side stems. Excellent for dried arrangements and wreaths. (30-36" A)

Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus 'Black Ball') We've offered the standard blue cornflower for several years—here's a kissing cousin. Same rounded, multi-petaled flower, but in a rich chocolaty color. Color is similar to dark pincushion flower we offer—very showy, especially combined with white flowers. Sun-loving and should reseed if it's anything like the species. (24" A)

Scented geranium 'Concolor Lace' (Pelargonium sp. 'Concolor Lace') Scented geranium varieties are getting harder to find, but this sounds like a great one. Rather compact with light green leaves and small red flowers. Mild, sweet-nutty scent. Nice in mixed containers. (12" TP)

"People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy ... to have such things about us."
Iris Murdoch

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Greenhouse Opens!

The greenhouse opens today, April 1!

Beginning now, our spring hours are in effect:
April through June - Tuesday through Saturday 9am to 5pm and Wednesday 9am till 7pm.
From July through December, the greenhouse and shop are open Tuesday through Saturday 9am till 5pm.

One of the new plants listed in the newsletter-white sage-will not be available. Several customers had requested it, and I found a source. However, when I received my shipment of small plants, the white sage was not available. I'll try again next year.

Cur spring open house will be held Friday and Saturday April 24 and 25 from 9am till 5pm. We'll have prize drawings, herbal refreshments and some specials in the shop. On Wednesday and Thursday of open house week, our large size, second year perennials will be $1 off. On Friday and Saturday of open house week, small herbs, flowers and scented geraniums (excluding bay) will be 25 cents off per pot.

For those of you anxious to do some outside work on springlike days, you can clean up perennials, including cutting down old stalks if you didn't do it in the fall. Also, trim back butterfly bushes (fairly hard) between mid-March and mid-April. This will not affect the bloom and will produce sturdy branches rather than lanky, top-heavy branches that occur without trimming. You can rototill as soon as the ground can be worked. If you are adding amendments to your soil, do it before your final tilling so they are mixed in well.

Hang on-planting time is almost here!