Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring Notes and Musings

I was surprised at how quickly the snow melted (happy, too). Guess it was the perfect combination of warm weather and rain. Lucy misses chasing snowballs, but she was happy to see the grass again. On nice days, she gets an attack of spring fever and rolls around on the grass, kicking her legs. She's on the lookout for bunnies too.

Very little winter damage in the yard, I'm happy to report. A few things took a hit, but no worse than an average winter. Our star magnolia, with its white, shaggy flowers was in full bloom and got zapped on the last cold night. That's the risk with the early bloomers.

Our Greenhouse opened April 1. I'm hard at work potting seedlings and dividing perennials. Hope to move perennials out by mid-week.

It's still early to plant- I usually start planting perennials in the garden by mid-April, weather permitting. Annuals don't go out till mid-May. Most plants are ready for sale by the end of April and continuing through the season.

Our spring open house will be April 23 & 21~ from 9 to 5. Open house specials, refreshments and prize drawings.

We recently sent out our spring newsletter. If you would like to receive one and didn't, give us your name and address or e—mail address when you visit.

Mark your calendar for the Landis Valley Herb Faire Friday and Saturday May 7 & 8, 9-5. We'll be in our usual location across from the millstones in the Brothers Courtyard.

Lots and lots of growth in the garden now! Wormwood, valerian, coneflower, hyssop, chamomile, tarragon, chives, burnet - everywhere I look, something's growing - weeds, too!

Blog posts will be sporadic for the next two months, while we concentrate on plants and customers. Please bear with me - I shall return.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Garden Notes

Dill is the 2010 herb of the year. All parts of the plant are useful. The ferny, blue-green foliage or dillweed can be chopped and added to carrots, green beans, fish, potato soup or macaroni salad. A sunny yellow flower adds just the right flavoring to a jar of pickles. Dill seed can be added to brine for pickling in the absence of foliage or flowers. Dill is a reseeding annual. Let seeds fall and your crop should come back reliably each year.

Garden updates—Brazilian button flower was new for us last year and lived up to its catalog description. The flowers are like those of fuzzy purple ageratum, but bigger and showier. Very nice for the back of the garden or a large container. Also, we’ll again carry several scented geranium varieties that had become unavailable. Back on the list are chocolate mint, ginger, lime and rose along with the new bitter lemon.


Spring Open House – April 23 & 24, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Greenhouse and shop specials.

Also, Landis Valley Herb & Garden Faire, May 7 & 8

Don't forget to check out our classes, listed in this older post.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Texture in the Garden

Gardening is an evolving process. Tastes, sensibilities and interests change over time as you work with plants and expand your garden. Appreciation of color and flowers can lead to an interest in fragrance. More subtle differences in form, foliage and texture can develop from other gardening interests. Herbs add so much in terms of foliage and texture to nearly every garden setting.

Texture generally relates to a plant’s leaves, although it can include flowers. Fine textured foliage is generally narrow, needlelike, finely cut or ferny. The needlelike foliage of rosemary, narrow leaves of thyme or the ferny foliage of dill and fennel are examples. Coarse foliage is larger and often more complete. Hollyhock, sage, coneflower and lady’s mantle have coarse foliage.

In garden design, you strive for sameness to provide continuity, but also differences to provide interest. Alternating textures can provide subtle differences in a garden design tied together by repetition of like plants or colors. Among drifts of similar flowers or colors, a few interesting foliage plants can provide contrasting texture in any planting. In a shady spot, finely cut sweet cicely foliage would contrast nicely against broad foxglove and lady’s mantle leaves. In our sunny beds, narrow-leaved hyssop complements coarser coneflower and perennial salvia. Also, broad-leaved hollyhock, echinacea and joe-pye weed stand in contrast to finely cut Russian sage, hyssop and dianthus.

Herbs, whether they flower or not, can provide interesting textural notes with their foliage. Look at plants—flower and foliage—and begin to categorize them by texture.

Grass-like - Includes Chives, Lemon Grass and Blackberry Lily

Ferny - Includes Bleeding heart, Love-in-a-mist, Chervil and Feverfew

Finely cut - Includes Dill, Blue flax, Chamomile and Cosmos

Narrow/needlelike - Includes Rosemary, Curry plant, Lady’s bedstraw and Lavender

Broad - Includes Sage, Cleome, Comfrey, Many basils. Borage and Valerian

Look around your beds. If you have basil, borage and lovage growing together, add a contrasting foliage, like feverfew, love-in-a-mist, blue flax or parsley for textural variation.

Scented geraniums are great for adding textural interest. Although related, the differences in texture and foliage within the group are amazing. Peppermint and chocolate mint produce broad, fuzzy leaves. Foliage of concolor lace and lemon is small and crinkled. Nutmeg, lime and coconut have smooth, rounded leaves. Rose, apricot and lemon rose have coarse texture with deeply cut leaves. A collection of scented geraniums provides a bounty of contrast in terms of texture, foliage and fragrance.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Garden Question

Q & A “Can I grow culinary herbs in containers?”

Yes! Nearly all culinary herbs have a form or variety that will grow and produce well in pots. Look for compact varieties of basil and sage. Creeping rosemary and savory look pretty trailing over the front of a container. Parsley, oregano, marjoram, chives, burnet and thyme varieties do well planted together in a large pot or singly in individual containers in a sunny location. You can add calendula, nasturtium or another edible flower for color and variety. Just make sure all the plants in one pot prefer either sun or shade. Containers also let you confine invasive mints to their own pots. Always choose containers with drainage holes to shed excess water and use only potting soil. Potted herbs should be fertilized regularly with either a water soluble or time release fertilizer.