Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Herb Guilds, Groups and Gatherings - plus some herbs!

I can‘t believe it‘s the tail end of the summer already.

Every year, the summer seems to stretch out endlessly before me, and then suddenly it's Labor Day and fall is fast approaching. So I'm trying to enjoy the temperate weather and continue with the outside summer work as long as possible. l'm continuing to dry both flowers and culinary herbs-annual statice in several colors, strawflowers, two varieties of oregano grown for their flowers, rather than their foliage, and clover-like globe amaranth on the flower side. Culinary herbs include scented geraniums, mints, basils, thyme, savory and rosemary. In September, I decrease the amount I harvest from woody-stemmed herbs like thyme and sage. Don't cut back too far on their woody stems and allow plenty of foliage on the plant to provide protection for the crown of the plant as it goes into winter. My outside rosemary is on its third season (survived two fairly mild winters) and is big and vigorous so I'll continue to harvest stems from that as it's got plenty to spare.

We hosted a very nice group of ladies from the Conestoga Herb Guild recently. Luckily, it was a beautiful evening after a big rain day. We toured the gardens and they seemed quite interested in all the plants. Everyone was so complimentary about the gardens and l was glad everything was looking good, thanks to the good weather and a busy week outside. August can be a dull time in the garden, but we had quite a lot of blooming still and of course, the herb foliage looks good all the time.

They served delicious refreshments in the greenhouse and held their meeting outside. Many of the ladies had not been here before, so it was a chance to show what we offer.

After the ladies were here, we cut back the thyme walk. We cut it back hard-dead flowers and the dead foliage that develops underneath -- a lot is just stubs now. We do it in the spring and before fall. Cutting off the old encourages the new growth to come out. If any don't fill in, we‘1l replace them.

I have noticed that herb groups like to oooh and they make and enjoy good food. You always eat well at an herb group’s meeting.

Two upcoming events to mention: 

Conestoga Herb Guild will hold their Herb Fest on September 14 from 9am to 2pm at the Boettcher House off Rt. 501.

The Roots and Wings Fall Fest will take place Saturday, October 19 in Warwick County Park in Chester Co. You can choose 4 classes from about a dozen choices. For more info and to preregister, visit Roots & Wings

I read something in the paper that really surprised me. A master gardener at Landisville during the trial gardens open house said that native plants are the only ones that provide sustenance for wildlife. I thought, I'll have to go out and shoo the birds away from the crabapples and viburnum and hawthorn berries, because none of them are native and the birds certainly enjoy stripping them bare. I've also had people tell me that every plant that isn't native is invasive. That's just silly. There are some plants, like heaths and heathers that have extremely precise requirements for growing well. Not only would they never be invasive here, you‘d be lucky to get them to grow at all. And what about all the culinary herbs? Most are not native, and are definitely not invasive. The only herb you'd consider invasive is mint, and that's because of its growing habit, not its nativity. Mint would be invasive where it is native, too. Don't get me wrong-I think native plants are great. They’re adapted to our climate, many do provide food for wildlife and they're pretty tough plants. But you can make the case for natives without saying things that aren‘t true.