Thursday, July 21, 2016

John and I have adopted a dog day's schedule. We get up early, (early for John anyway) work outside  in the morning and stay in the air conditioning in the afternoon. The heat is stressful on the plants, too. If you're watering, do it early in the morning or in the evening, so the plants get the most benefit. Drought tolerant herbs like lavender, sage, thyme and rosemary need little supplemental water unless they were just planted. Concentrate on herbs like basil and mint, flowering ornamentals and vegetables which require more moisture.

I'm still harvesting for drying. We had a bumper crop of chamomile flowers this year. Chamomile is a relaxing tea, very popular as a bedtime drink. With herbs, generally the leaf has more flavor and fragrance than the flowers. Lavender and chamomile are two exceptions, and the flowers are used for tea and culinary purposes.

I'm also harvesting mints and culinary herbs like oregano, marjoram, thyme, anise hyssop and scented geraniums.I dry on large screened racks in a base John made. With the humid weather, it's hard to get them completely dry on the racks, so I finish them off in the dehydrator. Herbs must be completely dry before they are stored, so mold does not develop.

More plants I like: get

Baptisia or false indigo is a native perennial that develops into a large, shrub like plant between three and four feet tall and bushy,so give it room to grow. Blooming in early spring, with blue pea-like flowers and followed by interesting blue seedpods which I use in arrangements.

Nicotiana or flowering tobacco is an annual that reseeds readily. It has white, tubular flowers that are fragrant at night, so it's wonderful for a seating area where you relax in the evening. Night bloomers do so to attract pollinators, generally moths.

Coconut scented geranium has a trailing habit, which is unusual among scented geraniums . The flowers are purple and tiny, but the fragrance is definitely coconut. It's the only scented geranium that reseeds itself in my garden.

We have few annuals left, except for a new crop of basil and dill. We still have a good selection of perennials and they are buy two, get one free, mix and match. Our hours continue to be Tuesday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm. And of course, the herb shop- with many herbal products is open in addition to the greenhouse.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Summer weather has definitely arrived. I must say, I'm not a big fan of hot and humid weather, probably  because so much of our work is outside. So John and I have been working outside for a couple hours in the morning before we retreat to the air conditioning.

One of the big jobs we did was taking care of the lavender plants. We always wait until the bees are done working  the flowers. Pollinators need all the help they can get and they certainly enjoy the blooms on lavender. They wait until the individual florets open before they go after the nectar. When they're done, we trim.

John cut off the spent flower stalks. Since perennial lavender is coming back from the root, seed production isn't necessary. Instead, the plant can put its energy into foliage growth. I did the trimming and shaping. After flowering  is the best time to shape the plant. Without trimming, plants can get sprawling and misshapen. I did not get a chance to trim all the lavenders in the spring, so some really needed a trim. They look much better now. One or two had to be cut back really hard. There is still plenty of time for them to push out new foliage so I'm hoping they recover. If not, they'll be replaced next year.

A customer asked me recently if she could still plant perennials.  You can plant them through mid to late September. As long as they have adequate time to get settled and established before the cold weather sets in, they'll be fine. They must be kept well watered for the first 10-14 days until they take hold. And it would be better to plant them in the evening when the temperatures are slightly cooler.

I've also started some topiaries. People are always fascinated by them. I guess it's the idea of a miniature tree that's intriguing. I use green myrtle and upright rosemary for the standards or tree forms and creeping rosemary for the wreath forms. They aren't difficult to do, but they do require patience. They size up rapidly in the greenhouse - it probably takes twice as long for them to grow as big at home. Maintenance is just a matter of regular trimming.

Our plant sale continues. Perennials will be reduced again next week and we still have a good selection. We're open five days a week- Tuesday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm. Stop by and check out the plants and also all the herbal products in our shop.

More plants I like:
Lime basil - It's basil with a citrus twist. Very good with chicken and fish. I love it on chicken salad. Also great with SW recipes. I use it in a black bean salad with corn and tomatoes. A little bit in a green salad is also nice.

Profusion zinnias - I always tell people these give you the most bang for your buck. About 15 inches tall in the ground, and covered with flowers from mid-summer till frost. And no mildew like some of the taller varieties. Apricot, orange, yellow, pink and white varieties. Also do well in containers.

Lungwort or pulmonaria- A wonderful part-shade plant. Blooms early in the spring with plentiful blue flowers. The attractive silvery green foliage lightens up shady areas throughout the rest of the season.