Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Cusp of Spring and Summer

We're on our own tiny micro climate's cusp of Spring and Summer (that being my backyard). We had our first rose bloom. Its backed by a mirror to counteract its slightly shady location. The Johnson's Blue geranium is in full blossom, and the peonies are alllmmooost blooming. The briar rose I moved up from the shade is covered in buds, and the first flowers have opened. They are indeed wild roses, but small and white and of the most beautiful scent :-} Right next to them are the boysenberries, in full blossom, and nearby one of my favorite herbs to wildcraft, white clover. When dried, the flowers make a luscious honey-flavored tea. The Angelica is beautiful too. I've never used it, but I'm looking forward to learning. Anyone reading this have some hints?
Next week, I hope 4 more roses will be blooming, better warm up the camera!

Wild White Roses

The First Rose of the season

Wine Red Peony Buds

Johnson's Blue Geraniums

White Clover

Boysenberry bush


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Spring Garden Jelly Jam Syrup

I've been wanting to make Aeron's Violet Jam. (see link to Aeron's blog to the right) I also have to clear a square of ground for the gazebo, and there were several violet plants there, so I harvested the entire plants and picked off the violets. That saved strain on my abdomen :-} I wanted to make a double batch, but here weren't quite enough violets. So I had fun. I wandered the garden like I browse my spice cupboards, trying to taste with my imagination and create a pleasing blend of flavors. I added some phlox blossoms (oh they smelled sweet!) a little bit of lemon balm, a tiny bit more of mountain mint, and I had my raw materials. I cooked the blossoms in the simple syrup then blended with my stick blender rather than the container blender. I also used liquid pectin rather than powdered. The ony trouble was I had a bit too much liquid so its more of a Spring syrup than a jam or jelly, but I have to say, its delicious! I look forward to trying some on pancakes or french toast on a cold January morning.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

You Temptress Garden You....

It would be all too easy to be enticed by all the green outside my studio window today. The temperature is on the cool side, absolutly perfect for getting down and dirty with weeds and trimming and transplanting and preparing the ground for the gazebo.. but I have learned better. If I were to give in to my longing to spend the day outside, I'd be spending three days in bed recovering. So I will take small sips. I'll go out today and prepare some home-made pots by cutting and piercing water jugs, and then fill them with the sandy loam I'm lucky enough to have in our garden.
If I still feel good after the trips needed to do that, I might weed a little bit in the gooseberry/currant bed. Then tomorrow, I'll be all set to take small trips outside and take cuttings from the gooseberries and currants for a few friends.
Photos: Currants and Borage.

Monday, May 22, 2006

pineapple sage, roses, peonies, calendula

Today I planted a Pineapple Sage plant ( Salvia Elegans rutilans) in the same bed as my roses and peonies, and where the calendula will surround the lipstick-red blossoms with golden discs this summer, after the peonies are gone. The colors should go well with the deep yellow-gold rose that's nearest (see pic below). Pineapple Sage is one of the few annuals I grow. Its a perennial much much further south than Michigan, but here its just an annual. Maybe I'll try and overwinter some cuttings in the house this year. hmm....
I found some recipes online that sound intriguing! Pineapple sage smells like pineapple (oddly enough ;-} but I found the scent doesn't last when I dry it and I ended up tossing the leaves I harvested last year. So these recipes were a surprise! They seem to use the leaves when fresh, and add the blossoms for color to teas, jellies and such. I added them to some herbal tea blend myself last summer, come to think of it. One site suggested lining a cake pan with the leaves, then pouring in the cake batter.. I wonder if that would add flavor to banana bread?
Here's a site with more ideas: Pineapple Sage Recipes

My pictures are locked up on a dead computer somewhere, waiting for Oscar to free them, but I found an image at plants.usda.gov .

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Raspberry Rag

I've been glorying in the sun today. Despite having loads of inside work to do (putting books up for sale on Ebay) I've managed to steal a few moments here and there for a few minutes gardening.

I've caved in and admitted there is no way I can mow our lawn myself and expect to have any reasonable use of my feet for the week after, so we've hired the grandson of a neighbor of ours to do it for us every few weeks. He did such a wonderful job! I saw him stop mowing and go forward to scout a safe path around the flower beds at least three times, bless him.

My first task was to tie up the rambler rose, who will be flowering for me for the first time. From the look of the buds, I may only have to wait another week!

Last year I moved a wild rose up from the bottom of the garden, where it got too much shade to flower. Its covered with buds too :-} Its placed where it will compete with the raspberry bushes, and I plan to cut it back each fall after harvesting the rose hips. I think wild rose hips make the very best jelly and tea.

I noticed our raspberries are all doing very well, I think I might have to cut them back this fall too :-} If any are left after we eat our fill, we may get some jam this winter.

A few minutes was all I could bear to stand for that session (I messed up my ankle yesterday, from over doing it) but I decided to continue the theme by listening to my brother in law's cd, Raspberry Rag. ( music available here) at http://heftone.com/ With the window open, cool ukelele music playing, my new blue gazing ball gazing back at me (thank you Sherri!), and the birds enjoying all the critters revealed in the freshly mown lawn, its a glorious day.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Hurray!!! My favorite weather site (www.noaa.org) says there'll be SUN on Wednesday, just like my weather sense hinted!!!!


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Rain... rain rain rain rain rain....

It feels as if we've had the rainest Spring for years. It feels as if its been raining cold grey rain for months.. no sun expected until at least Saturday (I have a feeling we'll get a LITTLE sun on Wednesday, though) Mostly I don't mind rain, but the darkness is hard to deal with some times.

I decided I'd go out and take a few pictures anyway :-}
Heck, I'm an otter, the wet doesn't bother me much at all :-}

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Garden Gifts

I'm not feeling well today, so I decided to go outside and enjoy the garden. Of course I ended up pulling a few weeds, and wandering around to check on my green pals... and found some wonderful surprises!

I bought a paeony for my birthday 3 years ago (with money My mom sent to me) and spent more than I usually do to buy a special plant. It was October, so there were no blooms, but the blossom was described as deep red, with a thin edging of white at the outer rim of the ruffled petals... It never bloomed (see the April 18th Blog) so I adjusted the soil level earlier this spring... and I see a teeny tiny bud forming!!!!!!

Two years ago I bought an old-fashioned rambler rose, and pruned it too fiercly, as it never bloomed that year. I didn't prune it at all last year and this Spring the canes are going nuts, clambering over our wooden fence. Its supposed to have highly-scented lavender blooms, and I see some buds coming!!!!!!

Last year I moved a wild rose at the bottom of the garden. It was in deep shade and hadn't bloomed since we moved here in 2002 so I brought it up with my other roses, near the golden raspberry canes.. and it is rewarding me with buds!!!!! I especially want the rosehips, I think rosehip tea tastes best from wild roses.

I have a bed planted in an arc of Gooseberries and Currants. They are thriving in the partial shade. Inside the curve of the bed I planted tulips and daffys, a Lady's Mantle, and I also planted a variegated Japanese fern, and some Foam Flower... I thought the fern and foam flower died last winter, but where last week I saw nothing, today they are luscious!!! Hurray!!!!!!!

Here are some pics of some other garden lovelies (taken yesterday)

A spent tulip

Strawberries Coming (if the dog doesn't eat them first)

A cluster of Japanese Anemones

Some dotted Violets... My first summer here, I wished for some dotted violets.. two days later, they appeared in my Rose bed.. I still say it was the Fae...

Dead Nettle (The Yellow flowers in foreground) and Pulmonaria behind them. I love how the pulmonaria changes from Pink to Blue as the blossoms age.

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