Monday, April 30, 2012

The Beauty of Pass-Along Plants

I spent about an hour today digging up some divisions of plants in the yard of one of my music students. Sadly, her husband passed away a few weeks ago and she is moving out of their house out in the country to a smaller home that will require less maintenance, but she offered me the chance to dig up some of her iris and day lilies before she left for good.

I love pass-along plants. They keep one person's garden from becoming over crowded while giving another person an economical way of filling bare spots in their garden. They also create great memories. It's great fun to walk through a garden that has many pass-alongs and recalling who and where each plant came from.

I know this is the worst time to be transplanting iris and day lilies (right as they are blooming or are about to bloom), but here is what I came home with...

 This day lily is about to burst into bloom with orange flowers!

I also brought home some lovely white iris, so tall I had to give them help to keep them standing.

Lastly, a few purple and yellow iris.

I didn't want to take too many, since I don't yet have a yard for them, but these plants will multiply and I'll be able to pass them along as well!

Do you make a habit of giving and/or receiving pass-along plants? I feel like bulb plants are the most obvious ones to pass along, but what other kinds of plants have you done this with?

More Blooms

There are a couple things in the garden that are about to bloom. A couple of them are even opening their buds to put on a show for us!

I walked outside the other day to find a nasturtium budding out.

And here it is this morning.

With a few more buds on the way.

I also noticed the hydrangea budding out.

Here's a close up of one that's just starting to open up. I guess it blooms lime green initially and then changes to pink.

What's blooming in your garden?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Crazy Hairdo

I don't own a peony bush, but I wish I did.

However, my lovely neighbors graciously allowed me to cut a few from their yard to enjoy in my home. 

Doesn't the way this vase is built make it look like the flowers are a crazy 'do for the owl? I love this vase...and it looks just as good without flowers in it as it does with them.

Do you have unusual vases you like to keep your cut flowers in?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Fruits of My Labor

I decided my cereal needed a little perking up this morning, so I just took myself out to the patio to pick some of my newly ripe strawberries! Aren't they pretty? They certainly were a lot less expensive than the ones at the grocery store!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Recipe: Lemon Balm Syrup

A few days ago, I mentioned that I wanted to experiment with lemon balm in cocktails, so I got busy making lemon balm syrup. This was super easy to make and could be used to sweeten and flavor tea, punch, or could go in club soda for a refreshing lemony drink. My husband has decided that it's tasty with vodka, club soda and a slice of lemon.

Just to give you an idea, the syrup came out tasting like lemon heads candy! Who knew?

Without further ado, here is the recipe I used (it came from The Joy of Cooking):

2 cups sugar
1 cup water
a couple large-ish cuttings of lemon balm (still on the stem), washed and patted dry

Combine the sugar and water in a pot over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved (this part can take a while). Add the lemon balm, cover, and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, fish out the lemon balm and let cool before putting in a container (I use a glass jar, but wish I had something with a pour spout). Keep it in the fridge.

See? How easy is that? Do you have any great recipes for drink flavorings? Care to share?

Friday, April 20, 2012

New Addition: I'm Feeling Balmy

When my friend Jessica showed up at my door Monday night with a large bucket of lemon balm, I was ecstatic! She and her husband have a large vegetable garden and the lemon balm was taking over one of their garden boxes, so they passed some of it along to me! Here is a picture of it in its new home...

I've never grown lemon balm, but I knew it is in the mint family, so I decided to keep it in a pot to avoid the take-over situation Jessica ended up with. It has a lovely lemony/minty fragrance and I knew that it is edible. However, I wasn't sure what lemon balm is used for, so I did a little bit of research. Here's what I found:

  1. Lemon balm is an herb in the mint family (already said this). This means it will grow EVERYWHERE and invade an entire bed if planted in the ground. I've even heard stories of mint growing UNDER driveways and coming up on the other side! That said, it should be contained.
  2. Lemon balm is often used as a flavoring for ice cream (this sounds amazing) and tea. I'm also thinking of infusing a simple syrup with it. I think it would be stunning in a cocktail!
  3. You can rub it on your skin for natural mosquito repellant!
  4. It is self-sowing.
  5. It attracts bees.
  6.  Greek folklore recommended lemon balm as a cure for poisonings and mad dog bites (random fact of the day).
If you want to read more on lemon balm, here is the Wikipedia article I found. It has quite a bit of interesting information. There is also an interesting chapter on lemon balm in Herbs Demystified by Holly Phaneuf. You can pick up your own copy, or you can probably also find it at your local library.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bloom and Bust

Sorry....had to make a corny pun with this title!

Remember the blue orchid my hubby gave me for Valentine's Day?
It had been dyed blue (my understanding is that you put blue food coloring in the water), and I knew it would re-bloom white. Today, I got my first glimpse of what it will look like! The blue blooms have been slowly dropping for the past week or so. There's a few of those left, but there's new buds in their places and one started opening today!

Isn't it lovely with just the tinge of blue around the edges of the petals? I can't wait to see the rest!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Good as My Word

Remember how I said I was done trying to start basil from seed? Well, today those peat pots and tp tubes turned seed cups went onto the compost heap, and away I went to Home Depot for two basil plants....already started and on their way to success. Here's a couple pictures....

I may have to add a little more potting mix to the one on the left. That one settled a lot more than I expected!

Friday, April 13, 2012


After fighting to get my basil seeds to grow, I'm officially giving up. I'll go buy a plant, but after two months of watering, re-seeding, feeding, and watering some more, I still have nothing to show for it. I had a couple seeds try to grow, but they never got any bigger than teeny tiny little sprouts.

I've always heard basil is finicky if you start it from seed, but I didn't know just how finicky. Now I know and I can save my $1.50 (that I spent on seeds) and put it towards an actual plant. Lesson learned.

On the flip side, everything else that I planted is still doing fine! So hooray!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Update from the Vegetable Garden

Garden update part's been a few days now since I took these pictures and the weather has cooled of a LOT. There was a frost advisory last night and another for tonight. Here's hoping everything pulls through! I've brought a few things inside, but that's not possible for everything. That said, I present the veggie garden.

Look at those peas! They're climbing the tomato cages nicely, and if you look beyond, you can see the green beans I planted a couple weeks ago. It always amazes me how fast those puppies grow!

The first planting of lettuce is coming along nicely. I'm seeing salad in my near future!

And here is the beginnings of the second planting of lettuce. Last year I (unwisely) planted all my lettuce seeds at once and we were completely overrun. This year, I am trying successive plantings so I only get as much as I can eat at any given time.

If you look closely, you can see where the blueberry has been doing its pollinating thing. I'm really looking forward to some homegrown blueberries!

You can see how my seedlings are coming along. I put some of my tomatoes in larger containers to see if they'll grow larger root systems before I transplant them. I also wanted to be able to keep them in the greenhouse for a little while longer since we're getting some cooler weather.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Update from the Container Garden

I know, I know.....I promised to finish the garden update, but in the interest of not creating the longest blog post ever, I decided to split it into three sections: flower garden, container garden, and vegetable garden.

SO.....without further ado, here is the latest on the container garden....

I can't remember if I've gotten to show this guy off before now. This was Jacob's (my husband) St. Patty's day pick: a shamrock. I wasn't sure how long it would last, but it seems to be thriving.

Since it was so warm for so long (most of March was in the 80's here), I took the ranunculus (the one in front) out of the greenhouse. There are a few more hanging out on my newly painted plant shelf. Behind that is something called an orchid lily, which I am really excited to see bloom. My voice teacher and his wife gave me this from a division of theirs. Apparently, it blooms in an arch like an orchid, only the flowers are lilies! How cool is that?!

Ok, let's talk about the one on the top of the shelf....I knew that nasturtium were effective as natural "bug traps", but I was really unprepared for just how effective they really are....see how the leaves are mostly chewed off? None of the other plants have been touched....not even the tulip in the same pot!

This one's a baby. I decided it would probably be ok to go ahead and transplant some of the dill seedlings that were in the greenhouse. I may have to bring it inside later this week though...they were talking about frost on the news today.

I was starting to get a little worried about this rosemary plant. I had overwintered it and it was looking pretty anemic for a while, but it seems to be greening up nicely with some sunshine and warmer temperatures.

And lastly, the strawberry plant is starting to make berries!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Latest Update and Pictures from the Flower Garden

Ok, so I've been a little MIA lately....things have been a tiny bit crazy in my neck of the woods and I hope I'll have some good news to share SOON!

In the mean time, here's some pictures from around the flower garden to tide you over. I'll cover the rest in another post!
Ok, here's a full shot of the right flower garden. Look how giant the hosta is getting! I think it's bigger than the boxwoods.

 Also, here's a closer look at the Roman Chamomile (it doesn't make blooms for tea, but it smells nice when you walk on it!) that's going gangbusters around the ornamental grass that has yet to show anything but dead straw. I'm not worried did this last year too.

Even though I didn't dig up my dahlia bulbs last year, they're still growing back...who knew? Maybe it was just the crazy mild winter. Also, you can see that the busyness of late has kept me from keeping my flower bed completely weed-free.

Said dahlias are in this left flower bed. There are lots of irises in here, but they haven't bloomed yet. I'm thinking they aren't getting enough sun.

However, the hydrangea and geraniums seem to be lovin' their spot on the side of the house. It's an east-facing wall, so they get plenty of sunshine.

And if you look closely, you can see that I'm starting to get some buds on the hydrangea! Hooray!!

This handsome fella decided he needed to get in on the picture taking...and I couldn't resist showing him off!

What's going on in your garden these days? Any fun happenings?