Thursday, September 21, 2017

They're Here! They're Here! My Birthday Herbs are Here!

My Mountain Valley Growers herbs came yesterday while I was at work.  My son was kind enough to bring in the box, open it, unpack the plants and set them outside away from the nosy cat, Benny.  He even thought to text me photos of the operation to appease my anxiety over their condition!

They are perfect!

Shipped in a long, tall box (8", the plants travel upright), with little stem supports, they arrived looking absolutely lovely!  I have ordered small pots of herbs from other nurseries, and these are, by far, the best.  The pots may be small (3" nursery pots actually measure 2 3/4 x 2 3/4), but the plants are bigger than I expected!  Really healthy too!

So, what did I get?

DITTANY OF CRETE OREGANO: not a culinary oregano, it's used medicinally, and has been since ancient times. Homer mentioned how wild goats would eat this herb and wounds would quickly heal. It contains a natural antibiotic, many times stronger than penicillin!   In fact, Hippocrates would prescribe Dittany!  I am a follow-the-advice-of-your-physician sort of person, so won't be trying it.  I bought it for its fabulous bracts and unusually furry leaves!  It's just plain cute!

JUNIPER THYME:  also called "moonlight thyme" because of the silvery color of its needles.  I dislike juniper bushes with a passion, but in this case, juniper-esque is a good thing!  I like thyme for it's small size and terrific aroma.  For cooking I usually use sprigs off the larger English thyme plant and "collect" the other thymes just because!

BANANA MINT: it doesn't smell that much like bananas, but it definitely does not smell like mint!  It is not a bad smell, like sweet pear mint (at least I find the aroma rather nasty!), but not as fruity as strawberry mint, which smells exactly like strawberry jam!  Still, it's a wonderful new variety for my mint obsession!

DWARF GARDEN SAGE: a perfect candidate for a container.  I do use sage in my cooking. 

BLUE BOY ROSEMARY:  It's so cute!  And it has flowers!  Lowe's had some beautiful blue ceramic pots on sale which I resisted.  But, now, I want them!

WHITE GROSSO LAVENDER: a 3' high lavender for my front yard planter, among the Munstead lavender, Tuscan Blue rosemary and golden oregano.  I love lavender!  White Grosso makes my sixth variety! 

So, I am thrilled beyond reason!  Herbs do that to me...  Thanks to my youngest for the wonderful birthday gift certificate!  

I have no affiliation with Mountain Valley Growers (, but will mention their Fall Extravaganza Sale still has another week (ends Sept. 28th) to go!  I am pleased with their plants! 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

How the Rock Garden is Doing

After the lovely spring blooms...

front yard rock garden - May 2017
... the rock garden took a hot weather rest.  Now, a few of the plants are having an early fall regrowth and more flowers.  It's not nearly as stunning, but still adds some color to the yard.

Gaura:  the top photo is of two Siskiyou Pinks, the bottom is supposed to be Rosy Jane, but I have my doubts.  For one, it's white, not rosy at all!  I believe the tags were mixed up, it had been purchased, planted into a larger nursery pot and then returned.  So, it's highly likely the customer mixed the tags up. 

Penstemon, unknown type: this has done tremendously well in the ground.  Previously it was in a small container and not given much thought.  It will die back, but come back even bigger next year.

Lewisia: all I can say is that it's hanging in there.  Half of my lewisia had died.  I'll keep buying more, the flowers are spectacular, especially on the pinks.

Creeping thyme: 

Sea Thrift: 

Woolly Sunflower, or Oregon Sunshine: the hot smoky weather a few weeks ago really affected this plant. 

Not blooming, but not dead like I thought (I even pulled it out, but obviously, and thankfully, didn't get it all!) either, is the aubrieta. 

And... a surprise!  Lowe's got in the right size of pea gravel!  I was able to finish the path! 

I just happened to drop by to check out their sale ceramic pots (boy, did I get a beaut, I can hardly wait to get it unloaded!) and on a whim took a peek at the bags of rock.  I am so glad I did!  I have one bag to spare just in case we have another pea gravel shortage!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Late Summer (or early autumn) Herbs - 2017

We are only four days away from the first day of Autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere.  The fall weather arrived this week, with much cooler temperatures and rain.  While Thursday is forecast to be only in the 50s, next week may heat up into the 80s again.  Really, who knows with early autumn? 

The point is, the herbs love late summer/early autumn.  After having been severely cut back (to the ground in many cases) they have come back with lots of new growth, perfect for harvesting for winter use.

Lovely oregano (two types here, Greek Mountain, and an unknown received in trade) have really done well since the July pruning.  This oregano patch really needs to be divided, but that's a chore for much later!   

September, 2017

July, 2017

The oregano is even healthy where it volunteered in the pathway...

The neighbor to the oregano, woolly apple mint, is taking off again.  There is no stopping most mints, unless they are the ones I like best, then they poke along.  It's not that I dislike woolly apple mint, it's just that I wish my strawberry mint grew this lush. 

Not an herb, but in the herb garden, is "Orange Flame" wallflower, a ground cover, creeping type.  It springs back once the weather is cooler than mid-summer, as its name suggests, creeping out of the bed into the barked area surrounding the herb garden.  More of it's outside the bed than inside now! 

Several of my new herbs are blooming. 

Mini Blue lavender:

"Angel's Wing" catnip:
I just changed pots for this one today.  I didn't think the shallow plastic pot was draining well enough for this plant, even though I drilled plenty of holes and added sand and sharp gravel to the soil.  I bought a terra cotta azalea pot, which are shallower than the traditional ones.  I'm a bit worried I'll lose it, since it looks very much like the variegated horehound did before it died, and they are related.  In fact, I wouldn't know one from the other if they were side by side!  

 "Walker's Low" catmint:
It's grown a lot since I planted it. 

The French tarragon and germander are doing well after my savage butchering job!  I thought I'd done the germander permanent damage.

French tarragon


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Garden Odds and Ends... the Emphasis on "Odd"

What could be "odd" in the garden?

How about a tomato giving birth?  

Okay, so that's the only oddity, so far!

The pineapple sage, which grew to enormous proportions without flowering, has decided now, at the end of the season, to send forth blossoms!  Maybe that is a bit "odd."  I've already cut off at least 3/4 of the plant over the summer trying to keep it within bounds.  I need to find the middle ground (no pun intended), larger container, not rich soil, for next year. 

The annuals in the butterfly garden are dying back, so I've removed a lot of them, including the California poppies, which were a tangled mess, and the pink dwarf godetia.  The poppies probably left seeds behind.  Under the poppies were several coreopsis, which didn't get a chance to amount to much this season.  I'll move them inward from the edges when they die back. 

The onions were harvested, such as they were!  It was my first go at onions, and my last.  Not the failure of potatoes, but not worth bothering with.  I don't use a lot of onions, I like the taste they give foods, but hate the texture raw or cooked.  They need to dry for a few weeks, the tops and necks will be dry and the first layers of skin will be dry and crinkly. 

A neighbor left an ugly ol' cabinet out for the taking.  I took.  It should make a fine potting bench.  I sprayed the particleboard sides and back with whatever spray paint I had leftover, so it's white, brown, and metallic!  It won't last many years, but ever one or two will be fine for the free (and leftover paint) price!

I've had some success rooting cuttings lately.  All were started in water. 

Golden oregano and Tuscan Blue rosemary. 

Thyme, perhaps Foxley.

A cute little succulent from the front yard rock garden.  The other containers near it are small gauras, which readily root in water.  I'll have to write more on propagation from cuttings!  Free plants!