And The Winner Is….
Congratulations to the winner: Solidago has been named the 2017 Notable Native Herb by the Herb Society of America. We won’t be hearing any impressive acceptance speeches from the winner, so let me do the honors:
‘I would just like to thank the academy, well actually, the Herb Society of America, for this incredible honor. I am truly speechless’
Or, if John Muir were still among us (and boy, do I wish he was) we’d use his own words:
The fragrance, color, and form of the whole spiritual expression of Goldenrod are hopeful and strength giving beyond any others I know. A single spike is sufficient to heal unbelief and melancholy
With over 35 years of growing plants under our belts, we began to focus on herbs in 2008. We’d always loved growing them, but honestly, the demands for perennials and annuals in our local market meant that herbs only accounted for about 20% of the plants we grew. Once we hopped onto the world wide web, and were able to really use data to research what people wanted to grow, but couldn’t get locally, herbs became our focus. For the past 8+ years, we had added more and more herbs to our line up. Now, we are offering over 160 different types of herbs for you, our customers!
But, since we are growers, and addicted to growing a variety of plants, we’ve been ‘toying’ with the idea of introducing a closely related group of plants. So, drum roll please… (more…)
The sadness of summer fading can only be cured by the excitement of fall.
Cooler temperatures and the bountiful harvest draw our attention away from what was, to the beautiful changes before us. It feels good to bundle up in a favorite fleece for a morning jaunt into the garden. I hope you are making that little jaunt each morning; even ten minutes of trimming, weeding and piddling will brace you for the days work. Think of it as a kind of yoga or meditation practice. After a few weeks of practice, you get flowers and veggies. All that squatting down, reaching around, and scratching in the ground does kind of limber you up, and a few quiet moments looking over your plants does clear your mind, and those veggies will nourish your body and soul. Flowers brighten your day!
Fall is our favorite time to garden
Why would we not start the day in the garden? I don’t know because all of the above is true and we all know how busy and complex life is today. I try to visit my little home herb garden each morning, my excuse is to let the chickens out, but I always piddle and pull a few weeds or pick a little something to leave in the kitchen for dinner. This is a nice start for me because I also know that during the day, through some intrusive media source, word of mouth, or just something I see walking down a city street will give me pause. And I will truly wonder how the human race has gotten thus far. Since there is not much to be done about the world at large, one needs some means of maintaining sanity. The only salvation is a sanctuary, and home with a garden has the deepest roots. Whatever goes on elsewhere, it is grounding to know that the garden is there, orderly and bountiful. (more…)
Gardeners are creatures of habit, it is only the changing seasons that give our garden activities variety. And like all creatures of habit we collect favorite tools, seeds, and even favorite methods and motions as we happily plod through garden chores. To the casual observer, we may not appear locked into our set ways. But there is one favorite that always gives us away, our favorite plants!
There are those few plants a gardener plants year after year. One of those plants, for me, are my most cherished moonflower vines. For moonflowers to grace my patio rail in summer, the young plants must first scale a four feet high brick wall to reach the railing. They cannot do this alone, and this wall must be crossed and covered will foliage before the summer sun makes the bricks too hot for vines and leaves. For moonflowers to grace the patio rail in summer, the planting should be soon after night temperatures are over fifty degrees. Ipomea alba is a tropical plant and cool nights will stunt or kill young moonflower plants. (more…)
Hummingbirds love sweet,tubular-shaped flowers like those of the Bee Balm herb plant.
We absolutely LOVE watching hummingbirds dart through our gardens on a warm Summer evening. Attracting hummingbirds to your garden is a wonderful way to enjoy seeing these fast-flying little birds’ aerial antics up close, and will provide you with hours of entertainment from Spring until Fall. Also a very beneficial garden companion, hummingbirds will eat bugs and help increase pollination in your garden be flitting from bloom to bloom.
Hummingbirds do not have a sense of smell, and are instead attracted to brightly colored (usually red), trumpet or tube shaped flowers which their long beaks are specially designed to drink from. Because hummingbirds fly so fast (up to 30 miles per hour!), they spend most of their time foraging to keep their energy levels high. Their need for fuel is so high that hummingbirds may drink up to eight times their body weight in nectar in a day!
Make sure to plant these hummingbird friendly herbs and flowers to make your garden a great place for hummingbirds to feed:
We also have a variety of hanging and staked feeders that are specially designed to attract hummingbirds. Made from recycled glass, the colors change from a lovely orange and yellow color to a vibrant flame red that hummingbirds are drawn to. Click here to view our video and watch the hummingbirds swarm these lovely, hand crafted feeders.
Other tips for creating a hummingbird haven in your yard:
- Place hummingbird feeders near your garden to attract hummingbirds to your plants.
- Place the feeders at different heights throughout your yard and garden, as some species prefer different feeding patterns. Placing feeders in different parts of your yard will help keep territorial males from dominating all of the nectar.
- Make sure to keep your feeders clean and full of fresh nectar to ensure that the hummingbirds don’t get sick. Cleaning the sugary substance from the feeder’s holes may also help prevent attracting bees or wasps, as they may convene to find leftovers.
- Make sure to offer a good, clean water source for the hummingbirds to drink and bathe in, such as a bird bath which is shallow enough for them to play in.
- Add strings that run the length of your garden, above your plants to give hummers something to perch and rest on while flitting from flower to flower.
Butterfly gardening can be a wonderful way to experience wildlife in your garden, encourage pollination, and it takes very little maintenance, giving you more time to enjoy the beauty of watching butterflies flock to your plants. This is also a great way to give back to your local ecosystem, as many natural habitats for butterflies and other pollinators have been destroyed by urban development and human interference. We always let about half of our test garden go wild in the summer, in addition to the many flowering shrubs and trees throughout the yard, to give butterflies a safe place to feed and lay their eggs.
In planning your butterfly garden, make sure to plant plenty of host plants and feeder plants. Host plants are specific herbs, flowers and other plants, that mature butterflies lay their eggs on because they create a safe haven for their young who will also feed on these plants once they become caterpillars. Be aware that these plants will be the sole food source for caterpillars, so it will be pretty heavily snacked upon. Because these may look rather ragged by the time the caterpillars are done munching on them, you may want to add these to the back of your garden, but still close to feeder plants so that the caterpillars are able to find them easily in their next stage of life. Some common host plants include Fennel, Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, Dill, Broccoli, Sunflowers, and Asclepias (also known as Milkweed).
Feeder plants are nectar rich plants that adult butterflies will feed on throughout the season. These will also attract other helpful pollinators to your garden like honeybees and hummingbirds! Feeder plants tend to be fragrant and brightly colored, and you may be surprised to find that you already have many in your garden already. Some common varieties from our garden include Lantanas, Buddleias (also known as “Butterfly Bushes”), Joe Pye Weed, Bee Balm (Bergamot), Garlic Chives, and Oregano.
For a great video where we discuss plants for your butterfly garden and give you some tips from our experience in designing gardens for butterflies, check out our Butterfly Gardening Video.
- Remember to plant your perennial butterfly plants toward the back of your garden and your annuals toward the front, for easy seasonal replacing.
- Don’t forget to incorporate herbs into your butterfly garden! Many herbs are perennial and will provide you with a safe haven for caterpillars and beautiful blooms when they flower. You can also use them in many other ways!
- Choose an area that is protected by the wind, as butterflies are delicate and don’t want to fight strong breezes to feed.
- Provide a water source, such as a birdbath or a shallow bucket filled with water with sand in the bottom.
- Avoid using pesticides on your plants as these will harm the butterflies and their young.