Bloom Thyme Friday: Welcome to My Herb Garden

This week I had some extra time to just “be” in my herb garden. It is a very special place for me. The fence was the first structure that Mr. G built for me after we moved into our “new” home. That was over 30 years ago. Pardon me while I shed a few tears. Looking back, 30 years seems like a blink… have you noticed that — looking back is like a quick vapor and looking ahead seems like forever. Those 30 years are filled to the brim with memories. Mr. G building the fence with 2 littles in tow. My daughter and son planting seeds; picking herbs we would use in cooking; harvesting lavender and other flowers and herbs that we used in crafts — some we sold as the Ladybug Herb Garden.  (My daughter’s “baby” name was Ladybug.)

I wish I had a list of all the herbs, veggies, cutting flowers and roses (they’re herbs too) that have had a home in this happy, fragrant 16’ x 18’ space.

Let me show you around…

Basil that has gone to seed and making the pollinators happy growing in a tangle with chives and a very prominent black eyed susan that I didn’t plant. It is always a big surprise as to where the black eyed susans will show up each year!

Thyme that makes it’s way into egg salad, chicken salad and bean dishes. And is the perfect ground cover for herb gardens.

Zinnias and Cosmos (Mr. G’s Fav) running amuck in that beautiful way they do in the fall.

Nasturiums — because they are so dependably pretty and fun to add to salads.

Lambs Ears because of it’s color, texture and the fact that every child loves it. Behind the Lambs Ears is the lovely ‘Pretty Polly’ Almond scented geranium.

Okra … that should have been picked last week. Note: I don’t have a full on vegetable garden but add favorite veggies here and there around the garden, on the deck and on the driveway!

Banana peppers … that should have been picked last week. Zinnias were hiding them.
Chard … for smoothies and just for pretty.
Rosemary … because it’s beautiful, fragrant, delicious and has been used for years in a family favorite recipe – rosemary baked potatoes!

Plants that are here but have finished for the season…

Peonies, yarrow, sweet peas, sweet william and larkspur had their moment and have come and gone. The world they lived in was much more tame!   Look, no jungle in late May!

Herbs you don’t see in my “Herb” garden…

Mint… the last plant my mother bought for me was apple mint. That was more than 25 years ago. While I’ll never be without mint for the memory of her and for the fact I use it all the time, it is planted safely in a pot where it’s “roaming” tendencies are kept in check! 😳

Oregano… has been taken out to the veriest back of the property where it can run amuck. It’s yummy but it is like mint in that it desires world domination!

Sage… It is one of my two favorite herbs. I love it for so many reasons — I love the flavor and I love the holiday memories attached to that flavor and that smell and I love how it looks. You don’t see sage in the herb garden because it lives and thrives in another area of the garden where conditions are dryer. While it looks so good with the other herbs, it’s happier elsewhere.  And, it does very well beside it’s neighbor that doesn’t like the herb garden all that well either… Lavender – my other favorite. Who doesn’t love lavender!?! Is there a more relaxing fragrance in all the world? Not for me. I do plant both sage and lavender in the herb garden each year and while they mostly survive for a season, they don’t thrive. So, to have plenty, it is best to have “extras” where they are happier!

And, this brings us to Roses… they greet you as you enter. As it should be.

Thanks for stopping by for my herb garden tour. Now you know that my herb garden, like all the other “rooms” in my garden are a combination of plant types. Most of them tasty and many so aromatic — making it a destination I can get lost in!

Let’s all take a deep breath and inhale the earthy fragrance of herbs. I’m wondering what are your favorites? Is it sage or lavender or….

I bet there’s a story behind your favorite and I’d love to hear it! ❣️

BLOOM THYME FRIDAY: BLOOMS, BEES AND BUGS

This week the weather was much more pleasant for being outdoors — cooler temps with a tiny drop in humidity. While I was out tackling the weeds, I was completely stopped by beautiful blooms, bees and bugs all around me. How am I ever to get the weeding done with so much wonder to catch my eye — and time! And, it is hard to dead head right now because the pollinators don’t seem to mind the shabbiness of faded blooms. Seeing the wonders of nature taking their time doing their sweet work, challenged this natural born busy-bee-plate-spinner — to slow down and take it all in.

So today I will share some of God’s natural wonder that surrounds me…

BLOOM THYME WITH CRITTERS:

Twist and Shout Lacecap Hydrangea is a lovely spot to rest
Beauty and the bee… Rose ‘At Last’
Two on one… Painted Lady and JB… #headshake Don’t look too close … lots of “shabbiness” here! 😄
This guy was huge and happy on the buddleia.
Yes, August 30 and they are STILL here. It sure appears they are going for some kind of record. 😡

 

They are swarming the sedum. LOVE IT!
Video Note: His pollen baskets look full to overflowing! 🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝

BLOOM THYME WITHOUT CRITTERS…

Petit Pink peeking through the gate. (Dr. David Zlesak Hybridizer)
Mother of Pearl – you have seen a lot of this rose on the blog this year. It has been a standout. I have some blooms in the kitchen right now! Cant’ wait to see what year 3 brings! If the theory … “sleep, creep, leap” holds true, next spring will be outstanding!
Purity Cosmos
Love all nasturtiums, but these yellow ones are sure a favorite.
Belinda’s Dream / Earth Kind

Below is one  the largest blooms of Belinda I have ever seen – over 5″. Gorgeous, fragrant and disease resistant! If you don’t have this one, I think you would love it!

The Enchantress Zinnias are getting prettier every day!
Cherry Parfait. If she were fragrant, she’d be perfect.

 

THYME FOR A LONG WEEKEND!

Glad we have a long weekend… Tomorrow I start weeding and getting things a bit more tidy – really!! 🙂

Prayers for our Florida friends as they prepare for Hurricane Dorian. Be safe!

Fred VI (6th) and I wish you a very Happy Bloom Thyme Friday and a week filled with wonder!

Bloom Thyme Friday: Taking Note

While most of the world braces for the onslaught of “PUMPKIN SPICE EVERTHING,” I am thinking spring – and taking note of all the things in the garden that need “adjustment.” Lists are being made on things that will be moved, removed or added and a few new designs are being put to paper.  SIDE NOTE: I have used Evernote App (glorified note taker/document maker/to do list) for 7 years now for garden world work. It is a mobile ready app so no matter what device I have, the information has been synced and I pick up where I left off! Another great Evernote feature is it is sharable and works well for group collaboration.

My heart races at the thoughts of spring! I am armed with graph paper, Evernote notes, plant tags and ideas!

On my lists….

Perennials that need moving and maybe even dividing – peonies, phlox, iris, daylilles and ground cover. And then there’s the over achievers: daisies and black-eyed susans… of course they are way out of their bounds and need a bit of thinning.

Things on the list that will wait until early spring: Moving roses and hydrangeas. I have done this in the fall and sometimes it works, but sometimes winter comes early and they don’t have time to get established. This year I am waiting.

Things I need to make room for: 2020 rose releases!

My “taking note” includes going over HITS and MISSES this year. Here is a sampling…

HITS:

Tomatoes: Our luck with slicing tomatoes has been dismal the last couple of years. Whether in the ground or in a pot. We have tried it all. The yield was one or two, here and there.

NOT THIS YEAR… While at Lowes this spring I was slowly going through every tomato plant thinking “nah” on most of them. Then I came across one we had never grown before and I pulled out my handy dandy iPhone and did some research. Found a youtube video from someone who was trying this variety too and the vines looked great and there was plenty of tomatoes so I thought SOLD! Even though he had never gotten to the taste part, I was willing to give it a chance. Fast forward do today and we have had a zillion beautiful and oh so yummy tomatoes. No bugs. No disease. Just yum.

And the tomatoes we grew were Steak Sandwich from Bonnie Plants. Have you grown this plant?

I planted two 5” plants in large pots on the driveway and Mr. G painstakingly watered them and carefully tied them as they grew bigger and bigger and bigger. The storms blew them over a time or two, but they never stopped. Remember this picture from Instagram. This was taken on June 15. They are a wall now!

 

This pic was taken July 5! WO!! Wall of tomatoes. Remember this is 2 tomato plants!

We are still getting the most delicious tomatoes. I can’t tell you how many I’ve eaten! And have savored every one!

We now have a wall of tomatoes. It has been so fun. And so delicious. We’ll definitely plant these again. To be sure we get them, I will order seeds. I saw that Burpee has the seeds. WOO HOO WINNER!

Peggy Martin Rose: The winter of 2017-2018 was very hard on Peggy Martin. She had completely covered a large pergola …until winter hit. During the winter she died all the way back to the ground.

The summer of 2018 she grew and grew. To protect her I made the decision to provide extra winter protection by mounding  bark mulch and leaves to a little over 3 ft. Whether it was the extra mulch love or the winter, we will never know but she greeted 2019 with much enthusiasm – covering a good bit of the pergola again and bloomed like crazy.

This one-time blooming machine started the first of June and still had plenty of blooms the first of July. The rose that survived hurricane Katrina – survived one of the wettest springs on record as well as plenty of wind and storms. She was a crowd pleaser at Open Garden Day. Peggy Martin– WINNER! I saw on Chamblee’s Facebook page that they had a limited number of Peggy Martins for sale. It is such a popular rose, they sell out fast.

This was the first of June.

 

This was early July.

MISSES:

Zinnias: The seeds never had the chance to be spectacular …. too much early rain. My late attempt at starting seeds in pots was better, but still not what I had hoped. Will work on a new plan and maybe a new place for next year. While I was a bit disappointed, the butterflies found them heavenly!

The plan was that they would fill the back row of the Herb Garden…. Note – most of them “moved” to one side. It was probably more like “flowed” in the current of water that was out there!

 

Sweet Peas: First problem, I planted them late (busy schedule and flooding rains got in the way) and by the time they were huge and ready, it was too hot to bloom. Seriously, the vines still look spectacular — best ever. Wouldn’t it be nice if they bloomed when things cool down. It’s never happened before but I would love it. SIDE NOTE: I have never and I mean never seen sweet peas like the sweat peas in England. A feast for the eyes and nose. Couldn’t even capture in a photograph.

Here are a few cut ones at the Bosley Patch farmer’s market in Henley. Can you tell how big and luscious they are?

I bought these seeds in England. Hoping they will be my secret weapon next year! Stay tuned.

I’ll share more hits and misses next time.

FALL / WINTER ROSE CARE TIPS

If you re looking for my fall / winter care tips, read on here. Don’t treat them as gospel — I don’t because things change from year to year. Just as with your children or fur babies, you will know your roses best and will figure out what they need. But, I am happy to share the basics of what has worked for me.

PUMPKIN SPICE EVERYTHING

Everyone I know loves fall and for me it is a tenuous relationship at best. I LOVE SPRING. It is true that each year I am getting better and better at fall. It’s Mr. G’s favorite.

SO, let’s all go out and have some PUMPKIN SPICE fun. God sure does beautiful work in the fall and we don’t want to miss it.

Ecclesiastes 3:1: There is a time for everything … a time to plant and a time to uproot..

Seriously, I have a ton of things to “uproot”! I best get busy.

Here’s to Pumpkin Spice Lattes (and Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice cereal)!

KINGDOMS, KIDS and KASTLES

I am starting this post from high in the sky as I make my way home from having the most wonderful time with my precious grandsons and their parents in the beautiful town of Henley on Thames. It is as picturesque and wonderful as it sounds.
For those of you who have been to England, you know what I mean. I have been steeped in picturesque countryside, charming streets, wonderful people, a slower pace of life, amazing gardens, roses and family.
My daughter and I are two peas in a pod. What a blessing she has always been. I could extol her virtues for days – a beautiful, kind, creative who infuses beauty wherever she goes. I can’t even put into words what it was like to share some of the most charming towns, and gardens with her. As I was planting roses in my daughter’s new garden, I was struck by the fact that for the past 30 years I have worked on creating my version of an English Cottage Garden (heavy on roses) in the midwest and now I find myself planting roses in a my daughters garden in England. Head Shake.😱 This reminds me of a favorite scripture… To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine… Ephesians 3:20  Yes, I didn’t know to ask for this and I couldn’t imagine it but I am incredibly grateful.

To top it off… our days of little boys, tours and gardening ended with a glass of wine, watching gardening shows and making garden plans. Bliss. We just never know the twists and turns our lives will take. God’s blessings are poured out at every stage and age. I am grateful for every stage I have been through and am simply delighting in this new one — seeing her and her little tribe bloom in this new place.

OH THE GARDENS ….

Here are a few of the gardens we visited…

GREYS COURT…. dates back to the early 12th Century as the home of the Grey Family. When you are there you truly feel you have stepped back in time. The house is so beautiful, the great tower is a historical work of art, but it was the series of gates and gardens that I fell in love with.

HIGHCLERE CASTLE (Where Downton Abbey was filmed.)

Highclere Castle is the home of the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. It is said to be the finest occupied Victorian mansion in England. While the outside looked familiar to me as a fan of the show, once we started through the front door and into the amazing gardens, I forgot about the show and just fell in love with Highclere.

The gardens were more than I ever expected: A secret garden of white flowers, lush borders, stones walls and picturesque gates, a wildflower meadow – beautiful, serene and filled to the brim with busy pollinators, and so many roses! The roses were not at peak, but there were still plentiful and beautiful.


STONOR PARK & GARDENS … a historic country house that has been home to the Stonor family for 850 years.

We made several other garden stops — all just whetting our appetite for more!

I struggled to leave my loves, but was eager to see Mr. G’s handsome face and try out some new things in the garden. 😱 Yes, I came home with more than a few ideas! Garden hats off to Mr. G for having a garden to come home to. I so appreciate his diligence in watering and battling the Japanese Beetles. He’s the best! xoxox

I have always believed that life is best if you can “bloom where you are planted.” Even if you are somewhere for a short time, there can be infinite rewards. This week I have been planted in my garden attacking all those weeds that also loved Mr. G’s watering. But, what a couple of weeks I have had.

Regardless of where I am, these three sweet boys are never far from my mind.