Sunday, May 23, 2010

it must be summer

The gardens are really going to town right now. It is still shocking to me to be putting plants in as this is our usual time to be planting, but all around the perennials are making it seem like I missed the boat - like that time a few years ago, when I planted before the frost date, and had to do it all over around Memorial Day.
The valerian is in full flower. The fragrance is heavenly, and last year I found that tincturing the flowers rather than the roots made for a pretty good medicine. It is milder than the action of the root, but very relaxing. It doesn't require that the plant be dug up, either. That's one of the best parts.
Here is my Papaw tree. It is 3 years old. It needs some new soil, and I just happen to have a couple of scoops from deep in the woods. We'll see if that doesn't help, but seriously, this isn't Papaw country. Putting some coffee grounds in with the soil around the blueberries this year really helped them grow, so we'll add some here too for the acid.
This little weed is Herb Robert, one of the wild geraniums. The flowers are perhaps 1/2" in diameter, but they are massed in front of one of the flower beds. They should come out, but are so pretty that they may stay during their bloom. Certainly they will reseed and return next spring, so I won't feel too bad about that.
The elderflowers are coming right along. These are from an early variety, but the other bushes of canadensis or nigra have tight little buds now too. Elderflowers are edible. You can dip the whole umbel into crepe or pancake batter, and make fritters with them. They can be made into a cordial, and they can be used in teas and skin preparations. It takes a lot of flowers to amount to anything when dried, and that means less berries. This early variety is not as tasty, so I don't mind losing the berries and using the flowers.
The cinquefoil (aka five-finger grass) is already in bloom. Yesterday afternoon I noticed buds, but they were open last evening. This is usually a late June bloom around here. It is a noxious field weed with roots that can apparently withstand the magma beneath the earth's outer crust, but the flowers look so innocent. I need to do some research on this plant, and find uses. It is so tenacious; that in itself tells me to look into it.
There are mint patches in various places throughout the property, and this is the chocolate mint. It yields a spectacular essential oil and hydrosol. Delicious in both cooking and tea, it is close to peppermint without the same bite. Mints can be hard to tell apart, but the stems and veins of the chocolate mint - along with the vague chocolate scent - makes this one unique. It creeps slowly out into the yard, so as I sat weeding it last night, the mint beneath me filled the air with its scent.
Chive blossoms are just lovely. They are one of the first herbal flowers of the season, and they wave gaily, their delicate blooms hoisted aloft on sturdy blue-green stems. The blossoms make a beautiful pink vinegar, and they can be torn into pieces and scattered on a salad. This bee seems to agree with me.
Lastly, the St Johnswort. It is blooming already! Typically it blooms around June 21st, as it was named for St John, who is honored on June 21. I've mentioned before that having blogged for 5 years, I can look back and see where things were at this time in years past. SJW, I don't need to check. This is early.
There are 5 patches of SJW scattered around the gardens here. 3 are in bud, 2 close behind. The buds and tips of this plant can be used both internally and externally. Internally, it is often used for mild depression and nervous conditions. Externally it works especially well on sores that are caused by the various herpes viruses - like cold sores, chicken pox, shingles, and genital herpes. The nerve endings in our skin respond well to SJW.
It is well preserved in alcohol for tincture and in oil for external uses. It can also be dried for teas.
There is so much going on outside, and we're still busily putting the finishing touches on the upcoming issue before sending it off to the printer. It is somewhat strange to be looking at all this beauty while thinking about the oil being pumped into the Gulf of Mexico. Even at this distance, I can't help wondering how this will affect us all.


Rosemary said...

Beautiful garden photos! I loved the stroll with you; and alas, have the same sobering thought you have regarding this tragic oil spill. It will affect us for decades I fear. I feel so badly for the wildlife, the plant life, the Gulf, the Ocean. Tragic.

herbal pills said...

What wonderful photos! The plants look so healthy and fresh... Over here summer has come early too (I'm in the UK) over the weekend the temperature here was hotter than southern Europe! My garden is looking healthy now and a lot of work needs to be done.
The oil spill - perhaps gush would be a better term - is an absolute tragedy, and they still haven't found a way to contain it properly. I suppose the only consolation (small as it is) is that at least it's light crude and thus a little easier to clean up.

Laura said...

Beyond gorgeous! Mmm!

Jennifer said...

I love chocolate mint!!!!! I wish I had some growing! My favorite mint though has to be large tall apple mint!!! Yummy :)

Ann Flowers said...

What a beautiful garden! I would have loved to walk there, and see all the gorgeous flowers! Thanks for sharing


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