Saturday, June 9, 2012

Stop and Smell the Roses, For the Gardeningaholic

       I'm so focused on getting gardens planted and keeping up with the weeds that I often fail to take the time to enjoy what I've done, and the bounty growing around me. This year I noted almost in passing when the heirloom roses put on a spectacular show. The other roses soon followed suit. I looked, but very literally, did not smell. Now that the roses are fading, I'm regretting not having paid them closer attention, and I've come up with what may be a way of rectifying this in the future.
       Yesterday, I started to collect flowers and herbs for potpourri. If I get enough to make it worthwhile, I may offer this at a farmers market. In the meantime, I have an incentive to get up close and personal with some of the beautiful and aromatic plants in my yard.
       So far I've collected only a few rose petals and buds, but the experience could become addictive. Imagine separating the delicate petals, each so lovely, so delightful to smell, so velvety to the touch. I look forward to gathering other treasures; violets, calendula, lemon balm, lavender, wild strawberry leaves, and many more as the season progresses.
       There's more to making potpourri that throwing a few nice smelling dried leaves into a bowl. Usually, a potpourri has a theme like woodland, which might include wild strawberry leaves, pine needles, cedar chips, rosewood and sweet violet root as a fixative. A citrus blend could include lemon balm, basil, thymes, mints and bergamot leaves. I expect there's an art to mixing, but experimenting should be fun. I was surprised to learn that after combining everything, the mixture is sealed in a container to "cure" for six weeks in a dark place. Six weeks? A little patience will be called for here, in gathering as well as waiting to smell and enjoy the final product. Of course, I could just enjoy the aromas of individual favorites like lemon balm and basil while I savor the wait.
       Are you tempted to try this too? It could open you eyes to some of Nature's wonders while helping you to stop and smell...a lot more than the roses!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Pecan Guild "Finished"!

The pecan guild early this spring, before the weeds took
over. That black thing is a black locust stump wrapped in
pool liner to kill it. Pecan tree is in cage at top of photo to
stump's left.
       Picture fireworks lighting the night sky! The Pecan Guild is weeded and planted! The accompanying photo shows the "before." It'll be awhile before I have an "after"! The area involved is about fifty feet square, with several black locust stumps and hardly anything desirable growing in the guild-to-be except a pecan tree that measures no more than two feet tall. The task took about five days of work, not consecutive days, and not exclusive projecting on those days, but pretty near.
        The pecan tree remains in its chicken wire cage from last winter, and is in the center of the garden. I put in a wattling fence on the west side in an attempt to keep the dogs from overrunning the newly cleared area. Stinging nettles, motherwort, and lamb's quarter were among the plants that I pulled. Yes, I know they are herbs or edible, and I'll have them elsewhere. About the only volunteer plant I left was mullein. There are thyme and violets I planted last year, and narcissus that have been growing out there for a hundred years (at least). I added chamomile, canna, calendula, more thyme, comfrey, blue stavia, lavender, nasturtiums and some other flowers. I'm expecting blues, yellows, orange and red flowers, for what I hope will be an impressive view of colors from the kitchen window. I've never planted much in the way of flowers so I'm quite excited about this, as well as having completed a major task on my to-do list.
       I also strung climbing strings today for the trellis outside the kitchen window and planted morning glories, moonflowers and a couple of climbing beans. The colors for this happen to be red, white and blue.
       To top off the day, I pulled weeds in the Evergreen Garden and transplanted cinquefoil and wild strawberries. The wild strawberry plants are as big as my June bearers, although the berries themselves are small. Things are shaping up! Tomorrow, I hope to finish planting the vegetable garden. The Three Sisters are looking good!.All I need out there is sugar beets and more cucumbers for ground cover and (so I've read) raccoon repellent.
       As for now, my spouse informs me that the pizza dough is threatening to escape from the bowl and take over the kitchen, so I need to take care of that. Then a Saturday night movie with my dh, a lovely end to a productive day!