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working with herbs

Working with herbs is an art and small details in the practice of harvesting and preserving them make the difference between success and failure.

Harvesting:
Always harvest herbs in the morning, right after the dew has dried up but before the heat makes the plants release their volatile oils. Harvest fresh young leaves free of blemishes from areas away from roads and traffic. If you grow herbs for their flowers, always pick the flowers before they fully open. Never harvest plants on rainy days.

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leda the damask

On 15, May 2017 | No Comments | In plants, roses, scents | By All Year Garden

First of all, this is why the Leda rose is not red. It magically dilutes its ruby stain and pushes it further and further out towards the edges until it is no more. These roses spend most of their bloom time simply white.

Second, I was wrong, it is a little fragrant, if you really really want it to be.
I’m not sure if this rose was supposed to be trained on a trellis or a pole or something, it’s plopped all over the flower bed, kind of shapeless and crushing everything under its hefty weight. I managed to pull it out of the delphiniums and found a full grown perennial I had forgotten about agonizing underneath.

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purple queen

On 08, May 2017 | No Comments | In plants | By All Year Garden

An image for those dreary days in February or November when you can’t see the end of grueling chores, when your back hurts, your feet freeze and your hands bleed from all the raking and cleaning and when you have to fight your way out of a mound of yard debris. Today the garden turned on the love in drones.
This photo is probably going to find its way into winter articles again and again, it takes some ingenuity to come up with garden writing material when you don’t even want to get out of the house. Read more…

full spring

After the annuals and veggies were moved to their permanent location, the flower beds cleaned and the perennials spruced up, the roses pruned, the fall blooming plants divided and moved and the summer bulbs planted, one would think that the gardener can sit back with a cup of coffee in some cozy verdant nook and relax.
Guess again! Here is the list of activities for this month. Read more…

peonies

On 24, Apr 2017 | No Comments | In advice, plants, scents | By All Year Garden

The peonies would have bloomed by now, the buds have been ready to burst for more than a week, but it is so unseasonably cold, weird May weather! Temperatures in the fifties, I almost have to question the wisdom of moving the basil outside, it looks miserable.
Peonies are the object lesson for why gardeners benefit from being patient. You don’t get this cascade of blooms from a plant that doesn’t ask anything of you until you put a few years into it. Three, to be specific. Read more…

oil of geranium

After a streak of sunny days, mother nature decided to bring the gloom, and I never pass the opportunity gloom provides to indulge in relaxation and pampering, isn’t this what rainy days were created for?
The flower buds are on the brink of opening, but it looks like they decided to wait for the sunshine before doing that.
Back to the pampering, what better plant to chose to represent all things indulgent for skin care than the geranium? Well, maybe not this specific variety. Read more…

seedlings

On 10, Apr 2017 | No Comments | In advice, plants, propagation | By All Year Garden

This year spared us the usual unpleasantness: no hard freezes, no long stretches of unholy temperatures, no weird weather swings. As a result the spring planting is unfolding right on schedule to my great delight.

Usually after a seedling grown in a seed pod is transplanted into the garden, one of two things happen, and I had my fair share of both: it either doubles its growth speed when exposed to the sunshine and the rich garden soil or collapses dramatically under your very eyes, making you feel like a horrible person. Who would do something like this to a little plant, you quietly ask yourself, as your heart sinks into a puddle of misery and self loathing. Read more…

sweethearts

Since they went above and beyond this spring, let’s talk about sweet violets.
These beautiful early spring bloomers love moist, rich soil and are quite sensitive to slug attacks in summer, when the bigger plants’ foliage gives those pests a place to hide.
Some gardeners suggest feeding them in spring and fall, but in my experience the last thing you want to do for those prolific seeders is to give them additional reasons to spread out. Read more…

flowering onions

On 28, Mar 2017 | No Comments | In plants | By All Year Garden

If the spirit moves you towards a romanticized view of these lovely spring bulbs let me be the one to shatter your fairy tale: they are called flowering onions. You are growing onions. In the flower border. Onions.
I don’t say that to be obnoxious, I’m sure onions are wonderful plants in their own intensely aromatic way, but just because their more refined relatives spring up giant flower balls, that doesn’t mean their needs and growth habits are much different. Read more…

almost spring

In anticipation of good weather I’m already planning some gardening activities, there are summer bulbs to be planted and perennials beds to be cleaned up for spring.I took a stroll through the back yard this morning, and even though most of the snow is still there, I can feel nature breathe in the spring sun. After plodding through day after day, bullied by cloudy skies and bone chilling temperatures, I almost forgot how beautiful the garden is, how exhilarating it is to feel it warm up and try to guess the fresh growth right under the soil surface, almost ready to breach it. Read more…