What’s Flowering Now?

This year the garden has been in full bloom from the earliest part of spring. I love how it continues to give me beautiful blossoms throughout the year. Even in the winter in sunny California! I’ve been collecting photos for a while, I hope I can show them to you in the right sequence. There are too many to show you all of them, so I’ve chosen some favorites. For your enjoyment I am including descriptions for those flowers that have known benefits as flower essences.

One of my favorites is the Sweet Pea. I enjoy it’s lovely scent following me around the garden for a month or so. For many years we have been planting the sweet pea around the garden. Finally, this year it has started to spread on its own and has popped up all over the place. I love to wander through the garden and see the many-colored Sweet Pea as it unexpectedly climbs up a fence, or weaves its way into another patch of flowers to create a gorgeous contrast of colors! In the view of flower essence therapy, Sweet Pea is for finding your place in the world, forming right relationship to community.

Sweet Peas with Marigold

Purple Sweet Peas

Delightful sweet peas

 

A longer lasting flower that is still blooming in this hot weather is the Penstemon. It also comes in a variety of colors and brings joy to the eyes!

Purple Pink Penstemon

Purple Pentsemon

Pink Penstemon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penstemon assists us in gaining physical strength through the development of spiritual depth and stamina.

Bright Pink Penstemon

Nasturtiums

 

One of Ofer’s favorites is Nasturtium. They have edible flowers, kind of with a spicy kick! It is a friendly feeling flower and is often recommended as a companion plant for vegetables, especially tomatoes. As a flower essence it revitalizes our thinking forces and connects those thoughts with the warmth of Nature.

Chocolate Nicotiana blooms

 

Nicotiana is a plant that I have used in flower essence therapy for years. I found it last year at Annie’s Annuals in Richmond. I didn’t realize what a gorgeous plant it is. It’s essence creates a connection between the human heart and the heart of the Earth which strengthens our ability to live in truth.

Valerian is the plant that Valium is derived from and has a strangely scented bloom. Years back, when I worked at a health food store, I always knew when the Valerian arrived from the strong smell emanating from the delivery box.

 

Valerian flowering

Garlic Chives blooming

Dusty Miller

 

Garlic Chives have a lovely lavendar blossom. This plant is a great edible with attractive flowers, but so far as I know doesn’t have a flower essence definition. A similarly attractive plant, is this version of the Dusty Miller that grows prolifically in the chicken yard without watering.

Aloe Vera is a popular succulent that is known for its gel soothing burns. This mother plant has a beautiful flowering stalk every year. It’s essence helps to overcome the feeling of being “burned out” and overcoming the intensity often found in “A” types who go, go ,go and don’t know when to stop.

Aloe Vera

Succulent flower

 

I can’t remember the name of this little beauty, but I love the blooms. All succulents are a wonderful addition to the blooming season. The Prickly Pear is another desert plant that thrives here. It has beautiful yellow blooms that turn into edible red fruits. Such fun! Another of Ofer’s favorites.

Prickly Pear blossoms

Prickly Pear in bloom

Rose Geranium

Hyssop and Feverfew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rose Geranium is one of my favorite plants to have for a lovely scented garden. It is also very tasty in the herbal sun teas I make every year. I am including Hyssop and Feverfew in those teas these days too. So easy to make. Just put your favorite herbs in a glass bottle (I like to use old apple juice bottles), fill with water and set in the sun for a few hours. Remove the leaves and presto! a delicious tea.

Summer blooms

 

Don’t forget the tantalizing rose! It’s beauty and fragrance add a lot to a garden. I find that they require more care than I like, so I’ve only kept a few. This red rose is looking quite happy even in the heat!


Natives are the Answer!

For many years I have tried to find something to grow successfully in the front of my house. It is facing south so I wanted to have something that was heat resistant and drought tolerant. I tried low-growing manzanita, but I don’t think I watered it enough for it to get established. Most recently, I put in a bunch of low-growing succulents that have a lovely pink flower. I managed to water it well at first, but as the summer went on it got to be too much and failed in the intense heat. Sigh!

For a few years, I watched as the California Poppies that are volunteersin the yard, decided to take over that challenging area.

California Poppies

That made me happy for a while, until I realized (after a hot hike and the delicious aroma of the sages) that it might be possible to plant some native sages. Every time I hike around here, like at Black Diamond Mines or Mitchell Canyon among other places, I smell the tantalizing aroma of the sages when they bloom. It turns out that it is actually their leaves that have such an enticing scent! My favorites are black sage, pitcher sage and mugwort. Finally, I decided last year to find the black sage that I absolutely love.

Black Sage blooming

Pitcher Sage blooms

Luckily, I found some at Morningsun Herb Farm that would fit my hot, south-facing front yard perfectly! Last year I planted Black Sage and a couple of other sages whose names I don’t remember. I found Pitcher Sage with lavendar blooms (not the white I see in the wild) at another local natives nursery that, sadly,went out of business last summer. I also, added some Penstemon, another native that thrives in this area. The Calendulas I planted in back have spread to the front and have added themselves to the colorful array.

This year, the whole front is alive with brilliant colors! It feels welcoming and happy and requires no fuss at all.

Salvia with purple stalks

Penstemon

Salvias in front

Poppies, Calendula, Penstemon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ‘ve found that natives are a wonder to plant in all areas of the garden. They thrive and are drought tolerant. Their native beauty is stunning and the variety is endless. My friend, Christine, gave me some mugwort from her garden. The mugwort is happily growing in the side yard. It doesn’t like as much sun so I also planted some under the oak tree. I wasn’t sure if it would do well as it was in a hard spot to water. But, it is back this spring and has actually added more plants as I was hoping!

Mugwort

Sticky Monkeyflower

Sticky Monkeyflower blooms

 

Other natives I have growing in my side garden are Sticky Monkeyflower, Blue-eyed Grass and Evening Primrose. This photo of the Evening Primrose shows its growth right now. The flowers haven’t started blooming yet.

Blue-eyed Grass

Evening Primrose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each spring, we enjoy more and more natives volunteering in our yard. To many people, they are weeds, but to us they are a sign of a healthy yard. We have mallow, mustard, cleavers, purslane, and miner’s lettuce – all edible plants that volunteer each year. Some have already come and gone and others are on the way soon.

Cleavers

Blooming Mustard

Miner's Lettuce

One of the happiest volunteers I have each year is the Feverfew. This is a lovely herb that makes me happy whenever I see it. It was growing in the far back corner of our yard when we first moved in. Now it finds many perfect places to show its sunny face. It’s a great addition to herbal teas in the summer, a bright bouquet and is traditionally known as a remedy for migraine headaches.

Feverfew Patch

Feverfew trio

 

 

 

What natives are growing in your garden? Look around and see what wants to share life with you.


What Inspires You in the Garden?

This is such a lovely time of year in California. It is a time of harvest and planting. Creating fun and tasty foods from the abundance of a summer garden that has been given an extra burst of growth with the heat wave of autumn. This year, I’ve had lots of different orange tomatoes and a variety of colorful cherry tomatoes. I found them collecting in the kitchen -everywhere. On the counter, in the refrigerator and the table too! So, I thought, what can I do with this wonderful variety.

Tomato bowl with figs

I decided to try cooking them down for a sauce or soup. I washed them and dumped them in a large soup pot – no peeling or removing seeds. I cooked them for about two hours. As they softened a delicious aroma filled the house. When they were cooled, I put the liquid through a cloth to remove the seeds and skins. I ended up with a beautiful, soup base. Tomato Soup when fresh is at it’s best! I added some salt, a splash of goat milk and some onion powder. Delicious!

The basil also called to me, so I made some Pesto. Usually I like to add parsley, but my parsley didn’t grow very well this season. So, I just used basil.

Happy Basil

Take a large bunch of basil wash it and put it in a food processor. Add two cloves fresh garlic, a cup or so of olive oil, grated parmesan or asiago cheese and a handful of walnuts. Blend thoroughly. Add extra olive oil, a little at a time, for it to become a nice, smooth paste. You can vary the amounts to fit your taste buds.

It turned out quite well and made for an nice addition to my dinner – Pesto Pasta with Tomato Soup. A perfect repast for a cool autumn evening.What creative meals are you cooking from your garden (or farmer’s market) produce?

The preparations for our fall garden are continuing to move forward. Our side yard is currently being fixed up to receive flower seeds in the next week or so. We added a layer of manure and a layer of soil. This bed was our first insta-bed that we made two years ago.  It seems like a good time to try a larger cut flower garden. I’ll be planting some of the seeds now for early blooms in the spring and some will be planted in the early spring for summer bloom.

This fall I’m planting snapdragons, marigolds (these will go with the vegetables as a companion plant for healthy veggies), early sweet peas, bachelor’s buttons, delphinium, gaillardia (thanks, Eileen for sharing your seeds!), butterfly flower, canturbury bells , red tulip and freesia bulbs. I’d love to know – what’s your favorite cut flower to grow?

Ofer and Yo’el continue to make more soil so we can add a top layer to our new beds for the fall vegetable planting. They are digging the soil from an area of our yard that had been used for a vegetable garden in previous years. Then manure, ashes and compost will be added for a good top soil mix.

 

broccoli plants

The purple broccoli that we planted this spring has been growing like a weed. The plants are absolutely monstrous with huge leaves and about 4 feet tall. All summer we’ve been watching it and wondering when it will actually grow the heads (that’s the part we eat).

broccoli head forming

It is just now beginning to form the broccoli heads. Here you can see the light colored leaves in the center. That’s where it all begins. Keep your fingers crossed so we’ll have purple broccoli for the first time.

kohlrabi

Another plant from the spring is this darling kohlrabi. When I first saw kohlrabi I thought that it was a root vegetable. I couldn’t figure out how they washed the bulbs to get them so clean. Then I grew some and voila! it isn’t underground after all.

 

 

 

 

A funny cat story:I was out in the garden a few days ago and saw Jade batting at the Love Lies Bleeding(amaranth) flowers.

Love Lies Bleeding

Jade

Lao Hu

The funny thing was, when I looked closer, I saw Lao Hu laying in the plant bed rubbing his face against the stalk of the plant. Every time he rubbed, the stalk made the flowers start swinging and Jade would happily swing right back! They are quite a pair.

 

 

 

Come and Get It!

We would like to provide an opportunity for you to purchase our produce on a somewhat regular basis (as we have high yielding plants to share). We’d like some input from you as to how best to go about it. What would be a good day and time for you to have “Come and Get It” days?  We will post a list of what we have available with prices.

Right now, for example, we have: Chard – $2 a bunch, Red Flame Grapes $2 a bunch, Figs $4 a basket, Pears .50 each, Basil $2 a bunch and Eggs $5 a dozen

Do you have other suggestions? Please let us know.