Thursday, June 30, 2011

Teasel, A Weed No More

Teasel has transitioned from weed to a plant worthy of some attention in my world.  It's not like I am going to go out and sow it willy-nilly in the garden but I do grow it every year and have for some time now, finding it rather entertaining.

Because it is a roadside weed,  people pass it by, never really looking at it normally but they do see it in my garden and are often amazed when they find out what it actually is.  Oh sure, I get some who wonder why I would bother growing it too but that's all part of the fun of it.

It was several years before I actually saw one bloom.  I was obviously not paying very close attention because the darn things grow all over the waste places along roadsides and near ditches.  When I finally did see one bloom I remember how awestruck I was.  I'm sure if anyone had seen me and been within earshot they would have thought I had lost my mind as a stood looking up babbling in amazement.  Instead of  blooming all at once the blooms begin at the middle middle of the oval shaped head/cone, progressing up and down at the same time.  Its fascinating.

It is a biennial plant forming a rosette of lance shaped leaves the first year and the flowering stems the following year.  It grows to between three and six feet tall unless it is this one in my garden.  Its more like eight feet tall.
Nearly eight feet tall.
The lance shaped leaves are fused together on the stem at their base which creates a basin where water collects when it rains creating a good watering hole for insects though some drown after falling into the water.  The Greeks called this basin Venus' Basin and in Europe it was called Mary's Basin.  Some say that water is a good cure for warts if there are dead bugs in the water and is good for an eye wash if the water is clear and clean.  I have yet to not see dead bugs in it though so stick with the wart remedy if you want to try it on something.

The leaves, branches and bracts all have short spines on them making them tricky to harvest if you forget to wear gloves. The branching each produce a cone shaped flower head at their tip.
I love the linear shaped bracts that cradel the flower head.

So why did I soften to this roadside weed...because it has too many good qualities for me to consider it any more a weed than the herbs I cultivate in my garden...and it is just a cool plant to look at.

It was used over the centuries as a medicinal herb, fell out of favor and is again being used for medicine. The dried flower cones were used to raise the nap of wool fabric back in the day in a practice known as fulling or brushing and thus the name "Fuller's Teasel" or Teasel.  The bees, blow flies and butterflies enjoy the flowers of this plant and the birds, especially Gold Finches love the seeds making it a great plant for wildlife.
Just finishing its bloom it will begin to dry and be ready for harvesting for crafting.
Teasel has long been used in dried arrangements, painted and used for seasonal decor and Christmas ornaments.  You can also create cute little hedgehogs out of them too...just remember to wear gloves, the other nickname for it is Johnny-prick-finger.

Copyright © 2011 by Patty Hicks
All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Stroll in the garden

I took a little stroll in my garden out back after we finished doing some much needed weed pulling and mowing.  Here are some things I saw that I thought you might enjoy.

Come on follow me......
This was gift to me from my hubby because the Hummingbirds love it and I suspect he likes it too.

Kniphofia (Torch Lily)
I love to play with color in my large planters.
(Golden Feverfew (top), 'Pink Swirl' Impatiens, 'Golden Tiara' Hosta and Gartenmeister' Fuchsia )
Millium effusium 'Aureum' making a splash on the opposite side.

Oh look over here...a honeybee favorite!

Blooming her head off...Lavendula stoechis (AKA Spanish Lavender)

I'll have to share my lemon cucumber refrigerator pickle recipe with you the next time I make it.  This basil turns them pink!  I so hope I can find seeds for next year as these were my last ones.

Swiss Sunset Basil from Territorial Seed Company

An angel walks my garden and bent down to see this flower that was glowing in the moonlight.  He loved the flower so much he kissed it and the flower blushed in humility.

Lychnis coronaria 'Angel's Blush'

Lollypop, lollypop, O lolly, lollypop!  How happy these little lilies make me.  Don't they make you just want to smile?

Lollypop Lilies
I just love blue in the garden...and this greets us coming and going from the garden's south entrance.  Isn't it lovely?

Clematis 'Betty Corning'

Pearl pink gloves for foxes grow along the south fence and have been such a wonderful addition.

Apricot Foxglove mature

Just emerging blooms show her namesake color beautifully.
Apricot Foxglove in bud

 Oh look, her common cousin looks pretty fine too, don't you think?  Bumblebees are fun to watch come and go from these blooms.

Digitalis purpurea

This is my serendipity planter this year.  I found the grass on clearance for a quarter looking a bit shabby and had a spot in the middle of this planter where a curly sage used to be and look what happened.  I love happy accidents don't you?

Sedum and Variegated Purple Fountain grass
 I like metal a lot.  This collection still needs to be set up proper.  The metal leaf on the fence will be moved away from the arbor and the stone bird bath base moved down a bit, tipped upside down and planted up with cascading flowers.  I think I'll plant it with Calebracoa in it this year. What do you think?

A few things waiting to be places around the garden.
Oh those darn cats.  I wish they would eat something besides my favorite grasses.  Do your cats do this too?

Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'

 Oh look, what a surprise!   What a pretty blue flower weaving it's way out from beneath the Ligularia and Lilac.

Geranium in blue

That is all for today.  Time to grab some greens for dinner.  I think we will roast some kale tonight.  Care to join us?

Red Russian Kale and Collards in the fourth of our veggie boxes.

Thank you for letting me share my garden with you.  Come back soon now and I'll fix us some tea and lavender shortbread and we'll sit in the shade of the tall fir trees.
Bye bye.

Copyright © 2011 by Patty Hicks
All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Roses in June

June is supposed to be rose season where I live, though we were wondering what happened when they didn't show up for our Rose Festival this year.  I decided it was time to see how this season is coming along and here's what I found...its just too bad you won't be able to enjoy the fragrance as you join me in the tour.

Oh the anticipation created by Rosa 'Vielchenblau' in bud.
Only a few days ago this climbing rose on our pergola was just loaded with buds all tightly closed as if to say "No, its too cold". The sight of them made me anxious and hopeful that, unlike last year, this might be a good rose year.  We were due after last year's heavy rain melted even the most rain hardy roses.  It was pitiful.  But oh was I encouraged when I saw how beautiful she looked 2 days ago.
I have not been disappointed
People don't even recognize this as a rose most of the time because it has smaller blooms in clusters and most people seem to have the idea that all rose blooms large.  It is fragrance is surprising, such a clean sweet apple scent I can drink it in huge gulps and it literally fills the yard and beyond when the air is still.
Rosa glauca glowing on a high overcast morning
Not wanting roses that need to be sprayed I have been careful to select disease resistant varieties. Rosa glauca, a species rose, is disease free which is a gardener's dream here in Portland, AKA the fungal jungle.  It has a lovely vase shaped habit, gorgeous blue green leaves with ruby colored stems and burgundy canes.  It can be pruned to grow like a small tree, though I prefer its natural multi-stemmed habit for its graceful appearance myself.
Rosa glauca canes in winter are quite beautiful.
Between the amazing foliage color, those clear pink blooms followed by bright orange hips that offer good late summer/fall color, it is probably one of the best roses that I know of.  Its only failing is no fragrance, but I can forgive it that easily in light of all the other benefits she has to offer.  I have seedlings growing in my garden from the fruit of this rose that I missed a couple years ago.  The plants make lovely gifts and plant swap items so I'm not worried about their being least not for now.
Rosa villosa or Apple Rose is named that for good reason
Rosa villosa, another species rose, has good resistance, is the first rose to bloom in my garden and is quite stunning when the very large hips are ripe.  It has one major draw back maggots love the precious rose hips too.  The maggots make the hips turn to mush quickly a they begin to ripen which renders them useless for color and spoils them for use in the kitchen.  This totally bummed me out the first year it happened but at least I get a little bit of Wow in the garden while they are first ripening.
Rosa villosa, always the first to bloom signals rose season has begun in my garden.
I have a great interest and love for plants with a history and have stories behind them, such as Rosa gallica 'Versicolor', the Apothecary's Rose which was first used by monks as a medicinal plant centuries ago.  I was given a start of this rose by a good friend of mine Erica Caulkins who wrote "Hatchet, Hand and Hoe" a book that recounts the stories of pioneers and the plants that came across the Oregon Trail.
Delightful Rosa gallica 'Versicolor'
This rose has been a delight in bloom and is a colonizer, meaning it sends out underground shoots that lay claim to an ever broader space in the garden unless one is diligent to manage its migration.  The history and sweet flowers were enough to cause me to ignore what was obviously going to happen in my garden. Sure enough, it eventually over took up residence in nearly one quarter of my little garden before I finally stopped living in denial.  Then last fall, as I was trying to get rid of it, I was filled with regret because I really didn't want it all gone...I just wanted to be able to keep it under control.   That probably says a lot as to why I failed to get rid of it and why I was so happy when I spied a bit of it bearing flowers again this spring.  They are not where I would like them, but the colony has been downsized and again manageable which is all I really wanted.
Cabbage Rose from the Zimmerman Farm
Heirloom cabbage roses are another favorite of mine. The one above is found at the Zimmerman Heritage Farm Park in Gresham Oregon.  A testament to the hardiness of this rose is that it had been hidden beneath a mountain of invasive Himalayan blackberries for a few years until volunteers set her free.  She is now the queen of the garden.  The fragrance of this rose is so beautiful but unfortunately the flowers often suffer in our spring rains which makes them even more precious to us.  However, this year we are being blessed with to have them bloom happily with the help of a nearly dry June. I will definitely be back to visit this one before she's all bloomed out.
Rust on the cabbage rose was the worst I had ever seen this year.
One thing I did notice during my visit to the site was a really bad case of rust on the leaves.  This was most likely brought on by our earlier cold wet spring.  It gives me pause to want to grow her in my own garden so I'll just go visit her for now.
Similar to the Peace Rose but older so what is it?
Another rose from Zimmerman Farm that I garnered a start of while working as a volunteer in the garden is this hybrid tea rose.  It has good disease resistance for a hybrid tea and great fragrance. She predates the Peace Rose and still need to be properly identified.  Last year she had a bit of black spot but I can forgive her for that as she is no pushover and I never have to spray her.  She is also on her own root, a big plus in my book.   I say she can stay as long as she likes.

This tour could go on for days but I must end it for now.  I am still looking for good roses for my garden which reminds me, my friend Rae has another rose I have my eye on...but that will have to wait for another post.

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Weedy Wednesday: Common Weed ID Tips

A weed or not a weed, that is the question.
Is this a weed?  How do you know, or how come you don't know for sure?  The number one reason we don't is what is growing in our gardens is that we have not taken the time to become familiar with our plants!  Sorry for the slap on the wrist there but its true.  A gardener that does not care to become familiar with what their plants look like as seedlings or before they bloom can often rip out things that are not happens.  (weeds pictured above are Dead Nettle with Little Western Bittercress)  If you have a bad memory grab the camera and learn to use that macro is a wonderful tool to have at hand and has become one of my favorite tools for documenting the garden.

For those of you that who are having a hard time determining garden plant from garden weed I hope what I share here will help a little.  So here are some things I was chewing on....

First off, label wherever it is you have sown seed or take a photo of the spot and note what you sowed there so when the seedlings start to appear you don't think "Oh my gosh look at all those weed seedlings!" and hoe them out!   Trust me, it happens more than most folks want to admit.  I recommend learning to use that "macro" setting on your camera for the best detail.  Save the images on your computer and have one folder for garden plants and one for weeds...note names if you know them or note them as weed or garden plant.

Little Western Bittercress and note other seedlings all over the place.
Now about the weeds...if seedlings you see in your garden are growing literally everywhere...not just where you sowed those seeds, then chances are they ARE weeds.  Little Western Bittercress, which others disdain and I don't mind, sows around with abandon but comes up so early I don't care and besides, it actually tastes pretty good...sort of like a mild kale.  If you don't like it though, its best to weed it out before it sets seed which hear would be by the first week of March.  I let mine flower so the early beneficial insects can forage on its flowers and then hoe out the plants I'm not feasting on.

But Daddy, why do we have to dig the Dandelion flowers out of the yard?  They are so pretty!
 Dandelion begins to bloom here about the same time and the bees are blessed to have it around.  It is a bit of a job and can end up being a drag if you don't get those seed heads picked off before they disperse..but then you'll have a lot of really pretty yellow flowers so its not all bad.  The whole plant is edible in one form or another too, but that's another post for another day.

A rosette of fuzzy leaves is a dead giveaway.
Verbascum thapis, or Indian toilet paper as my husband calls it, a common roadside weed in the west, is easy to distinguish and yet not as bad as some.  It does have pretty yellow flowers on a tallish flower stalk and oh they are edible and it is a medicinal herb so you may want not mind having it around.  It does transplant pretty easily when its little.

Can you name this grass seedling?
Grasses are the number one weed in the garden and no problem to ID, I've noticed there are some that don't even show their homely little faces until June like Switch grass (above).  They can be a real tough one to iradicate if let go to seed and have pretty tough roots.  Grasses that take hold can quickly take over the entire garden.  Hoe them out while they are babies or you may be cursing the day you didn't take the time to.

The prettier of the two Veronica weeds in my back yard.
Veronica has recently become a major weed pest in my garden since it came in with some straw I had laid in the pathways as mulch.  I have two varieties now, one that is pretty and one that is not.  They both need to go before they take hold in the vegetable garden.  They have small scalloped leaves, usually have blueish flowers and long stems...I know they are pretty but they really have to go.

Plantain growing well, leaves the size of a man's hand...go figure.
Oh and remember the post on that red designer Plantain a couple weeks back?  Look at my gorgeous green weedy version at the foot of my raised bed.  Now why can't the red one grow like that here?  More proof that Murphy does work in my garden...or at least his law does.

There are a lot more weeds to cover so stay tuned, I'm just getting started.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Choking On Weedy Lies

This morning I was sitting here ruminating and writing in my little red book about why I begin a project and end up choking and not finishing I decided to share my thoughts with you.  I know I am not the only one who ever suffered with this feeling insecurity, thinking things need to come out perfect or that it won't be good enough and others won't like it.  These thoughts cause me to not follow through in bringing to life the creative ideas I have, starting but never finishing.

It recently came to the surface again as I began working on an idea I have for this little purple basket which I knew almost immediately what I wanted to make out of when I found why the self doubting?

I am hearing the voice of self doubt very loud even in spite of all the wonderful things I hear from so many of my friends and followers here on my blog who love how I write, who want to know how I do what I do and who truly enjoy and are inspired by what I share here.  I'm not saying this in pride it is just what is happening ALL THE TIME right now...a lot of you are saying really nice and encouraging things to me and I so appreciate it and I REALLY NEED TO HEAR what everyone is saying.  Your voices of encouragement are there for a reason.

It is a battlefield in my heart and head right now, discouragement on one side and all of you on the other.  The enemy of my soul would love nothing more than to squelch the creativity God has placed in me.  That is why I need to hear what you are saying.  Thank you, thank you, thank you and please don't stop!

That voice of self doubt and discouragement in my head is not a strange thing as it happens to people all the time.  In my head I liken its affect to that of "Nasty grass", a grassy weed that crops up in my garden that is so darn hard to eradicate.  It makes me feel at times like I will be forever doomed to never prevail against it.

The thing with "Nasty grass" is it can be overcome but it takes work.  One cannot just yank it out of the ground, oh needs to be dug out, its roots eradicated or will send out more and more underground stolons/roots and soon choke out the entire garden.   If you pull it out you will always leave behind those underground runners and before long, will find a new plant or plants growing to replace what you just pulled up.  Once well established it is very difficult to even dig out as it grows through the root systems of other plants further securing its future habitation in the garden.  It has such a nasty habit of reappearing just when you think you have it licked.  Nasty nasty stuff.
Nasty Grass...The white portions break off very easily to form new plants
"Nasty grass" must be dug out or killed using an herbicide, the herbicide being the most effective way of killing it.  I went out and dug some up so you could see what I mean by the underground runners/roots. The battle for victory in my mind is similar to my battle with this weed.  I have to apply the truth of God's word as the herbicide to the roots of these lies that I am a failure and unworthy to succeed or they will continue to choke out the beautiful creative nature God has placed within me.
Tough woody stoleniferous root that at each joint will send up a plant if left in the ground.
The lies in my life are a lot like a well established patch of "Nasty grass" that has been enjoying the space in my mind and heart since I was a child.  It has grown into and through every area of our life the same as it does the root zones of the plants that inhabit the garden until they weaken and even die out unable to compete.  If I am to win this war in my mind I will need to go deep, employing the herbicide of truth of God's Word to the roots of these nasty lies.  I have a lot of work to do...but I am ready.

I am bolstered by a confidence I cannot explain, that its time to come forth like blooms on a rose and bloom I shall and those lying weeds in my brain...they are going DOWN!  I am so excited I feel like I could just explode with joy at times.  I never used to feel this way ever...its amazing and truly something God has done in me and for me.

As a Christian, facing fear and living by faith is a way of life.  I either trust God or I remain increasingly anxious about my life.  There is a reason that we are admonished to "Be anxious for nothing, but with prayer and thanksgiving let our requests be made known before God."    That opens the door for God's peace to be spread abroad in our hearts, to cover them and we find rest for our souls!

It took me 5.6 years to learn this as I went through circumstances I would have never thought I would go through.  My faith was stretched and tried like never before.  But God showed He was always faithful, always there and attending to my needs and to my future.  So now as I look at these weedy lies about my creative abilities I see they are just another part of learning to trust my Creator with my future, my life and now my business.  I am also leaning on Him to help me get to the root of these lies that have held me back for so long.

I will be spending time in prayer and studying what the Bible has to say on this subject.  I am so excited to see the new growth of this gift of creativity come forth as the binding forces of these lies are laid to waste in my life in a greater way than ever before.

To everything there is a season and this is my season to bloom!
I am even a little amazed that I am here writing this right now, but God being faithful is bringing to pass exactly what He said that He would accomplish in my life, that the discouragement would be lifted from my life and I would grow and flourish.  And I am so excited and so very ready.

God does not want us to be bound by the voice of discouragement.  If you are in one of those times know that is not time lost.  With all your heart seek God, to spend time in His presence, to hear what He has to say about who you are and to take to heart those truths and wait...wait for God's power to set you free.

Copyright © 2011 by Patty Hicks
All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Weedy Wednesday: St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort is our "Weedy Wednesday" plant this week.  This plant has a conflicted reputation, a devil in one sense because it is a noxious weed, but in another sense a useful herb. It has brought some conflict among gardeners as to whether we should allow it to take root in our gardens too so I thought I'd share a little bit about it in the spirit of helping us make a wise decision.

Chase Devil, Tipton Weed, Klamath Weed, St John's Wort

St. John's Wort has been used for thousands of years medicinally and there is a long list of names attributed to it (the link is most likely not a complete list but a good indicator of its history).  The efficacy of it medicinally was tested recently in Germany and it has been tested in Canada as well.  There are several publications with information on its use as a medicinal herb that you can read for more information on it.

Reddish stems which will each hold several flowers

Hypericum perforatum is a stoloniferous herbaceous perennial that in winter can be seen as a rosette, the grouping of leaves and stems that surround the crown of the plant.  Its leaves are opposite of each other on the stem.  As far as I know there is not another weed in my garden that looks similar.

Little bits of light showing the perforated leaf, an important ID feature

If you hold one of the leaves up to the light you will see what appear to be little pin holes, thus the species name "perforatum".

The plant produces several flowering stems that grow between 2' to 3' tall but can get as tall as 5'.  Each flower produces seed by the hundreds with each plant capable of producing 100,000 seeds per year.  These seeds can persist in the soil for decades. (Knowing this, do you want it in your garden or not?)

It is important to note that this plant has had a negative impact, out competing native and foraging plants and is considered a noxious weed in at least 20 countries around the world.  However, it is cultivated as an herb for commercial purposes in some areas of south eastern Europe. (What to do, what to do...)

It can be controlled digging out plants when you see them or using herbicides such as 2, 4-D and Glysophate if needed.  As a biological control, Chrysolina beetle were introduced in the 1940s and have now become well established in helping battle this weed in the western United States.  These beetles feed on the leaves and flower buds and help to keep it from spreading unchecked.  This year was the first year I had seen them in my garden.

Chrysolina beetle in my garden are feasting quite happily this year.

Important to note is that this plant is poisonous to grazing animals such as cattle, sheep, goats and horses if they eat enough of it.

Personally I like the bit of yellow the blooms add to the garden, even if it is not refined in its appearance.  It is however a self sower and those seeds, hundreds in each seed pod and they last for decades in the soil so I'm never going to be completely rid of it...and if anything happens to me it will become a nightmare plant!  So I think I've made up my mind.  Have you made up yours yet?

With all of that said, don't you think we need to ask some very important questions here?  If it grows so readily do we even need to bother with it or will letting it grow in our garden only become a part of the problem?

So think about it; it may be useful but should we really be cultivating it or just wild harvesting if need be?  I'm not sure if this helped any of you, but I know I'll be pulling out all of mine. The way I see it is I can always harvest it in the wild which will also help keep it from spreading.  Happy Gardening!

NOTE: Be sure to always properly ID any plant before using it medicinally, especially if it is to be taken internally!

Copyright © 2011 by Patty Hicks
All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Community Garden Trellises

One of the coolest things about touring our local community gardens are all the great ideas people come up with when it comes to structures.  Its a living demonstration of what works and how well.
This is pretty much what our family garden looked like when I was a kid...ground level
This garden near my home is a good example.  Lets go take a look at what folks have come up with.
Wood and chicken wire.
Small twig trellis for Cucumbers
Wire cage for tomatoes
This was made by the gardener and one of my favorites as far as how good it looked
Rebar and concrete reinforcement grid with string.
Fancy and plain tomato cages
Tri-pod trellis with string.
Stakes and horizontal string...I'm liking this idea.
Bent steel rod and string. 

Time will tell how these structures will work.  I love the different styles everyone uses and will revisit them again in a month to see how things are going.  Stay tuned.