Location: Free Union, Virginia, United States

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Herbs in, Birds gone, and Ladyslippers in bloom

Nearly a year after the last update, there's a lot to tell, but it's a beautiful spring day so why not take the laptop outside...

About one month ago while Dev was in Arizona for a week, I put an herb garden in, reclaiming an old wood pile just off the West end (if the front door faces East) of the deck. Almost everything has thrived due to a wet spring (finally!) and a judicious increase in sunshine allowed by the trees we took out about two years ago. I say "about" because we used the firewood from those trees this past winter, so it must have seasoned about that long. More on that after the generic update:

We took a walk through the woods yesterday and saw several Laydyslippers in bloom, and looking quite healthy. Nice to catch them before it's too late! This is graduation weekend at UVA, and if memory serves, this is about the same time we thought to go looking for them last year (ed: same weekend almost to the day!). Hopefully I'll grab a good camera and get some pictures while they're at this stage, but the flowers are large and lush, and there are several other plants with healthy leaves, so we'll see if we get more blooms down the road.

The herb garden has been a pleasant suprise - the first real planting done here since we took out a few trees, and I noticed today the deck and garden areas recieve about two hours of direct sunlight this time of year. With the generous rains we've had I've not been shy about watering with the soaker hose too, and I'm sure that's helped. We're starting to think about putting in a rain barrel which would make it easier on the conscious for feeding the plants, but we'l see what happens with that ;-)

In no particular order, the herb garden has:

Kentucky Colonel Mint (x2, background above): Robust, Sweet, and with a very strong (but pleasing) mint aroma. Compared to the mint I seeded last year (?), it is less milky and more minty - it'l be great in Deven's tea!

Rosemary Arp (x2, foreground): has thrived but grows slowly, with a great aroma off the leaf. Strong and green, I have no idea what we'll use this in, but look forward to it!

Chives Garlic (x2): two small bunches center things, small bunches but aromatic. I just trimmed some of this grassy delight for our salad tonight, there's not a great deal of it so I'll be interested to see if it's enough to add a little zing.

Silver Edged Thyme (x3) - these small clusters have thrived as well, not growing quickly but consistently, and add a really nice visual element. Te aroma is beautiful and I'm looking forward to a tomato sauce, etc, that we might use this in.

Rosemary Salem (1, no pic): this came from a different greenhouse than the rest an looked very robust before planting, but does not seem to be growing as fast. It's on the houseward side of the garden, and I'll be interested to see what becomes of this singular planting.

Lavender Provence (x4) rounds out the outside of the curve on the garden and has thrived as well. Planted while nearly flowering, we've had pretty much at least one extra flower shoot per plant. I believe these are perrenial and self-seeding, so I hope to see more next year!

On the interior of the garden, I added a flower and herb (thinking the herb was just a flower) to add some color:

Dame's Rocket (Hesperis - Purple) - is a biennial that was flowering when planted and maintained for over a month, until heavy storms knocked off most (but not all) of the blooms. As advertised, attracted butterflies immediately and thrives thus far. I wouldn't hesitate to add more of this next year.

Agastache "Blue Fortune" (Anise Hyssop) Blooms May to November but has not done so yet. Chose this as a late bloomer for the fall and simply to add color to the garden, but the Anise aroma is strong - yet wonderful - and will be great in tea.

Other than that - the chick brood over the window (returned to the almost the exact same place as last year, but on the other side of the windowsill) took flight today. I don't know if they are gone from the nest for good, I should probably go inside in case my presence is what keeps them away...


This photo was taken about one hour before I began writing this post. Looks like they've flown the coop - for good!

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