Susie, 3 years old, from West London grew this record breaking sunflower from seed, watering and tending it herself. What have you grown from seed this summer?
I'm not talking about the fancy fennels; not bulb fennel, not bronze fennel, but green fennel. Foeniculum vulgare, yet there's nothing vulgar in the least about this versatile herb. Fennel, fennel, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
With apologies in advance to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
I love thee for thy depth...
Thou hidest my air conditioning unit with your voluminous fern-like foliage.
You art statuesque and graceful in my garden.
That my soul can reach you from the deck stairs, your greenery and seeds for cooking.
I love thee for your quiet need for partial sun, not yet candle-light.
I love thee with the passion put to use...
Seeds for sausage, tea and such, that sweet shock of licorice taste.
I love thee purely..
As I separate your chaff
Smiles, tears...all the garden season
You givest larval food for black swallowtail butterflies, nectar for nasty wasps
I shall but love thee better...
After your seeds turn brown.
I can't believe it's already been a year since my baby blog was conceived and born. It's been an exciting year of learning this blogging business; a steep learning curve with so much technology and social media to master.
Otherwise the blog seems to write itself. Some people wonder how you find topics and subjects day after day. There is a saying that no two days are the same in a garden, and that is so true. All I have to do is step outside and an idea pops up out of nowhere.
I have "met" some genuinely nice people in the process. While others that already know me now know more than they ever wanted to about my gardening adventures, by reading the blog! All the compliments and encouragement have been really appreciated. It's so heartwarming when someone tells me how they look forward to The Garden Buzz showing up in their inbox.
(If you haven't subscribed, it's easy, just hit the "subscribe" button on the right side of the blog page. Your email will not be shared with anyone else.)
In a few weeks I'll be attending the Garden Writers Association Annual Symposium in Dallas. I'll be meeting lots of like-minded writers and gardeners while learning more about the craft of garden writing. I will be receiving the GWA Silver Award of Achievement in Writing-Electronic Media for The Garden Buzz. How thrilling is that?
So a huge thanks to all you readers for making this such an enjoyable endeavor this past year.
A gift? Why, how nice of you to ask!
I tell you what I'd really like...
...just pass on, forward, share, and/or tell a friend about The Garden Buzz. More lovely readers are all I could ever want!
They make my heart flutter.
The butterflies are back.
For awhile I felt like a fraud calling my yard a butterfly garden. From experience I knew, 'if you plant it, they will come'. However, the butterflies have been few and far between for the past two years. Yet now, going on my fourth summer in Minnesota, finally, butterflies, everywhere.
With so many factors fighting against their survival; climate, weather, disease, predation and habitat loss take a heavy toll on these jewels on the wing.
Monarchs, facing increasing habitat loss and fragmentation have suffered with stormy weather at their overwintering grounds killing off many of the gorgeous butterflies. It's especially heartening to see them in pairs dancing above the flowers.
This year's warm temps and abundant rainfall making for lush plant growth has translated into tons of butterflies. It's been magical standing in the garden as several species at a time surround me and my camera.
Monarch laying eggs on Asclepias tuberosa (swamp milkweed) The Garden Buzz
Comma Butterfly with flower fly on cup plants (can you tell the reason for the name?) The Garden Buzz
Monarch on Verbena Bonariensis (Brazilian verbena), a favorite nectar plant
Red Admiral on Liatris spicata (Blazing Star), a popular native plant The Garden Buzz
Tiger Swallowtail on Monarda "Petite Delight" (Bee Balm) The Garden Buzz
Red-Spotted Purple, slightly tattered on rain-soaked Pee Gee Hydrangea The Garden Buzz
Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed) is beloved by all butterflies. The Garden Buzz
It's not too late to start or add to your butterfly garden. Most garden centers have good sales this time of year on flowering perennials and shrubs that will attract and support butterflies. Don't forget to include lots of larval host plants as well.
Maybe it's time to do more for the Monarchs, consider planting aMonarch Waystation. It's like running a B&B for butterflies.
Still recuperating from vacation; the garden seems to be on auto-pilot, getting along fine without me. Heartening to see so many butterflies. Eastern swallowtails, Monarchs and Red Admirals mostly. Do those count for blooms? I'll start with these two photos and add more tomorrow if I can.
Hundreds of Black-eyed Susans, common yet always cheerful The Garden Buzz
Do berries count as blooms? Viburnum compacta The Garden Buzz
Thanks to Carol at Maydreams for GBBD!
More as promised....
Endless Summer deciding to bloom at end of summer The Garden Buzz
Sedum "Autumn Joy" starting to bud, Orange Hyssop in background and beyond, the "Bottle Bush"
Bee on Joe Pye Weed The Garden Buzz
Buddleia "Miss Ruby" The Garden Buzz
Beyond the back fence, Monarch on thistle The Garden Buzz
Toothpaste. Doublemint gum. Peppermint Patty. Starlight mints. Listerine.
If those are your only meet-ups with mint, I feel sorry for you.
Maybe you've flirted with that mint leaf garnish on your julep or iced tea.
Then like thousands of mothers before me have said, "You don't know what you're missing".
Spearmint "Kentucky Colonel" The Garden Buzz
Last week before vacation, my daughter and I cooked up a little minty-fresh madness all in one meal. Every dish contained mint from Mama's little mint patch, yet each one had it's own subtle sweet and bright green tone and never even came close to mint overkill. There was definitley none of that frosty-hot flavor found in candies and dental concoctions.
My daughter might discuss the lamb and the dessert on her new food blog, Kitchen Oddity, although she's in a gourmet popsicle phase right now. But for me I'm all about the Fattoush. I mean all over it, like third helpings and already thinking about the leftovers that haunt me until the last soggy pita crumbs are gone.
It never fails that I forget to photograph the salad, such is this dish's power over me.
I found fattoush in Kansas. You may know the state as the land of Dorothy, wheat fields and aircraft factories. For me, it's the Lebanese food. Due to some serendipitous stroke of luck, a large contingent of these fabulous food lovers settled in Kansas back at the turn of the century. At any given time there are at least a dozen Mediterranean restaurants serving all manner of mouth-watering dishes. And that's just in Wichita.
Fattoush is deceptively simple, in spite of the long list of ingredients. It's open to improvisation. Just don't leave out the mint, and please, please consider the sumac* (No, it's not the posionous plant that causes rashes). Otherwise it's a good salad, but with the mint and sumac, it's easily two or three ticks above great.
Let's break it down into three parts. Two of which, the dressing and pita toasts, you could make ahead, up to maybe three days.
1/4 C. Fresh lemon juice
1/2 C. Olive oil or vegetable oil
1 Clove garlic, minced
1 t. Salt and 1t. black pepper
Simply whisk these ingredients until well-blended. Store in a sealed jar up to three days in fridge.
The Toasted Pita:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Split pita bread (I make a lot) and then cut or tear into pieces about 2-3 inches, although it doesn't matter once you crumble them. Brush with olive oil (and add za'atar* if you want extra chips for snacking) and toast on a baking sheet for 3-4 minutes until golden.
Set aside until tossing the salad. Store up to three days in aritight container.
1-2 Heads of romaine lettuce, torn
1/2 Head iceberg lettuce, torn, if you want.
1 Cucumber, diced, peeled if you insist
4 Tomatoes, sliced and diced, or 1 Package cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 bunch green onions, sliced
Handful of shredded purple cabbage (optional, but colorful)
Handful of grated carrots (optional, but colorful)
1/3 C. Crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup of finely chopped fresh mint
2 Tablespoons ground sumac
When ready to serve, combine all the salad materials and add enough dressing to toss and coat. Use it all or save for another dish (it's good with basil and tomatoes alone). Crumbled the toasted pitas into the salad and toss again lightly. Serve and enjoy.
*Sumac is a spice that comes from the Rhus coriaria plant, native to the Mediterranean and Middle East. the berries are ground to make the spice. It has a tart, almost astringent but pleasant taste.
*Za'atar is the combination of ground dried thyme, sumac and sesame seeds. sprinkle it on your toasted pitas for a delicious snack. They are one of the most requested items here at the Hayes house.
The mint I love and use for cooking is Mentha cordifolia spicata or Spearmint "Kentucky Colonel". I love its fresh color and texture. It behaves somewhat better than some mints in the garden, so I choose to grow it in the ground in an area where I don't mind mildly aggressive behavior.
Thanks to Margaret Roach at A Way to Garden for hosting the Summer Fest cross blog culinary event. Bon Apetit!
I've been on vacation for the last week; a good old-fashioned family vacation, you know, Griswold-style with my husband and two college-age children. It is still possible at this stage, to tolerate a little togetherness and have some fun too. Working around everyone's schedule we managed a visit to the greater Seattle area.
I thought it best to explain my absence on this trip when I'm already en route back home; you never know who might know your address and want to pilfer a petunia or perhaps a flat-screen TV.
I'll have two Washington-specific posts when I get back; one very techy, the other earthy.
Until then I thought you might enjoy a a few landscaping shots demonstrating excellent use of evergreens and foliage from the grounds of the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery.
After all, it is the "Evergreen State".