Showing posts from February, 2019

Anise Hyssop for Kitchen, Pollinators, Garden

The verdict is in: Anise Hyssop is Herb of the Year for 2019 (  This mint-family plant has a delicious French-Tarragon flavor for summer salads. Pollinators love it, too. In the photo you may be able to see the tiny bee on the left, flying toward Hyssop’s late-summer flowers. 
Because of the leaves’ texture and scent, it is planted in children’s gardens and accessibility gardens. Also, since it is the same Hyssop mentioned in the Bible it is planted in meditation gardens.
The first time I saw this Agastache in a botanical garden it had a place of prominence in a 10-by-10-foot bed surrounded by concrete sidewalk. The tag said Blue Giant Hyssop and I immediately ordered seeds. Other names include Fragrant Giant Hyssop, and Lavender Hyssop. We loitered there enjoying the colorful covering of pollinators. 
Anise Hyssop, Agastache foeniculum, often survives the winter and scatters seeds so if the original plant dies, replacements pop up nearby.
The tubular-…

Growing Figs in Zone 7

Every growing region has advantages and disadvantages when it come to growing fruit. Gardeners complain about clay and sand in their soil, intense heat or too many cold days. Finding fruit that succeeds is a challenge. 
One fruit that we have had success with is Figs, Ficus carica. The plants are beautiful with huge leaves on 8-foot tall stems. The fruit can be eaten fresh, used for jam, canned in syrup and baked into treats.
Figs are ancient plants from the Middle East and since they are semi-tropical, they pose a challenge to grow in colder zones. Growing them in a container that can be brought in for the winter would work. It took three tries to find the right planting situation for ours to thrive outside. 
Cold hardy to zone 8, the tall branches die to the ground most winters in zone 7.  If you are on Honor Heights Drive in Muskogee you may see Fig shrubs thriving in microclimates. One, in particular, is surrounded by two buildings and a concrete wall, protecting it on three sides.

Amaryllis Care After Blooming

From Thanksgiving through Easter Amaryllis bulbs grow indoors and bloom on windowsills. Often given and received as gift kits, the bulb sits on top of the soil, sprouts thick leaves, and then miraculously blooms on top of a tall stem. Whether the flowers are pink, white, red, single or double they impress us every time.      Amaryllis bulbs are planted pointed side up, in a potting-soil filled container that is barely larger than the bulb itself. Tropical Amaryllis prefer to be crowded. Leave one-third of bulb showing above the soil and place it in bright light; water regularly. 
To have flowers next Christmas, cut back the stem and leaves when the flowers fade. The container can be put outside in the shade for the summer. Water and  fertilize until August, then bring it in before the first frost. Keep it in a 60 degree location and stop watering 10-12 weeks before you want it to bloom. 
With no leaves and dry conditions, the bulb will send out another flower stalk. Start watering and m…

Rue or Ruta Graveolens is Ideal for Pollinators

Of all the pollinator-friendly plants we grow, Rue or Ruta graveolens, is probably the most popular with insects.  
Rue is a medicinal and culinary herb by reputation, but if you want all manner of pollinators from tiny bees to large butterflies, it is a plant you want. The blue-green leaves have a unique citrus-herb scent and are eaten by butterfly caterpillars.
Ruta graveolens is not meadow rue or goat’s rue, nor is it native. It is a member of the Citrus family from Europe. 
Pliny the Elder mixed rue with poisonous Oleander as an antidote to snake bites and the oil was used to induce abortions.   Its Herb of Grace name came from it being used in Holy Water in Catholic services. Victorians sprinkled it on the floor of courtrooms to prevent the spread of Jail Fever.
If you have ever sampled Grappa brandy such as Poli Ruta, you have had Rue. It’s that bitter taste that led to the saying, “You will Rue the day”. meaning an experience that leaves a bitter taste.  If you put some leaves in y…