June has certainly been a trying month - with weather that has been less than ideal. At least we haven't had to water much! This period of rain has got the grass and weeds going great, and little time available to either mow the lawn or pull weeds. Hopefully, we will begin to see some more sun soon. Take heart, we could be in the year 1816, which was claimed as "The Summer That Never Was". There was snow in June, a frost in July, and another killing frost in August. Many scientists believe that the dust and ash from the eruption of a volcano in Indonesia in April of 1815 was the cause of this devastating pattern of weather. It was the most destructive explosion in recorded history, with estimates of 90 million deaths, and the release of 100 cubic miles of dust, ash and sulfuric acid into the atmosphere. Imagine being a farmer in that year (which most people were) and seeing crop after crop decimated. Survival through the winter was definitely in doubt, as people relied on their crops to get them through to the next year.
On a brighter note, fireflies have made their appearance in the evening hours - which seems early this year to me. A ruby-throated hummingbird has found its way into my greenhouse to feast on the nectar from the numerous basils that are blooming there. He cheerily buzzes from flower to flower and then takes off - sometimes returning two or three times. I've also seen him at the comfrey flowers, when it isn't raining. I've started a "Winged Wonders" garden, with plants that attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. The dill I've planted there (which is a plant that caterpillar larvae love) has been munched clean, though I've yet to see what it is that has been taking advantage of this tasty treat. Other plants include lavender, russian sage, marigolds, phlox, butterfly bush and nicotiana, to name a few.
My trip to Michigan for The Herb Society of America's Annual Meeting and Educational Conference was inspiring, in terms of gardening as well as networking with others interested in herbs. There were so many wonderful gardens to explore, and an incredible array of garden "art" - much of which was not traditional garden ornamentation, but whimsical and unusual found objects turned into focal points in the gardens. I've taken to haunting flea markets, yard sales, and the like in search of creating some fun displays in my own beds.
I'm off again to a conference - this time it's the International Herb Association's meeting in Huntsville, Alabama. July is not the best time to travel and enjoy the heat of a southern state, but I look forward to the varied presentations and interfacing with the members. There are still herbs for sale, and I'll list a few below. Please call if you have any requests - I frequently have plants in my beds that can be divided, along with potted herbs for sale. Common herbs: English Thyme, Purple Sage, Golden Sage (both sages are tasty, as well as very decorative) Parsley, Fennel, Basil (several types, including lemon, cinnamon, etc), Marjoram and Savory.
Lesser known herbs: Lemon Verbena (a tender perennial that has the best lemon flavor), Bay (2009 Herb of the Year), Vervain, Skullcap, Mexican Mint Marigold, Senna, Curly Willow, Globe Thistle, Foxglove (pale yellow flowers), Clary Sage, and Marshmallow. Sign up now for the July Workshops on Culinary Herbal Delights. We will show you how to make herbal butters, vinegars, syrups and more to help you extend your harvest through the year.
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